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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Someone: leggings make girls look weird

it's like half fuck
u want to show or odn't want to show

aiyohz
seriously
coz can't see a shit

some of my classmates in stockholm wear leggings
and it's like the skirt is so short
obviously there are some brave onez with no leggings
and u can see what they are wearing

but.... it's most probably branded
haha

they sure are [rich]
every guyu is like wearing CK underwear

...

gssq u are a bad person
u made me feel there's something wrong with me
but i can't pin point what isst


Someone else: here we go

1. Fard or Wajib meaning obligatory or mandatory; 2. Mustahabb or Mandub meaning liked and recommended; 3. Haram or Mahzur meaning forbidden; 4. Makruh meaning disliked and not recommended and 5. Mubah or Halal meaning permissible and allowed.


Someone: black men are cool
have you heard an asian guy rapping besides jin?

then physically
black men are *woah*
and asian men are "effeminate"
Lack of masculinity

black men? often seen to be more assertive
whether its in porno or in the real world
which is a plus in american society

asian men? fuck assertiveness lah

Me: then black women?

Someone: even beyonce isn't like "black black"
she's more "white black" than "black black"

haha
"brown paper bag" theory
notice how successful black stars tend to have european features
lighter skin color and are tall and thin
most black women tend to be shorter and wider
just go to new orleans and see for yourself


Me: like my brother in law he's a master of ad hominem and non sequiturs

Someone else: actually i think he's somewhat charming and mischievious in his comments on ***'s blog

ad hominem and non sequiturs? that's so singaporean

Me: yeah
singaporeans can't argue

Someone else: most singaporeans when they use non sequiturs and ad hominems, just end up being really annoying

he's mischieviously charming when he does that


HWMNBN: i was speaking to a girl today who complainde that one of her ex-bfs got her flowers that were expensive but wrapped in muslin paper

when i went: "?????"

she said, "isn't it obvious that i would prefer cheaper flowers as long as they were tastefully wrapped?"

when i said: "?????"

she continued: "it's SO obvious!"
she said "it's so obvious that a girl like me would prefer clear wrap!"

when i kept going: "?????????" she continued in this vein about how it would be obvious what a girl like her would like, how one of her other ex-bfs got it right the first time, how it was not the money but the effort/love involved (which I suppose has some merit but not to this extreme), etc etc

Me: this reminds me of this anecdote I heard on radio

this woman was scared of the dark, so she asked her husband to hold her
her husband said: "Why don't you just turn on the light?"

she said: "Just hold me"

and how men will volunteer to do the housework
then the women will get upset when they don't do it "properly", usually meaning the way they do it

my friend decried men who don't do chores
maybe this is why :P because they get scolded/nagged even if they do. damned if you do, damned if you don't

HWMNBN: depends. the even better one is where when the guy does household chores the girl secretly despises him for not being "manly"

the irony is that a lot of the behaviours that stem from what is known as "manliness" - which most women claim they want - are the kinds they despise so much

aiyah basically you cannot win with women

Me: what women say they want, what women think they want and what women really want aren't always the same.


Someone: this guy behind me in the lib. he's ugly and faat. and he is making chewing-with-mouth-open noises that sound suspiciously like a guy going down on a girl
and i think. he just ruined sex for me.
><
My meatloaf turned out more like meatpie. I used this recipe, substituting courgette for banana and curry powder for paprika and ground mustard.

I didn't feel like taking out the blender, so I peeled the courgette and used the tenderiser on it. I don't think it'll work, so I'll have little white-green bits embedded in the meatpie.



The pizza sauce is done. Today I used tomato paste, and threw in rosemary as well as marjoram and thyme and the bay leaf. I think the tomato paste makes a difference. I should put in more red wine ice cubes next time though - 3 of them didn't seem to flavour the sauce very much.


Pizza dough before I punched it down. It should be ready to roll at about 5:30pm.

4pm: The meatpie is currently baking in the oven for about another 50 mins. I hope it turns out okay.


4:23pm: ARGH MY MEATLOAF IS SWIMMING IN OIL. Minced pork doesn't quite substitute for lean ground beef.


4:50pm: It tastes alright. I could've put a bit more curry powder and salt (I got confused and put just over half as much salt as I was supposed to), and the bottom is black and crispy because it was merrily frying itself in the oil, but otherwise it's bagus. Especially considering the only acquaintance I've ever had with meatloaf is through Foxtrot comic strips.

I had to punch down the pizza dough again a short while ago, 30-45 mins ahead of schedule. Hmm.

6:15pm: My dough is too wet. Shit. This is bad especially when it sticks to the chopping board when I want to put it on the pizza pan to bake. And the dough's still rising - had to punch it again.

I don't have Mozzarella so I'm using mixed Cheddar and Parmesan.

6:53pm: First batch of pizza:





I forgot to poke the dough with a fork for this batch, or put onions. The dough is quite chewy - almost like Roman pizza dough!!!

8:15pm: The second batch, which I ate. I forgot to poke the dough before putting the ingredients on again, so I did it after. I remembered the onions and to put more cheese this time though.



The pizza was very good. The dough was a touch too yeasty - I used 1 2/3 tablespoons. Maybe I'll try 1 1/2 next time.

My mother seems to think that dirt and oil are like cockroaches which will reproduce and move around the house if they are not cleaned up immediately. Maybe I should live on campus next year.
"No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather." - Michael Pritchard

***

10th February:

SIR – Though the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, I was glad to see Charlemagne criticising laws in Europe that criminalise Holocaust denial (January 27th). But he didn't go far enough. Instead of debating freedom of speech, Europeans should be focusing on their freedom to analyse history. Holocaust denial posits an alternate—albeit entirely inaccurate—reading of the past. Does the European Union really want to start laying down what is “official” history, declaring certain accounts kosher and others illegal?

Jon Grinspan
New York

"As a legacy of their entanglement with Pakistan, Bangladeshi Muslims are forbidden to drink alcohol—unless they have a doctor's note prescribing it for their health. This useful document can be bought over the counter in Dhaka's bars. In one such dive, it was explained that the notes are a hangover from colonial days, when British doctors prescribed a little cognac for colds."

"In recent years, Hong Kong has become a magnet for urban Chinese women trying to evade China's strict one-child policy and enjoy better standards of hospital care (often free since many leave without paying their bills)."


27th January:

"Many European countries do have anti-incitement rules already. French law, for example, imposes sanctions on those who deny crimes against humanity or who express racist points of view. When Ms Zypries defended restricting free speech, she went on to say that “the limits are there when it is offensive to other religious and ethnic groups.” This is close to saying something is a crime if the victim says so—an unhappy legal principle, and an encouragement for people to take offence at every opportunity."


20th January:

[On endowments] According to one former Harvard official, its endowment fund has done so well because it has avoided taking advice from the economics faculty.

[On offshoring] As James Markusen, of the University of Colorado, mischievously puts it, “I am confident that I can concoct a model to generate any result desired by a reader with a deep pocketbook.”
someone's pizza dough recipe:

"my method is agaration.

take about half a cup of water, get it to baby bath temperature. ie hotter than tepid, but not so hot that u burn your finger. put in a teaspoon of sugar and a teaspoon of yeast (1/5 t if u wanna be kiasu)

let it proof = gives the yeast a kickstart. it should rise and foam and it will smell yeasty/beery. this should take 5-10 minutes. if the yeast did not foam, maybe the water was not warm enough, or the yeast was out of date. throw out and try again.)

pour into the foamy mixture, a glug or two of olive oil, salt, any other flavourings you want to put in the dough, and flour. don't add too much flour at once. what i usually do is use a fork to stir until it forms a ball. knead and knead and knead. until your hand hurts and trust me it will hurt if you are not used to it.

cover with tea towel, leave in warm place (i always used the top of the microwave) and let the dough rise. this is beautiful to watch; like a miracle. if your yeast has proofed properly before, the dough WILL rise.

punch dough down, shape into whatever shape u like.
this basic dough can also be used for foaccacia.

once you get the hang of it, it is not difficult. do not be discouraged. i experimented for quite a long time before i was happy with the result. luckily, the ingredients are not expensive. OK the olive oil, but you only need a bit.

alternatives - use tortilla wraps, Turkish bread. I use Arabic bread here, perhaps you might be able to find it somewhere. Or, my friends with breadmakers say they get good results with that!"


I'm going to try the one here today since it gives me proportions, and honey sounds nice. Also going to try meatloaf (found a recipe using banana, but banana has a strong taste so to give the moisture I'll use my leftover courgette).

I made my own pasta sauce 2 or 3 weeks back. I didn't have tomato paste and MFTTW was predicting it wouldn't be flavourful enough, but it was when I tasted it (I asked my brother-in-law, but he is useless in giving feedback about food - after all this is the person who thought Durian ice cream was Pear). Unfortunately it was a bit sour, though I'd added sugar. Also, the thyme and marjoram didn't give enough kick though - she suggested I get oregano. Maybe I should just buy 'Italian Seasoning'.

