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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, August 21, 2004

Quote of the Post: "The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot." - Mark Twain

[Keywords to help me find this post: amoral, immoral, animal, animals, men, "below them", "above them"]

Random Playlist Song: Victoria Junior College Choir - Symphony of Voices 2000 - Bengawan Solo (Arr Samuel Liew)

***

Some might remember that less than 2 weeks ago, I plugged the Raffles Players play - Lysistrata, in this very same spot. Of course, I couldn't have plugged it in good faith if I hadn't also gone, so yesterday Alvin and I graced its opening night (and were probably the oldest non-teachers there).

Of the place in general, all I will say (here at least) is that, after 3 years, the more things change, the more things stay the same. Except for the Purple Uniform, which has finally died. Hallelujah.

While I was wandering about, I was accosted by someone who asked: "Is your name Gabriel?". At this, I turned to Alvin and ejaculated: "Why does this always happen to me? Wherever I go, people come up to me and ask: 'Are you Gabriel?'". I daresay that the novelty of being recognised by people I don't has long worn out. Luckily, as it turned out, this chap was my choir junior Shen Ting, whose name I vaugely recalled in the mist of my memory, and not some strange guy like the presumably bisexual stalker I had some time ago. So I semi-apologetically demurred: "The amount a person's face changes from Sec 1 to J2 is much more than the amount from Sec 4 to J [He: 10] 5 [He: 10] 5!", and dismissed him peremptorily. Later, it turned out that he was actually 4 years my junior, and he remembered me from the times I went back in J1. What can I say - I seem to be memorable.


I wasn't expecting RP to put up a historically-informed performance, albeit in English instead of Classical Greek. For one, having all the roles played by males would have freaked the audience out, and disenfranchised the girls. Wearing masks would also have prevented the actors from using their faces as dramatic instruments.

However, there were some parts I was uncomfortable with. The cast shifted clumsily and repeatedly from modern speech to a more formalised way of speaking which was keeping more in tune with the manner of the original text. I spoke with the Production Manager on this issue, and she told me that they had took the text from a Puffin edition of Lysistrata. The transition scenes - where characters exit the stage and others enter - were also improperly handled, with the lights blacked out for too short a period. The result was that when the lights came on again, new characters could be seen coming onto the stage while at the same time, the buttocks of the older ones who were exiting the stage were still clearly visible.

At 4-5 points, the chorus started singing. While this was a nice homage to Greek theatre to have the chorus sing at least some of the time, I pounded my fists and gnashed my teeth in despair when at one point, they sang to the tune of Yankee Doodle. I didn't expect them to come up with Greek-like tunes as alien to the ear as the "Delphic paean, Athenaeus 127bc" I have on my playlist (De Organographia - Music of the Ancient Greeks), but hearing the chorus singing to Yankee Doodle almost made me cry. A short while later, the 2 choruses (male and female) started a dance sequence which I shall describe thus: the choruses combined and formed into a vertical line (from the audience's perspective), with one chorus at the rear of the line and one at the fore. Each faced opposite directions (stage left and stage right). They then linked their hands and made the line rotate clockwise. I would have cried out in despair at this point, but I was still recovering from the shock of hearing the chorus singing Yankee Doodle.

Also, the actors need to learn a very important thing about staging comedies: Always wait for the audience to finish laughing before you continue. If not, your lines, however brilliant or essential to the plot, will be lost in uproarious laughter.

On the upside, they did do a commendable job of sewing Greek-inspired costumes, and making the play entertaining.


Kenneth and Geraldine wanted to go to last night's play in their old uniforms. Gah.

Just after the intermission, there was a teaser performance by some HCJC students to promote YAWP! (Young Adult Writers Perform!, A Performance Poetry Event organised by the LitWing of the Hwa Chong Litterbugs, on August the 21st at the Chinese High Drama Centre. A girl sang a few lines of a song somewhat weakly, and then one guy started scolding another, and talking about stroking sheets while thinking of him, and tasting him at the back of his throat. The guy who was at the receiving end of this abuse then started wetting the other one (with water), while scolding him back. As one guy behind me remarked: "No wonder it's free". Maybe, for the privilege of advertising their event, they subsidised the play, which was why it was so cheap ($6).


I am happy that the North Korean girl (Kim Hyang Mi) beat our Singapore table tennis player. At least now she won't die in a mysterious train "accident" because the Dear Leader was angry at her losing the match. [solsetur: You forgot to speculate about the Finals for N.Korean player. Will she be killed to appease China if she wins? Rewarded for losing to great Communist China? Will they still withdraw food for her and her family if she loses in the finals?]

I search for "Dick Lee" (sans quotation marks) on Soulseek and I got porn. Joy!

There's a Democratic Socialist club in NUS. Wth?!

I've a friend in Science who somehow managed to get a 3 day week. Well done :) And enjoy your 10 hour days.


Quotes:

[Seen on blackboard presumably used for Lysistrata makeup] Do not eat your makeup. It does not digest well.

[On the Lysistrata performance] This is the only place in Singapore where you don't see dyed hair.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Quote of the Post: "[Abstract art is] a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered." - Al Capp

Random Playlist Song: The Cambridge Singers - What Sweeter Music

***

I got Wo-hen Nankan fanmail!

And I also want to thank you on behalf of a very small community (that could
be described as the the non-asian part of the world) for making Wo-hen
Nankan more known to the community in question.
His hair rocks !!!!!!

Reading your opinion on modern music, I hope that Wo-hen Nankan's
breathing is as soft as his hair ;->
Keep up with your page - it is really "not another private homepage".
Very unique and individual approach.
Some of your comments on modern music I found very interesting ... even
though i don't share them all.

All the best from the southern part of Germany



TalkingCock seems to be back - but strangely, it is stuck in 2002.

***

Interesting lines:

"It is often said that the social sciences lag behind the natural sciences and that the latter have created the problems of atomic war, overpopulation, and industrial change that the former must now solve" - Some sociology book

Later in the same book (on the line above): "this... [ignores] how unamenable to control by deliberate action the structures of a society are, except... by a form of political control that would be likely to create more evils than it solves". Racial quotas for public housing, anyone? Though I don't know about creating more evils than it solves.

***

solsetur on Hall People:

Hall people are all obsessed with their images, and nowhere else in the world will you see such a display of the mass culture and consumerism where your worth is more or less demonstrated by how similar you are to the people living together with you. So they have all their stupid fashions, all their stupid trends. And nowhere else have I encountered people who will spend 100 bucks on a single bottle which will keep them thin and beautiful like the persons living next door; or as many eating disorders; or as many health/gym/dieting freaks.

To be the epitome of 'cool', or to give it a more balanced 'look at the whole universe' general view - to be viewed cool among the hall people - you must do as they do and that include partaking in their stupid activities, which include official hall activities like their bashes, performances, rag day flag day prom night ragging (disguised as 'hall initiation'), and not limited to those - you have to take part in extra curricular activities like clubbing, alcohol binging, and even help the tobacco company expand their coffers if you're that weak and/or unlucky. The funny thing is I suspect after some time these people all gradually are brainwashed and lose their objectivity - my previously rather sane friends seem to be sunk into a state where they really and wholeheartedly accept all this as the 'norm' and think, very earnestly, that they are living the 'cool' young adult Tertiary education life.

To stick back to the topic, the other day at Miss LSE's birthday party a little discussion group was formed. And the subject surrounded on one thing only - drinking alcohol. It baffled quite a few people (actually it did not really bother me till various guy friends mentioned this and I did realise the flaw - so how immune am I to hall culture anyway?) because they could not understand why on earth would alcohol and its horrible side effects like vomiting in public, hangovers, getting sick, making a fool of yourself under the effects of alcohol could be such fun to talk about that it just went on and on?

