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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Everyone heard about the hitchiker's guide to the galaxy movie? what's the word on it? i saw the trailer on tv and it didn't look very appetizing... the BBC one looked better.
"It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues." - Abraham Lincoln

Random Playlist Song: Bob Rivers - What If God Smoked Cannabis? (Spoof of Joan Osborne's 'What If God Was One Of Us')

If God had long hair,
And if his eyes looked pretty glazed...
If He looked spaced out,
Would you buy his story?
Would you believe he had an eye infection?

And yeah, yeah, God looks baked.
Yeah, yeah, God smells good,
Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah yeah!

What if God smoked cannabis?
Hit the bung like some of us?
Drove a tie-dyed microbus,
And he subscribes to Rolling Stone?

When God made this place,
In the beginning,
Did He plant any seeds?
Or did he put them there for Adam and Eve,
So they'd be hungry for the apple that the snake,
Was always offering?

And yeah, yeah, God rolls great,
Yeah, yeah, God smells good,
Yeah, yeah, yeah yeah yeah...

What if God smoked cannabis?
Do you s'pose he had a buzz?
When he made the platypus,
When he created Earth, our home?
Does He like Pearl Jam or the Stones?
And do you think He rolls His own,
Up there in heaven on the throne?

And when the Saints go marching home,
Maybe he sits and smokes a bone.

[Ed: The song's even funnier if you listen to the original first.]

***

I have decided to go on sabbatical. I shall return on Thursday, after my Microeconomic Analysis I exam.

Nonetheless, I shall remain in spirit.

I belong to that not-so-exclusive club of founder members of a new blog... those who believe that when I have gone on sabbatical, that I've gone into permanent retirement, really should have their heads examined.

And even from the exam hall, even if you are going to bar the doors and I feel that something is going wrong, I'll rush out.

***

You are "There is a Manta Ray in my pants"
John Kerry




Damn. I was looking forward more to getting "I am sorry to hear that you are the King of Egypt. I appreciate the flowers", or "I just finished raping your mother, and have defecated on myself" instead.

***

Me: anyway people accuse me of being racist
just because I don't join in the lynching
and what was that thing in 1984 called?
where they flashed emmanuel goldstein's face and everyone cursed and swore?

Techno Prince: but perhaps you needed to be more forceful in stating your condemnation of racist views
otherwise people will misinterpret and think you're being more equivocal and ambivalent towards such deplorable views

Me: ahh The Hate

Techno Prince: a lot of people still think in black and white

Me: well they're idiots
too bad for them

and I don't think racism is as bad as most people claim it is
people have prejudices about most things
why is racism supposed to be the worst and most abhorrent?

Techno Prince: because it leads to horrid policies and stuff, I guess
besides, it often leads to a slippery slope to regarding other ethnic groups as inferior or less than human

Me: that happens with prejudice and irrationality in general
not racism in particular

you attack the symptoms, not the causes
I am against stupidity and irrationality in general

Techno Prince: well, racism can be said to be a manifestation of prejudice and irrationality
so it is the generic all-encompassing monolithic label to attack and condemn

Me: err
but people can condemn racism while revelling in sexism, homophobia and much else besides

Techno Prince: exactly
people are hypocrites :)

however, just because all these are abhorrent and yet not treated with the same amount of condemnation, doesn't mean that we should be equal-oppurtunity and not attack all of them

I guess it's up to the individual to decide which one is worth more energy towards condemning and acting against

Me: just because you do not think a criminal should be lynched and hanged by a vigilante court does not mean that you support his actions
make that a petty thief

Techno Prince: ah true


Someone else: hhm.. i guess whichever way u define it, inaction is still considered an active decision
so abt "someone's" point abt not being vocal enuff 2wards it.. is a thought worth considering

Me: well when people are being lynched by vigilante mobs it doesn't feel right to join in
but rather to highlight the flip side of the coin

Someone else: yea i noe, we can do the same thing by various means
but pple can't read intentions.. so they always judge by actions
u noe, that kinda thang

Me: when a petty thief is being lynched, it is as much a miscarriage of justice as if he goes unpunished


Another Someone (anonymising people can get so boring): it sounds like you're more against racism for the intellectual reasons, rather than having any passionate, emo response like OH DOWN WITH RACISM ^^;;
which leads you towards the middle ground in your attitude. or smth like that

***

"Look, I am of the liberal left and I am a First Amendment person. When the Nazis demonstrate on Michigan Avenue, one of our main streets, I recognize their First Amendment rights - even though there may be Jews and even survivors of the Holocaust in the audience. But when the Nazis deliberately seek out a place - Skokie - where there are many Jews, including survivors, then the question of intent becomes terribly important.

It is the difference between the Nazis marching in Greenwich, Connecticutt, and marching in those parts of Rockland County where there are Hasidim (an orthodox Jewish sect), some of whom barely escaped the ovens of the death camps. The same act of demonstrating which is all right under the First Amendment in Greenwich becomes an intentional, specific assault against the Hasidim. I'll put it another way. In front of a Veterans Administration Hospital, as the paraplegics come out for recreation, a group of demonstrators with, signs and chanting, ferociously advocate euthanasia for paraplegics because they are too great an economic burden on society. Is that a legitimate exercise of free speech or is it an assault from which the paraplegics should have been protected?"

- Head of the Anti-Defamation League

***

One of my idols on my latest mugshot: hmm you certainly don't look like a schoolgirl. oh well wait till it gets longer... maybe you should try vidal sassoon. it's really good

you seem to be immune to fashion disasters

Me: I thought I'm a walking one

***

"(I'm perpetually amused by the Star Trek IRC channel I visited once where Star Trek was the only officially frowned upon topic.)... Why should "generic fantasy" be defined in such a way that it cannot be good and non-boundary-pushing? To cleverly paraphrase Douglas Adams: with literary genres there's a danger in getting excited about the ways you can push them forward at the expense of what you want to say.

... I think one of the mistakes made is saying that fantasy has to be this or that to
begin with, including "strange" and "dangerous". Why does a change in basic setting impose conceptual requirements? Why can't it be used to tell stories that could normally be told in a mainstream modern-world or historical fashion that no one would bat an eyelid at? Here in Sweden for the last thirty years the standing argument has been that if you want to write fantasy (as opposed to fantastic mainstream fiction à la magic realism), you MUST emulate the acknowledged greats like Lewis or Tolkien or be accused of geekishness and "missing the point of fantasy". And of course, there will always be someone to take the other approach and claim you DID emulate then and line up THAT artillery against the same work. It's a win-win situation for the snobs when they can take anything and claim it doesn't belong in the realm of fantasy precisely because they like it."

Heh

***

Why texting harms your IQ - "Txts n emails mk ppl stupid coz they R worse than smking pot & lead 2 a st8 of 'infomania'"

Ghostbusting gizmo goes on sale - but watch out for the gremlins - "Does the rattling of chains keep you awake at night? Do the wraiths of long-dead relatives join you for family gatherings? If so, a Japanese gadget company has designed the very thing for you — the world’s first portable ghost radar. The device, which fits neatly into a pocket, promises to alert its owners to the presence of eight different types of spectre, from “lost souls” to “evil spirits”. Using a variety of carefully calibrated sensors — one of which claims to detect human fear — the machine will then inform users whether the ghost is malevolent or benign."

Kamen Rider Vegetable

Top ten Firefox browser annoyances - "As seen by a Mozilla Suite user"

A kidnapping gone wrong - with an unexpected ending!

Friday, April 22, 2005

"O Lord, help me to be pure, but not yet." - Saint Augustine

Random Playlist Song: Asian Prince - Untitled

"I really know how to work up a crowd. This is yet again, another sold out concert. I was bored, so I decorated the picture with computer graphics. There is no live recording of this concert, but you can play the song I sang. The song is untitled. I really like the reggae beat, don't you?" (Official music site)

With this piece, the Asian Prince displays his versatility. He is not confined only to rap, he is also capable of songs with reggae beats such as this.

I like the backup singers, who sing lines like: "Let's do it", "You feel alright". This song is upbeat and this dynamism comes across in the recording - you can sense the cheeriness of the performers.

***

One paper down, 3 papers (and 1 essay) to go.

***

Slippery Nipples (which has lost the old picture of nipples and switched to a boring template) reports:

Spotted!

"Asian Prince *Agagooga's website has his pic* look-a-like at NUS SRC!!

He's one of those contractor guys who hang around often to fix this and that.

Too bad I don't have my phone with me, or else would've snapped a pic of him. *damn*"

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SHOW ME THE WO-HEN LOOKALIKE!!!

Anyone who can show me a real-life Wo-hen lookalike will be lavishly rewarded.

***

Robot sex dolls

"A German inventor claims to have created the world's most sophisticated robot sex doll.

The sex androids developed by aircraft mechanic Michael Harriman from Nuremberg have 'hearts' that beat harder during sex.

They also breathe harder and have internal heaters to raise the body temperature - but their feet stay cold "just like in real life", according to Harriman.

He said: "They are almost impossible to distinguish from the real thing, but I am still developing improvements and I will only be happy when what I have is better than the real thing."

The dolls sold under the Andy brand name are on offer for £4,000 each for the basic model, with extra charges for adaptations like extra large breasts.

Underneath the silicon skin, developed for use in medical surgery, is an electronic heart that beats faster during sex.

