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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

"What does it mean to say religion is a cultural system? Geertz offers an answer to this question in a single, heavily packed sentence. Religion is:

(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.


Anthropologists, of course, are not obligated to be brief, clear and simple."

***

Power Ranger T-Rex Pet Costume - Dress your pet as the Red Dino Thunder Ranger. Erm.

Malaysia: Government supports plan to get non-Muslims to wear tudung - "THE Government has okayed a ruling by International Islamic University (IIU) which compels non-Muslim students to wear the tudung, saying the rule was not religious in nature."
Considering that a ruckus would be kicked up if Muslim students were compelled to wear a uniform with a hint of religious significance... I'm also thinking of the Red Cross vs Red Crescent controversy.

Piggy banks 'offend UK Muslims' - "British banks are banning piggy banks because they may offend some Muslims. Halifax and NatWest banks have led the move to scrap the time-honoured symbol of saving from being given to children or used in their advertising"

My Little Bird concatenates the following picture: Parody picture - "The LORD shall rejoice in his works"

Rome bans goldfish bowls, orders dog walking - "The city of Rome has banned goldfish bowls, which animal rights activists say are cruel, and has made regular dog-walks mandatory in the Italian capital, the town’s council said on Tuesday."

***

Someone: Floyd's back on Arts Central!

Me: who is he?

Someone: some UK guy who does outdoor cooking... so it's like a cooking cum travel show...
and he's excessive with red wine

Me: oh that guy
he drinks some then pours into the food right
bastard.

Someone: haha
more like he says he has to add red wine
adds a lil
drinks a whole lot
adds more
and drinks more in celebration of whatever...
haha

***

Some people prescribed an anti-depressant drug have found an unexpected side effect: they have an orgasm when they yawn. The drug clomipramine usually elevates mood and boosts physical activity and appetite. However, the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry reports four patients on the drug had orgasms on yawning.

"There is a small subset of people who are affected this way," commented Dr. Martin Godfrey, a London GP who has prescribed the drug. "I understand they find this side effect quite pleasant."

One woman who took clomipramine told researchers it cured her depression but she wanted to go on taking it because of its peculiar properties. She found she could experience an orgasm even by deliberate yawning. And a man who had also taken the pills said he was "highly satisfied" with the drug's usefulness.

Around five per cent of clomipramine users report the side effect, though for most people the drug inhibits the ability to reach orgasm. The New Scientist says that the drug's users have been comparing notes on the Internet and speculating on its unusual consequences: people who experience it would presumably seek out the most boring person they could find at parties.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Quotes:

[On a faux explanation for anorexia] There was a theory going around. Females who were afraid of sex, so they made themselves unattractive.

[Student on a copy of Time Magazine dated 5 days in the future: Is this the latest issue?] [Me: It's dated in the future, so you're cutting edge.] Yes, that's one of the most irritating things about Time magazine.

Interesting fellow, Geertz. But I say that every week [about the theorists].

If Geertz wants to study me, and I say I'm pretty, he'll say, "Yes, you're pretty".

When your friend interviews you for a class, you use more high-falutin language, you sound more intelligent than normally.

[On Clifford Geertz] Personally I think he lost track, really, while doing his research, of what he wanted to do.

penny tense (penitence)

I shall reiterate... you will not pass the exam if you do not study at least 4 theorists.

Today is the 19th of October. The 18th was a very special day for many of you, when you unleashed your term paper[s] on the world of academia.

If we can measure a book's success by the amount of criticism it receives... it's quite safe to say that the Da Vinci code is a success... I'm not prescribing it as a text for this class, but I'm sure a lot of you would be happy if I did.

[On Carol P. Christ] Let's go back to Christ. Not Jesus, of course, but Carol.

Clearly, not all feminist scholars are women, not all women are feminist scholars.

The film we are about to see is called Flores Para Guadalupe. *Laughs from audience* Why is that funny?

[On being attached] After I was with him, my hair and nails started growing faster.

I put this question in the last exam, and it worked. Many people did poorly... As long as you write down the hypotheses clearly, you get full marks. My questions are always simple.

[On a high chair at the lecturer's area] What's the high chair there for? For babies to lecture us.

[Finding a new way to repeat a platitude] If these things are new to you, then I'm so worried.

I need to tack (take)

A lot of people did poorly in the midterm. You're not the only one.

[On writing on the OHT] My font looks like Times New Roman.

[On moving to the next graph] Let's go.

I suspect you take down quotes to laugh at people... So irritating. Sometimes I read your blog, I can hear you sniggering.

[On an error] No wonder some of you were laughing. I guess it's the first time you've seen an upward sloping demand curve.

[On scoring in exams] As an economist, your responsibility is to maximise your points for the time you have... I presume your utility is determined by your points. You have to maximise your utility function.

If you ever panic during an exam, please stop your exam. Close your eyes, take a nap. Or go out of the exam hall and take a walk... It sounds very funny, but it's not a joke... Walk very slowly out of the exam hall... Stop laughing. It's really really not funny.

Since it is in eager (an integer)

[On slack staff] *** has already left. It's 12[pm]. Modern day Cinderella. In the morning some more.

[On asymmetric information and uncertainty] I don't know what questions to set for the exam. I don't know how good my students are.

fail game (fair)

[On flipping a coin] probably point 5 [probability that] we can get a hat (head)

von Neumann-Morgan'stick (Morgenstern)

risk lahvee (loving)

We will show that latter (later)

Asked to pee for buying insurance (pay)

[On dealing with insurance salesman] At first I buy. But then they keep coming. So I just tell them: I am risk levy (bought some, kept, told, loving)

[On himself] *** is a 22 year old virgin. Why is everyone silent.

