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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

"Consience is what makes a boy tell his mother before his sister does." - Evan Esar

***

MFM: it's not just fundies
everyone has cognitive dissonances of one kind or another

by the way, have you ever played 'battleground god'?
http://www.philosophersnet.com/games/god.htm

I did much worse than I expected
revealed previously unseen dissonances in my belief system

You are consistent in applying the principle that it is justifiable to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, regardless of the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity this conviction. The problem is that it seems you have to accept that people might be justified in their belief that terrible things are right. You have agreed that the rapist is justified in believing that he carries out the will of God, and in an earlier answer you indicated that you think that God defines what is good and what is evil. Therefore, to be consistent, you must think the rapist is justified in believing that he acts morally when he acts on his inner conviction. Hence, you bite the bullet and justify the rapist.

anyway, I said taht it's ok to base one's beliefs on solely a firm inner conviction because that's really the only way we can make any decisions at all instead of being in constant philosophical aporia

with the result that I had to admit it was ok for the rapist to rape based on a firm inner conviction.

Me: yeah it is

which is why fundies are talking rubbish when they say god's commands are perfect, glorify abraham for isaac and acquit deanna laney on grounds of insanity
http://www.courttv.com/trials/laney/

MFM: you're amazing. like the panda's thumb bloggers
determinedly shooting fish in a barrel

Me: the sad thing is that there're so many fish to shoot
and so many barrels presented

the intellectual battle has been lost by the fundies
but the fact is that the battle for people's minds has not been won

anyhow this recent spurt has been incited by a fundie emailing me
before that I was rather placid.

look at it this way: if everyone believed the earth was flat, the thing to do would be to convince them that the earth was round
even if we all already knew the earth was round

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" (or words to that effect

MFM: what noble concern

Me: one does one's best
I like to save souls

MFM: the main thing that annoys me about fundies isn't the possible triumph of evil, but the sheer despicability of wilful ignorance and/or stupidity

Me: IAWTC

as I told someone else, 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

as someone said "the parallels between your relationship to truth and other people's to god are fascinating"

MFM: well this particular aspect is more about methodology than truth. an unthinking atheist is just as bad as an unthinking theist


Me: >This could go on forever. I don't know how to end it. He made our
>minds, the minds that use logic. He made logic and will not be stumped
>by it. We are the ones (or should I say I am the one since you've 'seen
>the light') who is stumped.

Bland assertion does not an argument make. You just claim things without giving me reasons to believe them (ad hoc fallacy).


"The philosopher Ronald de Sousa once memorably described philosophical theology as "intellectual tennis without a net," and I readily allow that I have indeed been assuming without comment or question up to now that the net of rational judgment was up. But we can lower it if you really want to. it's your serve. Whatever you serve, suppose I return service rudely as follows: "What you say implies that God is a ham sandwich wrapped in tinfoil. That's not much of a God to worship!" If you then volley back, demanding to know how I can logically justify my claim that your serve has such a preposterous implication, I will reply: "Oh, do you want the net up for my returns, but not for your serves? Either the net stays up, or it says down. If the net is down, there are no rules and anybody can say anything, a mug's game if there ever was one. I have been giving you the benefit of the assumption that you would not waste your own time or mine by playing with the net down.""

Someone: sigh. you're debating with a fundie? again?! where did your energy come from? can you spare me some so that i'll not run out of it while going round the island for my current job?

enjoy your fun in [using fundie speak] throwing pearls before swine.
Aha, I've just had a brainwave.

A god defining itself and its actions as good (as opposed to being good due to complying with some independent standard of good-ness) is about as meaningful as a court ruling affirming the absolute, unconditional and unqualified probity of the entire judiciary to which it belongs.
"Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them." - Samuel Butler

***

Someone: i met someone in bkk who reminded me incredibly of you
except for one thing
he's Christian

he was critical
unembarrassed
atas
supremely confident
the kind you want to kick in the bum sometimes just to shut him up :D


Someone else: NJ sucks
my 2 yrs of JC are e darkest years of my life

it felt and looked like i was in a prison then
just look at the barbed wire surrounding the compound of NJ


Someone: there is a ladies toilet that i like to use in the adjoining building to mine. our building toilet on my floor only has 2 cubes and one is currently broken down; the other has very high traffic since it's next to a lecture hall. the strange thing is that the toilet i like to use is never used by anyone wanting to use the toilet. it's always girls walking in and out to check their hair in the mirror, brush their teeth or just futzing with their appearance.

but the nice thing of course is that there is never piss on the seat and toilet paper aplenty.