The model can also be made to move by remote control, wiggling her hips under the bedclothes and making other suggestive movements - all at the touch of a button.

Harriman said his design was an improvement on the popular 'real dolls' sold in the USA."

Wah. Finally the technology for males has caught up with that for females.

***

I knew it was only a matter of time before someone used the following cheap trick on me. Lucky I anticipated this beforehand (call it a premonition):

Someone: why do you refer to 'god' as an exclamation if you feel the concept has no relevance to life today? Wouldn't some other word be more appropriate, like "*gnash teeth furiously*"? : )

Me: why do you use the words "wednesday" and "thursday" if you do not worship the pagan gods?
despite your professed religion, in your daily life, in word and in deed you pay homage to the true gods of the north!

Someone: haha - no, there is practical use in that - objecting to that would be like you objecting to your living in a society with laws broadly based on judeo-christian moral values if you believed there was no judeo-christian God - you do not, I presume, because you still think there is value in at least some of these legally imposed obligations.

Me: I use the english language
so do you

and the laws society has are based more on universal values than so-called judeo-christian values
such values appear in most societies
and some appear in all

Someone: our particular interpretation of the law tends towards Roman, in the formulation imposed after the formation of the Roman Catholic church - but I think that we've strayed from the original point made. : )

Me: yeah that you're using your cheap tricks again
don't worry. I have cheap tricks too

[Ed: Someone suggests that I try:

Perhaps you could say something like "You know, you're right! I never thought of it that way before. From now on when I need to exclaim I'll say 'Oh Satan, Lord and Master!'. That's much more relevant for today. Thanks."

Another idea: if you can get a Christian to say, or make reference to "you shall not take/use the Lord's name in vain.", you can simply remind them that, "It's only in vain if He doesn't exist!"
]

[later - on Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth]

Someone: (: I've heard these allegations before, and am unconvinced.

Me: (: the flat earth society has heard evidence that the world is flat, and is unconvinced

Someone: I'd point to the Old Testament firstly, and secondly say that I believe because I see God working today in many ways. : )

Me: the oldest parts of the old testament dates from 650bc I believe

then we have nothing to discuss, for people see Elvis too

in the end, it all comes down to faith, doesn't it?
despite the reams of apologetic texts and dissembling
it's faith

Someone: true, perhaps. : )

well, I think the core of Christianity is about having a relationship with a living God - even here and now, and always has been.

Me: ie it's faith
So why bother discussing this with me?

Someone: because I wish you would know God too.

Me: believe it or not, I discuss this with you for similar reasons
I want to share the good news with you
the good news that there isn't a vengeful, petty, psychopathic divine being watching your every move

that innocent people do not get condemned to burn in hell for all eternity, suffering infinite punishment for a finite crime (if indeed it can be called a crime)


Pagan Origins of the Christ Myth has been updated! And now it has an updates page, so I know what to look for when it's updated.

And there's a new page to counter a common fudge: Them varmint Pagans done stole from us!

"The majority of evidence for Near Eastern dying and rising deities occurs in Greek and Latin texts of late antiquity, usually post-Christian in date.
[Smith, Jonathan Z. Dying and Rising Gods (in Encyclopedia of Religion, M. Eliade ed.),1988, volume 4, pg. 522]


Defense of the Faith #3: Christian and Pagan ideas are similar, but Christian ideas came firstThem varmint Pagans done stole from us!

Don't forget that for the overwhelming majority of Christian-Pagan similarities Paganism undisputedly got there first, generations before Jesus. That means that for all those theologies and sacraments, Pagan borrowing is impossible. The points of similarity available to TVPDSFU theory are few: Mithras' taurobolium baptism, Adonis' resurrection, Attis' resurrection, and a few others.

What I hope you notice is neither author talks about how his version of the 'Paganism is late' reasoning fits into a larger theory of Christian origins. The don't ask, "Well, OK how do I know who borrowed from whom?", or "How come the Pagans, who were busy killing Christians on account of their religion, thought it was a good idea to copy the religion of the people they were killing for their religion?", or any stuff like that. They just toss up the Them varmint Pagans done stole from us argument and quick like a bunny scamper off to other stuff."

"Agenda driven "scholars" start with an opinion and pick a methodology that gives the answer they want." - On Reverend Bruce Manning Metzger


Also of interest: Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity

"In this major theoretical and methodological statement on the history of religions, Jonathan Z. Smith shows how convert apologetic agendas can dictate the course of comparative religious studies. As his example, Smith reviews four centuries of scholarship comparing early Christianities with religions of late Antiquity (especially the so-called mystery cults) and shows how this scholarship has been based upon an underlying Protestant-Catholic polemic. The result is a devastating critique of traditional New Testament scholarship, a redescription of early Christianities as religious traditions amenable to comparison, and a milestone in Smith's controversial approach to comparative religious studies.

"An important book, and certainly one of the most significant in the career of Jonathan Z. Smith, whom one may venture to call the greatest pathologist in the history of religions. As in many precedent cases, Smith follows a standard procedure: he carefully selects his victim, and then dissects with artistic finesse and unequaled acumen. The operation is always necessary, and a deconstructor of Smith's caliber is hard to find."--Ioan P. Coulianu, Journal of Religion"

***

One of the most amusing denunciations of theodicies that I've come across:

"For if the cosmos is the effect of an immanent, omnipotent, and infinitely beneficent cause, the existence in it of real evil, still less of necessarily inherent evil, is plainly inadmissible. Yet the universal experience of mankind testified then, as now, that, whether we look within us or without us, evil stares us in the face on all sides; that if anything is real, pain and sorrow and wrong are realities.

It would be a new thing in history if a priori philosophers were daunted by the factious opposition of experience; and the Stoics were the last men to allow themselves to be beaten by mere facts. 'Give me a doctrine and I will find the reasons for it,' said Chrysippus. So they perfected, if they did not invent, that ingenious and plausible form of pleading, the Theodicy; for the purpose of showing firstly, that there is no such thing as evil; secondly, that if there is, it is the necessary correlate of good; and, moreover, that it is either due to our own fault, or inflicted for our benefit. Theodicies have been very popular in their time, and I believe that a numerous, though somewhat dwarfed, progeny of them still survives. So far as I know, they are all variations of the theme set forth in those famous six lines of the "Essay on Man," in which Pope sums up Bolingbroke's reminiscences of stoical and other speculations of this kind–

"All nature is but art, unknown to thee;
All chance, direction which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil, universal good;
And spite of pride, in erring reason's spite
One truth is clear: whatever is is right."


Yet, surely, if there are few more important truths than those enunciated in the first triad, the second is open to very grave objections. That there is a 'soul of good in things evil' is unquestionable; nor will any wise man deny the disciplinary value of pain and sorrow. But these considerations do not help us to see why the immense multitude of irresponsible sentient beings, which cannot profit by such discipline, should suffer; nor why, among the endless possibilities open to omnipotence–that of sinless, happy existence among the rest–the actuality in which sin and misery abound should be that selected. Surely it is mere cheap rhetoric to call arguments which have never yet been answered by even the meekest and the least rational of Optimists, suggestions of the pride of reason. As to the concluding aphorism, its fittest place would be as an inscription in letters of mud over the portal of some 'stye of Epicurus'; for that is where the logical application of it to practice would land men, with every aspiration stifled and every effort paralyzed. Why try to set right what is right already? Why strive to improve the best of all possible worlds? Let us eat and drink, for as today all is right, so to-morrow all will be."

- Thomas H. Huxley, Evolution and Ethics (1893)

***

of depression.

"i never thought i'll lose you so soon, after all we've been through.

you've given me the courage to pull through those sleepless nights and those days my face was drenched in tears; you were the only motivation i could muster to get past these horrid days.

and you are everything i've been working towards all these while. i wanted to build us something good, i wanted to make you happy and i wanted to leave a lasting good memory. but you left. silently and painfully, you left.

now you've left me aimless. lost. and i don't know where i'm heading to or what's installed for me.

it's merely a week of hiatus, of hurt and depression, and you can't take it already? what does that leave me? why do i have to retrace your steps and mitigate reality all by myself?

bye examinations."

Twill be 2 weeks before I can say the same!

***

The Cockroach FAQ

"Q41: Alejandro from the Phillipines asks:
... I have observed that cockroaches in my house get "wild" before any earthquake occurs. They start running and getting out from their niches. ... I have the impression that cockroaches can "feel" some of the very early vibrations of an earthquake, small or big, and can be a very good help to give "early warnings" of earthquakes. Can you confirm this?

A: Alejandro,
If you have done a careful experiment to demonstrate the phenomenon you should publish it. There have been newspaper articles professing to demonstrate that point (perhaps 20 years old) but I have never seen confirmation of earthquake prediction by cockroaches in the scientific journal literature."

***

Chick.com is down again. Maybe the Powers That Be read my description of the site.

Huichieh collection of reactions to the casino verdict - Interesting collection. I'd contribute too if not for impending exams. But I particularly like Bloggers Against Reverse Discrimination (BARD).

Thursday, April 21, 2005

"I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me." - Dave Barry

***

The archives for May 2002 and June 2002 have been restored in the wake of my post on SMM life in Days Were The Those (Singapore Army Stories).

