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Saturday, April 02, 2005

Christianity and its Adherents (Updated: 11:49PM)

***

Prompted by the latest bout of evangelism on the Young Republic, I have finished the sequel to Christianity and its Discontents: Christianity and its Adherents, which explores possible reasons why Christianity is so popular, especially with the young.

It's a little short though, I feel. Additional points are actively solicited.

***

Having examined why so much animosity exists in certain quarters towards the Christian faith and its adherents, we now proceed to examine why people take up and retain said faith.

It can be observed that in recent decades, the more traditional churches have been losing mindshare as more modern establishments have arisen. This is evident from, among other things, falling church attendence in Europe where most churches remain traditional, while across the Atlantic, where churches are more in tune with the prevailing zeitgeist, there has even been a religious revival of sorts. Since it is the more modern churches which are gaining in mindshare, the following analysis will inevitably be biased towards their techniques and characteristics.

There has been a great explosion of Christianity in Africa and the Third World, but being unacquainted with the circumstances of those places and the nature of Christianity there, I feel unable to comment with any degree of authority or certainty, except to note the amount of work done by Christian missionaries there and the relative absence of activity from representitives of other faiths. It would be safe to say, though, that at least some of the factors listed below can help to account for the growth of African Christianity.


1. Constant evangelism

Joseph Goebbels remarked that if you repeat a big lie often enough, people will eventually come to believe it. Whether or not what evangelists repeat is a lie or otherwise, the fact is that they assuredly repeat it often enough.

When one is ambushed often enough while walking down corridors, or receives enough pamphlets and flyers, one might be persuaded to the point of view that is relentlessly paraded in front of him. The persuasive power of such evangelism is also increased when it comes from the target's friends, family members or other associates, especially if pressure (implicit or explicit) is applied, or when one is preyed upon in the wake of personal disaster and tragedy (eg A death in the family, bankruptcy, illness etc)


2. Slick Marketing

Modern churches and modern christianity has imbibed many of the lessons of modern marketing. For example, Christian Music, known as Praise and Worship, is very different from the church hymms of yesteryear, with genres such as Christian rock often being well-nigh indistinguishable from mainstream music, save for their lyrics. When churches move with the times, they can even appear "cool", especially compared to such stodgy activities as burning joss sticks and "devil worshipping". In this respect, the examination of the activities and services of such churches as City Harvest would be especially educational, especially their preaching of a gospel of prosperity and success.

The Charismatic movement in particular especially has learnt well the lessons of marketing, offering solid "proof" of "miracles", such as talking in tongues, healings, exorcisms, visions and the like. Advertising the "healing power of Christ" and other such tangibles, they make church a tangible, emotionally rousing and moving experience through rallies, revivals and other such mass mobilisation events, ensuring that mindshare is kept.


3. Comfort and company

The comfort and company offered by Christianity can be divided into two categories: social and divine.

Regardless of what one might say about the joys of relationships with divine beings, the social rewards of being a Christian on earth are evident. Churches are veritable social and social support networks, with some young people even going to them primarily for socialisation. Community, company and support are thus provided for adherents, and a sense of identity and belonging can also be had; with the declining importance of familial kinship in modern societies, churches can step in to fill that gap.

Just as with fax machines, SMSes and email, there is a strong network effect with churches: the more people in a church, the greater the social benefits of joining one; if all your friends are Christian, being non-Christian would at the very least diminish the opportunities you have to interact with them.

As for the divine aspect of comfort and company, modern Christianity is marketed as being a "relationship" with a personal god, rather than a "religion" dedicated to a distant one. There is thus a feeling of being loved, valued, watched out and cared for by a higher being: much more attention is lavished on the Christian than on members of other religions.


4. Intimidation, fear and Stockholm Syndrome

One method of converting people to your cause is by intimidating and threatening them. Talking darkly of the horrors of hell, or of how those not "saved" will suffer on Judgment Day persuades some to take the ticket to salvation.

There is also Stockholm Syndrome, a survival mechanism of captives where they sympathise with their captors, that kicks in when the following conditions are met:

* Perceived threat to survival and the belief that one's captor is willing to act on that threat (Read: Sending sinners to hell)
* The captive's perception of small kindnesses from the captor within a context of terror (Read: 'Grace')
* Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor (Read: Few Christians read non-Christian views)
* Perceived inability to escape. (Read: An omnipotent god)


5. Seemingly simple answers to existential questions and surrender

On Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, once one's Physiological Needs (eg Food, water, shelter) are fulfilled, one seeks to fulfill the needs of Safety, Love, Esteem and Self-Actualisation. Christianity helps with this fulfilment: Safety ('Knowing' that a god is watching out for you and that there's a life after death), Love ('Knowing' that the Christian God loves you, Esteem ('Knowing' that the Christian god values you) and finally Self-actualisation ('Knowing' the meaning of life, being fulfilled etc).

Man might not live by bread alone, but the higher concerns in life are not pressing when one does not have enough bread to eat, so we see that as societies develop and the problem of day-to-day survival is resolved, existential angst sets in. This is especially important in societies such as (say) Singapore, where many have mortgaged their souls in the mindless pursuit of materialism, which leaves people feeling empty, defiled and alienated. People want to believe; they need to believe.

This might also be a result of the engineering mentality: people do not think about questions like the meaning of life, what truth is et al, because they're taught not to, so they are effective sponges for what they're told, not having been trained in the process of free inquiry.

This is where Christianity comes in, as it offers answers to the problems of existential angst and Self-actualisation. All questions are resolved by looking to the Christian god and trusting in his "plan" for one's life; a possible alternative - thinking that no higher powers exist, that one's consciousness disappears once one dies, and that there is no ultimate meaning of life is deeply troubling, even unsatisfying, and so the simpler answer is sought and clung to. The Christian thus feels at ease and has a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that his problems are resolved; the bliss of surrender and ignorance is a heady opiate indeed, as one becomes a mindless sheep and does not need to think, merely to accept and submit. However, in reality said problems have not been resolved, but merely ignored, or at least answered simplistically, which nonetheless is a great attraction in a complex world.


6. Disingenuous arguments and logicide

Christianity has a two millennia old tradition of apologetics which remains very active today. This tradition has come up with many disingenuous, yet complex and seemingly robust, answers to many challenges to faith and doctrine. It is thus quite hard to debunk said arguments, and much simpler to just accept them at face value despite the logicide being committed (Some examples may be found in my review of George Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God).

Apologetics also works in Christianity's favour because apologetics makes it seem more rational and logical, at least at a cursory glance, than other religions, thus helping to convert some fringe skeptics.

Even if the disingenuous arguments of apologetics break down, there is a possible fallback to the condemnation of logic and reason, and trusting in faith; this misology - hate and/or denigration of reason - is indeed at the heart of much Christian theology.


7. Natural evolution of religion

Sociological theories have it that as societies develop, so do the social institutions of religion, which progress from simple supernaturalism to animism, to polytheism, then monotheism and finally to transcendent idealism. The movement towards Christianity is thus a natural progression in the social evolution of religion (though I am not so sure about the final postulated stage in societal evolution).


