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Meesa gonna kill you!

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Saturday, April 30, 2005

"The average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning feeling just plain terrible." - Jean Kerr

***

I clicked "recover post" accidentally (and unknowingly) and lost quite a bit of text. GAH.

It seems I've won 2 lotteries in 1 day. My junk mail is so heartening.

My desktop has finally passed from its erstwhile state of undeath to earn true, well-deserved and peaceful rest. RIP.

***

Posted on the Evolution IVLE forum:

A: just an alternative view point - http://www.tmch.net/createevolve.htm

Response (no prizes for guessing who): Well, there are alternative view points that the Holocaust never happened either.


The reason that most scientists (except our favourite Mr Dawkins) are so skittish about religion and the religion-science conflict is that they're trying to be nice and turning the other cheek, so to speak.

Scientists and philosophers can and indeed do likewise engage in what the person who wrote that page is doing, but in the other direction. Perhaps you could also investigate those alternative view points.


Yet another alternative view point

"RESOLVING THE CONFLICTS BETWEEN EVOLUTION AND CREATION SCIENCE"
http://www.religioustolerance.org/ev_resol.htm

The universe might really have no real history at all: "You can equally argue that this god created the universe 2 seconds ago, and you did not write the essay, this god did and placed in your mind two seconds ago a memory so that you think you did. He is so good deception and hiding of his creation that he even put a copy of the file on your hard drive when he created that too!!" Assuming the existence of a God with infinite powers, there is no logical argument that can refute this scenario.

***

"Reductionism and extremism both try to keep things simple. Reductionism attempts to reduce the complex to the simple, both in matters of type, kind or form, and causality. Where there are many types or forms, differing in both minor and major degrees, reductionism -- unable or unwilling to make distinctions -- claims there is only one type or form. Where there are many different causes combining to produce an effect, reductionism insists there is only one cause. Extremism, the other product of simplistic thinking, defines an issue only in terms of its two extreme positions, denying the possible existence of alternative positions between the two extremes. For the extremist there is no middle ground, only one extreme or the other. Non-support for one extreme position is equated with support of the opposite extreme position. The problem with simplistic thinking, whether reductionism or extremism, is that in a world of almost infinite complexity and variety it rarely provides an accurate or truthful portrayal of reality." (Right and Wrong Racism by a 'Richard McCulloch')

I couldn't agree more with this part of the article.

Also interesting is a list of human subspecies, races and subraces. Though I don't see why he is so obsessed with preventing races from mixing genetically and disappearing. Hopefully he will soon respond to my email.

***

On defamation lawsuits:

"firstly, i find the concept of defamation lawsuits very uninteresting. what kind of a person must be so insecure as to think that his reputation must be sullied by such comments and therefore must be preserved through means of a lawsuit and lots of moneey. secondly, i find the laws regarding internet and free speech very ill-defined and open to contest. in this case obviously the internet should be de-regulated and left to anything and anyone. since, well, there are a billion reasons, not least the fact that people aren't brainless sods and most can pretty much follow clear logic and decide what's true and false or good and bad for themselves. i assure you that if this weren't the case, then
advertisements would be 100% effective and should be banned from any form of media. we should then move to shutting down coffeeshops and making gossip absolutely illegal." (Young Republic mailing list)

"Americans are now regaled with uncorroborated tales that George W. Bush, Jr., was a recreational cocaine user in his misspent youth. Ironically what will more greatly lower his W's standing with the US voter is for W to file defamation lawsuits. This sort of conduct will invite accusations that the plaintiff-politician is too thin-skinned and too hypersensitive. Lawsuits are energy sapping and time-consuming, voters prefer the politician to devote that energy and time to solving real problems." (Pity the Amusement - the politics of defamation for the Singapore voter)


Unfortunately, I am unable to find online a list of the footnotes for Michael D. Barr's Lee Kuan Yew: Race, Culture and Genes, although the original is mirrored in many places online. The Premier Institution of Social Engineering has access through ProQuest, but it's down at the moment; I wager that the footnotes would be a very interesting corroborative read. I shall have to make a mental note to try to access the Journal of Contemporary Asia again when NUS IT Care gets back to me. [Addendum: I've taken a look at the footnotes, and indeed they are interesting!]

Interestingly, a link to the aforementioned article is located on NTU's National Education page, which also has a link to:

Lee Kuan Yew's WWW Page - A Rajeev G.Mavinkurve Presentation

"This is a tribute to a Great Leader, the Father of Modern Singapore, first prime minister of Singapore, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew on his 77th Birthday - September 16, 1999. Kuan Yew, means the light that shines far and wide. True to the meaning of his name, he has been admired all over and has been honored the architect of the century. I admire him for his Vision, Determination and his attitude of do my best under any circumstance."

***

I got into a flame war about Burma, Singapore, democracy and genocide et al on LiveJournal the night before my last exam. In all there were 116 comments exchanged between me and the two people I was arguing with. Whee. Some of the comments make for fascinating reads:


eterna2: I am saying. If country A is committing genocide. Then country B which is a democracy, shldn't interfere with A's internal affair! They can only sanction, etc etc. Becuz each country has their own rights.

If u are imposing what u thing shld be the right values on another totally different culture. That isn't democracy.

Me: You seem to have conflated cultural relativism and democracy.

And democracy is about carrying out the rule of the people, while protecting the rights of minorities. Genocide is anti-thetical to democracy.

eterna2: By nature of democracy, u need to have the consensus of the pple to act. So for genocide in another country. U either need to consensus of ur own pple to directly intervene. OR the consensus of the pple in THAT country. BUT as u are the government of ur country, U are not and cannot be the representive of THAT country. So U cannot interfere with THEIR affairs, becuz U do not represent them.

Me: "We are being slaughtered, but please do not take that as a sign that we want you to come and stop us from being killed. We don't mind being killed, really."

eterna2: The citizen may want pple to come and help them, but law specifically state that u cannot interfere, unless u declare the regime unlawful!

how many times do i have to say that? If u take the regime as a lawful government of the country. U have no rights to interfere at all!

regardless of what they do in their own country. Ur laws and idealogy only extend as far as ur own borders.