Read more about life in the old SMM when it was at the now-deserted Ulu Pandan camp, and also about the first week I spent in 42SAR, which was one of the best in my time as a slave (excluding times on leave or clearing days off, of course) - search for the words "Restored Post".

***

WHO Project on Health Implications of Cannabis Use: A Qualitative Comparison of the Health Risks of Alcohol, Cannabis, Nicotine and Opiate Use

"A useful way of assessing the health risk posed by cannabis use is a comparative qualitative appraisal of its risks with those of other widely used recreational of its risks with those of other widely used recreational drugs such as alcohol and tobacco (ARF/WHO, 1981). The motive for such comparisons is to use a common standard when making societal decisions about the control and regulation of cannabis use. Like tobacco, cannabis is most commonly smoked, and like alcohol, cannabis is commonly used for its intoxicating and euphoriant effects in developed societies (although it may be used for more utilitarian reasons, such as, making heavy physical work tolerable, in some developing countries). The opiates provide a useful illicit drug class against which to calibrate the adverse effects of cannabis since this class of drugs has a fearsome although not always deserved reputation as a major risk to the health of young adults. Nonmedical use of opiates is initially primarily for euphoria or for relief of pain.

Alcohol intoxication is strongly associated with aggressive and violent behaviour. The relationship is complex, and the nature and extent of drinking's causal effect remains controversial at the level of the individual drinker. But there is good causal evidence that changes in the level of alcohol consumption affect the incidence of violent crime, at least in some populations. There is also increasing evidence to indicate that alcohol may play a role in suicide. There is little to suggest that causal relationship of cannabis use to aggression or violence, at least in present-day developed societies.

Third, there is a major health risk of acute alcohol use that is not shared with cannabis. In large doses alcohol can cause death by asphyxiation, alcohol poisoning, cardiomyopathy and cardiac infarct. There are no recorded cases of overdose fatalities attributed to cannabis, and the estimated lethal dose for humans extrapolated from animal studies is so high that it cannot be achieved by recreational users.

... withdrawal symptoms are either absent or mild after dependent cannabis users abruptly stop their cannabis use, whereas the abrupt cessation of alcohol use in severely dependent drinkers produces a well defined withdrawal syndrome which can be potentially fatal.

Third, there is good evidence that chronic heavy alcohol use can indirectly cause brain injury - the Wernicke-Korsakov syndrome - with symptoms of severe memory defect and an impaired ability to plan and organise. With continued heavy drinking, and in the absence of vitamin supplementation, this injury may produce severe irreversible cognitive impairment. There is good reason for concluding that chronic cannabis use does not produce cognitive impairment of comparable severity."

***

Pope Toast - "Before we even turned on the news or opened the paper this morning, we knew that the Vatican had chosen a new pope. How? Well, as we were making toast for our breakfast, a puff of white smoke issued from the toaster. Then we were amazed to find what was surely a sign from on high: a piece of toast emblazoned with the unmistakable image of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the new Pope Benedict XVI."

I got linked by a Catholic Forum for my quoting the Straight Dope on Saint Philomena. Whee. And someone spammed me with 18kb of information on Saint Philomena. Wonderful.

Playboy.com Offers Exclusive Image Gallery and Video Formatted for Sony's PlayStation Portable(R) - "Playboy.com today has announced its next step in delivering digital and downloadable beauties with the launch of its newest feature "PlayboyStation Portable." Given the tremendous popularity of the new Sony PlayStation Portable(R), Playboy.com has created a sci-fi themed pictorial of the Cyber Girl of the Year 2005 Amy Sue Cooper that was photographed and formatted specifically for viewing on this device."
Gah.

Interesting articles on Yawning Bread on HIV test kits not being approved because they were considered too "lewd" (wth?!), and on the casino decision. The Grand Prix was ended because it was supposed to encourage speeding?! Erm, right.

***

I saw a guy with short spiky hair in school, and he was wearing a white hairband. Huh? In other news, more and more girls are sporting boyish hair, almost always gelled. I wish I could say the same about males shattering archaic norms of proper gender behavior. Perhaps the theory about it being okay for girls to wear blue but not for guys to wear pink is right: people consider it okay for inferiors to aspire to superiority, but not for superiors to bring themselves down to the levels of their inferiors.

Someone accused me of growing my hair out to get attention. I pointed out that if I'd wanted attention, I'd have dyed it.

For one project, the all girl group did jewelry. My all guy group didn't do a typically male topic, though. Hmmph.


Exam tales

My sources have been telling me tales of what school looks like during exam period, so the following is all compiled from second hand data, since I study (or try to, anyway) at home.

Apparently when the Central Library opens at 8am, it's like a shopping centre holding a sale. People are waiting outside the doors, and once the doors open, they rush in. Apparently one morning there was this PRC in running attire, and as he ran in he was laughing, perhaps driven mad by the stress of the exam period.

Meanwhile, in Engineering people bring hammocks to school for their overnight camping expeditions (maybe they think the spirits of Engineering students of years gone by will infuse them with their power, wisdom and knowledge), and hang them by the handles on the windows. They also bring enough food enough, according to my friend, to last him half a year. At one location, after a few hours the whole corridor (which is air-conditioned) smells of cup noodles.

Over at Science, people mug overnight in the canteen and the next day, they're still raring to go, so they continue mugging throughout the day. In Medicine, there are "PRC couples making out in the medicine library", with "unshaven armpits, unshaven moustaches, and fucking bad dress sense". Someone else adds that: "oh man they all smell weird".

And in Yusof Ishak House (YIH), there's a 24 hour study room, so people get really hardcore. The libraries at least have closing times, so people are forced to leave. In YIH, however, people camp overnight, and the floor is strewn with plastic bags. It is also crowded, unhygienic and humid, so diseases easily spread. All in all, the place looks like a refugee camp. Meanwhile Munchie Monkey's has unveiled a supper menu and gone 24 hours, so the muggers can ensconce themselves in YIH 23/7 (the room is cleaned for an hour daily) all the way from the start of the exam period to the end of it.

All throughout the school, libraries are jammed up (though my No 1 fan tells me that there's a 'surprisingly high number of cute guys in library this semester'). There are more people with outbreaks on the face, and instant drink machines run out of coffee. Printers go into overdrive as people who have never printed their notes before go print a whole semester's worth of notes at the sole printer, clogging it up. All hell breaks loose.

This is awfully depressing, and enough to get one to study at home. Maybe studying's a social activity for them; mutual suffering is a time-honoured ritual of human bonding.

[Addendum: skye bleu: the PRC students they put some "tea leaf" kinda sediments in their water
bottle and they ALWAYS dump the sediments when they empty their contents in the
dispenser.. GROSS.. could someone teach them some manners? haha!!]


Quotes:

There will be 5 questions, and you just answer all questions, okay? To save you the trouble of thinking which one to choose. Because invariably I, I notice if I give you a choice you will spend more time thinking how, what to choose than you actually do the problems (doing)

Don't write unnecessarily. Don't write your life history, or or or, go and describe your dog or whatever.

Now if you, if you look at the mirror, English you know - ambulance, if you, if you actually you must have seen all the ambulances, especially you see, you walk around here - NUS is just nearby. If you look at the ambulances you'll see on the front of the ambulances, there's a word. What looks like a word. If you look at it you see: how come this, this guy doesn't know English? The words are ups-, looks like but they're not word. Maybe the guy's I - dys'lick'sic, suffers from dys'lick, dys'lick'sear, reverses the the the, the position of the words. (dyslexic, dyslexia)

Vee curls making safe turns (vehicles)

[On the wonders of the web] The image search is very interesting. You type in 'beer' you get pornography.

[On game theory in the airline industry] Let's say Boeing is already very fat. Airbus is very thin. Boeing doesn't need to eat anymore... Boeing eats too much, then it grows too fat and explodes. Airbus goes to other restaurants to eat.

car nerg model (Cournot)

Co'yo'to protocol (Kyoto)

Yellow gold jewel'ler'ree (jewellery)

Twelve ounce (troy)

ack zit (exit)

Elevant the problems of oversaturation (alleviate)

a more modern fill (feel)

Some pors'tation of future trends (postulation)

these jewel'ler'rees (jewellery)

[On being a Bishop] What talent do you need? Turn Undead?
I get grilled on my alleged racism:

profanity: hi gabriel,

racism is unspeakably ugly.

despite your professions of being the "voice of reason" while carrying that ostensibly objective and righteous tone, I'm starting to think that you're nothing but a wiseacre and a degenerate. and I am amazed that you need an Australian to tell you that LKY is racist, in your typical fashion of rehashing old ideas. so what if LKY is an overt racist? (and we've all known this long ago by the way) are you saying: "HEY. at least this guy is not as bad as the nazis or the Ku Klux Klan."

you say: "stereotypes exist because they are often true. They serve as a good guide for expectations, but when the specific product is not what you expect it to be, then you should change your views. If not then you're racist."

in the first place, believing that a person's character can be evaluated by their race IS racist. are you trying to legitimate stereotypes and subjective presuppositions here?

"People will always have preferences; is it fair to blame them for possessing them?"

so this is your disclaimer for being amoral and having fallacious ideas and beliefs like CZ huh?

Me: You seem to be confusing my views with those of others, and confusing racism with a refusal to accept political correctness due to the constraints of reality.

