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Valar Qringaomis

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

Timeranger vs GoGoV

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***

When all is said and done, the top reason why M$N Instant Messenger is evil is that it only allows you to have 150 contacts on your list! !@#$%^&*()

***

This has been a very... restful mid-term break. Mmm. So much for reading week.

***


Mirai Sentai Timeranger vs GoGoV

I happened to pick up "Timeranger vs GoGoV", subbed by "slackin". Prior to this I had watched only a few Dairanger episodes, and maybe some Jetman/Maskman when it was showing on Malaysian TV (dubbed in Malay, no less!). So this was probably the first Sentai that I'd watched where I could actually understand what they were shouting about. Unfortunately it was only 41 minutes long, but it was very... enlightening.

For starters, it appears that I'd overestimated how much Time Force and Lightspeed Rescue had borrowed from Timeranger and GoGoV respectively. The Japanese morphing sequences looked ridiculous: the Timerangers jumped into the air and curled into fetal positions, while their suits got superimposed over them. Meanwhile, the GoGoV flipped a cape of fire around their shoulders, and their bodies glowed and became suits, while their helmets formed around their heads. The American morphing sequences were at least less ridiculous. Also, while the idea of Lightspeed Rescue's ranger jackets were borrowed from GoGoV, the ones in GoGoV were absolutely dreadful, while the Lightspeed Rescue jackets at least looked decent.


GoGoV Jackets


Lightspeed Rescue Jackets

There were also the traditional Japanese touches that we've all come to know and love. Like the part when the old scientist (Dr. Tatsumi Mondo, with a cute little ponytail) came riding in on a motorcycle to knock Pierre (Jinxer in Lightspeed Rescue) and BoriBaru down,




Dr Tatsumi's cute ponytail

Or when Dr Tatsumi took out one GoGo Bracers from his back and one from his socks - that's such typical Japanese humour, worthy of a "gah". And of course the dark themes that the Japs have always been so fond of were present.

Watching the original Sentai footage, I also saw all the parts that Fox had snipped when adapting it for American TV. When the Time Jets are summoned from the future, besides travelling through a time hole (as seen in Time Force), they also travel through time (some of the scenes of which you can see during the Time Force Opening Credits), passing through the time of the dinosaurs, Ancient Egypt, Moses parting the Red Sea, Dracula and Man on the Moon.


TimeJets startle Moses


TimeJets startle Dracula

All the same, I was startled by the similarities: the Japanese rangers writhed on the ground the same way the American rangers did. But maybe that's not so surprising - for all you know retired Sentai stuntmen cross the Atlantic to fill the spanking spandex suits. What was more surprising was the sappy rhetoric about positive thinking, teamwork and all that jazz. With darker themes mixed in, of course, but it was still in the same spirit.

The finishing move, where the Victory Robo transferred the fire on its sword to the TimeRobo Alpha, which then mounted the V-Rex and charged in to destroy the Pierre-BoriBaru composite, was quite impressive.



Incidentally, I was annoyed by how much English, albeit broken (eg the theme song, whichs starts with: "Go over time and space!" and the corny line: "Time up!", cf Time Force's "Your time is up!") the Japanese spoke. Symptomatic of popular trends, no doubt - I bet my hat that no English words were spoken in 1975's GoRanger!

Ah, I wish I could watch more subbed Sentai. Though I'd settle for dubbed Sentai if I couldn't find any subbed episodes.

***

Quotes:

A lot of people think I'm your lackey.

[Me: I'm currently wrestling with the Biharis in Bangladesh.] Is that a political statement or a homework statement? [Me: How can that be a political statement?!] Knowing you, it could be both.

If you do a search for "Lin Yucheng" on Google the first page you will find is the "Gah + Crap Page", which of course I'm not very happy about.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Edward Abbey quotes / Conversations - 22nd September 2004 / a*star and an achilies heel of its scholarship system / PRCs in Singapore

Quote of the Post: "From the point of view of a tapeworm, man was created by God to serve the appetite of the tapeworm." - Edward Abbey

More fun Edward Abbey quotes:

"Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others."

"Every man has two vocations: his own and philosophy."

"Proverbs save us the trouble of thinking. What we call folk wisdom is often no more than a kind of expedient stupidity."

"The gurus come from the sickliest nation on earth to tell us how to live. And we pay them for it."

***

Soundbites

"voila. gabriel u are amazing. i've been walking around wondering what's been bugging me for a long time, could not give explanations to anyone, and now talking cock to u i have found the root of all my sorrow
i have a proposal for u
will u be my shrink?"
Yay. I can set up shop now.

