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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Someone asked how long my hair was, so since I went to do an estimate I might as well post it here:

Fringe: When dropped down, it goes just past the chin
Side: When I pull it down and across my chin, it just goes beyond the vertical axis of my face
Back: It's hard to measure, but it goes some way beyond the collar. I've a short neck though, so compensating for that maybe it'd touch my collar if I'd a normal neck.

***

Almost all my female friends don't know what a jack rabbit is. I'm disappointed.


Someone: "I think I gave *** the wrong impression. OH NO
I can't remember whether it was her or ***. Anyway I was with one of them when I said that you told me that your friend received a jack rabbit and we were discussing how wild rabbits can be imported into singapore.......

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!
*head desk*

well I always wanted a kitten so I assumed the girl genuinely wanted a real rabbit!
to hug and love!"

***

My favourite engineer suggested to me what the bust pillow was for, and to confirm her suggestion I did a Google translation of the company's page:

"Bust pillow

The う crush to sleep, the favorite to the hatchet

The face pillow we would like you to use by all means together, this Bust pillow. When the う crush having done to sleep, agony of the chest harmony

And others the げ, supporting softly, it invites feeling good sleep.

Shape recovery force of the rubber and unites the flowability of the ジェル the new material body which It disperses pressure, fits to the software. The う crush sleeping Lee Lax doing, please taste slowly."


Given how the woman is sleeping, I suppose she's right. Definitely on the Christmas want list of all the Jap AV stars. Though I am skeptical how much better support-wise this is than a normal pillow.

***

Meet A Tosser seems to have disappeared and been replaced by a blog by "leopold" from Munich, Bavaria, Germany. I don't know what's happened, but I think the last post I saw before it vanished was about A*STAR.

Sonic alarm. - "Simply pull the pin, yell an emphatic “fire in the hole” and lob the grenade into the sleeper’s room. After ten seconds a very annoying and piercingly loud noise (there are three volume settings) will blast out from the alarm."

Kit Makes Motorcycle Fly - "A new $19,800 product called the Flite Bike kit transforms a Honda Reflex scooter into a flying motorcycle."
Event Title: Kotex Campaign Week
Organizer: The KOTEXERS, finalist of Kimberly-Clark Young Marketer’s Award

Description:
If you are a female:
- aged 18-24
- confident
- aspired to be successful

Do you want to have a chance to get $100 cash in less than 5 minutes? Come down to our booth in front of LT26 Science Faculty


I guess using Kotex products robbed these girls of their aspirations to success. Or maybe it was studying in NUS that did the trick.

Couldn't they have come up with a better name?! I bet this is an all-girls team.
I've changed my Google Ads format to a much more sensible one. Really, I should've done this from Day 1.
Someone: my friends saw you that time
wondered, who was that gay guy you were talking to?
i said, wtf, why you say he is gay??
then they tell me a lot of things
then they say, if not gay confirm metrosexual
then I say, why??
I say, he is not

basiclaly, i told them, you know agagooga
the blog name, balderdash
then they say, oh yah!!! that was him??!
see, you are famous
anyways
it was a number of things

1. the way you were flicking your hair -- I even pointed this out to you as you were doing it -- while you were talking to me. My friends said it's the sort of gesture GIRLS make to, well, attract guys they're interested in. And they should know. Because they are girls


This is so tragic.

***

The most useless useful (ie not deliberately designed to be useless but still so) Firefox extension I've ever seen:
censored
censored 2005.09.22, by Toronto, released on September 22, 2005

Censors words in webpages. Not for everyone.
First release, so enjoy with caution.

Someone's comment:

"My Analysis.

If you've downloaded this, you've already seen the problem. The title of this review is not a curse word. Now I can't read "I ran over a speedbump in the car." "I broke up with my girlfriend yesterday." "Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun." Frankly, it's rediculous. Please, make this more customizable. Allow the individual to decide what they want to censor and what they don't. I think something that could make this extension *great* would be to allow users to choose what the censored words turn into. Then I could censor certain things such as "lol" into more intelligent language. That would make me able to at least pretend that I wasn't talking to some idiot. But, as is, I can't even *tell* the idiot that he's an idiot."

***

A: My Comparative Politics textbook has a reading by Stanford Professor Larry Diamond under the "Authoritarianism" chapter. And Dr Diamond classifies Singapore's government as "Hegemonic Electoral Authoritarian". In the same category as us: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Cambodia and Pakistan.

B: Ooh I like Larry Diamond. His books on democratisation are good. And yeah his category 'hegemonic electoral authoritarianism' comes under his wider category of hybrid regimes (i.e. non-democratic regimes with certain democratic elements or vice versa) which I think is a useful idea. Perhaps democratic/non-democratic is too dichotomous.

