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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Search Referrals - 12th February 2005

More Search Engine Referrals:

Fansubbed episodes of Japanese Transformers downloads - TV-Nihon, 'nuff said

songs about the book of revelations - Sing with me now: 144,000 (celibate) men in heaven, 144,000 (celibate) men. Take one down, pass him around, 143,999 (celibate) men in heaven...

homepage men in panties caught

GI JOE "ding ding dong" - I love the GI Joe Remix Featuring You Touch My Tra La La at ebaumsworld.com

completely naked woman pictures fighting - fly tree tree sex contest - I think this person was looking for "A Chinese Torture Chamber Story"

how many boyfriends have u had emma watson

competitors on ramly burger - Nothing can compare to the unsanitary, salt-of-the-earth taste of Ramly!

Was Hillary Swank a Power Ranger?

power rangers ninja storm: tori photo gallery - I searched for this a while back. Too bad I got Nothing.

filipino nurses working in singapore looking for friendship

age adjusted petticoat discipline for males

cult girl sex singapore

soul blazer illusion of gaia buddhist - I thought that was a game.

men wearing sanitary napkins - How does one wear a sanitary napkin? I must try it someday - if I stick enough of them on myself, it should work.

gssq straits times singapore photograph class - Wth?!

"sumiko tan" casino - I thought she only wrote about her haemorrhoids.

portugese moustache gay men having sex with theirs fathers.com

"liters of cum" drink girls free - You think you can get liters of cum for nothing ah? I'll have you know that this is a very labour intensive product which requires a great deal of manhours to produce.

sheena d cups blogspot - Try blurty.

"vomiting" wmv

poems about military defence

RI boys naked

sama sama maju... kawan kawan malay song - Pandai chari, pelajaran

polytheist agnostic brown green yellow blue

pouring fake menstrual blood on prisoners

eyebrow plucking in islam - I bet it's haram.

nude taufik

vitagen vs yakult - I only go for the genuine Japanese product, not the Malaysian ripoff.

Online journals= improve writing skills among upper primary =Malaysians school

discrimination against ah beng

akira fubuki porn gone wrong - After 'Girls Gone Wild', we have 'Porn Gone Wrong'. What's next?

ntu chiobu photo

fbt shorts lining - I didn't even know they had lining.

The School With The Most Indecent Uniform In Singapore Bar None

issues of syber sex in the philippines - Syber sex is cinful

raffles video clip rape

Singapore rgs girl guide leader Ranger - They have rangers?! Unless this is some sort of mutated Sentai-Cosplay thing, I don't think so.

prediction of rabbit lucky numbers for 2005

cherries blog, rgs - I don't even want to know what this person was thinking about.

weird pictures larvae in breast - Yeah, baby, yeah! I'm the first hit for this. (Too bad I'm no longer #3 for 'boob job jennifer ellison'. Boo hoo.)

maria hertogh suicide - Perhaps she committed suicide after finding out how her name and story were being used for Social Engineering purposes, and emlazoned in Secondary 2 history textbooks.

"felicia" "rgs" "anorexic"

Duke cheng shaolin kung fu in california

steven lim ejaculation
"There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don't." - Robert Benchley

Random Playlist Song: Bach - BWV 996 Suite in E minor for Solo Lute - 03 Courante

The sound of the lute is so much more pleasant and refined (at least to my uncultured ears) than that of the guitar, though it does sound slightly messier.

***

A project group from NTU Mass Communications wanted to interview me and a friend about blogging.

18 hours before the interview, they called it off because my "entries r generally on issues and stuffs" and so "it does not really go in line with the topic".

I hope they plan their next project better.


Panelist 1: maybe u can snub them online, by emailing them a video clip of you flicking your lustrous long locks in their faces
or maybe a video clip of your jiggling moobs :P

Panelist 2: spam them with that prince dude's pics [Ed: Asian Prince]

Panelist 3: i'll be angry on your behalf.

@#!@#@Q#!~@

***

donaq recounts an anecdote:

"*after a long discussion*

Me: So genocide is justified if God commanded it?
Some blood god pimp in NTU: Yes.
Me: So supposing God told you to hijack a plane and crash it into the Petronas
Towers because Islamic countries are sinks of great iniquity, you'd do it?
Him: Yes.
Me: I have nothing more to say to you, psycho.
Him: *tries to say something*
Me: *leaves*

I swear this conversation took place. Frightening."

I think even if their god came down to them and told them that evolution were true and that the fundies had got it wrong in many other ways, they wouldn't believe him.

Splendid.


loupgarou points me to this thread on Channelnewsasia.com's forums:

Darwinism and the bible..a conflict??

The thread is really damn sad. Even the worst US creationist forums don't look as bad as that one.

I guess Singapore is pathetic, oh well.


A response to the Embryogenesis picture:

"Haeckel's embryology pictures were based on von Baer's original work. Take a look at the original drawings by von Baer http://home.tiscalinet.ch/biografien/sources/baer_embryos.htm and read his biography under http://www.zbi.ee/baer/biography.htm. You will notice that he was against "evolution" and thus not likely to modify drawings to make them more in line with Darwin's Evolution.

If you want to see more recent photographs of human embryos showing the tail and the gill buds, you could look at http://www.nurseminerva.co.uk/tailbud.htm or http://www.med.unc.edu/embryo_images/unit-welcome/welcome_htms/akgs.htm. Similar images can be found for chicken, fish etc..."

Also: another interesting tidbit - "The fact that all land vertebrates have seven neck vertrebrae in indeed very interesting. Regardless of the length of the neck they stick to this number. That's very difficult to understand from the point of view of Intelligent Design..."


Me on hair: will you grow it out again?

Someone: yup... supposed to
cos of dance

Me: haha why do dance girls need long hair?
is swirling your hair a pre-req?

Someone: we need long hair to tie our hair up

Me: haha that's silly
why have long hair if you tie it up
why not have short hair then

Someone: haha uniformity mah

Me: ...
ask everyone to cut lah

Someone: it's neater lah. as in can tie up so no hair on your face when you dance

Me: crew cut lor
or hair clips
that's weird logic [hers, not mine

Someone: haha
isn't it unsettling to see a troupe of bald girls dancing

Me: hahahahhaha
break barriers!


Someone else: I'm surprised you can stand the banal innocence of mozart

Me: I don't dissect my music, I enjoy it :)
it depends on what you're looking for, really

do you view music as a critique of or commentary on reality?
I just view it as something to enjoy

Someone else: it should be primarily beauty
descriptive things should be left to soundtracks

Me: yeah I don't find atonal or anti-tonal (so to speak) music beautiful

***

Some gems from the January 2004 archives:

On faith: The philosopher Ronald de Sousa once memorably described philosophical theology as "intellectual tennis without a net," and I readily allow that I have indeed been assuming without comment or question up to now that the net of rational judgment was up. But we can lower it if you really want to. it's your serve. Whatever you serve, suppose I return service rudely as follows: "What you say implies that God is a ham sandwich wrapped in tinfoil. That's not much of a God to worship!" If you then volley back, demanding to know how I can logically justify my claim that your serve has such a preposterous implication, I will reply: "Oh, do you want the net up for my returns, but not for your serves? Either the net stays up, or it says down. If the net is down, there are no rules and anybody can say anything, a mug's game if there ever was one. I have been giving you the benefit of the assumption that you would not waste your own time or mine by playing with the net down."