Number of recessions is the number of trouts (troughs)
I usually hate buying presents for people: usually people buy them for the sake of buying them because some occasion imbued with mystical significance is coming up. My dislike of present-giving is compounded by my distaste for shopping and the absence of an adrenaline rush during the hunt; unlike my sister, I don't enjoy getting gifts for people. And once you open the floodgates, you feel obliged to shower everyone (or at least a lot of people) with your generosity, which multiplies the aforementioned problems.

A good solution on the part of the gift-giver, of course, is for people to get others presents only when they find ones that jump out at them as being suitable for the intended recipient. For example, in 2003 I got Bob this DIY cut-and-fold structure (you cut some cardboard and assemble it into a structure) with his name - "Bob" - on it, for him to occupy himself when he went to Wallaby; a very suitable gift I might add. I suppose ardent gift givers don't do this because suitable gifts would seem to them to jump out from every shelf, and also because it's more convenient to be prompted by the approach of a special occasion - it formalises the whole business of gift-giving.

What the last proposal cannot solve is the issue of the mismatch of preferences, which results in an annual deadweight loss of $4 billion in America (Joel Waldfogel, The Deadweight Loss of Christmas, 1993). Since I have little talent at guessing preferences, the mismatch is probably greater than the 10% measured in the study.

Really infuriating things can also happen (once I got Screwed Up Girl the same thing as someone else, and got really pissed off. No guesses for how this further disposed me towards present buying).

The best thing to do if an occasion is coming up for which people are going to give you presents is, like my No 1 fan (blah blah), to put up a wishlist. Though not many people ended up doing that – I suppose they preferred surprising her.

As for me, whenever people ask me what I want, I tell them nothing. I am a simple man with simple needs, and present buying is a poor proxy for what you're really trying to measure or show (even if subconsciously). That probably means I live in a world which seems heartless and devoid of affection. Pity.
"The wages of sin are unreported." - Unknown

***

For some reason, my Yahoo account got deleted. Very helpfully, they told me that it was because of one of the following:

(a) where a violation of the TOS or other incorporated agreements or guidelines has occured, (b) in response to a request by you (self-initiated account deletions), or (c) extended periods of inactivity


You'd think that at least they would have the courtesy to tell me why they deleted my account.

Finding no way to get to the account deletion people (they probably don't want people bugging them, as now), I did a search for "deletion" in their help database, and getting no results, fired off an email in response to "how did the search fail you?". I do not expect it to be answered ever though, given how opaque their system is - I didn't even get a support ticket.

The form I filled out didn't ask me for an email address so they could get back to me; they don't even bother to send out a "We have received your feedback. Your feedback is very important to us. We apologise if we are unable to get back to you", which tells you something about Yahoo's attitude towards customers (it might be better if I was a paying one - I don't know).

I think the only substantive loss I have suffered is with the Yahoo Groups listing - I only recovered a small part of my list (then again if I can't remember them they're probably not important). Oh, and anyone who still sends email to gssq@geocities.com or who mistakenly sends it to gssq@yahoo.com. Oh well.


To forestall the inevitable trolling by Mac whores, who automatically blame all of PC users' computer problems on their PCs (even irrelevant ones), and conveniently ignore any of their own (which sounds very familiar), I will observe that saying you should switch to a Mac to avoid computer problems is like saying amputees don't get frostbite. And that's assuming Mac users don't get problems, which they do. So maybe a better analogy is saying castrated men cannot get AIDS.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My brother in law claimed that my occasional picking up or hair accessories from LT floors was of a level of cheapskateness (actually it's more inanity) equivalent to crashing in friends' dorm rooms for a whole month. His faux theory of moral/political equivalence was at work again (see previous entries).

I was saying that in dominant party states, it is unjustifiable for the dominant state to use the apparatus of the state to attack its political opponents. He claimed that this was what living in a "free society" meant (or some rubbish to that effect). I then postulated that under his warped system of logic, what Robert Mugabe is doing to Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe now is legitimate, since it is a "free society". He then got upset and started poking me, which is a sure indication that he's realised what a moron he is.

Next time, I will suggest to him that he would probably declare that since the Chairman of the Fed is appointed by the President of the USA, he is not independent. To hell with what the financial markets and political analysts think - we can throw them all out by applying his faux theory of moral/political equivalence.


I saw this girl with a pencilbox that had 6 zips on either side. Gah.

I don't know why people like Flickr so much. Their photo pages always take the longest times to load. It must be one of the slowest sites on the Internet.

I asked my driving instructor why the bulk of the learner drivers I saw were female, and all the instructors were male, and he said that the girls take longer to learn, and more of them fail the practical tests. Tym: "Sadly, I took 3 tries to pass - and ironically the time I passed, I hit the kerb, immediate failure."

I got another man in Buddhist monk robes offering me a Buddha talisman. Gah. This one had a PRC accent.

I saw someone with a very weird desktop wallpaper: it was a collage with a picture of him and some girl, a picture of a male bodybuilder and a picture some Jap girl (probably an AV star).
Frazer and his insult to religious sensibilities

"In studying religion, a religious person would disavow the scientific method and naturalism: the very nature of religion is that it requires an appeal to the supernatural, for religion, according to Frazer’s definition, involves a “propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man which are believed to control the course of nature and of human life”. For example, according to Sikhism, Nanak was appointed God’s Supreme Guru and founded the religion with the help of divine revelation, yet applying a naturalistic perspective, some scholars see Sikhism as a syncretic blend of Muslim and Hindu influences. Assuming naturalism might seem unfair to the religions being studied, but it is an assumption shared by all the social sciences, and is the only epistemological framework by which we can compare different religions objectively, since it relies on objective facts which may be verified...