Thanks for pointing that out
A hoax most cruel

"Summers, 51, conceded later that she had never known Ogborn to do a thing dishonest. But she nonetheless led Ogborn to the restaurant's small office, locked the door, and -- following the caller's instructions -- ordered her to remove one item of clothing at a time, until she was naked.

"She was crying," recalled Kim Dockery, 40, another assistant manager, who stood by watching. "A little young girl standing there naked wasn't a pretty sight."

Summers said later that "Officer Scott," who stayed on the telephone, giving his orders, sounded authentic. He said he had "McDonald's corporate" on the line, as well as the store manager, whom he mentioned by name. And she thought she could hear police radios in the background."


In the US examples 1/3 refused to follow the instructions of the callers. Since we're so compliant in the face of authority here, I figure it'd be more like 1/5.

***

Tongue-eating bug found in fish - "A gross creature which gobbles up a fish's tongue and then replaces it with its own body has been found in Britain for the first time."

Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power. - "This thought-provoking collection of magical texts from ancient Egypt shows the exotic rituals, esoteric healing practices, and incantatory and supernatural dimensions that flowered in early Christianity. These remarkable Christian magical texts include curses, spells of protection from "headless powers" and evil spirits, spells invoking thunderous powers, descriptions of fire baptism, and even recipes from a magical "cookbook." Virtually all the texts are by Coptic Christians, and they date from about the 1st-12th centuries of the common era, with the majority from late antiquity. By placing these rarely seen texts in historical context and discussing their significance, the authors explore the place of healing, prayer, miracles, and magic in the early Christian experience, and expand our understanding of Christianity and Gnosticism as a vital folk religion."
This is available in the NUS library.

A post on Singapore Adventure about the tudung/butt crack exposure fashion dilemma led me to an article on the Plumber's Crack and thence to one on breast cleavage on Wikipedia. There're actually categories of breast cleavage: Cleavage Décolleté, Cleavage Centros, Cleavage Côté, Cleavage Underside and Cleavage Cleavy. You learn something new everyday.

Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman (2005) (V) - They're actually making a video!

I don't get the point of the Bust Pillow. Is it a pillow for the bust? Is it a pillow in the shape of a bust (so why is a woman lying on it?) All I can say: damn Japs!

Friday, October 14, 2005

"People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up." - Ogden Nash

***

My most quiet lecture group is at 8am. I think everyone is still asleep.

I found myself saying, for the second time in 8 days after a test, "the curve will pull me up". Gah.

I suspect some people deliberately leave their phones on, or on silent mode, during exams, and then place them with only the fabric of their bags separating them from the floor (so the vibrations will have maximum effect). They then either set a reminder to sound during the exam or ask people to call them repeatedly. This distracts other students who do not anticipate this noise.

You always hear of some people who like to ask other people for assignment answers, or consult with them when they are unclear, but in turn refuse to share any of their own knowledge or answers, usually providing lame answers to mask their selfishness. An effective strategy in dealing with such people is to provide a carefully calibrated set of specious answers to mislead them.

I am freaked out. On October 6 I blogged about a sign with bad grammar in the NUS Central Library, peripheral to bemoaning the floodgates of decadence academic privileges in watching uncensored productions were opening. On Wednesday morning, I noticed it had been reprinted, the grammar mistake had been corrected and the sign had been moved forward so it was now prominently displayed on the counter. If I complain about my modules being too hard, maybe they will be toned down in difficulty too.

Photocopying prices have risen to 3 cents at the Central Library. Since paper is a non-negligible cost, they should implement a 0.5 cent rebate for each double-sided sheet printed. So instead of 6 cents, a double-sided sheet would cost 5.5 cents. If nothing else, this would save some trees.


For one of my modules this semester, we get to bring in a 2-sided cheat sheet for the exams. I've always fantasised about bringing in a magnifying glass during such an exam, so I went to buy this huge (and rather ugly, I might add) magnifying glass from the NUS co-op. Unfortunately, I didn't get down to using it since, even though I squeezed everything into less than 1 page, I could read my handwriting. And since the test was so devilishly hard, I didn't get to twirl it around for fun. In any case, proof of concept has been demonstrated.

Apparently for some modules in Science where cheat sheets (A4-sized pieces of paper on which you can write anything you want - midway between an open-book exam and a closed-book one) are allowed, some smart people shrink A3 sheets to A4 size with photocopiers. And, catching on, some modules ban doing that.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Tossing out the changeling with the bath water

the truth is rarely pure and never simple at No Concept of Liberty reminds us of the delightful tale retold in Judges 19:

the first guy pushes his concubine out of the house and the mob gang-rape her through the night. By the time morning comes, the concubine is one the verge of death. She collapses on the floor outside the house, with one hand on the threshold. When her husband discovers her in this state, and when she does not give any response when he tells her to get up, he loads her onto his donkey and heads home. Thereafter, he cuts her body up into twelve pieces and sends one piece to each tribe of Israel.


