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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, January 08, 2005

"There's a difference between a philosophy and a bumper sticker." - Charles M. Schulz

Or, indeed, pithy quotes, one might add

Random Playlist Song: Bach - Magnificat BWV 243 - Quia respexit humilitatem

Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent.

***

D&D Play By Email (PBEM) is starting again. Yay!

I'm probably going to be a Human Ranger. I wanted to be a hermaphrodite, but the evil DM refused my request :(


I've finally found one more thing I like about M$N Instant Messenger!

There's no such thing as a 'visible list', so people can't spend all their time online hiding from most of their contact list, negating the benefits and point of instant messaging and gaining a false sense of security and control over their otherwise wretched and pathetic lives (M$N has 'block user', but the point is, if you don't want people to see you, just put them on ignore. It's really silly to hide in invisible mode all the time)

So now my MSN IM hate page has 4 entries in the "things I like about MSN IM" list.


Zhiming finally cut his hair because it was starting to curl, so I have no more companions in spirit in pursuit of a shared dream. He says that he wants to grow it out again - good luck to him.

On the upside, I saw an advertisement for a hair salon in Cineleisure which charges $150 for hair extensions (with a 30% discount for student pass holders). So in the unlikely event that I am called back by the slavemasters, I know where to go to save a year of hard work.


Ever since A&W Restaurants pulled out of Singapore, it has been impossible to find curly fries here, even in the freezers of supermarkets (I more than welcome corrections). Recently, McDonalds has come up with "Twister" fries that look like curly fries. I sampled them and found them sadly lacking.

Twister fries are not fluffy enough. They retain too much body, so there is too much resistance when you bite them. The seasoning, besides not being spicy enough (NB: Spiciness is distinct from hot-ness, or how much chili you add), does not permeate through to the centre of the twister fries. These problems are probably due to the fries being too thickly cut, and the spirals of the fries being too cramped together.

In the final analysis, this is still the best (only) type of curly fries we have , so.

At least the cups they give plain water in are a decent size now. Previously they were wimpily small.


The posh looking building of the "grassroots club" in Yio Chu Kang belies its putative status as a grassroots club

***

Short notes because I can't be bothered to transcribe them into paragraph form:

- RI boys on orientation still smell
- More and more teachers have left, especially since the last pure GEP batch graduated last year. Now just about the only ones who taught me who remain are Mr Ong, Mrs Low, Ms Kuang, Mdm Wei Ling, Mrs Tamilselvan
- Apparently half of RI's GEP is now made up of PRCs. So in more ways than one, I was part of something that will never be again
- Staff Room 1 is now so full that the pigeon holes are now outside, and students also have to call their teachers from outside. Bleah.

- The new RJ is too clean, too empty and too lacking in character
- They migrated over the worst chicken rice in Singapore. Bad move, really bad move
- The Ice Lemon Tea is now in a Nestea dispenser, but is still made to the same recipe. But it is now 40 cents. Ah well, inflation.
- Screwed Up Girl and Christie were idiots and went back in uniform. And they got caught by Ng E Ching
- There'll be exercise and free leg toning aplenty for students (though I didn't see the lifts, I doubt a whole class could fit inside one. That's what you get for squeezing so much into a small plot of land)
- Now the staffroom is like a prison. You can't even call the teachers directly like in RI; the receptionist has to do it for you. So if you don't know who to ask for, it's impossible to look teachers up; even if you do, you won't know if they're around, so it's harder to look for people. At least in RI you could peek in and see if the teacher was around
- Mrs Lee transferred to ACJC since she lives nearby. At least I'm better off than Gilbert, who only has one teacher who still teaches there

- If you want to take photos in Northpoint Shopping Centre you need permission from the management. !@#$%^&*()


The chairman of Hissoc this year is from S03J. Hahahhahaha.

"it'd be great if you or any of the previous batches wld wanna help or advise lah" [with RMUN]

Hahahhahaha.

Help or advise?

Hahahhahaha.

Okay, that's enough laughter for a blog post section.

***

Enrol more full-fee foreign students, varsities told

Since someone has already done the analysis for me, I shall just paste it here verbatim:

"outrage outrage '1 in 5 undergrad here is a subsidised FOREIGN TALENT'
firstly, 20%? that figure is just the number who pay 10% more than locals. how about those fully subsidised one??
i dont think 20% includes them.. there are already so many malaysians indians viets do u think they make up only 20% of it? science a lot, practically the whole of computing is FT. 20% seems too little considering indonesians, malaysians, prc, viet, indians and the odd philipino etc
in any case arh, even if 20% its a hell lot lor.
[Ed: I'm not sure that the '1 in 5' figure doesn't include those who are fully subsidised. But, yes, 20% is still a lot.]

Secondly, foreign talent? So that makes locals that get in local talents?

thirdly, that figure does not include FULLY subsidised ft.

Fourthly, subsidised ones only pay 10% more? And also gov urge uni to take in more full paying foreigners-- my ass. More like subsidised.

Also, news from jc principal, they are gonna cut down local places to give to ft, so its gonna be very competitive. and the principal was telling his students the min to even step in would probably be bbb. Ridiculous. Make it harder for locals to get degree to give ft?!

and note how st kisses foreigners ass by calling them foreign talent. Bleah"

Besides the issue of scholarships for foreign talent, one must consider that:

- Many (most?) PRC/foreign scholars are older than the Singaporeans they study with. Just as it would not be fair to compare Primary 1 and Primary 3 students, it is not fair to put 19 year old Singaporeans and 21 year old PRCs in the same course, especially for maths/science courses where language is less of a barrier, and the standard of maths in the PRC is very high
- It seems some PRC scholars have graduated from universities whose degrees are not recognised in Singapore. So they actually know everything and can waltz through their classes when they come to Singapore

Level playing field? What level playing field?

I recall that in Malaysia, due to the bumi putra policy, many deserving non-Malay students cannot get into universities, so some of them are sent overseas on government money. Maybe we need something like that over here :)

***

Guess the movie character:

This curly-haired character spends 90% of the movie staring into space with a blank-eyed, vacuous gaze. The character looks constipated, preoccupied and troubled all the time.

Elijah Wood as Frodo or Emmy Rossum as Christine?

***

I was looking for a quote from Confucius that has been framed up on posters in MRT stations in the past, about memory and understanding. The closest I found was this: "Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous."

I'm quite sure the version slathered on MRT station walls here was something more like: "Memorisation without understanding is a waste of time; Understanding without memorisation leads to disaster". A dubious translation to imbue a questionable Asian Value in the populace, perhaps?


AcidFlask on the "we are a young society so we cannot implement modern democracy" fallacy:

"The 'age of society' reasoning seems fallacious to me. First, a society need not become more open with time. Just look at Greece, at how it has been credited with the birth of democracy, and how it degenerated into fascism in the early twentieth century.

Second, nobody's going to give Singapore the benefit of the doubt just because it's only 39 years old. I cannot recall a single episode in my (admittedly limited) knowledge of world history in which some political or economic benefit resulted directly from being younger or older than other states. Our leaders have eschewed ideology for pragmatism because they feel that in this time and age, all that matters is economic competitiveness, which requires stability. And just because Singapore is a young nation doesn't mean anything if it allows itself to calcify quickly, as it seems to be doing."

***

The hoo-hah people have raised about piffling Tsunami donations is grating. Some people seem to miss the point that making donations obligatory kind of misses the point. Companies and nations trumpet how much they are donating, in contrast to the Japanese (Japan offers major aid in low-key fashion - "Just because you do not see tsunami news and big donations splashed all over the Japanese media, it does not mean that the Japanese do not care.") Is it really so laudable if entities donate a large sum just for Public Relations purposes?

I am reminded of this most appropriate paragraph from Christian Mythology:

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." (Matthew 6:5)

Of course, this contradicts 1 Timothy 2:8:

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting."

But I digress. (Sorry)

***

I was actually going to take a break from posting stuff about religion, but my LJ comments thread looks set to be filled with another debate, so.