My brother in law said my potato salad was't flavourful enough. someone suggested I add relish, but the last time what I did was just to use Thousand Island dressing, which was found to be satisfactory. So I'll use salad dressing in the future - less troublesome.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Post-modernism & Outdoor Education

"The very nature of post-modernism is that anything written about post-modernism is problematised and naturally then is to be deconstructed and found to be an arbitrary, relativistic construction of meaning. This ultimately seems to imply an inherent meaninglessness in postmodern debate, although in becoming meaningless itself it also seeks to bring down with it the constructed meanings of everything else.

To write about postmodernism is also to be prepared to be totally wrong and infinitely vulnerable. But there is freedom here too, to see meaning fractionated into new forms.

An illustration of erudite meaninglessness that can appear in postmodernism (and elsewhere) comes from this opening to Tilton and la Tournier's essay entitled "Feminism, subcapitalist theory and the cultural paradigm of expression, in which they write describe "contexts of meaninglessness":

""Sexual identity is fundamentally impossible," says Bataille. A number of narratives concerning textual precultural theory may be found. In the works of Burroughs, a predominant concept is the concept of textual reality. In a sense, the within/without distinction prevalent in Burroughs's Port of Saints is also evident in The Soft Machine. The subject is interpolated into a semiotic postdeconstructivist theory that includes consciousness as a whole....It could be said that if preconceptualist discourse holds, we have to choose between dialectic capitalism and posttextual appropriation. Lyotard promotes the use of the cultural paradigm of expression to modify and analyse class."

http://www.elsewhere.org/cgi-bin/postmodern/

The problem here is that as erudite as this sounds, it is a fictitious essay that was randomly generated by a computer programmed with post-modern phraseologies. Thus it can been how easily meaning is constructed through interpretation. W we may also recognized in here an inherent meaningless to much similar postmodern jargonesque text that gets thrown out under the guise of real debate...

Few people are able to retain a high level of consciousness in postmodern thinking because to do essentially rots away held meaning. If this is not paired with a strength of will for constructing new meaning that goes beyond the corrosive power of postmodernism, then an individual can be left rather lost and confused, but perhaps content that he/she has avoided subscribing to false meanings.

Personally, I'm not sure of the history or origins of post-modern thinking except that I gather it is loose and involves many who don't agree and the so-called key figures of post-modernism themselves usually question or deny being labeled as anything to do with what others have called post-modernism. So its bloody hard to even get started with postmodernism, let alone possible connections between postmodernism and other fields of inquiry...

So the essential value, in a pragmatic sense, of postmodernism is that it can help us to develop a functional realism by questioning available information and knowledge, instead of just swallowing it. There is however a huge emptiness in postmodernism, just as there is a huge emptiness in existentialism - at the end of the day, what is left? What is to be done? If human knowledge and knowing is so entirely constructed, then what are we to do? And this is where I think postmodernism struggles and largely fails to emerge from its own self-reflective prison and here is where we need other methods of thinking and action...

So be warned in discussing postmodernism about the dangers of getting lost in a recursive, rather than discursive, paradigm. There are labyrinths of mirrors which one can wander for hours, days, even lifetimes. We need to do more than that."

***

Dawkins Review of Intellectual Impostures
Addendum: aka "Postmodernism Disrobed"

"Suppose you are an intellectual impostor with nothing to say, but with strong ambitions to succeed in academic life, collect a coterie of reverent disciples and have students around the world anoint your pages with respectful yellow highlighter. What kind of literary style would you cultivate? Not a lucid one, surely, for clarity would expose your lack of content...

No doubt there exist thoughts so profound that most of us will not understand the language in which they are expressed. And no doubt there is also language designed to be unintelligible in order to conceal an absence of honest thought. But how are we to tell the difference? What if it really takes an expert eye to detect whether the emperor has clothes? In particular, how shall we know whether the modish French 'philosophy', whose disciples and exponents have all but taken over large sections of American academic life, is genuinely profound or the vacuous rhetoric of mountebanks and charlatans?...

The feminist 'philosopher' Luce Irigaray is another who gets whole-chapter treatment from Sokal and Bricmont. In a passage reminiscent of a notorious feminist description of Newton's Principia (a "rape manual"), Irigaray argues that E=mc2 is a "sexed equation". Why? Because "it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us" (my emphasis of what I am rapidly coming to learn is an 'in' word). Just as typical of this school of thought is Irigaray's thesis on fluid mechanics. Fluids, you see, have been unfairly neglected. "Masculine physics" privileges rigid, solid things. Her American expositor Katherine Hayles made the mistake of re-expressing Irigaray's thoughts in (comparatively) clear language. For once, we get a reasonably unobstructed look at the emperor and, yes, he has no clothes:

The privileging of solid over fluid mechanics, and indeed the inability of science to deal with turbulent flow at all, she attributes to the association of fluidity with femininity. Whereas men have sex organs that protrude and become rigid, women have openings that leak menstrual blood and vaginal fluids... From this perspective it is no wonder that science has not been able to arrive at a successful model for turbulence. The problem of turbulent flow cannot be solved because the conceptions of fluids (and of women) have been formulated so as necessarily to leave unarticulated remainders.


You don’t have to be a physicist to smell out the daffy absurdity of this kind of argument (the tone of it has become all too familiar), but it helps to have Sokal and Bricmont on hand to tell us the real reason why turbulent flow is a hard problem (the Navier-Stokes equations are difficult to solve).

... But don't the postmodernists claim only to be 'playing games'? Isn't the whole point of their philosophy that anything goes, there is no absolute truth, anything written has the same status as anything else, and no point of view is privileged? Given their own standards of relative truth, isn't it rather unfair to take them to task for fooling around with word games, and playing little jokes on readers? Perhaps, but one is then left wondering why their writings are so stupefyingly boring. Shouldn't games at least be entertaining, not po-faced, solemn and pretentious? More tellingly, if they are only joking, why do they react with such shrieks of dismay when somebody plays a joke at their expense? The genesis of Intellectual Impostures was a brilliant hoax perpetrated by Sokal, and the stunning success of his coup was not greeted with the chuckles of delight that one might have hoped for after such a feat of deconstructive game playing. Apparently, when you've become the establishment, it ceases to be funny when someone punctures the established bag of wind."

***

A short while back, someone asked if I knew about the Sokal affair (though he didn't name it as such; I think the moral of the story was supposed to be that the humanities are fluff). I recognised what he was referring to, and in turn asked if he knew about the SCIgen/WMSCI scandal (though I didn't name it as such either).

It turns out that there are also the Videa abstracts and Bogdanov Affair.

So the moral of the story is something about peer review. Though I do agree with a lesser version of the original claim: post-modernism is incoherent.
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Thursday, February 22, 2007

"The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he really is very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good." - Robert Graves

***

Quotes:

belief must satisfy buy's rule (Bayes')

This is Buyer's rule. It's very complicated. In 10 years, each time I learned it I failed... Now I tell you I know. After 10 times, but not before.

Beliefs should be good. They shouldn't be strange... I am a manager. I have a job interview. This guy has a Harvard diploma. His GPA is 4.0... I believe he is weak... We know Harvard, the unergraduates, they don't study very hard.

You know when I was [a] student there was sometimes checking. They check if you are studying. They check if someone is over. They come at 6:30, check your papers. (were checks)

Profit is equally splitted (split)

University cannot completely control me. I sit in my office 7 days a week. No call, no email. This is actually [the] moral hazard problem... The University has [a] good tool to incentivise me. If I do not produce at least 1 paper a year, they will fire me. (calls)

Sunday evening, you come here [to NUS]. People studying on Wi-Fi. *mimes typing*... They kill themselves... In my profession, some people work very hard... By the end of the year they talk strangely and behave strangely... Like me, I work very hard.

This is quite an unusual term. Ball and Romer say it's just a 'convenient normalization'. Whatever that means. It just make the algebra easier.

I want to bring to your attention that this is a beautifull compact equation. Because he [the consumer] is optimising along 3 margins.

That was the initial equilibrium. Now we come to the exciting part.

[Me to someone wearing tights: Don't you feel hot?] My dress is too short. [Me: Wear {a} longer dress lah]

[On the Ball-Romer menu costs model] I don't think their model is artistic, although it is correct. And we're not artists here, we're scientists.

[Me: How come you keep bumping into them?] Because you don't go to places where girls go... Places where they can spend money frivolously.

Gabriel, I decided not to major in Econs anymore. [Me: COngratulations. *shakes her hand*]

[On a KAT-TUN music video] I don't want to see [it], my IQ will drop.

[Me: California girl... She speaks with a Californian accent.] That's just a fucked up American accent.