In retrospect I suspect this has all to do with some mass disillusionment that abusing of alcohol (however minor the severity of the problem might be!) is all so very adult and cool. But is it really.


***

With many documents being placed on the IVLE (Integrated Virtual Learning Environment) instead of being printed out nicely and stapled for us, I am faced with an important question: Is it cheaper to print stuff in school or at home?

In school, we are charged the princely price of 5 cents per laser-printed page (I don't think they have inkjets). Of course, the stuff gets printed quickly and comes out looking sleek and professional.

I haven't calculated the cost of printing materials at home. I will once my current black ink cartirdge runs dry and I have to replace it. Exorbitantly priced OEM Canon black ink cartridges for my S200SPx come at $12, I'm told. I contacted a supplier of compatible third-party cartridges, and he said that he was selling third party black ink cartridges for $6 each, and offered free home delivery even for an order of 1 cartridge (?!). Someone also suggested that I go to Mustafa Centre. Alternatively, I could refill my old cartridges and spill ink all over my floor.

Of course, there are other complications. For example, my printer seems to have issues with ink regulation/consumption, judging from the search referrals I get about this sort of thing. Ink also dries up over time (but if I'm going to be doing enough printing to calculate the relative costs of printing in school and at home, such losses will be negligible). There is also the problem of cleaning clogged ink heads, which wastes ink, and of the cost of paper, though I don't think it's quite that high. And finally, I tried printing in Super Economy Mode but my notes came out faint and not exactly easy on the eyes.


I was at a loss navigating my way through the Central Library, since I couldn't puzzle out how the books were classified. I scoured the NUS Libraries' site but couldn't find my question in the FAQ, so I used the "Ask A Librarian" feature.

It turns out that they use the Library of Congress classification system, and my question was addressed, if only implicitly (you can search for books by Library of Congress call numbers or Dewey/Han He/Zhongguo Tushu call numbers). Gah, I should have known.

I do wonder why they, and most academic libraries, use the Library of Congress (LOC) classification system. The Dewey Decimal system is more intuitive and precise (and I'm not saying that just because I grew up with it). Most of all, it's a faceted classification scheme. The Library of Congress system was formulated for one purpose - to catalogue the books in the Library of Congress, which is why it has 2 top-level categories for US History, and 2 top-level categories for Military Science and (beat this) Naval Science. The only advantage of using the Library of Congress system that I can think of is that it results in shorter call numbers, which is useful for large collections.


Though I continue to collect quotes of Bad English, or just plain funny quotes, as I have been doing for the past 6 years, I realise that there is a problem. If you examine the recent quotes, you'll notice that many of them are quite subtle, employing sublime wit. Sometimes this makes them all the more amusing, but usually they are not quite as outrageously, slapsticky, in-your-face funny as some I might cite. Besides which, many people will not get all the jokes.

I hope they renovate more LTs in NUS. The difference between renovated and non-renovated LTs is striking, and I'm only talking about the write tops here. In pre-renovation LTs, the write tops, which are fixed in place, mind you, are too small to hold much, yet big enough to sometimes cause problems when you take your seat (or maybe it's just me and my big butt). Adding insult to injury, they have a sharp screw protruding at the bottom which can get caught in the fabric of your shorts/bermudas/skirt/jeans/trousers/kilt/loincloth.

I'm surprised that, during our Demand and Supply lecture, all NUS students' (sans those from Law and Medicine) favourite market - CORS - wasn't mentioned.

We get breaks during lectures sometimes and what do people do? They go outside and smoke. Gah. I should go and paint a yellow box in the middle of the road.

The theme for this year's USP Dinner and Dance is "Bollywood Hollywood". In keeping with the theme, I am thinking of going there dressed as a coconut tree, so people can dance around me. Or maybe I can wear a turban.

I was at a lecture with plenty of empty seats, yet people were sitting on the (carpeted) floor behind the last row of seats. Oh well.

Ivan on rag: Medicine had a story centred around a battle between dancing candy and some ants. Oh well, lie I told James, "Considering it's Medicine, they could have ended up making it white blood cells versus bacteria." GAH.

About the E.Merge IT Fair - "E.Merge 2004 will be a 3-day event, held from the 18-20 Aug at the foyer outside LT 27. The fair will be open to the public, though the targetted groups are NUS students and staff. As we move towards a wireless world, we have become increasingly inseperable from from IT products. With enough space for XXX booths, you can expect a large number of stalls selling a wide variety of goods, from the hottest and trendiest IT accessories to new ideas from the techie world."
It must be really popular, then.

The NUS Political Association boosts its membership numbers by making all students who are Singaporean Citizens members. Sneaky,


I have a friend with a T1 line at home. !@#$%^&*()


Quotes:

[On his dummy paper] This is a pretty good opening paragraph. It is a good paper, if I do say so myself.

[The tutors will use] their red pens. Counter-example, counter-example. Tutors are very small-minded. They're like the enemy.

If you state your objections first, your tutor will be frustratingly disarmed... think like the enemy.

Right here, I wrote: 'It seems to me', which is a classic wimpy, lazy example [of how to qualify an argument]

[On using examples] They take up space, which is really helpful if you're trying to fill up big, white sheets of paper.

[On how to feel good] Some people go to bars and punch people in the nose. Others start arguments.

[On self-criticism] If you just stab yourself first, your tutor can't possibly go and stab you.

I have 3 girls to celebrate (girls' birthdays)

[On the Indian Protectorates] These were protected by the British. They were protected from doing what the British didn't want them to do.

[At 13 Dong Dong House of Fish Soup, below pictures of the dishes served] illustration only. Actual servings may differs

We have diversity in causes (as far as courses are concerned)

[On joining the Sociology club] Do they have to pay? It's free! Oh my god, it's free! Do they get goodies? Do they get goodies? *nods head repeatedly* We'll find something for you.

If a tutorial group is full, we can't let you in... We've got lots of room in the 8am tutorial groups.

[Me on 'Animystic': 'Animistic' is {spelt} A-N-I-M-I-S-T-I-C] I know. But I like the 'Y'. *I groan* It makes more sense.

[On August Comte] He's the Father of Sociology. Who's the Mother of Sociology, people ask?

[Me: What about the people who don't have 5 modules when school starts?] Suck thumb, pah chiu cheng

[On my friend in Law faculty] Friend-in-law? There's such a term?

[On Najaf] The town of allies and rooftops (alleys)

[On a Monty Python skit - Argument Clinic] I'm going to attempt to recreate the comedy here. It's covered under fair use. This is strictly for educational purposes. You're not allowed to laugh; you're only allowed to be educated

'Dialectical dispute' - that's a fancy term I came up with just for this slide. I'll probably forget to use it later.

There's a kind of simplicity to this, kind of live Sesame Street. It's when Elmo goes to visit the furry arms people (monsters?)

[On dividing people into tutorial groups] Ugly people come in this week, beautiful people come in another week... You'll get into fights. I don't want to get into fights. There are too many of you.

This is the Ancient Greek version of the 'Philosophy majors don't get jobs argument'.

Euthyphro is like a super-villian. He talks about himself in the third person.

I read a couple of scholarly essays on the Euthyphro. I'm not going to make you read any of them.

[On the circle of interests - Yourself, Your Family, Your Countrymen etc] When Mars Attacks, we stand shoulder to shoulder against the Martians. When someone from outside the Solar System attacks, we team up with the Martians.