""Logocide," refers the killing of words, or rather, the meanings of words. As the Red Queen stated in Alice in Wonderland, words were to mean what she chose them to mean. Christian logocide concentrates on words like life, death, truth, wisdom, and, of course, love, none of which carry the accepted, consensual meaning as they issue out of the mouths of god-talkers. Life and deathmean life in Christ or death to Christ, and are simply terms denoting belief or unbelief in the risen Lord. Wisdom has nothing to do with human wisdom but rather refers to the level of commitment to the Christian system of beliefs. With the word love being used so freely in god-talking commercials, it is no wonder that confused, frightened, and friendless people would be attracted to an institution promising love; as they understand or imagine love, it is something they have been deprived of and yearned for all their lives. However, it soon becomes apparent that the human love they seek is not the love of the god-talker; those worthies use the
word "love" to refer to an unquestioning obedience to God in return for the promise of everlasting life. In addition to this, the kind of human love originally sought by the initiate, is gradually undermined as being inferior, untrustworthy, not to mention unsatisfying when compared to the love of God." (The Mind of the Bible-Believer)

***

Legal threats against The Pirate Bay

Reply to Dreamworks:

"As you may or may not be aware, Sweden is not a state in the United States of America. Sweden is a country in northern Europe. Unless you figured it out by now, US law does not apply here. For your information, no Swedish law is being violated.

Please be assured that any further contact with us, regardless of medium, will result in

a) a suit being filed for harassment
b) a formal complaint lodged with the bar of your legal counsel, for sending frivolous legal threats."

***

Sleep loss may equal weight gain - "Scientists have found that sleep deprivation increases levels of a hunger hormone and decreases levels of a hormone that makes you feel full. The effects may lead to overeating and weight gain."

E-Shrooms - Electronic 80s-esque music and rapidly flashing EGA colours. Designed to give you a headache, I'd think. Or induce Pokemon-style fits.

One breast for baby and one for pup, says mom - "A New Zealand mother has begun breastfeeding her staffordshire terrier pup, saying she did not want to waste the milk after her own daughter switched to being bottle fed."

justdumped.com - Neuroses to a T(ee) - "Liz Vassey and Kristin Bauer, two comely Hollywood actresses, have teamed up to provide you with a fashion outlet for your deepest neuroses. T-shirts that stick to your chests and speak to your screwed up little minds. And where better to air your dirty little shorts than on your breasts?"

Friday, January 07, 2005

"The multitude of books is making us ignorant." - Voltaire

***


She Bangs by William Hung

"Talk to me, tell me your name
You blow me off like it's all the same
You lit a fuse, and now I'm ticking away
Like a bomb... yeah baby"

In 2004 you thought you were very popular, but actually everyone was laughing at you, not with you.


***

Survey request:

On behalf of a reader of this blog, I would like to beseech people to take a survey on budget airlines for an NTU accounting Final Year Project.

Survey for people who have flown on budget airlines before

Survey for those who haven't

(See? There are advantages to being a reader of this blog.)

***

Strangely enough, I find myself quite excited about the next semester. Perhaps it's because of the modules I'm doing:

EC2101 - MICROECONOMIC ANALYSIS I
EC2303 - FOUNDATIONS FOR ECONOMETRICS
USE2301 - ECONOMIC POLICY ANALYSIS (This cost me 456 points, so my CORS general account is now bankrupt. Boo hoo. Maybe I shall only do 1 USP module next semester)
UWC2101R - WRITING & CRITICAL THINKING - MULTIDISCIPLINARY PERSPECTIVES ON MIND
ULS2202 EVOLUTION (wth?! This went for 566/900 points during bidding)

Of course, I expect this undue enthusiasm to largely evaporate within a week or two of school starting.

Incidentally, I briefly toyed with the idea of taking a sixth module this semester, but dismissed it after brief consideration. If I somehow need to do six modules in a future semester to fulfill my graduation requirements, I can always do some level 1000 electives when I'm in my 7th or 8th semester. Yay.

***

More tales of/from the Premier Institution of Social Engineering:

"As an undergraduate at NUS a couple of years back, I chose to read certain modules for my English Language major. These modules (Critical Discourse Analysis, Feminist Theory & Discourse, Language & Society) were 'marketed' as allowing students to provide their own in-depth analysis and opinions. Unfortunately, my somewhat different-from-the-norm thinking didn't go down well with my lecturers, half of whom received their Masters or Doctorates from overseas universities. Hence while my coursemates would get A grades for answers that fit the mould, I was getting B grades for sticking to my point of view.

It might be the culture. But it might also be the factor of ego, where the lecturer has the mindset that because he/she is the lecturer, he/she knows more than the student. There's also the probelm where the lecturer may already have biases towards certain students, or expectations when they set an exam question."

Whee.

More uplifting:

"I must have been fortunate. I recall 2 philosophy lecturers I had. One said that in the exam, those who only give answers that he taught would get a 'C'. One would pass, but only that. To excel, one has to offer answers that he did not teach.

Another lecturer said that if one thinks that the exam question is irrelevant, one can state so in one's answer and give his reasons for thinking so, and not have to answer that question. I assume his grade will be based on how strong his reasons are for brushing away the question like that."

Meanwhile:

"If you want to have an education where no answers are provided, and the teachers are annoyingly coy, come to NTU. The Project Discovery system has been implemented, and after the first 2 semesters students get used to not receiving model answers of any sort.

Some have labelled it useless because the teachers aren't good at facilitating meaningful discussions, while others enjoy it because even if you've skipped studying a few chapters, you can do pretty well if you have a view."

***

Open Letter to FACTS: The difference between the stockmarket and a casino

…none of us wanted our children to grow up thinking that gambling is okay as long as economics dictate so. There is no justification whatsoever for a society to knowingly allow the negative energy associated with casinos, any space in Singapore.

I believe the onus is on you to explain why gambling is wrong. I don’t believe that public policy is formulated with “negative energy” in mind, and rightly so. If you could raise any reasons in which gambling is wrong in itself, I would be glad to either publish a rebuttal, or retract this objection...

I do believe that a modern-day casino is a very different animal from the unregulated gambling dens that you speak about in the 70s. There are no loan-sharks hovering around the tables, nor gangsters or triads that gave gambling a bad name in the 70s. The gaming industry is heavily and strictly regulated by the government. At best, the casino would be a clean, transparent and well-run business. In the worst case scenario, it would be no worse that China Aviation Oil. The “accompanying evils” you speak so fearfully of have no place in our modern society, nor in a well-run modern casino.

Just to refresh your memory, the recent scandal of China Aviation Oil should be a reminder that there are worse examples of gambling out there, and the stockmarket is the perfect example. And yet, while some people do suffer from making the wrong choices in investment, I don’t see broken families and an increase in crime. Why do you not protest against the stock market then?

Unlike a casino, in which the odds are clearly defined, and where there are strict rules that govern the code of conduct of the operators, the stockmarket is more the dangerous free-for-all you fear. Investors often don’t know what they’re getting themselves into, putting money into stocks and shares based on scanty or even non-existent information. Casinos openly state their odds at the table. Companies listed on the stock-exchange find means and ways to fudge their accounts. Why do you not protest agains these companies?

***

Game Theories (also mirrored on the TJC forums)

"On-line fantasy games have booming economies and citizens who love their political systems. Are these virtual worlds the best place to study the real one?"

This article is a fascinating at the economics of online games like The Sims online and Everquest.

Some topics covered:

- equation of virtual money/goods to real world money
- the size of the games' virtual economies (eg the GNP per capita of Everquest was calculated to be $2,266 U.S., more than India, Bulgaria, or China, and nearly as wealthy as Russia)
- online worlds as the ideal economic laboratories that economists always have yearned for
- meritocracy, capitalism and socialism
- a planned economy vs a market economy
- social welfare policies
- gender differentials (female characters are worth less than male ones)
- inflation and mopping up excess money supply
- the values that people ascribe to goods
- exploitation of sweatshop workers
- the Forex market
- crime and vice
- property rights

Indeed, there's something for everybody!


(Thanks to theonion for the tipoff)

***

Stupid quote from Power Rangers Dino Thunder: White Thunder Part 2

Young Kid: Listen: we live in a really cynical world. I understand your reluctance not to believe in me (sic), but if you could just have a little hope, a little faith in humanity, in the Youth of America

Cassidy: Alright, alright. 6 o'clock, I'll be here.