Someone on why she never kept long hair: NANYANG
Me: is short hair a virtuous chinese girl trait? no right
Her: no in fact long hair
but communist era all the girls cut their hair short what
So now we have solid proof that Nanyang really was Communist!

u were talking about how readings are leading students astray hahahahhahaa i tell u, it's probably intentional
we've got lots of deviant lecturers in arts. its one of the reason i love arts modules much more than computing. stupid boring nerdy computing lecturers


the political science students apparently are still monitored for the rest of their lives

Minrui on why he joined Kendo: "wanted to whack pple with a stick"

Ban Xiong on me: "you are the textbook example of a bad hair day, everyday"

***

Jiahao's rage against the a*star machine post was apparently quite popular, and it seems there is a substantial vein of discontent against a*star.

"The obvious trend in response [to a*star's denying of the chance to scholars who get a GPA of less than 3.8 to immediately proceed to do their PhDs], therefore, will be that scholars are be going all-out to preserve their precious 4.0s. if this means dropping a hard course that may be useful, so be it. if this means skimping on rigorous classes and taking filler classes such as geology 101, a.k.a. 'rocks for jocks', so be it. let's take two imaginary scholars with gpas of 3.8 v. 3.3 ceteris paribus. maybe the 3.8-er took a whole bunch of filler classes for easy a's, like chinese 101 or southeast asian studies and breezed through, whereas the 3.3-er took a whole bunch of extra graduate-level classes for interest's sake; who, really, is the better student then? btw, i am not kidding about taking southeast asian studies for an easy a. more than one uiuc alum is guilty of that."

As he concludes: "a*star, watch out: you will get what you pay for. you are curdling the attitudes of an entire generation of researchers. by putting in a huge grade penalty for straying beyond the confines of the tried-and-tested boundaries of their knowledge, you will never get the true risk-taking let's-dive-into-the-unknown people who will be true blue scientists. you will forever get scholars who are academically inclined, but never academics... remember your poor ex-scholars(s) whom you have driven to madness by your asinine insistence on perfect grades. i mean it literally. people have gone mad by pushing themselves too hard. and most of the time their scholarship agencies egged them on because they fell below the holy 3.8 standard."

To no one's surprise, my brother in law supports a*star's policy, since we have to justify the use of taxpayers' money. And he claims that if people go for the easier classes, they will be called up to account for their actions. As if it is possible, from thousands of miles away, to know if PHYS3541 is radically easier and less challenging than PHYS3591.

Apparently he hasn't learnt from all his management books that you cannot reduce people (especially those you value) to mere numbers, which after all are inadequate as measures of a person's worth. The answer to life, the universe and everything may be 42, but to measure the future worth of a PhD student to Singapore with his GPA smacks of folly. I guess he's been a bureaucrat for so long, he's totally adopted their way of thinking.


Meanwhile, closer to home, we have rumblings of discontent as well: "it sucks. s/u a module because u think u can't get an A. its like everything boils down to grades grades grades. and it does. why bother to study. lets all just get 1st class honours. never mind whether u actually learn anything."

"Even NUS is going that route. So, you have fourth year honours students taking first year modules so that they can pull up their GPA above the cut-off for their 1st class."

The law of unintended consequences strikes again. Or maybe they aren't so unintended - there's a reason why I call NUS the premier institution of social engineering.

***

I've received a request from a friend who wants to share her mortification with the world. A prepared message follows:

"i was at the toilet at clementi macs when this PRC (CONFIRMEd from the way she talked) went into the toilet.. guess what? she happily did her business WITHOUT CLOSING THE CUBICLE door.. and i know for sure she did her business coz on her way out she was still zipping up..... ....

seriously PRCs give chinese a damn bad name

even in other countries.. wah lau. like ppl tend to think singaporeans are PRC... bad bad bad."

Meanwhile Screwed Up Girl was in a tiny fitting room at Takashimaya when a PRC woman under the age of 30 barged in, asking if she could share the fitting room, since there was only one fitting room there.

***

I love these spammers:

"Hi . My name is Augustin . I am a boy withoute family , and of course no money .
I am not a rich person , i growed up in an orfenish house . Now i am living with another two buys in a small apartament , and we are trying to finish the school , so we can have a good job sometime .
We had many problems in the past , but harde or no , they were resolved.
Now i have a verry big problem.
I had an accident , and i losed my left eye .
i can`t see with only one eye , because it is geting bad efect from the left one .
I would like to you help me with even one dollar , so i can take my eye back in a day .
i will accept your donations happy , and hope will not be a so big disturbing for you .
I would like also to help you with something for helping me .
I know so many about computers .
If you need something i can help you happy .
Thank you verry much for your attention .
here i have some informations from a bank acount i created to you can help me easyer .
NAME : OLARIAN, AUGUSTIN MARADONA
BANK ACOUNT : RO23 BTRL 03602201619679XX
I hope those infos are enought for you to help me . and honestly , please tell me how can i help you .
I would like to help you somehow for this help , coz i know you wouldn`t like to share your money with unknow persons .
I know web design , i know some linux , i know some secure tricks for your acounts , your credit card .. and p.s i know some tricks to you protect your money .
I hope it deserve to give one or more dollars if you want , and get my help .
Please don`t be like my guvern , they don`t give 2 cents on me couse i have no family . i hope you are more helpfull then my guvern , who wanted to arrest me , when i told them what i know , and that they can stop the internet fraud if they listen me .
Anyway i will wait for your reply , and thank you in advance .
Good day .