Just because people are not race-blind does not mean that they are racist.

profanity: actually, gabriel, i'm an opponent of political correctness (which is why I called you a degenerate) and anyway, i have never thought of political correctness as a factor in the race issue.

the only differences I perceive between races are superficial, like appearance (the rest of the differences can be attributed to cultural factors)

i am amazed by how shallow and superficial CZ is (though I never took part in the witch hunt - too late to participate anyway - not that i would have :) ), and more amazed by the fact that you legitimize other people's racist beliefs.

Me: Political correctness is an issue because people like to pretend that, ceteris paribus, a person of one race is exactly the same as one of another. That is patently untrue.

Genetically the differences between races are usually exaggerated, yet to deny completely that they exist is to be unrealistic; different races have different susceptibility to diseases, for one. And you might also note that I didn't say anything about genetics and race; culture is probably far more important than genes in this case - perhaps you too eagerly projected some views onto me that I don't have.

For example, since Malays are disproportionately susceptible to drug abuse in Singapore, it makes sense to direct anti-drug abuse efforts more towards the Malay community than the Chinese community. Some would call that racist; I call that prudent policy making and facing reality.

I am also defending freedom of thought - just because someone has views which we think are wrong does not mean that we should verbally lynch him, spew venom in return (thus bringing us down to the level which we allege he is at), go on a witch hunt or forcibly re-educate him, as is done to counter-revolutionaries in Communist regimes.

I reiterate once more: just because people are not race-blind does not mean that they are racist. Honi soit qui mal y pense.

profanity: i did not say you said anything about genetics and race. where did i say that? you just dished out that piece of biological fact without me asking for it. i knew about that anyway, but it is immaterial to the topic, i felt. and different races have more in common than they have differences; i would rather emphasize the similarities.

sure, I also agree about the malays and drugs - discriminating races for law enforcement reasons is just being pragmatic.

but pragmatism is also the excuse for racial discrimination in official government policies such as malaysia and "the malay dilemma" and many other countries today and throughout history.

another thing, "spewing" so-called "venom" is freedom of speech too (once again, i did NOT do such a thing to CZ due to lack of opportunity; but nevertheless, i defend the right of the others who did so)

and finally, i am not sure whether you wrote that thing about primary school children who are prejudiced in making friends (you quote too damn much), but i find that behaviour repulsive, and i think certain things can be changed if we try to change it. certainly not if we keep sweeping things under the carpet (keeping silent) as that would only perpetuate the problem.

Me: You said: "the only differences I perceive between races are superficial, like appearance (the rest of the differences can be attributed to cultural factors)"

The implication is that I think that there are non-superficial, non-cultural factors accounting for the differences between races. The only thing I can think of is genetics.

Emphasising similarities is one thing, but ignoring differences is another.

You referring to affirmative action? Solid evidence has shown that affirmative action actually harms the groups it's meant to help, so no, pragmatism does not now support it, even if at one time it might have.

I don't disagree that the spewing of venom is freedom of speech. Did I say anything about censoring them, or carting them away to air-conditioned detention centres? In fact, let's turn it around - by your logic we shouldn't condemn racist talk either. Condemnation and forcible prohibition are not the same thing.

I quote to stand on the shoulders of giants.

People always associate with those who are similar to them. People of the same gender cluster, people of the same religion cluster, people of the same political ideology cluster, people of the same socio-economic class cluster and people with the same interests (eg motor racing, Dungeons and Dragons) cluster - is it not natural for people of the same race to cluster also? Such is not necessarily racism.

Good that you don't endorse the "keep quiet and pretend that all is well" policy regarding race.

ici, entering the discussion: singapore's policy isn't to "keep quiet and pretend all is well". since when? race and religion are mentioned in almost every official speech. you have said that the "powers that be" exaggerate the racial riot situation, yet you say they try to sweep it under the rug. Pick one and stick to it, won't you?

I've always thought that the message is that our current level of harmony is precious and didn't come easy, so it deserves preservation. If you don't think it's enough, so try to improve it, instead of taking it for granted.

It is NOT natural for children to group by race. Given that children do not know how to be politically correct, how do you explain the common sight of children of different races walking/playin together? It is because society convinces us that we are different (which is true) and that we must segregate ourselves because of these differences (which is NOT true), that people start grouping into cliques.

Me: I wasn't going to reply to your last comment, since it was obvious the potential for discussion was exhausted, but since you've tread onto new ground:

Singapore's policy is to pretend that we have racial harmony, yet warn that such harmony is fragile and is liable to break down at any moment, whereupon everyone will slaughter each other - the savages.

In reality, we do not have racial harmony, and low-level racial tensions persist, yet despite this, the odds of the nation erupting in a conflagration of racial riots tomorrow is extremely low. Nonetheless, the siege mentality and idea that the government must be allowed to manage race and religion are inculcated in the populace.

As for children grouping by race - I'll leave that to the child psychologists. Suffice to say that most probably, as with most "Nature vs Nurture" debates, the phenomenon in question is caused by a complex blend of both. Since I don't subscribe to the Naturalistic Fallacy, though, even if it is "natural" for such to happen, I do not necessarily agree that it is good.

Incidentally there is good evidence that children feel a need to belong to a group, but of course this could be labelled a social construct, and I am unqualified to comment further, having little knowledge on this matter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

"It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea." - Robert Anton Wilson

or, if you prefer:

"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them." - Mark Twain

Random Playlist Song: Asian Prince - Give It Up

"Like many of my other concerts, this one was sold out. Check out the audio recording of it below. The title of the song I sang roughly translates to Give It Up. It's a chart topper in Asia. It's a rap song that I wrote. I was inspired to write it after dating a black women." (Official site)

This is another rap by Asian Prince, recorded live at one of his concerts. I like the scratching of the DJ turntable. Sometimes I find it hard to hear what he's saying about the screaming of his adulating fans.

***

The April 2002 archives have been restored. Read about life in the old School of Military Medicine, when it was still at Ulu Pandan Camp!

People are holding the new Pope's (probably inadvertent) membership in the Hitler Youth against him. Will my inadvertent slavery in the Singapore Armed Forces be similarly held against me one day, I wonder?

Some parts of Sin City 2 look like a live action version of Happy Tree Friends cartoons.

***

My sources inform me that I was quoted during Evil Cult's debriefing on Sunday's concert. A dubious honour indeed. My standards may have gone up somewhat over the years, but their standard definitely has dropped, as a comparison of an MP3 of the same song done by them in the late 90s and 2003 reveals. And it seems the Evil One still remembers me! Joy.

Someone: I suspect that the difference in raw material makes a difference too....
i mean, look at RGS choir.... it's far from the 1997 one....

heck, it's far from our time.... and we were already not as good as our seniors


Someone: race blind.
bullshit. it's just keeping silent when you're the majority because you can enjoy your status quo position
and bearing the consequence of being minority in silence if you're not

pretending to be race blind, that's what it really is

i hate this whole idea of racial blindness
it's a lie. and one that continually perpetuates true racism in singapore. because underlying it all is distrust

Me: they bash people who don't subscribe to the fiction
why do you think this is so?

Someone: maybe they dont even realise this is fiction
and as they say in sociology - question the hegemonic ideals, our social constructs, you'll definitely meet angry ppl along the way

Me: that's why sociologists are so feared by the Powers That Be :)

Someone: yeah cos you're bursting their pretty little bubble worlds that they have took so long and hard to construct
where their citizens live under a haze of propaganda induced happiness

***

Conversation with a gay fundamentalist Catholic opposed to contraception:


Me: I think most catholics are not opposed to contraception
far better to prevent sperm and eggs from uniting than to have people die of AIDS

Him: of course, it's much easier to keep one's trousers on.

Me: ah, but humans are fallen
they can't resist temptation :)

Him: then live with the consequences.

Me: so in pursuit of some idealistic vision we create hell on earth

Him: no. but one lives with the consequences of one's actions.

Me: right.

Him: it's quite simple really.


This is the same sort of logic that causes people to crash planes into the World Trade Centre.

In any case the Church will have to live with the consequences too: the consequences of its having been responsible for the wholly avoidable deaths of untold numbers of people.

Oh well. Eppur si muove.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.


Someone, viewing the once-again accessible (probably thanks to complaints by fundamentalists) Chick Publications site, thought it was a spoof and asked what it was about.

Me: "What is the site about? Err. Basically it's a hate site.

They hate Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Catholic-Christians, the Pope, non-King James Bibles, Science, Evolution, the TV show Bewitched, homosexuals, the United Nations, D&D, Rock music, non-fundamentalists, supporters of a lasting and equitable peace in the Middle East, people who don't spank their children, common sense, reality and basically the essential teachings of the founder of their professed faith.

So much for love."

***

'The Ultimate Popup Blocker Test' as dubbed by Azrael (Warning: Very NSFW)

Cogito Ergo Bite Me - "For the love of wisdom, they spend nights tirelessly rereading one page of elderly connoisseurs long gone. For the love of wisdom, they lose the ability to speak with friends in “normal” language. And by God, for the love of wisdom, they wear trench coats. At UC Berkeley, philosophy is the thug gangsta of all majors—cuz you just don’t mess with that shit. It’s stereotypical but true that one out of every two philizzle mizzles is the person you hope won’t sit next to you on the BART train. Two out of three people whose fashion statements make you go “hrmph?” are among the ranks of philosophers. Eighteen of the zombies cast for “Dawn of the Dead” were just philosophy undergrads who got lost after their Phil 12A final (including the one who looks like Jay Leno)."