***

Moses is the first person I know of to use Open Office. Yay!

(Some would ask why I don't use it myself. That's because my father wants to use M$ Office, and also my laptop came with M$ Office 2003, so.)


Signs that you are worrying too much about illegal downloads

10. You deny all domains with a ".gov.sg" in your firewall.
09. You start your weekly JB trips again.
08. You buy a software that deletes all files with extension .MP3, .MPG, .AVI by clicking on a red button.
07. You backup your "files" onto DVDs regularly, every 30-minute.
06. You migrate to free software by emulating Linux on Windows.
05. You attempted to download legitimate MP3s from PAP.gov.sg
04. You rename your 700MB movies to .JPG
03. You thank God everyday when you check your mailbox, for not getting warning letters.
02. You subscribe to SinghNet in India for your P2P needs.
01. Instead of praying to the Buddha, you pray to PeerGuardian.

***

Speculations on Steven Lim's profession:

- some make up artist
- full time stripper
- Muthafarker
- nude model
- clown
- a dreamer
- fuktard
- mentally retarded patient

***

Bulk: An argyle armadillo ate an onion while a bearded bird flew into a cappuccino-coloured sky.
Why? I am a mosquito on the windshield of your love.
You are the missing sock in my... laundry pile.

You are the sunny sky, the windy wind *Skull switches fan on*
And I would ask you to the dance if I weren't so *pulls out chicken* chicken

- PRZ, #24 Bulk Fiction

***

You think you've seen everything? How about: BeastMatch.com - The Premiere Bestiality Dating site for genuine petlovers. Erm. ERM. (wth?!)

The Ward-O-Matic: The Polar Express: A Virtual Train Wreck - "My main problem with THE POLAR EXPRESS is not that they are trying to give us a new and creative way of looking at films, but rather that the filmmakers are suggesting that this is the end-all be-all thing to filmmaking in general. That what they are doing is the shiz-nit, man! And the fact that Zemeckis himself has suggested that what he's doing is not attainable by any animator"

Do you think you're sexy? Only one in 50 women do - "Brazilian women consistently [outperform] almost everyone else: a full 6 per cent are prepared to describe themselves as beautiful compared with a world average of 2 per cent."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

"No wise man ever wished to be younger." - Jonathan Swift

***

A public service announcement from Xianjie for all from the RI GEP Class of 1999:

Lunch with Mr Chan [Ying Ying] on friday..

Hi everyone,

we'll be meeting on 7 Jan 2005 (Fri) at 12pm at Northpoint's Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao?
Its on the 2nd level of the annexe to the main building i think...

Transport: MRT to Yishun or Bus to Yishun Interchange

Please spread the word for me also.. thanks guys..

See you all there!

Xianjie
97507135

***

Advertisement: I am giving away my course pack for PH1101E / GEM1004 - Reason and Persuasion (Introductory exposure module to Philosophy) for free to anyone who leaves his contact details in the YACCS comments box below this post.

Course pack has a few scribblings (hey, you get what you pay for), and should be the same as this semester's. Course pack contains: Plato's Euthyphro, Plato's Meno, Plato's Republic (Book I), Descartes' First and Second Meditations, Extracts from JS Mill's On Liberty - also makes for light bathroom/bedtime reading.

Free delivery to anywhere in NUS at my discretion is included.

Look upon it as a fringe benefit for visiting this blog :) Do spread the word if you know someone taking this module.


Offer has been taken up even before the publishing of this blog post, but I was too lazy to delete it, so.


The bidding statistics for Round 2A are interesting. I went 2/3 of the way down the list, and the modules where the lowest successful bid was 2000 or more were as follows:

BSP1004: 2600
CE5603: 2000
CS2103: 2022
DSC3212: 2023
EC1301: 3073
EE2009: 2000
EE3501: 3096
EE4306: 2800
EL3201: 2015
FNA1002E: 2360
HR2002: 3094
ME3262: 2000

Where do these people get all their points from?!

Oh, and GEK1533 (Woman's health and changes in her lifetime), offered by the Medicine Faculty went for 700 points. Probably all girls who think it'll be very easy for them.

But most modules went either for 1 point or none (ie no one wanted to take them). Aww.

***

I don't get it. If you walk around with the "just out of bed" look, people frown. But if you use gel to get the "just out of bed look", people are fine.

Similarly, they cut holes and make tears in their clothes and jeans, and get them to look faded, but if any of this was unintentionable, it'd be socially unacceptable.

Humans are weird.

***

Someone: "do you even find time to study? lol
you leave your footprint on so many blogs
you're almost prolific like Glenn Reynolds"

***

On NUS:

"Being a student myself in NUS, what i gathered from most tutorials are, prob 90% of the students are just silently waiting for the answers and 99% of their focus/ attention throughout the class is on avoiding (hokkien:siaming)eye contact with the teacher(lowers the chances of being called up to answer). A typical Singaporean student's response would be silence (act blur, take cover, never be a volunteer!)...

Personally, i don't get the astonishment over "smart" "university" students don't thinking critically. Typical PAP talk. It is only understandable and predictable. Nothing about the way of teaching has changed, from primary to university, only perhaps there are now fewer students in a class, but it still ain't inversely proportionate to class participation.

Also, I have taken a couple of Soci modules myself, and critical thinking appears to be something one can do without when it comes to examinations. Soci modules, very often, have titles that promises interesting facts/analysis about the workings of the human society, facts that are gonna make u go WOooo~so desu ne!. But instead, the syllabus often focuses on who said what; theories theories and more theories. For example, i have taken this module "sociology of deviance" before, and had expected to learn more about the "evils" of society, instead what i learnt(and forget) are THEORIES, the only real life example that the lecturer actually "informed" us was that druggies hung out in the east of Singapore. Thanks alot, for nothing! The average middle class university kid, sheltered Singaporean-style, wouldnt even know that druggies actually exists in Singapore. YEs we are that naive, thanks to crime watch. So how do we get the bloody theories & concepts apply? sometimes, even if one might claim to think more than memorize, the singaporean environment limits one's thinking as well. There's something really screwed about the NUS system (or the education system in general here)? It's not even about laziness, just take a look at how the libraries in school are packed each day will tell ya how "lazy" we are. If people can sit in the same spot the whole bloody day, with just one 1.25litres of Ice mountain, memorizing theories, formulas, and concepts, surely we are capable of being hardworking at da BIG word called "THINKING" right? The system doesnt allow it, and neither does our environment. We are a very sheltered and pampered bunch, and the school loves theories, so there's nothing CRITICAL to think about in the first place. Even the tsunami incident doesnt strike close to our hearts enough to make it to even tea time chat. Probably just donate to ease our minds which is jampacked with all the graphics from news, and then forget about it later. that's how sheltered we are. it's sad i know. i'm sorry for myself too, at times.

I also wanna point out that NUS DOESN'T return exam papers after the exams, for whatever reason, i don't know. i have never studied overseas, so i don't know what is it like for them. But i think such a policy is really a mind f**Cker. i believe it's the primary reason to student waiting for the "model answer", and not wanting to think. If the papers never get returned, it means that the power of correcting the papers lies entirely on the marker, and who's the marker? Ze LECTURER of course! and how do we get him to get us an A, by answering using his OWN answer of courSE! he can't possibly mark his own answer wrong, can he? or maybe he can, only god's gonna know right? so, here i'm, a typical student, a typical singaporean, blaming the system, too bad, it's an easy target. Laziness might not be the main reason that we do not think critically. even if there is, laziness sprouts from inactivity, so think deeper yo."

***

The lord's profits - "The music is catchy, the mood euphoric and the message perfect for a material age: believe in God and you'll be rewarded in this life as well as the next... Brian Houston's open, good-guy demeanour disappears. No, he will not tell me what he or Bobbie earns. "All you guys [the media] want to know about is the money," he says. "You don't want to know about the church." Well, it's a bit like walking into Rose Hancock's house and not noticing the chandeliers - the money at Hillsong just leaps out at you."