Me: If you get laid will you change your handle?

the virgin undergrad: i would probably change my handle under 2 circumstances, either when i graduate, or when i get laid.

and since i'm probably gonna graduate in 6 months' or 1 year and a half's time, and if you find me changing my handle between that time, then yes, you would know that someone out there is a very happy man indeed..=)

***

Seen on Young Republic:


A: "The engineering college here is full of girls too! The math department, however... Even in a large lecture where there's a couple of girls, the seats around them are all mysteriously filled. The ratio in most my math classes is somewhere around 0.1, less probably, and sometimes 0. I wonder what the ratio in NUS math is..."

Me: Friend: My friend in Chemical Engineering tells me that there are actually more girls than guys in there.

Me: But the quality all like you lah right?

Friend: *pokes me in the tummy*

Me: *squeal/giggle*
*Everyone within 40 metres looks at me*


There was a silly thing about how some people objected to my description of Hitler as a "Great Leader" (like how we have Great Criminals, and how others popularly acknowledged as "Great" Leaders had plenty of skeletons in their closets too).

Apropos: "Charlemagne, like Hitler, massacred Jews and Pagans. But Charlemagne was a great man and Hitler was a horrible man - this is because of something called perspective."

Friday, October 06, 2006

"A myth is a religion in which no one any longer believes." - James Feibleman

***

Edge: THE SCIENCE OF GENDER AND SCIENCE; PINKER VS. SPELKE, A DEBATE

"[Addendum: It is crucial to distinguish the moral proposition that people should not be discriminated against on account of their sex — which I take to be the core of feminism — and the empirical claim that males and females are biologically indistinguishable. They are not the same thing. Indeed, distinguishing them is essential to protecting the core of feminism. Anyone who takes an honest interest in science has to be prepared for the facts on a given issue to come out either way. And that makes it essential that we not hold the ideals of feminism hostage to the latest findings from the lab or field. Otherwise, if the findings come out as showing a sex difference, one would either have to say, "I guess sex discrimination wasn't so bad after all," or else furiously suppress or distort the findings so as to preserve the ideal. The truth cannot be sexist. Whatever the facts turn out to be, they should not be taken to compromise the core of feminism...]

Three-dimensional mental transformations: the ability to determine whether the drawings in each of these pairs the same 3-dimensional shape. Again I'll appeal to a meta-analysis, this one containing 286 data sets and 100,000 subjects. The authors conclude, "we have specified a number of tests that show highly significant sex differences that are stable across age, at least after puberty, and have not decreased in recent years." Now, as I mentioned, for some kinds of spatial ability, the advantage goes to women, but in "mental rotation,"spatial perception," and "spatial visualization" the advantage goes to men. [Ed: Doubtless this must be because boys are told (only after puberty) that they are good at mental rotation, spatial perception and spatial visualization, but girls are told (also only after puberty) that they are bad at them.]...

The idea that there are cultures out there somewhere in which everything is the reverse of here turns out to be an academic legend. In his survey of the anthropological literature called Human Universals, the anthropologist Donald Brown points out that in all cultures men and women are seen as having different natures; that there is a greater involvement of women in direct child care; more competitiveness in various measures for men than for women; and a greater spatial range traveled by men compared to by women...

It is said that there is a technical term for people who believe that little boys and little girls are born indistinguishable and are molded into their natures by parental socialization. The term is "childless."...

There's an irony in these discussion of bias. When we test people in the cognitive psychology lab, and we don't call these base rates "gender," we applaud people when they apply them. If people apply the statistics of a group to an individual case, we call it rational Bayesian reasoning, and congratulate ourselves for getting them to overcome the cognitive illusion of base rate neglect. But when people do the same thing in the case of gender, we treat Bayesian reasoning as a cognitive flaw and base-rate neglect as rational!"


The thing with the most ardent advocates of political correctness is that they insist on extremes. For example, this group insists that gender misrepresentation in science is entirely due to discrimination rather than innate factors. OTOH, those who maintain that there're innate factors explaining this readily admit that there're sociological factors involved.

Similar phenomena can be observed in other fields, for example Rape and Power. The consensus in the literature seems to be that it is 100% power, but those who take the opposite view do not say it is 0% power.