Me: That's *if* you take the regime as a lawful government of the country. Which you have not said before.

And the right of people not to be slaughtered surely trumps that of governments to hold sovereign power.

eterna2: But as long as u still recognise them as lawful, even if they genocide, u can do nothing, until u declare them unlawful. So if we are still recognising the Junta as the lawful government. Then we have no rights to critise or sanction them.

***

The Perception Laboratory's Face Transformer

"Welcome to the Perception Laboratory's Face Transformer. You can use the Perception Laboratory's Face Transformer to change the age, race or sex of a facial image, to transform it to the style of a famous artist, to make an exagerated caricature or even make an ape of yourself!"

The server was broken and didn't let me save the results, but I took some screencaps:


Wo-hen, Manga-style


Feminised Wo-hen - but it looks the same to me leh


Drunk Wo-hen

***

Norway woman convicted for rape - "A Norwegian court has sentenced a woman to nine months in jail for raping a man, the first such conviction in the Scandinavian country that prides itself for its egalitarianism."

TechnicalVirgin.com - offering alternatives to today's teens - "Of course, the safest way for teens to avoid unwanted pregnancy while satisfying their carnal needs is to limit themselves to homoerotic encounters until they are ready for procreation. But many boys and girls are uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex encounters. Anal sex, however, can be fun for both sexes, and thanks to modern improvements in strap-on sex tools, girls can enjoy being in control of their own anal encounters. So, teens, the next time you strip down for sex, remember the TechnicalVirgin motto — "Everything Butt!""
A good blow against abstinence-only sex education. I love the TV commercials...

What are the odds of dying? - Nice to know that you're twice as likely to die by drowning in a swimming pool than a bathtub.
Ed: As the link is now broken I have replaced it with an Internet Archive copy

Overweight people may live longer - "The researchers found that the people who had BMIs higher than 25 but lower than 30, which meant they were moderately overweight but not obese, did not have a reduced life expectancy. The people who lived the longest of all were those with BMIs of 25, which lies between the ideal and overweight margins. In comparison, there were 112,000 extra deaths among the obese category and nearly 34,000 extra deaths among the underweight category."
So in 30-40 years' time the life expectancy for females in Singapore and Hong Kong may suddenly drop below that for males, since we've so many anorexic ones around.

Some Like It Hot - "Forty public policy groups have this in common: They seek to undermine the scientific consensus that humans are causing the earth to overheat. And they all get money from ExxonMobil."

Decrying the West's sins of secularism / Theologian argues a return to Christian roots will cure U.S. and European ills - "But this is an old argument and a staple of conservative Christian critics of modernity. Take T.S. Eliot for example. Writing in 1939 shortly before World War II, when European democracy faced a much graver threat, Eliot famously argued in "The Idea of a Christian Society" that Great Britain would only survive if it rediscovered its Christian roots. Without this rediscovery, the country would lack the moral fortitude to withstand either Stalinism or Nazism. As he pointedly concluded, "If you will not have God ... you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin." Eliot was wrong, of course, in no small part because he did not understand that people valued and were willing to fight for the principles of democracy independently of their religious faith. A lack of piety does not imply a lack of patriotism. Weigel makes a similar mistake. He overstates the Christian influence on modern democracy and refuses to acknowledge the way in which core democratic principles such as toleration and consent had to be articulated in opposition to Christian doctrine. As a result, he fails to recognize the independent moral content of democracy and secularism. Democrats and secularists support values such as state neutrality, toleration and the freedom to have or not have children not because they are unprincipled atheists but because they are convinced moralists who believe that such principles are proper and good."

Cardinal Ratzinger on... - "Homosexuality: “Intrinsic moral evil”, The ban on women priests: “Necessary in order to protect true doctrine, to safeguard the communion and unity of the Church and to guide consciences of the faithful”, Mass in languages other than Latin: “A tragic breach”, Turkey joining the EU: “An enormous mistake”"

When I expressed disappointment at the new Pope's hardline stance, someone claimed to me that "at any rate, the dogmatic and moral teachings of the Church do not and cannot change. I challenge you to find me one example where she has done so". However, the most clear example of a change in doctrine is on whether non-believers and non-Catholics can be saved. A Papal Encyclicals Cheat Sheet is available, and one can see how doctrine and teachings have changed greatly over the years. One might also talk of the reforms of Vatican II. Of course, all manner of sophistic arguments more reminiscent of their Protestant Fundamentalist brothers from across the Atlantic are used to show how this change in doctrine isn't really a change. Hurr hurr. Intellectual suicide is not exclusively practised by fundies.

Can you find a job with your Arts (Sociology) degree? - "The student was proud of his job but he was somewhat miffed that a philosophy major from another university was offered a position in the same office. The engineering student said that, if he had known that he could have been given the same job with an Arts degree, he would have studied something fluffier. But he misunderstood Arts degrees. If you can understand the relevance of Edmund Husserl's thinking (or the implications of social theory or any of a long list of seemingly abstract topics), then you can probably figure out what's interesting about fluid flowing through a pipe (and almost everything else engineers know). The moral of the story is that if you want to do well in the job market, how well you learn may be more important that what you learn. Even in these tough times, there is still a place for those who are able to distinguish themselves by their creativity, intelligence, and academic discipline. Unfortunately, some Arts students make the same mistake that the chemical engineering student made. They think that Arts subjects are easy. They usually get their degrees but they usually pay the consequences later."

***

Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore & The Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and University Scholars Programme, National University of Singapore

cordially invite you to a panel discussion on

Palestinians and Israelis Talk to Each Other: Dialogue on Conflict and Peace

by Said Zeedani, Professor of Philosophy, Al-Quds University, East Jerusalem
Basem L. Ra’ad, Professor of English and World Civilization, Al-Quds University, East Jerusalem
Dan Avnon, Professor of Political Science, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Eyal Ben-Ari, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem


I would've wanted to go for this, but had no school on Friday. Besides which, I woke up at 3, so.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Yahoo mail has given users 1GB of email space ..... *WOOHOOOW!!!!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Comment left in an earlier post:

"Poster:PRNS

Message: We are interested in Jason Chan so that we can GET TO Kimberly Jo Johnson the Pink Ranger. Her gymnastics throws me off my chair!"

