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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bloody hell.

You can't trust anybody these days.

Gandhi's advice to the Jews: "go to your deaths"

"Jews have particular reason not to be bamboozled by the Gandhi mystique. ...

In 1938 (several days after Kristallnacht), the great guardian of human conscience found nothing better to do than publish an open letter to Europe's Jews in which he urged them to embrace the very passivity that would eventually lead six million to annihilation.

In Mahatma Gandhi's defense it should be stressed that he didn't single Jews out. He had equally inane advice for invaded Czechs and attacked Brits.

Indeed, if anyone had listened to him, this would be a very different world today. There would be no Jews to encroach on Arab bliss, and German would be the planet's lingua franca. Third World moralizers like Arun would be enslaved and silenced. Unbound by the niceties of the British Raj, the Third Reich wouldn't abide any civil disobedience. ...

In 1946, already after the unprecedented then-recent horrors became known, the righteous pacifist showed that he learned absolutely nothing. Worse yet, he didn't really care.

"The Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife," he volunteered to his biographer Louis Fisher. Alternatively, "they should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs." Not quite believing his ears, Fisher tried to make sure and asked: "You mean the Jews should have committed collective suicide?"

Unmoved, Gandhi judged that "Yes, that would have been heroism."

After brief reflection, he added: 'The Jews had been killed anyway and might as well have died significantly.'"
"It appears that while the PAP government has failed to Confucianise the population, it has indeed Confucianised itself. The epitome of this is in Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong's proclaiming that 'Lee Kuan Yew is a modern Confucius' (Straits Times, 24 Apr., 1990)." - Chua Beng Huat, Communitarian ideology and democracy in Singapore 1995


"Calibrated coercion provides journalists with periodic reminders of just who is boss, but also enough leeway to persuade enough of them that there is still a place in Singapore for the professional practice of journalism, and that the space is expanding. Thus, Cheong Yip Seng, editor-in-chief of the Straits Times group, has written that the newspapers have become “a little more confident, assertive, and critical”. In an article entitled “The Singapore Press: How Free, How Credible?”, Cheong acknowledges that the government has “enormous reserve powers over ownership and control of editorial policy”. But he argues that despite a history of poor press relations, the government “does not want a docile press” but “a livelier, more credible press with high professional standards”. Instances of government interference through “telephone calls to influence treatment of news or to reprimand… are much fewer nowadays”, he adds. He takes comfort from the fact that a new generation of political leaders is emerging, who know they need a more credible mass media to communicate with a more sophisticated electorate.

This analysis would be considered standard fare from an SPH editor circa 2005. It was in fact written 24 years earlier, in 1981. That the mixture of realism and hope has hardly changed since then underlines the resilience of the PAP system of press management. Realism dismissed as foolhardy any dream of changing the media system’s wider political framework, while hope reassures journalists that there is a professional role for them even within the current framework."

- Calibrated coercion and the maintenance of hegemony in Singapore, Cherian George (2005)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Journal of Political Economy Volume 115, Number 1, February 2007:

The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis

Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Koleman Strumpf

"For industries ranging from software to pharmaceuticals and entertainment, there is an intense debate about the appropriate level of protection for intellectual property. The Internet provides a natural crucible to assess the implications of reduced protection because it drastically lowers the cost of copying information. In this paper, we analyze whether file sharing has reduced the legal sales of music. While this question is receiving considerable attention in academia, industry, and Congress, we are the first to study the phenomenon employing data on actual downloads of music files.We match an extensive sample of downloads to U.S. sales data for a large number of albums. To establish causality, we instrument for downloads using data on international school holidays. Downloads have an effect on sales that is statistically indistinguishable from zero. Our estimates are inconsistent"


Unfortunately I will only be able to read this after my term paper. Hurr hurr.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Frigid Girl:

"It's that time of the year again. The heavenly, tempting, seductive pineapple tarts call to me with their siren song of promised delight from their little plastic containers of every bakery.

Well, they also promise bankruptcy and assured indigestion if I really do listen to them. No! I heroically stuff my ears with wax like the company of Odysseus did, or more accurately and literally with my iPod earphones and just walk away from the call of the sirens with a great measure of rue.

The smoothness of those lovely buttery pastry skins. The vividness of those eyes of pineapple paste winking invitingly at me.

I dream. I covet. I crave. I yearn. I pine. well... I buy. I imbibe.

What was it? Veni, vidi, vici? Yeah, I slavered, I purchased, I devoured.

Don't worry, folks, I'm, contrary to what you see here, very mentally fit.

pineapple tartttss. give me all the pineapple tarts you have! I'm going to ROB STEAL AND PLUNDER ALL YOUR PTs!!!!!"


...


Cock: "this was made in university parks, oxford

thus showing student priorities in snow sculpture on the only heavily snowing day in oxford"
"The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues." - Elizabeth Taylor

***

Someone: im gonna write a resume with "tell me what im not good at" next time

aiyah ignore me
im just taking a piss

Me: the piss

Someone: THE PISS
sorry

freudian slip
i really do want to take a piss


Someone else: frankly, NUS makes such a big deal that 2 singapore idol contestants are students here. (and in the case of Jasmine Tye, not started classes yet) and they don't even recognise you!

Someone: the one thing i miss about school is having the free time to think and argue about such things
when you go to work your brain slowly dies
other than that i dont miss school at all

Someone else: i have difficulty choosing shoes i want to wear each day
i only have like 3 pairs of slippers i wear regularly and already it gives me a headache
ahaha

Someone on my going to the Eusoff Hall pageant preview: how can you have a more happening night life than me?!? what is the world coming to?

