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Valar Qringaomis

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Friday, August 27, 2004

Socrates is an idiot. His way of arguing is similar to He Who Must Not Be Named's - he says he's stupid and dumb and shows how everyone is also stupid and dumb. Hahaha.

***

Looking at the amount of material covered during lectures, the length of each lecture (excluding the pre-lecture settling down, mid-lecture break) the amount of time allocated to tutorials (and how they don't even cover everything that we're taught) and the seeming lack of structure in some lectures, I am drawn inexorably to one of 2 conclusions:

1) We don't need to know much for each module beyond general, vague and often confusing stuff
2) There's an insane amount of reading to be done, most of which we don't know about, while the part we know about is often neither useful nor clear, and we're supposed to digest and assimilate everything by ourselves

I do not know what I do not know. And having a 10 minute attention span doesn't help either.

Maybe this is just my brain waking up from its long period of hibernation. At this juncture, I am reminded of a quote about A Maths: "Study also fail. Don't study also fail. Might as well don't study". Heh heh heh.

A source opines that exposure modules are like that, since they have no focus but rather are meant to give you exposure, as their name suggests. So even though they are supposedly the easiest, they are also difficult in that way.

At least I'm not the only one feeling this way. It seems other Year 1s doing arts modules all have this feeling :)

Let's see what it's like after my first Arts tutorial tomorrow...


I wonder why ECAs hold their AGMs at this time, around the start of the school year. For one, Year 1s are allowed to vote, and are accepted as nominees for most posts. Given that they have just joined the ECAs in question, they won't know much about the nominees they are voting for, and if they're running, no one will know much about them. Thus, most Year 1s will end up voting for candidates, and most people will end up voting for Year 1s, on the basis of: prior acquaintance, looks, personality, the nomination speech, gimmicks, freebies and marketing, which is hardly ideal. Also, not having had much experience in the ECA, Year 1s won't have much of an idea of what they're running for. Perhaps a better time would be at the start of Semester 2, since Year 4s don't usually take up leadership positions.

At the Economics Society AGM, 5 of the top posts were walkovers. How Singaporean *g*


I just watched my first webcast lecture today. It was better than I expected, really. Though some others have been having problems, for me the sound was loud, and the slides were shown me exactly as the lecturer had shown them to the audience.

The only problem was that I couldn't seek to any location in the webcast, and the file markers were broken so I couldn't jump around to pre-determined parts of the lecture. Consequently, I was stuck watching the pre-lecture confusion and mid-lecture break. At first I thought that there was a problem with the file encoding, or that it was a bug in the WMV format, but the problem soon became clear: although the webcast was timed at 1 hr 41 mins (or so), I was rudely booted out after the mid-lecture break: the WMV was incomplete (this is a limitation of the WMV format that irks me - if the file is incomplete, you are unable to seek to any location).

Meanwhile the IVLE site proclaims that Part II of Lecture 3 will be broadcast live next Tuesday (which is actually the date of Lecture 3 of a parallel lecture series).


People tell me that NTU halls are centres of 'debauchery', and to support this claim, they say that people smoke ganja there. A sad testament to the power of the tobacco lobby, that even though marijuana does less harm than tobacco, people perceive pot to be more sinful.

I was at the Vietnamese coffee cafe at Engineering, and the auntie preparing my Soda Chanh asked me how much syrup I wanted. Apparently the "xiao2 nu3 shen1" (Translation: Small Girls) don't like any syrup. As for me, after she pumped 3 generous squeezes of syrup into my drink, I still found it sour. Bleah.

My friend told me about his interesting experience trying to join Club Exchange. All in all, it was like an initiation rite into some Evil Cult. Take the location, for example. Their clubhouse was housed in some half-abandoned building in Chinatown: half the building was not paved, so you were walking on concrete instead of marble, parquet or even tiles and the clubhouse was at the third storey, but the lifts and escalators were all not turned on. And then to prove their worthiness to join the club, they had to sell 25 CDs at $25 each (ie $500 in all) to prove their "resourcefulness". All of which is quite ridiculous if you think about it.

Me: One should not let such vulgar things as popular opinion prevent one from achieving one's dreams
Yisa: Yes, but the manifestation of your dreams will be everyone else's nightmare.
Gah.


Quotes:

She scares me a little - she keeps laughing. You better come see me... Did that answer your question, laughing woman?