8. Emotional outlet

Modern Christianity allows, even encourages unrestrained emotionalism. The open display of such emotionalism is frowned on in modern society, and religion is one of the few socially sanctioned outlets for it.
The latest bout of evangelism on the Young Republic mailing list:

***

A: Given that Jesus makes a claim to our lives, asking us to enter into a love relationship with him, what we see in Song of Songs is that initially, the Beloved is unready to accept her Lover - she fails to open the door. This isn't a matter of opening the door to a one night stand, but to a lifelong relationship. The result of the Beloved not opening the door to the Lover is she is lost, looking for him, and receives a good beating. The stakes are higher if we reject Jesus: he says that "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)

But why is this the case? Why does God's wrath fall on anyone if He really is a loving God? Can't he just allow us to get along as we deem fit? Shouldn't the Lover sort himself out if the Beloved wants to go solo? The answer is that crimes deserve punishment - and we have committed crimes against God by rejecting his rightful authority over our lives, whether we resent this statement or not. And that God is just, and cannot let these crimes go unpunished. In His mercy, however, we are given a choice - between either:

1) following Jesus, and being made acceptable to God by Jesus' paying for our crimes dearly - his death on a cross - or

2) rejecting Jesus, and rejecting God.

Coming back to Song of Songs, it is clear that if we seek Jesus he will rescue us from paying the penalty for our crimes against God, even as the Lover arrives in splendour in Chapter 6 - no matter how many times we turn away or are too hesitant, if we seek Him He will save us.

On a final note, and returning to the earlier mentioned issue of erotic love, some recurring themes in the book should be noted. In chapters 2:7, 3:5, and again in 8:4, there is this warning:

"Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires."

> I trust I do not need to elaborate on the symbolism of the

...passage here (there is none). Rather, this is a clear warning that erotic love is not something to be entered into lightly; this Song is no longer a hedonistic celebration of 'love' - we are not told to lay off "until WE so desire" but rather, until love does.

So: What does God have to do with sex? It is easy to believe 'Nothing' is the answer, that God is too Holy and Pure for sex, and man should make up his or her own mind to celebrate it or not as they deem fit, but the truth seems otherwise - as the Bible shows us (and not only in Song of Songs) - it has its rightful place, and can even be celebrated.

What does God have to do with love? Everything: Jesus, the Lover, stands at the door for each of us, and waits for our response.

A

P.S. for answers to questions such as:
"How can love - an abstract concept? - desire anything?"
"What do you mean, 'Christianity is the only truth'?"
and "Who was Jesus anyways?",
feel free to email me


B: Oh dear, you have taken an allegorical interpretation of SoS. Most scholars no longer take this view since there is nothing in the text which invites one to take such a reading. There are symbols, yes, but there is nothing at all to suggest that the whole thing is a code for some sort of evangelical outburst. (Though may puritan writers in the past have had an obsession with making this poem allegorical, for obvious reasons.)

On the contrary, this is merely a very nice little poem about two loverly/horny young persons who defy social convention, showing that "love is stronger than death, [...] many waters cannot quench love, etc etc". So, sort of like an ancient Romeo and Juliet. And why is their love not socially conventional? Note that:

1. The beloved is not conventionally attractive
2. THEY ARE UNMARRIED

Let me dwell on the second point which was my intention in bringing up SoS. It is clear that the couple are unmarried. The lover searches for the beloved in the middle of the night, then disappears for some reason. When the beloved searches for him in the streets, she is beaten up by the nightwatchmen.

If they were married, they would be a *most* unconventional couple. Furthermore, it is (quite) clear that they have sex, albeit hidden in the fields and in some spice garden (though this spice garden/mountain may be a euphemism for the female body, no consensus on this point).

Therefore, this poem celebrates the socially unconventional and consummated erotic love of an unmarried couple. (Although admittedly they seem to intend to get married but in any case they are unmarried at the time of having sex). This is why I suggested it might provide a different perspective from that expressed by other Christians, whose thoughts on the subject tend to be dominated by Augustine and his synthesis between pagan and gnostic positions on sex.


Oh and another thing, as for:

> "Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you:
> Do not arouse or awaken love
> until it so desires."

This is *not* about waiting till marriage at all. She is having her fun with her lover at night (and it must be at night since it is clandestine since they are not married). Hence:

6 Until the day breaks

and the shadows flee,

I will go to the mountain of myrrh

and to the hill of incense.

7 All beautiful you are, my darling;

there is no flaw in you.

So, she tells them not to awake "love" (i.e. the couple) until they are done with their fun. The "love" here is a metaphor for their conjoined bodies.

If you are in any doubt that they have sex, pls refer to the other quote I provided, where the lover describes his beloved as a palm tree and her breasts as clusters of fruit. He then says he will climb the tree and take hold of its fruit. This is an obvious allusion to sex:

7 Your stature is like that of the palm,

and your breasts like clusters of fruit.

8 I said, "I will climb the palm tree;

I will take hold of its fruit."

May your breasts be like the clusters of the vine,

the fragrance of your breath like apples,

9 and your mouth like the best wine.

In another passage there is another explicit allusion to sex, though this time the beloved plans a dirty weekend of sorts -- running away to the countryside at night to frolic in the moonlight:

11 Come, my lover, let us go to the countryside,

let us spend the night in the villages. [b]

12 Let us go early to the vineyards

to see if the vines have budded,

if their blossoms have opened,

and if the pomegranates are in bloom-

there I will give you my love.

So, let's see: they are unmarried, they meet each other mostly at night, they like going into secret spice gardens and orchards alone at night, and at one point the beloved says "our bed is verdant". Hmmm, *what* could they be doing?


C: B's interpretation of the Songs of Solomon (if I understood B correctly, that is) shows how dangerous it is to read only one segment of the Bible and attempt to come to a conclusion regarding God's general will on something (in this case, premarital sex).

God's moral principle with regards to sex is clearly spelt out in the Bible: sex is meant only for a man and a woman, and only in a marriage. The author of Hebrews puts forth this principle plainly in verse 4 of chapter 13:

"Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge." (NASB)


Fornication is the biblical term for pre-marital sex. It happens when two unmarried persons engage in sex. There isn't a shred of doubt that the Bible forbids this. Adultery refers to a married person having sex with somebody other than his or her spouse.

Here, the Bible does not intend to leave us guessing. "God will judge" these two groups of people, for they have neither held marriage in honor, nor left the marriage bed undefiled.

That God hates homosexual sex (note, I say here, homosexual sex and not homosexuals) is even clearer.

In the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:22 says (here the listener is assumed to be a man), "Do not lie with a man as one lies with a women; that is detestable." (NIV)

In the New Testament, Romans 1:26-27 reads, "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." (NIV)

Homosexual sex, the Bible unequivocally states, is a sin, detested by God.

Sex, according to the Bible, is meant only between a man and a woman, and only in a marriage. Anything outside of this boundary is sin.

I do not wish to be accused of imposing my morals on anyone. What I merely seek to do, is to declare the moral standards of God, for this is the standard by which we will be judged on the day of wrath, whether or not you choose to believe it.

And when that day comes, only those who have Christ have hope.

C.


Me (You just knew this was coming, didn't you?): "*lengthy apologetics by A*"

If you want to do textual analysis, we can do textual analysis :) You may not like what you find, though - Paul's purely spiritual resurrection, for example.


"A good place to look for an explanation might be elsewhere in the Bible: "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20, NIV)

Anyone can spot the uncanny parallel between the two passages."