Someone else: i m not going into a religious discussion with u
read too much of ur blog to know tt going into a religious discussion to you = suicide

Thursday, February 08, 2007

"Participant Debrief

You have come to the end of our study.

Our study attempts to investigate something called the hostile media perception. It is a psychological theory that describes how some people perceive certain types of news coverage as biased against their own point of view. It is a phenomenon that has been found in other countries, but not Singapore.

The blog entries you read were created by the researchers from various news sources and not specially selected from any blogging community. This was to provide greater control and help ensure that the researchers could conduct the experiment successfully."


Gah.

Bloody psychologists (or in this case, Mass Comms students).

I think they will have to bar people who've done too many psychology experiments from participating in new ones, since they'll be wise to their tricks.

Also see:

rubbish leg: HILARIOUS

"she came back in and asked me what i thought of the experiment.. and whether i understood.. so i just explained the whole regression thing to her again and told her that i found the computer game kinda weird though coz they werent passing to me at all. then she dropped an even bigger bomb. she kinda just basically told me the whole experiment was a hoax. it wasnt about stress. or childhood. or regression. the computer basically generated a scenario whether either i would be (a) ostracised or (b) they would keep passing the ball to me.. and they wanted to see if being ostracised might lead to me wanting to seek more attention.. in which case i would really totally act like a crazy baby and sign the consent to the video for attention. so that was the experiment."
>2) God acting to eradicate ALL evil would be to deny humans free
>will. If one believes humans have free will, then a benevolent God
>would not want to deny us our free will. If humans do not have free
>will, then the point is moot - we are no longer moral actors nor
>subjects. You can't be evil or benevolent to a rock.

There is lots of evil in this world that has nothing to do with free will. Flesh-eating bacteria, Down's Syndrome, AIDS... The free will argument does nothing to explain these evils.

Furthermore, I hope you realise that since your god doesn't have moral free will (he cannot choose to do evil), he is not a moral actor or a subject either.


On the conflict between Science and Religion:

>please don't romanticise science and say scientists use logic more than everyone >else. The fact of the matter is that mathematical reasoning, which is what much >scientific reasoning boils down to, is a very different beast than the everyday >logic used to decide about religion.

It's only different because religious scientists don't want to question their beliefs.

Science works by observation. Can gods be observed? No.

Science works by Occam's Razor. Do apathetic gods add any explanatory power? No.

Science works by falsifiable hypotheses. Can apathetic gods be falsifed? No.

Science does not assume things exist a priori (with apologies to string theorists). Should we assume that gods exist? No.


>Science doesn't try to dictate to religion, and neither (these days) does religion >actively attempt to dictate to science. Science doesn't (and cannot) disprove the >existence of God and religion can't disprove empirical observation either. As I >said, they're orthogonal, not opposed. (If opposed, science would produce evidence >that religion was untrue and religion would also be able to prove science was >untrue).

That would depend on your standard of proof. What usually happens is people result to politically correct copouts.

In a broader sense, it is not that Science is incompatible with Religion. It is Reason and Faith that are diametrically opposed. Science is just one aspect of Reason, and Religion one of Faith.

(Also see: methodological naturalism vs philosophical naturalism)
"Santa Claus is clearly what Jesus would be if he was real. Nobody would ever consider nailing this omnibenevolent deity to anything, would they? Nor does he hold anything against you longer than a year." - Steve James

***

"Hi! U dun noe me, I dunno u. Nvm abt that though. I read ur tribute to NYPS and I found it EXTREMELY amusing and true. I was from NYPS (2001 to 2006) But now the school more lax abt hair and crap. But they added lots of other nonsense. For example: Morning exercise, a way to make the students wake up. Actually a method of making us tired so we wun make noise (their scheme failed miserably thou). Another one is the banning of ankle socks. Ankle socks are cool!

O thought u wanted to noe, the Ancient Chinese eye exercises STILL exist, *** is STILL teaching at NYPS (He's not only gay, he's a peadophile. He likes talking to this gay guy in my class) and Gymnastics is STILL compulsory for lower sec."


It's nice to know they're still upholding the Good Ole Asian Values.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"A good listener is a good talker with a sore throat." - Katharine Whitehorn

***

Quotes:

Plato was very worried about the Sophists. Going around teaching people how to win arguments, how to be persuasive. Kind of like the Writing Program here.

The PAP has been very good at presenting crises in a certain kind of way. Crises and electoral prospects.

Out of the frying pan, into the boiling pot. Something like that. Or the other way round, whatever.

[Student: Can you not write on the whiteboard? Write on [a OHT on] the visualiser.] You cannot see? I see. *laughs from audience*

Don't be afraid of formula. It's easy to use formulas. (formulas)

[On reduction mammoplasty] You should go. [Me: You're just jealous right] You should go, then transplant the fats to me. Actually I don't need your fats. Just take from here. *grabs alleged lovehandles*

[On collusion] They just agree in the restaurant: 'You produce this'. The judge will say: 'You did it' 'It's a joke'. (It was)

[On the Prisoner's Dilemma] Half of economics is in the table I gave you. [The] Other half is [the] Battle of [the] Sexes. I think.

[On punishment for defection] Here, punishment will be eternal. You know, like the hell. (hell)

[On punishment and discounting] I came here, the taxi driver said 'HDB - 99 years. I want forever'... In Europe, 10 years is a lot... This taxi driver values the future a lot. You can punish him.