--- Sent by UNREGISTERED VERSION of Atomic Mail Sender"

Links - 22nd September 2004

(This post was broken off from the one above)

Newspeak Revisited: The Lexical Management of Political Discourse - "The State gets to decide whether you are a fundamentalist. Or a threat to national security. Or even, as George Yeo has coined, a 'counterfeit artist'. What this means is that Tang Liang Hong can be called a ‘Chinese chauvinist’, but the same accusation cannot be leveled against Lee Kuan Yew. A video made by polytechnic students and staff, on JB Jeyaretnam, is banned because it is a political video. On the other hand, a VHS tape of the National Day Parade does not qualify as one. Sintercom eventually closed down because it was on the verge of being gazetted as a political website. On the other hand, the Straits Times Interactive, probably one of the most political websites on the Internet, is merely a news provider."
Be that as it may, things seem to be getting better. Unless the hundred flowers that bloom are cut down like the poppies that grow too tall.

An atheist on Judgment Day - "If it is a choice between oblivion and an eternity with a monster like you, I gladly choose oblivion"
A most touching and moving story. I wonder what I would do in a hypothetical scenario such as this. Incidentally, a good story to forward people who keep sending you Christian spam
Additional Keywords: "an atheist in heaven", god, "in the eye", "the line"
Addendum: Mirrored since the original site has gown down

Existential depression in gifted individuals - "Why should such existential concerns occur disproportionately among gifted persons? Partially, it is because substantial thought and reflection must occur to even consider such notions, rather than simply focusing on superficial day-to-day aspects of life. Other more specific characteristics of gifted children are important predisposers as well."
So now we know why intelligent people tend to be more dysfunctional.

Are you a good speller? - "You scored 18 out of a possible 23. Go to the top of the class. Either you're a natural orthographer, or you paid a lot of attention in school. Either way, you could make a fortune on the spelling bee circuit."
I swear I'd have gotten 1-2 more correct if not for the late hour *g*

Family's boycott extends to everything - "Three years ago, the Molina family sat at their kitchen table and decided to take a moral stand: They would no longer patronize any company which had connection to abortions, homosexual rights, pornography or any other objectionable cause. This month, the Molinas' decision finally reached its zenith, as their boycott now covers every product on the U.S. market... For entertainment they watch old Lassie movies on a VCR made by an obscure Korean company - the only electronics maker they could find that has no tie to immoral causes. When a reporter points out that Lassie is owned by Warner Studios, a supporter of dozens of liberal causes, Joe sighs, pulls the video from the machine and breaks it in two. The children run to their rooms and cry face-down on their Amish blankets."
"No compromises" - sounds like nw.t's professed life philosophy. Ahem.

TalkingCock comics: Bye, Sergeant Chee, Bye! and Apa Ini The MATrix?
I only vaguely get the latter. Too many Mat jokes: "Our world is ruled by Munjens! Sally Ye instead of Scorpions! Aaron Kwok instead of AC/DC!". Wth are Munjens?!

20 nabbed in prostitution sting -- 15 men dressed as women - "A prostitution sting in the midst of a near-blinding rainstorm early Saturday netted 20 arrests on the North Side -- including 15 men dressed as women, Chicago Police said."

Dialtones (A Telesymphony) - Mobile Phone Concert

German radio starts Klingon service - "The German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) is celebrating 10 years of its online service by adding a new language to the 30 it already publishes - Klingon."

SnackFoam's Gay Test - "You... could be gay! Want to find out? Click here to take the SnackFoam Gay Test!"

Egg Song - What thoroughly sick and warped mind came up with such a twisted song, set to the vilest animation possible, I cannot imagine. I suspect it is a devious plot by the Malaysians to make Singaporeans lust for the Eggs we're currently being deprived of.

How To Cook With Lava - "This is a good point to sit back, have a drink and watch the beautiful Lava as it flows in front of you."

Tootsie Roll Industries - The Licking Machine, And Other Scientific Curiousities - "A group of engineering students from Purdue University recorded that their licking machine, modeled after a human tongue, took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. They tried the same licking test on 20 volunteers and found that the average licks to the center were 252 licks."

