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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

"Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power." - Eric Hoffer

***

Apple Doesn't Deliver Everything Promised for iTunes 8.1 - PC World - The corresponding headline on Macworld: Apple releases iTunes 8.1 update. Hurr hurr.

"Nation of cowards" on race, Holder says - "Eric Holder, the nation's first black attorney general, said Wednesday that the United States was "a nation of cowards" on matters of race, with most Americans avoiding candid discussions of racial issues... "It also means we have to be able to accept criticism where that is justified."... "Imagine, if you will, situations where people, regardless of their skin color, could confront racial issues freely and without fear. The potential of this country, that is becoming increasingly more diverse, would be greatly enhanced. My fear, however, that we are taking steps that, rather than advancing us as a nation, are actually dividing us even further.""
Sounds like Singapore

Pitts: Yes, we must still talk about race - "So we talk about race, but we don't. More often, we yell about race. Or talk around race. Or deliver self-righteous monologues on race. All of it tainted by a gaping ignorance... We play games instead. Many African Americans lie in wait to cry "Gotcha!" when some hapless white person inadvertently says some questionable thing, as though innocent ignorance were indistinguishable from actual malice. As when a white analyst on TV's Golf Channel said something dumb about Tiger Woods and the Rev. Al Sharpton demanded her head, telling a reporter, "What she said is racist. Whether she's a racist ... is immaterial."... if you are black, you stop trying to have substantive discussions about race with white people: They refuse to listen. Small wonder, if you are white, you stop speaking freely about race with black people: Every little thing is racism with them. And small wonder, in recent years, the discussion on race has come to be dominated by loud, intolerant voices"

Take That! - Weird News Story Archive - "Britain considered taking drastic action against the Soviet Union in retribution for its sending tanks into Czechoslovakia in 1968: it nearly didn’t send Leonid Brezhnev a Christmas card. Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart wanted to scratch “the Russians and their fellow sinners” from the greetings list, but Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s cooler head prevailed. “It seems petty to change the practice,” he wrote to Stewart. “It creates the maximum annoyance with no gain whatsoever.”"

The Straight Dope: Who was the first person to be hit by a car? Why was it decided that cars ought to be registered? - "Of course, horse-drawn vehicles had been no less dangerous. In Traffic, his recent book on the psychology of driving, Tom Vanderbilt writes that "[i]n 1720, traffic fatalities from 'furiously driven' carts and coaches were named the leading cause of death in London. . . . [I]n the New York of 1867, horses were killing an average of four pedestrians a week." And Maxwell Lay, in his Ways of the World, notes that cars are safer than horses were on an accidents-per-distance-traveled basis."

Foreign Languages and Trade: What are you sinking about? - "Cultural factors and especially common languages are well-known determinants of trade. By contrast, the knowledge of foreign languages was not explored in the literature so far. We combine traditional gravity models with data on fluency in the main languages used in Europe. We show that widespread knowledge of languages is an important determinant for foreign trade, with English playing an especially important role. Furthermore, we document non-linear effects of foreign languages on trade."

Drug warriors against the war - "Last week saw the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. In Washington, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) - a group of former cops and drug-war veterans who have soured on America's war on drugs - gathered to celebrate the anniversary, and to argue for an end to America's current prohibition on marijuana and more serious drugs... World Health Organization researchers found that 42.4 percent of Americans had tried marijuana - the highest ratio of any of 17 countries surveyed. New Zealand, which has tough drug policies, scored a close second place at 41.9 percent. Dutch residents can buy cannabis at coffee shops, yet less than 20 percent of Dutch respondents said they had tried cannabis. Researchers concluded, "Drug use does not appear to be related to drug policy, as countries with more stringent policies (e.g., the United States) did not have lower levels of illegal drug use than countries with more liberal policies (e.g. the Netherlands)." Meanwhile, drug prohibition does work, Van Wickler added, as "a wonderful opportunity for organized crime."