One country quite fastly developed (developed quite quickly)

who lee sale price (whole)

You know [a] monopoly is bad. What is worse than [a] monopoly? A chain of monopolies. *laughs from audience*

Now, what we will do is - if I can find my transparency. Where is it? [Student sotto voce: Hope you don't find {it}]

That's it for this topic. Now we go on to next week's lecture. You all should be forward-looking. Rational expectations.

Google is offering free gore'may food to its employees... Increase efficiency... NUS should do that too.

I'm an exchange student. Bangkok counts as a module for me.

[On televised parliament in 1985] Our newspapers merely string press releases from the various ministries together... until JBJ

[On a profile of Sylvia Lim in a magazine] Quite horrible. She was wearing a red, very revealing dress, about to sing jazz.

Low Thia Khiang is known to be a very constituency focused MP. Every funeral wake, he will be there. Every Hungry Ghosts Festival

[On gossip] Life is already so boring here. Let's be positive. [Me: Positive meh] There's more to bitch about.

[On why firms don't exit the industry even though they earn 0 profit] It's an agreement in Economics. If it's 0 [profit], he will participate... It is better to be active... There is a small utility to being active, so he will participate

I know Singapore is an economy which follows the rules.

The PAP racialises Singaporeans to such an extent that it is hard for us to think of ourselves as anything other than a member of a racial class.

If you want to become a PAP candidate, you don't join the PAP. You do well in your profession... People who join YPAP [Young PAP], thinking they're going to become PAP MPs - Oh God.

You only get power when you're invited to join the Cabinet... MPs are virtually powerless in Singapore. Some of the top civil servants are more powerful than MPs... Very often the Executive is checked by backbench MPs. In other more well-adjusted democracies.

[Student: He's pretty much the one who gave birth to Singapore.] Not gave birth. More like impregnated.

That became a founding moment. The croco- Oops. The tears... Became an iconic moment... [Student: In another class, we found out the video was only released in the 1990s]

Before he became Prime Minister, he has an image problem. 'This guy is genetically programmed to be a dictator! He has that *** laugh'... The PR machine goes into overdrive.

It's a very strange idea of stability. Not coups or revolutions. If a new party comes into power through elections, it's instability.

It tried very hard to criminalise the Opposition. '30 years ago, they cheated 10 cents on tax'. They have files on everyone, it seems.

[On closets waiting to be unlocked for deviance] We all have skeletons. *** probably has the most... How do you get so powerful without having skeletons?

New modes of expressing dissent. Humour and satire. The *** cannot deal with humour and satire... How do you deal with mighty and pompous people? You laugh at them... In court: ''What did you mean by '*** ***'?'' They look ludicrous... Technocrats defining what humour is.

There's a lot of hidden economics behind the mathematics.

Are you religious? [Me: No] Me too... Is your family religious?... It's hard for me, because they're Muslim... I don't tell them. I don't want to get blown up.

Are the people in your class morons?... The quality is going down. [Me: It was when they all started speaking Chinese]... Nowadays the [USP] students... I was in the Writing Centre. They were all chattering in Chinese.

Is it ner'sair'sur'ree? (necessary)

[On International Financial Regulation] The first country to put itself up for assessment was Canada, because I designed the system.

Regulation is really interesting. It's tough, it's stressful, but it's also fun.

sai'mulating market failure (simulating)

ASEAN is a talk shop, not an action shop... You cannot open up 100% to foreign banks unless your banking system [is non-existent], unless you're really weak. Unless you're Mexico- Mexico completely screwed up its banking system... *To someone who asked a question* Are you from Mexico? I already offended ASEAN.

[On microcredit] If you want to continue to enjoy all the oligopolistic privileges we give you... We won't legislate... But we want you to do it. If you don't do it, wait and see what happens. Moral suasion is a very powerful tool.

50% of Canadians thought deposit insurance covered unit trusts... We did a 2 month comparison [after a campaign]. Saturation... We did another survey. 48% of Canadians thought [so now]. 2%. Saturation advertising.
"To make dynamic economic models complete, various expectational formulas have been used. There is, however, little evidence to suggest that the presumed relations bear a resemblance to the way the economy works." - John Muth

Very good. So his infinite moving average of present and past disturbance terms with the coefficients being pi-i-s is also rubbish.

p = p bar + П0w + П1w-1 + П2w-2 + П3w-3 + П4w-4 + ...

MFTTW: "they are trying to forecast a stochastic process?
hahahaha"

"Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?" - Kelvin Throop III

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Thomas Jefferson once said, 'We should never judge a president by his age, only by his works.' And ever since he told me that, I stopped worrying." - Ronald Reagan

***

u r wt u wr:

- "juicy cherry"
- "I can please only one person per day"
- "Two boyfriends are better than one"
- "My sexual preference is often" (Contributed)
- "Tropical carnival" across the boobs and on the back "everybody needs to have some freedom" (Contributed by MFTTW - "tropical carnival on the boobs lah. i don't know what the back has to do with the front. it was a random shirt. you had to see it to appreciate it. [the carnival is for you to suck on them] nevermind lah. very abstract. hur hur. worn by prc leh]

Seen at a bazaar stall:
- 'I (Heart) Law Students'
- 'I've lost my telephone number, can I have yours?' (Isn't this usually a guy's pickup line?!)
- 'Treat me like an angel and I'll be your devil'

Second-hand clothes sale:
- [Topman 'S' top] 'Show me your tits and I'll show you mine'

I was observing that I wasn't seeing very few potential "u r wt u wr" tops as compared last semester, and someone claimed they were out of fasion. Damn, I thought my campaign was working. In any case I have since sighted many more examples.