Suppose, however, that God did give this law to the Jews, and did tell them that whenever a man preached a heresy, or proposed to worship any other God that they should kill him; and suppose that afterward this same God took upon himself flesh, and came to this very chosen people and taught a different religion, and that thereupon the Jews crucified him; I ask you, did he not reap exactly what he had sown? What right would this god have to complain of a crucifixion suffered in accordance with his own command? - Robert G. Ingersoll

--- A quote on Jewish law and sentencing deviants to death that I always want to reuse, but never manage to find on Google (keywords: Jesus Christ, sentenced to death, blasphemy, killed him)

(From: Some Mistakes of Moses: XXVIII: 'Inspired' Religious Liberty (The Works of Robert G. Ingersoll: Volume II (Lectures) [1900]))


raintree tries his her hand at answering the question on genocide:

"I can explain this.

You see, in Old Testament times, the way God ruled was: disobey me, and I'll zap you. Obey me, and I'll reward you handsomely. Sin must be removed, eradicated etc etc or else Israel will get into trouble with God. Every sin must also be paid for with a blood sacrifice (this is true both then and now).

The Amalekites were a sinful people, and their presence would be a sinful influence on Israel, and God's chosen people cannot have sin in the camp. Therefore they were exterminated.

Let me repeat again: this was in Old Testament time. Old Testament time, unlike New Testament time, was not a period of grace. Secondly, do not confuse Israel with the Church. Israel is God's chosen people. They are two different entities. The Church is under grace, both in New Testament and post-New Testament (i.e. now) times. Christians are not Isralites/Israelis, and vice versa. Today's Israelis are NOT Christians, the main difference being that they're still waiting for the Messiah to come to earth. Christians, however, believe that Christ (the Messiah) has come, been crucified, rose again, and gone up to Heaven.

The Old Testament accounts of Israel exterminating evil people (in God's standards) and of Israel being punished when it itself sinned against God is to show us that humankind can never attain God's standards of holiness, and that grace is needed. That's why God sent his Son Christ down to die for humankind--a perfect sacrifice for all, that by His grace those who believe can be saved.

I hope this makes some sense. :)

"How can anyone gain faith reading a bible unless they've been brainwashed into its assumptions by a charismatic preacher, friends or family prior to reading the book?"

My reply to such a person would be: I haven't been brainwashed. I always consider all viewpoints with respect to things said in the Book. :)"

My reply:

But then the Christian god is supposed to be both unchanging and omnibenevolent.

If he wanted to rule that way - so be it. But one so grotesque and repellent as to choose the path of blood and death has no right to set himself up as a bastion of morality and goodness, and no right to demand worship.

Respect is earned, not demanded.


The debate on my Anti-Halal Manifesto has ended on a good note (No, NiHL, do *NOT* go there).

ceci is right that, in the past and at present, where religions have met and come into conflict, much misery has resulted.

I argue that this is not because people have been discussing, comparing and examining religion(s) critically, but because they instead have been engaging in "rumour-mongering, fiery rhetoric, FUD-ing and one-sided preaching", not to mention trying to impose their beliefs on each other.

In any case, "our ultimate objectives aren't in conflict".

***

Here's your chance to play finance minister - Pretend you're Singapore's Finance Minister

It is interesting to note that Defence is taken as an endogenous variable - so much for sacking incompetent regulars to raise productivity and total output.


Overheard (on the SAF and deterrence): "in fact, part of the reason why one needs a credible defence force is to act as a deterrent. but as i also pointed out, being credible is more than size and/or expenditure. i assure you that russia in 1905 and 1914 had a very large army. but the army was also very incredible, in more ways than one. which led to its embarrassing defeats at the hands of like everyone else."

And on our dear Israeli friends, whom we are often compared to: ""...Labor-saving advances in military technology have further reduced the need to draft every able-bodied 18-year-old. For instance, the soldiers who once did the math required for aiming artillery batteries have been replaced by computers. At the same time, the I.D.F. hates losing, after three years, conscripts in whom it has invested enormous resources preparing for the future battlefield of high-tech missiles, sophisticated tanks, computerized avionics.

To lose the bums and keep the techies, the army is considering shrinking the intake of draftees, chosen perhaps by lottery to ensure enough grunts, while recruiting volunteers for the better jobs by offering salaries designed to attract and retain prime talent. The reserves may go professional too, à la the U.S. National Guard. One senior officer suggests the army keep only a third of the 600,000 reservists now on the books. The rest, he says, "would be kept in abeyance for Armageddon."

Some army commanders worry that dividing the military and civilian worlds would remove the I.D.F. from the central place it occupies in Israeli life. And ditching the draft would mean losing a unifying force that does help stitch together an immigrant society. A professional army would be less enchanting than a citizens' force—but it might make more sense."

singapore's population, at 4 million, is not far behind israel's, which is now slightly under 7 million. perhaps it's time to do some compare and contrast?"

Friday, February 11, 2005

"Why do you have to be a nonconformist like everybody else?" - James Thurber

Random Playlist Song: Prokofiev - Romeo And Juliet Suite No. 2 - Montagues and Capulets

Prokofiev?! What's Prokofiev doing on my computer? Aiee!!!!! My ears...

(Okay, this piece isn't that bad, which is why it's still on my system)

***

I just had a look at my Picosearch Internal Search Engine stats.



What are you people doing?!

***

The archives from December 2001 have been restored, and I've helpfully marked the restored posts, like so: Restored Post

Highlights:

- Reading how stilted my blogging style used to be, composing mostly of hurriedly transcribed notes and observations
- Introspection and reflection on slavery (you don't see much introspection and reflection on these pages these days), in the days when I didn't get 400 unique hits a day and thus felt less inhibited
- Damning critiques on the Stupidity, Senselessness and Sadism of Slavery

1 month down, 12 months to go.

***

Who is You-Know-Who?

"The names can be used to draw a parallel between Voldemort and God (Old Testament)... So, man is not allowed to pronounce God's name. God himself on the other hand does this quite a bit, AND has a fondness of speaking of himself in the third person.

... Something really hit me when I re-read GoF and OotP this week: the scene in the graveyard and the scene in the Hall of Prophecies. In the graveyard, Voldemort says, "Listen to me, reliving family history... (he said quietly.) 'Why, I am growing quite sentimental... but look Harry! My true family returns....'" The word "true" is in italics (i.e. emphasised), and it's ambiguous whether it's Voldemort or JKR doing the emphasising (possibly both). So, who is Voldemort's true family? His Death Eaters, of course; a small number of faithful followers who follow him and who do his bidding. In OotP, we learn that Voldemort had many other followers, people who supported him without being DEs (e.g. the Black family).

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" and stretching out his hand towards his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father, is my brother, and sister, and mother." Jesus' true family are those who follow him (and the will of God), Voldemort's true family are those who follow him. Also, the parallel between Jesus and Voldemort in the graveyard can be established in many other ways: Voldemort is restored to his body, "resurrected" you might even say. Sure, he was never truly dead, but then you could argue that Jesus wasn't either since per definition, a god is immortal. Plus, with the whole Trinity thing, it'd be hard to say that Jesus was 100% dead, as the Father and Holy Spirit supposedly were still alive to perform the miracles at the crucifixion.

Further, the DEs approach Voldemort with the same wonder and disbelief as Jesus' disciples when THEY first saw their master resurrected (note also how the DEs and the Disciples all use "Master" and "Lord" when they address their masters)."

Ahh, the wonders of literature. One can make the text say anything they wish it to.

