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Valar Qringaomis

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Nobody talks so constantly about God as those who insist that there is no God." - Heywood Broun

***

Singapore's divorce rate in 2007 lower than other countries - "According to the Department of Statistics, the divorce rate in Singapore in 2007 was 2.02 per 1,000 people. This is lower than countries such as the United States and South Korea, which had divorce rates of 3.7 and 5.0 respectively in 2007."
South Korea had a higher divorce rate than the US in 2007? Ah, Asian Values!

Nazri reveals what it takes to sit on the Bench in future - "Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad (PAS – Kuala Selangor) also pointed out that the CPC had 650 amendments. When Dr Dzulkifli commented that the judiciary system needed an overhaul and that Singapore had amended a similar law only four times, Nazri said that it showed the Government was serious in making changes while the Singapore MPs lacked creativity in improving the law."
Malaysia Boleh!

Twitter's not a Google killer. It's not a Facebook killer, either. - "Shortly after the Mumbai attacks began, I opened up one Web page to Twitter's #mumbai stream and another to live coverage from the Indian TV news network IBN Live. The TV coverage was fraught with all the problems that usually plague breaking-news reports—spotty, speculative information; contradictory witness statements; and endless repetition. But the Twitter stream was even worse. It was incoherent, telling no narrative—just a continuously updated jumble of facts, pseudo-facts, unfounded assertions, opinions, rants, condolences, and, most of all, repetition of information that I'd heard on TV minutes before. Even Google surpassed Twitter: Very quickly, the search engine began to index news stories, live blogs, and the Wikipedia page for the attack. Searching for "Mumbai" in Google gave you an in-depth, though still timely, picture of what was going on. This happens for every news event; it is simply not true, as Borthwick asserts, that there was nothing on Google about Flight 1549 on the day of the accident. Google had a coherent story within hours; Twitter had a messy story within minutes. News junkies love the messy, fast story, but lots of us aren't news junkies. Lots of us are OK waiting an hour for coherence."

Liberals and tax cheating - "With the embarrassing number of hopeful Obama appointments running into tax cheating problems (the latest being Ron Kirk), it's natural to wonder if evasion by high profile leftists is illustrative of a real world trend, or just a string of unfortunate anecdotes... Liberals do not consider cheating on taxes to be as morally problematic as conservatives do. This presents an obvious moral quandary of its own, as, putatively less surprisingly, liberals are more likely than conservatives are to favor greater amounts of taxation and wealth redistribution... as a self-described empirical paleoconservative, it is difficult not to find parodiable humor mixed with irritation in discovering that those most likely to favor increased taxation and redistributive economics are also the most likely to approve of illegally acting to avoid having to suffer on the contributive side of the equation."

Marketing to women | Hello, girls - "In America, where female consumers make more than 80% of discretionary purchases, companies have started tailoring their products and messages to appeal to women, in an effort to boost their sales... they control the vast majority of consumer spending. (They buy 90% of food, 55% of consumer electronics, and most of the new cars.)"
Men may earn more, but women spend more.
Also, I finally found some figures: "Tom Peters, the brand commentator, shared [that]... spending by US males equaled...3.8 trillion dollars... spending by US females was nearly 4.3 trillion dollars"


A Parable of Management - "Every day, a small ant arrives at work very early and starts work immediately. She produces a lot and she is happy. The Chief, a lion, was surprised to see that the ant was working without supervision. He thought if the ant can produce so much without supervision, wouldn’t she produce even more if she had a supervisor!... The ant, who had once been so productive and relaxed, hated this new plethora of paperwork and meetings which used up most of her time…!... Guess who the lion fires first? The ant , of course, because she “showed lack of motivation and had a negative attitude"."

60-foot penis painted on roof - "It was there for a year before his parents found out."

Trichophilia - Wikipedia - "Trichophilia or hair fetishism is a paraphilia in which one becomes sexually aroused by, or is extremely fond of, human hair; commonly head hair."

Friday, March 27, 2009

"It is not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them." - Isabel Colegate

***

The Straight Dope: Are Americans dumber than Europeans? - "Besides, we apparently don't really need to know much about the rest of the world. According to Baylor University polling, 55 percent of Americans believe they have an advantage that surely outweighs any intellectual deficiencies: A guardian angel."

Pilot who paused to pray in emergency gets 10 years - "A Tunisian pilot who paused to pray instead of taking emergency measures before crash-landing his plane, killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court along with his co-pilot... A fuel-gauge malfunction was partly to blame but prosecutors also said the pilot succumbed to panic, praying out loud instead of following emergency procedures and then opting to crash-land the plane instead trying to reach a nearby airport."
Unsurprisingly, this was an Italian court. Religious discrimination! Islamophobia

Porkgasm - Porktopia - "I was inspired by the famous Bacon Explosion and this cute little guy."
"Bacon strips, bacon sausage, ham sausage, ham slices, smoked pork sausage and roasted pork belly surrounded by ground sausage shaped into a pig, wrapped in bacon and roasted. Garnished with chili ears and tail."

Singlish: Building language the fun way! - "Accelerating Language & Learning Through Music, Visuals & Movement"

Both 13 started having sex with each other , they met online . - "ALTHOUGH she had actually been pregnant for seven months, an underaged girl wasn't aware that she was having a baby until her parents sent the 14-year-old for a checkup. On Tuesday, the father, also 14, was placed on one-year supervised probation by the Juvenile Court, after he pleaded guilty to two counts of carnal connection."
Strangely, the girl isn't under probation (since we lack a rolling age of consent). I doubt you'll see the feminists making noise about this.

Woman arrested after sending obscene video to friend - "Deputies say Caroline Willette videotaped herself having sex with two dogs and watching child pornography with a friend."

