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Valar Qringaomis

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Friday, November 12, 2004

"If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside." - Robert X. Cringely

Random Playlist Song:

***

I formatted my hard disk (again) and twice while installing Windows, I got BSODs. Definitely a hardware issue.

On the up side I managed to flash my router with new firmware (finally!).

***



Why does everyone think this is Hillary Swank?!

Someone: its not
she's not so pretty

***

On logic, rhetoric and dialectics:


Someone: i don't care if you do history, or you do political philosophy or what have you. i do economics and i don't discuss in equations

Me: haha
so how should you discuss?

Someone: in plain english that everyone can understand!

Me: his (and wt's) method is to raise the level of abstraction so no one else understand what the hell they're talking about

***

Who would be on your Power Ranger team? by mirrorkitten
Username
The Red Rangersoccerwally
The Pink Rangerxephyris
The Blue Rangerfaeryariella
The Green Rangereuphyi
The Yellow Rangersmallville_gurl
The Black Rangerrui
You're weapon would be
How likely you'd be to live: 95%
Quiz created with MemeGen!


***

Someone who shares my sister's prejudices on why NUS cannot be the 18th top university in the world:

"look at the arts dept. that's the only real gauge of quality. can their graduates speak, read and write? no.

science grads are functionally illiterate for the most part, so we don't count them."

***

Interesting guestbook entries from the last 2 1/2 months:

"I love your ban purple uniforms campaign. I think its great that Singapore still has such lively people despite all attempts by the school and NS to kill them. As for insane people in NS, I estimate at least 100 suicide cases (attempted) a yeat as I just came out of the SAF psychiatric ward."

"i have been here oooooooooooooooooooooooo" (?)

"bloody brilliant. it's been years since i last saw any gal school yearbooks. and i do remember having to colour those bloody squares in chong see eng's class. "

"guy men." (?!)

"gosh. you have a TOTAL obsession with the girls from top schools, ie rg, ny, sc...every other entry is about those girls and their...

why the obsession?"

"you are sick. " (heh)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

"Too bad the only people who know how to run the country are busy driving cabs and cutting hair." - George Burns

Random Playlist Song: The Mighty Raw - Power Rangers in Space (Extended Version)


10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Rangers In Space!

Verse 1:
Set controls to outer space now
Flying higher than ever before
Rangers,
in Space!

Chorus
Go Power Rangers,
Go Power Rangers,
Go Power Rangers,
Go Go Go Fly

Go Power Rangers,
Go Power Rangers,
Go Power Rangers...
In Space

Verse 2
Flip On Thrusters,
Fire The Rockets,
Save The Future,
Long Live The Power Rangers
In Space

Chorus

*uber cool interlude*

Chorus

*not-so-cool interlude*

Repeat Verse 1

Go Power Rangers,
Go Power Rangers,
Go Power Rangers,
Go Go Go Fly

Chorus


Yay! I never knew of the existence of this 2:19 version. This is my favourite track after Go Go Power Rangers (Long Version) (4:33).

In other news, I'm on track to getting all the tracks of "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers - The Album - A Rock Adventure"!

***

Scary Dates

Five Fast Escape Tactics

2. Go Ellen
At a pivotal point in the date, sigh, and shake your head. "I have to make a confession," you say. "I'm a lesbian." Go on to explain that you just broke up with your girlfriend, and thought you'd give men a try, since life as a heterosexual seems so uncomplicated...but it's just not working.

5. Get Nerdy
Just as repeated Star Trek and Dungeons-and-Dragons references are a red flag for women, multiple cats are Kryptonite for men. If you cut the evening short, saying "I'm sorry, I didn't realize how late it was. My cat is diabetic, and I must give her insulin shots twice a day, exactly 12 hours apart -- I'm never far from her for long," he will not just excuse you. He'll never call again.


Haha.

How come there's no men.msn.com? Gah.

***

Someone on why she prefers NUS to NJC:

it's takes skills to pon sch in NJ cos e whole sch looks like a prison

it's fenced up everywhere
i literally squeeze out of sch

b4 e sch got fenced up..we could climb over e walls

after it was fenced up we went out using sliding under e sch gate...it's kind of crap
in e end e sch resorted to install some barbs on e fence as well...u noe on e bottom of the gate to prevent ppl from sliding out...

Me: NJ sucks haha
no wonder you wear dull prison uniforms


Someone: Essay: Proud to be “SingapoLian”: A Scrutiny on the Rise of “Ah Lian” Culture in Singapore

im doing everyth abt lianism...clothing...behaviour..etc...haha..ur view is a negative one?but do u actually know that many ppl are claiming they are lian to diff extent?at least on e media...i m working on that...

Me: NUS is full of shrill, anorexic, chinese speaking ah lians

Someone: haha true
esp arts right?it's terrible
there's this generic look of ah lians in nus

rebonded long hair...blonde
tight mini skirts..singlish n chinese...

Me: go and interview some of them for your essya

i m kind of worried of getting bashed up

there's this irony i discover
true ah lians dun admit they are ah lians
fake ah lians extol ah lianism n claim they are ah lian somewad

im not too sure wad's their motive of dressing outlandishly n i conjure up this notion that they jus wan to attract attention, nvm +ve or -ve

***

I've found a boy named Hope. Fascinating.
So the next chapter in my interminable saga of computer troubles is that my linksys router suddenly goes bonkers. Since the start, every now and then it's been throwing my desktop offline for a few seconds and then reconnecting it, and throwing my laptop off every few hours.