If your dad spit on the sidewalk, you wouldn't march down and tell the authorities about that. That would be bizarre.

[To me on Philosophy] I find it very sad if this is your most fun module.

Zeus obviously comes from a dysfunctional family... It was prophesised that one of his [Cronos'] children would overthrow him, so he did what any parent would do. He ate his own children.

[On ethics] WWZD - What Would Zeus Do? That is the question.

[On early dismissal] I'm sending you into the sunlight 10 minutes early.

[On a home experiment] Before your destroy it, let's see how it works.

People who come to Arts: We are all very laid back people.

[On Science Girls] They don't wear slippers, they wear sandals. *Goes on to discourse about how Science Girls wear T-shirts and jeans, while Arts Girls wear tank tops, spaghetti straps, skirts and shorts*

30% of Arts Girls are attached

They behave according to irrationality (irrationally)

You just have to keep your imagination open (be imaginative)

Most people without a cell phone are the professors. They are always tied to the desk... They work 7/24 (Most professors do not have cell phones, their desks, 24/7)

As you can see in bungalow (Bangalore)

Now it's just so prevailing (prevalent)

She just quitted her job (quit)

The ong'line way to purchase things (online)

The very best get cheaper each year (gets)

How many of you pay for you Acrobat Reader? Photoshop? It's free. (Adobe Photoshop costs a bomb. It's free only if it's pirated)

I just want to get you excited about Economics, because it can really be applied to many areas.

I forgot to say something about Science Girls and Arts Girls. Science Girls don't wear hoop earrings.
Quote of the Post: "The last time somebody said, 'I find I can write much better with a word processor.', I replied, 'They used to say the same thing about drugs.'" - Roy Blount Jr.

Random Playlist Song: Vaughan Williams - Rhosymedre

***

you are tiberius
Tiberius was the second emperor of Rome. His
mother wanted it more than he was. He had to
leave his wife to marry Julia, the daughter of
Augustus. He never really cared much for
politics. Later on in life, he moved to the
island of Capri, turning it into an island of
depravity and sex.


What Julio-Claudian Roman Emperor are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

***

My Brother-in-law said Steven Lim should have sung Gunther's Ding Dong Song as he stripped. Heh heh.

Maybe for the next season of Singapore Idol I will dress up as Wo-hen Nankan and sing one of his songs. But I'd need to grow a mullet first. Or find a mullet wig.


Rate My Mullet

What is a mullet?

What a question! Almost everyone knows what a mullet is by now, its popularity has risen greatly in recent times - not the popularity of the instance of the mullet (which has remained at a constant plateau for several millennia), but rather the youth-backlash towards it. Leading scienticians say that anti-mullet sentiments have risen a staggering 437% in the past 5 years alone.

What is it anyways? To say that the mullet is a hairstyle barely even scratches the surface of the issue. The mullet is a way of life, it is a state of mind, it is every person who wears it. Physically it is characterized by short hair on the top, front, and sides of the head, followed by a long drape of hair on the back, reaching at least to the middle of the spine. Typical accessories to the mullet include moustaches, scraggly beards and/or goatees, and sunglasses. Research on the mullet phenomena, at this stage, is still in its infancy. However it is suggested by many top laboratories that the mullet, as it slowly reaches maturity, begins to grow tentacles into the brain of the victim. which affect several areas of the brain and fundamentally alter the candidate's actions and behavioural responses. Said behavioural changes mainly include extreme agression, the proclivity to consume large amounts of alcohol, pedophilia, lack of hygeine, dramatic reduction in inhibitions (often bolstered by the consumption of alcohol), sense of paranoia and distrust towards authority/governmental figures, and most importantly - steadily decreasing IQ levels. I would stress that these are only preliminary details however, and the controversial nature of the theory renders it unsuitable for mass publication.

Now, why would any human being willingly decide, of their own freewill, to wear the mullet? Well, let us not discount the many advantages of the hairstyle. It is widely known that the instance of the mullet in any given area is inversely proportional to average annual income. There is little to no maintenance required to preserve the mullet, and the costs involved are much lower than that of most other hairstyles. Subjects need not even wash the mullet for long periods of time, nor groom it in the morning, though many do meticulously attend to their mullet as an issue of pride and beauty - still the costs are indeed negligible. Also the mullet insulates the subject's neck, keeping him or her warm through the cold winter nights. The other important advantage of the mullet is that it offers it's host the freedom of both worlds of work and leisure. The subject appears to be a normal human being from the front, unencumbered by long hair over the face, and also appears to be a "party animal" from behind, with the long flowing locks. Hence, the "business in the front, party in the back" mentality. One is free to be taken seriously in the world of work, and, when the opportunity arises, is also free to "let loose" and "go wild - ape style." But let us get to the harsh reality of the mullet. It looks horrible, I cannot stress that enough. Wearing a mullet makes you look like a complete and total fool, and instantly makes you much poorer and less intelligent. I mean, there must be a sad lack of intelligence and self-worth to begin with if a person is to decide to grow a mullet. Hey! Do something about that mullet! It looks so fucking stupid! Get your ass to the barber's shop and tell him you're sick of lookin' like an asshole!

***

Tales of Weirdness from Inferno XV:

"I've been doing a touring play, comissioned by the Health Promotion Board. No, it's nothing glamourous - it's for teaching primary-school age kids about Osteoporosis and the importance of eating calcium-rich foods. The sort of script that has "Can anybody name me a vegetable rich in calcium? Yes! Spinach! very good!" and a character named Aladdin who shakes a carton of milk (any special carton? As long as it's - CALCIUM ENRICHED!) and a genie comes out to teach us all about Osteoporosis. In case you were wondering - I'm the panto dame. Yes. I've got a big purple wig and frighteningly garish dress and big skirt. Needless to say, it's artistically highly dubious. However, we actors being what we are, we do it for pay. I fail to see how this differs in essence from prostitution. The lines are awful, hence impossible to learn EXACTLY. We cover all the points everytime, even if the lines come out slightly differently with each performance. Yeah, fine, except the chap who wrote the play (and is acting as well) is behaving as if we're desecrating great literature. Somebody please tell him 'Aladdin and the Magical Maxx' is not on the same level as Shakespeare."

I can't believe this.

***

Chicken madras with spicy sauce and a pack of wet wipes will get our boys in a fighting mood By Alan Hamilton

RATIONS and a pair of boots are the most important things for a fighting man. What today’s British soldier demands is boots that fit, and curry.

Troops returning from active service in Afghanistan and Iraq have been bellyaching about their 24-hour ration packs — dull, stodgy and essentially unchanged for 30 years. What they really want is what they would eat after five pints of lager at home.

Defence catering chiefs yesterday unveiled new dishes for sustaining a man in the field, which will be tested on 20,000 service men in the coming months. Their views will determine whether the British fighting machine runs in future on ethnic fuel, with chicken balti and chicken madras high on the new menu list.

Britain’s national dish, chicken tikka, has been included in some ration packs since 1988 and has proved popular. Other older staples like beef and dumplings, pork casserole and lamb stew are finding less and less favour with their consumers, because they are bored with them and because they are unlikely to eat them on a night out with the lads.

“Most fighting men are aged between 18 and 24 and their palates have become much more sophisticated since I joined up 31 years ago,” Major Andy Main of the Defence Catering Group said. He is from a fish-and-chips generation that knew little of biriyani or boil-in-the-bag.

Military food experts say they want to make the ration packs healthier, but admit the scope for improvement is limited; there is no use giving a fighting man goat’s cheese.