?!

***

Xephyris gives his professional opinion on one of the worst encodings of Schubert's third Moment Musical in existence:

"ah it's piano ah
i think it sounds muted, i'm not sure if it's caused by the encoding or if the source material is bad

lows are muddy and there's a strange fuzz around mids

oh dear there's a slight ringing that can be detected if you turn up your speakers...

it's bad lol

btw how did you manage to find an encoding that screws up a piano so badly?
piano tones are chicken feet for modern encoders

whoa i just ran it through encspot
"QDesign (fast mode)"
what the heck is this

wah, you've found a really rare specimen ah
it's BAD lol
just delete it w
the ringing gives me a headache

i'm burnt out from an essay paper followed by the networking exams heh
and then you torture my ears with this"


Someone on a forum about "Nikkfurie - The A La Menthe":

This is an awesome song. For anyone that has seen the movie it's from the part of the movie where the Night Fox is maneuvring through the blue lasers. For some reason I imagined watching a bunch of retards in a small room all running around bumping into each other and falling down while listening to that song.
"It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information." - Oscar Wilde

Random Playlist Song: Kermit the Frog - Being Green

***

I'm very traumatised by my Microeconomic Analysis I exam; all the funny fractions (and not even proper ones, at that) and weird questions. I heard SAF-style curses flying from at least one direction.

Maybe I'll do something to my hair.

8 days to my next, and last, paper!

***

We Are Bloggers, Our Name Is Legion

CowboyCaleb: "The Singapore blogosphere is unique. The fact that we have mature (in body and mind) leaders like MrBrown leading the charge and prescibing common sense has really helped... Now we have reached critical mass, and are forming collectives. Tomorrow.sg is the best example of a collaborative effort of several bloggers who neither need the exposure, have no reason to work for free and have no veto power over individual decisions. Far from being an exclusive club, Tomorrow is the natural evolution of seasoned bloggers’ need to increase exposure for new and known blogs that may never reach the mainstream without proper word of mouth."

Actually, I think that with the formation of a Boing-Boing-like community, Singaporean blogs have lost their innocence and maybe even some of their charm.

A growing segment of the Singaporean blogosphere - in absolute, even if not relative terms - now seems incestuously small, just like Singapore itself, and the Singaporean diaspora - at least the Singaporean student diaspora. Everyone links to everyone else, everyone trackbacks everyone else, everyone talks about everyone else and everyone reads everyone else, especially the same few heavyweights. Perhaps it's a fetishism by Singaporeans of all things Singaporean.

When something happens on or with one blog, the rest will be quick to pick up on it, spread the word, and pen some commentary, as if something had just happened to someone in the neighbourhood. Gossip and comments flow, just like in a MeatSpace neighbourhood. Wash, rinse and repeat recursively.

For this reason also, some form of bowdlerisation can sometimes be sensed on bloggers' parts, perhaps to reduce the amount of flak they might get for being controversial (unless the point, of course, is to be controversial), and also avoid offending certain other members of the blogosphere by saying what they really think of them and/or their blogs.

The Internet is supposed to be a global phenomenon, but the Singaporean blogosphere seems to be turning into itself. When does a support and networking system turn into a sticky web? When does cohesion and closeness slip into insularity and parochialism?

After a while, everything seems to blends into an indistinct, miscible whole, which is why I don't bother to keep up with all the good (as well as the occasionally good) blogs. In any case, if something is really good, it's bound to be linked to by other blogs.

***

HotAIR - How Do Porcupines Make Love?

"Female pre-copulation

It was noted that the animals of both sexes objected to being stroked or having their feet, tail base, or genitals touched by the authors. In July/August, as the mating season approached, the female porcupine would often rub her genitals on structures such as food and water dishes, sticks, and the cage wire. As the season progressed she sought and accepted more frequent tactile stimulation (presumably from the human investigators). As the mating season approached, young females become more nervous and excited and put more "vim, vigor and action" into their activities. They would even "seize, straddle, and ride sticks about the cage" walking erect and stimulating their genitalia with the stick. This period of excitement was followed by a stage the female went off her food, remained close to the male and "moped." During this period the female even accepted the insertion of a thermometer into the vagina (which she resisted at other times).

Conclusions

1. Young children should be banned from university library basements.

2. Sometimes the most improbable science is also the truest.

3. Never stand close to a cage that contains courting porcupines."


Clever Canines - Did domestication make dogs smarter? - "In their relationship with humans, dogs have developed remarkable interspecies-communications skills, says Mr. Csányi. "They easily accept a membership in the family, they can predict social events, they provide and request information, obey rules of conduct, and are able to cooperate and imitate human actions," he says. His research even suggests that dogs can speculate on what we are thinking."

A sentimental education - Ian Jack deplores the media's role in fomenting grief on the death of public figures - "The Pope, having been, so far as I can remember, a fairly marginal figure in the paper's worldview, was now in death bang at the centre of it. The Pope — this is a crude and prejudiced paraphrase of the coverage — had ended the Cold War, brought down the Berlin Wall, and defended the world's poor against the depredations of the world's rich. He was ripe for beatification. No more humane, more spiritual or more important individual had recently walked the globe. Millions of people, by no means all of them from Poland, were invading Rome to see the body, watch the funeral, and to be witnessed by the rest of us doing both."

Transcript for "Edward O. Wilson and The Future of Life" - "It [Sociobiology] was a new discipline that I was proposing, which was the scientific study of social behavior in all kinds of organisms on a foundation of biology. It was a very successful attempt in the study of animal behavior. It succeeded immediately. But I also decided to apply it to that special species of animal, Homo sapiens, and when I did, I just suggested that maybe there were some implications of this for humans... maybe there is such a thing as instinct and human nature and maybe this is the way to study it, with this new discipline. And gee, yes, in the middle Seventies that was not an idea permitted in most of the social sciences and on American campuses."
I was under the impression that this remains the case even in the 00's (Have they found a name for this decade yet?

