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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, January 01, 2005

"Love is the delightful interval between meeting a beautiful girl and discovering that she looks like a haddock." - John Barrymore

Random Playlist Song: Beethoven - Piano Sonata 29, Op 106 - 'Hammerklavier' - Mvt 3 (Mei-Ting Sun)

***

For what it's worth, happy 2005.

One of my correspondents: "May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the ass of the person who f***s up ur year and may his arms grow too short to scratch his ass!"

***

Emma Lahana's eyeshadow makes her look like she's on drugs

***

Someone: "seriously, i admire how you can remain so concerned about singapore =) I used to care much about such stuff but after NS, I feel that most Singaporaens like things the way it is and i decided to be a quitter and find my own happiness, instead of helping other (unworthy?) people find theirs

i think the main stumbling blocks are that the majority of singaporeans do not udnerstand what a true liberal democracy is like (majority beleives we are a democracy); and that even fi they did, they don't udenrstand its value"


Someone else: "i think you will make a great journalist, but not in s'pore haha"

***

Haoxiang on the new RJC:

"The new RJ campus is huge. The entire RI population lined the street to the new campus making a helluva noise and clapping whenever anybody walked past. We (Weihao, KK, NJ, Morris, Me, CW) concluded that

1) There are many make-out spots (insight)
2) The RI guys are so lucky
3) In more ways than one
4) Junction 8 is definitely more exciting to hang out in
5) No more ODAC room :( The rock wall isn't up too :(
6) LT1 is like a movie theatre
7) LT1s are always above atriums
8) What is a 'Mezzanine?'

But it's a huge school. More like a polytechnic or university than a junior college."

***

Who Owns the Alphabet?

"Companies strive for brand-name recognition, and adopt common phrases ("Where do you want to go today?") and even single words ("True") as being representative of that company, and no other. However, sometimes a word or phrase can be used by two very different companies, perhaps in different product spaces, who then have to fight it out for mind-share.

This page takes that to its logical limit, and asks: in the space of human awareness, who has won the battle for the basic building blocks, the very letters that make up the words with which we express ourselves? Who does the Internet's collective consciousness associate most closely with each of our 26 alphabet atoms?

As with so many things, Google has the answer. Googling for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet produces the following results:"

***

Someone: no rebonding is the right choice, haha

Me: haha why why

Someone: just looks wrong on guys to me

Me: haha what about long hair then
it looks wrong on girls too heh

Someone: actually on girls i also prefer no dyeing or rebonding. but rebonding is sort of for them a way to match most guy's fantasy for straight long hair. they quite pathetic, muahaha

Me: haha yeah man
I like au naturel :P

***

On liberalism:

"how many present-day 'liberal' philosophers are utilitarian? off the top of my
head, preeminent liberals like ackerman, kymlicka, and barry all have philosophies
founded on bases of dialogic neutrality, common social understandings, and impartiality respectively. i don't think any of these are immune from the charge of being arbitrary in an 'ultimate' sense, but i can't quite see how any of these take refuge in utilitarianism to justify themselves..."

***

Where are all the dead animals? Sri Lanka asks - "Sri Lankan wildlife officials are stunned -- the worst tsunami in memory has killed around 22,000 people along the Indian Ocean island's coast, but they can't find any dead animals."

Bangladesh Escapes Tsunami Unscathed - "Cyclones, famine and floods are so common in this South Asian nation that singer-songwriter Joan Baez once lamented: When the sun sinks in the West, die a million people of Bangladesh... 'Allah has saved us'"
Too bad he couldn't save them from the 1970 cyclone that killed nearly half a million people. Or the 1991 cyclone that killed 138,000. Or the seemingly yearly floods and other disasters. Or the alternately late and early monsoons.

Friday, December 31, 2004

As the party rages on Sentosa and we roll into 2005, the new, ill-conceived copyright laws come into effect, making piracy a criminal instead of civil offence and extending the already ludicrously long duration of copyrights further still.

Of course, the 368,000 households which subscribe to broadband aren't all just checking their mail, visiting the Straits Times website, discussing Singapore Idol and donating money to help the Tsunami victims.

They are acquiring copyrighted material commercially unavailable in Singapore, material that otherwise would be monstrously censored/mutilated/cut, or material sold at ridiculously inflated prices (eg $80 for the Extended Edition of Return of the King on DVD).

As has been opined in a more elegant fashion: "I download tv shows only and this because Singapore takes a) ages to show, b) when they do show its at some terrible time c) the way our tv programming is done, u think they were hiring monkeys to just randomly slot shows.. (enough reality crap already) and can someone tell me why downloading tv shows is illegal? we're not selling it.. its the same as the vcr."