Now one night, the connection becomes very slow. The next day, I encounter many timeouts accessing the router administration screen. And now: presto! The power light on my router has been flashing for hours and no network is being setup.

In other news, my attempts to connect my modem to the laptop/desktop via an Ethernet/USB cable respectively (ie the good old wired method) failed. Until I called up Starhub Customer Care, where the consultant asked me to do what I'd already done previously - except now it worked.

Gah.

***

The questions in the NUS Teaching Survey differ for Arts modules and for USP modules:

USP module:

1. The teacher has enhanced my thinking ability.
2. The teacher provides timely and useful feedback.
3. The teacher is approachable for consultation.
4. The teacher has helped me advance my research (if applicable).
5. The teacher has increased my interest in the subject.
6. The teacher has helped me in interdisciplinary learning.
7. The teacher furthered my intellectual development by introducing me to new ideas, insights and analyses.
8. Overall the teacher is effective.


Arts

1. The teacher has enhanced my thinking ability.
2. The teacher provides timely and useful feedback.
3. The teacher is approachable for consultation.
4. The teacher has helped me advance my research (if applicable).
5. The teacher has increased my interest in the subject.
6. The teacher has helped me to apply the knowledge learned in this module.
7. The teacher has encouraged me to ask critical questions.
8. Overall the teacher is effective.


Interesting.

***

Quotes:

Why is lesbianism more acceptable among girls than gaiety among boys? [Caleb: why did you just commit a grammatical mistake?]

[On a SMU graduate] You could get a retarded, autistic 10 year old child from Somalia who would be a better investment banker than him

I'm doing a relatively me'nai'el job (menial)

I am totally convinced that half the soci [sociology] lecture is made of sarong party girls

[On the exposure module] Philosophy is like red wine. He's trying to turn it into Coke.

Monday, November 08, 2004

"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." - H. G. Wells

***

The Day the Enlightenment Went Out

Can a people that believes more fervently in the Virgin Birth than in evolution still be called an Enlightened nation?... Respect for evidence seems not to pertain any more, when a poll taken just before the elections showed that 75 percent of Mr. Bush's supporters believe Iraq either worked closely with Al Qaeda or was directly involved in the attacks of 9/11.

The secular states of modern Europe do not understand the fundamentalism of the American electorate. It is not what they had experienced from this country in the past. In fact, we now resemble those nations less than we do our putative enemies.

Where else do we find fundamentalist zeal, a rage at secularity, religious intolerance, fear of and hatred for modernity? Not in France or Britain or Germany or Italy or Spain. We find it in the Muslim world, in Al Qaeda, in Saddam Hussein's Sunni loyalists. Americans wonder that the rest of the world thinks us so dangerous, so single-minded, so impervious to international appeals. They fear jihad, no matter whose zeal is being expressed.

It is often observed that enemies come to resemble each other. We torture the torturers, we call our God better than theirs - as one American general put it, in words that the president has not repudiated.

***

A man is walking home one night when he spots a woman in the shadows.

"Quick fun just $20" she whispers seductively as he gets to her. He'd never been with a hooker before, but he decides what the hell? It's been awhile, he's running early, and it's only $20.

So he steps into the bushes with her and very soon, they're going at it. Suddenly a light flashes on them -- it's a cop. "What's going on here?" asks the officer.

"I'm making love to my wife," the man answers indignantly.

"Oh, I'm sorry," says the cop, "I didn't know."

"Well," said the man, "neither did I, until you shined that light in her face."

[JumboJoke]

***

"Most democracies are not majoritarian. If Britain were run on majoritarian lines, for example, then fox hunting would have been banned long ago and capital punishment would never had been abolished. In other words, Britain would be a country which killed more people but fewer animals." (Bad Moves: Fallacies of democracy)

Heh.

***

Mr Tim Tang is getting delusional. Someone posted in a forum (on Xenoy Boy's 'first political blog in Singapore'):

"Hahahha. this is hilarious.. the first political blog? :)
Hey, the writing reminds me of http://stopgays.blogspot.com/ and the loony there."

And he thought that it was I.

***

Someone who used to be from 42SAR's blog where he lambasts many people, including their pictures and even displaying 2 photoshopped pictures of his own.

"Laser Koh
That's the professional dog trainer of Kaffir company. The most sinister person in 42. Funny name to call oneself. haaha... His voice is damn sharp, dunno how many octave above the norm, and deafening that can shatter the glass. Definitely a hypocrite and pretendious. Always trying to be nice to people from other companies. One of his favourite actions is to command his dogs to sit and stand repetitively. But those dogs also didn't gain any sympathy from us. Too bad... cause they ain't any good dogs either.
Oh yah... He is also a damn sore LOSER, always training his dogs to perform the best during battalion games day. Whenever Kaffir didn't get the champion, he will gei gei say it's alright, ha.. fake one lah... he must be very dui cause his dogs won't have much good life back in camp.

keeping fit to stay in good health to train his dogs... the photographer didn't manage to capture all his dogs behind him

Okie... here are his dogs... in order of my hatre."

I am amused.