“Each pack, which weighs two kilograms and must have a shelf life of three years, aims to get 4,000 calories into a man every day, twice the recommended amount for a sedentary civilian. The only way to do that in a compact pack is with plenty of sugar and fat. For them a hard day at the office means getting shot at; they burn it all off. If they didn’t, they’d get very fat very quickly,” Major Main said. Each day’s meal pack costs the MoD £6.

The one item which soldiers throw away more than any other is military treacle pudding, which even they find resembles an over-sweet house brick. Nor are they fond of the lemon crystals for making a flavoured drink. Other new items being tested are instant porridge, spotted dick, isotonic drinks of the Red Bull type, and Yorkie bars, the staple diet of truck drivers whose wrapping bears the macho slogan, “Not for girls”. The military version will say, “Not for civvies”. Research has shown that including a branded item familiar at home is a significant morale booster. Another supermarket regular, Princes tuna in mayonnaise, is also under consideration.

One advance in rations in recent years has been the virtual abandonment of tins in favour of sealed plastic pouches. You “boil in the bag” in your mess tin heated with paraffin tablets, and use the still-fresh cooking water for your brew-up. If a soldier fell, it was found, his tinned dinner stashed around his body could cause him significant injury.

What a serviceman eats while on active operations raises a delicate but vital question. The current ration pack is supposed to promote evacuation only once every three days, a vital consideration in hostile territory. What the effects of curry will be remains an uncharted area. “We have tried to formulate the curries so that they have all the flavour without too much of the spice. We are including a sachet of tabasco-style pepper sauce for the guys who know they can handle a hot one,” Major Main said.

In their foxholes in a Suffolk wood near RAF Honington, members of the RAF Regiment were cooking up the new dishes and offering them to reporters. They seemed to win approval.

Senior Aircraftman Dave O’Brien is a curry fan, and gave the thumbs up to the chicken madras with spiced pilau rice. “It doesn’t look like a restaurant curry but it tastes pretty close. The pepper sauce added a bit of taste, unlike the old rations, which all tasted the same.” Sharing his foxhole was SAC Shaun Irwin, who was almost convinced. “I wouldn’t normally eat curries at home; I’m a burger-and- chips man. But I can see myself eating these.”

The pair apologised for the spotted dick with separately bagged custard. “Could have done with a bit more cooking — maybe another three minutes,” they agreed.

Military Catering provides kosher, Sikh, halal and vegetarian ration packs, but none was available yesterday.

In another foxhole Corporal Gareth Saunders said of the new food: “To get people to join up you’ve got to tempt them; it’s quite cushy out in Civvy Street these days.”

Each ration contains a small packet of paper tissues, but what the lads really wanted were wet wipes, to clean themselves up after dinner. Blimey, our boys aren’t going that cushy, are they?

HAMILTON’S FIVE-STAR TASTE TEST

3 stars: Chicken balti. Indian restaurant quality, with plenty of chicken chunks, spiced up with the hot pepper sauce and with a pleasant lemony tang, leaving only the faintest aftertaste of cardboard.

3 stars: Chicken madras. Good and mildly spicy with generous amounts of meat and an authentic tasting sauce. Accompanied by mildly spiced firm pilau rice, and with no unpleasant after taste.

2 stars: Improved bacon and beans. An old stalwart now made with better quality bacon which you can actually taste without overly fatty undertones. But the combination with beans makes it extremely salty.

1 star: Improved burger and beans. Not improved much. The alleged burger was an indeterminate minced lump, mushy and indistinguishable from cheap sausage meat. Definitely unappetising.

1 star: Spotted dick. A tricky one, as the chef admitted it should have been cooked longer. The block of fruit was dense but not overly sweet, while the custard was pale, thin and watery. Not the greatest-morale booster after a day being shot at.

***

On cabinet shuffling:

i think it's hard to take a government seriously when they "shuffle" their posts around every year. I have a vague idea of who's who, but i'm never sure because of this shuffling. Honestly, Who knows what posts Mah Bow Tan is currently holding, and has held in the last 5 years alone? Put a military admiral with no teaching experience in charge of the education ministry? sounds like a great idea. Let's put a ballerina in charge of defence.

There is a lot of shuffling in Singapore, but in other countries, ministers are changed either because their parties are toppled from government or they get embroiled in scandals. Neither of which happens here, so.

And it's good to have outsiders in charge: they bring a new, outside perspective to the job. Insiders get captured by the vested interests they are trying to overcome. Which is why asking critics of political scenes to *join* the scenes they are criticising just doesn't work. And why the press is always good to have around (except when you want a critical evaluation of the press itself).

***

Sarong Party Girl on bras

"Seriously though, what is wrong with not wearing a bra?

My mom says it’s because I’d cause men to lust.

Oh. Is it my fault that they do? They only lust because society dictates that wearing a bra is the decent thing to do, and not wearing one is decadent. And anything decadent will always incite lust. Is it just that Iranian women cannot participate in the sport they are best at because they have to wear the burkha, least their hair emanates rays that incite erections? (It covers their faces because eyebrows and eyelashes are hair, and some older women plainly need to thread their mustaches)."

***

Making sense of Singaporean policies - "In practice, the [Graduate Mothers] scheme granted privileges to children of graduate mothers. As for their less-educated, and low-income counterparts under 30 years of age; they would be given $10,000 if they had themselves sterilised after their first or second child. The scheme went unheeded and was abandoned shortly after its implementation."
You never read about the last part. I wonder why.

A funny thing happened on way to disbelief. A theologian at Oxford University explains why atheism's appeal has faded. - "Time magazine spurred public debate 40 years ago with a startling question on its cover: 'Is God Dead?' Some estimate that half the world's population was then nominally atheist... Atheism envisioned a glorious future for a humanity freed from outdated religious dogmas and restrictions, with unlimited potential provided by scientific advancement and the human imagination. Human beings could not only be good without God, but much better. The reality has been very different. Along with progress, scientific advance brought environmental devastation and the potential to eliminate human life. Atheistic regimes dominating a huge proportion of the globe created new forms of tyranny (including mind control) and executed unprecedented millions."
What this has to do with discrediting atheism, I do not know. Neither does the author offer compelling evidence of atheism's decline, unless one accepts the more than highly dubious figure of "half the world's population" being "nominally atheist" 40 years ago.

Hamza offered pork chops - "A jail boss apologised to fanatic Abu Hamza and other Muslim terror suspects when they were offered pork for dinner."
The Sun. Everyone's favourite newspaper.

Puss nosh at cat cafe - "The Meow Mix Cafe opened in Manhattan this week and is designed for owners to have their din dins alongside their feline friends."

Sound Mirror Site Visit Reflects Entente Cordiale - "With a clear view of the Folkestone coastline 21 miles distant, Miss Autogena went on to explain the concept of the Sound or Acoustic Mirrors inspired by the “listening ears” - forerunners of inter-war experimental early warning systems. Rare examples of these can be found at Folkestone, Hythe and Greatstone, the latter of which English Heritage is planning to restore."

MA Creative Curating - No, I don't understand this either.

PawSense - "Catproof your computer. When cats walk or climb on your keyboard, they can enter random commands and data, damage your files, and even crash your computer. This can happen whether you are near the computer or have suddenly been called away from it. PawSense is a software utility that helps protect your computer from cats. It quickly detects and blocks cat typing, and also helps train your cat to stay off the computer keyboard."