He didn't say that [Capitalism must come between Feudalism and Communism]. He said it was 'The Necessary Stage' *funny look* *Laughs from audience*

Nietzsche calls Christianity a religion of slavery, because you have to offer your cheeks [to be slapped].

Marx says when you put Capital and Labour together you get something more, which he calls surplus value. *writes delta v*. This is my fake Economics [knowlege/notation]

Some people call them Champagne Marxists... They look upon the working class with fascination... They want to 'help them'... Moral edification.

[On co-option] You have an elite class... Meritocracy. They pull some of them up, but you make sure they never look back.

I am being retrenched - again. I'm taking pay cuts - again. CPF is being cut - again. GST is going up - again... How come they don't suffer as much?... This idea of nation. Getting you to buy into it.

The professors are proletarianised too. They're made to teach long hours to huge lecture theatres of students who don't care two hoots.

[Student: Does Marx make any assumptions about human nature?] Yah, that we are good.

Capitalism is a conspiracy with no conspirators. Capitalists themselves are alienated - from each other. They are terrified that they'll join the proletariat one day... It's a horrible world to live in.

[On the USSR] If you're in power, you like it. So the revolution, for you, is never completed.

[On Communism] If someone tells you, in a Christ-like fashion: 'Leave your family behind, leave your goods behind, follow me.' *Makes face* Unless you're a fisherman, it's quite hard to do.

[Student on a tutorial question that used to be an exam question: How was the performance for this question in the exam?] Disastrous. Only 1 student in 42 got everything correct. I was very disappointed... The moral of the story is: go back and work on your calculus. [Me: *sotto voce* Set {an} easier exam.] *sniggers from people around* Sorry? [Me: The moral is to set an easier exam.] That's not going to happen.

In the spirit of the Lunar New Year, I am open to the idea of having an open book exam.

[On a conference] If they like your paper, they wll pay your expenses, so you can polish your paper in this class... If they find gold in your paper, or a speck of [gold] dust, or fool's gold, then you can go to the Netherlands for free.

We saw the Prime Minister's speech yesterday. It's definitely very different than most of the Prime Ministers' speeches we've had the privilege of hearing around the world.

[On a paper Coase wrote at 21] At an age, probably, younger than anyone in this room, he already did his Nobel Prize work. We're trying to get other people to do the same.

Many many professors of Economics have been promoted and given big salaries because they're game theorists. It's a powerful tool. We don't think it's as powerful as they do.

Clearly we want you to win Nobel Prizes and throw champagne parties and have people throw money at us.

Hernando de Soto. He only talks to God and Presidents of countries now. He talks to us occasionally.

[On Adam Smith] Most people in the universe, if they saw a pin facory, they would write something unbelievably boring.

[On Darwin's finches] Bird beaks may be more interesting than pin factories, but not much. How many people in the world are interested in bird beaks? How many in Singapore are interested in bird beaks? Maybe one.

[On research ideas] The problem is knowing where to dig for gold. Most economists are only interested in having a machine that can dig a really deep hole.

Have you ever seen a video of Stephen Hawkings? He's incredibly intense: 'I want to know the mind of God. I want to reduce it to a few equations'. Economics is very influenced by physics.

[On measuring transaction costs] We're not in an Aristotlean world where we can imagine how many teeth are in a horse's mouth.

How do you get a kid in Harvard? It's very simple. Just get grandparents who went to Harvard.

You know Peter the Great... the population of Russia fell 20% during his reign. More than during Stalin's time. Why he's called Great is another story.

In New York City, if you buy a newspaper it will be from a South Asian... They have ways of avoiding labour laws.

[On transitioning from Communism] In Eastern Europe - we love Eastern Europe - one thing they're really good at is complaining... How do you measure when things go from really really terrible to just bad?

The failure rate in judicial reform is damn near 100%.

coup duh tar (d'etat)

I talked to a guy from a power company and he said what they want to do is have a power plant on a boat and if they don't pay just sail off.

[The] Second part [of the course] will be more formal. Here we just talk.

enter'pr'err'ner (entrepreneur)

One thing I absolutely cannot stand about university guys: they're all so desperate... It makes my hair stand on end.
Roman descendants found in China? - "Scientists have taken blood samples from 93 people living in and around Liqian, a settlement in north-western China on the fringes of the Gobi desert, more than 200 miles from the nearest city. They are seeking an explanation for the unusual number of local people with western characteristics — green eyes, big noses, and even blonde hair — mixed with traditional Chinese features."

talking to prospective, Asian, PhD students - "I know you really want to go to the United Kingdom to study... Still, I suggest it’s a scam. They are taking advantage of your eagerness to get ahead in life through educational means. Perhaps it’s time for a short reality-check: English universities really aren’t all that good. Far inferior than the best American universities and certainly not much better than universities in Scandinavia, Germany or France."

iTunes declared illegal in Norway - "The Norwegian consumer ombudsman ruled this week that Apple violates consumer protection laws because songs from the iTunes store can only be played on iPods."

Author: Rampant consumerism erodes us - "Beware the Affluenza Virus. An epidemic of mindless consumerism is sweeping the world with the compulsive pursuit of money and possessions making people richer but sadder. That is the stark warning issued by best-selling British psychologist Oliver James after a "mind tour" of seven countries chronicling how depression envelopes the affluent. "We have become addicted to having rather than being and confusing our needs with our wants," he told Reuters in an interview to mark publication on Thursday of "Affluenza."... Singapore, where he found shopping to be the national obsession, suffered from "sad, unplayful deadness.""

Denmark 'happiest place on earth' - "Adrian White, from the UK's University of Leicester, used the responses of 80,000 people worldwide to map out subjective wellbeing. Denmark came top, followed closely by Switzerland and Austria. The UK ranked 41st. Zimbabwe and Burundi came bottom."

My years in a habit taught me the paradox of veiling - "I found my habit liberating: for seven years I never had to give a thought to my clothes, makeup and hair - all the rubbish that clutters the minds of the most liberated women."
Like many claims of 'exploitation', this is rubbish. If you don't want to care about your clothes, makeup and hair just ignore them. I might as well say going for a mastectomy liberates me because I won't have to worry about wearing a bra or zaogeng-ing.

mailclassifier - "The mailclassifier extension helps you to move the email in the right folder, it uses bayesian filtering. When a new mail arrives, it's classified and the most probable folder it goes in is showed in the new classification column."

"Sister" on the Sidelines: "The Smurfs" and the Antifeminist Backlash on Saturday Morning - "One episode, "Sister Smurf," is a direct attack on the values and intentions of the feminist movement.(28) One morning, Smurfette excitedly puts on her "Smurfy new dress." When none of the other Smurfs pay any attention to it or to her, she exclaims, "Smurfs - who needs them? They don't understand me at all!" (once again calling into question whether or not she really is a "Smurf") and wanders off into the forest . There she finds a human girl named Laura, who, as a girl, feels alienated from her brothers who are playing in the forest. The two "girls" bond instantly (although they have little in common other than biological sex) and wander off together. They come across an old, abandoned-looking house, and decide to make it their "no boys" club. They begin to clean up the building, bonding with each other over housework. Yet soon the witch who owns the house comes home and traps them, keeping them as slaves. Eventually the other Smurfs, along with Laura's brothers and father, come and rescue them. The episode suggests that women cannot sustain a viable community without men. When the "girls" become separatist and try to exclude the "boys" from their lives they only get into trouble - requiring the "boys" to come and rescue them. Made in the same year as the "death" of the ERA, "Sister Smurf" (the phrase is never actually used during the episode), is an obvious attack upon the 1970's feminist movement."

Baker: The Religious Right -- Pushing a Deadly Addiction - "Why do I think that Christian fundamentalism and/or Dominionism is an addiction? My answer to that question comes first of all from my own experience, as well as my observation of these individuals over the years. I recall my own dependency on what “the Bible says” -- my own inability to trust my thoughts and feelings. I remember the need for the “fix” of the church service, the revival meeting, the prayer meeting, the Bible study, or listening to a fiery sermon on tape. I knew how to think on my own, but I was afraid to do so. Who knew what I might discover? But no “fix” was more deliciously validating than “winning souls for Christ” -- that dramatic moment when I had manipulated someone else into a born-again experience. For this, the fundamentalist Christian addict lives and breathes. And this is precisely why the religious right is intractably hell-bent on converting the entire society and system of government in America to its fundamentalist theocracy. What could produce a greater “high”? And if this project should get interrupted by the Rapture, the resulting euphoria would be so well earned -- doing God’s work and getting the planet ready for Jesus’ return. The adrenaline-drenched grandiosity in such a scenario is palpably tantalizing. More addictive than heroin perhaps?... One of the most significant aspects of my abandonment of Christian fundamentalism was the awareness that born-again Christians worship the Bible and not God. They argue that the only way to know God is through the Bible. They are forced to believe this because if they concede that God might speak through an inner voice, through a tree, or through a particular life experience, their entire belief system is toast. When I realized that contrary to their much-touted Ten Commandments, Bible worship is nothing less than “having other gods before me,” I finally realized the depth of the hypocrisy of their system. Part of my, and anyone’s recovery from fundamentalism is a commitment to developing a relationship with a Higher Power -- whatever that may be -- and not with a book."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Quoted from MFTTW:


"From CNN: Schools seek more female engineering majors

The U.S. lags behind countries such as China and India in producing engineers and scientists out of college each year, and women and minorities are key to improving that standing, Wolf said. They bring the diverse perspectives needed for the innovation that can set the U.S. apart, he said.