Does one’s own faith affect one’s scholarly understanding of religion? To answer this question, one can read how Bruce M. Metzger, a Biblical scholar and a believer to boot, opined that although many elements of Christianity which Frazer might label survivals – resurrected savior-gods, sacramental meals and the initiating of new members through a baptism of sorts - were shared by the religions and Mysteries of the ancient world, he concludes that Christianity, the newer religion, did not engage in substantive borrowing. One cannot help but wonder if his religion had affected his analyses, for such an argument would hold no water in a court hearing on patent or copyright infringement.

It is possible for one to have a religion and critically analyze religion in general, yet one has to guard vigorously against cognitive dissonance setting in when what one knows academically and intellectually conflicts with what one believes religiously. Detachment from one’s own religious perspective is essential, but this is not always possible. Being religious is one matter, but it should not affect the way one studies religion, for that does a disservice not only to the religious scholar himself, but the academic community at large and perhaps also humanity in general. In the final analysis, academic rigour in the study of religion might best be ensured by considering the input of non-religious scholars, as well as scholars from different religions."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Seen outside St Andrew's Cathedral:


"Jesus said: Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. Mark 6:31"


Sign below:


"DANGER - KEEP OUT"


I was tipped off about this by someone who wishes to remain anonymous (who told me it said "come inside n get some rest"). I'd actually brought my camera but it decided to stop working totally, as opposed to just being wonky.

Should I get it repaired (it's past warranty) or get a new one before I go to Utrecht? Hmm. I already have 2 CF cards and don't want to migrate to a different family of solid-state memory cards. Blah.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." - Bertrand Russell

Random Playlist Song: Sam the American Eagle - Discourse on Nudity

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is I - Sam the American Eagle.

I would just like to say a few words about "nudity" in the world today. And I for one am just appalled by it.

Why, did you know that underneath their clothing the entire population of the world is walking around completely naked? Is that disgusting? And it's not just people, although goodness knows that's bad enough. Animals too, even cute little doggies and pussy cats, can't be trusted. Underneath their fur - absolutely naked!

And it's not just the quadrupeds either. Birds too - yes, beneath our fine feathers, birds wear nothing! Nothing at all. Abs... oh m... could someone, hand me a robe? ... Mmmhmm.

***

A senior on economics being mathematical:

"I don't know why many people complain that economics is too mathematical. I hear it all over the web (meaning students in other universities think the same way) and there was someone whom I spent quite some time teaching static optimisation gave up economics because of this. Econs is not math but it requires math. You don't see engineers complaining about the math they have to learn- so why should we? Moreover, most econs courses do not really require a lot of math. I don't even need to solve a differential equation here. We only learn some basic optimisation techniques and that's only in certain courses. Even in more technical courses like game theory you don't need to know more than what you should know from A'levels. The only course which I learned new math methods was honours micro, micro1 (lagrangian) and honours macro (difference equations). We don't even need to know any of these in detail - we just need to know how to apply these methods which really is just a step above using a formula. (I even know a lecturer we mixed up continuity and differentiability - something I learned in calculus 1) I think the problem is that most students like myself go into economics to avoid courses like engineering and so it's understandable that math is not our strong suit. I think if we made math econs compulsory, a lot of students would have an easier transition."

***

Shaun seems to be blogging as much as me. An excellent critique of, among other things, the post-modernist viewpoint used by some conservatives to disingenuously argue that liberalism is a form of intolerance:

"Because if I as a Liberal 'impose' my viewpoint on you as a Conservative, you do not lose anything for you are still free to practice your conservative stance and lifestyle etc (though I might personally detest it). But if I as a conservative were to impose my conservative viewpoint on you as a liberal, then you would lose the ability to practice privately what is not to my taste. And if I dislike a particular minority group then here comes state sanctioned discrimination. Homosexuals as unnatural? The fact that you could fire someone for being homosexual and he/she would have no legal recourse? Therein lies the crux of the issue. Under a conservative regime, you lose a lot more personal freedom than you do under a liberal one."


To bring in his point about secularism in the context of the liberal/conservative society dichotomy: For all their enthusiasm for the imposition of morality on others, social conservatives would be most displeased if they were the ones being forced to live by a different set of morals.

Meanwhile, in a liberal society, liberals would be little affected by the prevailing societal worldview, since they wouldn't be forced to live by them.

***

Past tense - "If citizens can be relied on more than ‘other people’ to fight to defend their own country, how then do we explain the collapse of the French Army in World War Two from which, even now, the French have to endure surrender monkeys jibes? Or that Nationalist and Communist forces were arguably more intent on fighting each other than the invading Japanese from 1937-45? The answer, of course, is that the circumstances were completely different and quite complex."

Student Guinea Pigs: How to get paid to sleep, drink, and take drugs, all in the interest of science - "While those big bucks are tempting, remember to always do your research before becoming a human guinea pig. Consider Harvard grad student, Kevin Bitterman's experience. He was paid $1200 to fast two days in a row, three separate times, for a study involving the injection of leptin, an appetite-suppressing hormone. "I wish I'd known about the starvation induced hallucinations," he says. "Studies that pay a lot do so for a reason. Be careful." He still has nightmares, he says, about a study he heard about at one Texas institution."Someone once told me about a study where they pay $10,000 to amputate and then attempt to reattach your toe!" Whether that's true or an urban myth, remember that not all experiments mean easy money."
For some reason, I am reminded of how fasting brings on divinely-inspired visions.

Singapore: Choose a wave over rage - "Singapore's government urged drivers to apologize for "errors of judgment" on the road and wave to fellow motorists, in its latest behavior modification campaign rolled out Thursday... Singapore, a tiny, wealthy city-state, is well-known for its campaigns to modify behavior. Among its efforts have been campaigns to teach Singaporeans to speak English properly, to show people how to be more romantic, and to flush public toilets. Critics have denounced the numerous promotions of morality as Orwellian and condescending toward citizens."
Actually Communist was what came to my mind.
>I suspect this common complaint of the perils of subjectivity of
>feeling stems in part from the problem of the attempt at what Dworkin
>calls an Archimedean approach: trying to evaluate our human systems
>and human behaviour from some point outside these institutions,
>outside ourselves and outside our convictions... I have hinted at
>this before when I tried to ask Gabriel what "objectivity" really
>-meant- and had no satisfactory answer.

