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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, October 30, 2004

"Is there life before death?" - Graffito

Random Playlist Song: Mozart - Serenata notturna in D, K.239 - I. Marcia (Maestoso)

***

I happened to mention the sad case of Dr Seamus Phan to someone, and he asked me to provide him for a URL. So I stumbled across the text of his apology notice to the NKF. From the way it is written, one might almost think it a satire aimed at further lampooning the NKF, if one did not know the sad truth.

The three incriminating lines:

1) Another interesting nugget is that out of every S$1 NKF raised in 2002, only 56 cents went to beneficiaries and the rest went to expenses, the implication of which is said to be: "The NKF, which is a charitable organisation supported by the public, has misspent monies received from members of the public intended for the purposes of the NKF"

2) The NKF, strangely, according to the article, only supports 2,000 dialysis patients, and it raised S$67.5 million, without any clear fundraising goal or transparency in its projections to the unknowing public, which is interpreted as suggesting: The NKF is misleading members of the public about its work and mission

3) So NKF has an inefficient system, period, whatever pompous and arrogant answers its executives may give, which they conclude insinuates: The NKF’s dialysis programme and its management of public funds is inefficient


The first 2 statements were simply fair questions about where all the money was going to. If you're a registered charity - the largest in Singapore, no less, surely you have to justify to your donors what you're doing with your money. Only the third line is possibly defamatory.

Unfortunately, I don't think that he had the financial resources to challenge the largest charity in Singapore in court, what with our curiously strict defamatory laws.

At least we may hope that good will come out of all this; I hope that NKF will not meet its fund-raising target this year, now that Singaporeans are cognizant of its heavy-handed manner.

***

Reading JS Mill is like self-idulgent emotional masturbation. Sometimes I can't stop myself from gushing over certain passages, but I shall resist the temptation to add commentary about said passages.


Is free speech good in and of itself, or should it be upheld from a purely utilitarian perspective?

I am firmly convinced, in the manner of JS Mill, of the utilitarian argument for free speech, but intuitively I still retain an inclination towards it being good as a manner of principle.

Unfortunately, I have not resolved this question yet, but suffice to say that even if there's no satisfactory argument for it being a good in and of itself, there will not be a similar argument for censorship's being an intrinsic good, and since censorship requires more effort and is more of a deviation from the natural order of things than freedom of speech, therein might lie the answer.

Then again, I am an existentialist, so there might be some trouble in that department.

***

I thought that TBS had become less evil since his return, but someone related an anecdote that saddens me.

Someone had uploaded MP3s of the chorale to the chorale Yahoo Groups, but TBS told him to remove them, because he wanted to cut some CDs. 2 years later, the CDs are nowhere to be seen.

The CDs not being available is one thing, but he won't even let his own choir members have the mp3s of their singing!

***

Apparently a hobby in some circles is to go onto IRC, pretend to be a girl, arrange a meeting with Singapore's Most Handsome Guy: Steven Lim- Famous Street Eyebrow Plucker and then stand him up. Such stunts are now easier than ever, given that he has put his handphone number (93857300) on his page. Oh, and he's dropped his formerly astronomically high advertising rates. Now you can get a spot at the bottom of his page for a mere $10.


If someone had attempted to pull a Grayson in Singapore, he'd have been charged for (among other things) making mischief, trespassing on private property, being a public nuisance, threatening public order, health and safety and causing disorder. Oh, and he'd be sued to bankruptcy for the unauthorised used of trademarked characters. Which is why, instead of inventing the next iPod, we are stuck being one of the millions of companies trying to come up with an "iPod killer" - and not even being very successful at that, seeing as how we're only on the fourth page of search results.

***

"These, by the way, are the Power Rangers, and you are about to get your behind kicked!" - Professor Phenomenus Ingenious


[Duckie] whenever did the destruction of a megazord slow a monster down?
[Tommy] So they either had to pile on the explosive damage by destroying the Rescue Megazord too, or the Turbo Mega was a complete waste.
[Tommy] Well Duckie, I don't know, but I think that was the first time a megazord was used as a walking bomb for that express purpose.
[Duckie] and admit it..it was the best moment of turbo
[Duckie] u cheered
[Duckie] like many others
[Dragon_Dagger] best moment was when they left Justin on earth
[Duckie] after watching all of turbo..and u see the first zord go kaboom...u will do a vicotry dance yourself
[Duckie] when a few min later u see the 2nd one go kaboom
[Duckie] well..heaven on earth
[Tommy] Is Turbo really that bad?
[Duckie] in most peoples opinions..yes
[Tommy] I mean...when there are Big Bad Beetleborgs in the world...
[Tommy] And politicians..
[Duckie] the most positive thing people can say about it is "well it built up to IN SPACE which was great"


I actually declined my mother's offer to give me more pocket money. Wah.

I was at the Night Safari a few years back and there was this SPG with hoop earrings extending past her shoulders. They were so big, I swear I could have stuffed my head through them, with room to spare.