Journal of Negative Results - "In recent years, the trend has been to publish only studies with 'significant' results and to ignore studies that seem uneventful. This may lead to a biased, perhaps untrue, representation of what exists in nature. By counter-balancing such selective reporting, JNR aims to expand the capacity for formulating generalizations."

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Quote of the Post: "I feel like a fugitive from the law of averages." - William H. Mauldin

Random Playlist Song: Smetana - The Moldau

***

Long time readers may recall that earlier this year, in February or so, after enquiries directed to the Pioneer subscription hotline and some subsequent pestering of my unit DXO (Defence eXecutive Officer) I unsubscribed to Pioneer - The Magazine of the Singapore Armed Forces. The next few months were spent in a joyous daze, and I rejoiced at how I was now enriched by a grand total of $0.40 a month (it's more the principle of the thing than anything else).

Now, imagine my shock, outrage and hurt when I suddenly receieved July's issue in the mail last month. Like the beast that just wouldn't die, Pioneer Magazine was back to haunt me. I was so overwhelmed that I did not think to assail their offices with a barrage of complaints, and instead asked my mother to dump the foul thing.

Now, on reaching home today, what should I find but August's issue of Pioneer Magazine. This time, there was no hesitation. I immediately dialed 6373 1114, and complained to the bored-sounding lady who answered my call. She explained that what I had gotten submitted in February was the Pioneer Unsubscription Form for *Regulars and NSFs*, and that this did not affect the 2 year pre-paid subscription that all NSFs are signed up for when they ORD.

Miffed but helpless at this bureaucratic sleight of hand, I requested that my 2 day subscription be cancelled. And so, in 1 1/2 months' time, my bank account shall be credited to the tune of $13.60 ($14.40 for a 2 year subscription, less the cost of July's and August's issues).

I urge all whose 2 year subscriptions are still running (or who are still slaves) to call the Pioneer Unsubscription Line at 6373 1114/5 (for the former) or to contact your unit's S1 department (for the latter).

***

36 signs you've been in Singapore too long, especially if you come from a Western country

I like the following:

1. You've lost your sense of irony, sarcasm, and cynicism.

2. You don't know what's lame and what isn't anymore.

4. You wait for instructions from people in authority before doing anything. Always.

5. You join queues without knowing or caring what the queue is for.

7. Your idea of a good night out consists of having dinner at a hawker centre, drinking beer, and then going to another hawker centre and eating again.

8. You've lost your ability to criticize people in higher positions than you, even if they're wrong.

9. You think it's okay to have only one meaningful choice on a ballot.

14. You think that nothing makes a girl or guy more attractive than to dress exactly like hundreds of thousands of othe girls and guys who all dress exactly like girls and guys in malls.

15. You think that S$100,000 [= US$ 57,000] is a reasonable price for a Toyota Corolla and S$1,000,000 is a reasonable price for a bungalow, but S$5 [= US$2.85] for a plate of fried noodles is a barbarous outrage.

16. You believe that not being able to get decent roti prata outside Singapore is enough to keep the best and the brightest people from leaving.

17. You see nothing wrong with forming committees of select elite people to deliberate and study ways to stimulate creativity and spontaneity.

18. You justify every argument with the phrase "in order for us to be competitive in the 21st century."

20. You see nothing unusual about an organization of trade unions spending more time owning and operating supermarkets, parks, drugstores, amusement nightclubs, and financial services than planning the next strike.

21. You believe that a lack of land is enough justification for the goverment to do what it wants.

24. You like to have fun, but not too much fun, since you need to correctly gauge the amount of fun necessary to achieve the optimal result. Any more fun that that would bring shame to your family and your country.

32. You forgot what chewing gum tastes like.

33. You're sure that the best way to change social behaviour is through consistent and comprehensive government-sponsored campaigns that permeate as many aspects of daily life as possible. And when they don't work, you never speak of them again.

34. You agree that what the government thinks of your personal habits and lifestyle should determine whether you get a condo and how much you pay for it.

***

adbar for Firefox - "Opera's least popular feature comes to Firefox!"
People would voluntarily install something to show them *more* ads? We live in a strange world.

Michael Moore - How to Deal with the Lies and the Lying Liars When They Lie about "Bowling for Columbine" - I was directed to this site in the past by someone outraged that Moore, while referring to Fahrenheit 9/11, had claimed that "every fact in my movie is true". Now that I look at what Moore wrote more closely, I find that it actually applies to Bowling for Columbine (where every fact *is* true). BAH. I have pulled aside that particular bit of wool of the right wing.

Bursting the bubble on mobile myths - " How many brains have been fried, patients killed and airplanes crashed by mobile phones? I can't find any numbers or solid evidence to answer these questions. I suspect the answers are zip. One thing I can tell you: if you are concerned about the use of mobiles on aircraft, just consider the engine management and safety systems in your car the next time you phone home on the freeway. They are as equally susceptible to inference as those on an airplane."
Evil corporate conspiracies to fleece consumers...

Is Cyberporn Coming Between You? - "In October 2003, 30 percent of porn surfers were women, according to Nielsen/NetRatings."
Wah.

Bad Comma - Lynne Truss’s strange grammar - "The first punctuation mistake in “Eats, Shoots & Leaves”... appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there. “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” presents itself as a call to arms, in a world spinning rapidly into subliteracy, by a hip yet unapologetic curmudgeon, a stickler for the rules of writing. But it’s hard to fend off the suspicion that the whole thing might be a hoax."

Kerry's Blue Blood a Winner, Say Royal Researchers - "After months of research into Kerry's ancestry, Burke's Peerage, experts on British aristocracy, reported Monday that the Vietnam war veteran is related to all the royal houses of Europe and can claim kinship with Czar Ivan 'The Terrible,' a previous Emperor of Byzantium and the Shahs of Persia... Similar research carried out on Bush ahead of the 2000 presidential race showed that he beat Al Gore in the royal stakes, claiming kinship with Britain's Queen Elizabeth as well as with Kings Henry III and Charles II of England."

US House votes to block aid fo Saudi Arabia - "U.S. lawmakers cheered as the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to strip financial assistance for Saudi Arabia from a foreign aid bill because of criticism that the country has not been sufficiently cooperative in the U.S. war on terror. The vote was a stinging defeat for the Bush Administration which had strongly opposed the measure saying it would 'severely undermine' counterterrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia and U.S. efforts for peace in the Middle East. The House voted 217-191 to remove $25,000 in the $19.4 billion 2005 foreign aid bill earmarked for Saudi Arabia." (Emphasis mine)

Musician killed in crash 'just a genuine person' - "The [car] crash early Sunday that killed Wilmington musician Philip Healy also effectively killed the Knobs, the indie-pop band he led for the past decade, bandmates said... The ninth track of 'The Knobs Break Up and Die' is called 'If I Die in a Car Crash.'"

Billow found guilty of DUI charge - "The former executive director of the county's alcoholism prevention program hobbled into court on crutches Wednesday and expressed his regret over a drunken-driving crash in a vehicle owned by the program."

Lightning Strike Energizes Maine Man - "A Madison man who was struck by lightning this week says he feels 'lighter and 100 years younger' than he did before the accident."

Fish fillet was an 'offensive weapon'

***

We were supposed to read an extract from a book - "Reinterpreting Sociology" - for our first Sociology lecture. After reading those 16 pages though, I was none the wiser. If we do not even know what Sociology is, how are we going to reinterpret it?! Or as a friend put it: "yeah I wonder if some of these authors even know what they're saying. It's like in some other language"
Quote of the Post: "Good taste is the worst vice ever invented." - Edith Sitwell

Random Playlist Song: Cats - The Journey to the Heaviside Layer

***

Something I got in the mail:

After months of preparation, Zhengxi and I are finally ready to announce the launch of Vox Iuvenium, which is a non-profit online knowledge base, blog, and monthly newsletter on politics, public policy, and international affairs.