CRCC: Center For Muslim-Jewish Engagement: Resources: Religious Texts - "Anas said, "Some people of 'Ukl or 'Uraina tribe came to Medina and its climate did not suit them. So the Prophet ordered them to go to the herd of (Milch) camels and to drink their milk and urine (as a medicine). So they went as directed and after they became healthy, they killed the shepherd of the Prophet and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet early in the morning and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured and brought at noon. He then ordered to cut their hands and feet (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron, They were put in 'Al-Harra' and when they asked for water, no water was given to them." Abu Qilaba said, "Those people committed theft and murder, became infidels after embracing Islam and fought against Allah and His Apostle.""
This is hosted by USC and comes from Sahih al-Bukhari, the most important Sunni Hadith, so I assume it's kosher.

Sex in the Syllabus - "With classwork like this, who needs to play? Undergraduates taking Cyberporn and Society at the State University of New York at Buffalo survey Internet porn sites. At New York University, assignments for Anthropology of the Unconscious include discussing X-rated Japanese comic books. And in Cinema and the Sex Act at the University of California, Berkeley, undergrads are required to view clips from Hollywood NC-17 releases like Showgirls and underground stag reels... in her graduate-level class on obscenity, media-studies professor Laura Kipnis of Northwestern University examines how publications like Hustler can define class stratification in the U.S.--by discussing the work of the 16th century satirist François Rabelais as well as skin magazines... Kipnis screens Saló or 120 Days of Sodom, by the Italian avant-garde filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini... She says students who had previously espoused staunchly liberal views about freedom of expression often find themselves disgusted and horrified by what they see. "University students are often too cool, too hip to understand why other people get perturbed"... At the University of California at Santa Barbara, Constance Penley, a film professor and porn-studies pioneer, says she tells her students that "I don't want to squelch their financial possibilities or creativity, but as a favor to me, could they not make a porn film until after they graduate?""

The 15 Strangest College Courses In America - "10. Daytime Serials: Family and Social Roles. While I’m sure most guys would rather gouge out their own eyes than take a course on soap operas, this is probably right up many young women’s alley. This is part of UW’s Women’s Studies program, which I think is kind of unfortunate given the view some people have of that major already. Talk about giving them more ammunition."
I wasn't surprised that the first got first.

God Hates Figs (with biblical references!) - "Jesus rebuked the fig as an evil abomination... Jesus commanded us not to eat of the cursed fig... God promises terrible vengeance upon any fig-loving nation... FIGS DOOM NATIONS"
"Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Edgar Wilson Nye, quoted in Mark Twain's Autobiography

***

I finally got a Bacon Explosion rolled out (among other things), with the enthusiastic help of the Ass Man:

I couldn't find raw Italian Sausage at the supermarket, so I settled for using minced meat (and spicing it myself: fennel powder, pepper, paprika and some of Disgusting Chris's spice mixes). It was rather dry due to the lack of fat, but oh well.

Do note that this Bacon Explosion was scaled down by half, since we only had 7 people (3 of them girls).


Cornstarch as a binding agent


Forming the lattice (this wasn't scaled down - maybe American bacon is longer?!)


Bacon Lattice


Frying bacon for the stuffing of the Bacon Explosion


Lattice with BBQ Rub


Spiced lattice and the minced meat 'sausage'


Girls slacking (what most of them were doing most of the time, anyway)


Piling on the 'sausage' meat


Lattice with 'sausage' meat


Seasoning and condiment: Cajun seasoning and BBQ sauce


'Sausage' meat with Cajun seasoning


Adding crumbled crispy bacon


And saucing it


Rolling up 'sausage' meat


Rolled-up 'sausage' meat


Completing the bacon lattice (even if in a structurally unsound way)


Everyone wants to picture the Bacon Explosion


Sealing the bacon explosion


Almost ready to chuck in the oven...


... after another sprinkling of BBQ rub...


...and some basting


Ready to bake


Would YOU use such a large knife to peel apples?!


Half-done


Fully done


Bacon Explosion


Slicing it up


Innards

Verdict: Bagus!