I have only the vaguest familiarity with the literature on colonialism and its effects, but I suspect there are many with the view that all the failings of the current African states (for instance) are due to the legacies of colonialism (though maybe some will grant that geography is also a factor).

Addendum: Related PC rant
I'm quite pissed off with Nestlé.

Around the time that someone had made the comment about "i think all random 4 letter brands are malaysian", I was trying to find out about the milk brand KLIM. I knew it was Dutch in origin, but not much else, and the Internet was of no help; the only new information I got from it - that it used to be owned by Borden - has already been added to Wikipedia by me. There's also reports of it being given out by the Red Cross during WWII to POWs, but I don't know if that was the same KLIM.

Eventually, I fired off an email to Nestlé Switzerland (ie The home office). They forwarded the email to Nestlé Singapore, which told me that: "we regret to inform you that we are no longer marketing this product. As such, we are unable to assist you as we do not have any past history on the product information of this milk" (and very strangely for a product enquiry, ended off with "Wishing you all the best in your future endeavours" [perhaps since this endeavour ended so badly]).

Thinking that the marketing had been passed on to some company for some reason, I asked which company was marketing it now, and was told that "As this product has been discontinued hence, we do not have any information further to this". I then emailed Switzerland again but after more than 2 1/2 weeks, I still haven't received any response.

!@#$%^&*()

Maybe I need to get a friend in a country where KLIM is marketed to make enquiries on my behalf.
Why those silly "iTunes memes" will never work for me:

1) I don't use iTunes
2) See below (I refuse to do the retarded comments)


Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you?
Power Rangers SPD: Ron Wasserman - Power Rangers SPD Theme (no FX)

Will I have a happy life?
A Medieval Banquet: St. George's Canzona - Janoshka (Recruiting song & czárdás) (Trad., Eastern European)

What do my friends really think of me?
Weird Al Yankovic - Amish Paradise

Do people secretly lust after me?
Tchaikovsky - Violin Concerto In D (3) (Allegro Vivacissimo)

How can I make myself happy?
Great Violinists - Menuhin/JS Bach, Violin Concertos 1 and 2, Concerto for Two Violins: Yehudi Menuhin, Paris Symphony Orchestra - Concerto for Two Violins BWV 1043 (w George Enescu) - Largo ma non tanto

What should I do with my life?
Mahou Sentai Magiranger - Magical Sound Stage 3: Mahou Sentai Magiranger & Mahou Sentai Magiranger The Movie - Bride Of Infelshia: Tatuya Hirakawa - 05. Mahou Sentai Magiranger - Travelion Magical Express (BGM)

Will I ever have children?
A Cappella Amadeus: The Swingle Singers - Cosi Fan Tutte - Un' Aura Amorosa

What is some good advice for me?
The Spirit of the Season: Traditional - Fum Fum Fum

How will I be remembered?
String quartets, op.76 nos.1-3: Haydn - String quartet in C, Op. 76 No. 3 'Emperor' - 03 - Menuetto- Allegro

What is my signature dancing song?
Mozart Violin Concertos: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Violin Concerto No.5 in A K.219 - Adagio

What do I think is my current theme song?
Avenue Q: The Musical [Original Broadway Cast]: Original Broadway Cast / Avenue Q - If You Were Gay

What does everyone think my current theme song is?
Partitas Nos. 3, 4 & 5: J. S. Bach - P4 D major BWV 828 - Overture

What song will play at my funeral?
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Truly Scrumptious

What type of men / women do you like?
The Muppet Show Album: Statler and Waldorf - Brilliant!

What is my day going to be like?
Canticles Of Ecstasy: Hildegard von Bingen - O ignis spiritus Paracliti


I'm bored and have been feeling out of sorts anyhow. And most importantly - no one has tagged me, nor have I happened to come across one of these recently!