A whole thread of people pissed off by fundies:

"The only thing I worship is the God of Song (aka Jacky Cheung)... proud to say that at least I dun try to force people to buy Jacky Cheung's album coz at least I know it sucks nowadays." (Heh)

"If they remain trapped in any belief, they cannot accept the possibility of anything outside of that belief. Anything contrary to the held belief is incorrect, and therefore precludes them from investigating further. Therefore the belief becomes a reality they have adopted, which is based on delusion." (Explains all the crazy logic they try to use)

It seems the fundies have pissed of a helluva lotta people :)

***

Gamer buys $26,500 virtual land

"A 22-year-old gamer has spent $26,500 (£13,700) on an island that exists only in a computer role-playing game (RPG).

The Australian gamer, known only by his gaming moniker Deathifier, bought the island in an online auction.

The land exists within the game Project Entropia, an RPG which allows thousands of players to interact with each other.

Entropia allows gamers to buy and sell virtual items using real cash, while fans of other titles often use auction site eBay to sell their virtual wares.

Earlier this year economists calculated that these massively multi-player online role-playing games (MMORPGs) have a gross economic impact equivalent to the GDP of the African nation of Namibia."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

"They say there is a reason for evil, but it is a mystery. Well, let me tell you this: I'm actually one hundred feet tall even though I only appear to be six feet tall. You ask me for proof of this. I have a simple answer: it's a mystery. Just accept my word for it on faith. And that's just the logic theists use in their discussions of evil." - Quentin Smith, "Two Ways to Defend Atheism"

***

Someone thinks I look like an androgynous auntie with my current hair style.

On university application essays: "it's hard to get personal and philosophical if you're talking about linear algebra you know."

I saw 2 young pre-pubescent girls who each had threaded through a braid in their hair an ah beng-esque trail of flashing lights: coloured lights repeatedly ran up and down the braids. But then again, "Good taste is the worst vice ever invented." - Edith Sitwell

The 2 very best ingredients to go with Nasi Lemak are chicken wings and luncheon meat. Malays don't know what they're missing out on...

Someone got to my site from a Directory of Christian Sites using ChangingLinks.com. Hahahahahaha.

***

A long time reader was commenting on the recent dearth of anecdotal posts (ala my tales from the Middle of Nowhere about buying pillows and the like), and the shift towards stuff more akin to what one would find in newspapers. Or in his words:

nowadays ur blog is like becoming a newsletter. less and less personal entries. last time got talk about what screwed up gal, this person that person all that.. nowadays its alwiz about issues people discuss in the parliament. haha

last time there were still army stories. haha about the cushion or pillows. haha


Ah well. School is starting soon, so the balance should shift (ever so imperceptibly) back. But then, University is a much less personally involving experience than JC, or even my 30 months of National Slavery; I must hasten to add that a personally involving experience is not necessarily a good one.

***

A discussion with someone shianux on copyright:

Him: but nah, I dun think they'll do anything to home dlers... at least not for the moment
so better get them ASAP

Me: I thought they'd kill some chickens first
then close 2 eyes later

Him: yeah, but apparently not this time
they got some pretty gungho policemen over this
they swallowed the whole "stronger copyrights is good for your economy" story hook line and sinker

Me: in that case why will they catch home dls only later?

Him: cos they wanna get the business people first
then they go after the home dlers

Me: oh dear
then everyone will downgrade to 56K

Him: yeah lor
what's the point of broadband other than to download copyrighted works?

Me: how do you know they're going to catch home downloaders?

Him: the key phrase is "commercial scale" not "commercial usage"
how many copyrighted music files does a typical homedownloader have?

Me: they didn't define commercial scale
so is 1000 files in 1 year ok? 1 decade?

Him: I have 40gigs of mp3s, oggs, and aac
I don't even know how many songs that is

Me: the future is bleak
what do you think will happen?

Him: when you think about it, surely the lawyers for the copyright cartel can define anything as "commercial scale"
I think about 1-2 years down the road. I think they'll clean up the business sector first
remember, they're introducing DMCA too you know. anti-circumvention

Me: wait do they have to know you're downloading copyrighted stuff before they raid?

Him: I don't think so
since when is due process much respected in singapore? lol
I think "reasonable belief" is the threshold

Me: so what will happen in singapore? people will chafe and downgrade to 56K connections?

Him: I think even if you're dl alot, you could just say you're listening to online radio or watching movie
some cock excuse will do lol

Me: true
but they raid first, ask questions later

they can't catch everyone
so you'll think they'll adopt the same culture of fear as with political activism?

Him: I think it won't be THAT extreme lah

Me: I suspect it'll become like the unnatural sex law

Him: I think they'll only catch the most egregious of home dlers

Me: ridiculous. criminal offence to dl stuff

Him: because keep in mind, they can charge you with alot of things you know.... not necesarily dl stuff

Me: yeah they'll dig up all sorts of shit

Him: I suspect that most ppl who dl lots of stuff probably dl porn as well
so yeah, they'll probably want to get you on the pr0n first

Me: aiyah
in singapore everyone surfs porn

Him: lol, yah lah, thats why they dun have to resort to the copyright act mah

Me: so? the future looks bleak
I'm more inclined to think it's like the unnatural sex law, really

Him: you should read this book
http://www.code-is-law.org/
try to see if you can get your hands on it

Me: lawrence lessig is but one man
against corporate lobbies in america

Him: yeah, but something like the unnatural sex law, either you're caught red-handed, or your partner pao toh you right?
yeah, but one man can start an avalanche. he's no longer alone you know
even the corporate lobby is split. tech lobby vs the copyright cartel

Me: oh?
that's good news
but the effects will take many years to become apparent... sigh

oh the hardware vs content makers?
I thought they were colluding
DRM

so why do you think they'll bother catching downloaders?

Him: here's the funny thing... it used to be that sony made more money off walkmans than CDs
and even now, that's true, hardware people make more money than the content industries, and it will always be so
because I think fundamentally, content is a commodity. anyone and everyone is constantly creating content
while only some poeple can create hardware

Me: you think so? hmm

ipod and creative mp3 player sales in singapore are going to plunge, I think

the thing abt intellectual property is that everyone can have some w/o diminishing the amt others have. the content industries haven't internalised that yet
their business model is dead, but they just want to keep holding on to it

eventually they'll have to wake up their idea... but I fear it'll be too late

Him: the music execs wanna keep snorting their cocaine

Me: the legislation is not retrospective right

Him: no, its not. but then, I think the law has a provision for possession as well
so yeah, even if you didn't dl, if you possess, you also kena. sux right?

I think the closer analogy to this than unnatural sex is narcotics
soon the "war against piracy" will become like "war against drugs"

Me: oh dear
then we're well and truly screwed
since they crack down on drug users

Him: yeah, but still wait and see lah
it all hinges on the very first court case and how it defines "commercial scale"

Me: seriously. this can't go on
or people will downgrade to 56K

yeah the precedent... sigh
but in 1 year of course people are going to dl 1000 files

Him: I think it will take a brave judge to write an opinion that tries to make a definition

Me: this is ridiculous.
our laws are even more strict and draconian than US

I don't think brave judges exist here :'(

Him: I think most probably they will chicken out until it reaches the yong pung how
remember, we don't have any constitutional rights. this was told to me by a lawyer working here, and he happened to be in litigation, representing the record companies...lol
I argued that if DMCA happens to be struck down in the US, we'll look like fools and he says with a snort, "we don't have any constitional rights, so how can this law be struck down as unconstitutional?"


Someone else: where did u get ur souce of info abt packet sniffing from
any concrete evidence/credible source?