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(Graphic depiction courtesy of The Brick Testament)

He concludes:

So really the correct response when reading these things is not to try to argue them away by explaining how they are really about showing hospitality or whatever. The correct response is to regard them as the rabid tales of some barbaric ancient tribe and then toss them out of the window.


Some might argue that the passage ends with the words: "Everyone who saw it said, 'Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!'" (NIV), which is hardly approving of the deed. Yet, the mere fact that the conclusion of this sordid tale is absent of any trace of moral condemnation at all is a deafening indictment, considering how verbose the Old Testament is about condemning sin or what JHVH finds distasteful.

The problem, then, is deciding which bits of scripture to keep, and which to dump. For if everyone starts dumping the bits of the bible that they dislike or find repulsive, different people will have different views about which parts are veracious, and no one will have any idea who is right. In the final analysis, what's to stop you from throwing the whole thing out of the window?

Which is one of the main reasons why fundies decide to keep everything, and explain it away with intellectual suicide.

Far better, I think, to toss out the changeling with the bath water and find a real human.


(Cross-posted to Recovering Christians)
Prophets and prophecies of doom abound, but the world still hasn't ended.

***

Apparently in secondary school NCC camps, one way girls fob off guys who are trying to buaya them is, when asked for their phone numbers, is to give them the number of Singapore Casket.

Much has been said about the benefits of a legal education, but for some reason I find that many lawyers are trapped in a legalistic mindset - if it is legal, it must be right; if it is illegal, it must be wrong.

One very sneaky way in which to express angsty sentiments in a cathartic fashion is to use song lyrics. Then, if people ask if you're okay, or what's troubling you, and you have no desire to reveal what is really bothering you, you can just say that "oh, it's just a song".

Very interesting sentence: "The florist sent the flowers was very pleased". I thought there was something wrong with it when I first read it. Sneaky.

Motivational emails and spiel always talk about how you should live your life so that if you die suddenly, it will be with no regrets. But then, if you have no regrets about dying, doesn't it mean that you've already done what you want to do in/with life? The corollary of all this being that if you would die with no regrets at any moment in time, since you wouldn't mind dying, you weren't really living for anything in the first place.
I checked my NUS email just now and saw that there was a "Library Circulation Notice" from the NUS Libraries. Scrolling to the bottom, I saw that an RBR book (Reserve Books/Readings - these can be checked out for only 2 hours) was overdue.

Now, since these books are loaned out for only 2 hours, the fine for overdue books is commensurately steep - $1/hr. So when I logged in to my library account, I saw that I had a fine of $25 on my tab.

Currently there is a monitor placed beside the RBR book returning area which will display your name if the book has been detected as returned, and removed from your account. In my case, the problem might have been that, at the early hour I was there, no one else had returned RBR books in the 15 mins or so since I had returned a previous RBR book (since I had returned a book 15 mins before, my name was still displayed on the screen). So maybe the monitor should be tweaked to display the name of the book that has just been returned (it now displays only some cryptic serial number), as well as your name.

I called up the library, and the woman was very nice and helpful about it (they found the book in the end), but she asked me to check my account next time to verify that the book had been returned. Which would make having the monitor there quite redundant.
One day, a psychiatric examination revealed that a man was depressed; a psychiatrist sat and watched him for several hours as he cried, moaned and bewailed his fate. Then, he seemed to stop his palpitations. It appeared he had calmed down.

So the psychiatrist decided, after having consumed too much material encouraging self-indulgent emotional masturbation in a vacuum, decided to help the man: by sorting through his problems on his own, he would become a more emotionally stable person. The man then excused himself and went to the bathroom, and the psychiatrist congratulated himself on not inculcating in the man a crutch mentality.

The psychiatrist continued to wait because he expected that, at any moment, the man would come out from the bathroom.

Nothing happened!

In fact, the man had gone into the bathroom and slashed his wrists, ending his misery. He died.

What the psychiatrist, in the self-congratulatory mood brought on by consuming too much motivational and self-help material, did not understand was that struggle is not always good, and that some people are bested by it, giving up in exhaustion, defeat and despair, and that imputing teleological meaning from his god's plan into explaining every facet of the world would obviate his profession (and indeed, most of human free will, at least in relation to fellow humans).

Often, struggle is exactly what we don't need in our life, since life sucks as much as it does already.


If your god made you go through your life with your path strewn with obstacles, he would b a sadist. You would not be as happy as you could have been. Maybe even killed yourself.

I asked for Strength ...and my god gave me difficulties which I couldn't overcome, breaking my spirit.
I asked for Wisdom...and my god gave me problems I couldn't solve, making me feel stupid and worthless.
I asked for Prosperity...and my god caused the stock market to crash, hoping to make me work harder. Instead I threw myself off the nearest skycraper.
I asked for Courage….and my god beset me with so many obstacles, I eventually stumbled and lost my nerve and confidence.
I asked for Love...and my god gave me so many troubled people to help that I cracked and started hating them all.
I asked for Favors...and my god gave me opportunities which could not be realised.