***

"Of philosophers

Notwithstanding the fashionable irreligion which prevailed in the age of the Antonines, both the interests of the priests and the credulity of the people were sufficiently respected. In their writings and conversation, the philosophers of antiquity asserted the independent dignity of reason; but they resigned their actions to the commands of law and of custom. Viewing, with a smile of pity and indulgence, the various errors of the vulgar, they diligently practised the ceremonies of their fathers, devoutly frequented the temples of the gods; and sometimes condescending to act a part on the theatre of superstition, they concealed the sentiments of an Atheist under the sacerdotal robes. Reasoners of such a temper were scarcely inclined to wrangle about their respective modes of faith, or of worship. It was indifferent to them what shape the folly of the multitude might choose to assume; and they approached, with the same inward contempt, and the same external reverence, the altars of the Libyan, the Olympian, or the Capitoline Jupiter."

- Edward Gibbon, The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire. In The West - Chapter II (Of the Union and Internal Prosperity of the Roman Empire in the Age of the Antonines)

Someone: gibbons (Ed: sic) argues that the enlightened elite in the high roman era were contempuous of religion, but as men of culture continued to pay respect to religion

Me: so should be do likewise? haha

Someone: i do.

Me: let's just say that in the Roman Empire, religion wasn't taken as seriously as it is now, nor were its effects as pernicious.

Someone: hm...."now" meaning the 20th or the 15th?
seriously i doubt...pernicious definitely

Me: now meaning the *21st*, but of course the 15th also
polytheism is much more friendly than monotheism, generally.

eh
gibbon wrote in the 18th century lah
where did 15th century come in

Someone: just an example....well the 18th century was the time of the enlightenment.
more specifically, the god of abraham. ugh.

Me: what about that god? proclaiming his omnibenevolence and perfection yet failing to live up to it
the pagan gods never said they were perfect or all-loving

Later...

Someone in an earlier SMS: Curious. How do christians view the lord's command to samuel to wage genocide upon the amalekites in 1 samuel 15? I mean...How can anyone gain faith reading a bible unless they've been brainwashed into its assumptions by a charismatic preacher, friends or family prior to reading the book?

Me: "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

SAB note: God orders Saul to kill all of the Amalekites: men, women, infants, sucklings, ox, sheep, camels, and asses. Why? Because God remembers what Amalek did hundreds of years ago.

There are a few answers as to how genocide is justified:
- we cannot understand or question this god
- they had offended him, so they got their just desserts
- the consequences of disobeying this god are somehow hereditary, so it is just to punish descendants
- killing children saves them from growing up in sin and going to hell, since innocent children go to heaven

any more you can think of?

Someone: i think the above is sufficient and sickening enough.

Me: the justifications? yeah
if all evil can be justified, good and evil lose their meaning
so much for morality
which fundies like to harp about

Someone: yet another rebuttal for people who claim "the bible" as their basis of morality.

Me: indeed.

Certum est, quia impossible est. - Tertullian
(The fact is certain because it is impossible)

damn I'm using that line too much
but it's such a great line
"Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution yet." - Mae West

Random Playlist Song: Kumi Sasaki - JIKU ~ Mirai Sentai Timeranger

Go over time and space...

Beyond the future, ride on the future
Live on my dream, live on my soul


(Full lyrics)

This is the only Sentai theme I've heard so far that I've liked. Well, the DaiRanger one is okay, but doesn't really have that oomph.

***

KOTOR 2 (PC) Shipped to Stores

"Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords for the PC has officially shipped and will slash its way into stores on February 10, 2005. The highly anticipated next chapter successfully launched December 6, 2004 on Xbox.

The Sith Lords picks up five years after the events of the original KOTOR and features an all-new perilous storyline, as well as new characters, classes, locations and force powers.

The PC version features high-resolution textures, optimized screen resolutions and a variety of other graphic card enhancements."

Woo hoo!

***

When I was younger I hated going to weddings... it seemed that all of my aunts and the grandmotherly types used to come up to me, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, 'You're next.'

They stopped that crap after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

***

Yes! I finally got 10/10 correct playing the game Fake Or Not.com.

And Blogger's upgraded its comments and post editing infrastructures. Maybe I'll finally get down to restoring my army stories from Dec 2001 - Dec 2002.

Meanwhile, you can download Fabled Lands 1, 3, 4 and 6 from the fabled_lands Yahoo Group!

***

Me: are they screwed up girls?

Someone: aiyoh you have to define screwed up
to me it sounds like prostitutes


wth?!


Someone: tell them i'm 16. i look the part.
seriously. it's a terrible curse.

Me: heh it's good to be young

Someone: only if you want to date underaged girls

***

What style of online writing annoys you most?

a) It gt 2 b dis typ: cuz it showz dat dey is fik
b) ThIs TyPe: It JuSt LoOkS sTuPiD..
c) ALL CAPITALS: THE STYLE OF THE ATTENTION SEEKER!
d) Consistent proper English: We are not at school!


It's a toss-up between a) and b)

***

Salon has a very interesting interview with "Ruben Bolling", the mystery man behind the comic strip "Tom the Dancing Bug" (which sometimes is too wacky and weird even for me, and that's saying something).

"Interviewer: Personally, I love the God-Man strips. They're silly and subversive.

Interviewee: While that is also quite popular, God-Man gets very negative reactions -- more than any other character, in fact. People seem to take offense to any comments about religion. It's sort of ironic because these same people wonder why there is very little discussion of religion in American culture, but when I introduce the subject, their tendency is to want to shut it down. They seem to miss the point: God-Man isn't actually God. He is a straw man that I'm using to make fun of some people's very simplistic views about religion and philosophy. They literally forget that and think that I'm offending God Himself with these strips."

I agree with the interviewer about the best strip, though: The Humane Foie Gras Farm, of which a transcript follows:

FOIE GRAS! That quintessential gourment treat has only one drawback -- the nasty ethical aftertaste of knowing it's made from the distended livers of ducks and geese that have had pneumatic tubes repeatedly rammed down their esophagus, mechanically pumping them full of corn paste.

At the Humane Foie Gras Farm, we induce obesity in our ducks not through brute force, but by simply giving them the lifestyle and privileges we all enjoy as Americans!

Every Sunday, our ducks are seated in LA-Z-Boy chairs to watch hours of TV, surrounded by a dizzying array of cheese products, starch products, and cheese-filled starch products!

Five days a week, our ducks are rendered sedentary in small cubicles, where the only food available in the short breaks allowed them are from snack machines and fast food outlets!

Meals are presented to our ducks in obscenely huge portions, squeezed in next to densely caloric side dishes, super-sized, value-packed and all-you-can-eat gluttonized!

Finally, our ducks are subjected to work and family stress so severe, they find themselves alone in the kitchen at 4 A.M., stuffing peanut butter sandwiches down their throats!

The FOIE GRAS IS SUBLIME, AND YOU CAN ENJOY IT KNOWING IT WAS CULTIVATES IN THE MOST HUMANE -- INDEED, HUMAN -- WAY POSSIBLE!

Duck: Uh... Actually, we'd prefer the pneumatic tube.

***

New Scientist Senses special: The art of seeing without sight

"The painter is Esref Armagan. And he is here in Boston to see if a peek inside his brain can explain how a man who has never seen can paint pictures that the sighted easily recognise - and even admire. He paints houses and mountains and lakes and faces and butterflies, but he's never seen any of these things. He depicts colour, shadow and perspective, but it is not clear how he could have witnessed these things either. How does he do it?

Because if Armagan can represent images in the same way a sighted person can, it raises big questions not only about how our brains construct mental images, but also about the role those images play in seeing. Do we build up mental images using just our eyes or do other senses contribute too? How much can congenitally blind people really understand about space and the layout of objects within it? How much "seeing" does a blind person actually do?"