Me: not really
mostly speculation
everyone is frightened

Someone else: this reminds me of e salem witchcraft trials
have u read "The Crucible" b4?
the court is likened to our govt here
and e civilians r all suspects
tts generating e very same kind of mass paranoia here

seriously from e economist point of view this law is going to do more harm than good

decline in demand for HDD, DVD-RW drives(i was planning to buy one initially), mp3 players, ISP BB/cable services

Me: naturally
it only benefits content lobbies

Someone else: negligible increase in movie ratings/album sales
booming biz for ah bengs selling pirated software, games
there was this shop at ang mo kio
i went there yesterday it was unusally crowded

***

Chick Tract parodies

"Ever see those tiny, pocket-sized Christian comic book tracts that are left on park benches, in public restrooms, under your windshield wiper-blade, or stuffed into books at the library? You know, those horribly-drawn comics with the paranoid messages in them, outlandish and unlikely stories, and fire-and-brimstone style? These are the world-famous religious tracts of Jack T. Chick, one of the most prolific, paranoid, ultra-conservative, and nastiest publishers of Christian literature since the Dark Ages! Many people have found these tracts to be a great source of humor, specifically for the bizarre and schizophrenic tales spun within them. Let's face it, Jack T. Chick's world view, which roughly boils down to the notion that there is a gigantic and complex world conspiracy of Catholics, Homosexuals, Satanists, Witches, and Atheists out to get anyone who is a "real Christian" (a real Christian as defined by Jack Chick), is so extreme and unbelievable that no sane individual would ever believe it."

A great description, if I ever saw one *g*

Incidentally, one of the Jack Chick tracts has an excellent rebuttal of theodicy (though he probably didn't get it):

"If your house was on fire... you and your wife and kids were sleeping... and I drove by and saw it burning and I didn't wake you up because I knew you'd be uptight... what would you think of me?"

[Addendum: Someone asked me to explain how this is a rebuttal of theodicies.

If you see someone in danger and you don't save him when you can, you're to blame if anything bad happens to him.

The Christian God sees people suffering all the time but doesn't lift a finger to help. Therefore he's to blame for the bad things that happen to them :)]

***

The Euthyphro Dilemma

"One horn of the dilemma is that what is good is defined by the fact that it's god's will.

Without an independent standard of moral or immoral acts against which to measure god, god could never be identified by his moral standing. Thus, morally speaking, there would be no way to distinguish being a slave to an evil demon as opposed to being a slave to god. In both cases the one doing the commanding could command anything whatsoever and carrying out that command would be, by definition, a good act. No act would be considered immoral in and of itself, or good in and of itself, apart from the issue of whether it has been commanded or forbidden. Anything from rape to murder would be considered good if it were commanded by the being who serves as the standard.

No act could be taboo for the being giving commands because that being who defines goodness would not have any independent standard of morality by which it could be limited to a certain set of acts. The being could not be bound by any moral code.

The only immoral act, on this view, is disobedience. The follower would be committed to a system of blind obedience to a being who cannot be meaningfully called good. Clearly, this option is undesirable for the theist. (Ed: There is also the issue of omnipotence - If omnipotent beings cannot do bad things, then they are not omnipotent)

The other horn of dilemma is that god recognizes what is good and then wills what is good.

On the other hand, if the theist chooses the other horn of the dilemma, that god commands that which god recognizes as good, then the theist is admitting that there is a standard of goodness independent of god, and is, in fact, admitting that god is not the source of morality."


The depths of illogical argument which people get mired in in their attempts to justify morally and logically indefensible creeds is astounding.

For example, in my LJ comments thread, someone claimed that it was just to punish people for something they didn't do (and much else in the way of illogical thinking, besides).

My response: So if your father committed a crime, it would be just to punish you for it? Punishing people for something they did not do goes against all bounds of justice. If you still insist that this is just - well, then I'm afraid we can have nothing to talk about, since your world view is obviously very odd. All debate is meaningless, since we have different concepts of reality; if I bring up something obviously evil, you will claim that it is good. Ditto for infanticide.

This person also thinks that sin is sin, and magnitude does not matter. So since we are all sinners, we should get our money's worth. Eat, drink and make merry, for tomorrow we go to hell!

Hai... Even if their god came down to earth to tell them they were mistaken on some points of doctrine, they wouldn't believe him. Such is the beauty of post-hoc rationalisation to reconcile reality with deeply held, pre-conceived notions.


Meanwhile, Xiaxue's entry on religion (unsurprisingly, she is also irreligious and pissed off with the fundie Christians ala CHC increasingly active in Singapore today) has, at the time of posting, 102 comments.

***

USA Undercuts the UN with Niggardly Aid for Tsunami Victims - "The tsunami is a cheap killer and it may also be more humane than war. Drowning is quick compared to dying of burn wounds. And the tidal wave tends to wipe out the children, old, and the weak. This sounds cruel, but it is nature’s way. Nature leaves more of the stronger alive, the breadwinners, who have the job of supporting those left in the families, and to rebuild. In contrast, our President’s bombs and bullets are aimed at the strongest Iraqis, the breadwinners, leaving more children with no one to feed them. Starvation will be less after a tsunami than after the bombing of Iraq. The proof of this is at least a half million children perished of starvation and disease after the first Bush war in 1991. A generation of fathers were killed in the war, so they were not there to feed the survivors! Nature is cruel, but loves and forgives the survivors; tidal waves do not hold grudges or play favorites. War does! Maybe we need a tsunami on the Potomac."

Melvin runs my blog through www.pornolize.com's script.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

"If the anti-abortion movement took a tenth of the energy they put into noisy theatrics and devoted it to improving the lives of children who have been born into lives of poverty, violence, and neglect, they could make a world shine." - Michael Jay Tucker

(More abortion quotes - both pro-choice and pro-'life')


Random Trivia bit: Leucippe was a nymph ravished by Hades and then transformed by him into a white poplar tree.

The name Leucippe or Leuce means 'white,' like the tree she became. The poplar was thenceforth sacred to Hades (rapist gods apparently frequently suffer from some sort of cognitive dissonance which causes them to 'honor' their victims).

(Women in Greek Mythology II: the Metamorphosed)

***

The newest version of IVLE comes with an RSS aggregator (though I don't see it in my IVLE workspace).

So NUS students can read my blog while they study. Hahaha.

Meanwhile, one module offers the option for giving "anonymous feedback". Wah.


There's a lecturer who's been teaching at NUS since a few days after I was born. Scary.

***

A profound insight on my "Why I Hate Valentine's Day" article:

"there is another side, the gals have tat power becoz guys gave them tat power. why do guys do it in the first place? reflects their insecurity too. or even their selfishness to reserve their gals against other guys

survival of the fittest and stuff. aiyah, the games people play.

mebbe it's a developed mechanism for gals to filter guys. haha, i anthropologise (as opposed to romanticise) too much"


It occurs to me that since the article on Fee Hikes will probably piss off the administration and the article on Valentine's Day will piss off students who are attached, I'll end up being disliked by everyone :)

Ah well, what's new!

***

Shattered Glass, Battered Freedom : The concept of religious "tolerance" seems to be warping apace these days.

"Freedom of speech that does not embrace the right to offend is a farce. The stipulation that you may say whatever you like so long as you don't hurt anyone's feelings canonizes the milquetoast homily, "If you can't say anything nice. . . ." Since rare is the sentiment that does not incense someone, rest assured that in that instance you don't say anything at all.

I am under no obligation to respect your beliefs. Respect is earned; it is not an entitlement. I may regard creationists as plain wrong, which would make holding their beliefs in high regard nonsensical. In kind, if I proclaim on a street corner that a certain Japanese beetle in my back garden is the new Messiah, you are also within your rights to ridicule me as a fruitcake.

Are we not on the way to classifying hatred itself as a crime? And while we are at it, should we not then criminalize envy and narcissism for also being antisocial states of mind? Moreover, what is the difference between "incitement to hatred" and "incitement to fierce dislike"? Or "incitement to mockery"?

Apparently contemporary "tolerance" does not merely allow others to practice whatever goofy or incomprehensible religion they like--and sometimes with a rolled eye--but surrounds any faith with a hands-off halo of sanctity, so that whatever is sacred to you must also be sacred to me. Disquietingly, this halo in Britain may be enshrined into law. Worse, today's exaggeratedly deferent brand of tolerance is driven by a darker force than mere let's-all-get-along multiculturalism, and that is fear. In the post-9/11 world, we are arriving at an unspoken understanding that zealots in our midst must not be offended, lest in their indignation they do something horrible."

In a similar vein: I'm disgusted ministers did nothing as Sikhs forced play's closure, says Rushdie - "If being upset is the only requirement to banning something, there will be nothing on in the theatres... Should we ban Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice for being anti-Semitic? Where do you stop?"