Considering the fact that Song of Songs was written before 930 BC and Revelation was written almost a millennium later, and that the pothead who wrote it surely had access to Song of Songs, I find that no surprise. This is just like how the author of Luke had a (mistranslated) copy of Isaiah and misinterpreted it, which was how a young woman bearing a child during King Ahaz's reign was transmogrified into a virgin bearing a child who would becoming the Messiah...


"That God hates homosexual sex (note, I say here, homosexual sex and not homosexuals) is even clearer."

It is as clear, if not clearer, that the Christian god hates dogs, believes women to be inferior, and condemns non-believers to eternal torment in hell.


`When /I/ use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you /can/ make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'

--- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

I do not mind being accused of offending anyone (Cthulhu knows we have enough of that going on on this list). What I merely seek to do is to get people thinking about things that they might never have thought about before, and to represent a different view from one that gets ample representation here.

Belief doth not change objective reality, no matter how strong it might be.


"A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." - 1 Corinthians 13:11


P.S. for answers to questions such as:

"Is it valid to reason: 'I think Evolution is bullshit because I've misunderstood and misrepresented it, and therefore I conclude that the Christian god must exist, though even if Evolution is bullshit, life on earth could have been seeded by aliens, warped in from an alternate dimension or been started by one of the tens of thousands of gods from the other religions, or even the deistic God'?"

"Why would an omnibenevolent god make imperfect humans, blame them for his own mistakes and then condemn all who did not believe in him to infinite punishment for finite sin (if indeed such can be said to be sin at all)""

"Why do people interpret literally the fanciful writings of ancient Hebrews looking at the sky and the world and coming up with 'just so' stories, including the world being flat and there being a firmament in the sky from which rain falls, even when they're plainly ridiculous?"

"What do you mean, 'Gods don't exist'?"

and "Why do some non-Christians get so pissed off by Christians",

feel free to email me (or for the last, you can read 'Christianity and its Discontents' -
[http://gssq.blogspot.com/2005/03/christianity-and-its-discontents-also.html])


P.P.S: For reference: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/



We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

"Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. By Order of the Author" - Mark Twain

How refreshing to find someone else who hated close reading and literature (ahem).

Random Playlist Song: Sweelinck - Cantante Domino (The Concordia Choir)

***

To pre-empt possible complaints from Johnny Malkavian, among others, I am splitting this blog post into two - the quotes are separated from the rest of the post.

You may view the quotes here.

***

I don't qualify for the following, but maybe some others do:

Earn $150 (awarded immediately) by taking part in a 2 hour focus group on Technology.

Date: Thurs, 14 April '05
Time: 5:30pm or 7:30pm
Duration: Approximately two hours.
Light meals will be provided.

Criteria for respondents:

- Working full time
- Technology or Business decision maker
- Singapore Citizen/Permanent Resident
- Proficient in English and articulate

Signup for YourSay here, and then answer a pre-selection questionnaire.

***

I have been relentless pestered by Bigwig to give my views on a forum I went to about the future of the opposition in Singapore. Most of the material I took from that session was quotes, though (see below).

The forum was not as well attended as the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum (KRMF) earlier in the year, with maybe a hundred students present. Yet, both the content of the talk and the quality of questions and answers during the Q&A session were more interesting and novel, since the viewpoint we got at the KRMF also comes down to us through the mass media, Propaganda lessons, visits to the Singapore Propaganda Centre and such.

There was a disproportionate number of foreigners and males, and though many questions were asked during the Q&A session, only one was asked by a female, thus giving credence to He Who Must Not Be Named's quip that 'women don't start revolutions', and casting doubt on policies meant to artifically boost the number of female democratic representitives - if most of them are not interested, why force it?


The perils of asking questions at fora (since it is polite to identify yourself before asking them): after the forum, at the reception (students finally got to eat for once, yay), I got approached and greeted by 2 readers within 10 minutes.

One said I am often cryptic, but I don't think so, since I rarely allude to private stuff, or indeed mention it in the first place.


Miss NUS on the former incident: Price of fame. At least it's not crazy sacsal wanting to rip off your clothes (yet)

Me: Haha I dont (really) mind that

Miss NUS: I've been told that when desperate, guys will take whatever girl they can. No looks, see figure. No figure, can sleep with can already.

Me: So you still stand a chance lah.

Me later: so you agree? If so how come you haven't been laid yet haha

Ooh, touche (if I do say so myself).

***

From Hedwig and the Angry Inch:

Hansel: Jesus died for our sins.

Mother: So did Hitler.

***

Feedback given by slaves on Indoctrination Tours:

After visiting Changi War Museum, a prisoner of war camp in WWII:,

Question: What did you learn from this visit?
Comment: The sufferring, pain and agony that will happen to us if we refuse to defend our nation.

Interpretation 1 - We may be invaded again, and might be forced to go through suffering and pain as a POW.
Interpretation 2 - By refusing to serve NS, we will be dumped into prison, where we will suffer like POWs.

On the Japanese Occupation and the current situation,
Question: What have you learnt from this visit?
Answer: That commanders should not be idiots.

***

Benjy doubted the existence of Asian Prince, so I was trying to dig up documented proof of his existence for him. The best I found was a Google Images thumbnail of a poster of some Vietnamese singers (the original got moved, unfortunately). In the top right one may see the familiar smiling visage of Wo-hen Nankan!

I am trying to look for the MIDI file and/or score of: Haydn - Cello Concerto No 2 in D, Op 101, Hob VIIb-2 - Mvt 1 - Allegro moderato. Unfortunately, I have been unable to do so - the closest I can find is a piano transcription in the NUS library (the National Library has nothing). And the galling thing is that MIDIs of the Cello Concerto No 1 in C are readily available.

***

Terri Schiavo's Blog - "mmmmmnegh. nggnugh"
Ahh, dark, dry humour.

Mandatory military service turns boys into fighting men - "The physical training is still tough -- obese boys usually leave National Service as buff young men"
Agence France Presse publishes something that would not be out of place in the Straits Tines. And they must be kidding about the 'buff young men' bit.

Spay Your Catgirl Poster - "You too can make the world a better place by cutting down on the rampant overpopulation of catgirls. These poor creatures have been increasing in number so rapidly, it's difficult to walk through a convention without tripping over a few. They lurk in the corridors, shrieking out phrases in poor Japanese and assaulting passers-by for manga money. Please, won't you think of the convention-goers? Be responsible. Spay your catgirl today."

***

I checked the statistics for the webcast lecture where the guy propositioned the girl. I heard there were about 1500 viewings on Tuesday afternoon, saw that there were 3500+ on early wednesday morning and as of Wednesday night - 5317. I wonder if it includes hits from people viewing the public feed.

Another source said that he overheard 2 girls from NUS Business talking about the webcast-proposition incident. Apparently sometime back someone in Business also tried the same thing, but without the lecturer's permission - he went to the mic during the break and professed his love for her, but got screwed by the Business lecturer and had his matriculation number taken down.


For our lens analysis essay proposal, one guy used Desperate Housewives. I'm used Power Rangers Time Force, and didn't get slaughtered (not directly anyway).

There are more than 100 extant citation formats. They are, of course, like jargon - just a way of excluding outsiders and creating an air of exclusivity.

The 7-11 near Fong Seng sells vibrating condoms. Funky. No doubt they're testing the market to see how popular these products will be (I don't think they're available in most other 7-11s), since You Sucks Hall and TMS Hall are so close by.