A 2003 study by the University of Michigan's Institute for Research on Women and Gender found that females choose other careers because they don't see engineering as a way to help others. The study, conducted over 17 years, followed Michigan students from 6th grade through college and beyond.

Women received 18 percent of the 78,200 engineering degrees given out in 2003-04, the latest data available from the U.S. Department of Education. That's the same percentage as in 1998 and only slightly more than the 16 percent in 1996.

Mahera Philobos, director of Georgia Tech's Women in Engineering program and a civil and environmental engineering professor, said she's frustrated by the stagnant female enrollment but that more women have recently been enrolling in areas like biomedical and industrial engineering -- fields where many feel they can contribute to the world, she said.

Engineering is not a way to "help others"?!?! What are these people smoking? They are either making women out to be complete airheads, or the reporter needs a good lesson on how to write good English. So like, women are total morons who think that only nurses, doctors, and uh... I dunno, housewives or something are a way to contribute to society? *fume*

Actually I don't see why it is a huge issue that there is inequality in enrollment by gender in engineering programs. The inequality is also observed on the opposite end of the spectrum, for example in sociology, teaching, nursing and communications. I don't see those majors fighting for a larger male representation, either. Maybe society just needs to accept the fact that the genders have a natural tendency to segregate, instead of constantly whining about it. I know that I certainly don't want any programs aimed at promoting increased enrollment of female engineers if it means that expectations or standards must be lowered in order to do so.

Besides, as many acquaintances of mine are wont to observe, a significant percentage of women in engineering tend to succeed by either 1) flirting with TAs or 2) finding a boyfriend/male toy who will do the work for them; there aren't a lot that are inherently competent. Well, either that, or the women with the potential to be competent engineers don't actually want to be engineers and would rather, I dunno, earn a lot of money, or something.

And come on, industrial engineering isn't really engineering. It's a marketing degree dressed up with more math. And don't even get me started on the (imaginary) worth of an undergraduate biomedical engineering degree."

There is an argument which I dub the "greater hypocrite" argument, which tends to play out like this: the US prods China for Human Rights violations, and China will prod back, pointing out how the US is not a saint either. China then accuses the US of hypocrisy and looks very smug. Other examples can easily be substituted (eg 'S'pore journalists have a difficult job').

The problem with this is a gross lack of appreciation of proportionality. Isolated police brutality in the US may be bad, but it cannot compare to an entire state apparatus mobilised to brutalise a populace. Journalists being forced to reveal their sources in cases involving CIA leaks is nothing compared to journalists being beaten to death, or imprisoned under trumped up charges.

There is a Chinese proverb: "五十步笑百步" (The soldier who has run 50 steps from the battle laughs at the soldier who has run 100 steps from the battle), analogous to "the pot calling the kettle black". Yet, the soldier who has run only 50 steps has some (small) grounds for pride, given that he started running later. Those using the "greater hypocrite" argument are more like "万步笑十步" (The soldier who has run 10,000 steps from the battle laughs at the soldier who has run 10 steps from the battle), or, if you like, "the deep fryer calling the steamer oily", which is truly perverse.

Even if one accepted the faux equivalence of 10,000 and 10 steps, is hypocrisy the only sin one can commit? Or is it just the easiest to score points on in a divert-attention-from-my-own-problems kind of way?
Mah Nà Mah Nà - Wikipedia - ""Mah Nà Mah Nà" debuted as part of Umiliani's soundtrack for the Italian softcore pornography movie Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso (Sweden, Heaven and Hell) (1968), a pseudo-documentary film about wild sexual activity and other behavior in Sweden ("Mah Nà Mah Nà" accompanied a scene set in a sauna). A soundtrack album, "Svezia, Inferno e Paradiso" was released in 1968. The movie was also released under the English title Sweden Heaven and Hell."
Gah.

Falling into the censorship trap - "As someone growing up in 70s and 80s London, I remember news about repeated bombs by the IRA here and there. But the British blackout of the IRA probably worked in its favour. Nobody could see the face of Gerry Adams. The news couldn't report him. Public perception of the IRA ranged from being a freedom fighter against a last gasp imperial relic to being a mysterious almost supernatural force. If anything, the lifting of the media ban in the 90s dispelled this and seeing Adams and his people on television gave them a mortal face. One which many people soon learned to ignore after his rants and speeches did not seem to point to any way forward. In other words, censorship did not work. The truth did."

Son of Citation Machine - "Citation Machine is an interactive web tool designed to assist high school, college, and university students, their teachers, and independent researchers in their effort to respect other people's intellectual properties."

Banning Pornography Endangers Women - "In the 19th century, women battled to become the legal equals of men, to have their consent taken seriously in the form of contracts and to have control of their own bodies legally recognized. Now anti-pornography feminists are asking the law to dismiss women's written consent. Moreover, consider how contemptuously radical feminism is treating the "unacceptable" choices of these adult women. If a woman enjoys consuming pornography, it is not because she comes from another background, has a different psychological makeup, different goals in life or an unusual perspective. No: it is because she is mentally incompetent. Like any three-year-old, she is unable to give informed consent regarding her own body."

Who is going to help with the Mandarin homework? - "Even Chinese children find their language hard, says Beijing correspondent Richard Spencer"

MIT prof begins hunger strike over tenure - "A black professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began a hunger strike on Monday, refusing to eat unless the university reverses its decision to deny him tenure. James Sherley, a biological engineer whose opposition to embryonic stem cell research has been controversial among his peers, charges he has been denied the same freedom to challenge scientific orthodoxy afforded his white colleagues."
If a black guy is denied tenure, it is racism. If a white guy is denied tenure, he was not qualified; Emu Alert: James Sherley hates science at Three Bulls! - "His data is very circumstantial and he has only been able to weakly test his hypotheses in very artificial systems. So when he has trouble publishing the data in good journals and when it is greeted with skepticism, he probably shouldn’t take that as a personal attack, should he?"

YouTube - I want a Wife - "FUNNY song in American Dad"

The Malay Male: Understanding Malay Women - "Friend: Well, Malay women have been oppressed for centuries and they're still in the same shitty state. The only way they can get back some power or authority is by attacking the Malay man verbally. You should have just shut up and let her 'win'.
Me: So you're saying, the typical Malay man would let the typical Malay woman win in a verbal argument so that he can keep on doing other shitty things like beating her up and stealing her jewelry?
Friend: Yup. That's how it works."

30 Things You Learn From Porn Flicks - "18. If you come across a guy and his girlfriend having sex in the bushes, the boyfriend won’t bash seven shades of shit out of you if you shove your cock in his girlfriend’s mouth."

25 Things You Should Know About Guys - "When it comes to guys, you can usually narrow it down to three things: sports, sex, and beer. However, there are some things you might not know about the male that go beyond their favorite team, position, and alcoholic beverage. For your enjoyment, I present 25 things about guys you probably didn't know, didn't want to know, or didn't take the time to notice."
See, so short. This is why I didn't bother with How Guys Waste Time.

Should women shun men who are "too good to be true"? - "Men who are “too good to be true”, with looks, wealth and status all on their side, are less appealing to women than attractive men with an average kind of job, a new study has suggested."
Linked to in the comments: Chicks Dig Jerks by Bill Hicks

the princess and the pee - "'Male urination', Camille Paglia once famously commented, 'is a kind of accomplishment, an arc of transcendence. A woman merely waters the ground she stands on.' This accomplishment, Paglia asserts, is 'beyond the scope' of a woman. The arc, and its accompanying powers of 'concentration and projection', are something a woman will 'never master'. This, dear reader, is bollocks... Paglia's 'biology is destiny' viewpoint is challenged by the sheer numbers of female users who don't seem to have found the production of their own 'arc of transcendance' any kind of problem. There is also a history section, which points out that the female squatting / male standing template is far from universal. For example, among the Tuarags in Africa, the females stand to pee while the males crouch... What I discover is that, if the male organ is like an automatic camera (just point and shoot), the female organ is rather more like an SLR. You have to get all the bits in the right place to get it right. Or, as Denise puts it on Restrooms.org: 'It's like learning how to whistle. You have to learn how to position your lips for the best results.'"

TVADS: Rudali - "Interesting ad from India. When a woman is widowed 'rudalis' come and take away all symbols of a married woman, namely bangles, locket and the red vermilion dot on forehead."