How are you supposed to spell Muammar Gaddafi/Khadafy/Qadhafi? - "I count at least 12 different ways to spell the colonel's handle, including Qaddhafi (New York Review of Books), Qaddafi (New Republic), Gaddafi (Time), Kaddafi (Newsweek), Khadafy (Maclean's), Qadhafi (U.S. News & World Report), Qadaffi (Business Week), and Gadaffi (World Press Review). Libya's UN mission, in an effort to spread further confusion, spells the name Qathafi, and I know I've seen Gadaafi somewhere. To make matters worse, the Library of Congress and the Middle East Studies Association, to whom one would ordinarily look for guidance, have a fondness for Qadhdhafi, which is an abomination unto God. I think you now begin to grasp the dimensions of the problem. Some publications have used several spellings over the years; unfortunately, the result has not been a stylistic convergence, but rather a prolongation of the dismal status quo. In 1973 Business Week started out with Qadafi, which had the advantage of simplicity, at least; unfortunately, almost no one else used it, and BW sheepishly changed to Qadaffi. As of December 30, 1985, the usually punctilious New Yorker was spelling it Khadafy; by January 20, 1986, this had inexplicably morphed into Qaddafi. The Wall Street Journal initially used Qaddhafi, but now has shifted to Qadhafi. My personal feeling is to chuck all the preceding and just call him Poohead, which is easier to remember and has an undeniable evocative power as well. But to each his own."
An excellent question I never managed to get an answer to.

Dumb thief, unplugged - "Clearly Richard Wayne Cook learned no lesson four years ago when he ripped off Mitch and Theresa Wyman. Back then, Cook was convicted in a Charleston, South Carolina, court for grand larceny and burglary. Unreformed, Cook was recently nabbed again after stealing the same stuff from the same house."

One of the very few places on the net where you can download an MP3 of Elgar's The Snow!
Not too long ago, while I was still on sabbatical, ici sententiously posted a link to "Legalization Of Drugs: The Myths And The Facts", written by a Robert L. Maginnis, of the Familly (sic) Research Council, a stellar authority whose website proclaims that "Believing that God is the author of life, liberty, and the family, FRC promotes the Judeo-Christian worldview as the basis for a just, free, and stable society."

The FRC engages in most worthy issues:

- Since the early 1990’s, FRC has emerged as a leading conservative think-tank championing “traditional family values” by lobbying for state-sponsored prayer in public schools, private school “vouchers,” abstinence-only programs, filtering software on public library computers, the right to discriminate against gay men and lesbians.
- FRC’s objective is to establish a conservative Christian standard of morality in all of America’s domestic and foreign policy.
- FRC has dedicated itself to working against reproductive freedom, sex education, equal rights for gays and lesbians and their families, funding of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. FRC supports a school prayer amendment and would like to ‘disestablish’ the Department of Education. (People For the American Way)

In addition, the article in question a loosely and poorly strung together list of disparate, probably out-of-context facts which, among other things, ignores the massive failure and cost of the US's War on Drugs - smoking pot is a popular activity, especially among College students. Having neither the expertise not the time to do it justice, I invited Caleb to do an analysis on my behalf, who kindly consented:


"By itself, marijuana is a dangerous drug as well. A joint of marijuana is far more carcinogenic than a cigarette. Microbiologist Tom Klein of the University of South Florida reports, "We've tried working with [marijuana smoke], and it's so toxic, you just get it near the immune system and it [the immune system] dies." Klein found that THC [tetrahydrocannabinol -- the active ingredient in marijuana] suppresses some immune system responses and enhances others.[16]"

This is ridiculous. "Carcinogenic" means cancer-causing. It has nothing to do with suppression of immune responses. And btw while it is true that cannabis suppresses the immune system, this is true of other medical drugs, including all steroids. Should ppl who import steroids therefore be hanged?

"A study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that marijuana smoke is often contaminated by the fungus, Aspergillus.[17] Another study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that cases of allergic sinus infection with the same fungus came from recreational use of contaminated marijuana.[18]"

Huh? We should ban substances which *might* cause sinus problems? Where is your sense of perspective?

And anyway, nobody said that smoking cannabis is as healthy as eating celery. The point is that it is not *sufficiently* dangerous to be controlled. Let me put it this way -- panadol can be used to commit suicide, or indeed to poison someone else. Yet it is sold over the counter. There simply has to be a weighing of risks, of costs and benefits when deciding public policy. Just because X poses *some* danger doesn't mean that X should be banned.

"California decriminalized marijuana in 1976, and, within the first six months, arrests for driving under the influence of drugs rose 46 percent for adults and 71.4 percent for juveniles.[33] Decriminalizing marijuana in Alaska and Oregon in the 1970s resulted in the doubling of use.[34] Patrick Murphy, a court-appointed lawyer for 31,000 abused and neglected children in Chicago, says that more than 80 percent of the cases of physical and sexual abuse of children now involve drugs. There is no evidence that legalizing drugs will reduce these crimes, and there is evidence that suggests it would worsen the problem.[35]"

Decriminalisation will result in higher usage in the short run, obviously. But over the long run the level of drug use will stabilise. And anyway, since we have established that soft drugs are not very dangerous, *especially when used recreationally*, it is not the soft drugs figures that we should be looking at. It is the hard drugs figures. The use of cocaine and heroine (I think cocaine is dangerous
and this is supported by the WHO) in the US is 20 times higher than in the Netherlands where soft drugs have been legalised. Drug dealers want to push ppl into taking heroine and coke because they are very addictive and are more expensive. By allowing the recreational use of pot, users will more likely plateau at pot then be led by their (illicit) suppliers to try rougher stuff.

Actually this whole stupid argument has gone on before wrt alcohol, considered in the past to be a very dangerous drug, and prohibited in the US early in the 20th C. Prohibition failed to control alcohol abuse AND was a godsend to organised crime. The same thing is happening today wrt drugs.