I was sitting in an LT flanked by 2 empty seats on my left and 3 on my right, and someone came in. You'd expect the person to sit 2 seats to my right, such that there'd be one empty seat to the person's left and right both, but the person sat directly on my right. Hmm. This person also intelligently integrated the lecture diagrams into the notes (now they're provided separately in a PDF) by using the screenshot feature.
To pre-empt possible complaints from Johnny Malkavian, among others, I am splitting this blog post into two - the quotes are separated from the rest of the post.

You may view the rest of the post here.

***

Quotes:

Some of you are asking me for my instructor's manual... As the book suggests, the instructor's manual is for the instructor. (book's name)

Economics have a long tradition (has)

Each firm's treats the output of the competitors (firm)

You have 3 of these equilibriums (equilibria)

[On the break] Alright. Come back in 1 minute.

[On the caption for a NUS dance group in a commemorative video] 'With their feisty opening number'. 'With their slutty opening number', more like.

[On deadlines] The usual loose interpretation of 'midnight' that we have in this class.

[On a survey answered using scrap paper] In reality, it's just a survey by the paper industry to find out what paper students use.

[On asking questions after a survey] No opinion? Brainpower has been used on the 5 points. It's going to be sleeping for the rest of the 2 hours. 'I've done my job. I've given the 5 points.'

[On defining what's alive - respiration, metabolism, movement, reproduction etc] That definition - the 7 categories. That's for a biology textbook. But in reality it's complete nonsense.

[On someone using a handout for scrap] Wah! Leftover paper from the lab. *Tragically* You're not supposed to recycle it till next semester.

[On people fearing the cessations of their consciousnesses] If we were thinking with our gonads I'd think we'd be less concerned with death.

Most of the dust in your home is actually dead skin cells. And the dust mites feed on it. *starts then stops video* How's your lunch there?

[Video: Very little of your body is more than 10 years old.'] So the next time someone asks you how old you are you can tell them 10 years old, and you'd be mostly right.

[On copying problems being responsible for senescence and skin and gut cells being replaced very often] This is the kind of nonsense you get from medicine students... Most people I know who died did not die of skin problems.

[Professor: What's the function of testosterone?] Makes you horny.

If you lower the testosterone level or raise the estrogen level, you get feminised males. [Student: But they live longer.] I don't think anyone has tried that.

All sigh murs (Alzheimer's)

Which country has [a] comparative advantage in producing chips? Obviously Chipland.

There was this article which I was just read (reading)

mer'cantle'lism (mercantilism)

[On Concorde's ad celebrating its failure and withdrawal] Retiring after 28 years - a success. But actually it was a failure.

They boycotted the import of tuna from Mexico (banned)

A Korean farmer went all the way there to commit suicide, to Cancun.

[On Singapore's stand on free trade] What is Singapore's stand on this? Singapore is all things to all people.

Everybody else? Notice I didn't say 'anybody else', I said 'everybody else'.

Eh nax (annex)

[Professor: Is 'atman' the fourth state of reality?] Atman is not the author?

[On library skills] You can go to the library and have a 2 hour lecture. And it's ex... This way is better.

[Me on a random essay topic: 'What is truth?'] No, that's too broad. I'll make up a topic. 'What is the effect of watching too much Power Rangers on USP students?' [Student: They write good critical thinking papers]... 'What is the effect of watching too much Power Rangers on the Writing and Critical Thinking skills of USP students?'

You go down to the 'DS' shelf, which is probably before the 'DT' and after the 'DR'. *chuckles from audience* It's 2 hours! That's why we shortened it.

[On anal citation formats] This is to teach you how to follow arbitrary rules. [The skill of] Which will serve you will in life.

[On citations] Think like a computer. Do what you're told and only what you're told.

[On grading] It's not how much I like you. You'd all get an A if it's how much I like you.

It's important that you don't do this. *opens essay* B! *throws away essay* Don't do that. Or don't do that in front of me. I already have rashes. Don't stress me out.

[On essay returns] There are comments at the bottom and comments throughout. I have no life. I just do this.

We're almost done... 3 more classes... No one's said: "But we won't see you anymore Dr ***!"

Singapore adopted the Westministerial system of government on independence (Westminsterial)

True an unaccountable, dishonest government. (through)

[On JBJ] I wrote to him. We became quite good friends. I invited him to my birthday party, and things like that.

[On joining an opposition party] Reactions from kin and friends: my parents were very calm... My friends called me to dinner... 'Have you sorted out your assets? Have you done your tax returns? Are there any skeletons in your closet?'

Everytime the MPs are sworn in, they swear to protect and defend the Constitution. Considering the number of amendments you tend to wonder about this.

Although I may not look it, but I am part of the revival... Yesterday was my 40th birthday. It was kinda depressing, but today it's okay again. (I)

[On coverage of the opposition] Every now and then you will see some okay news in the media. Sometimes even something positive.

[On asking questions of ministers in parliament] Sometimes they can't answer, so it's very satisfying.

[On the elctorate] They should be thanking the opposition for the goodies right? No elections, no goodies.

[On reasons to join the opposition] I think 'die with [a] clear conscience' is quite self-explanatory.

[On reasons to join the opposition] I hope you can see why some of us have chosen to get involved. We are not crazy.

Our usherers, who are located on either side of the lecture theatre. (ushers)

[On the short timing of the 2001 elections] The last election was at a time of great urgency. As Mr Wong Kan Seng pointed out, we needed to act fast - that fast?

We don't know when the next election will be... It could be next month - you know the way things are here.

[On JBJ] I don't think any of us can claim to have gone through the suffering that he has gone through.

the party carders (cadres)

[Student: Do you a foresee a change of government in your lifetime?] How long will I live?

What we envihsage (envisage)

Many countries have grappled with the problem of minority representation, and I'm not sure, I don't think any one of them has chosen the GRC system to entrench that... I don't know any other countries use the GRC system. (correct for)

I think Singaporeans are apathetic to politics. For 2 years I stay in Singapore I do not see any demonstrations. (I have lived)

Some of you: the only way you know who your MP is is when they hang a banner outside your house with someone's face: So and so wishes you a happy new year.

[On cutting business costs] They always look at the worker as the first source of cutting.

[On being chided by the Powers That Be] '*** is only in her early 30s' - it was wrong - 'she doesn't understand'

The say'krer'sea of the vote itself (sacred-cy - the right word is 'sanctity')

I would also like to take this op'pour'tchoo'nity... without further adue (opportunity, ado)

We should start with chickens. Chickens are really dumb... Pigeons are really dumb. All they can do is shit. It actually turns out that they are art connoisseurs. They can distinguish between a Monet and a Picasso.

[On some claims for animal cognition] If you see some of the researchers - they're so intrigued by their animals that I don't quite believe them.

[On Bonobos] Pacman is something that they are very good at. They like Pacman.

Tee'toe'ler (Teetotaler)

[On a woman in a video who kept cheering her chimps on from when they were young] This is a very annoying woman... What a traumatic childhood.

[On evolutionary psychologists' theories on most artists being males in their reproductively active years] This is what they say, which often gets them into trouble.

[On evolutionary psychology's explanations] Funeral music... No one composes that to attract mates... Philosophy is a different issue altogether. No one uses philosophy to attract mates.

If you're a boyband, it will give you a lot of access to females. It's not theoretical. There's a lot of evidence for this phenomenon.

[On rhesus monkeys paying with fruit juice to see female genitalia] That's something like an innate interest in pornography.