It is reasonably sure that the laws are targeted mainly at your run-of-the-mill neighborhood pirates (who ironically will probably see at least a temporary boost in sales from frightened erstwhile copyright infringers) and businesses; after all, just like the law on Unnatural Sex, the new laws threaten to criminalise a hefty segment of the populace, but most I've spoken to want to play it safe. In any case, there seem to be 4 broad courses of action:

1) Adopt a "wait and see" attitude - home users will hold up on the downloading and see how many chickens are slaughtered in the first month or two before resuming their activities.
2) Continue on as before - those who adopt this path will throw caution to the winds. After all, they reason, jaywalking is illegal too - just don't get caught
3) Continue with precautions - routing P2P applications through proxy servers, for example, or using a ban list to screen out "evil" IPs
4) Switching to less risky ways of getting what you want - eg Freenet, Share

What is your preferred course of action?
The entire economy of the Western world is built on things that cause cancer. - From the 1985 movie "Bliss"

Random Playlist Song: Tchaikovsky - Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (Chicago Symphony Orchestra)

***

I got overcharged by Tonkichi ($8 - 20%), because in their stupid receipt, $40.45 looked like $48.45, and I didn't check the bill properly before signing it.

Gah. Hopefully their nice staff will resolve the issue for me (on Monday, they said).

***

ici asks:

I hope you can provide a reply to a question which invariably pops into my mind when you talk about how we have exchanged certain rights for success: Suppose You were put in charge of Singapore back in the days where there were racial riots and dialect group riots in Singapore, and of course, no natural resources like all our neighbours had. How might you have organized a very divided society to become the economic success that it is today? Remember, your only resource is your people and your neighbour has just kicked you out of its country.

To sidestep the question for the time being: I am not saying that we should or should not have done anything different after independence. What I am saying is that those days are long over, so whatever "Faustian bargain" Singaporeans might have made then is irrelevant. We need a new social contract, especially as the deficiencies of the old one become apparent (soulessness, disenchantment, apathy).

I don't think I know enough of our situation then to speak with authority (propaganda classes weren't quite balanced or content-filled enough), but I would probably have followed pretty much the same policies till the 80s or so, albeit with fewer social and political restrictions.

***

On Near Death Experiences:

"My father also had a near death experience. In it, he was completely at peace and surrounded by space aliens- you know, the stereotypical looking kind. So what does that mean. I don't know, absolutely nothing possibly, but to him it was beyond real. I'm not quesitoning your belief in God, just near death experiences."


More:

Our new understanding of the functions of the brain put the soul squarely where it belongs: within the context of mythology. It has been relegated to the same realm as ghosts, goblins, fairies, leprechauns and other fictional creations from the mind of man.

This same understanding has also totally annihilated the so-called Near Death Experience! They can be shown to just be a product of our brains as they can be reproduced in the lab. These experiences have been demonstrated to be creations of the mind in three ground breaking experiments. In one, Dr. Karl Jansen was able to reproduce all the features of this experience with an intravenous administration of 50 - 100 mg of ketamine. The second was an experiment done by neurologist Olaf Blanke of Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland. Blanke found that electrically stimulating one brain region — the right angular gyrus — repeatedly triggers out-of-body experiences. The third was conducted by neuroscientist Michael Persinger, in his laboratory at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario. He found he could induce all these perceptions in subjects by subjecting their temporal lobes to patterns of magnetic fields.

NDEs also tend to be religion-specific. They follow the expectations of the subject and are bound by their culture. This has been demonstrated in numerous studies (Osis, 1975, Pasricha, 1986, Schorer, 1985-86, Kellehear, 1993). This means that whatever mythology they have been programmed to believe and the culture they've grown up in will manifest itself in what they see. If they have been taught to be believe in karma and a large pantheon of gods and goddesses, well, this is precisely what they experience. If they have been taught about devils, angels, and fluffy white clouds, however, then this is theirs. It's all dependent on the beliefs and experiences of the subject.

[...]

Why, if this "soul" can supposedly do everything a brain can do in the alleged afterlife (whichever one), then why is a brain needed in the first place? Following this same logic, why, when a person acquires a brain injury doesn't this "soul" take over? Why does Alzheimer's matter? How can anyone be mentally retarded? Are humans the only one with this "soul?" Why or why not? If they aren't, does this mean that, along with all the multicellular animals on the planet, single-celled organisms have it, too? Why or why not? If this is granted, then it would have to mean that our own cells, such as skin, intestinal, liver, muscular, would also have to have this "animating principal." If not, then why? If everything has this soul, does this mean that each has it's own afterlife? Is there a Heaven and Hell for bacteria? Are winged sperm greeted in paradise by 72 eggs? Do flies get judged for their actions?

***

It’s Time To Put the Christ Back in Christmas…and in Christianity, Too

"For leaders of the radical religious right and its representatives in the Bush administration, the Bible isn't so much a spiritual guide as an ammunition storehouse. Verses are handpicked from here and there (carefully ignoring those scriptures that might get in the way of their own "godly" image and political ambitions) to justify whatever they want to do.

And since there are commands in various parts of the Bible to do terrible things that Jesus never condoned – like stoning your rebellious children to death, or stoning gay people, or killing everyone in an enemy's village except the young virginal girls...well clearly, there's something for everyone, no matter how cruel, no matter how vile.