Lucky he's ORDed already :)

***

Jet-powered wheelchair surprise - "Giuseppe Cannella had a big surprise for his mother-in-law when he put a jet engine on the back of her wheelchair. Mr Cannella says the chair can now do top speeds of more than 60mph and has proved the star of a model plane championship during the Bank Holiday."

Girls, beware, Japan creates world's best chat-up line - "If their calculations are correct, the sentence “rainen no kono hi mo issho ni waratteiyoh” will spark a new era of unbridled romance in Japan: it is, according to hours of meticulous psychological and sociological research, the ultimate chat-up line. Directly translated, the killer phrase is: “This time next year, let’s be laughing together.”"

Man tries to convert lions to Jesus, gets bitten - "A man leaped into a lion’s den at the Taipei Zoo on Wednesday to try to convert the king of beasts to Christianity, but was bitten in the leg for his efforts. “Jesus will save you!” shouted the 46-year-old man at two African lions lounging under a tree a few meters away. “Come bite me!” he said with both hands raised, television footage showed. One of the lions, a large male with a shaggy mane, bit the man in his right leg."
Must be part of the divine plan...

Debate incident leads to injury - "After watching the presidential debate Thursday night, two UNC students ended up slapping each other while fighting over who Jesus would vote for in the election. According to a police report, the concept of "turning the other cheek" came up, and James Robert Austin, 19, of 1305 Granville Towers West in Chapel Hill, slapped Robert Brooks Rollins, 22, of 104 Brewer Lane in Carrboro, on the cheek at Rollins' house. After that, Rollins slapped Austin, and Austin landed on the concrete patio, possibly striking his head, according to the report."

Other Oils and Fats Introduction - Hormel Foods Corporation - Lard has less saturated fat and more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat than palm oil!!!

Homeland Security Threat Level 0.2 - This Firefox extension "displays the current Homeland Security Threat Level as an icon in the status bar".

F u t u r e M e . o r g - Send an email to your future self.

Does a Cat Always Land on Its Feet? - "Cats have excellent balance, and are remarkably acrobatic. When turned upside down and dropped from a height, a cat generally has the ability to land on its feet. Until now, no one has systematically investigated the limits of this phenomenon. In this study, I dropped a cat upside down from various heights, and observed whether the cat landed on its feet."
He only tried heights from 1 to 6 feet. Should've tried the 10th storey...

Machine Error Gives Bush Extra Ohio Votes - "An error with an electronic voting system gave President Bush 3,893 extra votes in suburban Columbus, elections officials said. Franklin County's unofficial results had Bush receiving 4,258 votes to Democrat John Kerry's 260 votes in a precinct in Gahanna. Records show only 638 voters cast ballots in that precinct."
Hmm.

Bush Supporters Still Believe Iraq Had WMD or Major Program, Supported al Qaeda - "Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points."
So, when all has been said and done - Bush supporters do tend to be dumber than not.

Singaporean Fairy Tales: THE PAP PIPER - "Mother Cock brings you a fairy tale about a man who wants to make young people dance to his tune."

Darwin's greatest challenge tackled - The mystery of eye evolution

Piracy plagues hotly awaited game sequels - Normal gamers are helping shut down the operations of those who distribute games. Bad news for people like nw.t.

The Warped Economics of Fatwa: Demand Creates Its OWN Supply - " According to the Keynesian interpretation of Say's Law, the demand side was irrelevant where "Supply creates its own demand". However, in Keynesian economics, demand (to be precise, aggregate demand) is central to macroeconomic considerations. It was not quite that "demand creates its own supply"; rather, it was that Classical economics was wrong in ignoring the demand side altogether, and Keynes restored the demand side to its due place in macroeconomics. No one ever said "Demand creates its own supply", except a really small percentage of students in introductory economics classes, who could never get the Say's Law right during the exams. But there might be situations where one could argue and state that "Demand creates its own supply." Let me explain this using the Fatwa issue, while clarifying that economists should probably take this piece with a light heart."

Confessions of a lad-mag photographer - "All these photographs we see on magazine covers have undergone major overhauls, confessed FHM photographer Raymond Toh. 'Their tummies have been shrunk by 20 to 30 per cent and their busts pumped up 50 to 100 per cent. If their bikini tops are too transparent, their nipples would also have to be touched up. Most of the time they would be removed completely,'"
Aww.

The Revelation @ The Forbidden Knowledge . com - Another looney site.

The Principality of Sealand - "Sealand was founded as a sovereign Principality in 1967 in international waters, six miles off the eastern shores of Britain. The island fortress is conveniently situated from 65 to 100 miles from the coasts of France, Belgium, Holland and Germany."

Retro Junk - A possible partial successor to the late Yesterdayland with commercials, movie trailers, cartoon and TV show theme songs and articles about the 80s. I feel old.

Name tag for sales (sic) - Someone is selling a nametag which says "Elaine Kee". I cannot imagine why anyone not named Elaine Kee (ie almost everyone) would want to buy it.

Dick's adventures! - "freeshow, zao geng and raiding stories!"
I'm inclined to think this is another subtle joke, or something. It seems he also writes on "Triumph fan" which is described thus: "Wearing panties and women's g-strings is a very fun thing that most men miss out on. Not me, I love wearing them."

If cats could blog, and if dogs could blog - From Techno Prince (who's finally removed the irritating techno music from his blog. Yay!)