Headmaster: No Vampires At Our School - "Supposedly 3 students believe that they are vampires and today when a student was bitten the police were informed"

TNB gives assurance of power supply during Earth Hour - "Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has assured the public that electricity supply will not be switched off during the worldwide event, Earth Hour, this Saturday... TNB issued the statement in response to the numerous calls from concerned customers enquiring if electricity supply would be turned off for the Earth Hour from 8.30pm - 9.30pm."
Malaysia Boleh! I prefer the story about the National Phonographic Association, though.

Dear A.I.G., I Quit! - "[Not] more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P [were responsible]. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage... I was an integral player in the pending sale of its well-regarded commodity index business to UBS. As you know, business unit sales like this are crucial to A.I.G.’s effort to repay the American taxpayer. The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings... I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers... you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations... None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house."

Jonathan Clements Says the Bonus Tax Creates a Disincentive to Work - "Like Bernie Madoff, I've got the government coming after my money. Unlike Madoff, I didn't do anything wrong... The House bill is akin to, say, penalizing the earnings of today's politicians because their predecessors failed to save us from the current economic debacle... by mid-October, I will hit $250,000 in total income -- and have no incentive to earn any more income in 2009. At that point, I plan to ask Citi for an unpaid sabbatical. Forget earning more income. There's no point. Instead, you will find me hunkered down at home, desperately trying not to spend money. This will make entire financial sense for the Clements household. What about the struggling economy? Not so much."
"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." - Mark Twain

***

Who's afraid of Catherine Lim? The State in Patriarchal Singapore
Kenneth Paul Tan

"Through [the Internal Security Act, Sedition Act, Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act and Societies' Act] and other coercive instruments, the state has effectively castrated political opposition and alternatives in civil society, preventing them from mounting effective political challenges to the state—challenges that established liberal democracies would regard as necessary for democratic accountability, responsibility and responsiveness (Tan, 2001).

A spectacular example of political emasculation happened in 1987—two years after a serious economic recession—when the state accused 22 people of a Marxist conspiracy and detained them under the Internal Security Act...

The politically emasculating state assumes the superior status and controlling position of the patriarch—originating, elaborating and defending the "law of the Father" that has taken the form of an official national discourse that defines the conditions of possibility for what can be legitimately thought, expressed and communicated in Singapore...

The founding Father—who engenders and animates the state—writes himself as the sole protagonist in the national narrative, casts his allies in supporting roles and his enemies as antagonists, and interpellates Singaporean readers/citizens into infantile subjects paranoid about threats of race riots, Marxist conspiracies, hostile neighbouring countries, terrorism, disease, economic crisis, and the ceaseless challenges of striving to be number one in the world. Society, in all its lack, is the "negative mirror" that makes possible the state's heroic self-definitions. In contrast to a "masculine" state that possesses universal vision, the people are presented as selfish, ignorant, deficient, dangerous and "feminine", and thus cannot be trusted with matters of public significance unless tightly supervised by state-approved committees (Woo and Goh, 2007). Society, in this "monosexual imaginary", is the "negative elaboration" of the state which, in fact, actively subdues any rebellious ground energies by providing the people with "playgrounds" that simulate democratic participation. Widely publicised national consultation exercises such as the National Agenda in the late 1980s, Singapore 21 and Remaking Singapore at the turn of the millennium are highly controlled spaces for citizen committees to discuss questions scheduled by the state.

Singapore's official history and model of development record the nation's "paternal genealogy", but erase the "maternal genealogy" that could narrate society's organic, hidden or potential roles in the life of the nation. The Singapore state's refusal to acknowledge a national debt to civil society's "maternity" perpetuates the phantasie of a primal (pre-modern) mass that threatens to madden, kill and devour the modern and prosperous Singapore that rational and disciplined policy-makers have constructed, and that the founding Father literally promised/threatened to watch over even from the afterlife. This phantasie of a dangerous civil society is continually constructed and circulated using the vivid imagery of racial riots, radical movements, Marxist conspiracies, and political instability in modern Singapore's recent past and Third-World Asia's present—the more extreme this vision, the more able is the paternal state to define and justify its powers...

[Goh Chok Tong's inauguration and George Yeo's Banyan Tree] speeches marked a shift in emphasis from emasculation and infantilisation of civil society to its feminisation. In this seemingly new partnership, the state—in a "masculine" and "husbandly" voice of reason and control—began to urge civil society to be more active, but this would be limited to the "feminine" roles of providing care (through voluntary welfare organisations), producing consensus through communication (in national-level consultation exercises), and being delightfully, but not antagonistically, expressive (to enable the industrialisation of culture and the arts in a global city [Tan, 2008a). The jealous state's husbandly voice also forbade civil society to forge partnerships with foreign organisations, insisting that foreign interests should never meddle with domestic politics. In this still patriarchal partnership, civil society actors who exceed the limits of their usefulness to the state or challenge its authority---as a wife might challenge her husband's authority---will still be derogatorily described as hysterical, and treated with condescension, ridicule, reproach or even punishment.

Civil society is defined in terms of what the state is not: its lack, other, and extended phallus that commands obedience. In Singapore, "civic society" is the term used by the state to differentiate it from the more antagonistic caricature of "civil society" envisioned in liberal thought. Civic society---conceived as a depoliticised civil society---is encouraged by the state as a "free space": not free in the sense of maximal liberty, but in terms of the unpaid labour extracted from voluntarism to help the state shoulder the welfare burden in an ageing society facing a widening income gap and higher living costs. Like the mass mediated image of Lim Hwee Hua, civil society is legitimised as civic society when it can demonstrate some of the qualities of the state---controlled, rational and technically proficient---but not to the extent that it presents a competitive threat to state dominance. Otherwise, it will have to endure the state's emasculating violence...

Domestic workers help to restore the castrated egos of basically working-class Singapore men and provide an outlet for many Singapore women to deal with their frustrations in the workplace by physically and psychologically abusing their maids..