***

More fun readings:


Consumption Culture in Singapore - Singaporeans ingesting McDonalds

"The same ubiquity also lends to McDonald's outlets a sense of convenience as meeting places: they are open for long hours, near mass rapid transit stations and in busy thoroughfares that offer visual pleasure for those waiting for friends"
Translation: People go there to ogle.

Everyone loves Papua New Guinea. Since it is so isolated, and so many cultures have developed in isolation there, it is perfect for debunking the myth that certain social patterns are "natural" (and this by implication desirable). Take gender behavior for example. In the Mundugumor tribe, both men and women are aggressive. In the Arapesh tribe, both men and women are emotional. And in the Tchambuli tribe, men are emotional and women are aggressive. And, no, somehow excluding the examples of Papua New Guinea because they are savages and freaks just doesn't cut it (unless you accept the arguments of the Flat Earth Society too, in which case...).


The language of biology is not gender-neutral. Sperm are usually portrayed as the valiant knights while eggs are the damsels in distress. But apparently eggs are actually the ones which attract the sperm, not the other way around, but if this nugget is mentioned, the eggs are portrayed as femme fatales. Ah well.


Interesting quotes you will never see in the Nation Building Press:

"Indians, moreover, 'are naturally contentious'. Like women, they are loquacious and theatrical, too indulgent and irresponsible to be capable of the social discipline of 'hard' Confucian culture. (Quoted in Devon and Wong)

"Equal opportunities, yes, but we shouldn’t get our women into jobs where they cannot, at the same time, be mothers. You just can’t be doing a full-time, heavy job like a doctor or engineer and run a home and bring up children" (Source)

"[The] government was young, ignorant and idealistic when it gave women equal rights" (1994)

Also, when they had the Graduate Mothers Scheme, giving $10,000 to lower income families whose women underwent tubal ligation after their 2nd childs, the papers trumpeted that as being "a helping hand for lower income families" instead of being a thinly disguised attempt at eugenics.

Article 12 of the Singapore Constitution: "Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens of Singapore on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth" [Emphasis mine]. So there shall be discrimination on other grounds?


In modern capitalist societies, no less than in traditional ones, women are expected to hew to certain norms: beauty, makeup, dressing and the like. However, I would argue that the social sanctions imposed in modern societies on women who do not adhere to their norms are much more subtle and less severe than those imposed on women in traditional societies who do not adhere to their norms.

***

One person who is taking the South Asia module has fulfilled her Asian Studies requirement already (in taking South East Asia, which supposedly is easier than South Asia), and is taking South Asia because she "doesn't like lit". Wah. I thought everyone hated Asian Studies exposure modules.

I thought I saw this girl cuddling a stuffed toy in class. Then later I found out it was her pencilbox which was in the shape of a monkey.

Sitting in Law faculty waiting for my friend, I got asked by 3 people in a short period of time: "What are you doing here?". Argh! As I replied to the third person who asked me that in about 10 minutes: "Why can't I be here? NUS is my school too!"

Me on the USP Halloween party: maybe I should have gone with my green tail, pink monster boots and sword
Someone: er...what are you supposed to be? Power Ranger? or some monster from the show?


Quotes:

[On turning off cellular phones during lectures and the silencing of discussion being an assumption of infallibility] Maybe my friend is calling to tell me something about Mill that *** [the lecturer's name] will never realise in a million years, because *** is an idiot.

I'm probably not the first person to notice this. It's really insulting to my intelligence that Bill Gates thinks I need a talking paperclip to jolly me along... When I look at my computer I see a green landscape. Blue skies. Are they trying to trick me into thinking I'm looking out of a window?

Gabriel, what's your sex? [Me: Male] Why? [Me: Because that's what society decrees] What do you have that makes society say so? [Me: Because I possess *laughs from class* Because I possess male primary sexual characteristics] So diplomatic.

[Student on female sexual characteristics: Breasts] What if someone comes up to you and it's not evident?

*** is quite big-sized. When you look at him... [Someone: Breasts]

[Someone on female characteristics: Excessive hand gestures] I do that sometimes.

When I go around Geylang - for research, okay, not for recreational purposes

[On female behavior] That women are supposed to sit with their legs crossed. I see a lot of male lecturers who do that.

I think a lot of people are obsessed with that in Singapore. Whether a person is gay or lesbian.

[On gender socialisation] What she assigned to us was to have the men in the class perform as a woman. Wear a dress, perform the hand gestures... They taught us how to walk. (pretend to be women)

In other monkey tribes. Monkey societies. [I've been doing] Too much sociology.

Whatever that is deseminated to us (disseminated)

[On gender stereotypes] For every baby a man produces, he wastes 1 trillion sperm. A women wastes 200 eggs. When a guy masturbates - how? That is not seen as wasteful. That is a learning process.