Breasts a treasure chest worth $2.2bn - "Mothers of Australia stand proud, your breasts are worth $2.2 billion a year. A study of breastfeeding by NSW Health says mothers should be counted as food producers and recommends breast pumps be GST-free, putting women in the same category as farmers... Julie Smith, an economist at Australian National University, calculated for the study that the 34 million litres of breast milk produced by Australian mothers a year was worth $2.2 billion. This was based on the milk's value in European milk banks, where breast milk is stored and sold."

GeographyIQ - World Atlas - Rankings - Net migration rate (All Descending) - It seems Singapore has the fifth highest net migration rate in the world. Afghanistan has the dubious honour of being in first place (must be all the refugees going back), while Qatar and Kuwait are 3rd and 4th respectively (must be all the Filipinos). Says a lot about the place, it does. Now we know why Singapore feels like a battery chicken farm. (Alternate source of statistics)

The Politics of Gender - ""It is terribly self-destructive," Steven Goldberg tells us, "to refuse to accept one's own nature, and the joys and powers it invests." In this scholarly and meticulous essay, Dr. Goldberg, Chairman of the Sociology Department at City University of New York, analyzes the distortions of gender studies, which have become a "sacred cow" of academia."
It is hosted on the NARTH site, yes, but otherwise the article makes sense.

Passing and the managed achievement of sex status in an "intersexed" person - "From Garfinkel, P. (1984) Studies in Ethnomethodology, Cambridge: Polity Press (Originally published 1967)... Agnes appeared at the Department of Psychiatry at U.C.L.A. in October, 1958 where she had been referred to Dr. Robert J. Stoller by a private physician in Los Angeles to whom Agnes had in turn been referred by her physician in her home town, Northwestem City... Agnes was born a boy with normal-appearing male genitals. A birth certificate was issued for a male and she was appropriately named. Until the age of seventeen she was recognised by everyone to be a boy. In the biography furnished to us over many hours of conversations, the male role was both consistently and insistently described as a difficult one and poorly managed. Her accounts exaggerated the evidences of her natural femininity and suppressed evidences of masculinity. Secondary feminine sex characteristics developed at puberty."
Once more unto the breach.

Institute for Backup Trauma - "The trauma of data backup can be a lifelong debilitating condition. Its victims come from all walks of life but all have one thing in common: each of them relied upon tape-based backup, which today Science has proven to fail nearly 50% of the time... ... Hello. I'm Dr. Harold Tawin Weck, the director of the Institute for Backup Trauma. It may be too late for people like Bob, Marcia and Phil, but it didn't have to be this way."
I do believe that's John Cleese.

Japan's virgin wives turn to sex volunteers - "Lustless matches put country on brink of demographic disaster... "The women who come to see me love their husbands and aren't looking for a divorce," he told the Guardian. "The problem is that their husbands lose interest in sex or don't want sex from the start. Many men think of their wives as substitute mothers, not as women with emotional and sexual needs.""

Archaeologist finds 'oldest porn statue' - "Stone-age figurines depicting what could be the oldest pornographic scene in the world have been unearthed in Germany."

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Photo Gallery (Safety First) - "On 9 April 2004, a DEA agent (who has not been identified by name in press accounts) delivered a presentation on gun safety to about 50 adults and students at an event sponsored by the Orlando Minority Youth Golf Association. Partway through his lecture, the agent picked up his .40-caliber duty weapon and held it up for the audience to see as he announced: "This is a Glock 40. Fifty Cent, Too Short, all of them talk about a Glock 40, OK? I'm the only one in this room professional enough that I know of to carry this Glock 40." Seconds later the gun discharged, wounding the agent in the thigh (or the foot, or the leg, according to various press accounts)."

***

So all 3 of my first drafts for the writing essays have been tossed. Ah well. This will probably be the last close reading essay I'll ever have to write.

The Psychology statistics module has nary a non-Arts student in sight. Must be a badly kept secret among the Science and Engineering students!


Quotes:

Just because the topic is not coming out for the exam doesn't mean that you shouldn't pay attention. I wish we could all leave.

You can think of multiple regression as a sneak preview of what is about to come. Not as exciting as Episode 3 of the Star Wars tri'lor'gy, perhaps. (trilogy)

Calculators, of course, are indispensable, unless you can perform calculations in your heads, in which case you shouldn't be taking this statistical course.

Please bring scientific calculators, not the kind you use to calculate the price of fish or chickens in the market.

I will be open to consultation at all times. Which means during office hours. For me, office hours is 11 am to 4 pm. Don't ask me why.

You can see me, but not in May. Because I will be away for a while. To prepare me for the torment of marking exam papers.

Ignore the shit of glass (sheet)

It's no problem for the human species, because we live in 3 dimensions. Cats and dogs see the world in black and white, and in 2 dimensions. I wouldn't try to lecture multiple regression to cats and dogs, but to you it's no problem.

Sum of squared residals (residuals)

[On multiple regression] Who can see more than 3 dimensions, please put up your hands. Maybe we can teach it to the aliens. The aliens can see in more than 3 dimensions. Euclidean N space.

[On seeing in more than 3 dimensions] Try very hard over the weekend. If you can, let me know. If you can't, never mind.

It is out there in mathematical space. Just like the truth is out there. *comparative silence* Not everyone got my last joke. 'The truth is out there' is a line from the X-files - my favourite TV show.

mare'trix (matrix)

For some reason Singapore maths teachers at the Primary and Secondary level are very fond of saying that anything divided by 0 is infinity. That is nonsense. I also learnt that [and thought that] - until I learnt that it was nonsense.

Quite dreyd'ful (dreadful)

*Phone rings* The F statistic is too interesting for me to be distracted.

This is the sort of multiple regression that you're going to do in your Econometrics lecture. You're going to go beyond this, and I hope you have a lot of fun...

They don't learn chem in chem engin. They only know how to operate the machines. They know squat about what happens in the machines. [Me: So they're just technicians] We don't know how to operate the machines.

[On the difference between Chemistry and Applied Chemistry] Instead of washing test tubes, we wash machines.

You wait till 9 or 10om, then you go up to the 7th floor, you see an Indian construction worker and his girlfriend. [Someone: What if it's the Dean of Engineering?]

[On one of the Miss Singapore Universe contestants] That looks like one of my friends. Who's a guy.
"My toughest fight was with my first wife." - Muhammad Ali

Random Playlist Song: Asian Prince - 25 Years

"In a fit of anger, I just started to freestyle on the mic. I was angry because I had a bad hair day, which is extremely rare. My hair wasn't being fluffy, like how it usually is. I went into my home studio, hit the record button, and started to freestyle. Afterwards, I decided to add a beat to the recording. Also, sorry for the angry tone in my voice." - Official site

In this, the first of 3 songs by Asian Prince (aka Wo-hen Nankan aka Tuan Anh) that I shall review, he does a funky rap in Vietnamese, presumably to commemorate 25 years in the music industry.

The rap starts off with a great deal of energy in his voice and a catchy beat. Simple tones are then added in - nothing too elaborate to detract from the silky quality of the artiste's voice, but interesting enough to add texture to the rap.

(I am not familiar with the terminology of modern music, and so can't say anything about the high tones and the low ones, though the latter remind me of someone plucking on a double bass)

***

Speculations on the drug policy in Singapore from Young Republic:

"Cannabis is not a dangerous drug, There are no proven health risks if used in moderation. It is not physiologically addictive. Cigarettes, which contain the highly-addictive nicotine, cause lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in men in Singapore. Yet they are freely available at your nearest petrol station. Cannabis causes brain damage when used over a long period of time in large amounts. But again it is not physiologically addictive so if you decide to use it that is fully your choice. There has been no documented case of someone dying for cannabis overdose.

Therefore, to mandate death for trafficking cannabis is grossly disproportionate and therefore immoral. And I suspect the reason for it is that the govt couldn't be bothered to think of a proper drugs policy so they just said, oh never we can kill traffickers that will do."


On racism verus preferences:

"> Even from primary school,
> it's pretty much observed that children tend to congregate in clusters
> together with their own racial group, even if they are primarily
> english speaking. It's got nothing to do with racism, or prejudice.
> More likely, it's some in-built xenophobia within human's minds, which
> reject anything which is not familiar to them. For the same reason you
> don't see many Indians congregating in Chinatown (with the exception
> of the temple there), you don't see many Chinese congregating in
> Little India.

I shall put this down to the influence of National (mis)Education but I think you should recognise that overt racism of the 'yuck get away from me your dark-skinned nigger' sort is rather different from a desire to mix with ppl of your own race. The latter may simply to do with the fact that ppl like cultural familiarity. Ppl who prefer to mix with ppl of their own race do not necessarily *exclude* ppl of other races from their company. And they certainly do not explicitly diss other races as inferior or unwholesome."

People will always have preferences; is it fair to blame them for possessing them?

Racism is best defined as irrational prejudice - a preference that has a foundation in fact is not racism. And as He Who Must Not Be Named, who has once more vanished into the night, points out, it's possible to dislike groups of people but still like individuals.

As I am wont to say, stereotypes exist because they are often true. They serve as a good guide for expectations, but when the specific product is not what you expect it to be, then you should change your views. If not then you're racist.