Miss Venus 2004 - This is hilarious. It aims to uncover "Singapore's Most Popular Girl". And for some reason there's a page on "Safety Aspect of Miss Venus 2004". It seems they've mixed voting integrity and safety up. I would've thought safety would include measures like preventing the girls from gouging each other's eyes out but otherwise allowing a Pankrationic venting of emotions.
In recent posts on the Young Republic mailing list, Caleb puts The Associate aka He Who Must Not be Named aka mindgame aka nw.t. in his place:


nw.t:

I honestly feel that the government is perceived by the population at large (yes, of course there are some dissenters), to be delivering what they want, as per the social covenant.

Personally, I find all of this a moot point, because I don't particularly believe in any inherent rights other than self-interest, and as an individual, my self-interest is being adequately taken care of my the government, in the main. I think most people make the same calculation, except for the pseudo-liberal intellectual minority who feel that Singaporeans are base, morally bankrupt anachronisms who have to be saved
from themselves via the panacea of Western-style liberal democracy.

I actually think the whole argument about what government is ideal is intellectually amusing but morally and personally irrelevant. I don't believe in any moral accountability to anyone or anything save one's own self-interest - so even if a government is ruled by an unseemly mob of fragmenting parliamentary coalitions, or by a wizened Philosopher King, or feudal lords, the key question every individual should be asking is, what can i get out of it, and what can i do to either change the situation if it doesn't fit *me*, and how can i work with others to serve *myself*. (and no, i don't see this as necessarily devolving into unbridled anarchy - i have a
little more faith in enlightened self-interest than that:)

The worst things happen when one arrogates to oneself the illusion that one should change the world for the good of *everyone*. Because utopia means "nowhere".

So if a government in Singapore is oppressive by the standards of Amnesty International, or Chee Soon Juan, why should I care if my intermediate needs
are well met? (other than Singapore's irritating penchant for enforcing intellectual property law)

And the fact that a majority of the Singaporean population makes a similar felicific calculus is, more than anything else, why the PAP remains in power.

(of course, one can take the telesic view that those expectations and interests have been consciously shaped by a technocratic ruling elite, but to me, all this brainwashing and propaganda is like nuclear power - it's useful, but don't splash any on yourself:) and anyway, following this line of thought would mire one in endless social construction of reality theories - again, amusing, but a bit fruitless)


Caleb:

I find the pervasiveness of the 'Asian Values' discourse very irritating. The idea that liberal democracy is a Western construct beloved only by an effete, misguided and alienated intelligentsia has probably been around for a long time, but Mickey Mouse has done much to harden it into gospel truth in these parts. Perhaps you would like to consider the examples of Taiwan, Botswana, India and indeed Indonesia. You should also note that you follow Mickey Mouse in making a false dichotomy between economic progress and political liberalism.

You are also wrong to assume that abstract 'rights' are all I am thinking about when I advocate moves towards liberal democracy. Perhaps some "dissidents" in S'pore (whoever they are) do see them in an abstract way. but for me I see political liberalism as very much in my practical interest -- why would it not be in my interest to be able to participate more freely and fully in the way my life is governed? You must bear in mind that in the 80s the popularity of Mickey Mouse's party was at a low ebb (well, relatively) and it only recovered when a more consultative style of govt was introduced. This is surely evidence that ppl want some say in how they are governed. I fail to see how this would be some airy-fairy dream as opposed to a very practical concern.

I do not think the prevailing regime in Spore is unremmitingly dismal, it is certainly better than North Korea or Zimbabwe or even, say, the new EU entrant countries. But I do think it is a shame that a rich, modern country is governed in such an autocratic manner. I think we deserve better. But since I do not expect much real change in the next 5-10 years, I have resigned to regarding all this shit with the profoundest indifference.

Your out and proud egotism (egotism as a political philo, not a personal characteristic) is all very well and fine, but I think it becomes unfair when you deride those who do not share this egotism as a "pseudo-liberal intellectual minority". Your implication that those who would like to see a more liberal regime are motivated solely by a sense of moral superiority is also manifestly unfair. Just as you are entitled to your egotism, others are entitled to their liberal or Fabian or whatever convinctions. If I choose to valorise civil liberties and participatory govt, and have good reasons for doing so, then I expect my choice to be respected and engaged with, not cynically dismissed. It is neither my job nor yours to open windows into men's souls.


Me:

To the cynical naysayers who deride democracy, I respond thus: "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried." - Winston Churchill

Of course in theory, enlightened despotism is the best form of government. But the question remains: how do you ensure that the despot is and remains enlightened?

People like nw.t who crow triumphantly that people are motivated by their self-interest must needs recognise that, if this is true, a true Platonic Philosopher-King would never emerge, and thus a form of government that serves everyone's interests best should be one in which many people participate and which they try to steer for their self-interests. One which has a greater degree of legitimacy than the others would also be one that serves the self-interest of as many as possible.

Which, oddly enough, turns out to be democracy, which they so despise. Fancy that. (A parallel may be drawn with the free market, motivated by base and contemptible desires, but which turns out to serve the common good)


It is most refreshing having someone join me in my attempts to knock The Associate aka He Who Must Not be Named aka mindgame aka nw.t. off his post-modernist pedestal.

If nw.t, a member of the pseudo-transcendent ultra-minority whose worldview rests on self-interest, does not believe in any inherent rights other than self-interest, it would be interesting to see how he then justifies self-interest as an inherent right.