The sperm is still being deseminated as the aggressor (portrayed)

Sometimes, reading through female magazines, for research, not for leisure

How many races are there in Singapore? [Me: Four] What are they? [Me: Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others] Very good.

The infamous 'others'. If you're not CMI, you are 'others'.

You may see me very passionate, because this is one of my favourite fields to talk about - race and gender. (me becoming)

[On bones in a room in Rwanda] These are not vegetablrs. These are human bones.

[On Sociology and alternate perspectives] All of us are here, in the end, to make a difference. I sound like a politician.

[On a girl sitting cross-legged on a chair] Why are you meditating? [Girl: Cold lah] [Me: I've always wanted to do that but my thighs are too big to fit on the chair]

[Tutor: The boys, can you say something?] Here no boys, only men *hoots of derision from others* (There are no boys here)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

"The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty." - Eugene McCarthy

***

Singapore press freedom ranked near Iraq, Bhutan

SINGAPORE, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Singapore, Southeast Asia's wealthiest country, is among the region's poorest in terms of press freedom, an official of Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres said on Thursday.

An annual index produced by the media monitoring group that was published on Tuesday ranked Singapore 147th out of 167 countries, faring worse than tightly governed states such as Russia and Bhutan and just one notch above Iraq.

"It is very strange that in a country where you have so much access to international sources, at the same time you have very limited access to local information and coverage of what is really happening in the country," said Vincent Brossel, a spokesman for Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres.

China was ranked in 162nd place out of 167 and has locked up the largest number of journalists with 27 reporters currently behind bars and at least another 35 cyber-activists detained for spreading dissenting views, the group said.

Singapore's two media giants, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and MediaCorp, "keep strict control of the editorial line" of their newspapers, television and radio stations, Brossel said.

"There is no independent media or any media in Singapore that can criticise the government, and that shows there is no press freedom at all," he said.

SPH is a near-monopoly publishing group with state links that was formerly run by an ex-director of the Internal Security Department. MediaCorp is 100 percent-owned by the government and mainly operates free-to-air television stations.

Singapore's main English daily, The Straits Times, which is published by SPH, "practices systematic self-censorship in its domestic reporting", Reporters Sans Frontieres said in a report that accompanied the publication of the latest index.

The tightly controlled city-state is known for its heavy handed state censorship in the media and arts, largely enforced through a system of issuing publication and performance licences.

Public expression is a delicate act in Singapore, even for foreign news organisations. International newspapers such as The Asian Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune have paid large amounts of damages in libel cases brought by senior government figures such as former prime minister Goh Chok Tong and minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Last month, The Economist apologised to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and agreed to pay 127,000 pounds ($227,700) in damages over an article on a government company run by his wife.

But the city-state's ambition to be a global media hub has led to a gradual easing of its tough censorship laws with bans lifted on U.S. women's magazine "Cosmopolitan" and award-winning sitcom Sex and the City.

Reporters Sans Frontieres also identified countries in East Asia, such as North Korea and Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East as having either an absence of an independent media or a situation in which journalists are "persecuted and censored on a daily basis".


We have the best airport in the world and the most highly paid ministers, but can't even get in the 50th percentile for press freedom. Ah well.

***

Timothy Leary - "He is most famous as a proponent of the therapeutic and spiritual benefits of LSD... Dr. Leary argued that LSD, used with the right dosage, set (what one brings to the experience), and setting, preferably with the guidance of professionals, could alter behavior in unprecedented and beneficial ways. His experiments produced no murders, suicides, psychoses, and supposedly no bad trips. The goals of Leary's research included finding better ways to treat alcoholism and to reform convicted criminals. Many of Leary's research participants reported profound mystical and spiritual experiences, which they claim permanently altered their lives in a very positive manner."
Yet more non-religious life-changing experiences

***

"dev2dev Dispatch is published twice a month and is sent only to subscribers. You are currently subscribed as someone@somecompany.com. If you would prefer not to receive this newsletter, we understand. We'll try not to take it personally. It's not you saying you don't like us, but maybe you just don't have the time to look at all this hard work we've done just for you. Hey, that's cool. But if your heart is truly set on making sure you no longer receive this newsletter, even though we promise to one day reveal the meaning of life in it and you're going to be really upset when you miss out on that, please click here to unsubscribe."
"Unless I am convinced... by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other." - Martin Luther

***

One essay down, one essay and one project to go.

***

Someone: there's no key for atonal music
for 12-tones, there isn't a distinction between semitones
so you have no such thing as "major" or "minor". just "equality" everywhere, which is why schoenberg sounds like random sound effects

normally, for a fixed key, certain intervals are "favoured"
they just refuse to deliberately choose harmonious chords.
it's like political correctness applied to music

Me: so basically atonal music is purposely bad sounding


Finally, an intelligible explanation of atonal music.

***

Someone went to paste quotes from IMDB into Amazon.com:

Santa's Elf: The Christmas Spirit isn't something you can taste, touch, or even play with. It's something you feel inside. And it's the best feeling there is.
Rito Revolto: Sounds like the flu to me.

