"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

"The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness." - Eric Hoffer



[California Girl:] I don't have an accent

[On an Arts module] The best students in all of my modules are from the Science and Engineering [faculties], which doesn't say much about the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Tell me what you think Philosophy is. [Student: A bunch of opinions] One 'opinion' is that philosophy is a bunch of 'opinions'... I'm just trying to have some fun here.

In this particular module - I know we're trying to save the environment, put the aircon on high - this is too warm, don't you think? (a high temperature)

[On admin] I belong to 4 or 5 different committees and they meet all the time.

There's been a bit of confusion about my name, which is why it's in capitals. I come from Australia and there you put the last name last, so when I came here, I said, I am [first name] [last name]. They said, 'Your name must be [first name]'... My email: XXX for [department name], [first name]... my [last] name is not there.

Tutorial attendance is very important. You get 5% just for turning up. You get it free. Practically unheard of in Singapore.

[On an essay with no word limit] The longer you write the longer the rope you're giving yourself with which I'll hang you.

[On my crushing a cockroach] You have just destroyed a piece of the environment. [Student: Minus 5%]

What do you hope to get out of this? You know, beside 4 module credit points. (besides)

Anyone else with wild expectations - to save the world or something like that?

[On Environmental Economics] They are the experts. I am not. Even though I have a degree in Economics.

A lot of people say we should be vegetarian. I'm a part-time vegetarian by the way. If I can eat vegetarian, I'll eat vegetarian. If not I'll eat meat, because I prefer eating meat to starving.

Some of them are factual. We say 'blond girls have more fun'. It may be true factually. It may be wrong factually.

Sociologists may - I don't know what they do, go out and conduct surveys: 'Are you blond? You have fun?' Yes. Tick.

[On things we cannot know] I can say things like 'Caesar spat in the river when he crossed the Rubicon.

There're statements that are neither true nor false. There're statements that are both true and false. Surprisingly. Let's have a little fun. I like having fun. 'The sentence on the board is false'

Most philosophers take this view. Moral philosophy is the same as ethics... for practical purposes.

You have food critics going around. 'This restaurant is great. 3 stars'... Or chopsticks. Or whatever.

air'th'air'tics (aesthetics)

[Ignoring Mac whores] No one wants to say 'Thou shalt buy an iPod'. Except iPod manufacturers.

There're a few more slides... but I have been commanded by the university to stop talking at a quarter to the hour and therefore I will obey.

Economics at the moment became too technical and didn't focus on reading and writing. (has become, doesn't)

I don't like this dichotomy between 'Pure' and 'Applied' Economics... Economics is a social science. Any theory which cannot be applied to the real world is useless... [Theories] do not come from the sky.

We may be very beautiful models out of developing countries, but it is often the case that beautiful models do not work in the real world. The real world is too dirty, too many variables. (build)

[On debates in development] Unfortunately for you and me, Rostow won [the] Nobel Prize, but Gerschenkron has not. If you want to win [the] Nobel Prize, you better not take this module.

Are you watching the movie today? [Me: I'm screening the movie today]

The Freshman look is the one that radiates 'This sem I can get 5.0'

Now, let's welcome My Ass (Myers?)

[On HIV in slums in Côte d'Ivoire {Ivory Coast}] There are people who are not infected yet.

[On slums in Côte d'Ivoire] You get to see things you don't see in Singapore, or even in the region... [Student 2: Has he not been to Cambodia?]

[On the Czech Republic] There're tram conductors who're very fierce and don't speak English, and I'm Asian, so I'm obviously there to steal something.

[On working in a Czech bank] I learnt Czech, then they mistook me for a Vietnamese who had migrated there really early and was selling cheap shoes on the side.

You get trams and buses filled with testosterone-filled men... They're really big, and they don't take showers... Bring a bar of soap... You get used to it. 'The guy in the desk next to me hasn't showered in a week.'

Everybody clears about that? (Everybody's clear)

If you think: we come into the world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing, your reference point should be 0... The crucial question here: because you say that [the] reference point matters - where is the reference point?... Suppose your friend told you, 'This lecture is very very bad', and you come in and discover, it's not so bad, it's good.

You ray car (Eureka)

Perhaps your in't'you'shern is wrong (intuition)

I'm terrible at gambling. So when I take a statistics course I suffer, because I don't know how many cards there are in a deck.

Prospect Theory in the feel (field)

Kino'koo'nya (Kinokuniya)

The only thing that is universal is rationality. Feelings are not universal. [Ed: Hurr hurr]

[On utilitarianism] When somebody stands up and says, 'I want to be unhappy', 'I want to be miserable'... What do you do? You send him to a psychiatrist.

[On Ehrlich's 0 population growth] Each family should have 2 children. Or to be exact, 2.1 children, if you can manage.

[On the Rule of 72] If nothing is done, in 10 years there will be 2 billion Indians.