***

Does Truth Serum Work?- "Not in the sense that it makes people tell the truth. So-called truth serums lower your inhibitions, and as a result you may become chattier but not necessarily more truthful. Losing your inhibitions isn't the same as losing your self-control. Subjects who have been administered a "truth serum" can lie, they can fantasize, and they can be manipulated into telling falsehoods by an interviewer's suggestions and cues."

An interesting perspective on abortion: "He concludes that both sides of the abortion debate are an impediment to progress. This after noting the low abortion rates in many European countries, and recommending that we look into and adopt the policies of these countries. I would confidently predict that some of these policies have to do with rational sex education that gives teens (and others) full knowledge and access to available birth control options. Ironic then that it is the Christian right that is both vehenmently anti-abortion, and also against sex education beyond "abstinence only". This Christian right also aligns itself with political-economic forces that obstruct equal access to healthcare and would in no way endorse protection from financial burdens of expectant mothers (at least as provided by the state). "

The Myth Is the Message -- Yet another discovery of the lost continent of Atlantis shows why science and myth make uneasy bedfellows - "Atlantis also has been "found" in the Mediterranean, the Canaries, the Azores, the Caribbean, Tunisia, West Africa, Sweden, Iceland and even South America. But what if there is nothing to find? What if Plato made up the story for mythic purposes? He did. Atlantis is a tale about what happens to a civilization when it becomes combative and corrupt. Plato's purpose was to warn his fellow Athenians to pull back from the precipice created by war and wealth... Plato wove historical fact into literary myth. As he wrote of his parables: "We may liken the false to the true for the purpose of moral instruction." The myth is the message."

A Tiny Revolution: America Is Getting Truly Creepy - "Fox was going berserk about some UN official calling the US "stingy" with relief funds... the "stingy" reference in question by the UN official was to "western nations" generally. The US was never singled out. Why would Fox News and their pants-wetting brethren pick a fight like this? You can make some elaborate argument about how they hate the UN, and this fabrication gives them another opportunity to attack them, etc. But I believe it goes deeper than that. These people ABSOLUTELY MUST be constantly fighting with someone. It doesn't matter who, just that the fight continues. The never-ending battle serves some deep psychological need for them."

A Tiny Revolution: What Kind Of A World Are We Leaving For Our Children? - "Whenever I hear Noam Chomsky, and the berserk reactions to him, it makes me think of the character of Goldstein in 1984 -- and the berserk reactions to him. Goldstein is Oceania's symbol of all that is evil, and the focus of their daily Two Minute Hates.. when Andrew Sullivan was on Bill Maher's show with Chomsky, Sullivan was one second away from shrieking "Swine!" at him. If Sullivan had done so, he probably would have then -- not having a Newspeak dictionary -- thrown his own poop. It's too bad George Orwell can't come back to life for a moment or two, so he could see characters from his book walking around in 21st century American. Then, if he had an extra second before he had to return to the grave, he could give Andrew Sullivan the finger."

The Butterflies and Wheels.com weekly newsletter actually linked to an article from The New Paper. Heh heh.

Mother Tongue - "What does the fashion for books about the state of the English language tell us? People care about their language because it forms part of their identity, and part of the resistance to changes in English is a resistance to change itself. But correct usage is not an elite affectation; it is a badge of competence"

Chiropractic school angers FSU professors - "The threatened resignations - at least seven to date, all from assistant professors who work part time - reflect a belief among many in the medical establishment that chiropractic is a "pseudo-science" that leads to unnecessary and sometimes harmful treatments. Professors are even circulating a parody map of campus that places a fictional Bigfoot Institute, School of Astrology and Crop Circle Simulation Laboratory near a future chiropractic school."

Why Nerds Are Unpopular - "If you're too cool for school, you're probably not very smart. Some of us would rather build rockets than friendships."

Sex and the Madrasa - "With gang rape in Punjab (cf. the Mukhtaran Bibi case), mass rape in Darfur, female genital mutilation across parts of Muslim Africa, and honor killings of girls in various Arab countries, it would appear to be time for our holier-than-thou sermonizers to introspect a bit and focus on some of their own sexual hang-ups. Add polygamy to the rap sheet, plus the weird Muslim obsession with burqa, chador and hijab; add the yet-weirder cult of the 72 post-mortem virgins, throw in stoning as a punishment for adultery, and then consider burial-alive as a punishment for homosexuality. XXX- rated Qur’anic literacy lessons seem pretty much par for the course in this context. In short, put it all together, and the sexual depravities of “the West” begin to look tame by comparison with what the Muslim world has to offer in the way of polymorphous perverse sexuality."
Published, interestingly enough, by the "Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society"

Waves of destruction wash away belief in God's benevolence - "Even if solutions are forthcoming to these philosophical conundrums, humanely speaking they make little sense. Perhaps that is why some people remain sceptical about the presence of any divine providence ruling over us."
An excellent indictment of Theodicy, partially explaining its immorality and disingenuousness.

Be Careful Not to Get Too Much Education - ""If you get a bachelor's degree," the seasoned student reassured, "you'll probably be okay. But my professor said that when you get a master's, and definitely if you go beyond that, you can lose your values. He said that college students have to be watchful because if you get too much education, you could turn-LIBERAL. He's seen it happen to a lot of good Christians."... The Southern Baptist Convention recently considered a proposal to urge all parents to pull their children out of public schools to prevent their exposure to ideas that conservatives may consider "godless" but that are in fact essential. Non-biblical, non-conservative ideas run rampant in fields like medicine, physics, archeology, literature, philosophy, history, astronomy, psychology, theology-in short, everything."

Values or progress? from Perspectives From My Pedestal - "A very pertinent question for the human race is this: is it possible for values and modernity to go hand in hand? If they are NOT mutually exclusive, why do most people persist in thinking so? Is there something in their holy books which forbids progression? And IF we could only choose either between values and modernization, which would it be?"
There's nothing wrong with having 'values'. The problem is when you try to impose your values on others.

***

Girl, 10, used geography lesson to save lives - "A 10-year-old girl saved her family and 100 other tourists from the Asian tsunami because she had learnt about the giant waves in a geography lesson"

Violent video games pulled from prison - "In fact, the prison's PlayStation offerings included one of the most violent games on the market, "Hitman: Contracts," in which players use everything from meat hooks to silencer-equipped pistols to carry out brutal contract killings."

Bank Machine Distributes Fake Money - "Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, already taking heat for accidentally faxing customers' financial information to a U.S. scrapyard, apologized on Wednesday after one of its cash machines dispensed fake money. Instead of distributing C$20 bills, the machine, located in the Maritime province of New Brunswick, spat out colorful bills used as incentives at Canadian Tire Corp. hardware stores."

Medics again treat mouthwash drinker - "Police responded Sunday afternoon to a call about a Des Moines man who was intoxicated in a unique way: He'd consumed two bottles of mouthwash... Medics who came to the scene said the man has been drinking mouthwash habitually for more than 10 years. Most people would need to be hospitalized after drinking the mouthwash, but the man's body has become so accustomed to it that his vital signs were fine, officers said."

W*USA 9 News - "A woman confronted the clerk at the B-P Station on Bladensburg Road early Saturday morning, after the clerk demanded to see I D for the purchase of cigarettes. She went to the gas pumps and used a lighter to set several fires."

Robbery suspect locks keys in car - "Police described a 26-year-old Gary man as the "world's dumbest criminal" after he locked his keys in the car while allegedly robbing a city convenient store across the street from the police department."

Christmas robbery foiled by stupidity - "About an hour and a half later, Chevron employees again dialed 911 as the familiar red Honda pulled into the parking lot. Persitz and Barela had returned — this time to ask directions out of town. “I guess they got lost,” Playter surmised. “They’re not the brightest bulbs in the closet.”"

Pig not degraded by televised sexual experience, British watchdog rules - "In one of their more delicate rulings of recent years, British television watchdogs ruled that a pig sexually pleasured on television by a minor celebrity did not feel degraded by the experience."

Stewart Loses Contest in Prison - "Martha Stewart, who built a billion-dollar media empire based on her holiday and home decorating tips, was unable to lead her team to victory in a prison decoration contest, a magazine reported."