Maybe I shall have another spin at this.

"I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of arguments I understand to be embraced . . . [b]ut I know it when I see it . . . "

Ok, that's the cheap answer, since I too can agree that what is objective to some people may not be considered such to others. Ergo Creation "Science" and the like.

We could also take the scientific/statistical approach: we are never 100% sure of objectivity, but we are at least reasonably sure of it. Of course the problem then is that objectivity and truth might become hobbled by a lack of data, or defined by majoritarianism and groupthink.

Some might take comfort in outlining everything in the syntax of logic, starting with premises and following them to their logical conclusion. But the real world is not a logic circuit, and people can dispute the premises, the deductions and/or the conclusions.


I doubt we can come up with a definition or foolproof yardstick of objectivity, really, since it could always be deconstructed and its assumptions/method of discourse/worldview questioned. The only way to come up with something immune to post-modernism is to start with no assumptions, no method of discourse and no worldview. But then we wouldn't even be able to take a simple step for fear of plunging into the void, let alone start the journey of a thousand miles.

"Even deconstructionism can be deconstructed... you get an infinite regress" (I can't believe I forgot to put this on my quotes page)

Truth be told, I find the Cartesian insistence on absolute certainty (in this case, perfect objectivity) puzzling, since it can never be attained. Do we spend our time chasing phantoms, searching for "The One Truth" in hope of solving all the problems of the world (at least those that arise from inter-personal disagreements)? Hell, even if someone managed to dig out "The One Truth", some people would refuse to believe it. Wherefore the dogged quest for it? Much more can be done for much less - just look at the guy who, instead of searching for absolute truth/certainty, accumulated the world's largest collection of navel fluff (certified by the Guinness World Records. No, not the totally non-affiliated, ersatz Ma-laysian version)!

So - no, I cannot offer anyone absolute truth/certainty/objectivity. Would you settle for bread and circuses instead?


"The modern world is characterized by a percentage of objectivity. The dark ages is characterized by a overwhelming percentage of faith. The post-modern world is characterized by overwhelming nihilism."
There's this jokes mailing list called Buffalo's Chips, and the jokes come in clean (non-offensive) and adult (offensive) versions. The clean ones are all bad jokes and almost all are either corny jokes, puns or both. Meanwhile even stuff like "Murphy's Law For Witches", which seems totally harmless, goes on the adult list.

Are there good non-offensive jokes out there?! Perhaps, due to the march of political correctness, anything remotely funny is considered offensive, so to be safe, we are left with corny jokes (which offend no one except those with a sense of humour) and puns (which only offend the words themselves). Everyone is then happy, having escaped offence. Except for people with a sense of humour.

***

Toons on Drugs

Speedy Gonzales
Hey, c'mon. Was there ever a rodent when Amphetamine abuse is so obvious? And did you notice, he runs out and gets the food for everyone, but does he ever eat any?

Elmer Fudd
No question, the boy trips on Ecstacy. I mean, listen to that laugh, would you?

Wile E. Coyote
Now here's a total PCP burnout case. Not only does he feel no pain, but he's too brain damaged to know he's licked.

Yosemite Sam
Another Angel Dust suspect. His aggression knows no bounds, but despite being shot by cannons at point blank range, he just gets madder and meaner.

Snoopy
Of course, likes to trip out with grass. Mostly, he's pretty mellowed out, but when he gets his paws on that Hash Oil, hey, its WWI flying Ace time.

Olive Oyl
Probably Dexatrim abuse, maybe some amphetamines. Who is that skinny?! She might even be anorexic, she IS always giving her burger to her friend. One side question, what the heck are Popeye and Brutus thinking? They almost made the list for dating her.

He-Man
This is an easy one. I mean c'mon. Roid monkey #1. "BY THE POWER OF ANABOL!!!!!!" Makes me want to root for Skeletor. Alone in his castle, hitting the weights. And on top of that he even injects the stuff in his pet tiger. Animal Abuse!

Yogi and Boo Boo
We all know what is really in those picnic baskets. They go back to the cave and trip. Another side: Are they gay? I mean, take a look at BooBoo. Not that there's anything wrong with that.....

Droopy Dog
The number one downer abuser in toon land. Can't someone slip him an upper every year or two. The only time I ever saw him happy is when he sees the picture of the babe.

Dopey (Dwarf)
He openly admits it. The other dwarfs deny involvement but they are under investigation. Allegations are that Doc is writing some extra 'scripts' for Sneezy and all the guys partaking are afloat.

Daffy Duck
If he isn't using crack, Marion Barry is clean. He is so wired he bounces around on his head without pain. Blows his beak off all the time. Some symptoms might be from "daffiness" but Haldol wouldn't work for him.

Shaggy
By far the #1 suspect. His clothes, his hair, his bad goatee, the boy converses with dogs. But all of this is nothing until you go to the Munchie Factor. Anybody who averages 9.3 dog treats (scooby snacks) consumed per episode smokes pot. And look at the way he and his friends painted that van!
Me: "humans’ motivational and cognitive bias for novelty can lead the modern man/woman to favor the perception of slimness."

Uhh, but in places like Singapore and Hong Kong where so many girls are anorexic, shouldn't there be a countervailing trend then in favour of a healthy weight?

A: Maybe not. Girls might be competing as to who is more anorexic than another - you are thin but I can be thinner than you :P .