To the man cave! - "More than ever, the indigenous New England male seeks a place where he is free to just act like a guy... "Batman has the 'Bat Cave' and Superman has the 'Fortress of Solitude' so I guess it's something that appeals to many," said Fenton. "We start with tree forts, cardboard box houses, and eventually move on to bigger and better toys.""
Someone: eh not bad
you know you have come a long way when you incur wrath of someone abit more famous than the neighborhood kopitiam uncle­


Someone else: dunno leh i have this vague feeling you've written some gay posts i think
gay as in being too eloquent for your own good

and stereotyping me also thinks only a gay person could tear down the macho edifice that is the saf with your level of finesse.

yah i think that was it., the anti-military diatribes and the nitpicking of the lexical, syntactical and phonetic distortions of assorted army personnel
only gay people, raised on a lifetime of innuendo and double-codings, pay that much attention to wat people say


Someone: am amused by what Google chooses to place as ads
Free Bible Courses, Attract Girls in Singapore, Gay Marriage

so, clearly you're using words that marketers have identified with the religious, desperate, and gay

oh yeah, the socks one too


Me: give tuition lah

Someone else: nawh
it's too emotionally sapping
i get too involved in the child's life

it's just me lah [who is so into the thing]


Someone: you ..... you have a favourite periodical?
i mean. how do you get that nerdy??

ok unless its that really cool article on ham in different european cultures in an issue i read in december.....

erh. gee you dont have to remind me that i'm talkin to a loser every time we chat ya know.

omg i mean...... how does one get off saying "skimming last week's issue of my favourite periodical" without sounding oddly erh, geekily pretentious? LOL

you see, when you say periodical, the way YOU say periodical? it sounds like you are referring to an academic publication. like Science. Or something lamer like Ethnohistory.

and then i think. shit, you have a favourite periodical? and then i think shit, you're such a nerd!

Me: you very high today ah
in fact, you sound like *** ***!

Someone: omgwtf
fuckew la!!

wth.
that is the lowest insult above "slut" "syphillis bitch" and "gonorrhea groupie"

GRR.

Me: uhhh

Someone: ><


Someone: i am dying

Me: hmm?

Someone: essay
habermas and foucault

Me: *** ***?

Someone: yes
fucking heow
i spent almost 2 weeks on it
and i am still at para 1

Me: I am dying
applied maths

Someone: that one no need to even give me
i voluntarily step into the coffin and nail myself to death

Me: is habermas french?

Someone: german

it's a war between the french and the germans
the germans are farking anal

french are just equivocating
ambivalent
and whatever

and then cigarette smoke puffs into your face
and then the resigned smile
and then sips the coffee
before that the shrug of the shoulders

thought i would like to ground myself in theory more before thesis year lor
now we are being mind fucked every week


Someone else: btw i watched u on girls out loud and discovered that u REALLY dont answer questions to the point, ever. not even in real life. HAHA

i just thought it was interesting coz i dont know anyone else like that

well... u're always alluding to examples and analogies and whatever
Muslims against "No Pork, No Lard" stalls:

backstreetsport: 2 days MC.

A: "while we're on that, i'd like to write abt an issue that has long been bugging me. shops with "No Pork, No Lard" signs. if u're so sensitive towards us, Muslims, and want us to patronise your stall, i believe it isn't that difficult to apply for the official MUIS cert. if u reli want to reach out to us, do it the right way, put in the extra effort and more of us will definitely come ur way- if quality proven."

B: "Oh, dont get me started on the "No Pork, No Lard" signs. Bottom line is, they want business. But they dont give a damn enough to respect that we cannot consume anything that isn't Halal.

It all boils down to respect, Asiah. And unfortunately we have to stand up and fight just for some.

That is why we shall not take any bull from them. They need to learn, and we need to educate."

C: "Unless we Muslims stay away from these vendors, they won't learn their lesson. Only when they think that their business is bad due to fall of Muslim patrons, then they may realise their mistake and consider of doing the right way-apply for the MUIS Halal certificate."

"Many of them think that not having pork or lard in their cooking equals to Halal food. But do we blame them for not knowing, or do we look upon ourselves and ask if we've imparted veracity to them enough? Do we slam them for their frivolous take on issues important to us, or do we hold accountable Muslims who encourage their imperceptiveness, by patronizing these "No Pork, No Lard" stalls?

My take is, again, to educate. Both the ignorant Non-Muslims, and the Muslims who trivialise the laws of Islam.

We can't prevail, unless all Muslims stand as one."

I'm glad we can agree on something. "No Pork, No Lard" stalls are a blight on the face of this country.
The Straight Dope: There goes the judge: How do we get rid of whacked-out judges? - "Chief Justice (and former president) William Howard Taft, who served on the court from 1921 to 1930, "really lost his grip" at the end, according to Louis Brandeis. Frank Murphy (1940-1949) was hooked on sleeping pills, hospitalized several times, and thought to be regularly securing illegal drugs. William O. Douglas (1939-1975), had a stroke toward the end of his career, could no longer follow arguments, and spoke in non sequiturs; the other justices reputedly set up an informal arrangement to nullify or ignore his vote. Even after his eventual resignation, he continued showing up at the court building, evidently believing he was still on the payroll. Thurgood Marshall (1967-1991) became disengaged in the 1980s, spending afternoons watching TV and letting his clerks do his work. A 1990 TV interview left some wondering if he'd lost it, and he retired the next year. Chief Justice William Rehnquist (1972-2005) for years took strong medication for back pain that caused him to slur his speech. Hospitalized in 1981, he had hallucinations and other withdrawal symptoms and tried to escape in his pj's. In 2004 he announced he had thyroid cancer but continued to serve as chief justice even though he was clearly not strong enough physically or mentally. The other justices knew he couldn't read the materials but continued to pretend he was participating."

Beliefwatch: Challenging the Existence of God - "The Blasphemy Challenge is a joint project of filmmaker Brian Flemming, director of the antireligion documentary "The God Who Wasn't There," and Brian Sapient, cofounder of the atheist Web site RationalResponders.com. Their intent was to encourage atheists to come forward and put their souls on the line, showing others that you don't have to be afraid of God. The particular form of the challenge was chosen because, by one interpretation, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, a part of the Christian Trinity, is the only sin that can never be forgiven. And once something you've said gets posted on YouTube, as any number of celebrities can attest, you never live it down."

Goodbye, Mr. Keating - "The problem is you can't get to where I am now without going through a decade or more of immersion in a highly politicized and anti-literary academic culture. You have to spend so many years conforming that, by the time freedom presents itself, you don't know why you became an English major in the first place. You might even have contempt for your seemingly naïve students, who represent the self that you had to repress in order to be a professional. It is not that I want to privilege some form of literary dilettantism as a substitute for professionalism. I simply want to demonstrate that the reasons most people get into English are different from the motives that will make them successful in graduate school and in professional life beyond that. They must, ultimately, purge themselves of the romantic motives that drew them to English in the first place -- or pretend to do so. If you want to be a literary professional, you must say goodbye to Mr. Keating."

99-cent pricing hooks shoppers - "Only $9.99? I'll take it! But at $10, fuhgedaboutit! And that, researchers say, explains why so many goods and services have prices ending in .99"

Muslim women enjoying special swimsuits - ""We want to be modest, but we also want to be fashionable," said Shereen Sabet, who last year founded Splashgear, an online swimwear store for Muslim women based in Huntington Beach."
Bah, how unseemly.

Recipes for regenerating limbs - "Researchers are trying to find ways to regrow fingers — and someday, even limbs — with tricks that sound like magic spells from a Harry Potter novel. There’s the guy who sliced off a fingertip but grew it back, after he treated the wound with an extract of pig bladder. And the scientists who grow extra arms on salamanders. And the laboratory mice with the eerie ability to heal themselves."
Ooh, pig powder.

My balls - Wikipedia - "The fate of the world rests on one man's shoulders. Or, to put it more exactly, it rests on his balls. In a freak sealing accident the Queen of Terror is sealed into Satou Kohta's balls, thus preventing her from reigning destruction onto the world. However, a lesser devil, Elyse, has been sent up to Earth to release the Queen at all costs. The only way to do so is to make Kohta ejaculate, and Elyse only has 30 days to do it. The battle for mankind has begun, in Kohta's pants."
Damn Japs.