I received nothing I wanted...And I received everything I didn't need.

Live life full of fear, face as many obstacles as possible and know that any mortal would falter and wilt.

Send this message to those of your enemies who have a pathological inability to resist such bullshit, and watch them lap it up unthinkingly. Send it to anybody that you consider an ENEMY, even if you yourself are gullible enough to believe in all this rubbish. If this message returns to you, you can be sure that your circle of friendship is made out of idiots who take disingenuous chain mails at face value.


"What does not destroy me only leaves me crippled for life" - Conan the Tribal Shaman (A retired barbarian with slipped discs, chondromalacia patellae and a dislocated shoulder)

(Original version of this chain mail)

Now maybe, just like the last time, the original author will emerge from the wilderness of the Internet to contact me and scold me.
"The saying "Getting there is half the fun" became obsolete with the advent of commercial airlines." - Henry J. Tillman

Random Playlist Song: Hasse - Cleofide 2-07 Aria GANDARTE Voi che adorate i

***

Someone on why doing group work with girls is bad: when ur in it you always gotta take the initiative
most of em expect to be fed data and intructions on a platter and some some think youre being bossy when you do that
some insist on their way even when youve done it before and know that their way is going to run intotrouble
and when treouble comes they sart in pms mode and shoot everything off the ceiling
thats the gist

most of em are likethat. there are some gems though


I wonder what the girls think about doing group work with boys.

***

I hope this is a subtle parody by some bored NUS student of the attitudes of the Moral Majority:

"Rock concert is negative

Most Rock Concert is teachign negative falues, which are geenrally unfruitful & potentially destructive for a normal society life, i.e.: values of ahtred, violende, vengeance, masochist/sadist, body piercing, sex-deviation, etc. Activities related to these kinf od groups shoudl not be condoned, yet refrained,a nd banned as necessary. I belive that A country (i.e.: Singapore) would be much better of without these kidn of negative influences. A thorough study by the school/experts from/of social/psychology might need to be done to suport this cause..
Regards:
Michael"

***

Managing civil disobedience - "Its calibrated approach to coercion may be one of the least appreciated of the PAP's many skills. Indeed, stating it this way will probably provoke some incredulity. After all, even some of the PAP's most ardent supporters think it is guilty of occasional overkill. PAP leaders themselves are not coy about their macho side. Mr Lee Kuan Yew talks of knuckledusters and nation-building with equal aplomb. If the PAP were to develop and market a computer game, it would be a cross between SimCity and Street Fighter."
Archived here

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Archived Diary of a Chinese High Boy

Smurfs used as shock treatment in UNICEF's fundraising drive - "Cartoon characters' village bombed in anti-war TV commercial"

Hogwarts Dancers - "A dance team dancing out a Harry Potter skit."
This is very screwy.

Big Music Sues Schoolgirl, Mainstream Media Doesn't Care - "People are paying attention online, but mainstream reporters aren't covering the Britanny Chan outrage. Nor are they showing any interest in the stories about the three American mothers -- Patricia Santangelo, Dawnell Leadbetter and Tanya Andersen -- who, by refusing to cave in to the RIAA's spurious "settlement" offfers, have started a protest which could spread around the world."
Over here they would have caved in, scolded their children and apologised profusely to the RIAS. Oh well.

I pity the staff at the Feedback Unit, for some of the postings on the forums are really painful to read.

***

Big Brother Awards International

"watching the watchmen worldwide

Government agencies and private companies are increasingly violating the privacy of people everywhere. Enormous amounts of personal data are being collected, stored and processed - often illegally - in the pursuit of more efficient marketing, greater social control, and more powerful mechanisms for monitoring of the citizen.

Fighting crime by committing one appears to be the future solution for law enforcement agencies in the information society of the 21 century. But - who watches the watchmen?

Every year Privacy International and a growing number of affiliate human rights groups present the Big Brother Awards to government agencies, private companies and individuals who have excelled in the violation of our privacy.

The juries worldwide consist of lawyers, academics, consultants, journalists, civil right activists..."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"On average, men get paid more money than women. Most people think this is unfair, but let's look at it another way. Given a choice, most people would rather spend money than earn money. And who is doing all the spending?

If you don't believe that women spend most of the money, just walk into any Sears store and see what they're selling. If you're a male, you see maybe two things you might want-a second cordless drill (so you have a spare in the car) and a trickle charger, because you like how the look in the garage. That's all you want in the whole store. But SOMEONE is buying all that other stuff in there or sears wouldn't be in business. Someone is buying those fuzzy toilet seat covers. Someone is buying decorative covers for tissue boxes. Someone is buying place mats.

Who could it be?