Lim began her article by stroking the state's ego - specifying in a markedly feminine voice the phallogocentric qualities that were vital to the state's self-definition... Lim then deliberately held up a negative mirror---constructed out of feminine lack and otherness---to the government's narcissistic male ego, as she described the PAP leaders' "pet aversion [to] noisy, protracted debate that leads nowhere, emotional indulgence, frothy promises, theatrics and polemics in place of pragmatics". In this seductive move, her feminine words came, in a Lacanian sense, to be the government's extended phallus... Lim deliberately allowed herself to play up her role as "admiring wife" to the manly state; and then, in this role, articulated claims that the state would not appreciate but needed to hear, constructing a skilful argument that would make any assertions about hysterical women seem quite ridiculous...

[Khoo Tsai Kee] pointed proudly to the party's consistent ability to win more than 60 per cent of the popular vote -"the only test that counts". He then accused Lim, a prominent socialite, of basing her analysis on the chatter of "people [who] gather in coffeehouses and cocktail parties to relax, joke and have fun, not to pass judgment on serious issues"... [Lim] wrote a seemingly unrelated piece for The Straits Times...

At some deep subconscious level, males fear females most when they receive that nice cup of coffee from those delicate hands. / For a proffered drink, as history has shown, has always been woman's deadliest weapon against man. /… She can put into it some secret potion… that is guaranteed to put her husband or lover under her spell forever. / Or she can administer a strong drug that will make him fall into a deep sleep, so that like Delilah or Lorena Bobbitt, she can denude him of his manhood forever.

Suspicious of Lim's feminine ability to charm and perhaps even to castrate, the government ungraciously refused her cup of coffee...

On the question of critics fearing to speak out in Singapore, Lim pointed to a general impression that the "risks are too great". In an ironic and prescient gesture, she identified as a source of this impression the "discomfiture of seeing a formidable PAP juggernaut ranged against a lone, helpless individual who then excites sympathy as the pitiable underdog". The interview concluded with a self-deprecating Lim wondering to herself if she was "an ingrate to suggest to this very competent Government that, on top of all the good things they are providing for the people, would they behave nicely to the people, please?"...

Lim observed how

Given his fierce commitment to the nation he built up, shaped and protected over three decades (who can forget that touching promise he once made about springing up from his coffin, if necessary, to intervene on Singapore's behalf?)

Lim, in a deliberately naive (even cheeky) gesture, described the horror (and high camp) of Lee's grave promise as "touching"; yet her words did not fail to affirm the leader's great stature. But in refusing "death", this eternal Father—consciously or unconsciously—made it difficult for Goh, his successor, to self-actualize as the nation's leader. This infantilisation has, in fact, been palpable...

The prime minister's press secretary, Chan Heng Wing (4 December 1994), wrote a letter to The Straits Times the following week. His tone, in stark contrast to Lim's, was defensive, mocking, harsh and foreboding. His ad hominem arguments belittled her analysis by suggesting that the novelist could not tell the difference between "real life" and "fiction" and that she demonstrated a "poor understanding of what leaders in government have to do". Remarkably, Chan dismissed "public consultation" as useless for making the entire range of public policies and decisions; but he maintained that the prime minister welcomed "alternative viewpoints" only if they were correct ones: "mistaken views" and "fallacious propositions" would be refuted "sharply" and "robustly" so as not to "take hold and confuse Singaporeans, leading to unfortunate results". Chan assumed that tough prime ministerial action against unacceptable viewpoints would earn him the respect of the people. This position completely misunderstood the significance of consultation as a means of pooling a broad range of resources for a more rounded and multi-perspectived practice of collective decision-making, particularly important as more complex societies enter into uncertain times. Instead, Chan assumed that there were already correct arguments and that the government knew what they were; thus, public consultation was not meant to serve as a process of decision-making, but as a propaganda tool for getting people to buy into what had already been decided by the state. Remarkable also was Chan's assertion that Lim—and in fact "journalists, novelists, short-story writers or theatre groups"- should not "set the political agenda from outside the political arena", but should join a political party and run for election if they had strong political views...

[After 1991's loss of 4 seats to the Opposition] Lim's masculine arguments conveyed in an overtly feminine voice evoked the prime minister's primal instinct to fear and resist the vagina dentata. In fact, 1994 was a particularly repressive year, in which two other academics were reprimanded (one actually fled the country) and two art forms -"performance art" and "forum theatre"- were proscribed. The new administration needed to remasculate itself to replace its "softer" image with a strongman quality that it assumed the people felt more comfortable with...

The prime minister's press secretary then added new levels of hyperbole to this "western decadence vs Asian values" approach, describing Lim's commentaries as "destroy[ing] the respect accorded to the Prime Minister by denigration and contempt…[leading not] to more freedom but confusion, conflict and decline" (quoted in The Straits Times, 29 December 1994). In the same letter, he cited homosexuality, single motherhood, and the "rampant and overbearing hubris" of the media as examples of western practices that "would be disastrous for Singapore" (quoted in The Business Times Singapore, 29 December 1994). In this bizarre sleight of hand, Lim, the writer of English-language love stories, was transformed—through a phallogocentric postcolonial ideology that disparages feminine qualities as degenerate and a threat to national discipline and control—into an uncouth, insolent, insubordinate, immoral, traitorous and dangerous woman who dared to overstep her boundaries in traditional Asian (read patriarchal) society. Unable to deal with Lim's suspicious offer of a cup of coffee, the state resorted to a crude, hyperbolic and even monstrous characterisation of Lim that was much easier to discipline and control. This is a Freudian disavowal of the maternal-feminine that "perpetuates the most atrocious and primitive phantasies—woman as devouring monster threatening madness and death" (Whitford, 1991b, pp. 25-26), just as a vocal Catherine Lim was presented as a westernised monster threatening to devour the values of Asian civilisation...