But of course the article is concerned to suggest that prohibition is not a good analogy:

"Prohibition was a solitary effort by this country while the rest of the world was essentially "wet." However, most drugs are illegal throughout much of the world. This makes enforcement much easier."

Sadly, this is wrong too. Cannabis is a weed. It can grow anywhere. It has been extremely difficult to enforce the ban on cannabis. Many, many, many ppl in the US use cannabis recreationally.

Then again, although first arguing that Prohibition is not a good parallel, we suddenly have:

"History shows that prohibition curbed alcohol abuse. Alcohol use declined by 30 to 50 percent; deaths from cirrhosis of the liver fell from 29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 to 10.7 in 1929; and admissions to state mental hospitals for alcohol psychosis fell from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928.[53] Mark Moore, Harvard professor of criminal justice, wrote: "The real lesson of prohibition is that society can, indeed, make a dent in the consumption of drugs through laws."[54]"

Mark Moore is right, but if you read more by him, you will realise what he is saying is that there is merit in *controlling* drugs thru laws, but not necessarily banning drugs. So for example in Britain, cannabis is still a controlled drug, but has been downgraded to the same level as steroids and sleeping pills.

And remember that Prohibition was considered universally to be a failure ultimately, and the constitution was re-amended to legalise alcohol.

"Yale history professor David F. Musto comments on the myth that prohibition is a good parallel for illicit drug legalization:"Unless drugs were legal for everyone, including children...illicit sale of drugs would continue. Legalization would create more drug-addicted babies, not to mention drug-impaired drivers."[56]"

Musto is opposed to legalisation, but wants softer penalties. He certainly would not advocate hanging traffickers. Here he is, with something quite interesting actually wrt Singapore's drug policy:

"In 1928 there was a national competition to suggest the way in which we could improve prohibition and make it work. And when I went through the Anslinger papers I came across his submission. He actually sat down and wrote out and submitted it ... [his] whole idea was mandatory minimum sentences for people who drank beer once. Now his view was you'd only have to really put a number of people away for drinking beer once and then a lot of people wouldn't drink beer at all and therefore this was the solution.

So he started off life with the notion that severe penalties have tremendous deterrent effect and they're very worth it. And I think that he ended up with a very different estimate of the power of laws and law enforcement to simply stop drug abuse. And I think that's probably where he would be today. He would still be anti-drug, he would still favor tough law enforcement, but I don't think that he would have, what I call, the kind of naive faith that simply passing horrendous laws is going to cause the drug problem to go away."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

"The Swiss opened a "legalized drug" area in Zurich seven years ago and local addicts were given drugs, clean needles, and emergency medical care. Unfortunately, the liberal policy backfired and the number of addicts surged to 3,500; violence surged, too. "Needle Park," as it came to be known, was a place of open warfare among rival gangs, and even police faced gunfire. Their cars were attacked and overturned. In February 1995, officials ended the experiment, conceding that it had evolved into a grotesque spectacle.[68]"

By the name "Needle Park" you would realise that it doesn't refer to cannabis, which cannot be injected but rather is smoked. Needle Park catered largely to heroine addicts, and heroine is a drug most ppl think is very dangerous. And by the way, the failure of Needle Park only shows that open area legalisation is not effective. The Swiss govt continued with enclosed legalised provision, and this has proven successful. I.e. addicts are allowed to inject themselves with a certain amount of heroin in an enclosed room under medical supervision. The benefits are legion: these addicts get clean needles, and the govt is better able to monitor them.

Another point to note is that Needle Park attracted heroine addicts from all over Europe so the rise in the number of addicts was largely caused by this immigration.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

2 papers down, 2 to go (and 1 essay due at midnight).

I know I'm on sabbatical, but I got this cryptic email, and the sender did not leave a return address, so I am unable to enquire as to what she meant. Any assistance in deciphering it would be appreciated.


Subject: duntellyou

Message: Hey just to inform you that Jason Chan!!! will be on a program on ch5 this coming wed nite!!! I think I also saw Adri on the streets wearing a black t-shirt in the tv ads for the program. She looks a little plump I think. Or maybe the camera just adds 10 pounds to her t-shirt.


Well, I forwarded this to Adri, but she also had no idea what this girl was talking about.

[Addendum:

Poster:Jason Chan is a Blue Power Ranger

Message: Oh! I think he(Jason Chan aka blue ranger(spoiler)) will be on stress out at 7:30 on wed. A power ranger in singapore, I hope he gets to sign autographs at
toys r us.

My vote for this yr's american idol goes to carrie underwood definitely or bo
bice.

Denise keller of "eye for a guy 2" was lying out of her teeth when she said she
wasn't looking for a good looker. I suppose this is one instance when women mean
the opposite of what they say. Someone in the show was cocky? I thought she was
implying her self. She's a trash though.


Erm. Jason Chan does not play a blue ranger. He's the Green Samurai Ranger.

The 2 Blue Rangers in Power Rangers Ninja Storm are played by Sally Erana Martin (Blue Wind Ranger) and Jorgito Vargas - (Navy Thunder Ranger).

Anyhow, the Jason Chan page (damn, why didn't I check it earlier?) says:

"Stress Out Episode Guide

Jason can currently be seen co-hosting the show "Stress Out" on Singapore's Channel 5, Wednesdays at 7:30 pm. Here's a guide to the episodes that have aired so far."

Damn. I've already missed 3 episodes. Ah well.

It also says that he played the following roles:

"Television Commercials:
Tiger Beer - 2003
KFC (Singapore) - 2004
(and others?)

Adam
Life (2004, Artiste Entertainment, Channel i - Singapore) (Synopsis and Screenshots)"

Screenshots and Synopsis of "Six Weeks" also available.

Ah well. I only finished watching Ninja Storm late last year, so.

And it quotes Glenn McMillan: "I speak to Jason more often. He is in Singapore at the moment and has been working on quite a bit of stuff. He is also developing scripts and some of his own ideas for feature films. It is a bit tough for Asian actors to get solid work in Australia, and it's much better in Singapore. He's doing really well."