During my JC days most girls weren't eating much anyways. One girl starts to skip lunch and eats like a bird all the time, and very soon the whole class of girls start eating less and then skipping lunches.

It's amazing. I was weighing 39 kg for a 1.63 m girl. That was down 13 kg from my heaviest in less than half a year. Same went for my classmates.

Eating like birds and waiting for the day we're skinny enough to take flight.

The worst thing is, the skinnier we get, the skinnier we strive to be. It's always relative. You need fat girls to reassure you of your skinniness. Slippery slope it is, the whole class of girls get skinnier.

There are those who maintained that healthy eating is good. But they fell for it all the same in the end. When everyone thinks skinny is good, you can get confused too.

Ed: The above was from an IVLE forum.

***

Someone: btw i watched 40 y/o virgin today
think a poster of ur Asian Prince appeared in it


Someone else: presumably religion for some people cannot be intellectualised.

Me: I don't mind that so much. admit your religion is irrational. I don't mind.
but when they claim it's logical then commit intellectual suicide - that's what I simply cannot stand
tell me 1+1 = 3 and I flip.


Someone (2): haha we should have a series like that
Blitz Science
or somethign like tht

we need it to be like 'on the go, spontaneous, out of the world kinda shit'
a 'will do anything with any thing available'
how about science-at-home, diy science,
or MACGUYVER SCIENCE!

we should do a study
correlation btwn weather and daisy dukes
daisy dukes = ultra short pants
denim pants

find out which fac has the most amt of daisy dukes too
hehehhe
we seriously need to have a series

***

Someone: so out of curiosity, what is the standard of students like at NUS? do you find classes challenging? stimulating?

Me: classes are challenging
stimulating *slightly* less so
the students are less inspiring

then again it's not just NUS
*** was from Brown. she complained people always talked rubbish or trivial things in tutorials
her tutors always said she needed to speak more
once she finally said something very profound, everyone was stunned.

Someone: heh Brown leh!

Me: haha JH [Ed: Johns Hopkins] how

Someone: well that's the impression i get here too, that the very lauded "US Model" that SMU is using isn't really that great

encouraging classroom participation is one thing, they do a lot of that here
but most of the time it's just gibberish and people trying to make themselves heard
not really that they have anything insightful to add

on the other hand encouraging discussion is not always bad, out of 10,000 crappy ideas you might get one good idea, better than everyone shuts up and get 0 good ideas

anyhoo... yar, JH undergrads are an impossible breed... classes aren't challenging because they just wear down the instructor to the bone until everything becomes somethign you can mug up

[Addendum: So why do we work harder for a degree worth less? Boo hoo.]

Monday, October 24, 2005

And so today I went around asking a few people if they had gotten their free samples yet of Kotex's latest product - Kotex Dri-Comfort. Most that I asked said no, probably due to the promoters' not adopting the hard sell tactics of other groups (pressing free samples into the hands of hapless girls). When I asked YC, an insane flicker came into his eyes, which I immediately recognised, since it very often comes to mine also. We then agreed to get our free samples together, and dragged Ling along in case they refused to give us the samples we were entitled to, to see if they were as good as advertised (since the posters didn't say they were for girls only).

We went to the area where they were giving out the samples, only to find a solitary guy pacing about. There were 4 people in his group, but apparently the 3 girls had run away and gone to the canteen, explaining the lack of the hard sell tactics. He gave us the samples readily enough, though he didn't let me take part in the lucky draw for the voucher giveaway. I chatted a bit with him and it turned out that he was the only guy in the finals of the Kimberly-Clark Young Marketer’s Award competition.

Returning to Chatterbox, YC broached the idea of carrying out an experiment, and several of us swung into action, with Justin kindly videotaping the whole process (yes, a second video in 2 days. And if everyone is good I will have another video tomorrow!)

[Addendum: Youtube videos follow









]

(Download a zip file with all the videos: http://s10.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=3LET9UM2361XY1WHE4IPEJB2HS

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=2MQ4IJP8)

A video transcript follows:



Narrator: And today we are testing a new brand of Kotex, uhh, sanitary pads. [Ed: Notice that the packaging is most misleading.]
YC: Between the overnight and the ultra-thin


Ultra-thin on right, overnight on left


Narrator: First, we have artificial blood (blue food colouring we found diluted with lots of water, like in the ads)


YC sticks some black coloured tape to mark on a glass the water level we will use for all the setups.

Girl: Too much and you have the red cheek (?)


YC shows off his jacket which proclaims "Busty"


Fake blood is poured over the control, a teabag (unfortunately, we could not readily find any other brand of sanitary pads, nor were we willing to spend the time, money and effort to rush down to the coop to buy a pack of 10, of which we'd only use 1)


Teabags suck at sucking up artificial blood
Me: Our control has evidently failed.
YC: A bad control anyway.


The ultra-thin is wet.


Me: Wow. Magic - it is all absorbed!


The overnight is wet.


We feel for dryness.


Oddly enough, the ultra-thin is dryer. [Ed: The ultra-thin was damp, the overnight was a little soggy]
YC: Yeah, because too much spilled over.


Me: As you can see, overnight pads are not as... better than ultra-thins. [Ed: I got confused by our screwy setup]


Incredulous, we feel the pads again.


YC: It's like wearing wet pampers when you were a young kid, y'know? That doesn't feel right. This, at least, feels dry.


Ling is upset because the flow simulation sucks (blame pad ads, not us!)
YC: We cannot control all the variables.


The cameraman (IIRC) simulates what happens if someone's water bursts while she's wearing a pad.


The soggy aftermath.


Someone in the background: Is this a group project?
Narrator/cameraman: ... is not recommended that you use these as chemical waste spillkits.


We dissect the pads.
YC: This is from the ultra-thin. As you can see, it's all crystalised


I detect no scent from the odourless, jelly-like crystalised semi-solid.