When critics who are genuinely interested in Singapore's well-being are demolished by an intolerant state or forced to live overseas, should "foul play" be suspected? But the piece also seemed to suggest that the state had missed the point of Lim's two political commentaries entirely, choosing to be obsessed about her "grammar", as it were, instead of her message. The state, perhaps, did not want to have to deal with Lim's inconvenient message, or it chose to focus not on a woman's substance but on her manner and tone...

A few days later, the structural violence referred to in Lim's "foul play" commentary exploded into a remarkably brutal display of phallic physicality and strength through the use of violent metaphors. In parliament, the prime minister described Lim's political commentaries and criticism from other Singaporeans as an "attack" that the government would have to reciprocate: "If you land a blow on our jaw, you must expect a counter-blow on your solar plexus" (quoted in The Straits Times, 24 January 1995)... Soon after, Lee—the castrating Father—expressed his approval of Goh's tough action in an interview with local tabloid The New Paper. Outdoing his successor yet again, the "formidable PAP juggernaut" raged against Lim, employing a battery of metaphoric weapons to reinforce his point:

Everybody now knows that if you take on the PM, he will have to take you on… If he didn't, then more people will throw darts, put a little poison on the tip and throw them at him. And he'll have darts sticking all over him.

[...]

everybody knows if I say that we are going in a certain direction and that we're going to achieve this objective, if you set out to block me, I will take a bulldozer and clear the obstruction.

[...]

The PM has to carry his own big stick, or have someone carry it, because now it's his policy and his responsibility to see his policy through (quoted in Ng, 3 February 1995).

I would isolate the leaders, the troublemakers, get them exposed, cut them down to size, ridicule them, so that everybody understands that it's not such a clever thing to do. Governing does not mean just being pleasant.

[...]

You will not write an article—and that's it. One-to-one on TV. You make your point and I'll refute you… Or if you like, take a sharp knife, metaphorically, and I'll take a sharp knife of similar size; let's meet. Once this is understood, it's amazing how reasonable the argument can become (quoted in Wrage, 22 December 1995).


In a bizarre manoeuvre to humanise the man after conveying his litany of terrifying metaphors, The Straits Times described how

[w]hen he spoke about his roles as father and grandfather, he adopted an avuncular air, and often flashed a warm smile and a kindly eye. / But when he dwelt on Dr Lim's article and issues on governing, he showed the force of his personality, the strength of his intellect and the wealth of his 41-year political experience (Ng, 3 February 1995).


Some years later, in an interview with reporters from The Straits Times who were compiling a book on the man and his ideas, Lee continued to display this violent streak:

Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister… she would not dare, right? Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac… Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society (Han, Fernandez and Tan, 1998, p. 126).


... Writing about Lee's eternal/paternal dominance over the nation's history and contemporary self-understandings, Souchou Yao argues that the Father's refusal to die - in his promise to rise from the grave - will stunt the growth of an already immature citizenry...

These almost hysterical pronouncements - monumentally ironic - put the state in an embarrassingly negative light: the gender stereotypes were reversed!... [there is a potential to] proactively criticis[e] the state in a gently "spousal" way to make a strongly argued point without incurring the state's full-blown violence...

Catherine Lim was able to expose the unconscionable violence of a patriarchal state without being destroyed by it, raise sympathy for the underdog, and mobilise forces of resistance against an authoritarianism through which such high-handed threats of violence were possible. Her potentially castrating actions also set the stage for a state that defined itself in the hyper-masculine terms of rationality and self-control to behave—ironically—in a melodramatic, overly-emotional and even hysterical fashion that would have readily been associated with a debased femininity...

Catherine Lim's affair with the state in 1994 was a "three-steps forward, two-steps-back dance"- but the net movement was still forward."

"The greatest mistake is trying to be more agreeable than you can be." - Walter Bagehot

***

The Winter's Tale was interesting (even if "Exit, pursued by a bear" got changed to "Get creeped up on by a bear and disappear in a flash of lightning"), but even more interesting was observing the Ang Mohs (Caucasians) and comparing them to those at Les Contes d'Hoffman.

Given the nature of the performance/performers, it was no surprise that I only heard American/British accents from them at the former and the French language during the latter (with the proportion of the former dwarfing the latter), but more interesting was that they thronged Circle 3 (i.e. the cheap seats) on both days. Indeed, tonight I saw more blonde and brunette hair in Circle 3 than the Stalls (or at least the part of the Stalls visible from my lofty vantage point).

Yet, during the intermission, whereas the Circle 3 Bar was closed during the Opera (supposedly because of technical issues; in fact I can't remember the last time it was open - probably during King Lear), it was doing brisk business tonight (with some people even bringing their wine in):



I also saw 3 long-haired guys sitting together - perhaps they were a support group (maybe the Québécois are more bohemian than Les Français).

After the play, I found that there was a "Lotus Limousine" stretch limo parked outside:




There was also a huge clusterfuck of taxis, virtuall all of them on call.

Meanwhile I saw about 5 ang mohs at the bus stop tonight, whereas after Hoffman there must've been 30 there.

I thus conclude that French expatriates are much harder hit by the recession than British/American ones.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Cynics regarded everybody as equally corrupt... Idealists regarded everybody as equally corrupt, except themselves." - Robert Anton Wilson

***

CNA's account of Blair's lecture:

"In a speech to some 600 people from around Asia, his key message is the importance of interfaith dialogue... To promote interfaith dialogue, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation is working to link students from different parts in the world in discussions."

Eisen's (interspersed with
my comments):

"
Why is the décor so cheap?