And just for the heck of it, another even more retarded one:

1. You're being chased by a giant squid: Yehudi Menuhin Conducts Mozart (5 of 5): Menuhin, Yehudi - Concerto for flute, harp & orchestra in C major, K. 299 (K. 297c): Allegro

2. You meet Itachi for the first time and you scream: King's Singers - You've Got to Hide Your Love Away

2. You see Batman at the beach and he proclaims: Beethoven - Piano Sonata 12, Op 26 'Funeral' - III. Marcia Funebre Sulla Morte D'Un Eroe

4. You dance in the rain to: 'Don Juan - Till Eulenspiegel - Also sprach Zarathustra': Richard Strauss - Till Eulenspiegels Merry Pranks Op. 28

5. The Monster has his poison claws to your neck. "Any last words?" You choke: Cats - Original London Cast - Disc 1: Andrew Lloyd Webber - Grizabella

6. Your surfing music: Songs from America's Heartland: Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Deep River

7. You have your own anthem: A Ceremony of Carols: Westminster Cathedral Choir - Ceremony of Carols - This little Babe

8. Michael Jackson sits down on a bus beside you. He says: Walt Disney's Fantasia: Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra - The Sorcerer's Apprentice - Paul Dukas

9. Your secret crush asks you out. You reply: Das Wohltemperierte Clavier,Teil 1 & 2: Kenneth Gilbert - Bach - The Well Tempered Clavier - Book 1 (Harpsichord) - Prelude and Fugue in A Minor BWV 865

10. A bear starts to attack you. You cry out: Classic Disney Vol 5: Heidi Mollenhauer - (The Hunchback Of Notre Dame) God Help The Outcasts


Strange, I would've thought random sampling would've turned out more Classical pieces. Maybe I need to run the Breusch-Pagan test...

Thursday, October 05, 2006

With the opening of the new Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, they're been holding lots of free concerts. One of the more novel ones, which I attended, was
Celebrations in Percussion.

Perhaps understandably, most of the works were from the 20th century (maybe no one had the idea of percussion ensembles before then). I didn't dislike the modern stuff as much as I thought. In fact, some of it was quite interesting (not always the same as aesthetically pleasing).

The concert opened with Steve Reich's Clapping Music (1980), which has the same idea as the Geographical Fugue - get rid of tone and rely on rhythm (and also, I would add, the timbre of the clapping). An arrangement of 3 movements from Fireworks Music was refreshing, but it was followed by 3 dances which went from okay to horrible - the last, Serge Baudo's Danse des Espirits from Trois Danses Païnnes (1955) was simply cringeworthy (not due to lack of skill, but poor material). But then, what else can we expect from a 20th century Frenchman?

The scherzo from Beethoven's 9th was a welcome change. My fellow concert goer thought it sounded too cute-sy at first, but I suppose that's inevitable when you try to imitate strings' legato with xylophones and gang (the pedal on the vibraphone helped, but still - no cigar).

David Mancini's With Joy In His Heart (1995) made me feel like I was in a school band concert. And in Jared Spears's Windstone Suite (1992), Distant Songs and Incantations had one performer chanting like a Tibetan monk.

The concert ended with 2 jazzy pieces from the 20s which, besides having the performers wear funny hats as gimmicks, also sounded exactly like they were produced by the pieces in the Nationaal Museum van Speelklok tot Pierement.


The conservatory building has a "fire command centre". I'm sure it's very useful in combating fires, but unfortunately it's located in the middle of the building, so those directing rescue efforts are doomed to sacrifice their lives in the event of a fire, trapped by the building's collapsing around them as they nobly direct fire control efforts from their room.

Many of the concerts I want to go to are on Tuesday. Which happens to be my free day. GAH. I swear this happened to me too the last semester I was in NUS. How coincidental.

There's a library in the conservatory which is open till 10pm on normal days. There's now a new place to mug during exam time!
Imagine your job is to market a new brand of women’s deodorant in Singapore. You have to choose between one of the following advertising pitches with the goal of convincing Singaporean women of the conclusion that ‘“Rosy Sweet” brand deodorant is more effective than all the leading available brands.’ Rank these statements in order of which you predict would be the most convincing to least convincing advertising pitch for persuading Singaporean women that Rosy Sweet is the best choice. Which pitches would be more persuasive than which, for rational reasons, and which would be more persuasive for non-rational reasons? Which pitches actually offer logical reasons to believe that Rosy Sweet is the best available brand in Singapore?

1) “8 out of 10 American women choose Rosy Sweet above all the other available brands.”

2) “8 out of 10 Rwandan women choose Rosy Sweet above all the other available brands.”

3) “8 out of 10 Asian women choose Rosy Sweet above all the other available brands.”

4) “8 out of 10 Kuwaiti women choose Rosy Sweet above all the other available brands.”

5) “8 out of 10 Russian women choose Rosy Sweet above all the other available brands.”


Hurr hurr.