They don't normally allow themselves to be hailed into court (hauled)

[On Dale Carnegie] Thank god that he realised that philosophy was useless, and wrote the book that he did and made a lot of money.

You read 10 pages of Plato like you were reading Harry Potter, then you think: What did I just read?... This happens to me too when I read Plato too late at night... You wipe your mind clean. There are other ways to wipe your mind clean. You can play video games - it's a lot more fun.

[On Emile Durkheim] Please, it's 'Emile'. Don't tell me 'Emily'.

You don't wear clothes, the little men in uniforms come with the net and take you away.

[On University Students being socialists by definition] Now you can go home and tell your mother: 'Guess what? My lecturer told me I was a socialist.' Then I'll get this collection of emails in the morning.

[On our roles if we subscribe to Goffman's Dramaturgical Analysis] You've got to sit there and pretend you look interested. You've got to laugh at my jokes.

[On a possible interpretation of the wedding ring] The days of slavery, when you're someone else's property.

[On the short mid-lecture break] You had a big long break the last time. That's enough to last for the next 4 lectures.

A friend of mine dropped by the other day. 'Oh, I was touched by god.' 'Really? What did he look like?'

[On the limits of using common sense] Common sense told us that... prostitutes really enjoyed their jobs.

Any upper-class people here? They're all off at UCLA and Stanford.

[On spurious correlation] We know that in Singapore, the shorter people's pants, the more bubble tea they drink... It's statistically proven. (because in hot weather people drink more)

[On the advantages of questionnaires] You can't go and ask people that: 'Hi, I'm your professor. Do you do illegal drugs?'

Maybe you mailed out a questionnaire on women's sexuality, and the men's soccer team got hold of it. *flighty voice* 'Oh ho, all the time.'

[End of lecture buzzer sounds] Don't pay attention to that.

I never listen to my own webcasts because it's too disturbing.

[On priests having the power to influence gods with sacrifices, prayers, incantations and spells] If you had email, you'd have gotten spam about this sort of offerings, presumably.

If you're having trouble with your math homework, you could pray to Zeus, and Zeus, no doubt being very good at math, could give you the answer to your problem set (?)

[On a sunglasses-wearing guy sitting at the front of the LT, at the lecturer's long table, and facing the students instead of the lecturer] Maybe he's just checking out the girls

[Me: One should not let such vulgar things as popular opinion prevent one from achieving one's dreams] Yes, but the manifestation of your dreams will be everyone else's nightmare.

Camp Exotica?... Not Erotica or something like that. [Someone on 'Erotica': That was the name of one of the groups.]

[On Bollywood Hollywood] If you dress up as a coconut tree, we'll dance around you.

We've all heard the speeches of the chew candidates vying for the position (two)

[Candidate for Treasurer on finanacial statements and accounts] They're not difficult *realises he's committed a faux pas* They're not easy.

[On heading the Sports and Social Committee] As you can see from my relaxed mood, this job suits me quite well.

[On drinking Root Beer, which he hates] Let me try a bit. See whether they changed the formula.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Quote of the Post: "Murals in restaurants are on a par with the food in museums." - Peter De Vries

***

Taboo - Moral judgements, chickens and the yuk-factor. How do you measure up?

"9. A man goes to his local grocery store once a week and buys a frozen chicken. But before cooking and eating the chicken, he has sexual intercourse with it. Then he cooks it and eats it. He never tells anyone about what he does, never regrets it and never shows any ill effects from behaving this way. He remains an upstanding member of his community.

a) How do you judge this man's actions (assume there are no ethical problems with meat eating!)?

b) Should his poultry lovin' be prevented (assuming we know about it) or should he be punished for it? [Note: if you think that either or both of these things should occur then you should answer 'Yes'; only answer 'No', if you think neither of these things should occur.]

c) Suppose you learn about two foreign countries. In one country, it is normal for people to have secret sex with dead chickens. In the other, people don't in the normal course of events have intercourse with frozen poultry. Are both these customs okay morally speaking or is one of them bad and morally wrong?"

Hahahahahaha.

***

Responses to some comments:

PrimusEmpyrian: My condolences.

Atheism is another form of religion.

It seems that most of the points in each headings seem to be preoccupied over the "sufferings" of this world. Because of "sufferings," the notion of "God" gets a discount.