Monday, January 03, 2005

"There are three social classes in America: upper middle class, middle class, and lower middle class." - Judith Martin

***

Not A Girl
You're not a girl. You may look like a girl, sound like a girl and behave like a girl, but you're not one. Too bad. Shoo. Go do another quiz.

What kind of girl are you? (with pix!)
brought to you by Quizilla

More quizzes I've taken

***

My sister finds the following song annoying:

Power Rangers Dino Thunder - Theme

Power Rangers Roar!

There's a Light in the Distance
See them Coming Closer
With the Force of Ages
Centuries Gone By

Protectors of the Right
Defenders Sworn to Fight

Dino Rangers Roar!
Power Rangers Score!
Save us from these evil forces, win.
(Power Rangers Dino Thunder!)

Victory is Ours Forever More
Protectors of the Right
Defenders Sworn to Fight
(Power Rangers Dino Thunder!)

Dino Rangers Roar!
(Power Rangers Dino Thunder!)
Power Rangers Score!
(Power Rangers Dino Thunder!)
Save us from these evil forces, win.
(Power Rangers Dino Thunder!)

Dino Rangers Win!
(Power Rangers Dino Thunder!)
Power From Within!
(Power Rangers Dino Thunder!)
Victory is Ours Forever More
(Power Rangers Dino Thunder!)

***

'We have to protect people'

"What should we do with US classics like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or The Color Purple? "Dig a hole," Gerald Allen recommends, "and dump them in it." Don't laugh. Gerald Allen's book-burying opinions are not a joke... Last week, Bush's base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers' money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle"

[...]

Allen claims he is acting to "encourage and protect our culture". Does "our culture" include Shakespeare? I ask Allen if he would insist that copies of Shakespeare's sonnets be removed from all public libraries. I point out to him that Romeo and Juliet was originally performed by an all-male cast, and that in Shakespeare's lifetime actors and audiences at the public theatres were all accused of being "sodomites". When Romeo wished he "was a glove upon that hand", the cheek that he fantasised about kissing was a male cheek.

[...]

Forty years ago, the American defenders of "our culture" and "traditional values" were opposing racial integration. Now, no politician would dare attack Cornelius Carter for being black. But it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people for what they do in bed."

What's new?

A hundred years ago they were opposing gender equality. A hundred and sixty odd years ago they were opposing the emancipation of the slaves. And three hundred years ago they were slaughtering American Indians.

***

The Fallacy of hypothetical possibilities



The Catholic Encyclopedia argues that as long as they come up with possibilities, their opponents have no right to deny the two gospels can’t be harmonized.

The reader will observe that we suggest only possible answers to the difficulty; as long as such possibilities can be pointed out, our opponents have no right to deny that the genealogies which are found in the First and Third Gospel can be harmonized.

With all the dead ends I’ve catalogued, the best apologists can come up with is that as long as there are other possibilities, the Bible remains the infallible word of God. This is the secret to how religionists manage to hold on to their faith in inerrancy. It is not the fault of the evidence, because there is an abundance of it. It is their determination to ignore the evidence. Through conjecture and belief in miracles, anything is possible within the realm of human imagination.

If we exercise our imagination, it is possible Hitler and Elvis are alive. Teacher, the reason why I don’t have my homework is because it is possible my dog ate it. If I jump off a cliff, it is possible a wind will carry me safely to ground. It is possible that I was sent by Satan. It is possible that the Bible was written by aliens from outer space. The best example of denial I’ve seen is the Flat Earth Society.

(Jesus' Genealogy, from USBIBLE.COM: In defense of reality)

***

How effective are abstinence pledges? - "Studies show that abstinence campaigns do delay sexual activity, with pledgers first having sex an average of 18 months later than those who have made no such promise. But when they fall off the wagon - and many do - about a third do not use contraception. And those who have pledged to remain virgins until marriage have similar rates of sexually transmitted diseases as non-pledgers, according to a six-year study of the sex lives of 12,000 young Americans. "It's difficult to simultaneously prepare for sex and say you're not going to have sex," said Peter Bearman, of Columbia University, in presenting his findings earlier this year. "The message is really simple: 'Just say no' may work in the short term but doesn't work in the long term.""

Cretinism or Evilution?: Biblical Astronomy - "The latest advance in "creation science! A view advocated by some modern day creationists. The earth lies at the center of the universe. The sun revolves around the earth. All the remaining planets revolve around the sun, while the stars and distant galaxies; revolve around the sun on a daily basis."

Whale Evolution/Cetacean Evolution (Atavistic Hind Limbs on Modern Whales)
"I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself." - Marlene Dietrich

Random Playlist Song: Bach - Art Of Fugue - Contrapunctus XIV [Uncompleted] (The Delme Quartet, arr Robert Simpson)


Random Trivia bit: Of the five rivers of the underworld (those which separate Earth from Hades), Phlegethon is the River of Fire.

The others are: Acheron - River of Woe; Cocytus - River of Lamentation; Lethe - River of Forgetfulness; and Styx - River of Hate.

Less Common Greek Mythology

***

In anticipation of the new semester, here's something that Xephyris and I worked on in J2 (ah, those were the days):

The 5 6 Habits of Highly Slack People

1. Procrastination

Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?
If anything was worth doing, it'd have been done already


2. Cutting Corners

What they don't know won't hurt them.
Why do anything that doesn't actually need doing?
If it really needed to be done, then you must have done it already.

3. Get others to do the work

Why work when others can do the work for you?
The delegation of responsibility is an important skill.

4. Wait until other people do the work

Patience is a virtue.
If a job is worth doing, then get someone in to do it properly.

5. Pass off other people's work as your own

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
If someone has taken the trouble to do something well, why waste the effort?

No. 6 is a new one:

6. Chill out

All work and no play makes Bob a dull boy
Don't just find time, make it!


Further inspirational thoughts:

"I always meet my expectations because I don't expect very much"

"There's no inspiration like desperation"

***

The Genius of the SAF Mind by Oikono

Being locked up in the army camp and facing several belligerent officers for the past few days has made me ponder about how they think. As I argued for over 30 minutes with an officer last night, I noticed how their train of thought works: (generalization but applicable to most SAF people)

N.B. This post might be offensive if you are an SAF enthusiast or you are a regular. This post is meant to be a distillation of common SAF modes of thinking and does not apply to EVERYONE in SAF. If you belong to any of the categories and do not understand what is wrong with it, then...oh well, congratulations on being a full fledged military genius!

1) The Rules: You must follow the rules! I don't care what the logic behind the rules are. What matters most is the letter and not the spirit of the law!

2) The Rules are to be applied subjectively. That is it applies to you and not to me (because I have a higher rank)

3) You are NOT an individual. If I love Singapore, you must love Singapore too! Since I am an idiot, then you must be one too.

4) What I don't understand is clearly wrong!
(i.e. Recruit: Sir! I can't do a word document without Microsoft Words.
Officer: Huh? You are disobeying me?

5) To be a good person, you must be regimented! (bleh)

6) We rationalise how (badly) we treat you by telling you it builds character. (Plausibly true! But not a basis for treating human beings. Hmmmm...if you get cancer, let me show you the warmth of my heart by telling you how it builds character)

7) With great power comes great responsibility. Fuck lah! What lesponsibity? If anything goes wrong, its never our fault!

8) The Army: A Career that DEMANDS respect! We expect the respect (hey! we are regulars and officers!) without having done anything to earn it.

9) We gamble, smoke, race and visit prostitutes and we tell you that you can't play bridge in camp because its gambling. (Hey! The rules say that poker cards IS gambling...of course you can use Uno cards to play bridge. You could use Uno cards to gamble too but since its not Poker cards, its not gambling!)

10) I am a loser. Tell me why I signed on again? Ahhh...because I wish to compensate for penile inadequacy!

To officer Wins, I feel immense pity for you, as you are in a dead-end career, learning nothing, and having the intellectual liberation of a amoeba (sorry amoebas!). I loathe you, and I am sure you loathe yourself too, when you lie awake at night pondering your miserable existence.