Favorite books of the Bible for the majority of Christians who've gotten swept up by the seductive words of racist, pro-war, gay-persecuting, woman-silencing and child-beating proponents include: Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Proverbs, Romans, Thessalonians, and Revelations.

Non-favorites of the majority that are quoted less often and very selectively, because they're filled with teachings of nonviolence, respect for those who are different, love of neighbor and enemy alike, true humility and liberal compassion, are: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John."


The answer is very simple, I think.

Despite what their religions may or may not tell them, humans are naturally inclined towards war, violence, intolerance and iniquity, and they view their ideologies through a tinted lens.

***

I don't understand why so many people claim that the term "Japs" is racist/offensive. Especially since it's the obvious contraction of "Japanese" - it's the most obvious way to refer to them. And anyhow, half the words and phrases in the English language are euphemisms for the gonads or the act of congress, so maybe we should ban those expressions as well.

The evolution of the epithet "Jap" from pre-WWII to now - "that bane of modern living "political correctness" may raise its useless ugly head to make some people feel "superior" because some faceless committee decides that colloquial names for national groups are "racist""

As always, honi soit qui mal y pense.

***

Planes, Trains and Plantains: The story of Oedipus

Cover
Page 1 - "A man can only justify his actions if he regards his demeanor with deductive thinking. This man was not Oedipus mainly because he was a fucking douche bag."
Page 2 - "Nobody ever told little Oedipus that his mother was never pregnant. She aborted a kitten into a toilet in the back of a Denver Denny's"
Page 3 - "Marker's Comment: Where is the text!"
Page 4 - "Infact the only reason Dr. Dre produced, "The Chronic" because the Bible tells you to smoke lots of pot, and Oedipus used to blaze with the makers of Aqua Fresh tooth paste."
Page 5 - "Imagine your like jamming your mom and like you have 4 kids, then the feds come to your house and say that she wuz your mom, and you were like ya? So?"
Page 6 - "Works cited: www.yahoo.com www.google.com www.tubgirl.com

(Forum thread)

***

The PaceMaker plug-in home page - "Someone may find listening to Elvis the chipmunk entertaining; Cyber caffeine : Listening to punk rock with some 20 % additional tempo is roughly equivalent to drinking a full pot of coffee."
I critically analyse most parts of everyone's favourite "meaningful" / "reflective" verse, which in reality is a piece of trite crap, harkening back to a romanticised age which never did exist:

The paradox of our time
written by Bob Moorehead, pastor of Overlake Christian Church, who was accused by seventeen members of his congregation of sexually assaulting them

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; Dubious but disputable
Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; People are definitely less sexist, racist and homophobic now than half a century ago, and probably a decade ago.
We spend more, but have less; Depending on what you have less of - debatable.
We buy more, but enjoy it less.

We have bigger houses and smaller families; Thanks to lower infant mortality and women's emancipation, no less. Does anyone really want to live in a household with 10 children, the care of which no doubt will fall upon the women?
More conveniences, but less time; One is always able to make time, if one sacrifices income.
We have more degrees, but less sense; I agree. After all, 83% of Americans believe in the Virgin Birth but only 28% in evolution. Must be too many degrees in theology floating around.
More knowledge, but less judgment; Another gloriously nebulous statement which is hard to debunk (but also to assert, unless one is writing banal rubbish.
More experts, but more problems; Perhaps only because the problems were previously hidden. We could always go back to the Paleolithic where the only problems were of finding food and not dying from an animal attack.
More medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, And people didn't drink and smoke a lot in the past? Hah!
Spend too recklessly, laugh too little, Perhaps we seem to spend too recklessly because we have more to spend. Better to live in poverty and have to count every cent, I assume.
Drive too fast, get angry too quickly, As if aggression weren't a problem in the past. People just took it out on their wives/children.
Stay up too late, get up too tired, Perhaps because people have more fulfilling things to do at night, and we have artificial lighting?
Read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. I have no gods, so the last is not a problem for me *g*

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. Ah. Glorious talk of 'values'. Better to return to the racist, misogynistic days, I wager.
We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. Bigotry has always been a part of humanity. It's just more obvious now since society is less homogeneous, so the perceived other is more obvious and threatening.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life;
We've added years to life, not life to years. A return to the days when people ate gruel and yearned to go to Sugarcandy mountain is preferable, presumably.

We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We've conquered outer space, but not inner space;
We've done larger things, but not better things. More meaningless statements.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; What with? Liberalism?
We've split the atom, but not our prejudice. Perhaps not, but we've managed to wear it down, at least.

[Ed: After this point, I gave up labelling bland/meaningless assertions as what they were.]

We write more, but learn less;
We plan more, but accomplish less.
We've learned to rush, but not to wait;
We have higher incomes, but lower morals; Since morals are relative, how is this a problem
We have more food, but less appeasement;
We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication;
We've become long on quantity, but short on quality.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion;
Tall men, and short character;
Steep profits, and shallow relationships.
These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; Just because wife beating used to be suppressed does not mean that it did not exist. Conjugal harmony arising from female subjugation is not necessarily a good thing.
More leisure, but less fun;
More kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; Better to divorce than to live a marriage which is a sham, continued only for the sake of appearances.
Of fancier houses, but broken homes.
These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands,
overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill. Better to let the mentally ill suffer, I assume.