Looks like he will be in Singapore for some time to come :) Bandai could exploit his presence for autograph, publicity and toy-selling sessions, especially since Ninja Storm's still showing on Channel 5!

Random article: "In fact, Chan was a general practitioner for four years before deciding to act on his acting ambitions. Still, he says his medical career was good acting training because "doctors see a whole range of emotions in a matter of minutes.""]


None of the following Channel 5 shows on Wednesday evening sound like they'd have Jason Chan in them, and IMDB is silent:

06:00 PM - Just For Variety (Variety)

A magazine series offering remarkable, fascinating and peculiar stories from around the globe, ranging from wacky and zany to bizarre cultural beats, from historical oddities to tender human-interest stories. Impact TV is made up of five thematic strands: Human Impact, Adventure Impact, World Impact, Animal Impact, and Shock Impact.

06:30 PM - America's Funniest Home Videos XIV (Variety)

This show offer big laughs and big money to video buffs whose wildly funny or unusual video clips are judged favorites by studio audiences.

From practical jokes to home improvement plans gone awry, from animal mishaps to just strange behavior, America's Funniest Home Videos present a hilarious look at everyday people caught on tape in their most embarrassing moments.

07:00 PM - Hope And Faith I (Sitcom)
Hope And Faith Get Randy

Clint Black guest stars as a high-school flame of Hope's who is single again and back in town. He and Faith begin making some music together and that rouses Hope's ire. Meanwhile, Haley and Sydney make a hole in their bedroom wall while wrestling and conspire to cover it up. Also, Devon O'Day (Faith Ford's sister) performs with singer Kim Patton-Johnston in a scene set in a country-western bar.

07:30 PM - Stress Out (Info-Ed)
Joints

Are those four inch high heel shoes worth it? Look beyond the sale price. We spend a lot of time in our shoes - walking and standing. But when you get the wrong pair of shoes, you could end up with a lot of feet and joint problems. Give your feet a break. Put them up on a cushion and watch Stress Out.

08:00 PM - Crimewatch 2005 (Info-Ed)

08:30 PM - American Idol 4 (Variety)
(6 Finalists)

Last week, rastafarian' Anwar was sent home. With only six contestants remaining, the competition is more intense than ever. Will Scott and Anthony step up their performances after being in the bottom three last week?
Catch the final six performing, in the fourth season of the American Idol on 5!

09:30 PM - News 5 Tonight (News)

10:00 PM - Eye For A Guy II (Variety)

10 guys. 1 CELEBRITY. In the 2nd season of reality dating show "Eye For A Guy we're going to see the best of the pack go head to head. Every week, the guys will work their game, pour on the charm, and try to out maneuver each other in this competition for Denise Keller. At the end of 8 weeks, only one man will remain.
Now that "Eye For A Guy has earned a name for itself, viewers can expect the 2nd season to be much higher profile. Denise brings with her the star factor and a more exciting group of guys who are charming, intelligent, and confident enough to believe they have what it takes to get the girl. Look out for the BIG twist in the mid season!

10:30 PM - The Amazing Race VII (Variety)
We Got A Gnome! We Got A Gnome!

We are here again, another reality show full of racing, taxis and planes as these contestants swing their way around the world in the 7th season of The Amazing Race. Hosted by everyone's favourite Phil Keoghan, this show boasts non-stop adrenaline rush as eleven teams compete against each other for the coveted million dollars.

11:30 PM - E.R. IX (Drama)
The Advocate

Dr Weaver puts her career on the line by engaging in unorthodox medical practices
!!!!!

Speaking of krispy kreme doughnuts in melbourne .....!!!!

!!!!!
Due Midnight Tuesday - An (academic) work in progress which is now completed!


The chains that bind

A common cliché in television shows and popular literature is that, in the pursuit of self-actualization, one should break free from the dictates of society and others, and seek out one’s own way in the wilderness that is the world. In the show ‘Power Rangers Time Force’ (2001), the character Wesley Collins is portrayed as escaping the oppressive grip of his domineering and dour father, Mr Collins, and finding true freedom by joining 4 officers in the Time Police – Jen, Katie, Lucas and Trip - from the year 3000 to form the Power Rangers Time Force. This sounds idealistic, and indeed it is, for the truth is that as long as we engage in social interactions with other people, we will always have to conform to social expectations in one way or another, even if we think that we are escaping from them.

This concept of “accountability” is expounded on in John Heritage’s Garfinkel and Ethnomethodogy; in undertaking “social action” (p. 179), people must adhere to “morally appropriate (i.e. accountable) courses of action” (p. 193), for otherwise they will be chided by others (p. 193). With this understanding of “accountability”, we can see that although Wes (as he is known in the show) is portrayed as freeing himself from having to fulfil his father’s expectations, he really exchanges those chains for another, albeit less onerous, set.

We first witness how Wes is to be accountable to his father when we see him in his father’s mansion, rebuffing his butler Phillips when he is asked to choose a suit for an impending board meeting (Episode 2, 11:18), complaining that “these meetings are so boring” (11:20). Wes complains about having to attend meetings that he has no interest in attending, and which he goes to solely at the behest of his father. When Wes’s father then walks in and reminds him about punctuality (11:39), Wes pretends that he has a date with Jen, the Pink Ranger and leader of the group, and evades the impending meeting (12:10). We can see that Wes seethes against the expectations that Mr Collins has for him: he has no interest in attending the board meetings of his father’s company and being accountable to him by living up to the expectations he has of Wes’s behaviour.

Later, Wes struggles to put on a tie, the quintessential element of fashion for accountable males in the corporate world, and remarks to Phillips that “I hate these things” (Episode 3, 3:43), only to be told that “You can’t attend an executive meeting without a necktie” (3:48). He then wonders if he would rather not suffer the pressures of accountability to his father anymore, musing “maybe I shouldn’t even” (3:50). Wes is portrayed as chafing under his father’s expectations to follow in his footsteps and “[take] my place at Bio Synth some day” (7:52); to be a dutiful son is the morally appropriate action which Wes has to be accountable for, at least as Mr Collins is concerned.