The first question is how to define language. Since we have lots of English Language Majors we can get a better understanding of that.

[On Kanzi, the smart Bonobo] Since he gets a reward everytime he does something right, he's very fat.

60% of talking is social interaction [as opposed to 'useful' information exchange] - gossiping. So if I want to teach 2 hours of *** I need to talk for 6 hours (5)

[On Boys don't Cry] It wasn't very entertaining. [Me: It's not meant to be entertaining. You mean moving... Maybe you're not easily moved.] Are you kidding? I cry at commercials.

Plair'toe (Plato)

[On why we use Greek letters for population statistics and Roman letters for sample statistics] The Romans conquered their Empire, so the Greeks became the population and the Romans became the sample (?!)

I know some students I see in tutorial classes: I never see their faces in lectures, even though I peer here and there.

Pearson's Correlation Coefficient. Which Pearson? Are you interested to know? *silence from audience*

Although in last year's exam paper, I convinced students that playing 4D is futile.

Monday, March 28, 2005

"Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing." - Robert Benchley

***

I wasn't intending to do a post until at least after I finished some work due tomorrow, but this is very interesting:

My sources informed me of a very amusing incident that has been captured for posterity on Webcast. Students and Staff of the Premier Institution of Social Engineering may view the following incident on webcast: (ask me for details).

Lecturer: Okay, the next example, I think we will do it after the break. Alright, but before you go for your break, the surprise is not here yet, alright, so let me do something first.

Lecturer: Okay, what happen is that there's a guy... who liked a girl very much. And this girl, is in this class. *stirrings from audience*

Lecturer: Okay, but she doesn't know about it. *laughs from audience and chuckles from lecturer* So it can be any, any one of you alright. Okay, don't, don't be too worried. The guy is not me. *riotous laughter from audience*

Lecturer: Okay, this guy is quite shy, so he want me to show this Powerpoint to the girl. *flashes Powerpoint slide* Where is ***? Maybe he's too shy to come out. Ah, okay anyway actually the guy is not that shy after all. He's going to, he's going to come out and present a prower (Ed: flower) to the girl. *cheers and claps from audience*

*guy gives flowers and audience claps*

Lecturer: Okay, you should go for your break. Leave them alone. *laughs from audience*

***

Someone: hey you know i never knew there were so many people in singapore who looked like the asian prince
i dont know alot of indians look like the asian prince complete with the mullet and moustache

Me: ooh where who

Someone: i dont know who the guy is ...but you can try looking in little india
chances are 1 in 3

Me: hahahhaha
got mullet meh

Someone: got!!


Someone: i have found the reason why ghosts cause electrical failure and cold spots. in order for any action/behaviour to take place, energy is required, ghosts dont eat, so they draw energy from surroundings. my guess is that they draw heat energy from the surroundings in order to manifest physically.

at the same time, for some strange reason, which i havent tot of yet, they are a changing magnetic field, and according to faraday ( i think) a changing magnetic field creates electrical current, which overloads the existing electric field causing a black out


Someone: she [my friend] told me that her students celebrate their 16th birthdays by shouting loudly "I'm LEGAL!" at their bday parties

***

Ban the frilly skirts please!

"What is going on with fashion you guys? I keep seeing thirteen year old girls running around with their butts hanging out of their one inch frilly skirts. It's freaking me out! I'm at Target shopping the other day and I see two gorgeous bodies standing next to me practically half naked and I think to myself, "wow, I wonder if these girls are 'professionals' and suddenly they turn around and I instantly feel sick. They are barely thirteen…running around the store giggling and laughing about nothing and anything—they can't control their laughter—they're kids! I try to forget this experience, but a few days later Paul and I go to the mall and the frilly skirts and barely legal shorts are by the dozen! It makes me so furious that their parents are allowing them to leave the house dressed that way—and we wonder why there are so many perverts out there. Hollywood bimbo, Paris Hilton, is to blame and I hope this fad passes quickly before teen pregnancy sky rockets in the next few years. There are enough single mothers in this world. Bless their hearts that they try so hard to be everything for their kids to make up for their mistake, but it's just not enough! I object to teen nudity in public!"

***

riolene: just wanted to put something down i realized recently on christianity, or religion as a whole. if you read 1984, doesn't goldstein's book ring up shades of God in it?

"At the apex of the pyramid comes Big Brother. Big Brother is infallible and all-powerful. Every success, every virtue, every victory, all knoweldge, all wisdom, are held to issue directly from his leadership and inspiration. Nobody has ever seen Big Brother. He is a face on the hoardings, a voice on the telescreen..."

now substitute God into Big Brother. :) so yeah. have faith in your own beliefs, and never let them be shaken. :)


666 ELS sequence found in Bible Code in text of King James New Testament.

"Guess whose name appears connected to SATAN if you use the newly discovered BIBLE CODE or ELS (Equidistant Letter Spacing) Code?

Using an ELS sequence of 666 to research the King James Version of the New Testament. A very famous historial figure appears directly connected to SATAN at the ELS sequence of 666.

The Torah was the first religious work analyzed to see if the ELS Code was valid. Remarkable discoveries of hidden ELS codes were indeed found in the Torah.

This is what you will find at an ELS sequence for SATAN in a King James Version of the New Testament.

Is this the HIDDEN NAME of the FALSE PROPHET who is SATAN?

As you can see Jesus Christ connects directly to the word SATAN in a ELS of the KJV of the NT at an ELS sequence of 666.

Is Jesus the deceiver? The False Prophet?

When questioned by the Rabbi's, are your works miracles from SATAN, he never denied they were. He never directly called himself GOD or even the Son of God in the NT. And the last thing he said was that he was THE MORNING STAR in Revelations 22:16

Look up Lucifer in a collegiate level dictionary. Does MORNING STAR appear as an AKA of Lucifer... Was he???"

I love these arcane mathematical formulae using which you can make the text say anything you like. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander!


voctir was receiving Christian spam forwards, so I dug this up from my archive of links to send him:

An atheist on Judgment Day - "If it is a choice between oblivion and an eternity with a monster like you, I gladly choose oblivion"
A most touching and moving story. I wonder what I would do in a hypothetical scenario such as this. Incidentally, a good story to forward people who keep sending you Christian spam.
Addendum: Mirrored since the original site has gown down

***

Compassionate conservatives? Uh, not exactly - "It's not that Terri Schiavo's champions don't mind killing the disabled. But these other deaths are kept on a different ledger, recorded as inconsequential losses, written off as the cost of doing business with a lean, mean healthcare budget. These are obscure, lonely deaths, mostly ignored by the media. Religious zealots don't pay much attention to euthanasia rendered by budget cuts. The slow, quiet, deadly creep of negligence lacks the drama to inflame the political leadership the way the plight of Terri Schiavo transformed them into Christian crusaders."

Aliens: why they are here - "Ever since the end of the Second World War, there have been sightings of objects flying across the sky in a way no human craft has been known to do, and in recent decades such experiences of extraterrestrial visitation have swelled into reports of alien abduction. Large numbers of seemingly unremarkable and well-balanced people claim to have been removed from the earth by aliens. It would seem that such a perplexing and large-scale phenomenon requires an explanation."