This project aims to enhance youth awareness of critical political and social issues through informed discussion and debate, and to make policy analysis and political commentary accessible and relevant to a youth audience, by highlighting and commenting on articles and research papers from universities and academic journals. Participating organizations include the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at Nanyang Technological University, MIT Political Science OpenCourseWare, the Yale Politic, Harvard Political Review, Columbia Political Review, the Wilson Quarterly, and you can expect even more source organizations in the near future.

I would really appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to visit the site at http://www.voxiuvenium.org and browse through the articles. Please do consider subscribing to the newsletter and leaving comments on the blog, and if you're interested in getting involved with the project, do let me know at quitacet@voxiuvenium.org. The project is still far from complete, and we are developing even more functionality in the coming months, so just drop me a line if you have any suggestions or feedback.

Please help me forward this to your friends and anyone you'd think might be interested in the site. I'd really appreciate your help in making this project a success.


Cheers,

Ng Pin Quan



www.voxiuvenium.org

quitacet@voxiuvenium.org

***

You learn something new everyday:


Someone (thereafter referred to as "her"): thats how i found your site. When i typed in google, "SAF uniform"

kimberly: hahahahahah really? :0
so what did you want to know about the uniform?
now I know where some of my weird search referrals come from. haha

Her: i just wanted to see more pics of hunks in the SAF uniform!!! thats why i typed that hahah

kimberly: hahaha really. I'm not a hunk
so did you find any?

Her: not really.. :(
i also found some forums that discuss army affairs and topics extensively
like how to get into OCS, how to 'chao geng', OCS or SISPEC, army phrases, etc
but no army uniforms. oh well

kimberly: why do they turn you on?

Her: no i found some topics on army uniforms
thats how i learnt the various nos.
i guess its the authoritarian air it has

kimberly: haha
so you like to be dominated

Her: yes. isn't that common among girls?

kimberly: haha. indeed, I guess
my ex likes to be dominated

Her: really? how did you make sure she was satisfied?

kimberly: err. I didn't. that's why I got dumped. haha

Her: anyway i'm quite dismayed that i cannot sate my military obssession
i mean, i'm already at my age and there's no way i can date a guy still in NS

kimberly: go for regulars
or since almost all guys were in the army, ask them to play dress up
guys ask their gfs to wear their old uniforms

Her: yah i know but its not the real thing

kimberly: hahahah ok
that's why guys go after jailbait

Her: most of the guys around my age look like teletubbies when naked. they don't fit into the hunky macho and buff soldier

typecase anymore when they wear the uniform

kimberly: ahh. there's that too
at least you won't have to risk going after jailbait :P

Her: Her: anyway i told my bf to wear his old no.4 for me but he refused
i am very distressed

[Later on]

Her: St Nicks really gets a bad deal cos all the convents are slutty and academic failures and St Nicks is the polar opposite of the two traits
in fact people more often think we're nerds, super studious, etc etc.. so this convent slut thing is really weird and goes down weirdly on us.. like sorta identity crisis>?

[Even later]

Her: btw why do u hate army life so much?
after my research, it sounds very fun!

kimberly: *choke*

Her: in fact i felt a tinge of regret that i never had the chance to go through it

kimberly: you can sign on for a short term plan
3 years I think

Her: what?? i dun want to sign on as a regular lah!! i cannot go through the physical rigors

kimberly: 3 years is only a bit longer than the 2 1/2 I did

Her: how can I have access to hordes of cuties in army uniform without having to sign on??

kimberly: err. volunteer to go for their balls and social nights?
girlfriendless guys need dates

Her: do they wear their uniforms to the balls?

***

I finally watched Bowling for Columbine. Overall, I think it's more balanced, fairer and takes longer to get draggy than Fahrenheit 9/11.

I notice that the logic given by many gun advocates can be applied to Weapons of Mass Destruction. Michael Moore noticed that too: he asked the brother of one of the Oklahoma City Bombing conspirators something along those lines, and his reply was: "they should be restricted... there are wackos out there". But somehow, this doesn't apply to guns. How odd.

He also bashes both left and right ("our President was bombing another country whose name we couldn't pronounce... it turned out to be an Aspirin factory"), so you can't accuse him of being partisan.

[On blaming Marilyn Manson and rock music in general for Columbine] "Don't they listen to Marilyn Manson in Germany - the home of sinister Goth music? Don't they watch the same violent movies in France? Most of the violent video games are from Japan"
Actually Japan has its own issues with violence

He was damn boliao to go around opening people's doors in Toronto, though.

"if more guns made people safer, than America would be one of the safest countries in the world"

The only part that irked me was when he stretched the bounds of logic to blame welfare reform and the Welfare to Work program for the case in which a 6 year old shot another 6 year old in Flint, Michigan: His mother was not around to watch him because she had to work - "making fudge for rich people" at Dick Clark's "All American Grill" - to continue to receive welfafre payments, so he managed to acquire a gun from his Uncle's bedroom The logic was so tortured and fatuous, I'd have thought that a sensible person would offer it only as a joke.

***

My mail to the guy who created Asian Prince bounced again. So I did what I should've done from the start - use the UMass Amherst People Finder. Now I've sent my mail to nnguyen@student.umass.edu. Hopefully it will get through this time. I'm very pleased with myself *beams*

My brother in law (and not a few others, I suspect) are intensely dismissive of "Dude, Where's My Car?". However, the former (and a sizeable number of the latter, I suspect) seem to be great fans of Monty Python. Since both of these seem to follow the same principles (lots of random nonsense, people acting like idiots), one wonders why they have so much contempt for the former while remaining fond of the latter. "It just sounds more intelligent with a British accent" - Brother In Law. So we can put it down to *ahem* Cultural Imperialism and Snobbery.

Fake goods tempting young adults - "There is very little distinction between piracy and the actions of a burglar who steals property from a house" - Bryan Lewin, lead officer for counterfeiting at the Trading Standards Institute in the UK. Little distinction legally, maybe, but in reality the difference is that when a pirate pirates something, he does not take something away from the owner of the Intellectual Property. Especially considering that many people who use pirated goods would never be both willing and/or able to buy the original goods.

"might as well commit a murder a rape and then vandalise a street dustbin" - On California's mandatory sentencing in California

"If the saf can win the iso 9002 certification, then that certification is pretty much worthless"

***

I was at the NUSSU (NUS Students Union) Welfare Bazaar, looking at all the dubious merchandise on offer, when I heard a familiar voice greeting it. Well, if it wasn't good old Kah Keng and Kah Seng! Apparently Whisk Technologies is into more than Phlogging - they were offering the next logical step up from neoprints: customising plastic cards by printing photos on them. So to support them, I ordered a 2-sided card from them (no prizes for guessing who will feature on it!) for $10 (no discount, bah).

[Toilet Sign in Yusof Ishak House] Our social habits reflect our progress towards a gracious society (emphasis in original). I think this is damn sad.


For our philosophy module, "Reason and Persuasion", we have to make 3 comments on the typepad blog which will make up 10% of our final grade. Heh heh. Amusing observation by someone: "As for me, there’s no point in trying to make Euthyphro go merry go round in this thoughts and get more and more confuse about what he’s saying and doing. Maybe that’s why I am not Socrates."