70 year old Caucasian grandmothers who draw Social Security pensions don't commit crimes, but 20 year old, unemployed black youths with tattoos do. Is targeting the latter unfair racial profiling? Go figure.

There is also the matter of there being a difference between possessing racist views and acting on them. About the former, it must be asked: is it a thoughtcrime to have racist views? Do we want to send elite squads in to brainwash racists until they attain enlightenment, or send them to re-education camps because we believe we hold THE TRUTH?

***

Decoded at last: the 'classical holy grail' that may rewrite the history of the world

"Scientists begin to unlock the secrets of papyrus scraps bearing long-lost words by the literary giants of Greece and Rome... in a breakthrough described as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail, Oxford University scientists have employed infra-red technology to open up the hoard, known as the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, and with it the prospect that hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems will soon be revealed.

... The previously unknown texts, read for the first time last week, include parts of a long-lost tragedy - the Epigonoi ("Progeny") by the 5th-century BC Greek playwright Sophocles; part of a lost novel by the 2nd-century Greek writer Lucian; unknown material by Euripides; mythological poetry by the 1st-century BC Greek poet Parthenios; work by the 7th-century BC poet Hesiod; and an epic poem by Archilochos, a 7th-century successor of Homer, describing events leading up to the Trojan War. Additional material from Hesiod, Euripides and Sophocles almost certainly await discovery."

w00t!

Mr Masters in Classics: "oh fuck. no!
there's enough to study already, and more???
some of these writers are dead boring

but there are writers that even we classicists thank the gods that their work survive in fragmentary form. prolix and bad bad bad"

***

Damn! One of my favourite comedy sites has been blocked by the Powers That Be :(

Attempts to access Chick Publications gave me this message: "The website you are trying to access has been blocked by SafeSurf."

However, routing my requests through a proxy (a list can be found at http://www.atomintersoft.com/products/alive-proxy/proxy-list/), I was successful.

HOW CAN THEY DO THIS TO US?! I love Jack Chick; it's so damn funny!

[Ed: As of 6:11pm on 20th April, Chick.com works again for me. Maybe too many fundamentalists in Singapore complained about being unable to access one of their favourite sites.]

***

Another comment sent in without a return address:

"Eh you got notice that Sensei Master's assistant in Power Rangers show on Saturday is now a presenter on Singapore tv? That american chinese guy who looks like he always just woke up from bed that one. Ah yah how come you never notice? Feature him leh can? Ask him things about Kimberly. Ask him also to demonstrate some kingfu fighting moves. Maybe he got memorabilia from the show? Terror!!!"

Cam Watanabe is played by Jason Chan. I highly doubted he had come to Singapore to be a presenter, and anyway don't watch TV, so I had to dig around.

technoJoy: A Jason Chan Fan Site says that he was born in Malaysia in 1971 and is trained as a doctor. But he doesn't look that old! In fact he has a kind of boyish charm about him - CBTH (Cute, Boyish, Tanned, Handsome).

Meanwhile IMDB informs us that he is featuring in a 2005 movie called "Stealth", and appears in a 2005 TV show with 2 episodes (totalling 90 minutes) called "House of Harmony" as a "Michael Lee". Incidentally, that show features Fann Wong, but otherwise is produced and stars foreigners.

Plot description: "A beautiful Chinese girl, Meiling, has a forbidden love affair with a young American man in Singapore. He leaves Singapore and never returns. Meiling gives birth to their Eurasian daughter whom she names Perfect Harmony. When she grows up, Perfect Harmony journeys to America to search for her father."

Trailer (hosted on the MDA website): http://www.mda.gov.sg/wms.ftp/mobjvid/hoh.wmv

More information from a Fann Wong fansite: "Shot on 16mm film, it will be broadcast on German television in the third quarter of next year. While there is no confirmed date for the show's broadcast in Singapore, there are plans for it to screen here by the end of next year." (I'll probably forget by then)

***

Some Malaysian joke I don't get:


The objective of STPM is to pass people?

How do you explain the fact that 87% of the students passed the examinations of the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) recently? When during your grandfather's time only 10% would have passed?

Are students getting smarter? Or are STPM questions getting easier?

Let me put things in their proper perspective.

During your grandfather's time, they would ask exam questions like:

In what year did Parameswara founded the kingdom of Melaka?

The correct answer was "1402", and they found that only 10% of the students managed to answer the question correctly. This didn't go down too well with the authorities, because the objective of the exams was to pass people.

I mean, what's the point of having exams if people fail?

So later, they found another way to ask the same question:

Parameswara founded the kingdom of Melaka in the year:
(a) 2001
(b) 2004
(c) 1986
(d) 1975
(e) 1402
Tick the correct answer.

The results were better in that 20% of the students passed. But it was still not good enough, so the authorities tried a different tact a few years later.

Parameswara founded the kingdom of Melaka in the year1402. True or false?

Well, half of the students guessed "True" and the other half guessed "False". Fully 50% passed. The results were getting pretty acceptable by now.

Most other countries would be satisfied with a 50% passing rate, but not us. We are a better country, because we are a boleh country.The authorities then cracked their heads and then came out with this one:

Read the following sentence carefully.
"Parameswara, the cousin of Proton-Iswara, founded the kingdom of Melaka in the year 1402."
Underline the name of the person who founded Melaka.

60% underlined "Parameswara", 30% underlined "Proton-Iswara" and 10% underlined "1402". Hooiyoh......60% managed to pass! So krever!

But for some reason, the authorities were still not contented.
So last year, they came out with this gem:

One day in the year 1402, Parameswara founded the kingdom of Melaka. Then he went home to have dinner. What did he eat?

13% handed in blank answers, 57% wrote "Maggi Mee", and 10% wrote "Kentucky Fried Chicken", and 20% wrote "Tree bark". The official answer was "Food" of course! After the marking was over, it was found that 87% of the students had passed. 87%............now that's pretty impressive!

So it's true. The students are indeed getting smarter.

***

SPASTIC - "the Society for the Preservation and Acknowledgement of Subjunctive Tense In Communication"
They must be making fun of mentally disabled people! Arr. Time to send in complaint letters.

My customised SAF Singlet has surfaced on the HardwareZone forums under the thread "SAF new Tshirt ..". Ho ho.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Review: Apache - The Tommy Seebach Band

"I have too much respect for the idea of God to make it responsible for such an absurd world." - Georges Duhamel

***

A joint effort by Enming and me - an effective way of relieving exam stress!

REVIEW OF THE MUSIC VIDEO “APACHE” BY THE TOMMY SEEBACH BAND

The short version: "it looks pretty screwed... Asian Prince could have starred in it..." - En Ming

Another short version: "The 70s was a really bad decade. I'm glad I didn't have to live through it" - Brother-in-Law

The long version:


(Ed: added in December 2013, not least since the original site is now down)

One look at this video reminds me why I am happy I no longer live in the 70s…from bell-bottoms to tasseled cowboy shirts and big moustaches, it clearly was the decade that taste forgot. It was also the decade of social activism…maybe…and whatever it is, because this apparently is some Native American Rights song…a touching anthem on the rights of the Apache.



Ah, here we are, opening in a forest clearing where we see this band playing.



On guitar, a rather regular-looking guy, considering it is the 70s.



On drums, we have a balding dude in a SAF chao-peng-kia (smelly boy soldier) pair of glasses who looks again, like a pedophile or a homosexual. But according to some Internet forum he was retarded, so he can be forgiven for looking funny.



The guy on bongo drums appears to be Smokey the Bear, or Chewbacca, depending on your pick.



The leading man of the band plays a three-tiered keyboard, and is dressed in the getup of a cowboy complete with tassels hanging from his sleeves, shoulders, collar and waist. His wide-gapped smile, big hair and moustache make him look like an idiot. Or perhaps, a pedophile, or just a plain creep. His hips swing to and fro in a manner that might be considered sexy – if only he were 10 years younger.

All of these happy musicians have a vaguely glazed look on their face - whether this is from smoking too much pot or due to their having suffered brain damage while writing and rehearsing for this song is uncertain. So they’re busy gyrating and grooving in the middle of nowhere and moving a little to their vaguely Western-sounding rock tune, which since is called “Apache”, is entirely appropriate. Then the lead singer turns to me, smiles his wide grin, as if hoping I enjoy the corny music as much as he does.



Then we see some scantily-clad, vaguely Native American woman with a hairband - who we can tell is just a white woman with a really good tan, comes out from behind a tepee which looks designed by and to fit a 5 year old child.



The lead singer, who I shall call Rhinestone Cowboy, turns to the screen, and says, “Apache…” while waving with a lustful look on his face.



Two more scantily-clad, “Native American” women emerge from behind the tent, and start dancing a rather badly choreographed, though elaborate dance, perhaps meant to imitate some obscure Apache scouting ritual. This being the era before boob jobs became popular, they all look quite modestly-endowed.



Rhinestone Cowboy then laughs (which is when we start laughing too).



The scouting ritual continues apace.



Another guy on an electronic guitar, looking like a mop-haired druggie, does a little riff…



Then we see the scantily-clad “Native American” dancers, coming into the foreground of the video, I have no idea if this is supposed to be a way you shoot a music video where it takes the focus off your band, but boy is it innovative!