The Mermaid Hunter - "This web site is dedicated to the World of Sea Sirens and Mermaids. Oh, they exist alright....this website will prove it. Within this site I will share 40 years of personal encounters with these creatures. To date, I have had over 150 such encounters"
His posed fakes aren't very well done. On the upside, he has pictures of nude "Sirens", "beautiful women who have been cursed by Herra (sic), wife of Zeus, to spend their lives on rocky islands around the world".

Tilted Mill team member game credits - "Before joining Tilted Mill, members of our team helped create some of the most important, successful and well-respected games out there, including: Mickey Saves the Day, Monster's Wreck Room Arcade, Barbie's Pet Rescue, Pitfall Harry"
Err...

Godot Aria Mubie M4150 (128MB) - MP3 player in the shape of a bear.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Quote of the Post: "Although golf was originally restricted to wealthy, overweight Protestants, today it's open to anybody who owns hideous clothing." - Dave Barry

Random Playlist Song: Mozart - Serenade in D, K.250 'Haffner' - VII. Menuetto Trio I, Trio II (Mackerras)

***

Interestingly, one unintended consequence of the ever increasing cigarette prices in Singapore may be that illegal drugs are looking relatively less unattractive to the man on the street.

Also of interest: Drugs and inspiration - perhaps we will legalise drugs soon, since they help stimulate creativity!


Islamic banking strikes me as being sanctimonious.

Unlike present day economists, 7th century Muslim thinkers did not seem to fully understand the concept of opportunity cost, so prohibitions on charging interest and usury are present in the Koran. Of course, they are also present in the scriptures of People of the Book, but people of the other 2 religions have since managed to rationalise the charging of interest.

However, Islam has gone in the other direction and discovered other methods of carrying out transactions that are functionally equivalent to charging interest. For example, if a client wants to buy a house, instead of his taking our a loan, the bank buys the house and then either resells it to him at a higher rate (usually immediately), rents it to him for a time, at the end of which he becomes its owner or enters into joint ownership of the house with him, and gradually sell its stake to him. If someone wants to borrow money from the bank, instead of his being levied interest, he would be levied a service charge.

I am sure the prophet must be rolling in his grave at this violation of the spirit, even if not the letter, of Islamic principles.


Hoop earrings are amusing enough, but I recently saw the next step in their evolution: earrings employing the same principle as matryoshkas (Russian nesting dolls), with each hoop encompassing a smaller one in its turn. Intrigued, I carried out a survey to find out hoop earrings' appeal:

"goes with anything, and looks nice and just that little bit outstanding, unlike studs"

"easy for pple to hook them"

"i hate them myself. I think it makes people look like pirates. I'm prejudiced, aren't I?"

"to make one look like a cow."

"draws attention away from their inadequate facial features?"

"creates a space for one to hang their laundry(via a hanger)"

"its big and makes ur face look small?"

it's a trend


An even more cringe-inducing example of the sort of pidgin, bastardised patois of Chinese and English which people here speak, and take undue pride in for speaking "Mandarin": "Na4 ge4 lao3 shi1 expect us to know it like the back of our hand" (Translation: That teacher ~). And I thought "Jin1 tian1 de4 weather hen3 huai4" (Translation: Today's weather is very bad) was bad.

My neighbourhood has been invaded by the Evil Association of Chinese Moral Societies; outside a building near my house I saw a sign proclaiming that shophouse to be the home of : "Moral link (Telok Blangah Crescent)"

"One Russian is an anarchist, two Russians are chess players, three Russians are a revolution, and four Russians are the Borodin String Quartet" - some BBC commentator. Unfortunately I couldn't find the exact quote anywhere, but this version comes pretty close, I think.

"U always seem so jolly and bouncy... there's some sorta 'lilting' motion when U're walking. like U hafta lift ur tummy" - Wth.

***

State of the Union Address by George W Bush

This one is better than the speech by his father that I host, not least because it's a video instead of a wav, and more well joined to boot.

Partial Transcript:

"Every year, by law and by custom we meet here to threaten the world *standing ovation*

The American flag stands for corporate scandals, recession, stock market declines, blackmail, terror, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. *standing ovation*

Our first goal is to show utter contempt for the environment. I have sent you a compre- *applause* I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to devastate communities, kill wildlife and burn away millions of acres of treasured forest. *applause* This government is taking unprecedented measures to protect our people and defend our homeland... We must offer every child in America 3 Nuclear Missiles. *standing applause*

To date, we have arrested or otherwise dealt with four hundred billion key commanders of Al-Qaeda, which is enlisting tens of thousands of new volunteers across America... One by one the terrorists are learning we are building a culture to encourage International Terrorism... *applause* And tonight I have a message for the people of Iraq. Go home and die.