I think I will expand "u r wt u wr" to contain all fashion observations.

I saw someone with a shawl so big that it covered everything she was wearing, at least from a frontal view. Only looking from the back could I saw her miniskirt (I wanted to set up a series of gradations, but couldn't decide where 'mini' fell in the scale between deci, centi, milli and micro - the same could be done for hot shorts).

Frigid Girl claimed that she saw a lot of what she called 'Superman' girls - those who wore spaghetti straps on top of other more substantial clothing. In Week 4 though, I only saw 3 of them the whole week (and one was okay because the outside was big and the inside was small). At first I thought it was just Economics and USP students, but then I took a walk through Business and Arts and I didn't see anyone (SACSAL or otherwise) in such garb. New Media girls must be really weird.

I notice a lot of people wearing black leggings below dresses with belts making the waists well-defined. Maybe they're afraid of being upskirted - you know, with the ubiquity of high-tech phones nowadays. Or maybe it's to make legs look less lanky.

[Addendum:

Someone: eh btw your latest post shows us how "out" of fashion trends you are

the "i heart law students" shirt was from last season's abercrombie tshirt collection but chances are the one you saw was prob fake
cos it's friggin expensive to ship the bloody thing here or i would have bought it
i think all in all to ship the shirt here i would have paid $40+ bucks

what else?
superman girls are in
it's caled "layering" and it's been in for a yr or so now
i refuse to do it cos i'm fat, so piling on layers will make me look fatter

and they're called black "footless tights"
very in also, but not possible for ppl with fat legs like mine
and no it's not cos they're scared of being up-skirted

personally i hate footless tights, which was why i declared myself a fashion hermit a while back until they go out of fashion
skinny jeans are in too

basically the SACSALs are rejoicing
fashion that used to flatter curvy women are now out of fashion
so women with no boobs and no ass having been rejoicing for the past yr or so

which is also why i'm calling a fashion time-out for myself]
I hate Macs

"Unless you have been walking around with your eyes closed, and your head encased in a block of concrete, with a blindfold tied round it, in the dark - unless you have been doing that, you surely can't have failed to notice the current Apple Macintosh campaign starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb, which has taken over magazines, newspapers and the internet in a series of brutal coordinated attacks aimed at causing massive loss of resistance. While I don't have anything against shameless promotion per se (after all, within these very brackets I'm promoting my own BBC4 show, which starts tonight at 10pm), there is something infuriating about this particular blitz. In the ads, Webb plays a Mac while Mitchell adopts the mantle of a PC. We know this because they say so right at the start of the ad.

"Hello, I'm a Mac," says Webb.

"And I'm a PC," adds Mitchell.

They then perform a small comic vignette aimed at highlighting the differences between the two computers. So in one, the PC has a "nasty virus" that makes him sneeze like a plague victim; in another, he keeps freezing up and having to reboot. This is a subtle way of saying PCs are unreliable. Mitchell, incidentally, is wearing a nerdy, conservative suit throughout, while Webb is dressed in laid-back contemporary casual wear. This is a subtle way of saying Macs are cool.

The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign - the only difference is the use of Mitchell and Webb. They are a logical choice in one sense (everyone likes them), but a curious choice in another, since they are best known for the television series Peep Show - probably the best sitcom of the past five years - in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, "PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers." In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.

I hate Macs. I have always hated Macs. I hate people who use Macs. I even hate people who don't use Macs but sometimes wish they did. Macs are glorified Fisher-Price activity centres for adults; computers for scaredy cats too nervous to learn how proper computers work; computers for people who earnestly believe in feng shui.

PCs are the ramshackle computers of the people. You can build your own from scratch, then customise it into oblivion. Sometimes you have to slap it to make it work properly, just like the Tardis (Doctor Who, incidentally, would definitely use a PC). PCs have charm; Macs ooze pretension. When I sit down to use a Mac, the first thing I think is, "I hate Macs", and then I think, "Why has this rubbish aspirational ornament only got one mouse button?" Losing that second mouse button feels like losing a limb. If the ads were really honest, Webb would be standing there with one arm, struggling to open a packet of peanuts while Mitchell effortlessly tore his apart with both hands. But then, if the ads were really honest, Webb would be dressed in unbelievably po-faced avant-garde clothing with a gigantic glowing apple on his back. And instead of conducting a proper conversation, he would be repeatedly congratulating himself for looking so cool, and banging on about how he was going to use his new laptop to write a novel, without ever getting round to doing it, like a mediocre idiot.

Cue 10 years of nasal bleating from Mac-likers who profess to like Macs not because they are fashionable, but because "they are just better". Mac owners often sneer that kind of defence back at you when you mock their silly, posturing contraptions, because in doing so, you have inadvertently put your finger on the dark fear haunting their feeble, quivering soul - that in some sense, they are a superficial semi-person assembled from packaging; an infinitely sad, second-rate replicant who doesn't really know what they are doing here, but feels vaguely significant and creative each time they gaze at their sleek designer machine. And the more deftly constructed and wittily argued their defence, the more terrified and wounded they secretly are.