A Nontrivial Manifesto - "Flip through an average textbook or article, and you are likely to come across one of these insinuating taunts: "Obviously . . .," "After some simple algebra . . .," "An easy derivation shows . . .," "It should be clear that . . . ." A student reading the book for the first time may not find the derivation in question nearly so clear as the subtext: "If you don't understand this immediately, your ineptitude for physics must surely exceed that of a rutabaga." However, no word in the physicist's vocabulary exudes more contempt and scorn than the obnoxious "trivial." We use this word with reckless abandon: "The proof is trivial." "Trivial algebra yields . . ." "I assigned just a few trivial problems this week." No other word better exemplifies how the jargon of our trade can be so condescending. I will grant that unlike the other terms I have just indicted, "trivial" can have a technical mathematical meaning: the uninteresting solution to a differential, matrix, or other equation. However, most of the times we invoke this word, we have no such excuse, and even in those technical contexts we can come across as pompous."

StarWars.com has put up the Clone Wars series on its website, and finally people outside North America are being allowed to view it. Undoubtedly this is to stir up excitement for Revenge of the Sith. Though I still loathe the Samurai Jack style of animation, and indeed modern cartooning in general.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Longtime visitors may remember He Who Must Not Be Named (aka The Associate aka mindgame aka nw.t.), who used to post a year or two back. Besides having a uniquely warped view of human reality (for example, he believes that most people would rather be spoiled about the ending of some book, game or movie than have their names mentioned casually to other people, or online), he also delights in rejoicing at selectively digging up pithy quotes from the unearthly amount of books he reads to celebrate the depressive states that he is wont to fall into.

Perhaps sinking further into such reverie awakens some masochistic tendencies in him, causing him to streak naked down streets like the flagellants of yesteryear, exulting in their suffering. Or perhaps such suffering is to him exalted, purifying the body and the soul.

One of these quotes particularly struck me as being specious:


"Everybody wants one more chance."

"What's so bad about that?"

"It makes a mockery of the past. Every time you start again, it diminishes what you've had before. Can't you see that? It chops your life up into these little bite-sized morsels. If you have endless goes at getting it right, then you will never get it right. Not even once. Because starting again turns the best thing in the world into just another takeaway. Fast love. Junk love. Love to go."

"Don't you want one more chance?"

"I've had my chance."


The moral he draws from this is that "it merely places a value judgment on people's decisions to seek love and happiness, and how that constant pursuit of "sopmething (sic) better" or "a second chance" leads to a morally and spiritually debasing conclusion. it's an ascetic condemnation of hedonist values. It claims that attempts at finding further chances are inevitably flawed and pallid."

I find, though, that the author's premise of "one and only one chance, otherwise the significance of all is nullied" is fallacious. Having endless goes at "getting it right", learning nothing from each attempt and finally stumbling upon an answer due to dumb luck does indeed make a mockery of the past.

But to adopt an "all or nothing", "one time or never" approach (which he claims to favour in his dealings and actions, despite the dictates of reality) is surely ridiculous. My favourite counter-example to debunk this "all or nothing" philosophy is about immortality: if your lifelong dream is to be immortal, but you are unable to get the formula for your elixer of youth right on your first try, then you might as well commit seppuku forthwith.

Since you've failed in your attempts, having another chance makes a mockery of the past. Every time you start again, it diminishes what you've had before. It chops your attempts at attaining your dream up into these little bite-sized morsels. If you have endless goes at getting it right, then you will never get it right. Not even once. Because starting again in pursuit of your dreams turns the best things in the world into just another takeaway. Fast dreams. Junk dreams. Dreams to go."

[Addendum:

The Associate claims that he's "too tired and drained and exhausted to feel any outrage at how miserably wrong you've misinterpreted my philosophy. again."

One day I shall get him to elucidate, but for now I stand by my diagnosis, interpretation and dissection of the issue.]

Total Defence: Now anyone can be a seditious traitor!

Total Defence: What does it mean?

Military and Civil defence are easy to grasp, but what about the more nebulous concepts of Economic, Psychological and Social 'Defence'?


Total Defence Action Pack 2002 - WHAT IS TOTAL DEFENCE? : Talk Script

"Economic Defence

It also means having a system to mobilise and share resources between the private and public sectors. During an emergency, our offices and factories must be able to carry on even when men and equipment are mobilised. [Ed: So women, be patriotic and carry out the task of running our economy if your men are away!]

Two, our economy has to be strong enough to withstand external shocks. This means having sound economic policies, managing our finances wisely, and having a well-trained labour force. [Ed: Moral of the story: Don't complain when your CPF and wages are cut, or when we refuse to disburse our hefty budget surplus. If you lose your job it's your fault and if you refuse to take a menial job that is unsuitable for you or underpays you, you are being treacherous.]

Individual Level
At the individual level, Economic Defence means lifelong learning and continual skills upgrading. In this rapidly changing world, we need to constantly update ourselves with new skills and knowledge. [Ed: Going for BEST, WISE and what-not is your solemn and sacred patriotic duty!]

Social Defence

National Level
Social Defence is about Singaporeans of all races and religions living and working together in harmony. We will be able to do so if we practise racial and religious tolerance, provide opportunities for all regardless of their race, language or religion, and help the less fortunate. On 21 July each year, we commemorate Racial Harmony Day to remind Singaporeans never to take racial and religious harmony for granted. [Ed: Those we decry as racists and bigots will henceforth be pariahs and hounded out of the country. If you do not subscribe to our version of Race and Religion in Singapore, you are not helping Total Defence and jeopardising the safety of our fair country! Meanwhile we practise institutionalised racism in the SAF (and possibly elsewhere), but that's alright.]

Individual Level
Social Defence at the individual level means showing tolerance and respect for other races, cultures, religions and lifestyles. In our daily lives, we could make time to learn about the foods, costumes, cultures and heritage of the different races in Singapore. [Ed: Ditto.]

Psychological Defence

National Level
Some say Psychological Defence is the most important, but also the most difficult to promote. It is about our loyalty and commitment to our country, and our confidence in Singapore’s future. Only when Singaporeans stay united will we have the will to stand up for our rights and defend what is ours. We have to strengthen our “heartware” so that we have a stronger sense of attachment and belonging to our home. [Ed: Crimethink is not allowed. Since we have fused the party, the state and the nation, criticism of one is tantamount to criticism of all, and undermines Psychological Defence. If you leave this country because it's not the best place for you to live your life and bring your kids up in (eg If you're gay and being bashed on all sides), you're traitorous.]

That is why we have National Education in our schools and other nation-building efforts (such as promoting our national symbols, national songs and our National Day celebrations). Through the Singapore 21 vision, we hope to involve Singaporeans in creating the type of society that they would like Singapore to be. [Ed: Our Social Engineering is totally justified. No matter that the Nazis engaged in such jingoism and social engineering as well.]"
"When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: 'Whose?'" - Don Marquis

***

I just came back from a buffet dinner at a HDB void deck. No, I wasn't attending a Malay Wedding or a Chinese Funeral, but a ORD party during which we got Vincent so intoxicated that he puked (pity).

I think I've found one of the last non-Halal catering services in Singapore, so I no longer have to set up my own in future!

Meng Hiang Catering

Blk 15 Woodlands Loop #02-53
Woodlands Ind. Estate Singapore 738322

Tel: 6756 2833 / 6756 1450 Fax: 6756 7499

website: http://www.menghiang.com/

***

need boob job

You, Like, So Need a Boob Job

While you think your breasts are cute and perky,
a couple of hard grapefruits would be an improvement.
Who knows? Maybe if you ho yourself out to Howard Stern
you'll get some breast implants for free!