Then the dancers surround the singer, performing their authentic Native American scouting and bird call ritual dance… Rhinestone Cowboy stands around, gyrating his hips as usual and looking very pleased that he’s getting all the attention since his brethren have slaughtered all the young Apache males.



They do so for quite a while, with Rhinestone Cowboy occasionally belting out an “Ohh!” into the camera with expansive hand gestures, before the lead singer (if he can be called that) hisses the word “APACHE!” and then lets out his loud, maniacal laugh, glorifying as he is in the decimation of the Native American tribes…



The dance continues…before the Rhinestone Cowboy launches into a heroic speech about the rights of the Apache: “Brave warriors, riders of the plain…”



(Meanwhile we get to peer up the crotch of the most normal guy in the group)



… and he dances into the midst of the authentic Native American women and engages in an exchange of cultures between the West and the Amerindian, participating in their ancient and arcane dance ritual…continuing his impassioned defense of the Native American Apache and how they must be free to “make their own lives” while the dancers keep chanting “Apache pache boy” around Rhinestone Cowboy, perhaps initiating him into their tribe officially…



Then he laughs again…perhaps in joy at the success of his initiation…



The video ends with the Native American woman surrounding Rhinestone Cowboy in an elaborate ritual proclaiming his status as the Great White Warrior for defending the rights of their tribe.



To which he responds again in much laughter, and chases the dancers around his multi-tiered keyboard in an re-enactment of an ancient wildebeest hunting ritual…

He shall from now be known as APACHE PATCHY BOY!


Evaluation: This is no doubt a racist music video commissioned by the US government (or the New World Order, if you like) to rub salt into the wounds of native Americans by humiliating their culture and traditions!!!

The bowdlerized Apache rituals and distorted characterization of the Other are clear evidence of the possession of a Native American form of Orientalism by the makers of the music video.

Thus are potential enemies of the Illuminati warned off and prevented from interfering with Zionist plans.

Wha!! OMG!!11!!OMG1111!!!OMG111!!11one11!~!!one!!eleven!!!11!!!!


Watch the music video now!

***

"i'm just disgusted by the interest generated and the obvious we must bring him down at all cost attitude.." - Essentially, that's the reason why I (and a few others, I hope) are so repulsed by the whole Cheng Zhang affair.

Some say that as a future policy maker, he cannot hold racist views. Yet one can think abortion is morally wrong, yet disagree that it should be banned. One can also think that all non-believers go to hell, and that one has a personal duty to save them, yet not institute a policy of mass conversion if one is in a position of power. So why can't one be racist in personal belief yet be neutral in decision making? Besides which, a cursory search would reveal that current governmental figures have also had a history of making remarks that could possibly be construed as racist.

Some also mock his lousy password protection (only his root domain was protected, and then with an easily bypassed javascript hack), yet if your obviously private diary with a rudimentary, if ineffective lock is on the shelf and your mother picks it up and reads it, is she to blame to violating your privacy? Or are you to blame for leaving it open to the world (or your household, at least)?

Besides which, his blog was called "cLuB mAmAsAn DoLlY" (god, you'd think they'd
know not to take his posts seriously with such a name).


Another interesting insight: "How much of this persecution has to do with some innate anti-gahmen sentiment, anti-elitism sentiment? If it was just another guy on the street, would you be baying for his blood?"

Perhaps it is due, as AcidFlask observes, to the puncturing of the myth of infallibility in a meritocracy. In any case I am heartened by the few voices of reason which have joined mine in the SPUG thread

Another soundbite: "has anyone even considered the notion that u can make racist comments without being racist? esp when u're pissed off at someone"


Thoughts on Young Republic:

"Just to point out that public policy is never made in
a vacuum. It's never made solely on one person's input (possibly unless your surname is Lee or Goh).

Attempts to root out racism in people are usually fruitless when it comes to choosing decision-makers, simply because people will lie when asked if they're racist.

It's much better to check policies and laws for racist effects, and correct those. The best way to do that is to involve different, interested parties (here, people of other races) and allow them to participate in the decision-making process."


"Even if he has done wrong, allow me to point out a few people and organisations that have done much much worse. The ST Forum has published the letters of a number of homophobic people and organisations with the intent of spreading hatred towards these homosexuals. I would strongly urge that if a witchhunt is going to be launched, do not apply any double standards and go after them as well. Particularly Focus on the Family and their homophobic supporters."


"But I'm just thinking, remember some months ago when somebody posted that Michael Barr article on the "racism" of Lee Kuan Yew on this mailing list and commented on it? I think it was *** but can't remember exactly. In any case, for the interested ones the url is here: http://www.sfdonline.org/Link%20Pages/Link%20Folders/Human%20Rights/barr2.html and the argument is exactly as per what Gabriel says: that one can be racist in the sense described by Barr and *** without letting that influence his policy decisions.

Looks like Cheng Zhan isn't really that different from the great and illustrious founding father of our nation. Especially regarding the comments on sociology. Just a thought."
One essay down, one more essay to go.

And now it is time to KO [Ed: KO = Knock Out = Concuss = Sleep ≠ Knights Online].

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the Worldwide Web.... Now even my cat has its own page." - Bill Clinton

***

"Excuse me, are you RI alumni?"

"Is your name Gabriel?"

"Balderdash."

"It's the hair."


Gee, what were the odds, especially in such a big place as Victoria Concert Hall (VCH)?

It's happening so often, maybe I should rebond my hair so I'd be unrecognisable. Oh wait, that'd make me stand out even more. On the up side, though, Shen Ting once again tried to point me out to some of his associates, but they didn't know who 'Agagooga' was (Yes!).

In other news, going to Vocal Exploits X and XI and comparing them to Vocal Exploits XV (and probably one or two more in between that I can't remember) is a good lesson illustrating graphically the Second Law of Thermodynamics. About the only things that get better every year are Punch's chimpanzee noises and how retarded they act. And this considering that 8/14 of the songs on the programme were also sung at the RI concert earlier this year, and that 2 of the rest had been sung the year before.

***

Pizza stolen from delivery man's motorcycle in West Coast Rd

"SINGAPORE : A pizza delivery man lost a Hawaiian pan pizza to an apparently hungry thief on Thursday evening.

Police said the part-time delivery man, who is in his 20s, was at block 729 of West Coast Road.

He left his motorcycle and the delivery box, which could not be locked, to deliver fast food to a unit.

He came down 20 minutes later to find a hot pouch and the Hawaiian pan pizza in it missing.

The hot pouch is worth $120 and the pizza $25"


I know it's a slow news day - but what the hell?!
"Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to?" - Clarence Darrow

Random Playlist Song: Bob Ricci - Wonderbra (Oasis Parody)

Today was gonna be the day I was gonna tell you we were through,
Until I came to your house and I noticed something new with you.
I couldnt believe my eyes I kept on thinking to myself,
Theres something wrong.

Coz usually your breasts are always saggin,
They hang so low that on the floor they're draggin,
But today I've gotta say they seemed to be in place,
But I don't know how.

I thought maybe,
You think I could be going crazy,
But then I saw,
Saw your Wonderbra.

I'm not embarrassed anymore when I'm walking down the street with you.
And now every girl in town says they're gonna go and buy one too.
I don't believe that any girl should have to be without - Wonderbra.

My mum's got one and now she's in her glory,
Well Dad's got one but that's another story.
There are just so many girls who are jealous of the too,
And they all say wow!

You know it's crazy,
She's usually at home makin gravy,
But that's my Ma,
In a Wonderbra.

I said it's crazy, (I said it's crazy,)
She's usually makin gravy, (makin gravy,)
But thats my Ma, (that's my Ma,)
In a Wonderbra.

***

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose!

***

"It might be a suicide attempt. Who knows? If I were a foreign student in Singapore, I would commit suicide too. Why the hell do I choose Singapore as my exchange programme and not somewhere else? *falls from third floor and dies*"

--- On the Canadian foreign student who fell from the third story of Prince George's Park Residences in NUS


Xephyris: I have this theory about modern music
you know how all of it is compressed to be really loud?
I've found that make if you don't make many pop songs really loud, they lack "body"

Me: abuden
that's why they crank up the bass also

***

ivy_leaguers: bad = good

People rant about the cons of Ivy Leagues, and other US universities:

"i'm a junior at harvard and i truly hate the school. i'm not just saying it because i go here, so i can. i really mean it.

first, let me preface by letting you know that it recently leaked that harvard is 5th-to-last in a boston globe survey of 31 "elite institutions" on student satisfaction. last year -- on the day of the harvard/yale game, no less, when school spirit should have peaked -- our campus magazine ran a cover story about the happiness of yale students compared to the discontent of harvard students. maybe i'm one of the few who'll openly admit it, but i'm not the only one who believes "harvard sucks."

by far the worst aspect is the student body. lots of kids will gush about how the people at harvard are the "best" part about their college experience. truth is, harvard students are extraordinarily dull, boring, and bland for all their accomplishments. the most apt term is probably "medium." you've never seen such a congregation of smug, self-satisfied, fake, medium people in your life. apparently, achievement is not an indication of personality. i'm almost always politely fake-laughing or bored out of my mind when talking to a classmate. on top of that, they're generally not even that kind or nice. it probably comes with the territory of thinking you're hot shit. harvard students reading this may self-righteously protest this description, but... that might be because they fit neatly under it...

you can't minor in anything here. actually, you can't double major either, without committing yourself to writing a senior thesis that combines both concentrations.

we have a core curriculum. it's shit. it offers some good classes, but mostly, they're huge courses that are either wildly broad or narrow and useless. they're also generally inferior to department courses. in short, the core effectively eats up 7 electives. if the goal is "breadth", i don't understand why we can't just have distribution requirements that we can fulfill with department courses.

as if the core did not already restrict your academic freedom, we also have to take Expos (mandatory writing class freshman year; i actually enjoyed my expos), and there's a foreign language requirement if you don't pass out of it with APs or SAT IIs. it's stupid, because it only requires 1 year of a foreign language, so often people will just take an elementary year-long course, surrendering 2 electives, and then never touch the language again.

advising here sucks. everyone knows it. people talk endlessly of fixing it. nothing ever gets done about it.

we have zero school spirit. everyone knows this too, and accepts it. we're too awesome for school spirit. what little spirit we have, we derive from dissing yale, whose students, as it turns out, are HAPPIER than ours. that's pretty sad, harvard." (Emphasis mine)

***

Archives of The Rafflesian

8 Jan 1887:

A little ditty ....