Aside from crowing about sartorial differences, the adverts also make a big deal about PCs being associated with "work stuff" (Boo! Offices! Boo!), as opposed to Macs, which are apparently better at "fun stuff". How insecure is that? And how inaccurate? Better at "fun stuff", my arse. The only way to have fun with a Mac is to poke its insufferable owner in the eye. For proof, stroll into any decent games shop and cast your eye over the exhaustive range of cutting-edge computer games available exclusively for the PC, then compare that with the sort of rubbish you get on the Mac. Myst, the most pompous and boring videogame of all time, a plodding, dismal "adventure" in which you wandered around solving tedious puzzles in a rubbish magic kingdom apparently modelled on pretentious album covers, originated on the Mac in 1993. That same year, the first shoot-'em-up game, Doom, was released on the PC. This tells you all you will ever need to know about the Mac's relationship with "fun".

Ultimately the campaign's biggest flaw is that it perpetuates the notion that consumers somehow "define themselves" with the technology they choose. If you truly believe you need to pick a mobile phone that "says something" about your personality, don't bother. You don't have a personality. A mental illness, maybe - but not a personality. Of course, that hasn't stopped me slagging off Mac owners, with a series of sweeping generalisations, for the past 900 words, but that is what the ads do to PCs. Besides, that's what we PC owners are like - unreliable, idiosyncratic and gleefully unfair. And if you'll excuse me now, I feel an unexpected crash coming."

***

Comments on the site:

"I have some news for ihatecharlie. I work in a place where all the computers are new or new-ish Macs, and every one of the creatures freezes at least twice a week. The IT nerds have ruled out every potential cause they can think of, except the most obvious - Macs are rubbish."

"Haha - a very funny article, and pretty well spot on. Oh hang on, I'm using a Mac - oh well, still funny."

"I do love these anti-Mac troll articles. Not because they bring out the ‘smug self satisfied Mac users’ but because of the high level of intellectual debate such articles produce... possession of a Mac must bring with it social cachet, and the envy of PC users everywhere. “Real men use PCs: the Apple Mac as sexual signifier”. Hmm. There’s a PhD thesis in there somewhere."

"I see this is another well researched, well informed and totally accurate Guardian article!! Well Done! PS. For the Guardian readers out there, I was being sarcastic!"

"Mac users have virtually no sense of humor, and often appear to be the most anally retentive of boring nerds, though mercifully there are some exceptions. PC's play games, write documents and surf the net. They crash infrequently (my laptop running XP hasn't crashed for a year)and much more importantly do not attract tossers at a rate of knots... "

"The only real difference between Macs and PCs I can see? When Macs crash, they're (sometimes) a little more entertaining to gaze at while they're rebooting with their beveled edges and shiny surfaces after having crashed and fallen completely arse over tit right smack bang in the middle of a Pro Tools session."


My Little Bird: "it's like getting a girlfriend - the prettier she is, the more blind lemmings are going to queue up wanting to date her even if she has the heart of a praying mantis."
"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much." - Oscar Wilde

***

A reply to an email I got:

>anyhow, i think it's sad if everything becomes a la carte. (was watching down with
>love last night. borrowed the phrase... if anything, the institution of marriage
>gives meaning to the essentially meaningless human relationships abound which i'm
>quite sure a lot of us are looking for.

Relationships do not have to be given meaning by institutions. I believe they can and are valuable in and of themselves (because not everyone looks for meaningless relationships), without needing to be vindicated by external forces. If your relationship was already meaningless prior to marriage, why should legal and social sanction replace what is lacking between you and your partner?

Marriage is an archaic institution which has outlived its time. It was conceptualized for an era where household conveniences, dry cleaners and fast food (for the men) didn't exist, women were poor, weak and needed protection, contraception/abortion didn't exist and as a stable framework for bringing up children. Some might bring up free sex, but prostitution is after all the world's second-oldest profession (the witch doctor being the oldest), and men value sexual novelty which you don't get in marriage. Now women can work and have legal protection and men have washing machines, so you really only need to get married to provide a child 18 years of family stability and a dual-parent environment, and that's not an issue if you don't intend to have children (which is another essay).

In today's society, we all live much longer than we would have millennia ago. You've heard of the Seven Year Itch. Now imagine a few decades with the same person. It's difficult enough to predict what pair of shoes you want to wear next week. Now imagine predicting your feelings over a period of 4 decades (assuming marriage in your late 20s and dying in your late 60s), and at a relatively young and immature age too (ie Late 20s).

As you know, our mutual acquaintance realized after about 8 years of marriage that she didn't want to be with her husband anymore: "The heart has reasons that reason cannot know". How many couples do you think still love each other after decades of marriage? Divorce rates are going up; it is fashionable to attribute this to immorality and immaturity among the young, but why should you stay chained to someone if you realize you don't want to be with them anymore? Far worse, I think, to be stuck in a loveless marriage for years, or even decades, unwilling to part because of fears about peer pressure and gossip. A related problem I have more sympathy for is the problem of finding someone else, if that is one's desire ("Sad my lot and sorry, What shall I do? I cannot live alone!" - Sir Joseph, HMS Pinafore, ie The fear of loneliness), but that segues into my unemployment theory of relationships which is another essay.

Commitment is another red herring often thrown up by defenders of marriage. But then signing a piece of paper does not true commitment entail. Indeed, I would argue that entering into a formal marriage contract shows a lack of commitment - if you lock someone in a room and he has to break the door down in order to escape, and he doesn't, does this show more or less commitment than if you put someone in a room and the door is open for him to walk out of, but he doesn't? A prisoner with a ball chained to his leg is not more committed than the inmate who gets to roam the yard freely. Quite the contrary, really.