It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom;
A time when technology has brought this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference,
Or to just hit "Skip Ahead"... More bullshit wasting our bandwith. At least the Llama song is somewhat entertaining the first time.

[Addendum: The true paradox of our time in history is that we have more motivational and self-help books, but more unhappy and pathetic people.]

Thursday, December 30, 2004

"It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend." - William Blake

Random Playlist Song: Schnabel, Josef - Transeamus (Berliner Haendel Chor, Radio Symph. Orch., Guenter Arndt)

Transeamus usque Bethlehem et
videamus hoc verbum quod factum est.

[Full lyrics, score]


Random Trivia bit: An organization called SCROOGE was formed in 1979 in Charlottesville, Virginia. the acronym stands for the Society to Curtail Ridiculous, Outrageous and Ostentatious Gift Exchanges.

***

My sister has been trying to persuade me to rebond my hair ever since she came back. She says that, since my hair grows slower than normal people's, and includes many wiry strands too, it's taking forever to grow out so after rebonding it'll look neater.

The response from my panel of distinguished advisors is mixed. Some expressed horror, others urged me on (though probably more from a desire to laugh at me than anything else).

At any rate, after some observation, consideration and research, I have decided against it.

***

Captain Planet had a mullet!

A: Captain planet had a bad ass mullet, makeing him the best superhero of all time.

B: That makes no sense! If CP had a mullet - then ipso facto he must have a truck or a Hummer - thus making him the most unenviromentally friendly redneck on the planet! Go figure.

A: Oh I don't know. When you think about it, his mullet was the one power he never used. The bad guys could've exploded a nuclear bomb and Captain Planet could've flown down and smothered it with his mullet.

***

Someone: What is USP?
Me: It's where stupid people do stupid things and [so] take more difficult modules to pull down their CAP.
Some other USP person: Ultra Stupid People


Sometimes we wonder why we're in this vital statistic-depressing program.

***

What historians deduced about the existence of Christ

"The most compelling reason to conclude that the Gospels are fictions is based upon the silence of the Epistles. They are placed first because unlike the Gospels, they do not allude to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and because the epistles totally lack familiarity with the content of the Gospels...

The Epistles are also a stumbling block unto those who thought that there was an historical Jesus. If we assume that Paul was a preacher who traveled extensively and communicated with many of the first Christian communities, then his silence is telling. If the Gospels had already been written and circulated among the Christian communities, then Paul and the other authors would have been aware of these "eyewitness" accounts. And since the Gospels contain the sayings and teaching of Christ, then these missionaries, authors of the Epistles, would have relied upon the authority of Christ to instruct the early Christian communities.

But they don't. There are no sayings and no teachings of Christ in the Epistles. Moreover, there is nothing of Christ's life: nothing about his birth, nothing about Mary and Joseph, nothing about the town he dwelled or the places he traveled to. All we have is that Christ was crucified. But even that is lacking in historical and place references, for there is no mention of Pilate, no mention of Jerusalem. How is it that the much later Gospels describe that which the Epistles don't?

[...]

The Gospels are the works of different Christian communities (so it seems to me), and thus each put in their particular prospective. Over a dozen of them have come down to us, some in parts, other complete. Only four are considered inspired by God, though to a rational person, all are on an equal footing. Some of them had a wide circulation in past, and some such as the Gospel of Thomas is still widely read. As products of different communities, they have the Christ behaving according to their values. One such community, undoubtedly accepting the Greek sort of homosexuality, has Jesus lie the night with a young man he has risen from the dead. The Bishop Clement of Alexandria thought this account found in a version of Mark to be authentic and in one of his letters not only writes of it, but quotes their passage. This is just one example of how "the Gospel of Mark has gone through several stages in its compositional history. . . ." Thus not only are there changes made by the other Gospels of Mark's, but the history found in Mark varies between Christian communities and also over time.

[...]

I find the Gospels being treated as containing history to be a gross deception; moreover, I find the Gospels being treated as a book full of wisdom another deception. Though for sure there is much common sense, such as in the Wisdom Books. There are a few lofty moral ideas, such as the Sermon on the Mount. But the Bible contains many things that offend a person full of the wisdom of science and philosophy. One of many examples is the absurdity of the tale of Yahweh, the all-powerful god, having to torture his son to redeem man from the original sin. In other words, to get back at Satan for getting man to sin, the son of God is turned into a mortal who must be nailed to the cross, and only by this "sacrifice" will the all powerful God then remove his curse over man's original sin. Is not original sin an affront to the notion of just action. Would not you squawk if the government punished you for a crime done by your grandfather? The absurdities of faith are an embarrassment to those who apply the tools of philosophy.

Are not the Gospels naked, and are we not obsequious in our polite silence? Though we cannot hope to persuade those by reason who are without reason, we can expose those who still have an open mind to the truth about the Gospels."