There is a counter point that this world could be a place to test worthy and unworthy humans who will either enjoy the Elysian nature of Heaven or the torture of Hell. "Sufferings" is an element that must be factored in for such tests.

There is also the perspective view. What is "evil," "sufferings" may not be so in the bigger picture, something puny humans can not envision.

2+2=5 does not occur in Base10 maths, but it is possible in other Bases.

That being said, I am not a christian. :p
And I believe the notion that, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." though I understand religions operate on faith not proof...



Thank you but it wasn't my friend who died.

And saying that atheism is another form of religion is analogous to saying that advocating the view that people of all races are equal is another form of racism. Unless you're talking about how the fervour of the few (at least in Singapore) atheists/other freethinkers passionate about their freethought is similar to the devotion that fiery theists have, in which case I would agree.

The notion of suffering does not in itself discount the possibility of gods, just the possibility of all-loving gods. And if this world is just a "test", with the test graded on your happening to guess correctly which of the many improbable gods for whom little if not no evidence exists competing for your mindshare are real, then the marker must be cruel indeed.

Please tell me how having babies born with Down's Syndrome or the existence of flesh-eating bacteria could possibly be good. What appears evil might be good, but working backwards from the conclusion that all seemingly evil events are good and retrospectively justifying them - all based on some wishy-washy notion of faith, is disingenuous indeed. If the evidence does not agree with the hypothesis, then it is faulty. Why not look at the evidence and then formulate theories that fit them, instead of the other way around? If not, one day you may wake up and find that the god(s) you were/was worshipping were/was actually evil, insane or at best apathetic (as all the evidence suggested), then I will say sorry to you.

If you suggest that 2 + 2 = 5 is possible, then I suggest that what is good can be evil, what is evil can be good, what is illogical can be logical and vice versa, in which case the concept of divine morality becomes null and void, as does all forms of argumentation.

I could start a religion and ask you to have faith in me. Would you follow me? I think not :)


PrimusEmpyrian: One can not prove or disprove the existence of God. Evidence might be given, but in the end all you really know is what you are told and what you see. Unless you hear all and see all, you can't really know can you?

Religion is not meant to replace logic and reason, only to address things that are outside these categories.

Besides, what better justice, be it dreamed or real, is there than a visceral overseer who will crush all unworthy and faithless(or people who don't believe like you do) when they die?

You can start a religion but I will decide whether to join you after 3 days... :p Through Thy's exaltness, may I write a book for Thy?


One also cannot disprove the existence of Invisible Pink Unicorns, Invisible, Immaterial Winged Bunnies Orbiting the Rings of Saturn, or Santa Claus either. For all intents and purposes, if no evidence exists for something, it doesn't exist.

There are things outside the realms of logic and reason, but addressing said things with systems that defy logic and reason is surely not prudent. In that case, we might as well give in to lunacy and irrationality.

If that is your concept of perfect justice, then you can hold me in contempt of court. "It is a counterfeit love that is contingent upon authority punishment or reward. In a nutshell, God had to kill Himself to appease Himself so that He would not have to roast us, His beloved creations, in HELL forever. He loves us more than we can ever comprehend, but if we don't return His affections, He will make us regret it for eternity. Now that is AMAZING GRACE!"

I can get people to write contradictory and absurd tales of what happened to me before, during and after the 3 days, but I don't think you'll believe those, will you?


It's not important: looks like you are still trying convince yourself that you are an atheist and loving it...

In that case, theists who enthuse about their faiths are trying to convince themselves that they are theists and loving it...

***

Innovations in Technology reminds me of a good reason why I didn't do Science or Engineering - I suck at using my hands.

From the feedback I'm getting, it seems USP writing modules are greatly overrated by the administration. For example when you have to read and digest passages like this: The "city" founded by utopian and urbanistic discourse is defined by the possibility of a three fold operation:... 2. the substitution of a nowhen, or of a synchronic system, for the indeterminable and stubborn resistances offered by traditions; univocal scientific strategies, made possible by the flattening out of all the dad in a plane projection, must replace the tactics of users who take advantage of "opportunities" and who, through these trap-events, these lapses in visibility, reproduce the opacities of history everywhere;, it makes you wonder.