[Full Transcript]

***

More ramblings from a SOC friend:

just to tell you i had a "supernatural" phenomenon when i was in the army, where i was lying on my bunk. i am sure i was awake at that time, and then i suddenly felt an unknown force pressing down on the left side of my face, that threatened to dislocate all the teeth on that side from the jaw, and that sensation carried on for around 2 minutes or so. i really thought ghosts did exist...and told my friend that a ghost sat on my face.

now i know better. it's something called "sleep paralysis" http://www.randi.org. sigh. how foolish i make myself sound sometimes.

dang. that experience really made me believe in ghosts, coupled with all the army ghost stories my army officer told me when i was in bmt.

i don't know how the army could have turned my mind into believing into anything.

the people there also explain how the ouija board works. i think we can conduct an experiment with one during our next atheists' meetup

i heard from my sis (fass grad 2 yrs ago) there was barely a whiff of them xtian fundamentalists in FASS...i know from personal experience that god's followers hover around the faculties of science and computing like houseflies.

i wondered with my sis why that was the case...when the more overtly religious are in science and computing and not in FASS...her opinion is that "for every lewis carroll there's a frederick nieztsche" and that there are more vocal atheists in FASS. do you confirm/deny this?

i just came up with another theory. over here, science/computing students are conditioned to be rote learners, while arts students are more independent thinkers. in science/tutorials here in SOC the tutor mumbles the answers, a few bright students ask a few questions while the rest try to stay awake and ask if the answers will be put up in IVLE (IMPORTANT TO US YOU KNOW! :) )...whereas in arts (i've cleared my g.e.m.) people actually form small groups to discuss.

Me: haha so arts encourages independent thought while science makes people spoonfed?

yes. that's why i conjecture that FASS will not yet be a hotbed for fundamentalism (yet!) and these fundies will have a hell of a fight ("crusade?" :) ) to convert independent-minded people.

can you imagine a philo tutorial in FASS on the topic "Is There a God?"...i can picture arguments from both sides in the tutorial room. in SOC i'll bet people think there's a standard answer somewhere to be uploaded into IVLE...or some bible-reader will whip out his holy book at the very question. i've never seen muslims read /carry their koran with them, though i don't agree with their religion, at least they're respectful.

the problem in FASS is nowhere near that of FAS and SOC, and, I believe, engineering.

i recommend you start your organisation in arts. and i'll welcome you with open arms should you (er, metaphorically speaking) spread your wings here to SOC!

[Corroboration from a FAS friend: in sci, there is a standard answer. you dun really get to see things from ur own perspective. arts u can bullshit ur way as long as u're convincing

its hard to question what is being thought coz u lack resources to prove otherwise
and more importantly, knowledge.]


Some might remember that some time ago I was talking about my intention to go for a talk purporting to show "scientifically why god exists and why jesus loves you". This was a golden opportunity - not only were they going to try to prove the existence (and love, no less) of a god, they were going to do it scientifically! So despite having lessons both before and after the talk, I rushed down to Science.

Sad to say, the speaker made next to no attempt at using the Scientific Method or Scientific Principles. Instead, she only rambled vaguely about such meta-physical questions as the remote probabilities of evolution, the world being as it is and so forth, and then proceeded to construct an agreement based on wishful thinking, like so: "My life would be very miserable and devoid of a moral benchmark without a loving god. Therefore there must be a loving god." She ended off by gushing about her god, offering the fallacious "Lord, Lunatic or Liar" trichotomy and revelling in his qualities according to Christian mythology. To her credit though, she did urge everyone in the audience to read and do research.

As expected, there was a Q&A session and I naturally said a few words. Interestingly, though, there were at least 2 other skeptics in the audience. One complained that the bible was subjective and not objective, and that we'd been promised a "scientific" talk, while another from the back of the LT quoted a verse about genocide from Numbers on his laptop, and asked if it was the true message of the christian god (the speaker mumbled something about 'context', of course).

So maybe a freethought club would be feasible, after all.

***

Our readings are unravelling our moral fibre and undermining the rock-solid foundations of our shared values! But then no one reads readings anyway.