***

Secular vs. Sacred, Universal vs. Multicultural

"A tolerant society is an open and vigorous one, not a closed and stifled society; not one in which you tolerate absurdities, violence and injustices because they are being perpetrated by a religion. In a tolerant society criticism and opposing views are allowed. Is a society tolerant in which in the name of respecting religion and culture, it is not allowed to say or write things which, followers of this or that religion, do not want to hear or to read? And when it is vital to question and to criticise any kind of religion and religious ideas and practices, there are attempts to silence you?

... If the government really wants to create religious harmony and a tolerant society, it should abolish all religious schools, and de-religionise the legal and educational system and the public life. But what they are striving for is to place religion in a realm beyond ordinary argument, and give it an upper hand, and it is happening now."

***

The Naturalistic Fallacy and Sophie’s Choice - "Genetically modified food, cloning, sustainable development, and pollution are some of the issues that today demand expedited answers and entail making difficult choices. Should we preserve nature or procure human development? Should we increase our control or reduce it? Do we have the right to change nature? However, some of these questions and their possible answers are driven by the naturalistic fallacy, the belief that nature is essentially good. Many of the fears and misconceptions shaping our options and influencing our choices are by-products of this fallacy. From our distrust of artificial things to the fear of tampering with the natural order, the following are some of the most common distortions behind the human vs. nature debate."

Discovery Phase - "The Discovery Institute made a key tactical error. Somehow, a document that seems to bare the true soul of the institute leaked onto the Web. You can read it here, with Discovery's gloss on it. Unfortunately, not even the most consummate rhetorician could explain away lines like, "Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions." Once it lets its guard down, anti-evolutionism hasn't changed a bit."

How to play the French service game ... and win - - "What I've learnt in 11 years of living in France is that getting good service here is anything but a divine right. It's like learning to play a computer game. You've got to press the right buttons or it will be game over before you have had a chance to buy a single croissant."

Retro Find 1.0 - "Using the diff provided in this thread on MozillaZine's forums, I was able to construct a rudimentary extension that reverts the find bar in Firefox to its original find dialog."
In the words of idbehold: "HOLY SH!T I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, You put all mozilla devs to shame with your extension alone. This has to be the best thing since sliced bread, I LOVE YOU!"

Ilios - The Iliad, Manga style. Noooooo...

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Links - 9th February 2005

(This post has been detached after posting from the one below)

Wife accused of giving man lethal enema - "Investigators say a Lake Jackson woman caused her husband's death by giving him a sherry enema, causing his blood alcohol level to surge to 0.47 percent - almost six times the legal intoxication limit."

Monkeys pay for sexy pics - Macaques swap juice for a glimpse of leaders' faces and females' rears. - "To a monkey, some things are worth looking at more than others. A US study has shown that rhesus macaques will pay to look at images of powerful or sexually interesting fellows."

Students: Strip Your Way to Riches - "Parents in Palo Alto, California, just south of San Francisco, are up in arms over a recent "career day" speaker who glorified the profession of stripper, including strong encouragement that having a larger bust would equal higher pay. The larger breasts speaker Fried explained, didn't need to be natural, but could be implants. His comment on this to students embarrassed many when he said, "For every two inches up there, it's another $50,000 in income.""

Spelling bee nixed because it 'leaves child behind' - "A school district in Rhode Island canceled its annual spelling bee this year because administrators decided the crowning of only one winner violates the main principle of the federal No Child Left Behind Act – that all children should succeed."

Married love ends in divorce - "An intense cyber affair between a Jordanian man and woman turned ugly when the couple met and turned out to be already married -- to each other... According to Petra, upon seeing Sanaa, Bakr turned white and screamed three times "you are divorced" which is the traditional manner of officially ending a marriage in some cultures. Sanaa told him he was a liar before swooing in a faint."

International Gay Rodeo Association - "Wild Drag Race - The Wild Drag Race is an audience favorite all across the IGRA rodeo circuit. Even though the competition is serious and the payoff sizable, a large number of competitors also believe this to be a very entertaining event for the audience. The drag costumes come from "Goodwill" stores, from second-hand stores, and many from raiding mom's closet. A team is made up of one male, one female, one "drag" (either male or female), and one wild steer."

www.clean-your-screen-for-free-now.com

Rugby Fan Cuts off Own Testicles - "A Welsh rugby fan cut off his own testicles after his team beat England, police confirmed today... It was reported that the man told his friends: “If Wales win I’ll cut my own balls off.”"

The Nobel prize in economics diminishes the value of all other Nobel prizes - "A member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences proposes that the prize in economics should be broadened in scope or abolished. The prize in economic sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel is most frequently awarded to economists who, by using mathematics and disregarding political views, claim that they can prove optimal ways of organizing
society. These attempts at mimicking the objectivity and methods of the natural sciences are not acceptable. The economics prize diminishes the value of the other Nobel prizes. If the prize is to be kept, it must be broadened in scope and be disassociated with Nobel. This is the view of, among others Peter Jagers, professor of mathematics who is also a member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Science who awards the prize."

SPD Emergency! / Men with Long Hair in Singapore / NUS's rankings / Overheard / Intelligent Design and Begging the Question / Self-Contradictory Notices / Copyright / God and Miracles

"Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it." - P. J. O'Rourke

I hope no one dies when reading Balderdash!, then

***

A new season has started! Power Rangers SPD - protecting Earth from evil space aliens.


SPD emergency!

Ahh...

Power Rangers SPD,
Power Rangers to the rescue!

Go, Go, Go, Go!

Power Rangers SPD,
Power Rangers to the rescue!

Go, Go, Go, Go!

Heroes on your side,
Heroes for all time,
Out to save the universe!

No matter where you are,
If it's near or far,
You can always call out

Space Patrol,
Space Patrol,
Space Patrol,
Space Patrol Delta!

Go, Go, Go, Go, Go, Go

Power Rangers Go!

Power Rangers SPD,
Power Rangers to the rescue,
Go, Go, SPD!


The theme indeed lives up to the promise of the demo tape; Aaron Waters aka Ron Wasserman is back to do the music for Power Rangers SPD, not having been on the show since the early Zeo days! And I must say the music (theme and score for the show) is fantastic.

All 5 rangers are also American - no more annoying assumed American accents!

***


"Males with long hair will be attended to last"

More Keywords: "Men with long hair", "Guys with long hair"

FriskoDude dug this up some time ago, so I decided to see how many of the criteria I flout.


"Hair falling across the forehead and touching the eyebrows" - My finger points to my eyebrow. Check.


"Hair covering the ears" - I am pointing to the bottom of my earlobe. Check.


"Hair reaching below an ordinary shirt collar" - This one's not so clear, but you can see the hair at the right of the picture reaching below my collar. I have a short neck, so the hair at the back of my head isn't as long as it might seem, but - heck. Check.

Now let's hope I get a decent hair length by the time the next semester opens!


My uncle told me last night that he had longer hair than me in the 70s, reaching down to his upper back. I asked if he was ever served last, and he said that if anyone did that you could just give them a piece of your mind, so.

***

NUS beats Princeton, Cornell in social sciences ranking

"The National University of Singapore (NUS) has come out ahead of well-known American institutions like Princeton, Cornell and Columbia in a worldwide ranking of universities for the social sciences.

In the latest survey results, released by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES), NUS came in 10th among 101 universities. Princeton came 11th, Cornell 13th and Columbia 14th."

I recall that when the prior ranking came out, some people pointed out that much of the ranking depended on "peer review" - asking academics their opinions of various universities in their region, and so all the PRC academics who feted NUS for its Science and Engineering faculties boosted it disproportionately.

