"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Friday, July 15, 2005

"Some people have so much respect for their superiors they have none left for themselves." - Peter McArthur

Random Playlist Song: Edward Elgar - The Shower (Collegium Utrecht o.l.v. Chris Pouw)

Cloud,
if as thou dost melt,
and with thy train of drops
make soft the earth,
my eyes could weep
my eyes could weep
o'er my hard heart,
that's bound up and asleep;

Perhaps at last,
Some such showers past,
My God would give a sunshine after rain.

Another song with sentimental value. I don't actually like it that much because of the weird rhythm and harmony at times.

I finally managed to dig up another rare MP3 that I was missing, albeit a 56kbps/22khz one. And this was by Googling the lyrics. Oddly enough the page called it "The Storm". A storm is very different from a shower!


***

"It's like you walk down the street, it's like bloody Bei Da" [Ed: Beijing University]

--- Sister on NUS during the holidays


University Commencement (graduation) speeches are supposed to inspire graduands as they embark on the next phase of their lives. They are often filled with poignant anecdeotes, words of wisdom and exhortations to be true to yourself.

See for example the text of the inspiring and touching commencement speech Steve Jobs delivered at Stanford in which he spoke of what is really important in life. ('You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says)

Hence, a look at the NUS Centennial Commencement Address is interesting.

The first two page of the speech reads more like the "State of the University" report than anything, listing NUS's achievements, tie-ups, partnerships and initiatives over the past year. The third page is about the "dreams and aspirations" of the Class of 2005, yet segues into an account of the NUS Everest team's dedication and determination. The last page is short, yet half of it talks about the new NUS centennial logo.

It's no wonder Miss NUS chose not to go for commencement.

Eugene: "We all know Stanford is a good university, So's John Hopkins, MIT, Cambridge, etc. But what really makes them what it is, is some kinda soul, the oomph that comes with the fact that you graduated from one of these universities. Its not just the cirriculum and tutors, its the whole lifestyle and culture of the university. Yes, there's always people who'll say 'the grass is always greener on the other side' but then again, maybe it really is greener. So instead of aiming for being a top 10 University, why don't we win over our own hearts first. How many people honestly believe we're 18th? It's such a Singaporean thing, rankings, points, scoring systems, and then maybe someday you realize, its all a facade. I don't need to be a top 10 school to feel great about being in it, I just need a school to actually bother about the people in it, instead of spending all its half-assed time trying to do things to satisfy criteria to become higher ranked. Honestly, to the people who matter to the school, does it bloody matter?"

***

Piled Higher and Deeper

Girl 1: I'm off to class, see you- What?

Girl 2: Is that what you're going to wear?

Girl 1: Yes...

Girl 2: Frumpy sweater, baggy sweatpants and white tennis shoes?

Girl 1: I should wear a hat, huh?

Girl 1 (thinking): In Engineering, a girl has to dress to repress.

Male: excuse me, female, will you marry me?


Miss NUS (formerly from NUS Computing): "at least u get the joke! my computing friend doesnt!!!!

hey i have had weird cheena guys wanting my contact number in class before
which goes to prove that such things do happen"

(another one)

***

It seems M$N IM has been able to support 300 people per contact list since late March 2005:

"MSN Messenger Contact list limit doubles

Now the really popular people can find solace. MSN just upped the limit on the contacts in your contact list from 150 to 300. The change is live for everyone right now, regardless of which version of Messenger you're running. So go ahead and add all those users whom you never could before. As they say, sometimes size does matter."

I just tested it and this seems to be the case. Hmm. Interesting. Oh well. My secondary account hasn't yet reached the size of the first.

(Tipoff from Cherub)

***

Home of the Raffles Voices Alumni

"Welcome to the Raffles Voices Alumni contact page. This is where former members of the Raffles Institution choir can gather and keep each other informed of their whereabouts and well-being. If this is your first time here and you are unlisted, do mail the webmaster with your particulars via the "add me" link so that you can be listed in our hall of fame. spread the 1urv."

***

FeedLindsay.com

""TOGETHER WE CAN FEED LINDSAY™"

Somewhere between all the underage drinking and filming her new movie, Lindsay forgot to eat!

If that's not enough, using a high tech gizmo, we created a photo of what Lindsay may look like if she continues on the Hollywood diet. *Warning, not hot!* .::here::.