YC on the overnight: It seems different, so we shall tear it open... There're no crystals! It's just a pad.


Some of the jelly-crystal is taken out and put on YC's finger.


The two are compared side-by-side


We interview the guy who gave us the free samples


Why was the overnight pad damper than the ultra-thin?
Guy: I have no frickin clue.


He is very happy that we're helping promote Kotex products.


( ) is the quick ( ) that he conducted. Thank you for your great contributions to science and for your (diverse knowlege) [Note from transcriber: or something like that. garbled.]

[Ed: If anyone can transcribe what the Indian guy is saying, please leave a comment here, send me an IM message or use the feedback form. Thank you.]


Narrator: This video has been brought to you by anybody but the University Scholars Program. Thank you for your attention.


Someone: "what kind of video is it? does it involve gunther and his sunshine kids? does it involve (gasp) wo-hen??!
or is it (deep indrawn breath) kimberly, the pink ranger???"

Someone else: "eh, what's this video about sanitary pads

i thought nus upskirt

disappointing"


Kotex Dri-Comfort
Introducing the new revolutionary Extra Dry Cover - finally women don't have to choose between the dryness they love and the comfort they desire! It truly offers the best of both worlds!

Unlike other pads, Kotex Dri-Comfort keeps you dry and comfortable without being:

X Itchy
X Plasticky
X Sticky
X Hot & uncomfortable
X Irritating to the skin

1) NEW - Extra Dry Cover: Stay fresh and dry
2) NEW - Double Anti-Leakage Channels: Extra protection
3) Safety Zone: Fits securely and traps fluid
4) Quick Absorbing Pores: Better absorbency so you feel fresh and dry.

o 300% drier than other brands
o Luxuriously softer for ultimate comfort
o 100% better leakage protection


Sounds impressive, but I still think tampons are better.

Given how cheap and prevalent sanitary pads are, anyone who can think of an alternate use for them will be sure to strike it rich. To mop up rivers of sweat, perhaps?
An 8 year old boy walks home from school each day past an 8 year old girls house. One day as he is passing by, carrying a football, he can't resist taunting the girl. He holds up the football and says, "See this football? Football is a boys game, and only boys can have a football!".

The little girl runs into the house and cries to her mother, "I want a football!" Being a woman of the 90's, her mother runs out and gets her one. The next day the girl is waiting for the little boy and he rides up on his bike.

She holds up the football... "Nah Na Nah Nah".

The little boy angrily points to his bike and says, "Oh yeah, well this is a boys bike and only boys get boys bikes and you can't have one!"

She runs in to mom and the next day is waiting for him on her new boys bike.

The little boy gets furious and pulls down his pants, and pointing to his most private of parts says, "Look, only boys have these and your mom can't buy you one!!!".

The next day he walks by and says to her, "Well, I guess I showed you!" to which she promptly pulls up her dress, points to her parts and proclaims "My mother tells me that as long as I have one of these I can have as many of THOSE as I want!


If 2 lesbians under the age of 16 have sex with each other, do both go to jail for underaged sex?

Unfortunately, there's no male to conveniently push the blame to here, not even one who is also underaged (since we know that underaged males are capable of informed consent even if underaged females aren't). The girl is always the victim, even if she's voluntarily selling her body or, even if you reject that reason, is the one extorting money from the male.

You can be smart enough to realise the power you have over men and then think up schemes for manipulating or deceiving them and/or asking for or extorting more money post-hoc from the men you have sex with, but that doesn't make you mature enough to consent to said acts in the first place. But then if you can conceptualise that underaged sex is illegal and then think up a grand scheme for blackmailing and extorting money from the males by threatening to go to the police (which seems to me a more complex principle for someone to grasp than that of informed consent), you should be prosecuted for knowingly aiding and abetting a crime (even if they can't get you for entrapment).

But I suppose no one can be blamed in the example above since there's no male, so both will get off scot-free.


A: haha they won't get caught
the policemen will be too turned on

B: maybe they'll charge the 'male'
thought one will play the male role the other the female
or do they swap roles each time
hahaa


C: i am of the view that underage girls should be convicted as well
for aiding and abetting the statutoy rape

Me: if it's voluntary

C: mostly it is innit?
otherwise they would be charged with actual rape


D: it's every man's fantasy to watch two lesbians get it on except mine. =/

E: woo
roxor
2 underage lesbians
woot

on a more serious note, I hear what you're saying
but then the law is always several decades behind the times
at least it's not as bad as the military though, which is always several centuries behind

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The group "Bliss" struck Law, Medicine, Computing and the Conservatory. "The KOTEXERS" were set loose on Science. "Team Ignite" preyed on Engineering girls (maybe they drew the short straw) with "Kotex Engineering Girls' Day Out" and now "Creative Juices Marketing" (IIRC - I know the first 2 words are right) is tackling what may be the most demanding market of all - Arts. Monday and Tuesday will see them pressing their wares into the hands of Arts girls (hell, since the whole school comes to Arts to eat, they'll probably be encountering some girls who have gotten their free samples before).

Since I don't visit other faculties except for an occasional sightseeing visit, I am not conversant with the other groups' advertising campaigns. Thus, I will evaluate "Creative Juices Markting"'s campaign purely on its own merits.

All of the posters had the slogan: "Has there been any revolution without bloodshed/discomfort?" (minor quibble: I don't think using the virgule in a slogan is entirely appropriate. The word "or" would've been better), and featured pictures of such events as the French Revolution. The occasional poster had a picture of what I assume is Kotex's latest sanitary pad offering (forgive me if they have newer ones - I do not make it my business to keep up with the latest developments in sanitary pad technology), with lines showing off its various features.