This time, this is much less of a factor than previously, so.

***

Someone on an essay: i can't believe it
i'm using an irc log as one of my references

:0


Someone on the Miranda Forums: "Can i use "By some mysterious process, it makes people change nicknames more often than they changes their clothes" as a sig pleaaaase? :)"


A heartening tale:

"I also believe in secular philosophies too...unfortunately my herdmates still don't...

did I tell you my bro and I have started going into deconversion...
he deconverted one of his friends...by instilling in him a lack of self-doubt...
telling him that all he needed to do in life was to change the way he acted and thought to become more confident...
and even imparted him some pickup skills...

basically he told his friend that God does nothing, and all that Xtianity does is take your self-doubt away by placing it in the idea of a "God" and giving you friends in church..."

Verily, this tale puts me to shame; I haven't been doing my part.

***

Those who support Intelligent Design over Evolution, when shown clear cases of bad design, like to argue that this semeingly bad design may in fact be good - we just don't know it yet. Champions of theodicy likewise argue that what may seem to be bad or evil may in fact be necessary to further the greater good - we similarly lack the wisdom to see it.

The problem with this line of thinking - second guessing our judgment or knowledge, besides the obvious one of starting with a conclusion and then working backwards, torturing all the data to fit the conclusion, which happily makes the conclusion unfalsifiable, is that then anything may be justified. Heads I win, tails you lose. The game is rigged against reason and reality.

For example: The Holocaust was justified because it serves the greater good! In that case, why blame Hitler and the Nazis? What they did after all was in service of a greater good.

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength. This sort of Orwellian Double Talk does nobody any good.

Hell, two can play at this game. Who's to say that what looks like good design is not in fact bad design? All supposed proof of an Intelligent Designer may then work against him. Might we not posit that all the arguments that ID theorists use may not one day come crashing down on them?

Who's to say that what looks like goodness, grace, benevolence and blessings is not ultimately, in the long run, bad?

***

You come across the following notice on the wall:

"All notices posted on this wall will be considered illegal. -- By order"

Would you be legally bound by it?

If the prohibition declared by the notice is valid, then it will also include itself. This means that the notice itself is considered illegal. If it is illegal, its declaration cannot be legal.

The notice itself is a self-contradictory statement.


Unfortunately, this argument won't hold up in a court of law, especially not a Singaporean one.


In other news about screwed up law:

When is copying not right? Here's a video guide

"Like that image you see on the Internet? Don't even think about copying it for your presentation. You may end up on the wrong side of the law... owners of copyrighted material can bring civil suits against violators. And there is provision for copyright owners to pursue damages of up to $200,000 under the Act.

'IP owners have the right to institute civil action against all infringement activities regardless of scale. It is therefore in everyone's interest to be educated on the proper use of copyrighted works in our everyday lives'"

Fair use and academic use have just gone down the drain, not to mention the principle of proportionality of punishment. It is fitting that justice is both blindfolded and a female, for otherwise miscarriages of justice would be impossible [Addendum: A theory I heard a lawyer espouse was that Justice is female because only females can have miscarriages].

The problem with instituting policies by fiat is that when you screw up, you cannot blame anyone else, and the unintended consequences are unpredictable. For example: the "Stop At 2" policy comes to mind: it was successful - too successful, and policy makers now are still suffering from its successes.

What will be the unintended consequences of our draconian copyright laws, I wonder? A dearth of creativity, which we are supposedly encouraging?

***

Young Johnny had been blind since birth. His mother had always explained to him that it was God's will and must be accepted.

One Sunday, Johnny's mom came home from church and told Johnny that she'd had a conversation with God and He agreed that it was time to let Johnny see. "He said if you'll pray real hard and fast every day this week, next Sunday you'll be able to see".

Young Johnny hardly ate a bite that week and spent his every waking hour praying and waiting for Sunday. By Saturday night he was weak from hunger and exhausted from praying and he dropped off to sleep in great anticipation of morning. Johnny woke to the sound of church bells on the soft Spring morning. He lay with his eyes closed for several minutes to savor the coming event. Slowly, he opened his eyes, and to his great dismay, realized he was still blind.

"Mom!" the lad yelled, "I still can't see."

His mother, touching the boy's head softly, said, "Yes, I know Johnny, April Fool!"


This is awful (in more than one sense), even by my standards.

Thoughts on Close Reading

(This post has been detached after posting from the one above)

Thoughts on Close Reading

The impression I get of close reading:
Analyse the text in detail to find some complexity, ambiguity or flaw which is meaningless and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and try to use the larger context of the passage to resolve said detail, usually by twisting the text so it can mean (almost) anything you want it to.

In Other Words:
Basically set my mind free from the bounds of reality, and forget about what I think is a reasonable interpretation, as long as the text can support it and it sounds good

It all sounds like a very mechanical, stupid and useless exercise to me (and on non-fiction, too, which makes it even worse!). My bone, I think, is the same as with literature: they assume that (almost) every word and punctuation mark was placed there on purpose and so contains a depth and wealth of meaning, and try to find that meaning. People who are into close reading probably are the ones who likewise construct their works as one would carve a masterpiece, littering them with a wealth of hidden references and meanings. But do real writers really write like this?

Close reading really is like seeing a pin stuck in a green board (the furry board on which you can pin up stuff), and asking why the pin is there instead of another spot on the green board. And if it's elsewhere you'll ask why the pin is there instead of some other spot. But what if the pin’s placement is purely random and arbitrary?

For example, there's no Chorus Prologue to Acts 3-5 of Romeo and Juliet. The literature student will enquire as to why this is so, when Acts 1 and 2 had prologues, and come up with all sorts of funny reasons to explain why. I, on the other hand, apply the principle of parsimony - Shakespeare forgot to put it in, or was guilty of sloppy writing. He wrote for the illiterate and unwashed masses’ enjoyment, and to pay the bills, not for people centuries in the future to slowly decompose and analyse his words and see meaning where none probably exists.

Real texts are not like ‘The Matrix’, with references, homages, in-jokes and meaning jam-packed into each sentence so that idiots will be able to spend the next few millennia dissecting them in orgasmic glee. At least I hope they’re not, and that writers spend more time developing and clarifying their messages than setting up semantic treasure hunts, rubbing their hands in glee as literary peons scramble to uncover the gems scattered throughout the text.

In any case, if close reading were really so efficacious, useful and good, all writers would use it to solve problems with their texts (contradictions, ambiguities, unexplicated themes or such), and then other people would be unable to close read it. The fact that close reading can still be done shows that close reading doesn't work either in that it does not solve problems with the text, or that problems found with it are not genuine ones.

(Someone who did literature at the A levels: i think close reading is worse than lit:P
lit not so bad
i got scared off by close reading coz i think its really reading too much into it)

(Someone else: close readings are basically a test of how well u can say sth out of nth)

In moderation, close reading is actually okay. We should never take what people say at face value. But as the focus of an essay, or even a module? After all, if you dig deeply enough, you’ll be sure to find something. The value of what you find, however, is a different matter.

More on my Anti-Halal Manifesto - Religion and "Respect"

More on my Anti-Halal Manifesto:

ceci: Did I say tolerance and respect were the same thing? If I thought they were the same why would I say tolerance AND respect?

You missed my point:
"Yes, no one should suppress you, but you should be respectful when discussing others' belief systems"

which negates alot of your points because I am saying we can discuss, but surely there is a tactful way of doing it.