Kids don't have money. Pets aren't allowed in Sears. By the process of elimination, we can conclude that women must be buying all that other stuff. Women are spending most of the money.

If you were from another planet, say Switzerland, and you only knew these two facts-1) Men earn most of the money, and 2) Women spend most of the money-what would you assume about who is holding whom by the whatchamacallits and swinging the person who owns the watchamacallits around in the air while yelling, "I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!?"

It's a rhetorical question."

- Scott Adams, the Dilbert Future


I'd always quoted this section as: "Men may earn more, but women spend more. Which would you rather?"

A lot more pithy and rememberable, I think.


I think only Brit organisations (eg Schools, companies, municipal councils etc) are so ridiculously anxious about avoiding offence that they'll do things like try to ban the English flag.

It might be a compensatory mechanism, just like how they found that Southerners in the USA were more polite than Northerners, yet more ready to resort to violence.


New blog header pic:


Joe Camel would be proud
"The simple way of subsuming offensiveness under the harm principle is to argue that that offensiveness is a form of harm in and of itself."

Tym and I got that in 1 reading, and didn't think it particularly abstruse; on the contrary it was very comprehensible (especially as some of these things go). A science PhD candidate friend, on the other hand, took 3 readings to understand that.

Which segues into some bits from a fascinating (though) interminable thread about the difference between the Arts and Social Sciences and the Harder Sciences:


"when I was tutoring for logic (it was called "PH1101" then) in NUS, almost all of the lecturer's examples for the segment on informal fallacies came from the Straits Times, especially the forum page."

"I am not all that comfortable with the term "vagueness" as applied to the humanities--"open ended" might be better. As I see it, there is nothing vague at all. In fact, precision of though is a virtue in any discipline worth its salt. (Ok, maybe my own background in philosophy has influenced my perceptions: I've graded many a paper down for vagueness and lack of clarity before.) Rather, the point is that the questions do not have set answers (unlike physics or mathematical problems) that can simply be discovered; instead different possible answers (that can only be predicted to a limited degree in advance) can be better or worse argued for--hence the room for discussion and debate. In much of philosophy, the debate is exactly over how best to make more precise the problem at hand..."

"[On some scientists being good writers but no writers being good scientists without a science backgroun] the humanities ppl you are thinking of are writing in stuff that are of broad human interests (English lit, non technical sociology and anthropology, etc.)--so that the disciplinary barriers of entry are not as high beyond the usual commitment to logical thinking. But this is not true of all humanities subjects. I've never heard of a scientist who can just switch gear and talk about, say, ancient Hittite linguistics or Shang Oracle bone inscriptions, without first having spent time studying that stuff. The divide you are alluding to is not really one between science and humanities as much as one between generalist vs specialist fields."

"I was both an arts and a pure maths student in the U. I'd say that science is deep, but the humanities is broad. There was this argument that science is somehow "superior" because science people can talk about arts stuff, but not the other way around, fair enough, but fact is, you can program a computer to prove theorems, but you can't program a computer to write essays yet. You can have 10 year olds who are Maths and Science prodigies, but generally the very best people in the arts and humanities have to go through a long period of study before they can be considered a master in their field, simply because you need wider knowledge for that."

***

Someone: so would you argue that philosophers and FASS people play critical underappreciated roles in society?

without being machiavellian... even a nonspecifically critical role is acceptable

Me: I would say they are underappreciated
whether they are critical is another question

you see, science stuff does lead to tangible improvements in daily life, but very rarely do we get quantum leaps (eg invention of the lightbulb). More often we get small bounces (eg a better depilator), and most of the time - nothing.

Someone: eh don't devalue better depilators ok
almost as impt as light bulb

most of science, esp basic science... it's difficult to grasp its impact too
basic science research is the other end of the spectrum from philosophy, really.... for information's sake only. doesn't really contribute to bettering our physical lifestyle, only serves to feed the "fountain" of knowledge
e.g. theory of the big bang, my favorite example, is like studying history

Me: the thing is, ideas in the arts domain also have impact on daily life
theories about democracy affect the world we live in. theories about sociology affect social policies. theories about literature... nevermind.

Someone: the intangibles are what makes humans human after all... even beavers can build dams ("nature's engineers"!!) but without capacity for higher thought we are just funny-looking orang utans

Me: anyway. most people don't do things related to their majors
why is the singaporean bureaucracy so screwed up, uncreative, rigid and inflexible?
it's because they're all engineers!

Someone: if there is no equation to describe it... they have no clue whta to do


Tym: I shd like to think we are living in a world where practical concerns are not our only concerns.
Otherwise, might as well be monkeys.