Dude, you've aged. Visibly

four minutes into his speech, he finally quotes from the bible. I predicted five. Damn

he finally quotes from Samuel Huntington... "clash of civilizations". I knew he can't resist that, heheheh

tsk tsk, unlike Obama, he does not mention atheists in the roll call of religions. Tsk tsk tsk

I wished he had shared more with us about his work as envoy in the middle east, rather than pad his speech with vague rhetoric

"religion sometimes comes under attack from a very aggressive secularism..." hello, look who's talking
[Me:
The moment you criticise religion, you're 'aggressive'; http://gssq.blogspot.com/2008/12/what-i-think-of-whenever-people.html (What I think of whenever people complain about militant/aggressive atheists/secularists)]

"I am for freedom of speech... But only if it doesn't affect interfaith harmony" ah, hence the sedition act
[Me:
If you stare at a gang member on the bus,he'll beat you and your friends up. Therefore, I am for jailing those who stare at gangsters]

tan cheng han is beaming as Blair talks about jesus... Confirm he is a Christian too
[Me:
Most pple in our socio-demographic group are Xtian, and I always see pple reading Xtian stuff. Move to a more secular society lah :)]

Q and A - "you said 'love thy neighbour', sir, but only for people of the same faith?" GOOD QUESTION
[Me:
He and Karen Armstrong would have a great time talking politically-correct feel-good rubbish to each other]
[Eisen: HAHAHA Blair just recommended we read Karen's book]

blair effectively replied that you should ignore scripture or choose selectively from it so as not to kill each other
[Me:
i.e. Use religion when it suits your needs and ignore it when it doesn't. Bah, humbug.]

ah, Blair finally does the right thing and attacks those who are devout outside but have no faith inside... Good tactic

Q and A - "how do you involve atheists?" don't force them into group prayer la"


Bottle mishap leads to old man's death

A SINGAPOREAN died of heart failure after his penis became stuck in a soft drink bottle, reported Sin Chew Daily and China Press.

The incident happened when the 77-year-old man used the bottle to masturbate.

China Press reported that the senior citizen got his private part into the bottle and only sought help after his penis could not be dislodged from the bottle despite trying various ways such as applying soap water.

Doctors tried to alleviate the man's suffering by cutting the bottle below the neck but to no avail because by that time, the skin around the penis had started to become inflamed, causing him to be unable to urinate.

His misadventure later led to other medical complications causing his death.



[Addendum: I infer that he was in Malaysia when this happened - when Singaporeans go to Malaysia they become cock, like the country]


MFTTW: i thought he tried to anal sex with it
and then it broke

hello wtf
whose penis is small enough to fit into the neck of a bottle?!?!?!

Me: old men

MFTTW:wtf????
SKINNY enough?

and like.
aiyoh
i'm sure there are other... sufficiently narrow openings.

Me: hurr hurr
women must be too loose for him

MFTTW: even their anuses?

i read in this book that if a woman has had a lot of kids
and she got raped
there won't necessarily be enough bruising
suh that you can say definitively it was a rape

Me: anyway male g-spot notwithstanding men don't masturbate by stuffing stuff up their ass
"It is possible to be below flattery as well as above it." - Thomas Babington Macaulay

***

Someone: hahaha
me just looking for fun

it's fun to just date
no obligations

Me: when you say "looking for fun" people think ONS

Someone: erhm
ok
fine..i shall not say looking for fun


MFTTW: "NUS grads all look v free
the girls esp seem to do nothing but doll themselves up
they're super overdressed for students lor
like more dressed than the working people
I think cos they have nothing else to do in life
the working people don't have that much time to primp"

one of my friends who was complaining about law students who wear 5''
heels when it's totally impractical


Someone: i don't think i wanna weigh anymore

Me: Ignorance is bliss but knowledge is power

Someone: i heard guys like ignorant girls, and girls like powerful guys


Me: Not many people understand "Je veux une petite fille publique"

Someone else: I see a little girl in public?!! haha


Someone on the argument that most people don't mind part-time slavery (aka Reservist) after a few cycles: Does that same logic not defeat the very purpose of NS since after a few years of occupation by a foreign power, Singaporeans would like their new governors?

That argument is flawed and unacceptable. It is a crime to the intellect that [it should be used]

There are many facets of NS that are unacceptable and indefensible, but all these years of maturation have led the SAF to develop really tricky persuasion for it. I bet that is what many officers learn in military school. Silly arguments that have been polished intensively.


Me: why do women like cars

Someone else: why do men like sex

Me: do you?

Someone else: orgasms are the best thing in the world. they make u happy. best of all, they're free.

aiya, women dont need men anymore to get their orgasms la


Someone: my friend told me he was gonna get married

estiamte at 80k cost
30k can subsidise

so u n future spouse have to pay out 50k

so get married
or lifetime geylang membership lor

Me: I think lifetime geylang membership cheaper

Someone: ok la

one time 100 dollar
u can fuck for at least 500 weeks

that's slightly less than 10 yrs

Me: 500 times
depends how often you go :P

Someone: wife sometimes won't even give u
n u gotta take more shit

Me: then 1/4 of the time menses

Someone: yea lor
hahaha


HWMNBN: do you agree that all women are whores?
just direct or indirect?

Me: about as much as all men are rapists
just direct or indirect

HWMNBN: hahahahahahahahahaahahah


TMM: the UK is a lot like Malaysia
in terms of architecture and infrastructure

but th key difference is that its not rotting and decaying
and there's little litter
if at all

and the weather is nice too


Someone who has nicer hair than me: haha
good

i am also irritated when girls ask me 'so when are you cutting your hair'
i say 'cannot leave long ah – you jealous that i have nicer hair than you right'

Me: haha
what do they say

girls get very pissed off at guys with long hair. I think jealous

Someone: yeah, or it's some sexist rule that guys must keep short hair
rubbish

they try to laugh it off, but i bet they're cursing me inside hahahaha

Me: they dont like it when people are sexist about them
but they can be sexist themselves

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pig Butchering Guide:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
"Parts that are delicious
Parts that are not delicious"
"I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true." - Dorothy Parker

***

A good reminder to linguistic purists (i.e. the ignorant):