You're not going to engage a Muslim in meaningful discussion about his religion if you start of by saying "Let me tell you about my "anti halal manifesto".."

Any fool can point out the absurdities in others' religions, there's nothing special about the ability to nitpick.

What the world NEEDS to achieve more peace is less of telling others what to do, and more of trying to understand the underlying principles of why people do things.


Much as I enjoy Rowan Atkinson's shows, he is saying that nothing is sacred, anything can be material for satire. In a perfect world, yes, we have the right to say anything, but then we must bear the consequences of our actions, and that includes the backlash from communities which do not take lightly to being made fun of. Change will only come from within the organization, not because someone outside says so. If someone criticises your family, your first instinct is to tell the person to shut up. However, if you adopt a amiable tone when engaging someone in conversation, that person is likely to be more receptive. Basic human trait.

And there is always something worth respecting. Even if you don't agree with the contents of the religion, sometimes the dedication and faith is worth respecting. You can disagree with the clauses in a religion, but I'm sure the 5 great sects of the world have their merits.


u said : "Me: The way to achieve religious harmony is not to shut up, say nothing and pretend that valid questions about religion do not exist. Discussion and debate are surely ways to achieve greater understanding. We cannot hide behind religion and pretend that if keep mum everything will be alright."

I'm saying: I'm sick of people fighting over beliefs, right now there is plenty of debate and discussion over religion, and plenty of fighting and bombings, because let's face it, when people debate no one gets convinced of the others' viewpoints. Have your views ever shifted because of a point someone else mentioned? You assume the beliefs you hold dear are "correct", and others are wrong and need your wise correction. Why doesn't the world try a new tack? As tempting as it is to blabber and point, why not hold your piece if you cannot say it tactfully?

All this fighting nowadays is because of clashing beliefs, so don't you worry that there is insufficient criticism of religions in our world.

agagooga, ur "facts" are not so much facts as hypotheses. Mine are observations of what is actually happening in the world.

NiHL: @ceci: you tell agagooga to be more tolerent of other people's beliefs and all, but you yourself is the one who is reacting so violently to it. For god's sake, this is his blog, he sure has freedom to put anything up on his site, but you seem so darn affected by everything you are saying, and so offensively eager to prove your point at that too..

uh, a slip of the finger.. i mean you are affected by everything he is saying. Anyway, I went back to read his anti halal manifasto and I find it a totally credible argument - i.e. they are built on valid premises. Your attack on his article seems more like trying to attack him on the basis that the article is "haram". Somehow, it is kinda you kind of people who inhibits people from having hearty discussions..

Me: ceci: Since you said tolerance AND respect, would you respect someone who believed that the world was flat? How about one who thought that women should have bound feet? Or that witches should be burned at the stake? Respect is not a given - it cannot be demanded, no less than anyone can be told what to think

Besides which, you said that I should be respectful when discussing others' belief systems. Re-reading my Anti-Halal Manifesto, I do not find it disrespectful in the slightest, but merely a reasoned discussion of certain pertinent points. I would even go so far as to say that it would be well-nigh impossible to deal with the relevant issues in a more reasoned or less hysterical way. As I said earlier (albeit phrased in a different way): critical evaluation and discussion is not the same as attack or disrespect. The only way in which I could have been more tactful would be to avoid mentioning the subject altogether, which would, I trust you agree, defeat the point. Gathering everyone together in a round table to talk about how their religions differ, without examining why they differ or to enquire into religious dictates is not meaningful discussion - it's politically correct and sanctimonious trite; religio-spiritual masturbation in a vacuum.

Your advocating of "respectful" discussion sounds more like pretending that differences and conflict do not exist. If we just accepted at face value what religions told us, we would still believe the world to be flat, the earth to be at the centre of the solar system; that slavery was justified, women were inferior and that miscegenation was wrong - all because we were being "respectful".


I am not telling other people what to do: I am just examining it. I am not going around with a sword, threatening to lop off Muslims' heads; I am merely pointing out why I personally am opposed to Halal food, just as many of them are opposed to alcohol and gambling - if you read most Muslim criticisms of the two, I'm quite sure you'll find a lot of vitriol and disrespect (not to mention logical fallacies and appeals to emotion) than in my Anti-Halal manifesto. Indeed, I did try to understand the underlying principles of Halal food, but found many suspect (which was one reason why I wrote my Anti-Halal manifesto). One cannot assume that people always do things because of underlying principles, and then work backwards to come up with politically correct spiel: one must actually examine the evidence before coming to a conclusion. If everyone is right, despite holding (sometimes self-)contradictory beliefs, no one is right. In any case, if everyone followed your philosophy, debating, academia and politics (not to mention many or even most other meaningful and productive spheres of human life) would be killed off. Life itself is about disagreement.

Without honest discussion without the bounds of political correctness, what happens when two religions are in conflict? Papering over the differences is not always possible, even if one is willing to ignore underlying problems, leaving them to fester under the surface. For example: when two people of different religions want to get married, and both may not marry people of another religion. Pretending that the problem and conflict does not exist does not solve the problem. What is the alternative, then? The violence (physical or otherwise) that you seem to dislike so much?

Or what about cults? Cults, after all, are merely religions with a small following. People show no hesitation to lambasting cults and showing how ridiculous they are.

Of course there is probably something to be gained from most religions, but dedication and faith might not be that: "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche


You claim that conflict arises because people disagree about religion. Besides my earlier point about intra-religious conflict, which you seem to have blithely ignored, I daresay that deeper examination will show that in most of these conflicts, religion is but a contributory factor. If disagreement leads to conflict, we should stop debate and disagreement in all areas: not just religion. In any case, following your logic the best way to end conflict would be to ban religion *g* (which is a stand I am totally against, incidentally).



Once again: the unexamined belief is not worth having.

3 years.

"Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." - George Bernard Shaw


And, just like that, exactly 3 years have passed.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Came across this in the address bar while surfing today:

http://www.friendster.com/friends.php?statpos=myfriendsbottom

Not very tasteful, but highly amusing.

And *GREEN* is sooo in.

Random Trivia bit: Girls don't get haemophilia. Well, very rarely.

***

Comparative embryogenesis / Yet more on my Anti-Halal Manifesto, Religion and "Respect"

Fascinating comparative chart on embryogenesis:



From left to right: Fisch, Salamander, Schildkrote, Huhn, Schwein, Rind, Kaninchen, Mensch (Fish, Salamander, Turtle, Chicken, Pig, Cattle, Rabbit, Man)

Some interesting features:

- the embryos of all the organisms at the earliest stage are uncannily similar
- what later becomes the gills in fish are still present in the other embryos, even though the fully developed babies do not have gills. In other animals they become part of the jaws
- human babies have tails in the earlier stages of their development. Indeed every now and then a human baby is born with a tail


Someone on my Evolution module forum after the discussion on the above:

"hi all

i was just thinking thru the discussions we had in class yesterday. we talked abt how evidences of fossils and embryogenosis had implications for both evolution and intelligent design and discussed how each theory would come up w either ad hoc statements or assumptions to back up the existence of such evidences.

i realised that whenever we talked about intelligent design, we come to a point whereby we focused on the intelligence of the intelligent being who designed certain features in creatures that seem redundant. One example is the gill like features in embryos. the redundancy seem to point to many how there is inconsistency in the intelligence of the intelligent designer.

However i am pretty curious about why there is this assumption that we can understand the reasons behind the designer's plan, which may imply a cockiness on our part to assume that we may have a similar if not higher intelligence level to infer rationale of the designer. Moreover intelligence is rather subjective, and needs to be clarified further before we could engage in a debate of whether redundacy would imply the lacking in intelligence. Is intelligence a measure of how the designer is just able to create designs that perform a function? would it be an assumption that we tend to make due to valuing of functionability in the modern society today? Or is it a scientific principle that we need to look out for functionability in our observations?