Me: why do we have to do something "practical"? Singapore mah.
that's why we're all engineers and technicians rather than scientists and thinkers
wait for the Indians and Chinese to undercut us on cost

Someone (in response): don't you think the indians and chinese are kicking our butts on innovation though? we aren't even very good engineers and technicians.

we are a nation of well-trained sweatshop laborers la
high level, but still little more than drones
"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions." - Albert Einstein

Random Playlist Song: Schubert - Moment Musical No 5

***

Extracts from a conversation with a Foreign Talent based in America: quitting singapore is one of the best decisions that i've made

now when i read the singapore blogosphere it does sound miniscule and sad
confused
full of commentary
and well.. perhaps infantile

its a whole new world here gabriel
every singaporean i know in america is HAPPY
DAMN HAPPY ok

so many of the singapore students here not on bonds, are talking about getting an american passport

we talk about discrimination
but we have discrimination in singapore
as someone succintly put it to me "the minorities in any country get the most shit"
kinda true.. like being chinese/indian in malaysia, chinese in indonesia, malay/indian in singapore

people talk all the time about leaving, talk aboutt this and that, and all the bad parts of singapore
but they don't see the bigger picture
america isn't perfect.. but it sure is honest about its flaws

when my friends here read that bloggers are sent to jail, chewing gum is banned, and students are suspended for writing stuff in their blogs, 11 years jail for stealing
it just feels so much different to have them put things in perspective for me
its like.. "hey wait.. this is ridiculous man"
and its like... 2 years of my life wasted in ns, i got reservist to serve
why bother

i think its true
quit lah quit lah
at least you're happier
my cousin has quit singapore, jobless in san francisco for 9 months
INCREDIBLY HAPPY HE CAME

i don't know gabriel
let's be honest lah
job market squeezed by imports below and foreign talents from above
we're fighting for the middle ground, and its so competitive in singapore
here you finish your work you go home and enjoy life!
everyone here is so laid back .. so relaxed, so happy

and yeah.. there's racial discrimination.. but who cares
not like we don't have it back at home
back home we discriinate according to education qualifications.. race.. religion... sexual orientation
its damn sad

the policies here are very liberal
i agree to say that as a singaporean.. i'm a 2nd class citizen in my own home country
why bother
you know.. let's be more honest
how come so many guys aren't getting married? how come so many women stay unmarried?
let's not generalise but for the sake of listing out a few things
money.. security.. emotional stability.. blah blah
and why bother with the average singapore guy who is SO BORING, when there's always a white guy to entertain
i realise the colonial mentality is something very difficult to shake off

you should just come to america.. live and work
may not be the best thing, but surely something you don't regret
its a free country, do what you want, enjoy your life, be happy

Me: well in america you can be suspended for bringing scissors to school ("zero tolerance")

Foreign Talent: that's nonsense gabriel
the press plays it up so much
you can bring anything you want to class
weed, go ahead

it is a free country... alot of stuff here that is imposing on rights of people are struck down by the supreme court as unconstitutional

they give so much chance
high schools? there are so many high schools
zero tolerance is noted in a small tiny number of schools in california
it is every american's right to an education period
they can't kick you out of school
if they do so.. its a huge beaureaucratic mess of them
school officials and all, to transfer you to another school that willingly accepts you, and you willingly accept it

its a free country
no need to be slave here

70% of harvard receives financial aid.. even if their parents earn 100,000 a year
especially with the private univerrsities
they are generous with the financial aid

Me: NUS doesn't have much financial aid heh

Foreign Talent: i agree
2k.. 1k.. 500 bucks

Me: aiyah
come back next year and tell me if you still feel the same way
the US has the highest proportion of its populace in jail among all the developed countries

Foreign Talent: the jail problem i've studied it
alot of life sentences that were expected to be commuted ended up being stretched from what the judge thought was 12 years.. to 35 years
you dont' always see the whole story in numbers
that's why in anthropological studies in AIDS.. practically no one eeven bothers about % and numbers

well lets see in those day alot of murderers blah blah, rapists were given life sentences because the judges interpreted it to be a 10 to 12 year sentce
harsh enough, and fair for the people
today you find that judges help appeal for the release fo the very people they sentence 35 years ago

i've the stories
social analysis - writing class
its more than the figures
and its not a handful of judges
its ALOT of them

Me: well the fact remains that so many people are in jail
what does that tell you about the judicial system?

Foreign Talent: it was tightened up in later years.. because of paedophilia.. rape.. murder.. terrorism
and as a results.. these men who expected to be free by thei 12th year were implicated in the process
there's always two sides to the coin

the judicial system here is great
you dont' commit crimes, you don't go to jail
you get a parking ticket and you feel its unfair, talk to the judge!
if he thinks its unfair, revoked
simple as that
i know of many students who look to the judge for a 30 dollar fine

i mean i came here with the intention to go back home cos i missed it
somehow.. i don't miss home so much anymore

i hate to say it
but at the end fo the day
singapore isn't as great as i thought it would be or might be or could be
its in the little things that count

Me: one of the most annoying things is that people will say "nowhere is perfect. so there's no point emigrating"
by that logic, since we can't live forever we might as well kill ourselves now