***

The Ultimate Jam Session - It takes more than technology to solve the world's traffic problems. While Singapore succeeds with an iron fist, the United States waits for the invisible hand.

A young woman in a halter top is crossing the screen; her bosom bounces as she strides along, unaware she's being watched, and Ho and I fall into an appreciative silence. "We train our operators not to sit and watch pretty girls," he says finally, grinning sheepishly and changing the image to a real-time, CG schematic of the same intersection. Have the police ever used the video system to follow anyone? Ho repeats Tan's words exactly: "We don't abuse the system that way." How about the Internal Security Division?

"We don't abuse the system that way," says Ho. In Singapore, TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT might as well be stamped on the currency.

For all the high tech wonders of Singaporean ITS, the dirty little secret of the island nation's traffic success is decidedly low tech. Multi-agency infighting is avoided because Singapore has, essentially, only one agency. Local, state, and national government are one. More important, the people, unlike Americans, do what they're told. They made a Faustian bargain with their first prime minister 40 years ago, when the country was newly independent from Britain and desperately poor. Lee Kuan Yew promised to make the people rich if they'd cede him total control over every aspect of their waking lives, forgiving all manner of surveillance, badgering, and indignities. (This is the country, after all, that bans chewing gum.) Both sides have delivered on the bargain. Singaporeans are rich enough to drape themselves with a dazzling assortment of cell phones and disc players, but they seem less akin to sovereign citizens than to employees in a nonunion company. Dissent, individualism, and disrespect are tolerated here to about the extent they're sanctioned in the executive ranks at IBM. Like a board of directors, the Singapore government can examine such problems as traffic congestion, decide what's best, and implement solutions without consulting the rank and file. So Singaporean ITS is a kind of control experiment, unfolding in a politics-free environment exactly as its engineers would script it.

In 1975, Singapore's engineers looked at their country and saw that an alarming 10 percent of it was already paved. More than half of all workers were commuting by car, and traffic was a mess, but building roads forever was not an option. Without having to wait for public sector approval or private sector action, government invested S$200 million (US$110 million at current rates) to wire almost every strip of asphalt.

Now we know just how Orwellian we are

***

Are Potatoes Good for You?

J B Jeyaretnam Supporter's Site - Looking at the title graphic, one is inclined to think this a parody site. And the webmasters proclaiming that they are from the Sammyboy Forums does not help their credibility either. They even have pictures of JBJ surfing on to the site itself. Wth?!

SC4208A - COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF HUMAN RIGHTS - "This module is mounted for students throughout NUS with interest in human rights."
So why do we need to have done 7 Sociology modules to qualify for this one?!

Lord of the Rings: an allegory of the PhD? - "After Frodo has completed his first project, Gandalf (along with head of department Elrond) proposes that the work should be extended. He assembles a large research group, including visiting students Gimli and Legolas, the foreign postdoc Boromir, and several of Frodo's own friends from his undergraduate days. Frodo agrees to tackle this larger project, though he has mixed feelings about it. ("'I will take the Ring', he said, 'although I do not know the way.'")"
I love literature *g*

Ooooh, ahhhhhhh (and a groan from the women's rights campaigner at the back) - "By its very nature, pornography is made for the voyeur rather than participant. But a new nightclub in Edinburgh is aiming to combine pornography with the only activity which perhaps provokes more general embarrassment: karaoke. The somewhat unusual hybrid is being called pornaoke."

Curious case of the author and his bassoon - "An internationally best-selling author is risking his reputation as a high-brow cultural luminary by leading the world's worst orchestra. Fed up with the artistic acclaim that has greeted his Botswanan detective novels, Alexander McCall Smith has forged an alternative career as the principal bassoonist for The Really Terrible Orchestra."

Eighth-Grader's Family Fights Suspension Over Pill Mistake - "Chloe Smith, 14, was kicked out of school Friday when drug dogs "hit" on her locker. Administrators found prescription hormones in her purse and enforced the school's zero-tolerance drug policy"

Bronx man holds up deli in his own neighborhood, shoots self with own gun - "When the Alshabi heard a shot, he assumed his co-worker had been shot. Not so: instead, Whitley had accidentally shot himself in the face and fled, leaving a blood trail along the way."

Man rescued from clothing bin - "When they arrived they found what at first glance appeared to be a woman wearing a tight mini-skirt trapped halfway inside the bin, hanging head-down inside. A closer inspection revealed that it was a 35-year-old man from Glebe."

'Ouija board' appeal dismissed - "A murderer whose original trial was ruled unsafe because jurors consulted a ouija board has lost an appeal against his conviction at a subsequent retrial... A retrial was ordered after it was revealed that four jurors at Young's original trial consulted a ouija board, which some people believe can be used to contact the dead."