Obviously, the rhetorical answer is no. Yet, I can think of revolutions like the Agricultural Revolution and the Green Revolution which didn't discomfort anybody. Arguably, those who stuck to the old methods of agriculture were discomfited by the new technology. Yet, if that is the case then other companies making what are euphemistically known as female hygiene products are and/or will be discomfited by Kotex's latest offering. Either way, the slogan is a meaningless one (which shows that they've mastered the art of advertising).

More seriously, the entire business model of Kotex is based on bloodshed and discomfort. If bloodshed and discomfort did not exist, then they would all be out of a job (Side note: Whenever girls complain about their periods, I always recommend a good ole hysterectomy, but that suggestion is always met with a good deal of apprehension, accompanied with cries like "I love my uterus!").

The poster also promised satisfaction or your money back, yet it also promised free samples. Since you don't pay anything for free samples, you can't get your money back.

The biggest oversight of the campaign, I feel, is that it totally neglects tampon users. Tampons are:

- smaller
- take up less space in your handbag
- flushable (this is disputed by someone)
- odourless (I'm told odour and scent aren't the same. Scent is applied, but odour comes from within)
- don't need to be wrapped after use (this is also disputed by someone)
- more discreet
- cleaner (leaking less - "despite kotex and their wings side leakage is always a big problem")
- more comfortable
- don't give you pad rash
- make the bloodshed and discomfort end sooner ("because they are in there actively soaking up blood. pads just... lie there and absorb, tampons stanch the flow)
- free you to take part in more activities (like helping "users fulfill their aquatic tendencies", as someone poetically put it)
- give you more flexibility fashion-wise
- and, in extremis, can be used in the event of a severe nosebleed.

I'm sure you can think of many more examples. With all of these multi-purpose applications, how can anyone not want to use tampons? We say: use this unique, flexible female hygiene product more often in your daily speech. It will identify the quality of your character immediately. Use them often, and proudly! Switch to tampons today!
Quotes:

[On writing on the OHT] My pen's so clear. I'm happy.

You attended yesterday's lecture. Then why are you here again?... *Is told that it's not the same person* I remember... something wrong with my memory.

It's so carefree to be a teenager. [Me: So what are we? Not teenagers, not yet adults.] We're half fucks.

Different slop. Slop is also different. (slope)

[On doing badly in the midterm] If you're hardworking, if you're consistent - you can do well [overall]. [Ed: But if you're consistent and you did badly in the midterm, you'd do badly in the final too...]

I have been told that, very sneakily, some of you tried to do the same question twice [using a different method]... Some of you tried to do the same question twice, in the same way. I don't know what you were thinking of.

[On underemployment] They spend 3 hours working. Th rest of the time they're talking.

This is a very exciting model, the RBC model. We're going to go on to another exciting model - the Keynesian business cycle model.

[On sticky wages] Can you imagine if you went to your mom and asked for your allowance to be indexed to wages? I mean inflation? Your mom would go crazy.

[On writing assignment answers on the board] From next week onwards, if you have not presented, I will ask you to present. If you have already presented, I will not let you volunteer.

My project mates - they do their work. That's all I ask for... They speak English. That's all I ask for. Very basic requirements - do you work and speak English.

We have some unknown ver'rye'er'berls (variable)

I saw this guy in Arts. He looks like the Obi-Wan Kenobi... the beard. (like)

Is the function of a wise choice (Y's)

You have to know how to get the results. We are economists, not mathematicians.

Last time, in NJ, after drinking a can of green tea I would run around the school, because I got super high.

[On the ultimatum game and economic irrationality] You may ask: If Player II cannot get [a better deal], why wouldn't he reject [it]? I don't know why... That is the definition. He cannot do better... If I play the game with you, if I want the whole pie for myself, you will reject [my offer]. I agree with you.

Delta cue'bee (cube)

[On Nach equilibria] You may ask why you choose [this module's code]. it's because you cannot do better in any other module.

[On the Jack Rabbit] I don't need it any more.

In the past, when I was a much more hornier bastard, SCGS was my first choice... That was 1996. Now SCGS girls all cannot make it.

[After going through the mid-term] Write your name, then you can leave. Enjoy your life. Exam is nothing.

Not everyone has the same level of sexual interest. To some of you this will be puzzling, to others it will be obvious.

[On Horrobin's theory about fat, creativity, eccentricity and schizophrenia] You have to be a little bit disconnected from reality to be creative. Really creative people are really quite strange.

[On forays out of the classroom] I had the opportunity to help with an orang utan... Not Ah Meng, another one.

We're nice people. We smile. Men are more likely to read too much into the smile. It is adaptive to risk a rebuff... If 9 out of 10 women slap your face and say 'bugger off', it doesn't matter if the 10th woman smiles and, you know?... Bad manners are good for genetics.

I was terribly tempted to bring in a snake this morning and present it in the middle of class... How many of you would leave now if I had a snake in my pocket? No?

[On depression] There's a risk you might kill yourself. Don't do it. It's a bad choice. You will always recover and feel better. Always.

[On hunter-gatherer societies] Suicide wasn't an easy thing to do, short of taking a large instrument and falling on it.

I've got free copies of Time Magazine's October 26th issue here. They're free... [Student: Will it be used in the exam?] That is such a disgusting reply... All you think about is passing exams. You're here to learn. [Me: You could make this a non-examinable module] [Other student: Or you could give us the A straight away]... If everybody is somebody, nobody is anybody.

[On the OHP screen's string blocking the whiteboard] This is so infuriating. World Class University dangles the string in front of the whiteboard.

How do you recognise a psychopath when you see one? [Student: When he starts charging at you] You've got a sort of mad ax murderer complex.

[On psychopaths] Imagine the worst sort of car salesman and magnify him 5 to 10 times.