Foreign Talent: true
i accep the fact that its not perfect in america
but overall.. the experience is just way better
this country is full of flaws

still? its pretty worth it you know
not good enough go canada lah


[NB: I was doing a term paper at the time, which explains my uncharacteristic reticence. Readers, especially those who have dwelt in the USA for longer periods of time, are welcome to provide the counterpoint.]
Another SMU student responds: there's a lot to like about SMU
girls are friendlier, more attractive and in greater quantity

curriculum suits one such as myself to a T because fact of the matter is, SMU or not, most singaporeans cannot present anything to save their lives

do i think it's a great university? no. that's why it's 50-50 i'll be transferring to *** next fall.

but i no longer assess SMU according to its academic merits, or against the likes of NUS or NTU
because the way i see it, a local education will doom you to mid-management mediocrity, no matter where you read

what i do know, though, is that i'm having the time of my life in SMU
grades, girls, popularity, authority- i couldn't ask for more from college life

and that's why i'm defensive of my school.

***

Church stops believing in the Bible

"The Catholic Church in Scotland has published a new guide to the Bible which explains that some passages are not literally true...

In fact the bishops go as far as to say that there are "significant dangers" involved in taking a fundamentalist approach to the Bible. "Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others."

... Other examples of passages which are not to be taken literally are the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the final book in the Bible, which details the end of the world. In the US many fundamentalist Christians believe in the literal truth of Revelation and sales of the Left Behind series of novels, which detail the final battle between good and evil, have sold millions of copies.

However, the bishops said: "Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come."

Father Michael McMahon, a lecturer in scripture and a priest of the Paisley Diocese, who co-wrote the report, said: "In order to believe that every passage of the Bible is the literal truth, you have to suspend your critical faculties. You have to suspend the God-given ability to reason.""


Of course, every good fundie knows that Catholics are going to burn in hell for eternity anyway, so who cares even if they refuse to believe that 1 + 1 = 3?
A: "this is a digress.

But i was just thinking, since men look for different qualities in women when it comes to STM and LTM [Ed: Short Term Mating and Long Term Mating] and assuming that men tend to prefer STM when they are younger and LTM once they reach the age of settling down, does this mean that if women were to surround themselves with men of about the same age range as them, like we are now in University, women who are shy, faithful, appear to have less sexual accessibility would tend to be neglected more or less at a younger age and get pursued more when they reach a more marriageable age? And the vice-versa for women who possess the ideal qualities for STM?"

B: "For younger women who are shy and faithful, i would agree they are low on their sexual accessibility. If they are low on their sexual accessibility, would they be more popular among men then? As we learnt, men cannot tolerate other men inseminating their partners, hence the former would be more than happy to have a partner hardly sexually accessible to other men."


Heh heh.

***

"Being conservative, in the sense of using a very low significance level, has a cost: the smaller the significance level, the larger the critical value, and the more difficult it becomes to reject the null when the null is false. In fact, the most conservative thing to do is never to reject the null hypothesis - but if that is your view, then you never need to look at any statistical evidence, for you will never change your mind!"

This would seem to apply to engaging in arguments with some people too.


"Moralistic punishment is the strategy of punishing others who disobey a moral rule and also sanctioning those who do not punish others for breaking the rule. In principle, moralistic punishment strategies could create cooperation in large groups. However, this mechanism will stabilize any norm that becomes common, whether adaptive or not (wearing ties to work is a humble example of the latter) (Boyd and Richerson 1992)."

***

Bandar Ranked Among World's Top Cities - "Bandar Seri Begawan has been rated 97th in a recent survey of attractive and desirable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The survey was made from 127 cities worldwide"
By that logic, Port Moresby, rated 127th in a recent survey of attractive and desirable cities by the Economist Intelligence Unit, made from 127 cities worldwide, is also ranked among the world's top cities.

M&S in £10m team building dance exercise - "M&S employees are donning fancy dress and dancing in the aisles as part of a reported £10 million team building exercise. It is the brainchild of US business guru and motivator Mary Gober, who calls it "inspirational dancing"... She has been drafted in by M&S boss Stuart Rose to run a series of sessions for the 55,000 shop staff, but shopworkers' union Usdaw described it as a waste of money."

'Whole generation' cannot cook - ""We met some 10-year-old children who could not recognise a bowl of tuna. One pupil called it a donkey," she said. She added that children regularly failed to recognise common vegetables such as leeks and onions."

Some Video Games May Make Kids Less Tolerant of Aggression - "He found that games with a lot of kicking and punching -- as opposed to shooting and killing -- might make kids less tolerant of aggression. The children who played the punching and kicking games were more likely to break up fights when they saw them on the playground, he said."

Psychopaths could be best financial traders? - "A team of U.S. scientists has found the emotionally impaired are more willing to gamble for high stakes and that people with brain damage may make good financial decisions, the Times newspaper reported Monday."