Stressed-out lawyer, 27, dies in late-night fall at Tate Modern - "The death of the Oxford-educated lawyer, the only child of the World Cup football referee George Courtney, has highlighted concerns about the stress suffered by City workers as bonuses reach record highs... As a £55,000-a-year junior, he would frequently have been called on to work 16-hour days, seven days a week, for weeks on end to keep up with the firm’s relentless flow of multi-billion-pound deals."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

我对学生追求名牌的看法:

对我来说,追求名牌的这个现象是不良好的。追求名牌不但影响学生的成长, 它也影响到学生们的未来生活与他们的观念。

很明显的一个问题就是学生们的自我形象。在现代社会之中,强调的是外表。重视表面, 忽视内在美, 到底是好是坏?依我看来,虽然这种思想是非常广泛的,它事实上是一种不良的现象。

太重视名牌的话,那没有最新的耐克鞋的那位同学该怎么办才好呢?他会被同学取笑,会吵着要父母给他买这双鞋吗?如果父母不肯,常日以来,这可能会影响到他的自我形象。

另一个有可能发生的问题就是: 经营钱财的问题。大多数的名牌衣服, 书包,鞋子,等,都有着很高的价钱。把追求名牌当作最重要的,学生们可能不把钱当作一回事,把父母的钱给花光了。

这种追求名牌的行为也就会成为他们价值观念:他们不明白钱的价值。随时把父母的血汗钱给花光,他们把钱看作理所当然。 这是不正确的。

而且,当学生们长大了之后,常把钱花在名牌衣服上, 怎么能养活一家人呢?习惯是不容易改变的, 况且他们已经追求名牌追了大半辈子,习惯就更不容易改善。

追求名牌的不良之处是数不清的。 但愿这些懵懂无知的年轻人以后改过自新,不再追求名牌。


Some suggestions I had:

- The father will die of a heart attack after working too hard
- The mother will stop going for haircuts to fund the branded goods habit
- The students will turn to crime to support their habit
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Blog header

"Specialization is such a pain"

Giant Vivocity being smart at marketing their goods.


Bak kwa at Tiong Bahru Plaza. "不要拿" (Don't take)




Cock restaurant along Greenwood Avenue.



SUG striking a pose to show how bad the mango pudding (and food in general) at Megasucks is.


Unwholesome item found in NUS Co-op, undermining our Asian Values.


I was asked to do a survey on the maritime industry in Singapore. This is the "one thing... [I] think about regarding Singapore's maritime industry".



I checked this book out from the Hon Sui Sen (Business) Library, and was asking people to guess how old it was. I got guesses ranging from 8 to 30 years.


In reality, this book is 1 1/2 years old. I've seen 50 year books in better condition. What the hell is wrong with NUS students?!


Apparently you can buy girls nowadays. I do not condone such sexual exploitation. Incidentally a friend ordered flowers from these people well in advance but they didn't deliver the goods on the day. Tut tut.


Some joker's entry in this year's 'Dirty Laundry' by Arts Club (you write stuff you want to complain about, and they respond):
Complaint: "We should have a watchgroup to protect people from STALKERS. :("
Response: "Are you being stalked within NUS? if so, call 6874 1616 for Campus Security. if it's beyond NUS, call 999 for e men in blue. =)"


Frigid Girl was accosted by a horde of secondary school children (probably Commonwealth) in school one day and given a yellow ribbon to raise awareness for child cancer ("i got accosted 3 times. one of them even chased me. made me accept the thing, even though i told him i already had"). Gah, my hair's getting out of hand again.



I saw a sign at a bazaar advertising "Free orange juice" and was immediately very suspicious, since university students are not going to have enough money to give out free orange juice (even if it's vile juice). So I took a cup, and my worst fears were realised: it was Orange Kordial.

I promptly complained to the girl manning this container about false advertising, and documented this perfidy.


Of course, since I was tardy in putting this up, the Sheares Bazaar is already over, so they will not feel the wrath of outraged consumers shocked at the shameless attempt to pull wool over their eyes and pass off ersatz Kordial for Real Juice. No matter, there's always the next one!

(The conspirators looked quite apprehensive at my documenting this plot)
Toilet cubicle poetry from an undisclosed location:



I see you, within these white-washed walls,
Within a myraid (sic) of books and texts,
worksheets and stress. Your
dark smile, deep set eyes pass me
A fluttering glance
Our eyes meet briefly for a second
And you smile meekly.
Somehow, I do know not why (sic),
Every inch of pain that I feel
Is suddenly lifted off me
Like burden off a toiling man.
The world suddenly seems brighter.
No longer cloudy, or hazy
Or raining.
And then we walk past each other.
Past the life-giving sunshine
that we could both grow in
Together
Back into the melancholy darkness
That eats us up , surely.

Monday, February 19, 2007



My brother-in-law would like opinions regarding:

1) Is the girl on the left wearing undergarments?

2) How does the girl in the middle prevent her breasts from spilling out?
but i lost it somehow: nose to the grindstone

"Five weeks of uni with 2 science courses (2 x 2hr lecture per week EACH) have spurred me to critically rethink the stereotypes of science/computing/engineering people being geeky and gawdy as compared to their counterparts from law, business and arts. For them, I believe that with so much content pumped into every single lecture (many courses have lectures twice per week), and after throwing in the weekly tutorial questions, quizzes, labwork/report, dressing glamourously or exercising care in appearing trendy can easily and unsurprisingly be the last things on their minds. I am not suggesting that they look that bad or anything along this line in the first place. Just that if they look generally less orchard-roadish as arts people, I can now better empathise without unthinkingly dismissing them as plain janes like most people typically do. There were times I myself grew tired enough to not wear my contact lenses (thus parading around in glasses) and also ended up in my sleeping t-shirts and shorts without caring much for social perceptions.

Another thing I noted over the past five wednesdays was that immediately after my lecturer ended his final slide in a science LT and the departure of a few fortunate students who packed fast enough, tonnes of PRC students in the subsequent class would stream in like armies of hungry ghosts rushing to sit for a long-awaited feast. The grand arrival of these fervent souls consequently jammed the passageways of the two front doors and resulted in the remaining bulk of us having to fight our way out at the risk of headlong collisions with them. Two weeks ago I overheard one girl shrilly exclaiming to another girl, both trapped in the annoying torrent: "wah lau! let people go out first lah, still so early". Then last week my friend David went: "eh finished already, faster pack, if not later invaded by China", and another guy just went "fuck" to himself while trying to worm his way through the incoming stampede. There's another exit at the back of the LT, but it doesn't make sense to walk all the way up the stairs just to walk down another flight of stairs outside the exit to get to the canteen and bus-stop. I wonder what module is so attractive to have brought about such riveting passion in our foreign friends."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals." - Sir Winston Churchill

***

u r wt u wr:

- 'Do you want to be special'
- 'You are at the top of my to do list'
- 'Little Miss bad'
- 'I love/hate chocolate' (the love/hate word was in one of those holgrams where the word changes as the viewing angle changes)
- 'I only love Yankees' (Contributed - this is doubtless because Singaporean men are losers. Also I'm told the person wearing this was standing next to an ang moh)
- 'Your boyfriend is under my spell' (Contributed - 'yucks she so ugly the only spell she can cast is to make that guy puke')

Bazaar:
- 'Men are like chocolates. The richer the better'
- 'I may be a flirt but your boyfriend likes it'
- 'Excuse me. I'm looking for a boyfriend. WHERE CAN I FIND A GOOD ONE?'

- 'Currently single and available.* *(Terms and conditions apply)'
- 'God made mud. God made dirt. God made *something*. So girls should flirt' (the attendant asked me not to copy her slogans because she'd written them herself. But I saw multiple Abercrombie and Fitch designs, and the one above this is not unique. Bah.)

Non-sequiturs:
- 'Feeling the sense of aroma'

Guys' shirts:
- 'This shirt is only blue when I'm thinking about women' (the shirt is blue)
- 'Turn me on. FCUK them'

***

My brother in law sent someone Waitrose flowers last year. She said they were very nice, but told him Tesco was cheaper.

This year he sent her Tesco flowers. She asked if he wanted to hear the truth, then she said she preferred Waitrose flowers.

... women
"So why should government not decide what sort of lives are best for its citizens?

Marxist perfectionism is one example of such a policy, for it prohibits people from making what it views as a bad choice—i.e. choosing to engage in alienated labour. I argued that this policy is unattractive, for it relies on too narrow an account of the good. It identifies our good with a single activity—productive labour—on the grounds that it alone makes us distinctively human...

Why then do liberals oppose state paternalism? Because, they argue no life goes better by being led from the outside according to values the person does not endorse. My life only goes better if I am leading it from the inside, according to my beliefs about value. Praying to God may be a valuable activity, but I have to believe that it is a worthwhile thing to do—that it has some worthwhile point. We can coerce someone into going to church and making the right physical movements, but we will not make her life better that way. It will not work, even if the coerced person is mistaken in her belief that praying to God is a waste of time, becaus a valuable life has to be led from the inside. A perfectionist policy that violates this ‘endorsement constraint’, by trying to bypass or override people’s beliefs about values, is self-defeating (Dworkin 1989: 486—7). It may succeed in getting people to pursue valuable activities, but it does so under conditions in which the activities cease to have value for the individuals involved. If I do not see the point of an activity, then I will gain nothing from it. Hence paternalism creates the very sort of pointless activity that it was designed to prevent.