Though using real sausage meat, more bacon inside, rolling it properly and adding more BBQ rub/sauce would've helped.

Perhaps next time.

Friday, March 13, 2009

"All programmers are playwrights and all computers are lousy actors." - Unknown

***

u r wt u wr:

- 'One boyfriend is not enough' (Contributed)
- 'Shiver my timbers' (Contributed)
- 'I wanna be girls @ you point and say that's her'
- 'Sunkist. Good vibrations'
- '*Picture of snoopy* Hug me'
- 'Explain to me again why I need a boyfriend'
- 'Explain to me again why I need a man'
- 'Please be considerate. Don't lOOk here' (The 'OO' were 2 big orbs, but because she was well-endowed it was obvious they were over her stomach due to bad T-shirt design)
- 'My body is a wonderland'
- 'Listen up boys. I've got something *something*' (She noticed me staring)
- 'They say that money talks, but mine just waves goodbye'
- 'Single' (her boyfriend was cradling her head)
- 'Don't ask me I was hired for my looks'
- 'Want to smurf around? *picture of Smurfette kissing another Smurf*'
- 'Gone waxin'
- 'Showtime beauties *picture of bare midriff*'
- 'I'm really know how to make you happy'
- 'he that dwelleth in the secret place of the past *3.5 more lines* I have a secret admirer'
- 'My name is Barbie' (she was certainly as busty as her)
- 'Men *something* laxatives *something*'
- 'An awkward morning beats a boring night'
- 'I'm a Princess' (she was beside a guy with 'I'm a Prince')
- 'Almost single'
- 'Kiss me once again'
- 'Smile saucily'
- 'No *picture of camera* please'
- 'Trust me, I'm a doctor' (Contributed; "but she is going to be one so i think that is ok")

I notice as a form of officewear (for girls, of course), walking shorts (made of office-pants material which end just below the knee). Another example of the flexibility granted them.
"The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealised past." - Robertson Davies

***

Someone on the Christmas Cake Theory and girls: value drops to zero after 25


Someone else:
there are so many negative things associated with being a woman...

whether you do possess those traits or not
people tend to assume you do if you're female

I think this is why women try to pass off as 'one of the guys'

you know, the whole shebang, I'm rather unhappy to say it was begun with pride and prejudice I think
elizabeth bennet

the ideal girl is not really 'girly' and 'ideal' -- kinda cute, quirky and 'original'
and once you market yourself as 'male' it's just fitting *that* stereotype

bridget jones in the millenium!

but that's probably analytical bullshit
and I don't think many girls are *conscious* of it anyway
they probably full-heartedly believe in their uniqueness
which is good! necessary!

...

there seems to be some sort of assumption that being macho means being illiterate

I've come across variants of it

either these uber-annoying 'macho' guys who *perform* illiteracy
or ok but fucked up literate guys who perform masculinity
or are insecure about their 'masculinity' because they're educated

but guy marketing I have to say seems a lot simpler
it's just, I'm confident and successful
and clever (even if they *aren't*)

whereas girls seem to try this whole 'I'm feminine but not quite female and tough but kinda vulnerable...'


Xephyris: digging out CDs to re-rip so i can get rid of my mpc collection
ah the rashness of my youth

Me: you converting to what

Xephyris: to mp3

Me: HAHA
your 1337-ness has decreased

Xephyris: lame at v2 now very transparent also for my music
so ok lah

Me: maybe now your ears less sensitive haha


Someone: u know
i am nursing a pet theory

the only people who care abt this shit are Govt and bloggers themselves
who work each other into a frenzy

noone else really cares abt political blogging. ;)
and the ahem "revolution"

bloggers carry with them this sense of inflated self-importance

Gahmen read the same few blogs and gets scared shitless
and promptly do a lui tuck yew

Me: what revolution
fiddlesticks

only political bloggers are dumb enough to believe there will be a revoluion

Someone: PRECISELY

and only civil servants are dumb enough to read the same few
and then compile to scare their bosses


Someone else: replying "maybe" to an facebook event invitation is the polite way of saying "no"

Me: If a woman says 'maybe' she means yes. If a diplomat says 'maybe' he means no.