We were just discussing Psychopathy... Failure of conscience... You, of course, are stricken with guilt for coming to class late.

You might want to see if 'executioner' is listed in the government directory. My money is that it's not there... Effort is made to distance themselves from it. (them)

I'm told that the hangman, the axman would always ask forgiveness from the victim to be, which was always given because the victim wanted a clean cut... No lingering doubts [on the axman's part]

Name reasons why people kill each other. *silence*... You have difficulty in thinking of reasons. I am encouraged [as to your lack of homicidal tendencies]

In India elephants raid distilleries to drink the alcohol. The caretakers come in and find them sitting around with their trunks in the air.

[On how drugs actually make you feel worse] I used to smoke... the way I gave it up was by smoking until I felt sick.

The burger is $1. Everything else is 4 or 5 times the price. So the guys eat 2 or 3 a day. [Professor: I'm getting an insight into student economics]

[On fat being in in human history] Ruben's women, Titian's women... were fat... Laughing Buddha - he's fat, there's no other way to describe him. He's globular... if you look at the advertisements before World War II, the women are voluptuous. Substantial, and big.
Someone: you should put up a personal ad on your site and see what kind of girls reply
just for the heck of it. i'd be interested in e results. hahah


Boo hoo, I'm a sociologist's experiment. Don't they typically pay lab rats to humiliate themselves in these things?


Xephyris the audiophile: haha, figures the mac guys don't know why 32 bit or 16 bit decoding is faster than 24 bit

Me: why?

Xephyris: your cpu bus is 32 bits wide

if you decode at 24 bits and send 24 bits of data to the soundcard, you'll end up sending 24 bits + 8 extra bits of the next "chunk" to the soundcard, which waits in the buffer until the next clock cycle - in 2 cycles, you have to wait 1 extra cycle to complete a full chunk

comparatively if you send at 32 bits, or 2 chunks of 16 bit each, you don't wait at all

Me: ah
mac experts?

Xephyris: yeah mac experts, they don't know what their soundcard is called and what resolution it supports either
not like it matters, because iTunes doesn't let you tweak anything anyway

Me: are you sure you were talking about mac experts?
or just normal mac users haha

Xephyris: aren't all mac users mac 'experts'? w

Me: uhh
experts at denouncing Wintel. Oops, but Mac is going to use Intel chips now.
experts at denouncing Windows then
The Graduate, produced by The Video Renegades

Being a critique of the lamentable fact of intelligent, well-educated graduates being too choosey and holding out for good jobs instead of being entrepreneurial and retraining to fry gao laak (fried chestnuts) at hawker centres.

Unnamed sources close to the creators say: "Remember, we WILL hijack the nus convo one year and play this."

[Addendum: Youtube video:



]



Having just graduated, The Graduate is immensely happy, running through verdant meadows in his robe.


Facing the heavens, he utters his cries of delight at having, at last, escaped the Premier Institution of Social Engineering.


He proudly strikes a pose in front of his Alma Mater.


We see the 1.99 shop in the background.


The Engineering Graduate, despite having slaved for 4 years and being told that Engineering was the subject to major in if you couldn't get into Medicine or Law or go overseas, is unable to find a job. He should have learnt how to wash test tubes. He hawks his skills for $1.88.


An untrained man (perhaps foreign talent?) walks by and sees the sign.


He decides that despite or perhaps because of his lack of education, he can undercut The Graduate by offering his skills for a lower fee ($1.77), for what is presumably a similar job.


He smirks at how The Graduate has wasted 4 years slaving in Engineering, but both of them are now in the same situation.




The two undercut each other.


Since there is no minimum wage in Singapore, the untrained man can offer himself for below a living wage. Presumably he lives in a tent along the beach at East Coast and hasn't been evicted yet.


Patriotically offering employers the best value for their money, the graduate teams up with someone else to offer employers better value


Of course, the video has to be viewed in its full glory for maximum impact, so here are 2 download links:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=TQJBE1OB

http://s9.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=38OGVYYEZ7FJ6272SPCM45TGK2

[Addendum: http://media.putfile.com/The-Graduate77]
"I've got more faith in Hitler than anyone else [including God]. He's the only one who's kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people." - Elie Wiesel, Night

***

Someone on what the Virginia Atheists and Agnostics at the University of Virginia do: We have weekly meetings and past topics have included Intelligent Design (Flying Spaghetti Monsterism!) and the like. The committee has also organised several other talks given by notable speakers like this one priest who converted to atheism and wrote a book about it.

They also organise little community service projects and just random hanging out at this really funky hippie tea joint downtown from the university.


Unfortunately, I doubt FCINUS (Freethinkers' Community In NUS) would get much response for these activities.

***

The bazaar on the 17th of October had no stall selling flip flops. OMG (a source informed me the guy left). My world was overturned. And I need to revise the list of 7 things (almost) all NUS bazaars have - this year most seem to have food.

Visiting NUS's new University Hall, I understand why school fees are going up. There's a Koi Pond, a carved wall monstrosity which is supposed to evoke Homer's Odyssey (it looks like a typical piece of modern art), sculpture, gardens and lots of glass and empty space. Very nice. Oh, and a gallery where there's a rack with gongs (though apparently that was a gift from another University for our centennial).

Semi-confirmed rumour has it that module anonymous feedback is not truly anonymous: the Professors know the identities of commenters, and can let the TAs know them at their discretion. For example, for one module some student wrote about the tutor: "You are very pretty" (or words to that effect), and the Professor told the TA who had said this. Why NUS would do this is beyond me, since it jeopardises the integrity and veracity of the feedback they get and delivers no benefit beyond letting the staff spite and get back at students who diss them, and assuage the Professors' curiosity about comments.

The clack of multiple pairs of flip flops as the feet they adorn descend stairs is singularly annoying.
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