Some quotes from Ch. 14, "The Role of the Intellectuals in Civil Society: Going Against the Grain" in State-Society Relations in Singapore, 2000:

"In Singapore today, the views of the independent intellectual receives no favour and if his views are critical of government power, his function is not recognized as legitimate. Such an intellectual is vilified on the grounds that his claim to the right of criticism is an alien tradition borne of Western liberal thought; that new states need more power not less, more stability not instability. Not even the minor degree of instability that is inevitable when political bargaining is permitted." (Chan 1976: 12-13)

"What then are the possible roles that the intellectual can play, in the context of a 'depoliticised' civil society?... They could become intellectual-politicians through political contest if they were prepared to ally themselves with the ruling leaders and prove their capabilities; or they could become mandarins of the established order in the civil service. These two groups of intellectuals may have difficulty maintaining that intellectual spirit of enquiry within those portals of power because their functions would be to help establish and achieve objectives and priorities set by the political party designed to perpetuate its power."

"What was at stake in the Michael Fay controversy?... the incident ought to have generated a debate on crime and punishment commensurate with the norms of a modern, civilized society and it should have been posed on behalf of fellow Singaporeans proscribed by the same laws... No public debate ensued as to whether caning could reform behaviour and deter negative repeat behaviour on that occasion... As a university law lecturer then, Tommy Koh had argued that the rehabilitation of criminals might be more fruitful and thus should be the priority rather than severe punishment such as caning. In the event, he was dismissed by Goh Keng Swee (then Deputy Prime Minister) along with those (such as myself) who supported Tommy Koh, as
'those soft-headed Western-educated liberals' at the then University of Singapore... Upon the introduction of mandatory caning for illegal immigrants, apart from questioning the brutality of such punishment for an essentially non-violent crime, MPs noted that the issue also involved the nation's longer-term interests - how we are perceived as a society by our neighbours... but a leading member of the party supporting the proposal rhetorically asked, 'What's a few strokes of the cane?' and the legislation was passed."

"It remains unclear as to why a citizen 'must enter politics' in order 'to criticize the government' (Goh 1994) and submit to 'the dust and heat of the political arena' (Enright, 1969:138). A basic constitutional principle is at issue here. This is the individual citizen's right in a democratic, free and open society, short of intentionally libelous and slanderous comment in violation of the law or constitution, to comment on or criticize and call to account his elected government's performance and actions or, the right of lawfully-constituted groups of citizens in civil society to do the same without necessarily being members of a political party" (But the law and constitution could easily be changed or interpreted to disallow such)

"But politicking, dissent, contest and criticism are seen as somehow violations of the national 'Asian' value of harmony - seeking consensus rather than contention (on the assumption that the two are necessarily opposed in basic objectives). In taking on the role of the public intellectual in the circumstances, one could either elicit contempt for being 'theoretical' and out of touch with 'the realities', or attract suspicion for asserting non-conformist 'independent' views and being a source of 'bad' subversive ideas... As Chan has noted in her essay, 'speaking up and criticizing ruling power', is not 'only a Western tradition' (1975). One might add, corruption comes in more subtle forms than filthy lucre or simple nepotism. At its most subtle. it could even take the guise of virtue where a strong conviction of being right may in fact mask an arrogant, narrow complacency. So truth-seers and truth-tellers should always be around. Amartya Sen... [observed], 'Confucius did not recommend blind allegiance to the state... When Zilu asks him how to serve a prince, Confucius replied: 'Tell him the truth, even if it offends him.''"

"Traditional Asian societies lack the Western intellectual tradition of criticism as honest opinion. Constructive criticism is considered an oxymoron since criticism is seen as destructive disparagement, a form of disrespect that impugns the subject's honour. Like the virtue of tolerance, harmony has its potentially dark side."


Chapter 15: Civil Society and the Law in Singapore, is also very interesting, and mostly talks about the Constitution, the Law, and explores how 'Security', 'Public Order', 'Morality', 'Contempt of court and defamation' and 'General licensing' are used to greatly qualify freedom of speech, association and assembly here.

***

On Saturday I took part in the International Coastal Cleanup Day 2004. The USP Academic Symposium was on the same day too, but I'd signed up for the cleanup earlier, before the Symposium's date had been confirmed. Besides which, I didn't feel like pulling off another S-Cube just yet, and I'd been told of the governmental question-avoidance maneuver: paraphrase the pesky guy's question and then give an evasive or irrelevant answer while avoiding the question.

While some people got to go to Kallang and East Coast beach, the NUS contingent got to visit Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve and its mangrove swamp, and pick up all the rubbish that the Malaysians dump into the Straits of Johor and which float onto our shores; most of the food wrappers were of the sort only found in Malaysia (Malay brands, or all-Malay packaging), and we even dredged up a banner advertising Phase 1, 2 and 3 sales of a condominum project in Johor. Possibly the best catch of all was dredged up by another group - a Malaysian flag *cough*

Besides gathering rubbish, we gathered data on the rubbish. I was surprised to see, on the data sheet, "shotgun shells/wadding" (some people actually found washed up shotgun shells!), "tampons/tampon applicator" (who changes tamps beside the sea? Maybe the women living in kampongs. And what about sanitary pads, then?) and "55 gallon barrels" (what about 50 gallon barrels? Can I put them under that category?).