[The] Recycling bin outside, turning up the aircon temperature - they are inconsequential. Believe me, they don't make a dent in global warming. It may give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside here.

being rationale (rational)

Have you heard XXX speak French? It sounds like Hokkien.

[Instructor: We see the concept of 'Economic Man'] Sounds so cool. Like 'Iron Man' or 'Ice Man'.

[On Descartes] To use politically incorrect language, the Father of Modern Philosophy.

[On Cartesian animals being machines] When I wash the car it doesn't mean I respect the car. It doesn't mean the car has a right to be washed.

Christianity is not going to do anything about population growth because we have been told to 'Go forth and multiply'. 10 billion? No trouble. 20 billion? Go for it.

Here're some great big gigantic words that may be useful to commit to memory because they are useful. Useful to show off... One word is 'axiological'... Another is 'espitemological'. Even longer.

You have ray'shear'n'air'lerty and instinct (rationality)

A cat doesn't say to itself in cat language: 'Ah! I'm hungry. Where can I go to find food?... We may be wrong, but that's animal behaviorists tell us they do.

[On a reading from Leakey's 'The Sixth Extinction'] Appropriately, it is on chapter 13 of the book... Appropriately also, it has 13 pages... I want somebody to do a presentation on that. By that, I obviously mean read the article.

China's pocket income (per capita)

[On debt before limited liability] If your company goes bankrupt, your creditor may come to you and take your life... Even today, we have many loansharks.

[Me: Did she sound excited?] Who? [Me: Zhenyi] She's always excited.

The ruler area (rural areas)

Today, we're going to talk about another seminar paper (seminal)

I've taken a lot of finance courses in the Business School when I was doing my PhD, but I still don't know how to invest my own money... Just hold a well-diversified portfolio... And hold it for a long time (I took)

How similar is the sah'mple to the population (sample)

I love talking about this sort of thing, because I love talking.

[Student: When is the best time to apply for jobs?] Tomorrow. Today. Yesterday.

Another way of saying 'pull strings' - I like to say 'network'. Sounds better.

They are not a charitable organisation. '12,000 students graduate a year. Let me hire a few to lower the unemployment rate'.

on'trer'pro'near (entrepreneur)

A lot of you want to do further studies... Why do further studies? 'Dunno'. Can't bear to leave NUS.

The chances are, I tell you, once you start working: got income, no examinations - so nice, don't want to do postgrad already. (It's so nice, I don't want to do post-graduate studies)

The employer looks at us: 'What's wrong with your students?' Then I look at the ceiling: 'What's wrong with my students?'... Like I'm the mother of 32,000 students.

Some companies may have a very relaxed dress code. If you dress better than the CEO, they may go, 'This guys is too ambitious'

[On sites for working abroad] There're many more ones, but these are the more reputable ones, not the ones that pop up: 'You're a lottery winner!'

[On MRT commuters] When they open their eyes, you see the word 'Death'

I'm a high school dropout. I don't have a high school degree. But as I assure my students, I do have a PhD.

African time is people come at their own times, then you welcome them, because you're so glad they bothered to come.

tar'luck ah'y'air street (Telok Ayer)

Mr Joo'zerph (Joseph)

The movies of the Shaw Blah'duhs is my research topic. My office is also [in] the Shaw Foundation Building.

In the club I do the web out (have a workout)

Of course, Descartes has been discredited in many ways.

[Me: What's that in metric?]... I think an acre is 1000 square metres... I'm too old to know about metric.

We: As thinking people, as University Scholars, have no choice but to think about what we do

[On a moist towelette] I have an object here which was, in a sense, free. I got it while having dinner the other day. I don't know why I'm carrying it around.

Written by a friend of mine. His name is, or when he wrote the article, his name was XXX YYY ZZZ. Now his name is XXX... I never found out why he changed his name. I didn't think it would be a good idea to ask.

Incidentally, if you ask me what philosophers do, I will give you a short answer: we make distinctions... The more distinctions the better... Without distinctions we see the world as a fuzzy blob.

[On the Mona Lisa] Suppose the French government is desperate. A rouge trader has bankrupted the whole country, so they need to sell it to raise money.

[On intrinsic and extrinsic value and Ryoei Saito] You may think this is a silly example, but a few years ago there was a Japanese billionaire who bought a famous Monet... Now it would be worth 200 million dollars... He wanted it to be buried with him... Suppose I bought the Mona Lisa and put it up there and threw darts at it... The eyes! It's mine. Is there any problem?... Fortunately for Monet, or this Monet painting, this Japanese businessman's empire collapsed. The painting was repossessed to pay his bills.

[On his wedding ring] The value to me is infinite. You come to me and say, 'I'll give you $10,000 for it.' I'll say, 'Go away'. You come to me and say, 'I'll give you a million for it.' I'll say, 'Go away'. You come to me and say, 'I'll give you a billion for it.' I'll say, 'Go away'... Given the price of gold, I'd be lucky if someone gave me $500 for it.

[In late January 2008] I forgot whether it's the 2005 or the 2009 version of the textbook.
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