... This third argument contrasts the communitarian view of practical reasoning as self-discovery with the liberal view of practical reasoning as judgement. For liberals, the question about the good life requires us to make a judgement about what sort of a person we wish to be or become. For communitarians, however, the question requires us to discover who we already are. For communitarians, the relevant question is not ‘What should I be, what sort of life should I lead?’ but 'Who am I?'. The self 'comes by' its ends not ‘by choice’ but 'by discovery', not ‘by choosing that which is already given (this would be unintelligible) but by reflecting on itself and inquiring into its constituent nature, discerning its laws and imperatives, and acknowledging its purposes as its own’ (Sandel 1982: 58)...

But surely it is Sandel here who is violating our deepest self—understandings. For we do not think that this self-discovery replaces or forecloses judgements about how to lead our life. We do not consider ourselves trapped by our present attachments, incapable of judging the worth of the goals we inherited or ourselves chose earlier. We do indeed find ourselves in various relationships, hut we do not always like what we find. No matter how deeply implicated we find ourselves in a social practice, we feel capable of questioning whether the practice is a valuable one—a questioning which is not meaningful on Sandel’s account...

Unfortunately, communitarians rarely distinguish between collective activities and political activities. It is of course true that participation in shared linguistic and cultural practices is what enables individuals to make intelligent decisions about the good life. But why should such participation be organized through the state, rather than through the free association of individuals?... Despite centuries of liberal insistence on the importance of the distinction between state and society, communitarians still seem to assume that whatever is properly social must become the province of the political. They have not confronted the liberal worry that the all-embracing authority and coercive means which characterize the state make it a particularly inappropriate forum for the sort of genuinely shared deliberation and commitment that they desire...

Liberals seek to sustain a just society through the public adoption of principles of justice, without requiring, and indeed precl tiding, the public adoption of certain principles of the good life.

Taylor believes this is sociologically naïve: people will not respect the claims of others unless they are bound by shared conceptions of the good, unless they can identify with a politics of the common good. He describes 'two package solutions emerging out of the mists to the problem of sustaining a viable modern polity in the late twentieth century', which correspond roughly to the communitarian and liberal model, and says there are 'severe doubts' about the long-term viability of the liberal model. By enforcing individual rights and state neutrality, a liberal state precludes the public adoption of principles of the good, but, Taylor asks, ‘Could the increasing stress on righrs as dominant over collective decisions come in the end to undermine the very legitimacy of the democratic order?’ (Taylor 1986: 225).

Why is a shared way of life required to sustain legitimacy? Taylor does not give any clear-cut explanation of the need for a specifically communitarian politics. But one answer that is implicit in communitarian writings lies in a romanticized view of earlier societies in which legitimacy was based on the effective pursuit of shared ends. communitarian imply that we could recover the sense of allegiance that was present in earlier days if we accepted a politics of the common good, and encouraged everyone to participate freely in it. Common examples of such earlier societies are the republican democracies of Ancient Greece or eighteenth-century New England town governments.

But these historical examples ignore an important fact. Early New England town governments may have had a great deal of legitimacy amongst their members in virtue of the effective pursuit of their shared ends. But that is at least partly because women, atheists, Indians, and the propertyless were all excluded from membership. Had they been allowed membershup they would not have been impressed by the pursuit of what was often a racist and sexist 'common good'. The way in which legitimacy was ensured amongst all members was to exclude some from memhership.

Contemporary communitarians are not advocating that legitimacy be secured by denying membership to those groups in the community who have not historically participated in shaping the 'common way of life'. Communitarians believe that there are certain communal practices that everyone can endorse as the basis for a politics of the common good. But whit are these practices? communitarians often write as if the historical exclusion of certain groups from various social practices was just arbitrary, so that we can now include them and proceed forward. But the exclusion of women, for example, was not arbitrary. It was done for a reason—namely, that the ends being pursued were sexist, defined by men to serve their interests. Demanding that women arcept an identity that men have defined for them is not a promising way to increase their sense of allegiance. We cannot avoid this problem by saying with Sandel that women’s identities are constituted by existing roles. That is simply false: women can and have rejected those roles, which in many ways operate to deny their separate identity. That was also true in eighteenth-century New England, but legitimacy there was preserved by excluding women from membership. We must find some other way of securing legitimacy, one that does not continue to define excluded groups in terms of an identity that others created for them.

Sandel and Taylor say that there are shared ends that can serve as the basis for a politics of the common good which will be legitimate for all groups in society. But they give no examples of such ends— and surely part of the reason is that there are none. They say that these shared ends are to be found in our historical practices, but they do not mention that those practices were defined by a small section of society—propertied white men—to serve the interests of propertied white men. These practices are gender-coded, race-coded, and class-coded, even when women, blacks, and workers are legally allowed to participate in them. Attempts to promote these kinds of ends reduce legitimacy, and further exclude marginalized groups. Indeed, just such a loss of legitimacy seems to be occurring amongst many elements of American society —blacks, gays, single mothers, non—Christians—as the right wing tries to implement its agenda based on the Christian, patriarchal family. Many communitarians undoubtedly dislike the Moral Majority's view of the common good, hut the problem of the exclusion of historically marginalized groups is endemic to the communitarian project. As Hirsch notes, ‘any “renewal” or strengthening of community sentiment will accomplish nothing for these groups’. On the contrary, our historical sentiments and traditions are ‘part of the problem, not part of the solution’ Hirsch 1986: 424).

Consider one of the few concrete examples of communitarian politics that Sandel offers—the regulation of pornography. Sandel argues that such regulation by a local community is permissible ‘on the grounds that pornography offends its way of life’ (Sandel 1984b: 17)... The problem with Sandel's view can be seen by considering the regulation of homosexuality. Homosexuality is ‘offensive to the way of life’ of many Americans. Indeed, measured by any plausible standard, more people are offended by homosexuality than by pornography. Would Sandel therefore allow local communities to criminalize homosexual relations, or the public affirmation of homosexuality? If not, what distinguishes it from pornography?... On his argument, members of marginalized groups must adjust their personalities and practices so as to be inoffensive to the dominant values of the community. Nothing in Sandels argument gives members of marginalized groups the power to reject the identity that others have historically defined for them...

Communitarians like to say that political theory should pay more attention to the history of each culture. But it is remarkable how rarely communitarians themselves undertake such an examination of our culture. They wish to use the ends and practices of our cultural tradition as the basis for a politics of the common good, but they do not mention that these pracrices were defined by a small segment of the population. If we look at the history of our society, surely liberal neutrality has the great advantage of its potential inclusiveness, its denial that subordinated groups must fit in to the ‘way of life’ that has been defined by the dominant groups. Communitarians simply ignore this danger and the history which makes it so difficult to avoid...

The fact is that we do not know what either liberal neutrality or the communitarian common good requires in multi-nation states. This is perhaps the most glaring example of how the communitarians' emphasis on the social thesis has become detached from any actual examination of the connections between the individual, culture, and the state."

--- Will Kymlicka (1990) Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction - Communitarianism

On Civil Society

"In recent decades, the notion of civil society has flourished in two very distinct political environments nd continues to be pertinent in both. In eastern Europe and other once dictatorial societies in Latin America and Asia, it became a way of talking about samizdat politics and dissent, of alluding as much to what was absent in autocracy as to anything present in the critics’ and dissenters’ paltry institutions. In this kind of context it has had a radical utopian cast: the imagined civil society we would ideally like to have, used as a critique of the despotic regimes we actually do have. It has also been a map for democrats discovering, as many recently have, that to democratize a state and liberalize an economy is not necessarily to establish a domain of real democratic freedom, unless, at the same time, society is civilized and pluralized through the cultivation of educational, philanthropic, religious, and other forms of civic association.

THE LIBERTARIAN PERSPECTIVE: CIVIL SOCIETY AS A SYNONYM FOR THE PRIVATE SECTOR

It is easy enough to imagine that our lives and our institutions have only two possible venues, one public, the other private. The public one in this popular view is the domain of politics and universality, where we vote, pay taxes, fight wars, do jury service, discharge civic obligations, and claim services based on an idea of justice. The private one becomes the place where just about everything else occurs: where we vork and play and pray and sleep and learn and produce and consume and reproduce.

This way of conceiving our political and our private lives as radical opposites suggests these two sectors of our living wo are rival and largely incompatible. The first is the domain of the state and its formal governing institutions that we consider cynically as “it”; the second a more sympathetic domain we think of as 'us' that encompasses almost everything else we can imagine: from individuals to social organizations, from economic corporations to civil associations. The public sector is defined here by its power: the state is coercion. defined when it is a democratic state by its legitimate monopoly over force. The private sector is defined by liberty: the market is freedom, defined by voluntary contract and free association, and as such is the condition of privacy and individuality. This insistence on a bipolar interpretation is rooted in the illusory conviction that to be truly free we have to make a radical choice between government and markets.