Someone: atually i would pick kuwaiti women
after all tehy have the hottest climate and have to wear the burkha, must get damn sweaty under all that. if they like the deodorant that means it's damn powerful.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


The 16th European Union Film Festival; 13-23 October 2006

Heads are going to roll for this!

Addendum: Clarification: the second last column is titled "Language"

July Trip: 18/7 - Milan (Part 2)

July trip
18/7 - Milan
(Part 2)

The next step was the Scala Opera House.

Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, directed by Christopher Hogwood, was playing on 17th and 19th July. Unfortunately, I was only free on 18th July, which had Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, and I was too tired to see something I'd never heard of. The whole of July only had these 2 operas playing, from the 3rd to the 21st, and there were performances everyday - but Sunday (damn Italians).


I think I'd been to an Opera House before in Vienna, but it was 8 years ago. Basically it was like being on the Muppet Show. There were boxes from the floor to the ciling, and the whole back wall of the chamber was filled with boxes. Unfortunately there wasn't a rehearsal; they were otherwise preparing for a show. The stage was huge and deep. Probably for the elephants.

There was a woman wearing a top where, at the back, the material split from her neck down and revealed her spine. And a white strap was visible midway down her back. Tsk tsk!


Ah Beng Tap

There was a museum with funky instruments, like a "hurdy-gurdy". There was also a painting of a woman called Giuditta Pasta. Uhh. (Of course, photography was banned)

A description of Cosi Fan Tutte went: "Finally, the geometrical grid seems to dissolve in the cariety and buoyancy of Mozart's music, in a puff of Mediterranean air that brings with it hopes of temptations" - I love the people who write these things.

On Don Giovanni: "With him the reassuring realm of comic opera opens to a different horizon, that of metaphysics." - Ditto


The longest, even if not the best, was about Le nozze di Figaro.
"The unity of time and place is respected in Le nozze di Figaro (1786), the events of which unfold during what Beaumarchais called “a mad day”. Revealed in that delimited space, with extraordinary variety and flexuosity, are the multifarious humanity and universality of the characters in this comic opera. Its forms, moreover, are interlocked in a development that has all the naturalness of life, where the Countess’s forgiveness attained after a thousand disguises, practical jokes and deceptions, becomes an absolute moral reference."

They had scale reconstructions of opea sets. Nice.


Lohengrin
The museum also had opera posters dating back to the 20s and 30s.

The woman at the counter in the Opera House bookshop said tickets were available in the metro, so I went to the Duomo metro, didn't find any tickets and once and for dismissed the thought of catching an opera not least it was to be in a foreign language (I'd fallen asleep during La Boheme), with a programme in Italian; I also didn't want to change into my crumpled pants and battered shoes. Then I realised she probably meant the other metro.

I still had some time, so I looked at my guidebook. Ambrosiana was supposed to be the better galleria, but it closed at 5:30pm and it was 4pm by the time I exited the opera house. The other galleria Di Brera, OTOH, closed at 7:30. I didn't want to be locked out again, and besides, the latter was cheaper, so I went there.

Weird magazines at a newsstand: "Hea" (? - Hen?), "Hentai cool girl free magazine", "Dojinshi", "Manga", "J-girls",k "Brazillian babes" and "Young 18" (which included free bikinis and was presumably for girls; maybe they were free-sized).

At the Galleria Di Brera, there was a reduction for EU citizens. I tried my luck and when I was asked for my document, I produced my student card. It worked, and I paid €2,50 instead of €5. Bloody hell - they keep all the good stuff for EU citizens. I should apply for Polish Citizenship.

Of course, once again photography and video were disallowed. Phones were also disallowed, supposedly in the interests of preservation; I should've run around waving my phone and yelling: "Haha! The radiation from my phone is degrading the works of art!". Lying bastards.

The works were also all undated, except for date of acquisition. Bah. Naturally, there was also nothing in English. Damn, I missed Berlin museums.