***

Funky NTU modules:

Music: Adventures in Listening
Japanese Culture Through Chado (The Way of Tea)
Nature Appreciation: Singapore's Bird Life
Appreciation and Identification of Gemstones
Mind of Sun Tzu
Introduction to Tao for Effective Action Learning
Magic of Voice in the World of Singer


Suggested titles for the article on the NUS fee hikes that I was press-ganged into writing for the Arts Magazine - Insomniac:

"Only a Dike would agree to the Hike"

"Layoff the Dean and pay off the debts"

Gah.

Now to work on the "Why I hate Valentine's Day" article. This should be more fun.

***

It seems someone has already got caught by the new draconian copyright law, though the source sounds dubious.

Someone on sg_ljers (Singapore livejournal community) says his friend's cousin's classmate was visited by the police.

http://www.livejournal.com/community/sg_ljers/701928.html (membership required)

I can't see them catching too many people, though, or very soon many people are going to downgrade to 56K connections.

***

Someone on why conditioning your hair too often isn't good:

"ur hair will becum oily cos the conditioner isnt water soluble
did u know and then it will stay on ur scalp
block e oil pores"

Err. Right.

***

What is Liberal Education? - "Liberal education, including all the traditional arts as well as the newer sciences, is essential for the development of top-flight scientists. Without it, we can train only technicians, who cannot understand the basic principles behind the motions they perform. We can hardly expect such skilled automatons to make new discoveries of any importance. A crash program of merely technical training would probably end in a crashup for basic science."

Demon-Haunted Brain - "Five centuries ago demons haunted our world, with incubi and succubi tormenting their victims as they lay asleep in their beds. Two centuries ago spirits haunted our world, with ghosts and ghouls harassing their sufferers all hours of the night. Last century aliens haunted our world, with grays and greens abducting captives out of their beds and whisking them away for probing and prodding. Today people are experiencing out-of-body experiences, floating above their beds, out of their bedrooms, and even off the planet into space. What is going on here? Are these elusive creatures and mysterious phenomena in our world or in our minds? New evidence indicates that they are, in fact, a product of the brain."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

"If piracy means using the creative property of others without their permission, then the history of the content industry is a history of piracy." - Lawrence Lessig

***

My No. 1 fan blah blah on my angel letter (yes, it's finished!): u're like those mean preppy girls they always show on american movies, those mean bimbos

Then later: wa lao u're writing like one of those STForum writers ew
it sounds damn manufactured, like the ST editors got to it and edited it
it sound STERILE!

***

My mother thinks that brown streaks on the wall at waist level are actually traces of blue hair dye (which, after all, is applied to the head), and no amount of rational argument will dissuade her.

Bah.

***

Our smart students not willing to think critically

I FIND it ironic that after decades of praising the education system for producing students who are adept at memorising formulas, a skill that has enabled them to be world beaters in international mathematics and science competitions, the Government now wants youths who are able to express their opinions about what sort of Singapore they want to build.

Unfortunately, as in the case of the bilingual policy, we cannot have our cake and eat it, a fact that has taken the Government some time to figure out.

The more we reward students for their ability to memorise model answers, the less willing students will be to use their critical minds. Why should they risk getting low grades by expressing critical, unorthodox views when it is so easy for them to just be spoon-fed by their teachers?

In his article, 'Lost generation or future leaders: Our call' (ST, Dec 30), Mr Verghese Matthews questions whether figures of authority have instilled in young people the critical spirit and the moral courage to use it for the good of society.

He is optimistic that there is hope yet for Singapore's future: 'I am confident that there are many young critical thinkers in our society who are testing the waters.'

I applaud Mr Matthews' attempt to bring into public discussion the question of whether enough is being done to encourage critical thinking among Singaporean youths, but alas his article has come two decades too late for my generation.

Having gone to a top secondary school and junior college, and now doing my undergraduate studies at a local university, I can safely say that there is an appalling lack of passionate, critical thinkers, even among the intellectual elite of Singapore's youth.

It is not that my generation does not have smart people with critical-thinking skills. The problem is that too many of my peers lack the moral courage to speak out after going through an education system that rewards conformity and punishes originality.

We have become a generation of sheep, too afraid to challenge the authority of our herders. The few wolves left among us who do challenge the status quo run the risk of being labelled as anarchists and troublemakers.

It is no wonder that many have become so jaded that they no longer feel it worth their while to carry on expressing their views, choosing instead to either remain quiet or to head for greener pastures elsewhere, in which case they run the risk of being labelled as 'quitters'.

In both cases, the ultimate loser is Singapore, for conformity results in stagnation, while 'invention is always born of dissension', as the French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard so rightly pointed out.

In 1784, the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote his famous essay 'What is Enlightenment?' in which he appealed to his countrymen to have the courage and resolution to use their own reasoning skills instead of blindly depending on the authority of so-called experts. More than two centuries on and in a country far away from his beloved Prussia, his emotional appeal still remains relevant.

Sadly, the works of Kant seldom take pride of place on the bookshelves of many of our policy-makers, who would much rather fill their shelves with more 'practical' books, such as those by economist John Maynard Keynes.

The price Singapore is paying for their narrow reading habits is an entire generation of lost sheep: Gen S. My generation.

Jamie Han Li Chou


The only question I have: What does the "S" in "Gen S." stand for?

Friend: "Generation suck-thumb"


Singabloodypore: "I have had many students come to me after lectures and tell me that I should not criticise, that criticsim is negative. The mis-conception of criticism as fault finding, and argumentative or unnecessary is a myth in the land of 'lah-lah'.

If you wish to be creative the first thing to be done is to tear apart, or break into small pieces, and then put it back together. You must learn how it works and as with a car engine that means taking it apart. To the untrained layperson it appears destructive or negative. It is the necessary first step."

***

Someone on Choose Your Own Adventure books:

"I just finished reading Showdown, and I don't like the way they illustrate the reader as a female. I know that's not the only book in the series to do that, and it always irritates me when I see that because it's very demeaning and insulting to be called a girl. I know that the books were probably read and enjoyed by both genders and that they were probably trying to be fair since girls might not like to be
called boys; but what they really should've done is put out two versions of each book, one that illustrates the reader as a boy and one that illustrates the reader as a girl."

wth?!

Someone else:

"I've heard it said that [Michael] Moorcock speedwrote many of his fantasy novels while drunk on whisky, but I have no idea if it's true."

Heh heh

***

One thing that intrigues me is how non-evolutionists like to accuse evolutionists of believing that it is right and proper for the fit to lord it over the weak, because of the theory of the Survival of the Fittest. Some even attempt to propagate a form of Social Darwinism, ala Herbert Spencer, which most evolutionists rightly recoil at.

However, if anything evolutionists are much less likely than non-evolutionists to believe in Natural Law theory - that what is natural is good, and that what is natural is not good. It is precisely because we see that nature is, as Hobbes observed, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" that we recognise that the natural state of things is not necessarily right and proper.


"I cannot forbear adding to these reasonings an observation, which may, perhaps, be found of some importance. In every system of morality, which I have hitherto met with, I have always remark'd, that the author proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs; when of a sudden I am surpriz'd to find, that instead of the usual copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is imperceptible; but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, 'tis necessary that it should be observ'd and explain'd; and at the same time that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution, I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that this small attention wou'd subvert all the vulgar systems of morality, and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceiv'd by reason."

David Hume - A Treatise of Human Nature,
Book III: Of Morals,
Part I: Of Virtue and Vice in General,
Section I: Moral Distinctions Not Deriv'd From Reason

***

"The rhetorical trick of presenting a false dichotomy (or false set of more options than two) is very popular. You often see a version of it in Christian evangelical literature. Christ, they say, claimed to be the son of God. He must have been telling the truth, lying or mad. There is no evidence that he was a liar or mad, so therefore he must have been telling the truth.

Of course, the problem is again that the options presented don't exhaust the possibilities. Jesus may well not have claimed any such thing - the Gospels may be unreliable. He may also have meant something more metaphorical. After all, in Genesis it is said that "When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose." (6:1-2) So clearly being the son of God isn't a unique achievement and may mean something less than it is usually taken to be. Whichever way you look at it, there are more than the three options presented."

***

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