Another problem with marriage is that it is romanticised. Some girls don't have a concept of marriage or wedded life but they have a *highly* detailed concept of their wedding. The guests, dress, flowers, music, decor, places they want to go take photos et al. A few have even planned their wedded lives down to what house they want and how many kids they want and what to name them. We (girls especially) have been socialized into deifying marriage and thinking it will somehow cast a golden halo over our lives, but life still goes on. You have to pay the bills, your partner still snores and you still suffer from heartburn after eating bak chor mee.

This is not to say that there is no place for romantic partnerships. There is ample space for these within the institution of cohabitation. Some are suspicious what advantages it would have over marriage. Cohabitation lacks legal sanction, there is freedom of entry and exit, there is no (less?) Romanticisation about lifelong partnership and True Love and it is a more accurate way of showing commitment, if that is valued.

I wanted to slip in something about how not having pre-marital sex is being irresponsible, but it's not that relevant so I'll do it another day.

Basically, marriage should be deromanticised and cohabitation destigmatised. The only scenario I can see marriage having a place in modern society is in the context of child-rearing.

(This post has been edited in minor ways since I sent the email. The thesis statement is, nonetheless, unchanged)

***

Someone: sex is a way to build intimacy. not for mere selfish pleasure

Me: why do you need marriage for that

Someone: because other means of intimacy are not that deep enough?
seriously i get put off by girlfriends who don't want to get married

Me: what is it about marriage that is so special?
when you kiss the bride does tinkerbell shower you with pixie dust?

Someone: just havng a close relationship with someone who loves you and whom you love
someone of the opposite sex

Me: break out of feminine irrationality
what is it about marriage that you can't get in other relationships?

Someone: to be able to serve and have sex with a man who loves you?
i can't do that to my dad/bro. That'll be incest.

Me: sigh
nevermind

Someone: marriage has a beauty in itself

Me: that's because you've been socialized into believing that

Someone: i don't think so
even if my parents quarrel, they still manage to work things out

Me: what is it about marriage that makes them "work things out"?

Someone: committment and love
that is beyound the surface

Me: which you don't need marriage for

Someone: yes you need marriage for that
we human being are too temperamental and selfish

Me: what does marriage have to do with that
nothing.

Someone: yes
it teaches you to sacrifice yourself

Me: why can't you have that in a normal relationship?

Someone: it's not protected
no promise, no vows

Me: but people sacrifice themselves outside of marriage
you're just blandly asserting that it is impossible outside of marriage. but it is. and it has happened.

so you say that humans need to be forced to love each other
if that's the case then isn't it a sham?

Someone: love is in itself also a deliberate act

Me: but you just said that marriage teaches you to love because it shackles you

in that case isn't it giving you false consciousness?
so basically marriage is a tool to fool and manipulate people into "loving" each other

Someone: no it's not
it is to make sure that people follow thier vows
that they had love and intended to love, they should continue to love now

Me: so it's to oppress people
and socialize them into a form of social and institutional hegemony

Someone: sort or, you can say that
else, let our animalistic nature oppress us?

Me: "It is one thing to say that I know what is good for X, while he himself does not; and even to ignore his wishes for its – and his – sake; and a very different one to say that he has eo ipso chosen it, not indeed consciously, not as he seems in everyday life, but in his role as a rational self which his empirical self may not know – the ‘real’ self which discerns the good, and cannot help choosing it once it is revealed. This monstrous impersonation, which consists in equating what X would choose if he were something he is not, or at least not yet, with what X actually seeks and chooses, is at the heart of all political theories of self-realization. It is one thing to say that I may be coerced for my own good, which I am too blind to see: this may, on occasion, be for my benefit; indeed it may enlarge the scope of my liberty. It is another to say that if it is my good, then I am not being coerced, for I have willed it, whether I know this or not, and am free (or ‘truly’ free) even while my poor earthly body and foolish mind bitterly reject it, and struggle with the greatest desperation against those who seek, however benevolently, to impose it."

Monday, February 05, 2007

I made some pork and red wine stew (adapted from Beef and Red-Wine Stew). Unfortunately I put too much wine. As usual.

MFTTW once claimed "There's no such thing as too much wine" (she now claims she never said that - she meant for drinking, not cooking, so maybe she was drunk when she told me that in the context of my first stew containing wine), but I think that besides the prohibitive cost of wine here, the flavour of the wine was too strong (ie Unsubtle) and it was a little sour when combined with the tomatoes. It didn't help that I forgot to put in any chicken stock, and had to substitute with chicken powder.

I also boiled it down too much. As usual.

The perils of not following recipes when your agaration skills are off (I remember my first carbonara, ugh).


Someone: is tat where u channel ur sexual energy to?
cooking?
"Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows." - David T. Wolf

***

Due to a lack of time (horror, imagine that) I will not blog about the SPI field trip, but in summary we heard a lot of dodgy theories (the guide claimed the reason why schools and army camps have lots of ghost stories is because the congregation of positive energies from people in the day attracts the spirits but they're too afraid of these energies to manifest, but when people go home they appear - someone pointed out that if that's the case shopping centres would be very haunted) and questionable stories (my favourite is how a lamp post fell on someone the day after he kicked and mounted the 2 stone lions outside this dilapidated red house in Pasir Ris - I wanted to abuse the lions with a fellow skeptic but he chickened out) but didn't see anything (supposedly because the positive energies from big groups drive them away, but really it's just a psychological phenomenon).