Giovanni Battista Cima di Conegliano - S. Pietro Martine e i ss
Nicola e Benedetta (guy with knife on head like partway sunk in)
(I assume this refers to a work in the galleria)

There was a painting of a saint with red-brownsplotches all over him ("Ss giobbe e gottub")
probably former <-- more of my scribbling I don't understand I was tired and wanted to sit on a chair and sleep. Even if photography was not nominally disallowed I also would've had no energy unless I saw something with the galvanising potential of David's Les Sabines, not least since taking acceptable photographs in art gallery conditions needs effort (and nothing even approached his standard, so). Lorenzo Lotto's Pieta is the first Pieta I've seen where angels help support the body. Giovanni Antonio Bazzi's Cristo Deriso was interesting. He was crying and there was little blood, unlike in Faces of Death VI. His deriders were very dark, almost blending into the background. At a first glance, you'd only see him. detto il sodoma - I wrote the name of this work but none of the notes above seem to fit it. Throughout Italy, people were selling T-shirts and other merchandise featuring the Sistine Madonna, but it's currently in Dresden. Hah!

GB Benvenuti's In Crocifissione had 1 angel holding up one cup to catch blood coming from his left palm and another holding 2 cups to catch blood from his right palm and right chest. Yucks.

Luca Signorelli's La Madonna Del Latte - I'd seen the Virgin Mary breastfeeding before, but this was the first time I'd seen her whole breast and nipple through a slit in an ancient inner garment meant for breastfeeding purposes. How seditious. It must be burnt to avoid offence.

Guido Remi's I Santi Pietro e Paolo - Usuaully in representations the two just stand apart. Here they were talking to each other. Peter was probably saying: "What have you done? I may have the keys to heaven but you've the keys to their minds through the success of your version of the faith."

Very weird. San Luca in atto di dipingere la Madonna col Bambino (Scuola di anversa, del 16th century) showed an old woman painting the Virgin and Infant from life.

Sebastian Ricci's (?) Martinio di S. Erasmo was gruesome. A machine was being used to drive a stake through his stomach and his intestines could be seen coming out.

Francesco Hayez's Il Bacio was very nice - 2 young lovers in the throes of a passionate embrace. I'd never seen this as a subject before.

Mantegna's Lamentation over the Dead Christ - Christ looked like a vampire had drained all of his blood - the body was that pallid. It was also an interesting move to use this perspective, with the feet at the bottom of the painting and yet somehow in the viewer's face.


Statue in Brera courtyeard

Seen on Penthouse cover: "25 orgasms inducing songs" ???. It sounds like an article you'd find in Cosmo. Then again, Playboy *did* have "The conflict between faith and reason".


Weird street (Via Fiori Chiari). Perhaps the bumps were to prevent cars from entering.

Booths in the Milan subway offered 4 passport pictures for €3. Wah. So cheap.


I had dinner in a self-service cafeteria (they called it a restaurant). It wasn't too bad - €0,80 for water, €0,60 for 2 rolls, €7,50 for Octopus and €6 for Turkey - €14,90 in all; 1/2 - 2/3 the price of a real restaurant. It still tasted okay considering it was pre-cooked.

lavoro
salute
amore (I have no idea what this means)

There were ads showing women's grimacing faces as they shaved their legs (but then, the looks could've been of ecstasy and not only agony). Then they showed a happy woman using another shaver - Philips's new product "Satinelle Ice" - a shaver for female legs. They also sponsored horoscopes to brand their product, which was quite annoying.


One of the Milan train stations

The 2 PRCs in my hostel room got conned by one string man, who tied strings around their wrists, took a picture and asked for €2 (€1 each). Eventually they bargained it down to €1. Nice to see that competition is Milan is driving costs down for consumers, as opposed to places like Paris where they demand €10.


Besides banning photography and video to earn more money through the sale of postcards and other souvenirs, here're more ways scummy museums can rip off visitors. As a bonus, they can claim they're doing these things for conservation.

- Humidity damages artworks, so visitors have to wear masks with filters which remove the humidity from their breath. These masks, of course, can be rented from the museum for a nominal fee
- Light reflecting off glases causes paintings to dull. So they have to be removed or clip-on lenses affixed to them
- Light in general damages works, so works are stores in dark rooms. Visitors can rent low light goggles if they want to see anything
- Wheelchairs can knock into works, so the services of a specially trained guide have to be rented


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Monday, October 02, 2006

A Gonzo Journal » Blog Archive » Bittersweet Bloggers.SG
Timestamp: July 19, 2005 at 10:54 pm

There and then, a huge sense of regret filled me. I realized how much my anonymity crippled me as well as served as my greatest strength. It’s not so much that I crave the limelight (you know I don’t and never will) but rather the regret that I could not go down and shake the hands of each and every one of their hands followed by a big hug.