Lord Zedd: I detect a sudden weakness in the Morphing Grid.
Goldar: Our armies have been getting stronger, my Lord. I knew if we kept-...
Lord Zedd: Silence, you fool! It is more than that! The Morphing Grid's balance is maintained by the constant struggle between Zordon and myself.
Goldar: Maybe Zordon finally gave up.

***

Subject: A Heartfelt Story


To All American Voters,

I am a senior citizen. During the Clinton Administration I had an extremely good and well paying job.

I took numerous vacations and had several vacation homes.

Since President Bush took office, I have watched my entire life change for the worse.

I lost my job.
I lost my two sons in that terrible Iraqi War.
I lost my homes.
I lost my health insurance.

As a matter of fact I lost virtually everything and became homeless.

Adding insult to injury, when the authorities found me living like an animal, instead of helping me, they arrested me.

I will do anything that Senator Kerry wants to insure that a Democrat is back in the White House come next year.

Bush has to go.

I just thought you would like to know how one senior citizen views the Bush Administration.

Thank you for taking time to read my letter.


Sincerely,

Saddam Hussein

***

In the mid-90s, Disney issued a set of 5 CDs which they billed as "Classic Disney".

In Volume I were such classics as "A Whole New World" from Aladdin and "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins. However, the presence of such tracks as "A Whale Of A Tale" (from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and "Let's Get Together" (from 1961's The Parent Trap, not 1998's The Parent Trap featuring the pre-bust enhancement Lindsay Lohan) aroused suspicion.

This pattern continued in Volume II, which had songs like "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" (The Lion King) as well as "Best Of Friends" (The Fox and the Hound) - hardly classic, for most purchasers of the CD probably didn't even know of the existence of this song. Volume III had even fewer real classics, and even more sludge dredged up from the vaults like "I'm Professor Ludwig Von Drake" (The Wonderful World Of Color).

By the time you hit Volume IV, you were staring open-jawed at the inclusion of such famous classics as "On The Open Road" (A Goofy Movie) and "Although I Dropped $100,000 (I Found A Million Dollars In Your Smile)" (Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color). And let me not even mention Volume V.

"Classic" Disney, my foot. I'm so glad I didn't buy the boxed set.

***

Someone: juz like y u vent been updating as regularly as ever

Me: haha
I see I have a fan :)
well among other reasons - I've been watching PRiS episodes
haha

Someone: actually
alot of pple from law read ur blog
coz it was v heavily linked to mrbrown
in fact.. almost all the guys in my class read ur blog!

Me: wah lao
eh I can sign autographs. haha


Someone: u shud belong to law
but oh yea... we ve sth against pple who are not frm law within law

Me: how about medicine? :P
I should go sit in law more often for fun. hahahah

Someone: well.. medicine is different i guess
there is a reason why they put the 2 faculties at the opposite ends of the campus

Me: so you won't beat each other up?

Someone: i believe it is to prevent law students from corrupting those angels

yeah
u shud go to sit in law more often
got q a number of pretty girls to look at

Me: haha yeah right
I bet the medicine students think the same thing

are they shrill, anorexic, english speaking bimbos?

Someone: erh.. yeah

Me: if they are I don't want... almost as bad as shrill, anorexic chinese speaking ah lians

***

This week's This is True:

THIS WEEK'S HONORARY UNSUBSCRIBE goes to Richard M. Schmidt Jr. An attorney, during law school Schmidt worked as a radio DJ, and upon graduation chose to specialize in communication law. He eventually ended up as the general counsel to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. In his most important case, he represented the Miami Herald. Florida law required newspapers to print responses from politicians who were criticized by newspapers, a so-called "right of reply". In a case that wound up in the Supreme Court in 1974, Schmidt argued that the law violated a key element of the First Amendment to the Constitution: freedom of the press. In a unanimous decision the Supreme Court struck down the Florida law, firmly establishing that no branch of government has a right to dictate what a newspaper prints. He died October 17 at his home in Washington, D.C., from congestive heart failure. He was 80.
-- Honorary Unsubscribe archive: http://www.HonoraryUnsubscribe.com


Interesting judgment, this.

***

Get it right! Jamie Whyte describes himself as "Outraged of Highbury" - someone who endlessly sends furious letters to newspapers complaining about sloppy thinking, logical errors, fallacies and muddles. He does the same at parties - and even on trains. Fortunately he's a professional philosopher or he might have attracted the attention of the authorities long ago.

How widespread is this tendency to seek unnecessary explanations?