I think of all my modules, I have the most to read for South Asia. Not only is the Resource Pack super thick, about half the topics we need to cover aren't included in it :0

More things you learn: an experiment ">where they got kids to cycle to keep their TV sets on. Of course, they ended up watching less TV.

Factors contributing to how soporific a lecture is:

- whether you know the lecturer is covering
- whether you have someone to talk to
- how later (or early) the lecture is
- how boring the lecturer is
- amount of bad english/funny quotes


People had been telling me that in University, it is hard to make bosom friends, due to the nature of modules and classes (except for Engineering, as Ban Xiong tells me that they have fixed classes for all 4 years - kinda boring, I would think). I suppose this is why you have things like Rag, ECAs and hall activities.


Quotes:

[1 week after Orientation Weel] All my friends from O Week are getting hitched all over the place

I will give you a lot of in'tyou'tion (intuition)

The lecture notes is not complete. I deliberately leave out some stuff so you have to come to class to learn something (are)

ack'kins diet (Atkins)

Instead of eating bread for breakfast you should be eating eggs and bacons (bacon)

You have a good grarps on the economic tools (grasp of)

[On a textbook] That's why I like O'Sullivan. The companion website is very good... Don't forget that your best companion is still: me.

What is your respond?

National Day is not over yet, so the one in red can get the chance [to respond]

There are people who are crazy, they spend all their time doing MSN sing, so they have no time to do their assignments (MSN-ing)

Keynes' idea (Keynes's)

You can make, impoverise your fellow players (impoverish)

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Quote of the Post: "Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true." - Bertrand Russell

Random Playlist Song: Beethoven - Symphony No 1 - 3. Menuetto. Allegro molto e vivace

***

Ooh. Singapore Idol's Episode 1 and 2 are on Suprnova. Hehe.

Well actually Episode 1 is not available in its entirety - only some extracts are available. And the encoding for both episodes is horrendously bad. In fact, the second episode was encoded so badly as to be unwatchable (at least, not without a good deal of tenacity and perseverance). Singaporeans simply cannot make it.

I like how the Malay boy kao peh-ed. Very funny :) And the juxtaposing of 6 people singing "Killing me softly with his song" was a stroke of genius. But how come there were 2 deaf people (one seemingly totally deaf, since she needed someone to sign the judges' comments to her) and 1 guy with a speech defect?! I'm sure they must be feeling very proud of themselves, but this is a singing contest, not a ground for self-esteem building (or media whoring, for that matter).

This Gamersquare post reveals that the judges only judged contestants who'd made it through a first round of screening by "MediaCorp TV Channel 5 executives and music professionals". Which begs the question of how *some* people got through. Maybe they were so bad that the executives and music professionals let them through just so the real judges could skewer them for entertainment.

***

My computer is BSOD-ing and freezing ever more frequently. Recently chkdsk, running on startup after a crash, itself froze, and on rebooting, I was faced with a beige screen of death in place of the WinXP logon screen (beat that).

Whatever happens, I'm not going back to the shop which, for one reason or another, gave me more and more hardware problems each time I sent my computer there for servicing.

***

All 3 of the articles featured in this week's Straight Dope newsletter are very amusing.

1) Did Mahatma Gandhi sleep with virgins?

In his book The Sexual Teachings of the White Tigress: Secrets of the Female Taoist Masters, Hsi Lai writes that Mahatma Gandhi "periodically slept between two twelve-year-old female virgins. He didn't do this for the purpose of actual sexual contact, but as an ancient practice of rejuvenating his male energy. . . . Taoists called this method 'using the ultimate yin to replenish the yang.'"

Gandhi believed that sex for pleasure was sinful (for that matter, he felt eating chocolate was sinful), that sexual attraction between men and women was unnatural, and that husband and wife should live together as brother and sister, having sex only for purposes of procreation.... He swore off sex at age 36, required a similar vow of his disciples, and publicly freaked when he had a nocturnal emission in 1936 at age 67.

2) Why is a modern folktale called an urban legend?

"Modern myth" has a long history (it dates back to 1911 at least), but it and "urban myth" suffer from the shortcoming that these stories aren't myths in the sense that folklorists use the term. A myth is an orally transmitted story about the supernatural, believed by its traditional tellers, generally set in the distant past, and accounting for the origin of something. For example, the outlandish notion that the world is erected on the back of a turtle floating in water was actually believed by some primitive peoples long ago. Now of course we know that he swims through the interstellar gulf, not anything so prosaic as water. And there are elephants involved somehow.

3) Is it true Coca-Cola once contained cocaine?

In the 1890s, however, public sentiment began to turn against cocaine, which among other things was believed to be a cause of racial violence by drug-crazed blacks. In 1903 the New York Tribune published an article linking cocaine with black crime and calling for legal action against Coca-Cola. Shortly thereafter Coke quietly switched from fresh to "spent" coca leaves (i.e., what's left over after the cocaine has been removed). It also stopped advertising Coke as a cure for what ails you and instead promoted it simply as a refreshing beverage.

Does the substitution of denatured coca for The Real Thing constitute a change in the magic Coke formula? Not according to Coke. The true source of Coke's unique flavor, the company contends, lies not in the coca/cola combination but in the special mix of oils and flavorings added thereto, including the mysterious ingredient known as Merchandise 7X...

Still, whatever may be said about the formula, Coke's taste has certainly altered over the years. The most radical (and to serious Coke aficionados, most upsetting) change came in 1980, when Coke, in an effort to control costs, permitted its bottlers to substitute high-fructose corn sweetener for the beet and cane sugar once used in the product. The result was that Coke's previously crisp and bracing taste was sadly blunted. For that reason I didn't share the feelings of the fanatics who stocked up on "old" Coke when the new version was first introduced. The regrettable fact is that Coke hasn't been It for many years.... For what it's worth, you can still get Coke made with sugar in parts of Mexico, Canada, Hawaii, and Europe.

I should be overjoyed that in Singapore we get "dry and astringent" Coke sweetened with Sugar, so I don't need to go to Israel and look for Kosher-for-Passover Coke, or follow more leads. Does HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) sweetened Coke really taste that different?

***

Bumper crop of contributions to How Girls Waste Time:

Your hit the nail right on the head. In addition, the ladies will;

101: Plotting tactics for winning arguments with men. But wait a minute. Men never do the talking in the arguments anyway, nor do they start them.

102: Watching taped episodes of reality TV shows, sometimes pausing the scenes to "capture the essence".

103: Buying and listening to "music" made by the latest popstar on MTV, BET, VH1, Disney, or other mind-rotting TV channel.

104: Arguing with people over their taste in music, because the other party listens to a music genre they don't like.

105: Buying expensive or exotic food that they will not eat, and arguing with anyone who finally eats the food because they "planned on eating it later".

106: Spending in excess of 100 dollars on soaps, lotions, and bathroom ornaments that can be easily bought at a local dollar store.

107: Signing up for credit cards, using them all up on fashion and other useless junk, and crying about having no money to pay back the loan sharks who call her regularly. They'll still blow their income on said fashion and useless junk.

108: Reading tabloids and/or watching celebrity shows, making lengthy discussions about them as though they were breakthroughs in science.

109: Talking on the cellphone. Especially while DRIVING or WATCHING A MOVIE AT THE THEATER.

110: Write extensive rants about lists they were offended by, such as this one, nitpicking each and every sentence with spelling/grammar-error filled rebuttals such as "omg ur teh fagit cos u hate womyn", and "men ar like soooooooooooooooo dum". Often, the rants end up being much longer than the list itself.