Hubertian Maps - The Lands of Legend - Maps of the Blood Sword world of Legend.

jAime's adventures - I'm quite sure that this is a big joke.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Quote of the Post: "It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them." - P.G. Wodehouse

Random Playlist Song: Kreisler - Kaprys Wiedeñski

***

Something written by a friend:


Atheist at a Catholic Funeral

It was a pretty rough last week. I attended the wake and cremation of my former friend who died at the age of 25 in a car crash.

It was a surreal affair, with lighted white candles on a table containing a 6R picture of my friend at the main entrance of his home, and his body was placed in a white casket, in the living room.

On the wall behind the casket, hung a poster of some Biblical quote. I was too distraught (and even now, I am still trying hard to move on) to remember the exact wording, but it came from John Something Colon Something: "He that believes in me shall not die" or something like that.

Despite my shock at the loss of my friend, I was also aghast at how people were willing to believe that some day, they would actually believe that my friend was actually going to rise up again and meet them some day. I certainly wished that the corpse lying there would do so, but I had no illusions that my friend is no longer alive.

On the day of his cremation, I went to the church to witness the funeral rites. Despite the solemnity of the entire ceremony and the religious songs of hope sung, hushed sobs would punctuate the somewhat eerie silence when the song had ended, or even the times when the priest would speak.

When the casket was carried out and loaded into the hearse, I saw his mother in total hysterics, weeping and wailing, as well as touching the rear windscreen of the van lovingly, supported by her husband, himself barely able to walk straight.

I have never seen so many grown men and women cry together, and I think aside from the loss of the friend who taught me that enjoying life should come first above everything else, the friend who tried to teach me how to play soccer, and the friend who attempted to socialise with me, the tears, the crying will perhaps haunt me for quite some time.

MANDAI CREMATORIUM

Another ceremony was held at an auditorium, and the priest gave another sermon (?), and the throng of people who had accompanied the body to the cremation hall would break out into Biblical hymns like "Oh, What a Friend We Have in Jesus" (I know this song because I've been forced to master it on my guitar) and others which I couldn't remember. There were many who even broke down and cried even harder, unable to carry on singing.

The entourage was led to the viewing hall to see the body roll into the cremation chamber. All the time, nearly everyone was chanting some prayer repeatedly. When the casket rolled down the passageway, the door opened.

"Oh, no!" wailed my friend's brother, breaking from the chanting and crying yet again. Despite the incessant chanting, the sobbings and wailings reached a crescendo as the casket rolled into the cremation chamber and the automatic wooden doors closed behind them, almost everyone still chanting the prayer until it was time to leave the place.

In the bus back to the church, the religious experience got even worse. I heard a male 50+ year old man saying to a female: "..That's why I say. Everything must have a reason...I carry the Bible everywhere I go...I teach at Montfort Secondary...I tell my players: 'You can pray to Allah, you can pray to Kuan Yin...but I know in my heart that everyone will eventually reach Jesus'...The Lord works in mysterious ways...".

I've never been that tempted to sock anyone in the face before; that fundamentalist creep teaching some sport in that secondary school has the dubious honour of being the very first.

FINAL NOTE

I remember some pastor saying that Christian funerals are always full of hope, compared to other funerals, which only have sadness and nothing else.

While my friend was Catholic, since the Catholics and Christians use the same holy book, I never really saw anything such as "hope" in the wake and cremation which I attended last week. I saw people silent with red eyes, unable to sing the religious songs, I saw people hugged and kissed by other people who were stronger, but just as sad.

Before my friend died, I had already set my atheistic beliefs in stone. But after attending the funeral wake and cremation, when I saw that "hopeful" Biblical message behind his casket about the dead being brought back to life, after I saw the numerous numbers of people distraught, devastated, heartbroken, and crying in a voice so hysterical that I even hear them in my sleep and hope I won't ever hear again - though these things will happen because they can - and singing songs that reaffirm their belief in Mary and Jesus even though these two beings didn't manage to revive my friend before his body got cremated, I am quite sure that I shall never adopt a religion in my life.

I have questions for the people there who felt sad at his funeral.

Why all the crying, all the hullabaloo, all the sadness, if you really believe that you're going to see him someday, somewhere? Shouldn't you be happy, if he's gone to a beautiful place called Paradise?

On the painful days when I witnessed my friend's casket at his wake and when I witnessed his casket roll into the cremation chamber, I have seen the power of religion, and I am not impressed by it in any way. Yes, maybe my friend's up there in Paradise, despite his remains being on top of some shelf in Mandai Crematorium, but I have no illusions about the cold hard truth.