It is well known that when gamblers go wrong they find an excuse and as soon things go right they immediately assign it to their own brilliance and insight rather than finding an accidental reason. It's rather similar in the financial industry. Even the bosses buy into this kind of reasoning. They will say "of course I understand why that one went wrong" when they lose millions, and then when it goes well they will say "well done". Everybody systematically overestimates their skill in games of chance. From what research I have seen, financial trading is not much more than a game of chance. There are funds that simply track the market according to a set of simple rules, and others that are very actively managed. But the actively managed ones do not perform better on average. Some will do well in any year but that's what you expect by chance.

But there are star fund managers who do well year after year. So is the advice I read to follow the best managers right?

You have fallen into the error of reading meaning into data where it is not required. Stock traders are quite young; normally you would be quite an old trader at 35. You are probably in the spotlight for four or five years, maximum. There are thousands of traders, so some of them are sure to have five good years in a row. It is purely random. There is nothing you would not expect if it were chance alone.

***

Excerpts from a cat's daily dairy:

Day 183 of My Captivity: My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get in ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another house plant. Today my attempt to kill by captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking - almost succeeded; Must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair. Must try this on their bed. Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Hmmm , not working according to plan. There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary confinement throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food. More importantly, I overheard that my confinement was due to my power of allergies. Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage. I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant; he speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the high metal room his safety is assured. But I can only wait,; it is only a matter of time.....

***

More insights:

Girls all look the same because:
1) They love observing how other girls whom they think look better than them dress. Then they try to follow suit, thus they all end up looking the same.

2) Because most guys claim that they love girls with long hair, thus almost all girls want to keep long hair.

3) It's very hard to style long hair differently, thus the only way is to dye it. But the prob is everyone also tries that method.

***

Did Jesus Christ Really Live? - Not the most elegant of summaries, but it is a relatively short and compact encapsulation of the most pertinent points.

A Surfeit of Jesuses! – But No "Jesus of Nazareth" - "Josephus, the first century Jewish historian mentions no fewer than nineteen different Yeshuas/Jesii, about half of them contemporaries of the supposed Christ!"


Dark Dungeons

Dungeon Master (sultry girl with dark long hair and black leather outfit): Debbie, your cleric has been raised to the 8th level. I think it's time that you learn how to really cast spells.

2-pigtailed girl: You mean you're going to teach me how to have the real power?

Dungeon Master: Yes, you have the personality for it now.

THE INTENSE OCCULT TRAINING THROUGH D&D PREPARED DEBBIE TO ACCEPT THE INVITATION TO ENTER A WITCHES COVEN

Dungeon Master: I've brought Elfstar to become a priestess and witch.

Coven member: Welcome, Elfstar. You're now a priestess of the craft, and of the Temple of Diana.


It gets better - this girl whose character died hangs herself. Really, these Jack Chick publications are getting more and more hilarious. Next they're going to claim that Pokemon is satanic. Oh, wait, they've already done that.


More fun quotes:

"Why should we take advice on sex from the pope? If he knows anything about it, he shouldn't!" - George Bernard Shaw

"The Christian view that all intercourse outside marriage is immoral was, as we see in the... passages from St. Paul, based upon the view that all sexual intercourse, even within marriage, is regrettable. A view of this sort, which goes against biological facts, can only be regarded by sane people as a morbid aberration. The fact that it is embedded in Christian ethics has made Christianity throughout its whole history a force tending towards mental disorders and unwholesome views of life." - Bertrand Russell

"If God kills, lies, cheats, discriminates, and otherwise behaves in a manner that puts the Mafia to shame, that's okay, he's God. He can do whatever he wants. Anyone who adheres to this philosophy has had his sense of morality, decency, justice and humaneness warped beyond recognition by the very book that is supposedly preaching the opposite." - Dennis McKinsey


Someone: "another anecdote my X'tian fren shared with me on God's powers:

his "sister" (i think u know what i mean) accidentaly stained her h/phone with (greasy) food and went to the toilet to get it washed with water (!)...so as a result the h/p didn't work...and then all the x'tian frens at that study area prayed for the phone and i guess i don't need to tell you that lo and behold, the phone worked again not long after!"

***

A Xeno Boy in Sg

"I Xeno Boy will go where no one has ever gone before. I hereby announce the birth of Singapore's first Political Blog. I will give my awesome rants on Singapore politics. I will give the truth as I see it. Before I begin, I am studying political science, of course, in the UK. Yes, I have fucking spoken at Hyde Park before ... I am Xeno Boy. I am the Political Savant. This is Singapore's First Political Blog."

Xeno Boy proclaims that he has set up Singapore's first political blog, but 5 days after starting it, he abandoned it, and hasn't updated for more than a month. Ah well.