Furthermore, the reason "rights" exist is that very often, people's rights coincide with their interests. It is thus misleading to say that people don't fight for their rights.


It must be pointed out to one and all too that nw.t's definition of "self-interest" is misleading. A general critique of his worldview follows:

[insert rant I posted on the blog earlier]

As for why one should fight for other's good:

[insert poem I posted on the blog earlier]


Someone else:

Hold on now, if you believe in enlightened self interest, is it not an automatic step towards a so called Western Style Liberal Democracy (and please, do take your pick from a whole range between the USA's capitalist democracy to the scandinavian style social liberlaism).

After all, no party or person has a total monopoly of good ideas and mistakes occur. When that happens, how does one change the system without a democratic vote short of outright violence?


I have noticed that many of those who speak up for our form of government often refer to proponents of democracy as preferring a so-called "western" form of democracy. Just because many western states practice democracy and a relatively large number of non-western states do not does not mean that true democracy is a western concept!

Rather, these are the kind of people that have held back our region, who are the ones behind the CCP, behind Myanmar, behind the slow progress made in the middle east.

Recall a similar struggle many years ago. Capitalism was derided as western decadence. At that time, western economies were far ahead of others, yet many proud, chauvinistic people declared that they would seek their own way, and turn away from a principle that had brought the west so much wealth. Rather than challenging the west, they only hurt themselves, and set back their countries even further.

Are we now to commit the same error? Will we then refuse to use a tool simply because someone else used it first?

***

"For if the essence of men is that they are autonomous beings – authors of values, of ends in themselves, the ultimate authority of which consists precisely in the fact that they are willed freely – then nothing is worse than to treat them as if they were not autonomous, but natural objects, played on by causal influences, creatures at the mercy of external stimuli, whose choices can be manipulated by their rulers, whether by threats of force or offers of rewards. To treat men in this way is to treat them as if they were not self-determined. ‘Nobody may compel me to be happy in his own way,’ said Kant. Paternalism is ‘the greatest despotism imaginable,’ This is so because it is to treat men as if they were not free, but human material for me, the benevolent reformer, to mould in accordance with my own, not their, freely adopted purpose."

- Isaiah Berlin on paternalism

***

We happened to be talking about halal and haram in class, and I was telling my friend about how the halal method of slaughter is more cruel to animals than the normal method. The tutor saw us talking and tried the usual trick of asking if we had anything to share, so I called her bluff. On hearing my point, she asked one muslim if she had anything to say, and her response was: 'I think it's a very sensitive issue, so I won't comment'.

I am not particularly passionate about animal rights, but there's no point causing needless suffering to animals if a less cruel way can be found to reach the same ends.

In a similar way, I never understood why the same people who were content to torture insects and creepy crawlies, often to the point of disability, expressed such outrage when I killed the same insects and creepy crawlies (eg milipedes).


Quotes:

[On positive and negative liberty] I often talk about beer, and you may think I'm alcohol-obsessed, but it's important, it's structurally important for our purposes... We might not know what truth is, we might not know what virtue is, but we know approximately what beer is.

Suppose, ah, I buy a new digital camera, and the only reason I buy it is because I have bad body image, I am worried about the fact that my abdominals are not very firm. And I notice that... in the ad, the digital camera is taking pictures of happy people at the beach who all have firm abdominals... I think: if I buy that camera, my abdominals would probably look better. And so I buy it because the admen have tricked me.

Now we move to another part which is good... The Merovingian has planted a program, he's a, he's a, a, a machine intelligence that plants programs. He's planted a program in the cake of a woman who's sitting in the restaurant with him, and he's influencing her in certain ways. This is a family class, so I can't tell you in what way he influences her. You'll have to see the movie... She's having a sensuous experience with the cake.

[On the Matrix] I can only think how bad that rave smelled, because when you only eat beans and you get 5000 people together...

[On a picture of a Tesla coil in action in a darkened room] What's that, Zouk?

Don't after this lesson, go to your Hindu friends and ask: 'What caste are you?'

[On essays in exams] About 4 [pages]. Doesn't mean if you only have 3 you sit there crying.

Ignorance of the law is no defence. You cannot go to court and say: 'I didn't know that there was such a law'. Because they presume that everybody needs to know the law. The rationale for that really baffles me. If everybody knew what all the laws in the country were, then there'd be more lawyers.

He believes that only when you punish someone, it is a good lesson for many others. So the harder the punishment, the more likely that others will not attempt even to commit the same offence. I for one don't believe or subscribe to the CJ's criminal justice system philosophy. I'm sure there are many others like me. Why? In spite of all the harsh punitive or punishment that we have been meting out on our convicted criminals for the last ten over years, seriously, have these offences come down? Do you know what we have done? We have actualy built more prisons. Our prisons' capacity has been increased. Since 1990 to now. Why? Because in the olden days people was given a reprieve, people were given a warning, people were given less sentences and so they stayed less time. Now, you send them in for a longer time, and then when others come on board, where do you put them?