Sign the petition and wear your Feed Lindsay Gear™ proudly! Let her know that no one wants a skinny malnourished skeleton, but her old curvaceous self! Together we can Feed Lindsay!"

***

GÖDEL AND THE NATURE OF MATHEMATICAL TRUTH

"It was Snow, too, who coined the phrase that you've one-upped, the two cultures, warning that practitioners of the mathematical sciences, on the one hand, and the arts and humanities, on the other, are losing the ability to understand each other, to the impoverishment of all...

I like to think that the shallower aspects of the intellectual scene of the last century have played themselves out. I mean in particular the assaults on objectivity and rationality, which often take the form of attacks on science. There's nothing less exhilarating than reducing everything to social constructs and to our piddly human points of view. The pleasure of thinking is in trying to get outside of ourselves—this is as true in the arts and the humanities as in math and the sciences. There's something heroic in the idea of objective knowledge; the farther away knowledge takes you from your own individual point of view, the more heroic it is. Maybe the new ideas that are going to revitalize the arts and humanities are going to be allied with the sciences. It's not, of course, that novels will all address scientific themes—that would be ridiculously restrictive. But I hope that the spirit of expansiveness that's associated with the pursuit of scientific truth can get infused into the arts and humanities.

One of the strange things that happened in the twentieth century was that results from mathematics and physics got co-opted into the assault on objectivity and rationality. I'm thinking primarily of relativity theory and Gödel's incompleteness theorems.

The summer before entering college I had to read a book that was popular back then, by an NYU philosopher, William Barrett, called Irrational Man. It was, vaguely existentialist and it argued pretty strenuously that man constructs all truths. It spoke a lot about Nietzsche and Heidegger, but there were a few pages on relativity theory and the incompleteness theorems, arguing that the upshot of these results was that even in physics and mathematics there's no objective truth and rationality: everything is relative to man's point of view, and that the proofs of mathematics are incomplete because there's no foundation for mathematical knowledge. Everything is infected with man's subjectivity, leaving us no grounds for distinguishing between rational and irrational. I read this right before entering college and it took the wind out of my sails. I had been excited about learning the important things but now I was reading that the one important thing to learn is that there aren't any important things, at least none that we haven't made up, which seemed to undermine their importance. I liked making up things as well as anyone; after all, I was a future novelist. Still, the thought that this making-up business penetrated even to mathematics deflated me.

And the irony is that both Einstein and Gödel—who had a legendary friendship when they were at the Institute for Advanced Study—could not have been more committed to the idea of objective truth. Both were super-realists when it came to their fields, Einstein in physics, Gödel in mathematics. The irony is sharpened in Gödel's case since not only was he a mathematical realist, believing that mathematical truth is grounded in reality, but, even more ironically, it was this meta-mathematical conviction that actually motivated his famous proofs.

Gödel was a mathematical realist, a Platonist. He believed that what makes mathematics true is that it's descriptive—not of empirical reality, of course, but of an abstract reality. Mathematical intuition is something analogous to a kind of sense perception. In his essay "What Is Cantor's Continuum Hypothesis?", Gödel wrote that we're not seeing things that just happen to be true, we're seeing things that must be true. The world of abstract entities is a necessary world—that's why we can deduce our descriptions of it through pure reason.

... Gödel appropriated this ancient form of paradox in order to produce a proposition which we can see is true precisely because we can see it's unprovable. This proposition has a purely straightforward mathematical meaning but it's also a proposition that speaks about itself. : The proposition is, in effect: "This very proposition is unprovable". Is it true, or is it false? If it's false, then its negation is true. Its negation says that the proposition is provable. So, assuming the system to be consistent, if this problematic double-speaking proposition is false, its negation is true, which would mean the problematic proposition itself is thus provable. So if it's false it can't be false. If it's false it's true. Therefore it has to be true. But unprovable!"

Brilliant!

***

Someone: strangely the islamic airlines dont reflect the state of their home countries
going to malaysia makes you wonder how they run a government at all
the hongkongers think its a 3rd world hovel
we visited putrajaya on wednesday
they spent $200m on 7 bridges with fancy struts

***

~ Are You Normal - An accurate quiz. How rare!
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