Do *You* Need a Boob Job? Click Here to Find Out!
More Great Quizzes from Quiz Diva


***

Schiavo parents claim daughter has tried to tell of desire to live

"At that point Mrs Schiavo made the first two vowel sounds of the sentence "Ahh Wuhh", said the motion, adding that Mrs Schiavo was unable to finish the sentence and then became very anxious.

Most medical experts say that the noises Mrs Schiavo occasionally makes are nothing more than unconscious groans and that she is not aware of her surroundings. Others have said that if Mrs Schiavo did indeed say the words "I want", she could just as easily have been trying to say, "I want to die"."

Hahahahaha. I never quite thought of it that way.


Terri Schiavo Status

"We all want to keep up with the status of Terri Schiavo, right? Well, now you can with this Terri Schiavo Status Firefox Extension!

Usage: Just click the link below, and install the extension. When you restart Firefox, look at the status bar at the bottom of the Firefox window!"

***

I saw a woman reading a booklet: "Why do Christians get sick?"

I can envision a whole series of such books:

- Why don't many Christians get rich?
- Why do Christians die?
- Why do some Christians bomb abortion clinics?
- Why do many Christians deny Evolution?
- Why do Christians de-convert?

***

Top 10 Vestigial Organs

10) The Wings on Flightless Birds
9) Hind Leg Bones in Whales
8) Erector Pili and Body Hair (We don't need to - and more importantly can't - scare off predators by making ourselves look bigger anymore)
7) The Human Tailbone (Coccyx) - more evidence that we used to have tails
6) The Blind Fish Astyanax Mexicanus
5) Wisdom teeth in humans (I'm not sure that this fits the definition of a vestigial organ though)
4) The Sexual Organs of Dandelions (Dandelions reproduce asexually)
3) Fake Sex in Virgin Whiptail Lizards (Vestigial Behavior) - The parthenogenic lizards sometimes act as males and try to mount another female
2) Male Breast Tissue and Nipples (I'm not sure that this fits the definition of a vestigial organ either)
1) The Human Appendix

[Appendum:

Techno Prince adds:

- pelvic bones and "spurs" in primitive snakes
- the plantaris muscle in the human calf. In our primate relatives it flexes the toes and is useful for gripping branches. But in us it may be atrophied or even absent, and disappears into the Achilles tendon.
- the huge roots of our canines. Even though our canines are much smaller compared to other primates, the roots are still huge.]

***

The Normal Technical stream in Yishun Town Secondary School has a Dean. Now the concept of a Chicken Executive Officer in KFC doesn't sound quite so ridiculous.

What an age we live in, where we have Bus 'Captains' and Walmart has "Associates" whom they screw anyway despite their fancy title.

"If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don't make it a leg." - Abraham Lincoln


I seem now to have 3 hair lengths - one of my fringe, one of my side and one of my back - so it looks quite weird.

A source informs me that when she was in Secondary 2 (1998), Nan Hua Secondary also had ridiculous rules for girls' hair. Someone should do a comprehensive study on this kind of thing.

I wonder if slaves in the SAF with PhD are allowed to add the "Dr" honorific to their name. For example, CPT (Dr) He Ruimin. Dentists can do that, I know.

Unlike most people, it seems listening to music breaks my concentration, so I can't listen to it when doing hardcore work.

Putting crisps that have lost their crispness in the fridge for a few hours seems to restore much of their crispness. Must be the dry air. But when I take them out of the fridge they lose most of their restored vitality. Damn.

I doubt the pronunciation of Evolution as "Evil'lution" helps its image in some circles. Maybe they should adopt the other pronunciation.

***

Oddly, the Ridge's (NUSSU's official magazine) Feb/March issue had another article about fee hikes, even though that topic is stale and uninteresting. And interestingly, their article sounded like the writer had read the one I wrote. Hmm.

I was surprised that even Political Science has a statistics module. This confirms my theory that all the social sciences involve mathematics and statistics to some degree. So those who are really hopeless at it should go do humanities.

Apparently an Oxford Graduate has a vocabulary of 3000 words, and Shakespeare 5000 (according to an English major, anyway).
Quotes:

The survey on Island (Ireland)

[On Ireland] If they want to ask for aid, they use GNP... If they want to show that they are developed, they use GDP. Actually we do that in Singapore. There are many ways of defining the budget surplus... They give you the lower figure.

[On Singapore's growth not coming from improved technology but increased labour and capital] It's very interesting, because he compare us to Soviet Union. That we would be like Soviet Union... our growth is by perspiration, not by inspiration. We are like a sausage factor, and will come to a dismal end. (compared, the Soviet Union)

[On Woo and Thia, 2002] They found our TFPG [Ed: Total Factor Productivity Growth]. It was 0.94. That means it was above 0.

[On Krugman's criticism of Singapore's not using technology to raise GDP, and Woo and Thia] Of course you may say 'sour grapes'. They say our TPFG is low, so we try and prove them wrong. That's what a lot of my colleagues did. They took the data and found ways of looking at it.

East of Swears (Suez)

[On import substitution] That's why sometimes you hear people say 'we just need to annex johor, and we'll be fine'.

dry, clow clockwork (cold)

[Me: You're not dressed goofily today.] I don't always dress goofily. [Me: That means sometimes you dress goofily.]

This is known as the 'Red Queen' hypothesis. Which is very nice because it comes from another faculty. English Literature. Finally, you've something from English Literature.

[On a description of Oregon being peaceful, with beavers and ducks] Beaver and Duck. But we've heard that ducks are very good at raping. So it's not that gentle.

[On ants being a bad meal] Ants... A lot of poison and not very much nutrition. Mostly roughage. [Student: But they taste great.] If they're big and chocolate coated, yes.

[On a cecidom cloning maggots] I actually find it rather cute but you will probably find it disgusting.

[On sex having explanatory value for the world around us] If you look around campus you see a lot of evidence for the phenomenon of sex.

[On senescence] You guys are too young to have experienced much of that. It's when your joints start hurting and you start getting really fat.

[Me on senescence: After menopause.] Except we don't have menopause. [Male Student: Yay.] [Girl: Beer bellies.]

The uy is going to be let off scots-free (scot)

[On understanding the law courts] You need to be legalistically trained (legally)

[On the Neyman-Pearson Lemma] 2 people. Jeremy Neyman and Pearson. Not Karl Pearson. Hahah! Here is the twist. Karl Pearson was dead by 1934, if you remember my little story last week.

Polish Jew (Polish - pronounced as pore'lish]

That's the problem with scientific theories. Once you discover it, they will seem obvious. Newton's Law of Gravity is now obvious. Einstein's Theory of Relativity is still not obvious. (them)

[On the Uniformly Most Powerful test] When you find such a test, you should scream in joy.

[On not covering something but recommending that we read it] And it's not easy. Not difficult to understand. (hard)

[On hypothesis testing] Most teachers of statistics will say: Nah, there is the rule. Memorise it. Last time it was a closed book exam. Everyone can memorise it, everyone can apply it. Everyone will score 100 marks. You ask them what they are doing, they have no idea... At the end of the course they have no idea what statistics is all about. I'm determined not to fall into that trap. Sp that you know what you are doing. So that you can carry out a decent conversation with a scientist. Just remember to tell them who your teacher is. (him)

Think through it yourself. I have already said it twice. I can repeat it n times, or even to infinity, but I will probably collapse well before that.

studies on tweens (twins)

You have a matching hairband. [Me: Lucky]... You look very different in your IVLE picture. [Me: Most people do.]