The Worst Jobs in Science: The Sequel - "Think your job’s bad? Try dragging a bedspread around tick-ridden thickets, pausing regularly in the 100-degree heat not to squeegee the sweat from your brow but to tweeze dozens of the tiny pests into a collection jar. Reconsidering your career choice? Imagine training for years as a veterinarian, only to find yourself engaged in labwork designed to make the tail-wagging puppies in your charge sick, knowing all the while that when the study is over, the pooches will be euthanized. Having a bad day? Just be glad you’re not spending it in minute examination of unusual growths on a dozen or so people’s posteriors."

Exploding the Self-Esteem Myth - "Boosting people's sense of self-worth has become a national preoccupation. Yet surprisingly, researchshows that such efforts are of little value in fostering academic progress or preventing undesirable behavior"

Why the truth gets you nowhere - "Truth cannot be the first casualty in our daily war of words, Schopenhauer suggests, because it was never the bone of contention in the first place. "We must regard objective truth as an accidental circumstance, and look only to the defence of our own position and the refutation of the opponent's . . . Dialectic, then, has as little to do with truth as the fencing master considers who is in the right when a quarrel leads to a duel.""

Why men are attracted to subordinate women - "Men are more likely to want to marry women who are their assistants at work rather than their colleagues or bosses, a University of Michigan study finds. The study, published in the current issue of Evolution and Human Behavior, highlights the importance of relational dominance in mate selection and discusses the evolutionary utility of male concerns about mating with dominant females."

Blinded By Science - "How ‘Balanced’ Coverage Lets the Scientific Fringe Hijack Reality"

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

"I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it." - Thomas Paine

Random Playlist Song: Classic Disney III - The Mob Song (Beauty And The Beast)

***

Job ad (for those waiting for A level results, and other bums):

Part-timers in call centre needed, either:

1) For a short period of time: Lunch time only. Rough timing: 11am - 3pm.
2) For at least 1 - 2 months to handle phone calls - 9am - 6pm

The pay is $7/hour.

Call Markus at 97408504.


Addendum: The vacancies for the above job have been filled.

***

Glossolalia

"Glossolalia is fabricated, meaningless speech.

According to Dr. William T. Samarin, professor of anthropology and linguistics at the University of Toronto,

glossolalia consists of strings of meaningless syllables made up of sounds taken from those familiar to the speaker and put together more or less haphazardly .... Glossolalia is language-like because the speaker unconsciously wants it to be language-like. Yet in spite of superficial similarities, glossolalia fundamentally is not language [Nickell, 108].

When spoken by schizophrenics, glossolalia are recognized as gibberish. In charismatic Christian communities glossolalia is sacred and referred to as "speaking in tongues" or having "the gift of tongues." In Acts of the Apostles, tongues of fire are described as alighting on the Apostles, filling them with the Holy Spirit. Allegedly, this allowed the Apostles to speak in their own language but be understood by foreigners from several nations. Glossolalics, on the other hand, speak in a foreign language and are understood by nobody.

Glossolalics behave in various ways, depending upon the social expectations of their community. Some go into convulsions or lose consciousness; others are less dramatic. Some seem to go into a trance; some claim to have amnesia of their speaking in tongues. All believe they are possessed by the Holy Spirit and the gibberish they utter is meaningful. However, only one with faith and the gift of interpretation is capable of figuring out the meaning of the meaningless utterances. Of course, this belief gives the interpreter unchecked leeway in "translating" the meaningless utterances. Nicholas Spanos notes: "Typically, the interpretation supports the central tenets of the religious community" [Spanos, 147].

Uttering gibberish that is interpreted as profound mystical insight by holy men is an ancient practice. In Greece, even the priest of Apollo, god of light, engaged in prophetic babbling. The ancient Israelites did it. So did the Jansenists, the Quakers, the Methodists, and the Shakers."

***

Blurbs:

Someone: "relationships are more complex than higher mathematics

its more fun to listen to jay chou songs
kai bu liao kou
an jing
dong feng po
shi jie mo ri
and he se you mo

soothing!"


Someone else on pretty girls:

"i can't stand snobbish big fuck 16 yr girls who think that just cos they've turned 16 and all the wolves eyeing them can now legally poach them, and that they'v gained a whole lot more attention, they can have all the right to act so

they should just be whacked in the head and humbled"

***

RCC Gallery :: Scenic :: 14 - Picture of a man standing beside his car (presumably a Renault)

Comments from people:

"i cant c ur car....i can only c u..."

"i'm very sorry.. but you need bigger pants!"

***

Dude

Scott F. Kiesling
Department of Linguistics
University of Pittsburgh

"Older adults, baffled by the new forms of language that regularly appear in youth cultures, frequently characterize young people’s language as “inarticulate,” and then provide examples that illustrate the specific forms of linguistic mayhem performed by “young people nowadays.” For American teenagers, these examples usually include the discourse marker like, rising final intonation on declaratives, and the address term dude, which is cited as an example of the inarticulateness of young men in particular. As shown in the comic in Figure 1, this stereotype views the use of dude as unconstrained – a sign of inexpressiveness in which one word is used for any and all utterances. These kinds of stereotypes, of course, are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the functions and meanings of these linguistic forms."