"Here shall Rafflesians prove their utmost skill
And here display the true force of their will
Here shall they join to show all that their school
Shall glorious in the Straits for ever rule."


There was a competition, with a prize of $1, won by the one whose answers most closely reflected the collective answers.

Competition Number 2: 5 February 1887, answers in 5th March 1887

1. Greatest nation - British - 54 votes
2. Most civilized nation - British, 30 votes
5. Laziest nation - Turks, 25 votes
6. Most barbarous nation - Turks, 25 votes

It does not say what the total number of votes was.


March 1888:

'There has been no circumstance of late which deserves our attention more than the secession from this school of a large number of boys belonging nearly to every class. The manner in which they have left us for the Anglo-Chinese and other schools reminds us not so much of the importance of these schools as of the boyish eagerness to see a theatrical performance or anything that may be regarded as a novelty. We are very sorry that they have fallen into the youthful trap which their rashness has placed before them. On the other hand we are extremely grateful that we have lost only the refuse or that portion of the School which we can well afford to spare.'

The same issue reports on the football match against St Joseph's Institution: 'Very few of the Josephites understood the game.'

Moral of the story: The more things change, the more things stay the same.

***

No Concept of Liberty

"Every honest person with a modicum of medical knowledge would be able to point out that the health risks of cannabis use are not significant. Yes, it is true that cannabis causes mental health problems if heavily used. But cigarettes cause lung cancer and heart disease, and alcohol causes liver cirrhosis when heavily used. What is the fucking difference between the good (and rich) people at Salem or Marlboro or Absolut or Chivas Regal and this poor man who supplies pot?...

The reason our reptilian legal system is so fucked up is because our judges and legislators think that human lives are pawns in their little real-life game of SimCity. Some are even so clever as to claim utilitarian justification for this shit. Well, if so they have adopted the most crude and indefensible form of utilitarianism conceivable, one that no thinking, humane person could ever accept."

***

Someone: http://www.acjc.edu.sg/
your ultimate proof God doesn't exist - ex rugby capt [Ed: A "Lee Wei Kong"] hit by taxi on his way to church. paralysed now.

Me: Ah, my child, there you misunderstand the goodness of God

This incident shows us that we are nothing compared to his greatness. It also shows us his infinite mercy - the rugby captain could have been killed, yet God in his wisdom and mercy chose to spare him from death.

The ex rugby captain will hereafter be more devout and will dedicate his life to God, for his greater glory.

Someone: hahaha
to that i say fuck off

Me: to that I say: your god is a monster

[Addendum:

A little bird says: "hey you won't believe what my brother told me about the ACJC rugby captain thingy...
he's there right now, he should know...
the rugby captain is not a believer...
in fact he went to the church to meet his GF...

Original Someone: THAT IS NOT THE WAY THE SCHOOL SITE PUT IT!
misleading information!
sue them!

For the record, the school website says: "The next few weeks were heartbreaking for his family, friends, teachers, other ACS parents and church. After three and a half months, Wei Kong’s progress is a testimony to his will to survive, his parents’ love, his friends’ support and God’s grace." (Emphasis mine)

However, Barker Road Methodist Church lists "Lee Wei Kong" as a church member, so.

Corroboration from blog readers regarding this matter is solicited.]

***

Feedback on How Girls Waste Time:

"one of the BEST expose on the feminine gender. EVER. At least on a non sensical blog (not withstanding that I still enjoyed reading it.) Its like a trashy novel that turns out to be a page turner. Ode to the researchers of this page. Haha. And a bigger ode to all the silly oofs who came up pages of rebuttals (50 odd points of rebuttal per comment??), maybe they out to be going to beauty paegents and cooing "World Peace" for every question asked (ref: you know what movie). Good on you, all those who came up with the page. A good analysis of the more vixenated of the two sexes.
I don't however profess to be a homophobic male sexist. Just someone who likes a pinch of salt. Haha.
Just the thought of that RS girl rebuttal makes me laugh.
Have fun you all. And as Bob Dylan would say "Don't think twice, its alright""

***

Draw a pig personality test - "[Draw] a pig and find out what your drawing of a pig says about you and your personality"
Wth?! Haram, haram! Meanwhile you can buy Puffed Pig Snouts online. Huh?

What's with Malays and Cats? The (Un)truth about cats and dogs: Animals as bodies of racialised significations on Singapore TV - "The dog, compared to the cat, is considered to be a more intelligent animal. It can be taught to perform tricks, to obey instructions, to respond to its master’s voice and presence. It is considered loyal, where the cat is temperamental. The dog’s stable affiliations are contrasted against the cat’s mercenary unpredictability. When one proposes significations such as these, the cat as effigy becomes disabling: we are reminded of certain stereotypes with very real ramifications. The marginality of the Malay community in Singapore is often described as due to the disability to conform to the demands of a Confucianist state. Dogs would make the most perfect Confucianist citizens because of their instinctive tendency to imprint on another party the status of a pack leader, to whom the dog offers unquestioning obedience. On the other hand, cats, by nature solitary and independent, represent the feral elements of society which require rehabilitation and institutional correction."
It's not surprising that this close reading of "Aksi Mat Yoyo" comes from a poet.

What a way to go - "Super-volcano, robotic rebellion or terrorism? Kate Ravilious asks 10 scientists to name the biggest danger to Earth and assesses the chances of it happening... Earth swallowed by a black hole: At the time this was the largest particle accelerator to have been built, making gold ions crash head on with immense force. The risk was that this might form a stage that was sufficiently dense to be like a black hole, gathering matter from the outside. Would the Brookhaven labs (and perhaps the entire Earth) end up being swallowed by a black hole created by the new accelerator?"
I think they ran out of ideas. Or maybe this is a joke.

Dr Bob's Skeptical Quiz - "Q: These are OMON troops (Russian Black Berets - k counter-terrorist troops of the MVD). Why should you not look at them in a mirror? A: If you looked at them in a mirror and they had their back to you, you'd see the word HOMO (OMON backwards in Cyrillic letters) written on the back of their uniform. Of course seeing this would make you laugh and point, which would lead to you getting smacked around by an angry Russian soldier."

Asian Prince did use to have a fanlisting, but the site's now down... Fortunately one can get an idea of what it looked like in its glory days thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine; it seems he only had 4 fans in his fanlisting. Ah well, genius is rarely appreciated in its time. Anyhow I've tracked the creator back to his livejournal. Perhaps something will come of this!

Mullet Marathon - "In 2002, a mullet commando unit was sent to a hair stylist for a crime they didn't commit. These men prompty escaped from a maximum security salon to the Orlando underground. Today, still wanted by the fashion police, they survive as runners of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can catch them, maybe you can run with the Mullet Marathon."

A race to the wire as old hand at Morse code beats txt msgrs - "Dotty and old-fashioned means of communication can still be the best. Morse code has seen off the challenge of the text message in a contest pitting the best in 19th-century technology against its 21st-century successor."

How gibberish put scientists to shame - "Pages of computer-generated gibberish, containing such gems as “contrarily, the lookaside buffer might not be the panacea”, have been accepted as an academic paper at a scientific conference in the United States in a victory for hoaxers. Convinced that many scientific conferences would accept almost any research for the right fee, three students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology celebrated yesterday the submission of their gobbledegook masterpiece, Rooter: A Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy."
So the Sciences aren't immune either. This is one up on the Alan Sokal affair.

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Critters (Save Toby) - "Despite their resemblance to plush toys, rabbits do not like to be held, petted, or carted about, which means those who think they're taking on animal companions they can hug and squeeze to their hearts' content discover only after the fact that the sort of critter they thought they were bringing into their homes isn't at all what they ended up with. Consequently, any number of cute, fluffy pet bunnies are unceremoniously turned loose outdoors (where they live, on average, for three days), killed by their owners, or are handed over to animal shelters and rescue groups."
Aww.

President's Segway tumble seems a tiny bit suspicious - "President Bush meant to fall off his Segway. Oh, I'm sure of it. What we've got here is a clever conspiracy — a pre-emptive strike to save the oil industry from a technology that could sap its power."
Conspiracy theories are so fun.
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