***

And finally, the rest of the backlog:


Posting and You - How to post on Internet Forums

Singaporean claims 'burger king' title - "Don Ezra Nicholas stuffed more than three McDonald's hamburgers into his mouth -- without swallowing... Jeffery Koh, 50, became the world's fastest eater of dry biscuits by swallowing three cream crackers in 14.45 seconds, smashing the previous mark of 49.15 seconds set by Ambrose Mendy of Britain in 2002. But other attempts failed. They ranged from the fastest to drink a 14-ounce (400-gram) bottle of ketchup through a straw, to the longest paper airplane flight."
To think that I once laughed at Ma-laysia for having the man who walked backwards and the woman who lived in the room with snakes for a few days

Yale conference examines life, work of Michael Jackson - "Megan Burns, who is pursing a master's degree in fine art, said she looks at Jackson as "a self-created piece of art". "He's contributed to the national discussion of race and gender, and that is an invaluable topic for all of us to discuss," she said."

Navy turns red over blue picture - "More than 250 sailors and civilians attending an annual sexual harassment prevention class at Pearl Harbor got an eyeful when a nude photograph of a woman popped up on the theater screen."

Rabbit invasion puts Roman forts under siege - "Archaeologists say burrows have undermined about 60 defensive sites in Scotland, and some structures are in danger of collapse."

Introduction to Antiprocess [Ed: aka Cognitive Dissonance] - "The Formal Explanation: Antiprocess is the preemptive recognition and marginalization of undesired information by the synergistic interplay of high-priority acquired mental defense mechanisms. An Informal Explanation: People can very cleverly defend their beliefs without having to fully understand the arguments against them. A Very Informal Explanation: They're not being annoying on purpose."

Quick Bust - I find it disturbing that they have testimonials from a 16 year old, and even a 14 year old: "I felt tingling in my breasts so I could tell something was definitely working. I'm ordering my second bottle. Thanks!" -M. Jarvis Age 14

The Meritocracy Myth - "The myth of meritocracy is itself harmful because by discounting the most important causes of inequality, it leads to unwarranted exaltation of the rich and unwarranted condemnation of the poor. We may always have the rich and poor among us, but we need neither exalt the former nor condemn the latter... If meritocracy is a myth, how can the system be made to operate more closely according to meritocratic principles? First, current forms of discrimination could be reduced or eliminated. Second, the wealthy could be encouraged to redistribute greater amounts of their accumulated wealth through philanthropy in ways that would provide greater opportunity for the less privileged. Third, the tax system could be redesigned to be genuinely progressive in ways that would close the distance between those at the top and the bottom of the system. Fourth, more government resources could be allocated to provide more equal access to critical services such as education and health care."
Meritocracy is flawed, like most things, but it is probably the best system we have. People just need to be conscious of its flaws and limitations and stop bandying the concept around as a be all and end all and a solution to all problems.

Caffeine withdrawal recognized as a disorder - "When people don't get their usual dose they can suffer a range of withdrawal symptoms, including headache, fatigue, difficulty concentrating. They may even feel like they have the flu with nausea and muscle pain."
Time to ban coffee and execute those who traffic in it...

time vs space - A maths major getting one semester's worth of credits for cycling through Malaysia, Thailand, through to the Middle East and finally ending in Europe? I never knew NUS was so flexible.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

"One reason I don't drink is that I want to know when I am having a good time." - Nancy Astor

Random Playlist Song: Elgar - Enigma Variations, Op.36- IV. W.M.B.

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Tech Support, Calls From Hell:

I had this conversation recently with a lady who swore she had been using computers since forever.

Tech Support: "All right. Now click 'OK'."
Customer: "Click 'OK'?"
Tech Support: "Yes, click 'OK'."
Customer: "Click 'OK'?"
Tech Support: "That's right. Click 'OK'."
Customer: "So I click 'OK', right?"
Tech Support: "Right. Click 'OK'."

Pause.

Customer: "I clicked 'Cancel'."
Tech Support: "YOU CLICKED 'CANCEL'???"
Customer: "That's what I was supposed to do, right?"
Tech Support: "No, you were supposed to click 'OK'."
Customer: "I thought you said to click 'Cancel'."
Tech Support: "NO. I said to click 'OK'."
Customer: "Oh."
Tech Support: "Now we have to start over."
Customer: "Why?"
Tech Support: "Because you clicked 'Cancel'."
Customer: "Wasn't I supposed to click 'Cancel'?"
Tech Support: "No. Forget that. Let's start from the top."
Customer: "Ok."

I spent the next fifteen minutes re-constructing the carefully crafted setup for this lady's unique computer.

Tech Support: "All right. Now, are you ready to click 'OK'?"
Customer: "Yes."
Tech Support: "Great. Now click 'OK'."

Pause.

Customer: "I clicked 'Cancel'."

And people wonder why my mouse pad has a target on it labeled "BANG HEAD HERE."

(Computer Stupidities)

***

In Episode 16 of PRiS - Flashes of Darkonda, TJ says they're gonna check out a planet in the Dagobah system :0

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Not satisfied with calling its Ice Cream Soda, F&N has renamed it "Cool Ice Cream Soda". Luckily for them, they didn't bring it into their Alliteration Line of soft drinks, or I would have to call it "Icky Ice Cream Soda".