***

To Tighten Belts, SIA to Shorten Skirts - "Accordingly, the traditional Pierre Balmain-designed batik sarong kebaya worn by female flight attendants will have its skirt length shortened to halfway up the thigh. The estimated savings in fabric costs is estimated to be around $3m annually."

Why do we have so many temperature scales? - "In addition to the Réaumur scale, which you mentioned, the roll-call of now-obsolete temperature scales includes the Newton, Rømer, Delisle, Leyden, Dalton, Wedgewood, Hales, Ducrest, Edinburgh and Florentine scales. In the 18th century, it was common to have up to four temperature scales (in one example, Newton, De Lisle, Réaumur and Fahrenheit) inscribed on the backing board of a thermometer. Today, the only scales in everyday use are the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales, and (mainly for scientists and engineers) the Kelvin and Rankine scales. Réaumur may be familiar to readers of 19th-century Russian and French novels; the others are largely forgotten."

Was the swastika actually an old Native American symbol? - "The swastika was employed by various American Indian tribes, notably the Navahos, for whom it was a sort of good luck sign... At any rate, the swastika was widespread throughout the ancient world, particularly in India, where it remains in common use by Hindus, Jainas, and Buddhists. Originally it probably symbolized the sun circling through the sky, although many other explanations have also been offered."
"The Swastika and Fascism are all Vedic concepts adopted by the German Nazis"

Average Grade Simulator - "It is not possible to achieve a CAP of [5.00] from your current CAP of [x.xx]. The average grade point you need to achieve is [x.xx], which is higher than A+/A grade."
Damn, there goes my "dream" of joining the 5 or so people in Arts with a perfect CAP. Aww.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

"Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped." - Elbert Hubbard

Random Playlist Song: Schubert - Nachtgesang - Gott ist mein Hirt D.706 (The Lord is My Shepherd) (Scharoun Ensemble, pianoforte Johann Fritz)

***

I did surprisingly well in my most slack semester yet. Time to work harder next semester.

RV went carolling at the Esplanade 2 Fridays ago but my sources didn't tell me. Bah.

Someone: "wow! you stopped watching tv? how'd you handled that?". Heh.

***

Someone: "i wish i had a gay fren to share beauty tips wif
for now u'll do :P
metrosexual hahahaha"

Me? A metrosexual? Hahahaha.


Caleb on the Early Christians' opposition to the Death Penalty: "This opposition was grounded in a pro-life outlook -- they opposed the death penalty, abortion, military service and torture and advocated welfare for the poor all for this reason. Ah if only modern Chrisitians were as consistent in theri beliefs. These days many Christians are of the 'hang them all', 'duty, honour, country' and 'those bums should get a job and not expect a handout' variety. How sad. To be consistent therefore, Lisheng should also reject military service (unless just war theory is satisfied)
and the death penalty.

[...]

The early X-ians were pro-life in a general way: that is, not only did they oppose abortion, but also the death penalty, and military service. This was not simply a plea for tolerance -- since this is what caused the intolerance in the first place. The romans were very annoyed that X-ian magistrates refused to impose death penalties and became very suspicious -- they refusal of the X-ians magistrates was taken as an indication that they did not accept the acutoritas of roman law. The X-ian opposition to the death penalty was therefore not a way not escape persecution but a *cause* of persecution."

Haha

***

First they came for Napster
and I did not speak out
because I switched to Kazaa.
Then they came for Kazaa
and I did not speak out
because I switched to bit torrents.
Then they came for bit torrents
and I did not speak out
because I switched to ED2K.
Then they came for ED2K
and there was no one left
for the entertainment industry
to blame for their troubles.
So they went out of business,
and now there is only me.


Pastor Martin Niemöller must be rolling in his grave. *g*

***

Dyeing Young

"Seen natural black hair in Singapore these days? Yes, it's becoming a rarity. Now, brace yourselves: Kids as young as 11 years old are colouring or rebonding their hair - and their parents willingly pay through their noses for it"

Hahahahahaha

And, not unexpectedly, we have a message from the Guardians of Asian Values:

"What values are we passing on

Thanks to the invasion of J-pop, coloured hair is cool, almost essential in the youth. Just a mere six years ago, when I had a platinum blond head, coloured hair was associated with people who liked to walk on the wild side of life. And today, 12-year-olds are doing it.

If Queenie's mother feels it's worth spending $400 on her daughter's hair, fair play to her. I am concerned, however, about what message we are sending the young ones.

Being of an age where her parents are still very much the role models of her life, I do hope that the message she gets is that while we can afford ourselves some luxuries from time to time, because we've earned it, $400 could feed a poor family for a month. Or if we're less altruistically-inclined, that the money could go some way in helping herself on a rainy day.

In my time, my female friends didn't start paying for $30 haircuts until they were about 18, and even then, it was out of their own pocket money (even the rich ones).

My biggest joy as a father came when my daughter, on one of her trips, picked out a rather costly toy. I mumbled under my breath that it was expensive but thought about buying it anyway. Then three, she put the toy back happily and said: 'It's okay, daddy, this is expensive. I'll look for something else.'