He was alive. He's dead. He won't come back, even if I did dream that he invited me out for a game of soccer the day after he was cremated.

The death of a person hurts people closest to him/her, but religion doesn't seem to be a good anaesthetic to numb the pain.

I have never been prouder to be an atheist among the devout Christians whom I hang out with all the time.

Rest in peace, Keith.
Quote of the Post: "Words easy to be understood do often hit the mark; when high and learned ones do only pierce the air." - John Bunyan

***

Dilbert Strip

Dilbert: Why can't I find a girlfriend?

Dogbert: You have two problems: your looks and your personality.

Dilbert: Hmm... Two isn't bad.

Dilbert: I can fix my looks by getting an extreme makeover.

Dogbert: You'll still need to improve your M.T.T.S.F.

Dilbert: What?

Dogbert: Mean Time To Story Failure: It's a measure of how long you can be fascinating to a new person.

Dogbert: I've been counting, and you only have nine good stories. After you use them up, you're a social liability.

Dilbert: I saw a horse kick a woodchuck over a fence.

Dogbert: Still only nine.

***

Do-It-Yourself Deity

In an attempt to resolve any disagreement surrounding the meaning of the word "God", TPM [Ed: The Philosophers' Magazine] has assembled a crack team of "metaphysical engineers" who have devised a new computer-modelling virtual environment in which to test the plausibility of different conceptions of God.

Here's how it works. You are invited to select from the list below the attributes which you believe God must have (or the attributes that a being deserving of the name God must have). Metaphysical engineers will then model this conception of God to check out its plausibility.


So I plugged in the attributes that most people would associate with a monotheistic god and I got:

"Plausibility Quotient = 0.3

The metaphysical engineers have determined that your conception of God has a plausibility quotient (PQ) of 0.3. A PQ of 1.0 means that as far as the metaphysical engineers can determine your conception of God is internally consistent and consistent with the universe that we live in. A PQ of 0.0 means that it is neither internally consistent nor consistent with our universe.

The problem of suffering

Your God is omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything), omnibenevolent (all-loving) and omniscient (all-knowing).

The metaphysical engineers have found it hard to model this God in a universe like our own. The problem is this: our universe contains vast amounts of suffering, much of which seems either entirely unnecessary or unnecessarily severe. Although some of this is the result of human action, and thus may be seen as an inevitable consequence of human free will, much is not. Plagues, floods and famines are not all the result of human action. Even the idea that human free will explains the existence of much suffering is hard to accept, since God, if all-powerful, could surely limit our capacity to harm others or suffer at their hands (after all, there are many other limits on what we are able to do).

So why is there all this suffering? If God cannot prevent it, it would seem she is not all-powerful. If God doesn't want to stop it, it would seem she is not all-loving. If God doesn't know about it, she can't be all-knowing.

The problem of loving too much

Your God is omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything), omnibenevolent (all-loving) and a perfectly free agent.

The metaphysical engineers have confronted a difficulty modelling this God. If perfectly free, then God could choose whatever she wants. Nothing could stop this because God is omnipotent. But this God is also all-loving. It seems to the engineers that such a God could never choose to do something which is unloving. It is not that God just chooses not to do such things, rather that God's nature as omnibenevolent constrains what she can do. In other words, God does not have the freedom and/or the power to do something unloving.

One possible response is that God isn't necessarily omnibenevolent, but, as a matter of fact, since she never chooses to do something which is unloving, is omnibenevolent. However, if this is true, then the metaphysical engineers can't see how omnibenevolence can be a necessary characteristic of a God.

Not so personal after all?

The metaphysical engineers are finding it hard to understand how, on your conception of God, one can have a personal relationship with her.

Personal relationships appear to depend on a number of things. Sufficient similarity between the persons in the relationship is one. Another is that both are persons, or are, at least, person-like, as some higher primates, for example, appear to be. The problem is that in our universe there seem to be no genuine personal relationships between things of great difference. And God, as you have described her, is vastly different from human beings.

People can have feelings for things which are similar to those they have towards people. Affection or love for places or objects, for example, is common. But this is not the same as having a personal relationship with them. In a similar way, people have relationships with animals, maybe a cat. But this does not seem to be the same as a personal relationship, because of the great difference in the way the person relates to the animal and the way the animal relates to the person. Perhaps this is the kind of relationship which you envisaged?