The people closest to my heart were the people I had to avoid the most.

I’ve decided not to kill my blog later this year. We’ve come so far. We can go so much further. One year from this date, I will throw off my cloak of anonymity and come out into the open.


Current Timestamp: October 2, 2006, 10:05 pm

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I cooked dinner today. Personally I don't think it turned out very well, because it was my first time planning a full meal. I also didn't allocate enough time, and so became flustered; I attribute this to someone's stupid comment ("the stuff u making so far is quite easy what, doesnt require much cooking"), swimming with HWMNBN and most importantly, his hiding in the room for the first hour talking to jailbait while I slaved over the stove.

Menu:
1) Patat frites (Dutch fries)
2) Honey Teriyaki Pork Chops
3) Ratatouille
4) Stuffed courgettes

1) I soaked them in iced water for too long because I was doing other things; thus they became too weak and fell apart when frying. During the two fryings, I was too afraid of cremating them and also for some reason having the fire look the same didn't turn out fries which tasted the same as last week (next time I must rely more on instinct and how they look as they fry). After dinner I fried up another batch - half for the Cock (since he likes Vile Fries - he'll be touched we went to such lengths to annoy him) and half to eat. Apart from one or two fries being undercooked (insufficient heat in the first frying), they were very much better.

My brother-in-law and HWMNBN said the first batch of fries were good, but I think they were more like British chips like Patat (ie Yucky). What can I say, I have high standards for frites!

I was also too tired to take out the fritesaus and curry-ketchup. If I'd had more time, I'd have tried making my own fritesaus and curry-ketchup, but then NTUC Fairprice has a horrible selection - I couldn't find any dijon mustard (and so couldn't attempt the former). Oh well, maybe next time.

2) You might notice that the recipe calls for chicken. The stupid NTUC didn't have non-Halal chicken, so I got pissed off and bought lean Sakura pork instead.

Something went wrong when I was cooking the rice and I was too flustered/tired to fix it, so there wasn't any nice thick sauce. The chops were also too thick and so were undercooked (HWMNBN pan-fried them, heh). Other than that they tasted alright, though they smelled better when being cooked than they tasted (isn't that always the case?)

[HWMNBN: I told Gabriel to slice it thinner - but we were expected to broil it at the time rather than pan-fry. I also REPEATEDLY told him that it wasn't going to cook properly and i think I did my best under the circumstances, without reducing it to charred hydrocarbons. Also the sauce turned out okay plus my trick of tenderising it which he had NOT considered.

Also my response to him when he was surprised at the practical advice I offered, all of which turned out well (tendering meat, adding more spice provencale) "A lack of inclination to do something does not indicate a lack of ability."]

3) As usual I forgot to put salt. Damn. Somehow, though, it tasted good. Maybe the herbs provencale did the trick. This was also the dish that took up the lion's share of the time because of all the cutting.

4) Bacon is good. It'd have been nicer with pine nuts and breadcrumbs (apparently we've the latter but I didn't think of asking my mother). The egg really makes a difference (when I made stuffed peppers I didn't have any).


God, I'm exhausted.

Everytime I want to buy Florida's Natural, my brother-in-law complains. Today after dinner, he looked in the fridge, saw none and said I should've bought some. This also after I SMSed him saying that NTUC's "everyday low price" was $6.70 for the big tetrapak and he didn't reply (we only buy it or Tropicana when they're on offer). Bloody hell.

July Trip: 18/7 - Milan (Part 1)

July trip
18/7 - Milan
(Part 1)

I felt a bit guilty everytime I poured out tepid or lukewarm water from my bottle to fill it from a cold fountain until I realised that with free flowing fountains (ie Almost all of them), the same amount of cold water would've been wasted anyway.

Trying my luck, I showed up at Santa Maria delle Grazie early in the day but of course tickets were sold out for the next 2 weeks. I asked the woman when peak period was, and she said it was June, July and August, as well as December, which was surprising. With only 25 people allowed in each 15 minutes and it being closed from 1978-99, it was no wonder they were sold out for so long. Interestingly enough, the World Heritage sign was in English, Italian - and French (hah!)

Since I was there anyway, I checked out the church itself since it was a World Heritage site too, with the "complex and perfect architecture of Bramante's church". It was quite interesting - the vaults, arches and part of the dome were decorated with geometric symbols. I almost thought it was a mosque.