Merriam-Webster Online: The Word of the Day for March 24, 2009

"negotiate

For the first 250 years of its life, "negotiate" had meanings that hewed pretty close to its Latin root, "negotiari," meaning "to carry on business." Around the middle of the 19th century, though, it developed the meaning "to successfully travel along or over." Although this sense was criticized in the New York Sun in 1906 as a "barbarism creeping into the language," and Fowler's 1926 A Dictionary of Modern English Usage declared that any writer who used it was "literally a barbarian," it has thrived. The Harper Dictionary of Contemporary Usage claimed in both its 1975 and 1985 editions that it is "considered inappropriate in formal speech and writing," but our evidence does not show that there is anything particularly informal about its use."
"Few people can see genius in someone who has offended them." - Robertson Davies

***

JB nursing homes - MOH clarifies
(bizarrely, there isn't a permalink to this on the MOH's main page - which means it can't be linked to and it will fall off in a few months)

"Minister Khaw was only sharing an observation about the different cost structures in JB and Singapore, and in fact this option is something that those who want to stretch their budget are already doing... In fact, some readers shared the view that the availability of lower nursing homes in JB gives many Singaporeans more options."

I was pleasantly surprised to read this. It seems that, contrary to official policy, online opinion expressed in fora beyond REACH is being responded to. Simply put, it's part of good Public Relations - there's no point in letting matters blow up if they don't have to (even if the response is slower than it should be, but then a journalist friend shares that PR people are always overworked).

Meanwhile, the content of the release is also interesting.

The uproar about the Powers That Be forcing us to ship our parents to JB always struck me as ridiculous. Offering Singaporeans more affordable retirement options was portrayed by many commentators as heartlessness and endorsing the shipping of our elderly off to foreign gulags.

Presumably the idea was that there was a sort of substitution effect where, instead of maintaining their parents in Singapore, Singaporeans would kick them to JB or Bintan. This effect would become even stronger with government endorsement (actual or perceived).

Yet, just because the elderly are domiciled in Singapore does not mean that they live good lives. They may be holed up in one-room flats and/or have to work to help maintain themselves. A walk around Singapore during lunchtime reveals many suffering what seems to be the fate of many elderly in Singapore - collecting soft drink cans at food centres and picking up corrugated cardboard for sale. Many surely find living in a retirement home in JB or Bintan preferable to that.

Many elderly also finance their own retirement (e.g. those with no surviving children, or those who prefer not to rely on them), and would definitely appreciate more options; the same logic is seen in people who retire to New Zealand, Malaysia or the countryside.

Of course, a better option would be the implementation of some sort of retirement scheme which involves risk-pooling and some measure of cross-subsidisation, but that will happen as soon as the government changes, so we shall limit ourselves to the art of the possible.

Most people do not understand that giving people more options is not the same as "coercing" them or "exploiting" them. Indeed, even if you used a broad definition of exploitation, as Allen Wood points out in his excellent essay on Exploitation (which will be excerpted here some day), "by interfering with exploitative arrangements... [we] risk consigning the vulnerable person to an even worse fate than being exploited".

You see a similar fuss kicked up about the legalisation of paid organ donation. Yet, assuming there is no coercion involved, why people should get so upset is a mystery.

An alternative argument is to conjure up vague notions about the "dignity of life" which, not coincidentally, has also been used in arguments against general stem cell research and in-vitro fertilisation (test tube babies).

In the end, what people who oppose paid organ donation are essentially saying to putative paid organ donors is: "I want to have more say about what you can do with your body than you".

Similarly, what people who oppose there being retirement homes in JB or Bintan are saying is: "I want you to retire in Singapore, whether you like it or not".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Govt announces relaxation to Internet election advertising rules:

"If our democracy is reduced to slick commercials, clever editing, sharp sound bites and political spin, then I think our democracy is being debased. So I would say that when we craft this, we are very much aware that even as we liberalise, that we continue to make sure that the debate is serious, robust and rational." (emphasis mine)

When I read this, I thought: "What, like someone crying on TV?"


On the up-side:

"
MPs shared some views expressed by netizens and in other forums.

MP for Pasir Ris—Punggol GRC, Penny Low, who also chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for the Information, Communications and the Arts, said: "The Internet is rife with different opinions questioning the intent of the amendment.

"Is this really a step forward towards liberalisation or is this a step backwards to contain certain political parties? Even worse — is this to introduce a catch—all clause to contain even the film producer, the videographer and free speech."

Zaqy Mohamed, MP for Hong Kah GRC, said: "The proliferation of the new media and the ease of means to get films to be produced and distributed outside of Singapore signals that local regulations are becoming less and less effective.""

"You are not superior just because you see the world in an odious light." - Vicomte de Chateaubriand

***

Locks repaired at Gage County jail - "Gustafson said the inmate threw his meal tray against his cell, causing a large mess on the wall adjacent to the cell doors. Pam Vanlaningham, corrections officer on duty, left the area to find something to clean up the mess, but when she returned, the mess had been cleaned up, and not by herself nor anyone else on duty. The inmates would not reveal how the mess was cleaned up. While trying to figure out how it happened, Jim Franzen, a corrections officer on the Saturday night shift, noticed that if the key hole on the outside of the cell door was turned just enough, the door could be popped open and inmates could leave the cell."

Ryanair toilet charge plan: Spend a pound to spend a penny - "LOW-fare airline Ryanair is considering charging passengers to use the toilets on its planes, it was revealed today."

YouTube - What News Anchors Do During Commercial Breaks w/sound - "WGN News anchors Robert Jordan and Jackie Bange have been together for many years. This whole thing started out really small and simple. And then along came the internet, and a video camera, and you tube, and here we are with the funniest dance routine since that scene in Big. It's the original, What News Anchors Do During Commercial Breaks. This one has the nat sound, not cheesy music."