Someone: what about a female diplomat?

Me: That's why there're no female diplomats ^^;;


UD #4: ooh the one u had lunch with

is it ur pet?
the one u took pic with in sushi tei?

Me: MY TOY


Someone: it's ok

like you said 十年报臭十年不晚

oops
报仇

Me: ...


Someone on paramedics: i think the scariest thing they see
is ppl giving birth in ambulances

Me: why scary
scary is the head fly off

Someone: gross

eh it's damn fucking gross can
dunno how they can all fantasise abt cheebye after that

Me: that's why a lot of medics are girls?
or maybe they're gay


Someone else: (though the main thing I rmeember about othello is 'monumental alabaster')

ha ha ha
it's a nice phrase


Me on Nietzsche: "To beginners, they will seem to be written by a man who was, in equal parts, severely emotionally scarred and an absolute genius. To a veteran reader they will still seem this way"

Someone: i tried reading a distilled version but got frustrated with his frustration


Someone else on the Hello Kitty "vibrating shoulder massager": i was thinking it'd look cute in my rm

Me: ................
are you sure that's what you'll use it for? :P

Someone else: oh i won't use it la

just put there
as a decoration

cute with my pc
since my theme is pink and white

HAvE to go sex shop then can buy ah
not like taka kinda thing


Someone on peeing on the streets: other gers think im mad..
haaha

but i think.. mark TERRITORIE!
ahahhahahh

got pple cover can alr

actuali i think it's quite.. liberating to b able to pee in the public

i mean..
men can wad..
so gers oso shuld b ok wad..


Someone on FHM: maybe u should buy ur first (?) copy
you know, start being a "real man" :P

Me: hurr hurr
are you a real woman?

Someone: yeah, i buy all sorts of bimbotic magazines that make me
even more insecure about myself
so yeah

Me: hahahahha. so what will men's magazines do? make me more horny?

Someone: haha
amongst others i hear
Poll finds 4 in 10 female undergrads are sexual harassment victims

This somewhat-misleading headline should actually read:

"Poll finds 4 in 10 female undergrads think they have ever been victims of sexual harassment"

The SMU students' definition of sexual harassment is also worryingly broad:

"Sexual harassment refers to acts that lower the dignity of women".

Conceivably, this could include the following acts:

- Being forced by the crowd in the MRT to press up against a woman
- A woman being forced by the crowd in the MRT to press up against a man, and thinking the man is trying to be funny
- Hitting on a woman
- Looking admiringly ("staring", according to some definitions) at someone who is presenting herself in such a way as to attract attention
- Smiling at a girl you think is pretty
- Going up to a girl wearing a T-shirt reading: "Looking for friends with benefits" and responding to it (NB: I've actually seen a girl wearing such a T-shirt)

The gynocentric definition offered here also assumes men cannot be victims of sexual harassment, and raises the intriguing possibility that women can sexually harass themselves (see the last example on my list).

Creditably, the article also quotes Singapore Children's Society youth counsellor Carol Balhetchet: "There are usually many variables involved. Could it because the place was crowded? Could it be intentional or accidental?"

A related screenshot from Miyagi:

Two headlines next to each other on CNA

[Addendum: sg_ljers post about this]
"L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans les fers, Tel se croit le maître des autres, qui ne laisse pas d'être plus esclave qu'eux.

Comment ce changement s'est-il fait? Je l'ignore. Qu'est-ce qui peut le rendre légitime? Je crois pouvoir résoudre cette question."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

One of the most vile vilest things I've seen:


"Kroatian Blumen feat. DeMoooniii - Das Blumenlied"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another misleading ST article:

S'pore tops in innovation

"SINGAPORE was the most innovative nation in the world, while South Korea placed first among large countries, according to a study released on Monday by a manufacturing group.

The United States was eighth in the overall list of 110 countries and second in the subset of 20 large nations, said the report produced by the Washington-based National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Boston Consulting Group.