Altar


Ceiling


Church from cloisters, Cloisters pond with frogs.


Exterior of church


Pigeons

Unfortunately, the Duomo was under renovation.


Duomo side

Photographs were allowed in the Duomo if pictures were not taken of the priests or congregation. My brother-in-law would have been thrown out.


Duomo front


Giugno (the statue didn't say anything else - maybe he had no surname)

There were lots of Indian men in the Duomo square who were experts at manipulating pigeons (I counted 4 Indians and 1 old Italian - no wonder people oppose immigration!). Where they walked, pigeons followed. At various times, pigeons suddenly flew across the square en-masse, presumably due to things they did. They sold their services to tourists who'd pose with pigeons all over them (due to their holding birdfeed in their hands) and having their pictures taken with the men's polaroids.

I'd been inside a lot of churches, but the Milan Duomo still raised goosebumbs, since it seemed to be one of the finest examples of Late Gothic.


Nave

At first I was wondering at how wonderful the design was, letting in so much light. Then I looked up and realised it was electric floodlights. Gah.


Altar


Stained glass


Altar of St Agnes


Assorted carvings


Dessicated man


BS 'art'
In the crypt there was some funny exhibition, and there was a BS exhibit where the "artist" had taken scenes from some movie about the life of Christ, muted the soundtrack and places a huge black square in the centre blocking out most of the film's image; the lack of audio distraction was supposed to focus the viewer's mind on the message, and the action you could see on the borders was supposed to be enough to suggest what was happening and spark the imagination. I can do this sort of thing too. Maybe I should do that for footage of the NDP or the NDP rally.


San Carlo Borromeo, Cardinal of Milan, 1538-84

There was a sign advertising "Jesus on the web" - jesus1.it. I was wondering why there was a 1 inside. Maybe it used to lead to a porn site. Or it was a case of cyber-squatting! (I just tried it and it didn't lead to anything)


Pool with canale di adduzione and scarico leading to it, abside della basilica cattedrale, 4th century
There was a Paleochristian baptistry under the cathedral.


Duomo


There were police standing around at the side of the Duomo. Their boots and tights looked very smooth. It would be sexier if they were tighter.

At 11:50 I got to the entrance to the steps and found they were closed till 2pm. I wanted to take the lift but eventually decided against it.

1 girl posed for a picture with the policeman manning the metal detector at the elevator. Wah, so relac.

In the square, I saw lots of black men holding handfuls of strings. Some tried to offer them to me. Fortunately, I had been clued in to their evil plot already!


Galleria Vittorio Emanuele - the world's oldest shopping mall


Castello Sforzesco
The many museums housed here were insanely cheap - €3 got you admission to all of them, €1,50 was the reduced ticket and €15 got you an annual ticket (€15 for reduced). Of course, photography and video were forbidden.

When walking around Castello Sforzesco, I felt tired. 7 hours of sleep wasn't enough, somehow. The heat and travel fatigue were getting to me again and I wanted to return to my room and sleep (but then it'd be too hot, so). Maybe I just hadn't had my dose of caffeine yet. I wondered where to go: the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana sounded good, but a specific case of travel overload was art overload. It was worse than church overload. So I decided to go to the Opera House - one thing I hadn't seen this year. And then I'd scale the Duomo.

At 2pm, the number of pigeons in the Duomo square were at most half of those in the morning. Some were hiding behind the statue of the guy on horseback. Smart.

I saw a man with a string around his wrist taking a picture of his family with a black string man. Maybe instead of charging for the string, he charged for the photographs.

Raphael did 2 School of Athens. Gah.

I don't know why Italians like to end their words with vowels so much.

Since enough time had passed, after the Castello, I went back to the Duomo to scale it.


Redux

The route to the top wound its way along the roof where the flying buttresses met the walls. It was the first time I walked on this part of a church, I think.


Buttresses and spires


Roof


Skyline


Me on top
If you wonder why my hair is always tied up in these shots, it's because it was damn hot in July, and if you wonder why it's always so messy it's because in choosing between the conflicting priorities of comfort, neatness, minimal effort required and preventing traction alopecia, neatness was the least of my worries. Besides which, I'd less than 2 years of practice, hardly did so and had no teachers/fellow students.


Sculpture

I saw a guy in a motorised wheelchair buggy (4 wheels, not 2) and a woman was sitting in his lap. Both looked very pleased with themselves. Uhh.
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