Tourist faux pas - be culturally sensitive while travelling - "I've been told in all seriousness that wearing purple is illegal in Japan - and that women with erect nipples are routinely hauled off by the police in Singapore. Not so. I've been with purple-wearers on Tokyo streets and don't recall locals giving them a second glance. Fashion-conscious Singapore women have told me the worst that would happen to anyone with erect nipples would be to be leered at. Others myths are laws but not enforced - for instance, Singapore's insistence toilets be flushed... Dubai can be particularly misleading because it gives an initial impression of being a liberal anything-goes society."

New anthem strikes a chord in SEAsia - "The European Union has Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and socialists of the world have long risen up to the strains of "The Internationale." Now the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has its own anthem: the not quite so rousing "The ASEAN Way" written by two Thai composers. Given its official premiere at the regional bloc's annual summit in the Thai beach resort of Hua Hin at the weekend, the hymn reaches its climax with the lyrics, "We dare to dream, we care to share. Together for ASEAN.""
I know someone who composed a less insipid version, but what do you expect?

Why we do what we do - "There are those who still don't understand the SDP's strategy and approach to politics. Why do Singapore Democrats insist of defying the law and ending up in court instead of doing the ground work necessary to win elections? The answer is simple: Because the PAP has absolutely no intention of allowing the opposition to win power through elections. The ruling party will continue to introduce new laws and amend existing ones to block any meaningful inroads the opposition makes in elections. The introduction of the GRC system, the increase of election deposit, the restriction of the use of the Internet by opposition parties, etc are done to ensure that opposition parties remain crippled."

Day 18: Wantan mee and me - Bohemia Bunny - "The plate of wantan mee I ate for lunch, however, is merely passable. I detected a hint of chilli, whether due to contamination from chilli sauce or because it picked up capsaicin from the green chilli, I’ll never know. But KL wantan mee HAS NO CHILLI, okay. Well maybe the green ones, but definitely not chilli sauce. *fumes*"
Malaysian urban legend debunked!

A U.N. resolution seeks to criminalize opinions that differ with the Islamic faith. - "In the same weeks that this resolution comes up for its annual renewal at the United Nations, its chief sponsor-government (Pakistan) makes an agreement with the local Taliban to close girls' schools in the Swat Valley region (a mere 100 miles or so from the capital in Islamabad) and subject the inhabitants to Sharia law. This capitulation comes in direct response to a campaign of horrific violence and intimidation, including public beheadings. Yet the religion of those who carry out this campaign is not to be mentioned, lest it "associate" the faith with human rights violations or terrorism."
"Good-bye. I am leaving because I am bored." - George Sanders, last words

***

"𤾓𢆥𥪝𡎝𠊛嗟
𡦂才𡦂命窖羅恄饒
𣦆戈沒局𣷭橷
仍調𥉩𧡊罵忉疸𢚸
邏之彼嗇私豐
𡗶青慣退𦟐紅打慳"

Monday, March 23, 2009

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit." - Harry S Truman

[Someone: It's even more amazing what you can accomplish when you do not have to care about who gets the blame.]

***

Someone: One of the reasons why the budget keeps going up - and this is something that applies to the civil service in general (and it's something I'm very sore about, because it's a friggin' waste of taxpayers' money) - is because of this mentality:

1. X Unit in Ministry of Y gets, say, $100 (for ease of explanation) to spend for the financial year.
2. Come Februrary or March, X Unit has only spent $70, and may probably only spend $80 by the end of the financial year.
3. Person in charge of finances balks at realisation, and starts spending money mercilessly, so that X Unit's expenditure becomes $90, $95, $99 - anything, as long as it's very close to $100.
4. The next year, X Unit requests for $110 or is given $110 anyway by their higher-ups, in light of their expenditure for the previous year.

Which is really stupid, because the expenditure has been artificially inflated, so this 'budgeting' shit is a farce. Alternatively,

1. X Unit in Ministry of Y gets, say, $100 (for ease of explanation) to spend for the financial year.
2. Come Februrary or March, X Unit has already spent the $100 because of irreverent and irrelevant spending.
3. X Unit requests for $120 the next year in light of expenditure from previous year.

Supposedly they get audited and stuff. But seriously... you think it works?

It really gets my goat because I have heard so many times the phrase in its various permutations of "Got money, just spend" or "Must spend if not next year they give us less money". W.r.t. to the latter phrase, if you can only spend $70 or $80 a year, then you want so much money for what? I know this is to have some kind of 'buffer' but still... there should be another way around this. Anyway, the burden merely gets transferred to everybody in the long run, because we're paying taxes for this kind of stupidity that has been engendered in the civil service after years and years of 'tradition'.

Me: So what do you expect them to do?

Frankly I can't think of a better solution. Even if you assure departments that they will not have their budgets cut if they don't spend all of it, they will still want larger budgets.

Presumably department spending is audited properly to make sure it is not anyhow spent. Other than that I can't think of anything.

Someone: Roll-over leftover budgets into 'reserves'? I.e. departments with left-over budgets from the previous FY will have the surplus rolled-over to a 'reserve' that department can tap into the next FY? Sort of to allay the fears of departments that there won't be enough money to spend and to prevent overall government expenditure from artificial inflation?