When someone feels that his accountabilities are too much for him to handle, or the others are not in their turn accountable to him, he can choose to jettison said accountabilities. When a group of children is kidnapped by one of Ransik’s mutants (Episode 6, 8:30), they demand a $10 million ransom. Wes asks his father for the ransom money, but is turned down. Mr Collins then, with the stroke of a pen, signs a cheque for $10 million and gives it to his business partners (10:14). Distressed by his father’s failure to be accountable to him, Wes appears listless, and is advised by his butler Phillips that “maybe you want to make your own footsteps” (10:50). At the end of the episode, disenchanted with his father’s behaviour, he donates the $10 million (recovered form the mutant) to a children’s charity without his consent (19:17), leaves home and moves in with the other Power Rangers in a dilapidated clock tower (19:55). However, by abandoning his father for the Power Rangers, Wes has not escaped accountability, but merely abandoned one type of accountability for another, albeit less pressing type.

We have seen how Wes is clearly accountable to his father. However, even from the first time he joins with the other Rangers to defeat their mutant enemies, he is not free from the chains of accountability. When the main villain Ransik taunts the Rangers about his having taken down one of their former team mates Alex - Jen's fiancé - and Wes asks “what is he talking about?” (Episode 2, 15:40), he receives from Jen the curt reply, “doesn’t concern you” (15:41). Besides it not being an appropriate course of action for Wes to ask trivial questions just before a battle, he is also touching on a sensitive topic that Jen does not wish to discuss. Not long after that, when exulting in his new powers and how they defeated the mutants – “I love this, yeah!” (19:20), Wes is met with stony, implacable silence on the part of Lucas (19:34), and is told angrily by Jen that “this isn’t a game” (19:38). Mutant fighting is obviously an activity that must be engaged in seriously, and to treat it flippantly is not a morally appropriate action, at least not to both Lucas and Jen.

Oblivious to these obvious signs of disapproval, he asks the two of them to “lighten up” (19:44), and remarks that he “can’t wait to do it [fighting mutants] again” (19:46). Having crossed the line of tolerance, he is told by Jen that he “won’t get the chance to” (19:47), and has his morpher (the piece of equipment that lets him transform into a spandex-wearing superhero) taken from him (19:51). Having behaved in a morally unaccountable way, he is subject to Jen’s accusation that “You’re not fighting at all, you’re playing” (Episode 3, 6:11) and chided because “You’ve never had to fight for anything in your life” (6:18). Chillingly brought back to reality, Wes realises that with his flippant manner, he has failed to be morally accountable to them. Although the show idealises Wes’s association with the Power Rangers as freeing him from being accountable to paternal expectations, as a Ranger he too has to be accountable – to his fellow Rangers – and not treat fighting mutants as a game.

Accountable to the Rangers though Wes is expected to be, the expected degree of accountability is still not as great as it is with his father. To be accountable to his father Wes has to dress right, be punctual and meet clients, and is continually nagged and hurried by him (Episode 3, 9:50), yet with his fellow Rangers, when they are not fighting mutants, he leads a free, relaxed and unhurried life (Episode 6, 2:45). One reason for this is that, as Lucas points out, Wes “is a good fighter” (Episode 3, 20:16), and that to catch Ransik, “We’re gonna need help” (1:50). Indeed, since the 4 Rangers are stranded in the past with no allies, hope of reinforcements from the future (2:20), no money or food (Episode 4, 0:18), nor even a base of operations, they cannot afford to expect the same degree of accountability of Wes as they would under less pressing circumstances or, for that matter, that Mr Collins expects of him.

Furthermore, later on Wes finds for the other Rangers a dilapidated clock tower for a base of operations (Episode 4, 1:16), and from then on they are noticeably more tolerant of him. Wes is at that point in time the Power Rangers’ only potential ally in the year 2001, so these extenuating circumstances make the Rangers less demanding of Wes’s accountability than they would otherwise be. On the other hand, although Wes is being groomed as his father’s heir, he is not otherwise of active use to him in his business dealings, being a very disinterested hanger-on. We can see, then, that degree of accountability expected of individuals depends on those individuals’ usefulness to the people expecting the accountability, as well as how secure the latter are.

Different people also expect different degrees of accountability. While Wes is in his father’s household, he receives a sympathetic ear from Phillips the butler, who also advises him to follow his heart (Episode 6, 10:50). After the Rangers’ first battle, Wes celebrates with Katie and Trip – the two less uptight of the Rangers, who also do not upbraid him (Episode 2, 19:20). Later, when Jen is chiding Wes for his treating of fighting mutants as a game, Trip tries to intervene (Episode 3, 6:43), but is restrained by Jen, although he flashes her a pleading look on Wes’s behalf.
Lucas, Jen and Mr Collins are all more serious people than Phillips, Katie and Trip, and the former have higher standards of accountability than the latter. If Jen and Lucas were as easy-going as Katie and Trip, the degree of accountability expected of Wes would have been a great deal less. Nonetheless, he still would have been accountable to some degree, for Katie and Trip are still members of the Time Police, with an attendant code of conduct and expectations of their team mates. Different people may expect different degrees of accountability from others, yet accountability itself they expect still.

We have examined the accountabilities demanded of Wes by both the Rangers and his father, and the factors accounting for them. Yet accountability is not a one way street: just as it takes two hands to clap, it takes at least two parties for accountability to be practised – besides those who demand accountability there are those who provide the accountability. Let us now examine how Wes responds to the accountabilities demanded of him.