***

Public Service Announcement:

Dear all,
My cousin, a lovely young girl who is only 14 years old, has been diagnosed to be in the critical stages of leukemia(blood cancer). Her situation has taken a turn for the worse and she has been down with fever ever since last wednesday, due to a severly weakened immune system which is unable to cope with any viruses or illness.

Previously we had managed to find asuitable donor. However the donor, who is stationed overseas at this present moment, has repeatedly turned down the pleas to return. Hence i would like to appealto all of you to save a young life. Chances of finding a suitable bone marrow donor is very slim but we are not taking any chances.

Its not a lot of hassle really; we just need donors to undergo a simple blood test at NUH or SGH.

Interested donors do contact me at 90120203or reply to my email. Time is really running short. To my friends and others, do help me to spread this mail around as soon as possible. Thanks and i really really appreciate it!

Enkai


***

Singapore must drop 'out-of-bounds' censorship

"Defamation laws and anti-racial vilification laws can deal with libel and racial vilification in the media, but Singapore maintains a system whereby practically every media outlet ultimately is controlled by the Government, is licensed annually and is subject to unwritten and vague "out-of-bounds" (OB) markers - topics that the Government doesn't like canvassed in the media. And in the event these OB topics are discussed in the media, the Government promises retribution.

Last year, I fell foul of these mysterious markers. Information Minister Lee Boon Yang said in a speech that I had "crossed the line" and sought to intervene in Singapore's domestic politics. I'd written a column on media regulation in Singapore, published in the local, Government-linked Today newspaper.

Dr Lee's definition of what constitutes politics seems unique. Not that he's defined it, of course.

Earlier this year, another of my columns was published in the Today newspaper. It was about the high salaries awarded to Singapore Government ministers. I wrote that I felt those high salaries were justified. The piece received the relevant OKs from the information ministry and was published. This made clear something else about Singapore's OB markers. You only actually cross one if what you say differs from the Government line. From that, I deduced that it's not me that's political, it's the OB markers...

OB markers encourage people to think only inside the box, to avoid being courageous and daring - the very attributes that we associate with Lee Kuan Yew, particularly in the early years. Singapore needs more people with the courage and the daring of a young Lee Kuan Yew, not just in politics, but in business and in all aspects of life. But what has happened to those attributes? There is far too much cowering in Singapore, particularly by its journalists.

But the greatest threat posed by the Government's OB markers is to the rule of law.

Singapore has become as rich as it is because it has a strong rule of law. The rule of law requires that laws be written down, that they are precise and that they are gazetted.

But the Singapore Government's OB markers are nebulous. They are not written down. They are not transparent. And they are applied in a discretionary manner. They are absolutely contrary to the rule of law. They offer a sample of the sort of legal chaos that reigns in China and Indonesia.

The views of foreigners particularly are targeted by the Singapore Government for censorship. But surely foreigners have a right to comment on Singapore, in Singapore. They have a right to be part of the national debate. Why? Because foreigners have invested billions of dollars in Singapore. Those billions might not buy the right to vote, but they buy the right to express an opinion. Taking foreigners' money but not allowing them a voice betrays a lack of self-confidence on the part of the Government.

Uncodified OB markers threaten Singapore's reputation as a place that observes the rule of law. And they threaten its prosperity. The Singapore Government's needless, exquisite sensitivity on this makes the world laugh at Singapore. That is a great shame because in so many other areas the Singapore Government has done so well.

At the very least, if the Singapore Government must have OB markers, it should clearly spell out what they are and enshrine them in law. Better still, it should get rid of them. In a global world built on information and knowledge, countries, and particularly little countries, that demand that thinkers kek sai, will end up with a sai economy. "

***

Interesting Mozilla Bug:

"Bug 125287 - thomas@pdb.no owes me some hot scandinavian blondes

In bug 50418 comment 6 thomas@pdb.no promices to hook up whoever fixes that bug with some hot scandinavian blonds.

My fix for bug 17003 also fixed that bug, but now, even after repeated reminders, almost 2 months later, i have not seen any actions taket to that extent.

I do not get paied anything for working on mozilla and gave the above mentioned
bug especial attention since a reward was promiced.

This is also turning into a serious blocker for me for bug 95849."

Also interesting:

Mozilla doesn't add time to the day - "If Mozilla added more hours to the day I
wouldn't have to get up at 0600 PDT to help my gf with homework. I spend so
much time working on the Lizard with Sidebar panels, hangning out on
irc://irc.mozilla.org/#mozillazine and irc://irc.mozilla.org/#sidebar that I
just don't have time to do my own work."


Overclocker Creates Rift in Space-Time Continuum - "A rift in the space-time continuum was created today when overclocker Jamie Aperman ran a 750 MHz Coppermine Pentium III at 1.6 GHz. Overclocking has long been blamed for causing global warming, but this is the first occasion that the fabric of space-time has been damaged."

Yet Another Excellent Foxtrot Strip

Condoms find new uses in India

Improbable research - "Vincent Dethier loved flies with a fervour that is rare. He distilled this love into a book called To Know a Fly. Page 53 tells what happens when Dethier severed the tiny nerve that tells a fly whether it has had enough to eat."

Singapore's philosopher-prince' - "Lee Hsien Loong is perhaps the closest the modern world has to the ancient thinker Plato's idea of a philosopher-prince. He is undoubtedly intelligent, with degrees from Cambridge and Harvard universities, and he has been groomed from an early age to lead his country."
Interesting observation

Singapore's capitalism myth - "When people talk about Japan Inc or the US military-industrial complex, they're referring to a metaphorical representation of a perceived phenomenon. But when they talk about Singapore Inc, they mean Temasek Holdings... The Heritage Foundation, a leading US conservative think-tank, touts Singapore as one of the world's two freest economies, but that's just a myth. In fact, Singapore is the world's most successful socialist state."

Gods and monsters - But how much do you really know about the country's [Greece] celebrated mythology? Take our quiz and find out. - You scored 8 out of a possible 10: Silver medal. You're up to speed on all things mythical. Your country will be proud. You can look forward to a long and prosperous career of opening supermarkets and turning on Christmas lights.

***

Index of /~nnguyen

This is where the pictures on the original Asian Prince site used to be hosted: a personal directory on UMass Amherst's server (this explains why the site had pictures taken in that college).

In this directory you can see pictures of people of Vietnamese descent engaging in the various sordid stunts that American fraternity boys and sorority girls get up to.

Some digging reveals that the person to whom the directory belongs to is a member of the "Pi Delta Psi Fraternity", and I am certain that this is he:

"Name: Nam Nguyen
Pledge Name: J.F.K.
Class: Eta Fall 2002
Position: Recorder, Liason, & Webmaster
Ethnicity: Vietnamese
Major: Finance
Hometown: Chelmsford, MA"

I tried to email him (nnguyen@oit.umass.edu?) to ask him where I could get more pictures of and music by Tuan Anh, but unfortunately it bounced ("Not found in directory"). I have since realised my mistake - oit.umass.edu is the server for the UMass Office of Information Technologies - and have sent off another mail to nnguyen@umass.edu. I hope this address works!

***

I put "Asian Prince" on my Soulseek wishlist, and I get one result: "e:\mp3\bullshit songs\Asian Prince - 25 Years.mp3". Yay!

I was on a taxi on Saturday, and the seats had TV Mobile installed on them, though thankfully there was no sound. Worse, the show that was on at the time was about some flat-chested woman having her breasts operated on (and the Powers That Be saw fit to insert fuzzy white circles covering them, even during the operation). The profusion of TV screens everywhere really puts one in mind of the telescreens in Oceania.
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