Moreover it is also argueable that our observations are not entirely complete. In the embryos example, could there be a function to why these gill-like features in the embryotic environment, which would be redundant in a human environment? To what extent is our scientific knowledge fully adequate to inder the pure redundacy of such features, as we know that knowledge consistently is infinite and constantly changing. The function of those gill like features may have yet to be found. So how are we as less intelligent (i make this assumption as if it was not so, we all would be able to be designers in our own right, creating new creatures) designs of the designer then able to establish that our knowledge supercedes the intelligent designer's insight and plans? In such a way that we could question his intelligence in his designs?

just wondering about this issue. hope u can grant me a deeper insight."


Me: "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.


If we work from a scientific viewpoint, we do not make any assumptions about the character, intelligence or other features of any designer that may or may not be present.

If one wants to come up with ad hoc hypotheses to support a theory, one can come up with pretty interesting interpretations of reality. For example, we could say that the earth is 10,000 years old, and that this designer created it so that it'd look 4.5 billion years old. Fossils were likewise designed by this designer and implanted nicely into fossil layers. Light from distant galaxies was created in mid-path, complete with shifts due to the doppler-effect. For what rhyme or reason, we don't know why.

Why stop there? We could assume that outside of Earth, nothing really exists, and that beyond the Thermosphere, outer space doesn't exist: it's a gigantic screen on which light is projected. The solar wind that strikes earth is emitted by some gigantic generator.

It might also be profitable for one to ask how we knew that we weren't in the Matrix and being tricked into thinking that we were going about our daily lives. We don't - but all the evidence points to the fact that reality does exist and we are not brains in vats.

In the end, all I can say is this: if this designer wants to give us the impression that he is not really that intelligent, I must bow to his superior wisdom and knowledge and believe what he wants me to believe.


"Certum est, quia impossibile est" (The fact is certain because it is impossible) - Tertullian"


In any case, the joys of Evolution shall never again be open to USP students, since the fundies have succeeded in killing it.

Which necessitates the all-important question: Why did they take the class if they were so resolutely opposed to the idea in the first place, and just wanted to come up with ever more ridiculous arguments for so-called "Intelligent Design"? People are welcome to believe that the world is flat if they wish, but then they spoil the market for everyone else, it is patently unfair.

***

Comments on my Anti-Halal Manifesto:

ceci: hi, i think we shouldn't be talking about "banning religion" or say something like "My anti-Halal manifesto". What the world should be promoting is tolerance, humility and respect. To someone who believes in his religion, dismissing it equates to dismissing his belief system. You and I have strong beliefs about certain things, not all rational, and if those beliefs were strong enough nothing anyone says will make you throw those beliefs away. The road towards progression for mankind isn't to pick at all the dubious points in each religion and throw them away, but to address the fundamental issue that we are opionated creatures who want to enforce our beliefs on other, and if possible, kill everyone who's different.

Me: You're missing the point. Sigh.

xue: This is a bit extreme but as we hear so often these days, I may not agree with what you say but you should be allowed to say it. At least you're attempting rational debate/discussion, instead of unsubstantiated rants, which makes a bit difference. A Millean liberal at home, I believe that if a set of beliefs are 'true', they should be able to stand up to any and every objection. If one has to resort to repressing dissent in order to sustain one's belief system, it shows how inadequate that belief system is.

ceci: Maybe I shouldn't have started off with "we shouldn't be talking about ...". My intention is not to suppress free speech or dissent. What I meant was that the way to achieve religious harmoney is through tolerance and respect, not by picking out what you perceive are flaws in that, and using that as a basis to discredit the religion.

It's not so much what is being said, but how it is being said.

"My anti-Halal manifesto?" I think that is downright disrespectful and provocative. You can discuss an issue but even if you think you're right it doesn't mean you can use such a disrespectful tone.

You will know from my previous comments that I am pro Buddhist and pro peace. I hesitate to call myself a Buddhist because I don't think I can be as unantagonistic and unworldly as a true Buddhist would be. But I think some principles hold true.

Yes, no one should suppress you, but you should be respectful when discussing others' belief systems.

Fact- Religion is a sensitive issue.

Fact- People have waged war because of it, and are still doing it

Fact- Ultimately, change must come from within. No outsider can expect anything but a vigorous retaliation when he criticises a group's sacred beliefs.

These are principles and mankind will never free itself from religious conflict until it understands the concept of tolerance and consideration.

Me: The way to achieve religious harmony is not to shut up, say nothing and pretend that valid questions about religion do not exist. Discussion and debate are surely ways to achieve greater understanding. We cannot hide behind religion and pretend that if keep mum everything will be alright.

Tolerance and respect are not the same thing. I allow that some people believe that the world is flat because their religions say so, and don't try to enlighten them, but that does not mean that I respect them.

The right to question and offend is paramount. To quote Rowan Atkinson:

"Unfortunately, what is very arguable is the definition of the terms – the definition of a tolerant society. Is a tolerant society one in which you tolerate absurdities, iniquities and injustices simply because they are being perpetrated by or in the name of a religion and
out of a desire not to rock the boat you pass no comment or criticism. So as not to cause discomfort to anyone, not to cause embarrassment.

*A society with a veneer of tolerance concealing a snake pit of un-aired and of course unchallenged views... Should the predictability of offence being taken mean that you have committed a crime? ... some are bound to be offended by it? Surely not. The right to offend is more important than the right not to be offended."


Just as the unexamined life is not worth living, the unexamined belief is not worth believing in. Besides which, Muslim theologians themselves engage in debate about this manner of issues. What makes my take on them any different from theirs? If it is, you have just killed off the entire field of comparative theology.


Fact - We laugh at people whose religions tell them that the earth is flat, or that lunar eclipses result when the moon is swallowed by some cosmic animal

Fact - Tolerance and respect are not the same thing

Fact - There are many sensitive issues, not just religion. Should we then ban discussion of all of them?

Fact - Not talking about such issues does not make them go away. Indeed they may fester and cause more problems

Fact - Religious debate happens all the time, especially within religions.

Fact - Even when change comes from within, vigorous retaliation ensues, simply because people dislike change. The most vicious wars are internecine intra-faith wars in which each side seeks to eradicate the infidel

Fact - Hiding behind religion and using it to justify anything is ridiculous, and unfair if other people are being affected

Fact - If people's beliefs are so weak that they cannot even stand up to a little scrutiny, perhaps they shouldn't be holding them

Fact - Criticism, examination and discussion do not equate to attacks; progress is achieved through criticism, examination and discussion.

Monday, February 07, 2005

It has come to my attention, via a reliable source, that my Anti-Halal Manifesto has been plugged In Real Life in a lesson on censorship and how different media are censored differently.

So to all you J2s from VJC - sorry, but I was told not to put up any nude pics.
"Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect." - Steven Wrigh

***

Wow. After more than a year, people are still being amazed by the astounding accuracy of the CrushCalculator.

***

My No 1 fan who denies being a fan: "im obviously in my room
i can't be surfing in the middle of the toilet
i'm not Mr Brown"


Someone on how to deal with Christian theologians who denounce the a priori acceptance of Reason: "next time he tries to talk to you, spout random nonsensical phrases at him, since reason has been so effectively demolished"

Heh heh.

But since I make fewer (and less unbelievable) assumptions to get to the same (or at least a similar) place, I still hold that accepting a priori is a superior theory.