On the ground floor, I went into a lift where the buttons for level 4 and 6 were already pressed. I then pressed the button for level 3. A girl came in and pressed the buttons for levels 2, 5 and 7, which meant that all buttons from 2-7 were pressed. When the lift stopped at level 2, all the buttons reset. It must be some system to protect against idiots. They really need to install this in other lifts - I have been in a lift where the buttons for levels 2-24 were all pressed. It was assuredly an un-fun experience.

We had an ingenious introduction to Rawls where we took the identity of various people who would either support or be discriminated against by HDB policies, and then we shed our prior identities and debated on the assumption that we could be any of the identities formerly assumed by anyone.

The PGP waffle shop had a stall at a bazaar, so I got to try it. I was suspicious of the so-called maple syrup waffle selling for $1.40 (it's almost impossible to get maple syrup here), so I asked to look at the bottle of maple syrup. Sure enough, it was maple flavoured syrup. Nonetheless, I bought one, but the syrup flowed to the bottom of the paper bag. Gah. I don't know why the SACSALs flocked to the lousy waffle stall upstairs set up by the same culprits who sold the worst waffles in the world in the Arts Canteen (and still sell it at their temporary stall), ignoring this stall. Maybe they like their waffles limp and soggy (Clarification: They are soggy even when fresh. Wth). And now they're even smaller (the batter not even filling the whole pan), and someone bought one which was undercooked.

Since Economics in NUS is a pseudo-Science, it's a good group to look at when investigating questions about the Arts/Science student divide. Among other things, it nullifies the dress code theory of differences.

I think I learnt more about Economics in JC than I have so far or will in the next 2 1/2 semesters in University. Having done F Maths is much more helpful for doing Economics here than having done A level Economics. In part this is because we're very theoretical, but more importantly Economics at the post-graduate level is Applied Mathematics, and here at the Premier Institution of Social Engineering we take pride in teaching undergraduates post-graduate material (both the textbooks I'm using for my Honours core modules are post-graduate textbooks; a friend who did Graduate Macroeconomics said it was easier than Honours Macro, since many of them hadn't done our type of Honours Macro before).

Chris Lydgate's Lee's Law is in the Singapore-Malaysia collection, heh. Maybe the presence of such seditious books in there is why none of the material is supposed to be brought outside the room.

I got an idea for a business plan - summarise readings for people. Unfortunately, the problem of copyright infringement comes up, but maybe seminars on said readings can also be conducted to add value (and we can also trust in the honesty of NUS students, hurr hurr).

A Year 1 friend commented that people in NUS judge you by your vital statistic.

"Ads by Google: Singapore Xiaxue, Singapore Brown, Singapore Miyagi"

Naturally, none of them are related to Xiaxue, Brown or Miyagi.
"For many years, our institution ran a therapeutic community program for violent offenders that was thought to be especially effective for psychopaths...

Among nonpsychopaths, there was a significant negative association between participation and violent recidivism, while among psychopaths the association was significantly positive. The data suggested that the ''treatment'' made the psychopaths more dangerous. Morever, even though they behaved much worse than nonpsychopaths during therapy, psychopaths were just as successful at convincing the clinicians to recommend them for discharge and to give them leadership roles in the program...

It seemed that both psychopaths and non-psychopaths in the therapeutic community learned how to perceive the feelings of others, take the perspective of others, and delay gratification, but the psychopaths used these new abilities to facilitate the manipulation and exploitation of others."

--- The Construct of Psychopathy, Grant T. Harris; Tracey A. Skilling; Marnie E. Rice (2001)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

About the NUS Architecture Course



"Admission Requirements

The general requirements for admission to the rational University of Singapore are:"


Credits for bringing it to my notice: miss taupok
"One thing they all share is the problem of illicit distribution, a problem inherently greater than faced by those who ran booze during national prohibition in the 1920s.

Despite the well-publicized 400-plus gangland killings in Al Capone's Chicago, the dize of bulky beer trucks and the permanent location of saloons made territorial monopoly and cooperation the norm. The result in most American cities during Prohibition was that competition was usually eliminated quickly and permanently, and a relative peace then normally reigned. But drugs, in contrast, are marketed in expensive little packets that may be sold individually on any street corner, a simple fact that continually tempts small-scale enterprisers to break existing rules. So long as drugs remain illegal - and in this country no end to their prohibition is in sight - then lethal arguments about individual transactions and territory will tend to push up murder rates.

Observers have been complaining about the effect of the media on criminal violence for nearly two centuries... Puritan ministers loved public hangings as opportunities to warn bystanders about original sin and the seventeenth-century equivalents of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.) But by the late eighteeneth century, free enterprise... [produced material] in which the exploits of criminals were romanticized or ''the system'' blamed for mistakenly condemning or even framing them... Moralists decried all of them and their effect on leading impressionable youth to commit violent crimes.

The problem with this outcry against the media is, however, that during most of the nineteenth century, while literacy and the mass market expanded, murder rates were declining. The same held early in the twentieth century, when the new ''movies'', featuring Tom Mix and shoot-'em'up westerns, were also subjects of pious disapproval...

Sociology... has tended to idealize life in small village communities and given us reasons for associating urban growth with crime... it must be recognised that this is historically a new development... cities for most of their history have usually helped in various ways literally to ''civilize'' their inhabitants. it has already been noted that medieval London was more peaceful than the English countryside... only old folks, and historians, remember that as late as the 1950s the Big Apple itself, New York City, had lower homicide rates than the national average...