The survey took into account two types of innovation output: new products or knowledge that is easily quantified; and new ways of doing business that result in higher quality and productivity."


What the article DOESN'T tell you (and that the National Association of Manufacturers does) is that:

- the study measures Innovation Leadership, not Innovation
- the study includes both business outcomes and governmental policies (e.g. tax incentives, immigration policies)

Sometimes, what is not said is more important than what is (even if no lies are told).

As the old joke goes, the King, on being told that a group of people were always seen speeding away from the scene of a fire, ordered them executed.

Turns out he exterminated the fire brigade.

Monday, March 09, 2009

"I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way." - Franklin P. Adams

***

RT @mrbrown: "Rushed home last night, earlier than usual, cos the wife sms-ed she was feeling hot. Turns out she was talking about the weather."

RT @eisen: "My friend's MSN nick: "The word 'believe' hides within itself a 'lie'". Nice"

I always thought the RGS SLUTs (Student Leaders Under Training) were apocryphal, but I've been hearing conflicting stories about whether this was an official term or an unofficial one.

I'm quite sure those who diss bipartisanism now were whining loudly when Dubya steamrolled them. The key idea here: 'partisanism is alright if we can do it, but the Republicans must be bipartisan'

The crime of "criminal homicide of an unborn child" is extremely puzzling, given that abortion does not fall under this category.

I went for a Humanism meetup and the contrast with an Atheist meetup was apparent: not just in size but also gender ratio. One person commented that she was attracted by the "safe" environment, which speaks to the bad reputation that atheism has. This is not helped by some atheists claiming that Humanists are hypocrites; as a comment goes: "I am convinced by science that evolution is true just as I am convinced by psychology that Dawkins is his own worst enemy. He acts like a crazed uncle who has got you cornered. You may agree with him completely, but you still want to get as far away from him as soon as possible."

On rootkit paranoia: "How do I know I removed the entire infection? I don't. To be completely sure, I'd have to wipe the computer clean. Even then, I could entertain scenarios about malware hiding in BIOS updates or obscure hardware storage locations." (sounds like DNS poisoning)


That too much human rights caused the current financial crisis is the newest evil of "Western Values" that I've heard, but it's not a surprising view for Singaporeans to hold.

CNA outside Singapore looks very different from inside it; it has mostly Asian news and very little Singapore news. Yet, since it is seen as a propaganda machine by foreign governments it is hard for it to break into markets.


"Your account has been trespassed!" - FAIL phishing email

An email which appeared to come from NTUC Income was marked out by Hotmail as a Phishing Scam. At first I thought this was proof that Singaporean companies had made it in the world, since people wanted to phish their account-holders, but then I realised the e-mail was genuine and Hotmail was flagging it because the link to update your profile went to a dodgy-looking URL: http://61.14.95.46/uiPemail/PEmailInsLog.asp?data=RRPOPPM; FAIL!


More aphorisms: "Women like to screw themselves up."
"Honesty is to a woman what a small dick is to a guy - neither can abide it"

I saw a 7-year-old who'd mastered the art of camwhoring. Gah.

Before meals girls always like to complain they are "very hungry". After them they like to comment that they are "very full".

Someone I know said she was becoming more bimbotic to be popular. This is sad.


Spizza delivers! There're no longer no non-Halal pizza deliveries!

Putting skim milk and low fat yogurt in an ice cream smoothie is like having Diet Coke in your supersized McDonalds meal.


Vehicles on Pulau Ubin have license plates starting with "PU" (presumably, "Pulau Ubin").

Even on Pulau Ubin, you find PRCs working in the restaurants.