***

On a tour of New Zealand, the Pope took a few days off to visit the coast for some sightseeing. He was cruising along the beach in the Pope-mobile when there was a frantic commotion just off shore. A helpless man, wearing a France rugby shirt, was struggling frantically to free himself from the jaws of a 25 foot shark.

As the Pope watched in horror, a speedboat pulled up with three men wearing England shirts. One quickly fired a harpoon into the shark's side while the other two reached out and pulled the blue semiconscious Frog from the water. Then using the long clubs, the three beat the shark to death and hauled it into the boat. Immediately the Pope shouted and summoned them to him.

"I give you my blessing for your brave actions. I heard that there were some bitter hatreds between the French and the English, but now I have seen with my own eyes that this is not true."

As the Pope drove off, the harpooner asked his pals, "Who was that?"

"It was the Pope" one replied, "He is in direct contact with God and has access to all of God's wisdom."

"Well" the harpooner said, "he may have access to God and his wisdom, but he doesn't know anything about shark fishing. Is the bait holding up OK or do we need to get another one?"

***

On Asian Values:

"Asian values" is a misnomer. The idea should be renamed as "Values Which the PAP would Like Singaporeans to Have, and To Believe Are Asian".


The term "Asian values" is as much a misnomer as the term "Western values". For example, in Asia I've never encountered so much institutionalised prostitution in my life! .. and I'm thinking of the KTV joints where the hostesses are openly available for paid sex. And all the Asian married men go merrily tripping off to these places, with their wives at home, and are screwing all these 20 years old China girls behind their wives backs! Great ASIAN values!!

Now I don't give this example to be moralistic. I like pretty young girls (even perhaps paid ones) as much as the next man. I'm no prude. But to have such a widespread embedded aspect of the popular culture on the one hand, and to go about blathering about 'values' the next is just hypocrisy to me. Asians can and are as morally corrupt, if not more so, than Westerners.


To be fair to the PAP, they have greatly, and wisely, reduced their "Asian values" rhetoric over the years.

At one point, "Asian values" was a phrase that tripped off the tongues of PAP ministers & MPs like an automatic, programmed slogan. Nowadays, they largely seem to have stopped. Perhaps too many people tell them things like:

"But the world's largest democracy is an Asian country - India!";

"But Taiwan has very vigorous parliamentary debates, and a very active opposition, and Taiwan is Asian, isn't it?"

"But workers' strikes ARE allowed in Korea, in fact strikes happen there all the time, and Korea is an Asian country, isn't it?"

"But Indonesia is one of the world's largest Asian countries by population, and there's nothing very Confucian in its culture."

"But the freedom of expression is so rampant and unlimited in the Philippines, and the Philippines is your fellow ASEAN member, is it not?"

So I guess the PAP ministers started feeling silly about it after a while.

More importantly, it's pretty difficult to spout the "The West Is Evil, The East is Good" nonsense, while at the same time trying desperately to attract foreign talent from countries like the US, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom

***

mollymeek: Beauty and the Beasts

"Molly was recently invited to speak at a Beauty’s Forum (for women only) and Molly was violently assaulted by pesky questions... Here are some excerpts. For those unfamiliar with this blog, “MM” stands for Molly Meek.

Audience 1: MM, your lengthy speech seems to suggest that you are a bimbo, even if you are an enlightened one.
MM: What do you have against bimbos? That their vital statistics are better than yours?
Audience 1: So you are not denying that you are a bimbo?
MM: You don’t risk your life by calling me a bimbo.
Audience 1: I think I just experienced a Xeno Boyish Lacanian moment.
MM: What’s a Lacanian moment? Really, I’m asking out of real ignorance.
Audience: Which seems to suggest that you sometimes ask questions out of false ignorance… Thank you for your time.

[...]

Audience 3: MM, I commented on many of your blog entries, but only one of my comments have been published! Isn’t it unfair
MM: You must be living a blessed life thanks to my blessings. Otherwise, you would be worrying about survival issues instead of complaining that you don’t have enough published comments on my blog. My blog is my voice box, not yours.
Audience 3: Perhaps I was talking about survival issues, MM.
MM: Go and sign on with the army. You won’t get promoted as quickly as someone I know, but you will do just fine.
Audience 3: Are you trying to co-opt me into your discourse?
MM: What? I’m hoping you could cooperate, if that’s what you are asking.
Audience 3: Never mind. I’m still pissed that my comments didn’t get published.
MM: Well, you have the Internet—set up your own website. If you don’t know how to set up a website, Molly has a friend who can help. Yes, Molly has lots of friends.
But it seems that you are displeased because you think I have silenced you. You might have problems articulating the suffering of silence."

***

Confessions of a Recovering Economist

"Good evening. My name is Jim. And I am an economist. It is seventeen days since I last uttered the phrase "supply and demand." But the demon still lurks, untamed, within me.

I know it's wrong that my particular profession hogs so much attention, and is granted so much undeserved credibility. I know it's wrong to pretend you can forecast complex economic outcomes with three-decimal accuracy. I know it's wrong to reduce the whole of the human endeavour to the endless pursuit of material prosperity. Yet still I yearn for economics. I hunger for the prestige that comes with being the only social science to regularly make The National. I savour the smug power of belonging to that exclusive sect of financial mystics who understand the magical circuits of money and commodities.

So let's face it. I'm an economist. I'll always be an economist. The best I can do is recognize my affliction. Name the hunger that haunts me. Reflect on how to control it, how to keep it at bay. Learn to avoid the events and issues that fan the internal flame.

Every other addiction has a Twelve Step program, laced with tough love and blunt self-honesty. Why not a Twelve Step program for economists?
God knows, they've done enough damage with their arrogant, drunken prescriptions. Here's how each and every economist can face up to their inner demons, and make their own small contribution to setting things right."

***

Richard Dawkins: Is Science A Religion? - "Most religions offer a cosmology and a biology, a theory of life, a theory of origins, and reasons for existence. In doing so, they demonstrate that religion is, in a sense, science; it's just bad science. Don't fall for the argument that religion and science operate on separate dimensions and are concerned with quite separate sorts of questions. Religions have historically always attempted to answer the questions that properly belong to science. Thus religions should not be allowed now to retreat away from the ground upon which they have traditionally attempted to fight. They do offer both a cosmology and a biology; however, in both cases it is false."

From Failure to Famous - "If starting your own business is what you'd like to do, please note that studies at Tulane University suggest the average entrepreneur fails 3.8 times before making it work. (L. M. Boyd)"
The wisest words on this matter are from Despair, Inc's poster on Defeat: "For every winner, there are dozens of losers. Odds are you're one of them"

Suicide terrorism: a global threat - Jane's Intelligence Review - "Traditionally viewed as a problem affecting the Middle East and South Asia, the threat posed by suicide terrorism is spreading around the globe. Rohan Gunaratna assesses the nature of the threat, preventive and reactive security measures, and examines future trends."

eBay item 3871328540 (Ends Feb-07-05 17:12:49 PST) - HILLARY DUFF PERSONAL ITEMS - "Hillary Duff did a concert here in CT....and a friend of the family is employed as a cleaning lady in the arena. Well, she cleaned HILLARY'S DRESSING ROOM and found she left behind a hairbrush, a face towel, and some tissues soiled with make up! This is unique memoribilia....NO ONE WILL EVER HAVE THESE EXACT ITEMS. The hairbrush even has strands of blonde hair!! UNIQUE!!!"

How to Get Man Boobs - Lut sends this along with his regards
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