In this most commonplace of all understandings, civil society is a synonym for the private market sector, a domain of free individuals who associate voluntarily in various economic and social groupings that are contractual in nature, including the family (which becomes a mini-corporation, a product of implicit contracts). With the state and the individual thus polarized, any growth in the one must come at the cost of attrition in the other. The two realms confront each other in a zero-sum game where any change in one entails an equal and opposite change in the other. More power, less liberty; more private, less public: and vice versa. When Senator Robert Dole offered Americans the choice of "trusting government or trusting the people," he polarized the public and private realms in just this way, leaving us only with the demonized "it" of public-sector government and the glorified multitudinous “me’s” of the private-sector "we" he calkd "the people".

This classical libertarian model — setting be people and their government at odds and making power the nemesis of liberty and the state the enemy of the individuals it is supposed to serve — leaves no other venue for civil society but the private sector. No large distinctions can he made between individuals and the private civil associations they may form, between economic corporations and civil organizations, or between the realm of markets and the realm of culture, ethics, or religion (to take some emblematic instances). Dualism here creates an implacable (and improbable) opposition, which leaves those who are frustrated with government thinking that privatization is their only option...

In the libertarian model, social relations both within the private sector and between it and the state sector feel like contract relations: a series of deals that free individuals or associations make in the name of their interests and goods and in defense of their liberties. The libertarian model hence is a version of the social-contract model: it has the “thin” feel of liberal social relations where the human nexus is severely attenuated; where, in the language of the philosopher Robert Nozick, people "live separate existences" among which "no moral balancing is possible" and where their "voluntary consent" is required every time one forges a relationship with another—whether in a business, a church, or a marriage.

When the individual looks at government from the privileged sanctuary of the private sector, as she would n the libertarian model, she sees only a fearsome leviathan sometimes capable of serving her interests as a client of government bureaucracies or as a consumer of government services, but just as likely to swallow up her liberties whole... such fear is harder to comprehend in the United States, where the governing majority has forever been a "puppy dog tethered to a lion’s leash", in Louis Hartz’s poignant phrase in his The Liberal Tradition in America. We can understand why, at the time of the Founding, Americans as distrustful of democratic as of monarchical power secured a constitution that did as much to limit as to enable government. Yet today many Americans persist in their distrust, as if they were still English Whigs suspicious of George III's ambitions or refugees from Napoleonic étatisme. "A government powerful enough to give us all we want," President Ford was still proclaiming at the 1996 Republican Convention, “is powerful enough to take from us all we have.” The prudent libertarian concludes that liberties must therefore be surrounded by a thick wall of rights.

Philosophers looking at the fretful citizen pursuing his economic interests and deploying defensive parapets of rights to defend himself against an encroaching state may come to regard him as little more than an economic animal: homo economicus, the citizen defined as a consumer of government services, not as a participant but only as a watchdog to the political representatives accountable to him. From the point of view of the citizen who sees himself an economic animal, civil associations feel, at best, rather like consumer cooperatives or rights alliances. They permit people to protect themselves more efficiently and serve themselves more securely but have little to do with participation, cooperation, or sociability per se, let alone solidarity, community, or the pursuit of a commonwealth such a community makes possible.

For people in our day who fear politics and trust only private power, markets are the ticket to freedom—and they come to consider them as an appropriate surrogate for civil society...

By focusing on the consumer who is burrowed into a shell of rights and thus - autonomous, solitary, and egoistic - likely to venture into the social sector only to get something from a service-station state whose compass of activities must be kept minimal, the libertarian model of civil society can envision only a rudimentary form of social relations that remains shallowly instrumental: the citizen as client, the voter as customer, the democratic participant as consumer. Rights are the only political weapon that such private citizens can imagine: claims on government, which, however, impose no corresponding obligations on them as citizens...

Liberty is reduced to the private choices that consumers make among goods from a menu they do not write. The libertarian model of civil society cannot soften relations between individual and state or mediate between them, as many of sociology’s traditional systems have tried to do. Nineteenth-century sociologists like Ferdinand Toennies wrote of both society (Gesellschaft) and community (Gemeinschaft) as mediators of individuality in the setting of coercive states. The thinness of the libertarian version of civil society means that it is unresponsive to the yearning for community and solidarity which modern peoples living in mobile, post-industrial societies feel so deeply. (This is what Rokert Bellah and his colleagues wrote about so movingly in their Habits of the Mind.) And it accounts for much of the communitarian frustration that attends thin liberal conceptions of civil society, a form of frustration that can be dangerous to democracy. For it is a basic law of modern politics that where democratic communities cannot be found to do the work of solidarity and identity which human existence seems to require, undemocratic communities that do so will appear...

THE COMMUNITARIAN PERSPECTIVE: CIVIL SOCIETY AS A SYNONYM FOR COMMUNITY

... Yet even if our highest hopes are but "contingent products" of a self-invented identity (as the skepticist liberal philosopher Richard Rorty has written), the distinction between the ancient communities that we call “natural” and the new associations that seem so obviously ‘artificial’ is palpable and politically consequential. Rorty does not seem to notice that just because today’s natural communities were once artificially constructed does not diminish their conservative political potency as "ancient" and "natural" associations impregnable to today’s fashions and popular whims...

The political danger of unvarnished communitarianism is that it tends to absorb, assimilate, and finally monopolize all public space. When America’s "cultural conservatives" make war on consumer capitalism (Hollywood, for example) and on the thin, relativistic liberal state (Patrick Buchanan’s culture wars), they are reviving deadly old notions of Kulturkampf and are using a colonialist cultural paradigm that assimilates both the state and the private sector...

The implicit political aspirations of communitarianism were evident in the German ideal of Volksgemeinschaft... Communitarians are not always alive enough to this darker side of the yearning for communal identity. The heart whose habits they would serve is not always rational, and its need for love sometimes seems to depend on its need to hate.

... Ironically, while both communitarian and libertarian versions of civil association polarize state and individual (or state and community) in the name of the wall between public and private, they tend in both cases to colonize the “other side.” People who think of themselves primarily or exclusively as economic beings — consumers and producers—start thinking about government exclusively as a servicer of client needs; people who think of themselves primarily or exclusively in terms of their ethnic or tribal identity start thinking about government as a repository for their identity. In effect, they colonize public space with their private identities. When market liberals do this, they downsize the state until it near]y vanishes ("the best government is no government at all"), making the private sphere quite nearly sovereign — a totalizing presence the face of which every identity other than that of the producer and consumer vanish; when cominunitarians do it, they subordinate the state to a larger community which the state must faithfully serve — whether that comrnunity is the fatherland, a Volksgemeinschaft or some blood clan writ large (the "Austrian People," the "Scottish nation," the “Bosnian Serb state,” or "Christian America"). Islam’s aspirations to theocracy are a logical extension of cornmunitarianism’s totalizing tendencies.

Communitarians in the throes of a totalitarian temptation must also confront the paradox that the natural communities which they aspire to fortify are often in practice realized only artificially. Under modern conditions, where the environment for natural community has been undermined by secularism, by utilitarianism, and by the erosion of “natural” social ties, many communities claiming traditional or natural identities must make strenuously artificial efforts to reconstitute themselves as the organic natural communities they no longer are or can be. Their labors result in contrived “voluntary” associations pretending to be “natural communities." The Ku Klux Klan is no more a "clan" in the sense of an extended kinship association or a blood band than self-consciously hyphenated American identity groups such as Polish-American or African-Americans are really Polish or African...

Neither Bill Clinton nor Bob Dole spent much time during their adult lives in the village communities they celebrated as definitive of their hopes for America. The creative friction between cosmopolitan cities and small towns is marked by this tension between self-creation and ascriptive (given) identity. The identity that a deracinated city dweller—long since uprooted from some faintly remembered village childhood — seeks as a home for his yearnings may, for those still enmeshed in village life, appear as nothing so much as a prison. Village life portrayed in literature enjoys this twin reputation: depicted through the gentle memories of nostalgia writers like Dylan Thomas and Thorton Wilder, it is a remembered sanctuary from the world’s dismal urbanity, a child’s Christman in Wales long ago, the town that was “our town” as we wish it might have been; depicted by unsentimental realists such as Toni Morrison or Thomas Hardy, it is little more than a death trap — not our town but their town, the town without pity and the town without tolerance...

Such adventurers [rural-urban migration] strode out across the threshold of modernity into a yearling urban world that had little room for the clan fealty of the Middle Ages. But in leaping from a stolid world of community into the frenzy of deracinated urban life, they prepared the ground for a later communitarian nostalgia. The small towns they abandoned for urban liberation were reconstructed by their great-grandchildren as imagined sanctuaries from urbanity’s plagues and used as political ammunition in the war against modernity."

--- Benjamin R. Barber (1998) A Place for Us: How to Make Society Civil and Democracy Strong.
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