For some reason, I didn't get any emails with details about the event, so I was a little... unprepared. At least 3 guys brought their army boots, and 2 even brought their No 4 pants. Unfortunately, with the donning of the cursed slacks came the cursed mentality, or at least the Dark Tongue: we were told to "move out", "count strength" and "mount up" the bus. Grr.

Oh, and I also saw Ms Lian, my Sec 4 geography teacher who is teaching in VJC now. She asked if I was doing Geography and I quickly recoiled in semi-mock-terror. Heh.


I saw a poster advertising for a seminar: "TIME - The Islamic Management Experience. Learn how to manage your life the Islamic Way. How to cope with stress and problems. Learn new management skills". I wonder how many more things can be Islamised. What else is left? Islamic furniture placement? Islamic coffee brewing? Or even Islamic flower arrangement?

My wireless connection in school is often spotty, usually in Chatterbox. While other laptops can connect to the Wi-Fi basestation, I can't even detect the network or see its SSID. And apparently this also affects some other people with my model. Time to visit the service centre...

There was this funky lecturer who sat cross legged on the table (the big, long one in front) before the lecture started.

Quite a few people have been telling me that they've seen me around in school, but somehow don't come and say hello. Proof, I suppose, for my theory that everyone runs away from me!

In NTU, you can pay a sum to sign up to swim 10 laps in a pool - and get 2 ECA points. You can also do a mock IPPT to get ECA points. Bah.

It's amazing how many people use the SAF toiletries bag as a pencilbox.

Someone thought that the polar bears on my shirt were rats. (...)


Quotes:

One of my friends, he tried a breaching experiment. Not in the supermarket, but in the NUS canteen. He sat next to this girl... To make it worse, he asked: 'Can I try your food?'

My research, for example, when I did drugs. Sorry, when I researched drugs.

Because it was a dance drug, designer drug. I had to go out, party, stay up late. [Someone: Tough job]

How many people don't go to McDonalds?... [To a girl] You don't go to McDonalds. [Girl: It's fattening.]

the sustainance of our daily existence (sustenance)

[On a study of drug users] Try not to tell people in CNB about this, ok? Especially if you're a government spy.

[On her forthcoming first webcast lecture] I'm a little bit cameras-shy, I don't know how I will perform.

You can see me today and tomorrow. If you really like to see me you can see me on the webcast.

I'm thinking of setting up a... MSN chat. I can chat to you from Canada... I can chat with you if you have problems with your revision... I love technology... I want to make myself younger.

The slogan for Burger King is: 'It tay'ses better' (just tastes)

[On output decisions in perfect competition] You're going to enjoy this very much because this is what you see in real life.

The US Supreme Court is always taking Microsoft to court... they want to break down Microsoft. (Justice Department, up)

[On word limits] We can't just let everyone start an arms race, and people writing longer papers. That would be bad. (let people start)

I talk so much that I usually give stuff away, so it's wise to play to my weaknesses.

[On his 3-year-old daughter] The infantile habit of asking 'why'. Lots of philosophers have.

Actually I've to pause and tell a joke at this point, about my little daughter.

Here's a quote from another Plato dialogue called 'The Phaedrus'. You're learning that it's probably a dialogue in which Socrates talks to a guy named Phaedrus, and in fact that's what happens.

[Powerpoint Slide] I have a friend who left weapons in my car (care)

[On the composition of the atmosphere of the moons of Saturn, and Astronomy versus Anthropology] You're not tempted to make up an answer: 'Well, it's mostly cheese'.

People were looking less confused 5 minutes ago, and then I kept talking and now... Maybe I talked too long.

[On the mystery of Arago's Disc] I won't ask you immediately because I have a feeling that you might know, so let's keep the puzzle going.

[On speaking up in class] The main thing is that not every question is a trick question.

Cults are like family... Whatever you may say about cults, they are like families.

[On Charisma being the basis of power] If it were the only thing, then how come George Bush is President? In his case, it probably isn't knowledge either.

Don't you just love the smell of burning Sumatra rainforest? *sniffs* Ahh!

Sir, Sir - the one who is closing your eyes... Wake up now (his)

When I first came to NUS [I was amazed by how many regulations there were and] how often these regulations changed. I swore the University employed one person whose job it was to come up with a new rule everyday. It was his job to come up with a new rule everyday, or he wouldn't get his Christmas bonus.

Give one example of state terror. [Student: The Internal Security Act] It terrorises you.

Are there any questions up to now? I would be surprised if there were any, because I've been so clear.