[On harsh sentences] So what lesson can we learn? If we look at another society, because we're supposed to be a first world country now, right? And we are a developed nation, in all respects. Compare ourselves to australia. Australian history is that they started as a convict colony... How do you think australia now deals with criminals? First, their prisons are not even called prisons. They are called correctional centres. Their prison officers are not called prison officers, they are called officers of correction. Their prisoners, unless it is for a very very serious offence, don't remain in jail forever. They remain sometime, or most of the time, out in the community under correction work order... What is their aim? It's to, in the long term, give that person an opportunity to correct himself or herself and get back into society. The answer: Australia has one of the least rates in criminal offences, compared to many developed countries. Australia also has one of the most advanced penal system... So why is it we cannot learn things from them? We learn a lot of things from other people.

Fourth year engineering student. Sharing an umbrella in heavy rain with a lady. Happened, well the evidence is he molested her by, well, his hand falling onto her hips or wherever it is. But it happened in that way. If we had to send him away for so long, and give him so much or so many strokes of the cane. Could we not have been a bit more understanding and caring? Of course we have to look at it from the victim's point of view as well. The victim suffered a molest. But is that the answer that everytime it rains, you don't share the umbrella with any other lady? Because you're afraid. Because now according to the Chief Justice standard, you've got molest of the shoulder as well. So if you share an umbrella, what are you supposed to do? Keep your hands in your pocket or somewhere else? Make sure it doesn't touch the other person. Whether male or female *laughs from audience* Because you have molest of the male as well.

He assaulted the lawyer... He, unfortunately, appealed. *laughs from audience* He, he has not learned from historical developments in Singapore. You don't, you don't appeal any conviction if you can help it, as long as this Chief-CJ is the Chief Justice hearing Magistrates' Court appeals. So anyway he appealed for his bad luck, came before the Chief Justice, and what did the Chief Justice do? As usual, he enhanced the sentence. He enhanced a sentence beyond what was even allowed in the Section. If you look at every section in the penal code, it says that upon conviction, you shall be liable to a maximum of, let's say, 7 years' imprisonment, that's the maximum. But normally they don't give you the maximum, normally, although nowadays they tend to give you close enough. *muted laughs from audience* But what did the Chief Justice do? He went beyond it. And how did he do it? He said 'I'm taking into account this person's previous, some very small misdemeanor'. You know, I don't know whether - I can't remember the facts, maybe some parking offences or something like that. *laughs from audience* Something so ridiculous, you know, that this person is supposed to have committed. He said 'I take all this into account, and I'm going to send you away for a long long time'... He appealed, the Attorney-General appealed. Very unlikely for the Attorney-General to appeal. He appealed to the Court of Appeal against the CJ's decision, and so 3 judges sat to hear the appeal and they reversed the CJ. Of course, they are still judges *muted laughs from audience after a delay*

You have a problem. The police don't want to prosecute you. You don't have money. And you can't, therefore, hire a lawyer. And you do not know how to prosecute. You do not know how to pursue the case. You have to live a very unhappy man. (on your behalf)

Of course it is the aim of the criminal justice system in Singapore to reform and rehabilitate young offenders. But I would like you, when you have some time, to go to the Juvenile Court... You'll be shocked to find young magistrates giving a lecture to parents in public about their failure in bringing up the particular child. Now, what is wrong with that? Number one: I don't think that's gonna help in any rehabilitation or reform. Number two: The parents have not made any, have not committed any crime. So they don't need to get a lecture from the magistrate. And number three: If you really want to reprimand or give a lecture like that, you must always do it in private. In chambers. But what do they do? Because these are young magistrates who... these poor parents appear before you. Pleading for their child to be given a second chance. Now, you know that there are also reporters and all that. And so you take the opportunity to make a public display. Compare that with how people handle young offenders in many other developed nations. So there's something wrong in the way we are approaching the punitive element of the criminal justice system.

There was this person who used to take - personal consumption - he used to take ecstasy pills. Quite a big shot. And he was, the police were laying a trap for him, so a narcotics officer pretended to wanting to buy this one single pill from him. Offered him 140 Singapore Dollars for one pill. Which according to the market, is very very high for one ecstasy pill. So it was an entrapment. He was caught, obviously because this person kept on pleading: I'll pay you anything, so on and so forth... He was then charged, convicted, he appealed. *muted laughs from audience* He appealed on the basis that the entrapment laws in Singapore are very very severe and it is very very bad to hold entrapment procedure and so on and so forth and this particular case, why should there be a presumption... he was still convicted. The conviction was still upheld by the CJ, so the presumption offences are now becoming more and more because it is making the prosecution easier, otherwise the standard of proof is very difficult to overcome (want)

[On a blindfolded woman personifying justice] Less aggressive, less punishing and more humane. What a sad indictment on all the men. I think I will personally take you to the family court in Singapore... I think you should come with me to see how much the men are suffering. Less aggressive, very passionate. If ever there is any discrimination, it is taking place in the family court. And I personally witnessed it. *concurrent laughs from audience*... It's got something to do with the biological state of a woman and a man. Give life? But without us they can't do anything. They can try. (of)

[On grounds for divorce] Nowadays it has come down. In the olden days it used to be: wife bashing, wife beating, you know. Very serious unreasonable conduct. But now again this is watered down. Nowadays the kind of complaints we get is excessive, unbearable snoring. It is unbelievable. This couple may have gone out for 8 years before getting married, and we all assume they did not sleep together. Otherwise, how come as soon as she gets married, the complaint that she lodges is that 'I cannot take his excessive snoring'. And then of course she considers it unreasonable conduct. But on the other hand, in the olden days, men have complained of nagging wives. They never got a divorce on the basis of nagging wives for unreasonable conduct. Today the court is prepared to give it.