[Despite the Second Amendment in 1791] White-on-white homicide rates remained quite low in the colonies and for several decades after independence. Not only were such killings relatively rare, but firearms did not figure very heavily in them. The simple fact is that neither the muzzle-loading muskets nor the cumbersome single-shot dragoon nor the dueling pistols of the era were well suited as murder weapons. However valuable as military or hunting weapons, they were expensive, hard to use, and rarely as close to hand as ax, knife, brick, or hoe when sudden anger flared. The revolution in civilian use of firearms began only with Samuel Colt's 1832 invention of the revolved: small, cheap, and easily hidden. By no coincidence, it was only when these deadly little weapons became widely available, beginning in the 1840s, that white-on-white homicide rates really rose and rates in places like New York began to soar above those for Liverbool and stayed there... The effect of revolvers on urban riots has already been noted; even more important was, and is, their effect on abrasive everyday human interactions; a man on a barstool or in a traffic jam with a hidden gun is a kind of booby trap, liable to explode without warning if bumped the wrong way...

Men and women who argue in bedrooms and kitchens, motorists in the grip of ''road rage,'' street kids dissed by peers and rivals would, in the absence of guns, perhaps indulge in drunken pushing matches, regretted or forgotten the next morning...

Yet there is some truth to the famous argument of the National Rifle Association... Even if all the gun killings were subtracted from our national totals... we would still have murder rates close to three times theirs. There is something in the American people that makes us more homicidal than the English or the French, even if we must resort to knives, fists, feet, teeth, and bricks...

For years, American historians tended to explain everything different about us in terms of this frontier experience, a thesis that remained popular for generations because we wanted to believe it... The only problem with this argument is that it simply does the fit the historical evidence...

A look at the map of American homicide shows little correspondence with the date when a given state or territory was founded, the nature of its experience with the Indians, or is later history of lethal violence. Minnesota was the site of the biggest Indian massacres in our history, South Dakota of the last encampments of Colonel George Armstrong Custer, and later of Sitting Bull; neither state has been much noted afterward for murderous behavior. New Orleans, in contrast, one of the oldest cities in the nation, and in some ways the most civilized, is now the most violent.

What the map does show is not the western but the southern wellsprings of American homicide... What applied most especially to dealings with slaves came to be applied to dealings with all others. And the value placed on reputation helped to foster what social anthropologists have called a ''culture of honor,'' in which a man's worth is measured by what others think of him, and how others behave toward him.

In a naturally violent society, the insistence on male ''honor'' comes easily to mean that what seems a trivial slight to outsiders must be answered immediately, physically if necessary... it may be contrasted, too, with the simple lesson that our others tried to teach us in order to keep us safe from schoolyard bullies: ''Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.''

Most of us eventually listen to our mothers, grow up and get married, or otherwise learn to somehow avoid dangerous confrontations over trifles. What distinguished the South was that the ''code of honor'' was... endorsed and exemplified by community leaders, settled men, statesmen...

An admiration for ''toughness'' has long been institutionalized in American law. In Great Britain, before a man may claim he has killed in ''self-defense,'' he has a ''duty to retreat'' in the face of another's aggression until his back is literally to the wall. In many jurisdictions in the United States there is no such legal duty, and in the popular imagination such retreat is easily confused with cowardice."

--- Murder in America: A Historian's Perspective, Roger Lane (1999)
New items to add to last July's NKF post:
- [It] had a pristine, clean and pure image until people started investigating it, whereupon untold tales of iniquity suddenly came to light.
- though selling goods at a profit, [it] claimed it was a 'subsidy' since they were sold at below market rate

It's very annoying eating if you don't tie up your hair. Maybe this is one reason why girls take forever to eat.

Someone tells me that one reason you can get cramps is when the blood clots. So this is another reason to use tampons, since they stop the blood further up before it can clot.

Seen: "If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us."

To add on to the thing about girls in Hong Kong, the new line is: Someone said that if you think Singaporean girls are materialistic, anorexic, overdress, bitchy, emotional, fond of drama and sexist, it's even worse in Hong Kong. Over there, there's no such thing as going Dutch - the guy always pays. You might as well pay upfront and get something, right? Hurr hurr.
"By the way, I LOVE your stance on the Mac people - I'm a PC user (albeit one running Ubuntu Linux), and I agree, Apple followers are loyal to the point of brainwashing. For example, here's a typical conversation I've had with an iPod user:

"So, how do you like your iPod?"
"Oh, I love it!"
"Great. So how long have you had it?"
"Oh, well, I just got this one - it's my fourth one."
"Eh? What happened to all the others? They get stolen?"
"No, they all broke. But this one is so much cooler!"

Apple takes planned obsolescence to a whole new level and laughs at you while they're doing it."
"When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest." - William Hazlitt

***

"The history of economics comprises increasingly sophisticated observations of people's choices in markets and theoretical models suggested by these observations" - George Ainslie, Emotion: the gaping hole in economic theory. This is the best description I've seen yet.

Economic models must be tractable not only because you must get nice results, but because economists aren't that good at maths.

Also seen: "watch boys turn into men as they enlist into the army - naw, not really, just hulking chauvinists and despos"

I'm told that City Harvest cell groups have an offering session (donation drive) when they meet - they cull cash from you not just once but twice a week. Enming was really inspired when he called it Cash Harvest Cult.

I just found out that we learnt Hegelian Dialectic in S paper Economics (Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis). Wth.

The McDonalds Prosperity Burger is hotter than Long Beach Black Pepper crab. Wth.
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