You can employ a maid to replace your mom. [Professor: You replace your mom, then what will your mom do? Your mom has no job.]

Prostitution is legal in Singapore? I didn't know that.

[On the Moral Majority] They can go to [a] Star Cruise... There are so many casinos in America. It's just a small casino, why are they kicking up such a big fuss?

[On F1 racing and such] The government became a bit puritanical, then they got rid of all these things. The now they've gotten decadent and they're trying to bring all these things back.

Another question which I can't answer here is: This is how our system works. They ask for feedback, then have a song and dance. Then the man comes up: go back to work. They have already made up their minds. They just want to give you a sense of participating.

You're laughing, because you haven't been doing any work ***. I know. You don't do homework but I still have to teach you.

[On student feedback] We're trying to find out. Do you all have too much work to do? *cries of assent from students*

In Singapore, you don't just study what you want. Everyone is doing life science, because that is what the government wants.

They pull the rug under your feet (from under)

How do you encourage them to work? At the same time, you want them to have 3 kids or more.

[Possibly on woman dominating certain industries] All these women. Slimming agencies. Gabriel, did you take a look? All these trading houses, slimming centres.

12 thousand. For that you can hire 3 young accountancy girls. 3 accountancy students... You can hire 3 young accountancy students. Brighten up the office, instead of this old man there.

[On RSA deciphering] So that is why it is very secure up to, up to this moment, because you are not able to factorise a 200 digit number, in a short time. It wills take 10 to the power of 9 years to do it... the message, although you value, um, nobody will be around to read it anyway (will)
"I agree with everything you say, but I would attack to the death your right to say it." - Tom Stoppard

***

The results of the poll are out, with 124 votes recorded (hopefully no one tried to stuff the ballot box, though I *did* implement some measures to counter that eventuality)!

Results:
Personal anecdotes/musings 30 (24%)
NUS Commentary 21 (16%)
Amusements/frivolity 21 (16%)
Quotes 15 (12%)
Religion 11 (8%)
Pseudo/Quasi intelligentsia 11 (8%)
Political Commentary 8 (6%)
Miscellaneous (specify) 6 (4%)
Technology 1 (0%)
124 Total votes

Some people thought that I was going to tailor my content to my audience. Fear not; among other reasons, since I don't get paid for this (especially since no one ever clicks on my Google ads, boo hoo. Though they've just mailed out my first cheque which strangely, though sent by "First Class US Mail", will take 2-3 weeks to arrive), I've no obligation at all to follow the results of the poll. In fact, I could be characteristically perverse and go in the other direction. Or start typing smth lyk dis.... hiakz...

In any case, the poll was just to find out what people find interesting about this place, and my curiosity is thus assuaged.


Also, it seems most blogs are largely comprised of one-issue posts; unlike mine, they have a theme running through each post. They also do not have 2000 word long posts.

The joys of verbose eclecticism!


ted writes:

"When are you posting your commentary on why is it Christianity have such a draw on the young? Waiting for t very long liao leh."

Patience, young grasshopper. Good things come to those who wait. (More importantly, I still have quite a lot of backlog to cover, and am trying to fit PRTF to Institutional Realities)

***

The Young Republic on Abstinence-only policies, STDs and such:

A: I fail to see your point.

What exactly is wrong with teaching abstinence from sex, being that it is the ONLY safe method to guarantee prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as a host of social problems such as adultary, bribery et al?

If the Government decides that they want to prevent the spread of AIDS by clamping down on such activities, it is not much different then it's clamping down on, say, chewing gum by limiting its use here.

B: Hey, let me give you a piece of advice. Don't ever have sex, okay? Because
even if you're married and use a condom with your spouse every single time you come within 2 feet of each other's genitals, you can't guarantee you won't get an STD. Your spouse may be infected before marriage/unfaithful/rape victim/intravenous drug user/recipient of contaminated blood transfusion/unfortunate individual in whom inexplicable spontaneous venereal bacterial infections occur. And condoms break. THE
ONLY SAFE METHOD IS TO ABSTAIN... FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER.

(The government can deal with the resulting baby shortage by growing them from scratch in vats - I'm sure they're doing the relevant research already.)

Risk is an unavoidable element of a fulfilling and fruitful life. "Safe methods" and "guarantees" are for pussies. Pardon my French.

B.

p.s. I have no idea where you got it into your head that teaching abstinence prevents adultery. I don't even want to imagine what you mean by 'bribery'.

B: After sending my last email it occurred to me that maybe there's a way you
can avoid STDs but still have sex - just make sure all the instances of sex you ever engage in centre around raping day-old babies. But then I remembered babies can be born with HIV or other STDs as well. Too bad. You just have to go without ever getting laid.

p.s. Of course giving out condoms at a party encourages casual sex. People who have personal inhibitions against casual sex are instantly and completely changed in this respect by contact with a condom packet, and people who are generally enthusiastic about casual sex would never be able to get a condom anywhere else. I apologise for my earlier gross misunderstanding of reality.

B.

***

Dr Late is one of the 29183 people (as of writing) who have signed the "FACTS" (FAMILIES AGAINST the CASINO THREAT in SINGAPORE) petition. Eheh. Why am I not surprised? Incidentally, this is what happens when you socially engineer a populace for decades to believe that gambling is evil, wrong and immoral, and then suddenly change your mind (so you've to start bashing gays).

the burden and standard of proof - Why criminalising the unwitting transmission of AIDS (or HIV, more accurately) is a bad idea

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa on The Da Vinci Code: "The book is everywhere. There is a very real risk that many people who read it will believe that the fables it contains are true."
How ironic...

The Virtues of Promiscuity - "The latest anthropological research shows that female infidelity is good for the family, the community, and even the gene pool... If the anthropologists are right, monogamy may well be counter-evolutionary or an adaptation to modern life. Or perhaps the nuclear family has always been more of an ideal than a reality."

Medical, Ethical Questions Largely Decided, Experts Say - "For all the political controversy over whether Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state and should be allowed to die, neurologists and ethicists said yesterday that the case presents few scientific and legal ambiguities."
That people so against 'unnatural' things could be for the unnatural animation of a dead person in a gross mockery of life and against the person's will is curious. Or pehaps not, given conservatives' behavior in other fields.

Schoolgirls playing filthy game of orgy roulette - "Russian Roulette is filled with inherent dangers, but Japanese schoolgirls have apparently devised a version where there're plenty of shots fired, but none of them are bullets, according to Hanashi no Channel (2/20). Instead of a single bullet being loaded into a revolver chamber and the trigger pulled until it lets off with a blast, Russian Sex Roulette, the schoolgirls' derivative game, sees the girls allow any number of men to unleash their weapons in her chamber."

***

"Humor in British and American trade magazines (Hypothesis tests for differences between proportions)" - wth.

For an article I wrote I had to give the people I interviewed pseudonyms. The people I interviewed either weren't online or weren't responding, so I named all of them, save one, after Power Rangers. Coincidentally, there were 4 girls, so I could insert the names of each of my 4 favourite female rangers in. Ho ho! (I'm so going to get lynched)


Quotes:

Decant the garlic bread into the bowl (put)
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