If a judge is unhappy with any act of Parliament, what he will do is that he will interpret in such a way that it makes the Act or the applicable Statutary Provision almost redundant or irrelevant.

Lawyers, actualy one part of lawyering, is all about acting. If you're a good actor, good drama, you can actually get away quite persuasively in court. Now one such person, even in Singapore context, who was able to put his histrionics to great diplay in court was the late David Marshall... he had great success in the criminal courts in Singapore... Quite intimidating to witnesses. Shouting and screaming. Basically a drama. (Singapore's, use)

Of course nothing compared to the Palace of Justice in Putra Jaya... It's a huge court... It's unbelievable. I think even our stadium falls in pale. It's a huge building. So beautifully done that I think the judge who sits there must feel like the king of any big empire. (pales in comparison)

Malaysia has got something like 500 or 600 thousand cases backlog. It will take at least about 5000 judges to be appointed to clear the cases.

[On the CJ] In three years he cleared the entire backlog. We don't have a backlog at all. In fact now the judges don't have enough work

[On the Family Court] It was set up on April first, 1996. I don't know why April Fool's Day.

I don't think hanging anyone is something that, as a civilised community, we should even be carrying out today. I hope this will be reviewed under the new government. I think we need to put an end to this hanging. Death by hanging is no longer relevant if you want to reform society.

[On receiving lecture notes] Some of you tend to get it from your predecessors but remember: the law changes, ok?

Even if you're too lazy to speak up, at least nod your head or shake your head. Surely you're not too tired to do that.

Singapore is one of the few countries in the world to produce land. Amazing, isn't it?

Nowadays monetarism is just a intellectual curiosity, more or less. Some people might disagree with me, but that is my assessment as a macroeconomist.

The government sacks the monetarist, so he has to go back to the university to teach monetarism.

[Lecturer's phone rings] I thought [since] this is the last lecture, I wouldn't get a phone call, so I didn't switch it off. [Girl in back row: What sort of logic is that?!] (was)

Adobe is one of the best companies in the world. Microsoft is one million times worse. This is the last lecture, I always complain about Microsoft to my students in the last lecture. They're selling rubbish to the world.

[On John Taylor's business card with: 'r = 0.02 + 0.5 (π - 0.02) + 0.5 (Y - Y*)'] On the back of his [business] card you will find this rule... I took it from the back of his card.

Sunday, November 07, 2004



If there's somethin' strange in the neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?
If there's somethin' weird and it don't look good, who ya gonna call?

THE EXORCIST
Master Chew
H/P: 92729559
Np. 865 Mountbatten Road, #B1-28
Katong Shopping Centre S'pore 437844

www.ghostbuster99.com
Email: master@ghostbuster99.com (These 2 lines are printed in black ink on the reverse of the namecard)


As for the chinese, there's something about the "Ju4 Huang2" Jade King (not Emperor!), "Ming4 Li3" ("'principles of life' literally, some sort of predestination thingy...") and Feng Shui (maybe he offers those services also).


I picked this namecard up on a bus seat a while back. Apologies for the unclear image and the unprofessional cropping, but this was the best that I could do with the state my desktop is in; it won't read my Paint Shop Pro installation disc so all I could do was tweak brightness and contrast on the Canon Scangear CS-U panel and adjust the scan area as precisely as I could. Perhaps, when my computer troubles end, I shall come back and repair the image.

The website is great. Not only does it have pictures, video clips and testimonies, you can also start an online consultation with Master Chew. His marketing is great - this is the future of exorcism services. He can give those televangelists a run for their money.

"I have studied, trained and practiced for more than 15 years. I have even meditated in an unhabited island in Indonesia and Thailand. My spiritual teachers include the Jade Emperor, the Thousand-Arm Goddess of Mercy, and Chairman Mao" - The Jade Emperor and the Goddess of Mercy I understand, but I didn't know Chairman Mao had any skills in this department. Hell, I thought Traditional Chinese Religion was antithetical to communism.

Maybe I should call Master Chew in to exorcise the ghosts that keep causing my desktop to BSOD! But what I'd really like to see is him showing the fundies that they aren't the only ones with a monopoly on exorcism services.

***

Latest Dilbert Strip

"A well-dressed engineer has no credibility. I'll call my reverse makeover consultant"
"I'm Bob, the Straight eye for the Queer-looking guy."

Maybe I should become an engineer.