Can God do the illogical?

The metaphysical engineers request clarification of what you mean when you say God is able to do anything.

In the model, God was asked to make 2 + 2 = 5 (where all the terms hold their common meanings). She could not do so and the model broke down. It seems that no being can ever do what is logically impossible. It is not just beyond the wit of humanity to make 2 + 2 = 5, such a thing is a contradiction in terms.

So the metaphysical engineers seek your permission to understand by all-powerful that God can do anything which is logically possible. Before accepting this, however, you should understand that by accepting the limits of logical possibility on God, you are leaving open the possibility that, if some characteristics you attribute to God turn out to entail logical contradictions, you must give these up. It means, in effect, accepting that rationality is a constraint on God (though it is a moot point exactly what the word constraint means in this regard).

Why this universe?

Your God is omnipotent (all-powerful, able to do anything), omnibenevolent (all-loving), omniscient (all-knowing) and the creator of all that exists.

The metaphysical engineers have run up against a problem. When your God created the universe, being all-knowing, she must have known about all the suffering there would be in this world. Yet God still created it, as it is. She did not create a more benign version of the universe, or simply choose not to create the universe. Why is this?

It could be that God did not know about all the suffering which would occur. But that would make God not all-knowing. It could be that God doesn't mind all the suffering, but that would make her less than all-loving. It could be that God could not have created a more benign world than this one. But that would seem to make God less than all-powerful. The only way we can resolve this problem is to conclude that God can only do what is possible and that this really is the best of all possible worlds. The metaphysical engineers find it hard to model this resolution as they think they can make a better world quite easily. For example, they are able to make human brains more hardy and thus reduce the incidence of psychopathology, resulting in an immediate decline, in their model, of crimes of sadistic murder. Are they mistaken in some way?

For eternity?

The metaphysical engineers request clarification of what you mean when you say God exists eternally.

You may mean that God exists through all space and time. But according to our best physics, space and time exist only within the confines of a universe. This would seem to constrain God's existence to within a universe.

You could mean that God exists "outside" space and time. But the metaphysical engineers find it hard to understand what you mean by "eternally", if that's the case. Doesn't the concept "eternally" require some notion of time to make sense? The metaphysical engineers are still puzzling over these issues.


Which is why conventional polytheism makes more sense than conventional monotheism.

***

Different Chinese Groups in Malaysia

Today, in Malaysia, there is no longer just the Chinese. Along the way, the Chinese people divided beyond dialects and religious faith. We now have denomination within the Chinese. The major three groups are Regular, Cina, and Ah Beng.

The Regular group is the minority, making up less than 20% of the Chinese people. This group has the following characteristics:

1. Speaks English as the first language.
2. Thinks the world owes them a living.
3. Uses the Internet more than the other two groups combined.
4. Loves the iPod and/or IKEA.
5. Watches one or more of the following TV series: "Sex And The City", "Friends", or "CSI."
6. Thinks that the Regular group is way larger than it is and makes fun of the other groups, particularly the Ah Beng group.

Why? Because it's fun.

Recent studies have also shown that there is a growing splinter group within the Regular group known as the CPWTTANC group. (CPWTTANC is short for Chinese People Who Think They Are Not Chinese.) This growing subgroup are considered elitist by some and are found making statements like "I wish I were in the U.S." or "This never happened when I was studying in Australia." They also tend to speak with an unidentifiable accent. The women may also prefer to date white men from foreign countries with the
excuse that local men just "don't understand me" and have the secret desire to be taken away to the U.S. to live in a sitcom.

The second Chinese group, Cina makes up approximately 55% of the Chinese community. (Cina is derived from the Malay word Cina which means Chinese and is pronounced "chee-na". And you will have to say it in a condescending tone for effect.) This group is considered mainstream and contribute to the numbers that reflect development in the country. They are the masses in context of the Chinese community. In other words, if you want to sell something to the masses of Chinese people, the Cina is it.

The Cina are identified by the following traits:

1. Speaks Mandarin or Cantonese as the first language.
2. Generally quiet, self-effacing, and obliging but are actually shrewd and calculative.
3. Sees Taiwan as the place to be.
4. More likely to forward chain email to people in their address book.
5. Goes to Halo Café or Wow Wow Café BY CHOICE at least three times a year.
6. Has Astro hardwired to Wah Lai Toi.
7. Calls a music video an MTV instead of music video.
8. Knows all the dim sum dishes by name.
9. Seventy percent of lighting at home generated by flourescent lights.