NB: I think this applies to more contexts than the Civil Service; many of the gripes people have about it could be and are voiced about big companies in general.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critic." - Ambrose Bierce

***

And now for something totally different.. - "So I looked at the competition on W4M and thought, "What the hell, let's give 'em something different..."
Me:
Neurotic
Socially inept
No career or career goals to speak of
Slightly below average intelligence
No interest at all in art, sports, or anything that would make me remotely interesting
Absolutely no sense of humour
Great cleavage
Low standards
You:
Emotionally unstable
Problems with commitment
Devious
Extensive record of infidelity
Arrogant
Extremely skilled in emotional manipulation
Morally bankrupt"
HWMNBN: the girl's description actually sounds a lot like you
­i hope yo uarne't moon lighting


"An Insult to Every Black Man in America" - "Slave owners beat their slaves, says attorney Randall Vogt. Therefore, it's "justified" for black men to beat their sons. Vogt is defending Isaac Cortez Bynum, who beat his 2-year-old son to death, and says he'll use a "post traumatic slave syndrome" defense "in a general way" in Bynum's Beaverton, Ore., murder trial. "If you are African American and you are living in America, you have been impacted," says Joy DeGruy-Leary, assistant professor at Portland State University's Graduate School of Social Work, who originated the slave syndrome theory. The boy's autopsy showed he had been abused over a lengthy period and had suffered brain injury, a broken neck, broken ribs, and scores of whip marks all over his body. When shown the boy's autopsy photos, DeGruy-Leary said the injury pattern "falls in the rubric" of "normal" for descendants of slaves."

Scots BA pilot sues after colleagues tell him: 'Scotland's a welfare state paid for by the English middle classes' - "A Scottish pilot is suing British Airways over claims he was racially abused by his English middle-class colleagues. Captain Douglas Maughan alleges he was sent offensive letters and called a 'Jock' who should go back to Scotland."

Is Accessibility Killing PC Gaming? - "PC games tend to be more about choice and cluster in a good number of complex mechanics. Console games meanwhile aren’t actually dumber as many PC gamers allege, but they do tend to offer more linear and action-based gameplay... The renewed focus on creating deep but accessible game experiences is to my mind the real reason that games are changing and that PC games are often being said to be getting consolified – but there’s a real difference between a poor console port and a game which has been designed to make the best of both worlds... PC games aren’t dying and I hope they never do, though I did admittedly say the same thing back when the word went around that the adventure game genre was being put in its coffin."

What The Hell Is Wrong With Japanese Games? - "Scanning over the usual top RPGs of the western world indicates to me that developers and audiences favour a game where at least some form of cinematic realism is forever in the foreground. Western audiences can accept magic-wielding Dungeoneers it seems, but lose faith when NPCs carry swords bigger than a schoolbus. That 'I-swear-I'm-not-compensating-for-anything-honest' look may work for Sephiroth, but not for Minsc. The opposite seems to be more or less true with Japanese games, where it's fine to have players fighting epic sword battles while crashing motorbikes into each other – that's far above just cinematic realism and well into pure cinema"

True Barbecue - The Great American Cooking Tradition - "Moving forward to nail down what true barbecue is, it's time to look at the regional variations. In Texas we have beef, particularly brisket. In the Carolinas we find pork, either whole hogs or pork shoulder. As you start moving towards Kansas City you find ribs, generally pork ribs but beef isn't unheard of. Out in western Kentucky you find Mutton. The thing all these traditions have in common is low cooking temperatures over a long time with the introduction of smoke to flavor and tenderize. They all start out with tough and unruly cuts of meat and end up with tender, pull apart delicacies."

Octopus survives 5 days on the run - "Five days later, he was spotted by a staff member making a dash for the door... Another octopus named Harry - after Harry Houdini - escaped from the same tank. He was found halfway up a staircase."

Woman batters man with bagel; Mom turns kid's Xbox off, gets taco thrown in face
Why is throwing food at people a criminal offence?!
"Learning to dislike children at an early age saves a lot of expense and aggravation later in life." - Robert Byrne

***

HWMNBN: As I have often said, libertarians expect too much of humans, communism expects too little.


Someone: *** was sharing with me how he cut his cock during his army days to get 2 weeks of mc

Me: OMG
I'm not the only one with that idea

I didn't know anyone would do that


Someone else: 2 days ago i mislabeled my folder as 2008 instead of 2009 and had a major freak out after i could not find it
and only realized 1 hr later it was 2008

i wrote 03-10-08 instead of 03-10-09

Me: do it 2009-03-10 lah
easier to find some more
tsk

Someone else: then i'll have like 20 folders starting with 2009

Me: then your eye will move on to the next bit
and see the month

Someone else: heh heh

hiyah my life is not THAT complicated lah
i may date a girl
but she doesn't train me up for such things

Me: if complication in your life is measured by file structure, you have it good

Someone else: bwahahhaha

but i'm a grad student. our lives are dictated by file structures.
your self-worth is only as much as the number of data backups you have


UD #6 on my moobs: -_-
okayyy

hahahas, but man
it looks huge

do you drink soya?

Me: hee hee
I've heard various theories about getting big boobs

bigger than yours isit

the theories range from milk to chicken breast (when young)

[Ed: Later I added that it cannot be Soya, since in Japan they consume soya products everyday]


Someone on sexual harassment: hahaha not that i think that SH is not a problem, but seriously, i think some girls are just too oversensitive

rubbing against you or exposing yourself or making lewd jokes openly is wrong, yes
but checking a girl out, especially if she's wearing a tight t-shirt with sexual innuendo isn't

i was gonna comment something about how some girls like to wear t-shirts with interesting slogans
then when all you're trying to do is read what the slogan is, they think you're staring at their breasts

and is that sexual harassment?

plus i think they're not being all that sincere when they say they are not trying to instigate a crackdown

i think what they want is to drum up publicity so they can have a witchhunt

plus all these girls think they have been harassed before, so that will inadvertently colour their perception of men on public transport from then on

that liane girl herself said it "we really have personal stakes in the issue"


Someone else: The army experience has left such a bitter taste in my mouth that I find the idea of staying in the land of my birth unappealing

Now this may not be the humble thing to say
But by most any objective measure I think you and I are highly educated people who should be welcome in any country

And the fact that there the army turns us against the land of our birth should say something about the tremendous cost to it

It's not as though we're an isolated case either

Me: I think the sad thing is that most people aren't rational
so they go "I've already served my 2 years. I might as well stay here"

that's like a rape victim going: "I've already lost my virtue. I might as well marry my rapist"
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