My newest fetish is fisting hoop earrings (while someone is wearing them of course). If I can't find any hoop earrings large enough, I shall have to settle for fisting them. Sadly, no one I know wears hoop earrings (or maybe they don't want to tell me). Meanwhile, with the lifting of ridiculous rules on hair, one of my older fetishes (tugging ponytails) will have to go unfulfilled, though I did make my third ponytail conquest last week. I still hold out the hope that I can find someone to pimp her ears and hair to me simultaneously.


Jurong East library periodically plays overly long, internally repetitive announcements at an inappropriately loud volume, urging people to make the library a conducive place for learning. Sadly, the damn announcements do the opposite.

When libraries have silent reading areas, you know that they've given up trying to enforce silence in the rest of the library. Maybe they need to hire the psycho ex-RJ librarians.

It's sneaky how some publishers try to deter people photocopying sections from their book by using odd shapes for the pages, such that it is very hard or impossible to photocopy pages without truncating sections of text.


Apparently not only do Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan have high rates of anorexia, their societies are inundated with slimming ads. Hmm.

Apparently many Tom Yam restaurants in Malaysia were set up by fleeing separatists from southern Thailand. So the Malay middle class's patronage of said restaurants is probably funding the insurgency.

It seems that in 1989, then-PM Lee was upset because lawyers couldn't 'think out of the box', so he invited 3 individuals to do a fast track law degree. And of all people, he chose Engineers?!

The glories of exclusion clauses: "The customer is deemed to be fully insured at all times against all risks (including, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, fire, damage and theft, whether due to the negligence of others or not) and the company shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or misdelivery of or damage of whatever kind to the customer’s motor vehicle, or any articles carried therein or thereon or of or to any accessories carried thereon or therein or any injury to the customer or any other person occurring when the customer’s motor vehicle is in the parking building howsoever that loss, misdelivery, damage or injury shall be caused"


Quotes:

[On Jackson Pollock] He's a guy who dribbles paint.

'The sudden appearance of this, of this list poses a whole host of puzzles and questions which the First Meditation does not address, and which this essay cannot address.' Ah, my favourite trick, saying you're not gonna do things.

'Of course, as this may be wrong, but it is not within the scope of this paper to consider mistakes I may have made in this paper'... No no no. You can't say that, or you can't say, 'Of course, if this is a misreading of Descartes then all of the things that I've said may be lies.' End. No.

[On his dummy paper] If someone did write this paper they'd get a very high grade for it, if I do say so myself.

Okay. I'll just read this real quick. Those who are in desperate need to go may file out in an orderly fashion.

[On essay topics] They look hard, but they're really easy. Well, they're not really easy. They're just moderately hard.

There's one guy who asked about question 3. He's not here today. Maybe he decided to sleep in. He was so terrifed by the question.

You may think I'm teaching you an arcane skill. How to read 19th Century English. All the people who wrote like this are dead. You don't have to talk to them ever again.

Never mind if it's not right. This is philosophy. We don't deal with facts here. Really.

[On Victorian morality] This sounds implausible to me. That it was too lascivious to see sexy piano legs.

In work, sometimes we feel happy. Sometimes we feel unhappy. Sometimes we feel very stretchful (stressful)

inter actions (interactions)

Children look up in you (to)

our maining in life (meaning)

no patent (pattern)

Leisure is important because we want to do what we want to enjoy (enjoy)

car'shiun is losing (calcium is being lost)

special orientation (spatial)

[On notes] When I say 'read at your leisure time' you read at your leisure time. After you get your degree then you read it.

'Ex gratia'. Out of the goodness of my heart. If an insurer tells you that, you tell them: 'Don't bullshit me'... Nowadays the fine print is getting smaller and smaller... Don't accept ex gratia payments.

cut the Guardian Knot (Gordion)

The lady who is texting - are you ready? Unless you are texting my lecture.

[On Thornton vs Shoe Lae Parking's convoluted exception clause] If you, who have had the benefit of a good quality education, cannot understand it in one reading, how do you expect the housewife?... By the time you read this, you'd say 'it doesn't matter'. Let the building collapse... [Lord] Denning [the judge]... double first in mathematics. He must have cried first. Denning must have cried first.

Never fly on the 31st of December anytime. Because most pilots in the Western World are drunk.

[On a picture of the Creation of Man] Can you see? [Everyone: No] Good. It's a picture of naked people. I don't want you to see too much.

[On the story of Adam and Eve and the latter pressurising the former] This is like the story of Singapore men and their women.

[During a lecture on food] What are the 5 Cs? [Someone: Food.] Food? Food begins with an F!

Before I left [Singapore]: Huh! McDonalds. The first time I landed in the States, I was hungry... There was Chinese food, there was Indian food, there was Japanese food... but I walked into McDonalds. That's the lesson in life - don't be arrogant.

It became a symbol of high'jair'nic food (hygienic)

**** ****, sorry, Professor ****. *laughs from students* He's a colleague, so I can call him by his first name.

[On urine lassi] Here's how you cook it. [A] Recipe, if you want to take it down.