As Wes interacts more with the other Rangers, he begins to be more accountable to them. After finding them a dilapidated clock tower in which to live, he helps them clean it up (Episode 4, 4:03, 4:12), and even gets his hands dirty painting walls (8:45) – things which, in his previous spoilt rich boy incarnation, he would never have done; as he observes, “I guess I’m not used to manual labour” (9:00). Furthermore, we can see from his manner and expression, and from the cheerful music being played in the background (4:00), that he is undertaking all these tasks willingly, even happily, as opposed to the stiff, stilted manner in which he interacts with some of his father’s clients (Episode 3, 7:55), or the sullen manner with which he faces his father (Episode 6, 18:30). Despite his erstwhile resistance to becoming accountable to his father, he has now become accountable – wants to be accountable - to the other Power Rangers, helping them with their chores and doing his part in fighting mutants as part of the team. In escaping from one form of accountability, he has thrown himself headlong into another form of it.

We can see, then, that it is not accountability per se that Wes resents, but the type of accountability his father demands, and the ends this is directed to: saving the world as a Power Ranger is a much more noble task than succeeding his father at the helm of a company, merely for the sake of the agglomeration of wealth. The moral value Wes assigns to saving the world is higher than that he gives to fulfilling his father’s expectations. We can see, then, that although individuals may be unwilling to be accountable to certain people under certain scenarios to certain ends, in others they willingly – even cheerfully – accept and even welcome the accountability expected of them; it is not accountability in and of itself that they resent, but accountability which they are not prepared to show, whether because they dislike the person to whom they have to be accountable, or the ends for which this accountability is for.

It might be argued that Wes really has no choice about where to go; after giving away $10 million of his father’s money he has no choice but to move in with the Rangers. If he doesn’t move in with them in the dilapidated clock tower, he will not have to be accountable to them. However, the fact is that even if does seek refuge elsewhere, he will have to be accountable to the people he interacts with then; the Rangers being close friends who hardly interact outside their circle, as well as needing his help in fighting mutants, they are probably one of the groups of people who will expect the least amount of accountability from Wes. And, needless to say, if he continues staying with his father he will have to be accountable to him. As it is with Wes, so it is with us: as long as we interact with people, we will have to be accountable to them.

We can also see that accountability is not a unidirectional expectation. In Wes’s interactions with his father, the bulk of the time Wes is being pressured by his father to be accountable to him. Yet there is a scene where Wes expects his father to be accountable to him: when Wes asks his father to fork out the $10 million ransom (Episode 6, 9:45) to save the kidnapped children. In this scene, instead of rejecting Wes outright, Mr Collins first demurs (9:35), and asks of his son: “Y… You don’t expect me to have it all, do ya?” (9:39). When Wes pleads with him: “Dad, you’re their only hope, please!” (9:45), he hesitates for a brief moment, and even half-apologises to Wes – “the police, not me” (9:49) - before turning down the request. Wes’s pleading and subsequent disappointment with his father shows that he expects his father to be morally accountable to him: to provide ransom money to save the kidnapped children.

On Mr Collins’s part, although he eventually turns down Wes’s request, he clearly feels that he is accountable to his son in some way, since he is at least semi-apologetic. Similarly, when Wes is with the other Rangers, where at first he was the one constantly chided for not being accountable to them, the others begin to become more accountable to him. For example, when Trip uses his powers of mind-reading to spoil a game for Lucas and Wes, Wes shows clear signs of frustration with Trip (Episode 7, 4:28) since reading other people’s minds is not a morally appropriate course of action. Although the onus for accountability may be primarily on one person, this does not mean that other people are not themselves accountable to him.

Some might ask how accurately a TV show, and a children’s TV show at that, can reflect on reality and inform us about accountability. Yet, it is precisely because Power Rangers Time Force is a children’s TV show that its depiction of accountability shows us how pervasive this concept is in reality. Power Rangers might exist outside normal society, a reality best illustrated when they ‘morph’, gaining superhuman powers and spandex suits which clearly distinguish them both from normal people and their own civilian forms, yet they are still expected to be accountable to each other. If, even in a show about spandex-clad superheroes and aimed at children – and thus, inevitably simplified somewhat - the characters can be seen to show accountability towards and demand accountability from each other and adhere to what are considered to be appropriate courses of action, how can accountability fail to pervade all of our social interactions?

Accountability is indeed an invisible chain that binds us in our social interactions. When we are agreeable to the ends for which the accountability is directed, as with Wes and the Power Rangers, the chains of accountability become inconspicuous, and indeed welcomed, since through binding they help us in bonding with others. Yet, whether or not we are bothered by them, the chains of accountability are the chains that bind.



Discarded:

We first witness how Wes is to be accountable to his father when we see him in the kitchen of his father's mansion (Episode 2, 11:00). Stealing some cream from the top of a cake, Wes is scolded by a chef (11:07): “You cannot have that”

I'm quite sure he'll kill me if I write this...

Monday, April 25, 2005

So, i was surfing myveryownglob and thought to myself, do i have an island in the world that i really really like? I enjoyed the week i spent... 3 years ago at pulau redang, trengganu (go there with KUSTEM if you get the chance! save turtles and get a tan... how about that? unfortunately there's no link anywhere on the web to a photo of me with a tan) Never mind the SEATRU website looks like it was made in 1998, the campsite could have been out of the 1980s or earlier (kerosene lamps??!! cool man!!!)

So, back to the question, does andrew have a favourite island in the world that he really really likes? Or even a dream holiday/getaway destination? He's not that keen on travel (takes after his father in that way) but will do so for incentives (e.g. one reason i would go back to sydney for is to visit the safe injecting rooms in king's cross. Heh, now i found the website, i really may go visit!)

Just thinking... if krispy kreme's business in sydney continues to be good (which is inevitable) they'll start expanding into other cities LIKE melbourne so once that happens, krispy kreme donuts wouldn't be an incentive to go to sydney. And like follows like.... once kino opens in melbourne, blah blah blah ... i'm still waiting for a gap shop to open in melbourne. Or maybe old navy. Like real. Anyway i'm supposed to be over all that stuff.

If i had a dream beach.... hmm... what would i want? A volleyball net ... provided i have kakis to play with (sentosa volleyball in january 2005 was so fun!!!). No rain. No jellyfish. No bratty kids . A place to sit down and read my book (or rather ) I'm rather picky aren't i?

Or say another destination... i want a new experience! Or do i?
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