If I succeed at nothing else in life, I'll always be extremely pleased that I at least had successfully taught her the value of money. Hopefully, this will not be lost on Queenie and her friends." [Emphasis mine]

Uhh... Yes. All hail Asian Asceticism. Throw out the 42' Plasma TV and go back to the good ole days when 15' sets were the norm. Scrap the family car and take public transport. Eat rice and soya sauce everyday. That's the way to bring up our children!

***

Modern Kids Don't Smile When They Visit Santa

"Kids these days don't smile when they visit Santa Claus, according to research just performed by a noted business school professor. Professor John W. Trinkaus, of the Zicklin School of Business, in New York City, observed children at two large shopping malls and a major department store, noting each child's facial expression as the children visited Santa Claus. Every child was accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What Professor Trinkaus saw surprised and saddened him. More than 95 percent of the children were visibly indifferent or hesitant as they approached Santa. Only one percent of them smiled or showed other signs of happiness. On the other hand, Professor Trinkaus noted, nearly all of the parents were visibly quite happy and excited.

Professor Trinkaus's Santa Claus research extends his already impressive body of work. Earlier this year, he was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize in Literature.

Also of seasonal note: Professor Trinkaus also recently published a study called "Snow on Motor Vehicle Roofs: An Informal Look," in which he reported that: "Following a snowstorm, a viewing of 4,347 moving noncommercial motor vehicles, which apparently had been outside during a storm, showed about 65% had roofs which had not been cleared of snow deposits -- with vans outnumbering cars by about 2 to 1.""

***

The Truth About Christmas

"No – Christmas is NOT of God. It is abomination to Him. It is NOT honoring to Jesus Christ. It only calls forth from multitudes of unthinking people a natural sentimentality and a false worship of Him. The observances of Christmas are in no way inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Christmas spirit is only terrible mockery to Him.

Christmas time is not a season of revival and upbuilding in the Church of God. Instead it is a pagan spell of evil, which spreads spiritual pollution as it rages among churches and believers for the time appointed. Thousands of evangelical believers who would be horrified and deeply depressed to find a professor smoking or drinking or dancing, calmly and deliberately indulge in the idolatries of the heathen at Christmas time. And those who know and love the Truth are counted to be narrow minded and sacrilegious if a protest is raised. So, such honest souls are forced to stand aside and witness annually this glittering cloud of pagan observances descend with a smothering and paralyzing pall on all people. And as we watch parents, who loudly proclaim the necessity of truthfulness in children, who advocate the need of so many social reformations and who bemoan the juvenile delinquency which prevails, deliberately teach their unsuspecting little ones the monstrous Santa Claus lie, we can only cry with the Apostle John "I wondered with great wonder" (Rev. 17:6 R.V.)."


Should a Christian Celebrate Christmas?

"The following outline describes the origin of Christmas (with its associated pagan customs, symbols, and terminology), details the Scriptural support against celebrating Christmas, attempts to show that celebrating Christmas violates the spirit of every one of the ten commandments, attempts to demonstrate that celebrating Christmas does not fall in the realm of Christian liberty, and attempts to debunk eight of the major rationalizations Christians put forth for celebrating Christmas."


I love these fundies :) If only they realised that what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

***

The King William's College quiz - Possibly the hardest trivia quiz in the world. I shan't even attempt to answer any of the questions.

How to make an Egg (Guangzhou Style) - "A reporter with Hong Kong-based Chinese magazine East Week enrolled in one such course. To create egg white, the instructor - a woman in her 20s - used assorted ingredients such as gelatin, an unknown powder, benzoic acid, coagulating material and even alum, which is normally used for industrial processes."
Some silly Singaporean prank article, written during the egg shortage.

Scared of Santa photo gallery - "Nothing says Happy Holidays like a photo of sweet little toddlers screaming at Santa"

Why Do Talented Employees Leave Companies? - "Employee attrition leads to loss of experience, wasted training and poor corporate morale. For SAF, NSFs are not free agents and may consciously or subconsciously sabotage operations in revenge... even if the department head has an enlightened perspective on management, its implementation might be sabotaged at the ground level. Direct supervisors might not share the same values or macro-perspective and will manage in a conflicting manner."

Why Be Moral? - "So, is morality an ultimate value or not? This most basic question cannot be given any objective answer. There is no fact of the matter. It is for the most part an issue of values and is therefore ultimately relative and subjective, as is morality itself. Some say yes and others say no, and neither side is mistaken about the matter. Many nontheists would take our title question to be meaningless, and I have no good argument against their outlook."

The MPAA has no idea what’s about to hit them - "There’s not a long way to go before technology makes it possible to anonymously copy whatever you want. Two things work in favor of that outcome - 1) storage keeps getting cheaper, and 2) because everything’s digital, a distribution mechanism that works for one kind of media can be easily adapted to work for all kinds of media. Eventually, there will be enough storage out there that the entire music library of the human race will be able to fit on a card or disc that’s small enough and cheap enough that it will be practical to just hand them out with a cup of coffee."
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