When you come back on the boat from Ubin you must go through an X-ray screening. We can blame either Malaysian smugglers or oyster poachers for this.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple." - Oscar Wilde

***

"How much of the various commentators' feelings arise from their sense of what is most economically effective, versus their sense of moral desert (in the sense of what a person or corporation "deserves")? I ask this because it strikes me that there is a very strong philosophical sense among Singaporeans (and among many on the right wing of economics generally) that people have to pay penance for wrongdoing, and that therefore punishment has to be meted out, and this morality creeps into our economics, occasionally pushing out pragmatism. I wonder whether sometimes we're so afraid of inducing moral hazard we go towards supporting other extremes, where there is no risk pooling, no risk sharing. It's the equivalent of seeing a man set himself on fire and arguing that if we rescue him and put out the fire, it will only encourage people to set themselves on fire. There's also a question of the scale of "punishment": even if a company fails, does that mean it has to be condemned utterly and immediately?

Take for one the auto "bailout", which people seem in a rush to shake their tut-tutting fingers at. Richard Posner in response to Gary Becker makes a good point on their joint blog (http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/archives/2008/11/bail_out_the_de.html): even if Detroit really does make bad vehicles that people don't want to buy, that doesn't necessarily mean right now, in the heart of a recession/depression, is the best time for the American economy for Detroit carmakers to file for Chapter 13, since it could lead to a lot greater economic turmoil thanks to uncertainty and panic. There's a middle ground between "too big to fail" and "let them fail right away", and I would argue you don't have to be a protectionist to think that even in economic terms there's a case to be made for stabilising the automakers right now. Indeed, you could argue that an overly strong desire to avoid moral hazard and to stick to market principles led to letting Lehman fail overnight, with the ensuing market panic and withdrawal of credit, which perhaps a more orderly system might have mitigated, if not avoided.

As Delong pointed out in his talk a couple of weeks back, why is government intervention in the world of money and finance different from other industries? In the end, what matters is the impact on economic output and unemployment rates. Why do we value the orderly functioning of the financial system? Not because we want to see a nice shiny financial system but because this leads to credit, and then the ability to create output and jobs. You have to make the similar calculations when you weigh the intervention in the auto industry, I think, rather than just carve out finance as a magical exception.

Don't get me wrong - I think American carmakers have made some pretty terrible cars, and the environment has often paid the price for that. But in our desire to see wrongdoers get punished, we should watch out for moments when we're curing dandruff by decapitation (or, depending on your assessment of the state of American automakers, curing cancer by assassination)."
I hate sites (mostly Singaporean) with funny URLs, like:

http://foo.bar/xxx/portal/!ut/p/d5/04_SB8K8xLLM9MSSzPy8xBz9CP0ps3gDf4PQMFMD_9A3g2BDI0MPHzcDKNAPB-kAqrAw8vUN9Av0cDQI9XExczY1hquAyOMAjgb6fh75uan6BdnZaY6OiooAJIyPbQ!!/dl3/d3/L3dDb0EvUU5RTGtBISExWUZSdndBISEvNl8wODJNTVFOUUhBMFVIRE5DS1A4MDAwMDAwMA!!/

instead of:

http://foo.bar/lalala

At first I thought it was on purpose, so people cannot link to or easily remember the URL, but I am told that it is easier to code, since this is what your code references (rather than human-friendly names).

***

On MSN:

"The problem IS in the core. You can only have your deleted contacts on a block list but *AFAIK you cannot get rid of them for good!*
No you cannot. That's because I think the whole MSN core system sucks big time.

This block list technique is as if you got treated by a surgeon in hospital and he left a needle inside you. Then for the next years, you only get strong painkillers to numb the pain.
But the problem itself is not solved, i. e. the needle removed from your body ^^

If anyone can ever prove me that it's possible to delete a contact from serverlist ONCE AND FOR ALL (without being moved to the block list and without coming back EVER), he might win a prize from me."

***

On a silly "security" measure in Firefox:

"Hi all, I am also frustrated by the file selector.

... As a medical doctor I must warn from the danger of
- multiple strain injury due to excessive mouse usage
- Hypertension and gastric ulceration etc. due to delayed program response.
Current file selectors block the program for a long time if a directory
contains large numbers of files."
"Die grosse Frage, die nie beantwortet worden ist und die ich trotz dreißig Jahre langem Forschen in der weiblichen Seele nie habe beantworten können, ist die: Was will das Weib?"
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