Nice email signature: "Love,Peace, and Chicken Grease, (name)"

Monday, October 10, 2005

"If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find in them something to hang him." - Cardinal Richelieu

***

The Rebirth of the Nonprofit Sector in Post-communist Eastern Europe

"After forty years of communism, people's attitudes are not changed overnight. One of the concerns facing the idea of volunteer service, is that many citizens in the communist days were forced to spy on their neighbors and family members, reporting to proper authorities information they learned. This developed into a deep mistrust of your neighbor, and destroyed much of the cohesiveness of society. Under communism, I am not my brother's keeper, I am my brother's spy.

The Securitate (Secret Police) in communist Romania wielded power over the populace by acquiring information. Neighbors "spied" on neighbors, and earned favor with local political authorities by sharing information -- particularly information of a subversive nature. Over the decades, the entire culture, every relationship is tempered with a cautious -- if not suspicious --wariness. The remnants of this attitude represent a major obstacle to the formation of community and participation in voluntary service organizations. This matter will be addressed further under the topic of establishing legitimacy and credibility for the nonprofit sector."

Frankly, I only read the quoted bit - it was the closest I could find to what I was searching for.
Someone: vague words are the deadliest weapon of an arts essay
can't argue facts? fluff your way out
every one of my paragraphs employs that time-tested method

Me: HAHAHAHA
you're not doing anything to enhance the reputation of a FASS degree ;)

Someone: on the contrary, vagueness is an essential skill
like when clinton said he didn't have sexual relations

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Day after day, week after week - the same chant pours forth. The form may vary by a word or two, but always it harps upon a common theme. The theme of the month or half-year might change, but the condescending manner never does, nor does the superior attitude that does not brook the facts of reality, since it works from a pre-determined conclusion.

It is no wonder that so many sacrifice good proportions of their monthly salaries to avoid daily harping.

I'm not going to put anyone else through that misery - ever.

Don't ever let the kiddies know, or they might run away from home.
Before starting to write my term paper, I see that Huichieh has an interesting post pondering the relative sins of offence and harm.

The need to accommodate diverse and sometimes inconsistent styles of life, which may depend for their success on being socially accepted, militates in favor of a "thick skin" approach to the regulation of expressive acts, even where those acts are offensive to others. Friction is a characteristic of social interaction, at least in a pluralistic society. Such societies require of their members a certain robustness of sensibility, so that incivility is sometimes tolerated for the sake of social discourse. But this, it seems to us, is no bad thing.
(As quoted from Simester and von Hirsch)

To which I propose a thought experiment:


Suppose I am part of the 369 gang and a geeky bespectacled schoolboy ("A") offends me by staring at me (actually he likes my spikey dyed ah beng hair). I then get offended, interpreting this as a provocative act, and call my gang members up and start a gang riot.

Can A be convicted both for offending me and starting the chain of events that led to the riot? Especially if Secret Societies have historically been a problem.

Now suppose again that I am part of the 369 gang and a geeky bespectacled schoolboy ("A") offends me by staring at me (once again, he likes my spikey dyed ah beng hair). An upright, righteous and civic-minded citizen ("B"), wary of the damage this could do to the fabric of our society, reports him to the police for offending me and A gets convicted for offending me and potentially causing harm.


Recast the scenario. Now suppose I am still part of the 369 gang and a Mohawked Ah Beng ("C") offends me by telling me that he hates my hairstyle, and that I should change it. I then get offended, interpreting this as a provocative act, and call my gang members up and start a gang riot.

Can C be convicted both for offending me and starting the chain of events that led to the riot? Especially if Secret Societies have historically been a problem.

Now suppose still that I am part of the 369 gang and a Mohawked Ah Beng ("C") offends me by telling me that he hates my hairstyle, and that I should change it. An upright, righteous and civic-minded citizen ("D"), wary of the damage this could do to the fabric of our society, reports him to the police for offending me and C gets convicted for offending me and potentially causing harm.


Should A be convicted? How about C? Was B right to report A to the police? What about D?
Diary of a Chinese High Boy

"I wore my shorts as usual and walked around. Because it was a hot day, I decided to wear my shorts higher so my legs will get more air. So I pull them up to my chest.

I pass this one boy, he look at me and say, "Homo?" which is a dialect for saying "How are you?" I say, "Yes, fine, you too?" Then he smiled at me very funnily. I walked off, but he was staring at my buttocks. Maybe he like the modifications I did to my shorts. Ha ha!

The only ruining of today was that we started with English Literature. What a lousy waste of time! Who in the name of the ancestors wants to learn about old dead people who died long long time ago? Might as well learn about Deng Xiaoping, or Li Bai, or even better, Chairman Mao! And then we read twelfth night, got all this girl dress as guy guy dress as girl nonsense! What lousy decadent Western culture!"
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