You don't have to watch Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 to know that... What's not in the public record is what George Bush did when he was in the Air National Guard.

You're under arrest. Seriously, you're under arrest... Today it's illegal to be, wearing black pants. *realises he's wearing black pants*

[On a reporter's opinion on why no one in Singapore protested the Iraq War] She was going to write that Singaporeans only care about things like shopping and bartop dancing.

Everyone should come to this class wearing white shirts. Then I can't pick on you.

If any lecturer comes up to you in the classroom and tells you: 'I am the repository of all wisdom and knowledge', you should tell him to retire.

The bourgeoisie are an instrument of the state. I need to practise my French here. The bourgeoisie.

The last time I met someone who claimed to be a [fascist] was a man I met in a bar in Rome... I was 2 at the time. I'm so young.

What are you laughing about? *laughs weirdly* It's okay, you can laugh.

[On plagiarism and morality] Forget about morality... Even if you're an evil person. You'll get an F.

[On paraphrasing material from the lecture] It's no surprise to your tutor if your paper bears evidence that you've been to lecture. You don't need to footnote it.

I got a whole slew of emails late last night and early this morning. It seems that some people were up at 3 writing emails to me.

[On being closed for consultation till 4pm] Students always do their work at the last minute. Professors always do their work at the last minute.

[On a theory about lying] It's not completely wrong. John Mearsheimer is too smart to believe in something completely wrong. I've met him and I know that to be a fact.

McDonalds, being the bore'geese... the staff, being the pro'latrate (bourgeoisie, proletariat)

[On McDonalds] Isn't there a minimum wage in Singapore? [Me: There's no minimum wage in Singapore] [Tutor: There is no minimum wage in Singapore] It's exploitation!

We haven't established a repertoire with them (rapport)

[On interviewing Upper Secondary Malay Breakdancers] Because we were quite 'old', they were quite shy. They would talk to each other and giggle. It was quite girly, in a sense.

[On an observation of clubbers' skimpy dressing] One of the girls was just wearing a string across her back (what about her front?)

Intimacy: In such a close, confined environment as a club, you have more feasible contact than you ever bargained for... You're sending a message to the guys: 'just touch me' (physical)

[On skimpily dressed girls] All heads will be turning down to look at them (turning)

In case other groups try to find their troubles (make trouble)

[On clubbing] They say they are going there to chill out, to relax, but they go there to do intensive activities. (engage in)

They say they go there to relax, but then they drink. And drinking too much is not good for your health.

There are people who tarch, and there are people who want to be tarched. (touch, touched)

[On study of clubbing] Did you actually see girls saying: 'Touch me, touch me' (hear)

[On girls' skimpy dresses] Maybe it's hot in the club

[On me] Do you notice something in his hair? [Someone: What's that in your hair?!] [Me: It's so that I can go and stab people. *stabs first person*]

[On Wo-hen Nankan] He looks kind of pretty here. Without a moustache, he'd look like a girl.

[On a guy sitting on the floor in a weird position near the lecturer's bench] He seems to be practising Yoga.

[On Science girls] They're Chinese speaking, but they're not Ah Lians... At least Ah Lians look better.

[Me on something on her wrist: What is that?] It's to tie my hair. [Me: You have no hair to tie. I have more hair than you] Oh, you clip your hair. I have more clips - do you want flower ones? [Me: If they're not garish] I'll get one for you. Will you wear it? [Me: Maybe once or twice.]

[On some Sri Lankan leader with a hard-to-pronounce name, like all the others] Can we call him Charles?

boas / boo'ers (buoys)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

My sister is returning to Singapore soon, and she wanted the recipes which she had downloaded from Usenet onto her old (and presumably spoilt) 1993 Macintosh PowerBook 180 which has lain unused since at least last millennium, so my brother in law was running around Sim Lim, hoping to find a wizened tinker who would possess the necessary skills the repair this antique.

I pointed out to him that even if anyone could retrieve data from its hard drive, it'd cost him a bomb, considering that data recovery rates for a normal HDD start at $300, so if all she wanted were her recipes, she could do better than to pay me $300 to sift through Google Groups's archives instead of this.

Unfortunately, no one had ever even *seen* a Powerbook 180, let alone possess the lost arcane lore required to retrieve data from its hard drive, but they were all quite excited at the prospect of seeing this artefact from a long-forgotten age that has since passed into the Realm of Legend. On the up side, we managed to get it started up:




Using the PS/2 ports as a point of reference, you should be able to guess how massive and brick-like the damn thing is




Pity about the cracked LCD


About This Macintosh: PowerBook 180. System Software 7.1, (C) Apple Computer, Inc. 1983-1993, Total Memory: 8,192k

Maybe we can get the Smithsonian to buy this baby...
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