***

Random IRC logs:


[Pat] snoopus is a balding 52 year old man who encodes kiddie shows for children in attempt to lure him to his house for candy
[Snoopus] Pat - I don't watch pedophile shows like all the Japanese ones! (e.g. Sailor Moon, etc.)
[Snoopus] that is all you guys
[Pat] the japanese are just sick
[Snoopus] oh hi little girl, would you like to watch this Sailor Moon with me so I can see scantily dressed 13 year-old girls who show their panties?
[Cy-Chan] ...
[Cy-Chan] 13 year olds...
[Cy-Chan] That's just wrong
[Cy-Chan] ...Weren't they 14?
[Snoopus] now, how did I know that was coming?
[Snoopus] you're too predictible Chan
[MorphinZeo] in which case in Japan they're legal arent they?
* MorphinZeo remembers reading somewhere that is the age of consent in that country
[Cy-Chan] Pink Ranger: Oh no, I'm going to hit you! Pink Ranger: Oh no, you cut my suit! Pink Ranger: Oh no, my breast is conviently hanging out for all to cop a feel.
[Cy-Chan] And there we have Sentai
[Snoopus] that would be a wardrobe malfunction


[timeforce24] so ur a Biggot aswell Pat yes im Gay there i told the channel so what it doesnt effect me beining a fan of Power Rangers
[Pat] o.o
[Pat] but i was only kidding
[Snoopus] you know, it's not that big a deal timeforce24. If one is a Power Rangers fan, at least judging from this channel and its occupancy, one has a 50/50 shot of being gay.
[timeforce24] Pat i didnt find it that funny mate
* Pat goes to snoopus' side of the room
[MorphinZeo] oh please, have the people in here are either gay, lesbian, bi, animal lovers or do disturbing things to plants. Of the other half, some are "normal" and the rest just have decided what perversion to specialise in
[Snoopus] MorphinZeo - you just described the human race, congratulations
[MorphinZeo] Snoopus - true
[Pat] excuse me but who in here does disturbing things to plant?
[Pat] just for future reference
[Snoopus] although, the plant thing? I dind't get it
[Snoopus] aww NAP!
[Snoopus] SNAP
* MorphinZeo won't tell. JUst know I have the photographs for blackmail purposes
[Pat] i cant help but think nadja
"Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I think that's how dogs spend their lives." - Sue Murphy

***

Park Service Sticks With Biblical Explanation For Grand Canyon - "The Bush Administration has decided that it will stand by its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)."

The No-Fun Religion - "I came across this notebook (attached) while web shopping and thought this [Ed: 'anything fun is wrong'] was the perfect title / cover for the JW Handbook."

***

Someone once tried to argue to me that being given a choice between roasting in hellfire in torment for all eternity and accepting a dubious proposition constituted 'free will'. However, coercion by means of threats detracts from free will. If I extract a confession from someone by torture, it doesn't mean that the confession was given of the person's free will. If a robber says to someone: 'your money or your life', there is no genuine choice and no free will. Unless, of course, one changes the conventional meaning of the term "free will" (haven't we heard this before?).

Isaiah Berlin:

"‘Negative liberty’ is something the extent of which, in a given case, it is difficult to estimate. It might, prima facie, seem to depend simply on the power to choose between at any rate two alternatives. Nevertheless, not all choices are equally free, or free at all. If in a totalitarian state I betray by friend under threat of torture, perhaps even if I act from fear of losing my job, I can reasonably say that I did not act freely. Nevertheless, I did, of course, make a choice, and could, at any rate in theory, have chosen to be killed or tortured or imprisoned. The mere existence of alternatives is not, therefore, enough to make my action free (although it may be voluntary) in the normal sense of the world."

***

Some academics in Singapore hold views that are actually quite subversive, and could be labelled as detrimental to nation building and national unity by those who brook no dissent. Yet, said views are tolerated, and are allowed publication.

Partially, this is because the Powers That Be respect academic integrity. Possibly more importantly, there is also little or no attempt to actively propagate these views to the Unwashed Masses, through the mass media or otherwise. Dangerous Ideas thus cannot get out and erode the Asian Values of our populace at large through Cultural Imperialism.

It helps, too, that much (or indeed most) of academia is boring and couched in rarefied language, so none but academics read about these views. The populace at large also cannot really be bothered to engage overly intellectual ideas. Also, things that are academic/theoretical are easy to 'debunk' in 'reality', or with pragmatism.

***

There's a very good non-economic reason why Singapore should promote the acceptance of gays and other people with alternate sexualities: racial harmony.

Sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia and a general dislike of people different from oneself generally come hand in hand. Eliminate or minimise one, and people have less propensity for the rest.

"What they do not understand, they fear. What they fear, they destroy." - Forging the Darksword

***

Amartya Sen observed that "no famine has ever taken place in the history of the world in a functioning democracy" because democratic governments "have to win elections and face public criticism, and have strong incentive to undertake measures to avert famines and other catastrophes."

But perhaps cause and effect have been mixed - democracy reigns in those nations because they are fortunate enough not to suffer famines, or for the same reasons that they don't suffer famines.

***

I took out my Wo-hen Nankan card to show some people, and was surprised (and gratified too) to have one person shout with recognition: 'That's Wo-hen Nankan!'. Meanwhile, someone else cried: 'That's carrot top!'. Then some people discussed setting a website advertising a 'Wo-gen Nankan'. Some possible candidates for that persona included Steven Lim and Xiaxue.

Recently I've been getting a rash of (mostly) 27 year old women asking me to authorise them on ICQ. However, when I message them asking them who they are, I get no reply, and their ICQ details are filled with rubbish alphanumeric characters (except for their names and ages). Mysterious.

I hate idiots who, during concerts, jerk their hands about wildly and pretend to be the conductor. It's almost as bad as those people who hum during concerts.

'Feifei starlet fashion L-XXXXXXL. Ladies wear big sizes available ranging from L-XXXXXXL' - Seen in Orchard Plaza, next to Meridien, a place with many 'health' centres. What an unfortunate name (Feifei means 'fat fat' in chinese).
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