[On pictures of weird and potentially disturbing foods] Shall I show you more pictures? [Everyone: Yes!] You guys, you are sick!

[On tigers' penises] Guys, it's an aphrodisiac. You consume penis, because you think it will give you a better penis. (penises)

[Quoting a Filipino taxi driver on eating half developed chicks] Everytime I make love to my wife I eat balut. I have 5 children. My wife is pregnant with the sixth

The more I talk, the more I realise I'm not gonna get through my slides today, but that's alright.

My friend in Chemical Engineering tells me that there are actually more girls than guys in there. [Me: But the quality all like you lah right?] *pokes me in the tummy* [Me: *squeal/giggle*] [Everyone within 40 metres looks at me]

[On product differentiation] Maybe Starhub has per second billing, Singtel has better quality. M1 - I don't know what M1 is doing... We can predict that M1's market share will go down... M1 is happy-go-lucky.
Quote of the Post: "These days an income is something you can't live without--or within." - Tom Wilson (Ziggy)

Random Playlist Song: Mark Morgan - Planescape Torment - Main Theme

***

Aha! I got a real carbon arc going with 0.5mm pencil lead. Except that it was so bright that it affected my eyes for quite a while afterwards. Apparently it's not safe to look at even for a second, even if you're wearing sunglasses. Which begs the question: so how's my project going to be graded if no one can safely look at the arc?

***

Phlogger's been down since a while before Kah Keng and Kah Seng flew off. Guess those taking care of Whisktech are not doing a good job. Ah well, it shall be removed the next time I update my template.


Nicholas D. Wolfwood writes: "having left a comment, could you take the pic down please? or perhaps swap it with a near naked adonis with a mullet...."

Well, I didn't find a pic of near naked adonises with mullets, but I've the next best thing: Dav's Mullet Site, with pictures of Brad Pitt, Kevin Costner, Michael Bolton, Mel Gibson, Patrick Swayze, MacGyver and Nigel Kennedy sporting mullets.

***

The modern atheist movement and its fire is very much - in fact mostly - a reaction to the growth of fundamentalist Christianity (which is itself a reaction to the rapid pace of modernisation and the resultant discomfort many feel at the disconcerting pace of change); specifically its obnoxiousness and its eagerness to self-aggrandise. If not faced with Christianity, or at least Islam, which shares some of the former's chracteristics and philosophies, the fire and raison d'etre of modern atheism would be gone.

***

I saw a 40 year old (or so) woman with a fully dyed head of hair. Previously, the most I'd seen in women of that age was slight highlights.

***

I saw two girls who spent the whole of a lecture looking at pictures of other girls on Friendster. I don't know whether to be disturbed or amused; I thought only guys do this kind of thing.

A guy in front of me was writing a South East Asia/History essay, and he called tin and rice cash crops. Sigh.


Quotes:

Solutions [to the tutorial] are out? On the [IVLE] workbin? Really ah? You can go now. No, no! After attendance [taking]

[On Nash equilibrium] It's okay if you don't understand, because it took me quite long. It took me a few years.

[On 'varnashramadharma'] People start counting letters there, so yes: there are many letters

Sociology is concerned with empirical faith (facts)

[On Toraja funeral rites] If you do sociology long enough, you get to go off. Meet wacky people.

[On Marx's most famous quote] I guess he hadn't heard about TV yet.

[On accurate inflation forecasts] This is the job of professional forecasters, of which I'm one actually. Unfortunately. Don't ask me about my forecast record.

the de fuck'to central bank (facto)

The month of October brings a whole spade of Nobel Prizes (spate)

You're more interested to watch Singapore Idol than finding out who won the Nobel Prize (in watching)

John Taylor is actually quite famous. He could be the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Which is why you should buy his textbook now. Next time, when he becomes the second most powerful man in the US, you can say you used his textbook in your undergrad days

Someone who goes for peace, we call him a doh've (dove)

Philosophy is so full of questions that are so broad that they are in effect rhetorical. You ask: 'What is truth? What, in effect, do I know?' Are there any answers to these questions? Now, those can be - you can mean them seriously, or you can just say them as a way of saying: 'Ah... Philosophy', in just the vaguest, cloudiest way. And in your paper your mind is often in a vague, cloudy state and so you're often in a kinda: 'Ah... what is truth?' kind of mood, but don't write questions like that in your paper.

[On the phone] Is this Gabriel? [Me: How did you know? Was it the inane comment?] The slightly sleepy, big bear-y voice

The girls with short hair are more likely to get hitched than the girls with long hair.

[Me on SEP: But why do you want to go to France?] Because, oh my god, have you tried the pastries?

[On someone] He has no sense of propriety... He's like something you just fished out of the toilet bowl. If you take a poker and stick it into a toilet bowl, he'll be on the end of it.
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