The last group are known as the Ah Bengs . This term was probably made up by the Regulars in the early 80s during the cultural invasion that saw the mass import of music and movies from countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and to some extent, Japan. This phenomenon saw the more open-minded and runaway members of the Cina group defect into Ah Bengs and its feminine equivalent, Ah Lian. They just took their Alan Tam and Anita Mui a little too seriously.

Perhaps the most made-fun-of group not only by its own Chinese people but by people of other races, the Ah Bengs are often seen as people living on the edge and have more flamboyant tastes.

One may identify the Ah Beng by these tell-tale signs:

1. Built-in visual self-defense mechanism that keeps people away from them.
2. Have enough amplifiers in their one car to power speakers for six cars.
3. Hair not in their original colour.
4. Volume of voice is automatically five decibels higher than everyone else.
5. Excessive use of the phrase "Kan Ni Na Bu Ciao Chee Bai". (Although, to be fair, some members of the Regular group have been reported to use the phrase on a daily basis as well.)
6. Once a fan of one of the following groups: Vengaboys, Dr Bombay, Aqua, or the Cheeky Girls.
7. Their Proton car does not look like a Proton car due to modifications.
8. For the Ah Lians, have at least one bag fashioned after a furry animal complete with the head.

***

"Some of the symptoms of psychosis:

Talking or smiling to yourself
Neglecting your appearance"

- Poster urging potential sufferers to get help.

Heh heh. Coincidentally, many of the other criteria (eg hearing voices others cannot hear and seeing things others cannot see) happen to fit religious prophets/leaders.


I saw a Chinese guy with an afro at Borders. I asked him how long it took for his hair to get that way, and he said about a year from crew cut length. He claimed that his hair was naturally curly, and he had just let it grow out to get the afro. Right. If I want an afro, I'll probably have to perm my hair like crazy.

My attempt at building an electroscope failed. Boo hoo. I shall try a Leyden Jar next.

Useful tip: To have an application window's size and position persist when you next open it, Control + Click on the "Close" button


When the Computer Opens the Closet - "Once women like Jennifer might have spent decades in the limbo of ignorance or denial, while their husbands explored their sexual orientation and lived furtive double lives. But in the age of the Internet, the blinders can be yanked off with the flick of a finger. Mental health professionals and matrimonial lawyers say that many marriages, involving both heterosexuals and homosexuals, are collapsing under the weight of documentary evidence left behind on computers, just as computer records are increasingly tripping up business leaders, employees and others who forget that these are communications not easily denied."

Tell these intolerant Singaporeans to go home - "In part two of the Seven Network submission to FIRB, Kerry Stokes explains the dangers of allowing these heavy-handed totalitarians control over any more key Australian assets... The Seven Network submits that the offer by Sing Tel for Optus be rejected on the grounds that it would be against the national interest. If the bid by Sing Tel were to be accepted, a very significant Australian asset would come under the control of a foreign Government which is widely acknowledged as running an extremely intrusive and repressive authoritarian state."
A mid-July 2001 opinion on why Singtel's attempt to purchase Opus should not be allowed to go ahead. Pleasantly, no events of the sort chronicled in the article have happened here since 1997, if I recall correctly.

PAPMan is damn hard once you read level 3. I wonder if there's a Level 4. At Level 3 you already have PM, MM and an anonymous MIW (Man In White) chasing you. So who might they add in Level 4?

Power ranger death! - This must rank up there with the sickest shit I have ever seen.
The (sic) "legendary" gabriel seah spent his birthday hanging out at my place while we played with my PS2!! And we battled side by side (notionally) at Samurai Warriors!

I'm never going to wash my sofa again!!! *gushes over and swoons*

Incidentally, someone in the "I-never-thought-they-would-read-Balderdash" category actually asked me, totally out of nowhere "Do you contribute to Gabriel Seah's blog?". I am exalted just by being Associated with you:)

You should be my idol instead.

Can I have your love child? (I'll surgically implant a uterus if that's what it takes)

I should change my handle to "Gabriel's Biggest Groupie".

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Birthdays are terribly overrated.
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