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Valar Qringaomis

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Friday, May 10, 2013

HDB vs NKF

As we know, HDB Singapore (seems the acronym is also the stock ticket for HDFC Bank Limited) changed its pricing model from a cost-plus model (they based a flat's selling price on how much it cost to build it) to a market-minus model, which explains why "the HDB resale price... more than quadrupled in five years from 1990 to 1996" (Factors Affecting Housing Prices in Singapore, Tan & Liu 1998).

In this sense, HDB's subsidy is just like that of the old NKF's - they "subsidise" you in the sense of selling you the product for less than you would get in the open market, but they still make money.

Given this, I was quite surprised to read Mah's claim in 2010 that some BTOs,

can be below cost. For example, for Punggol Spectra and Fernvale Crest - two recent Build-To-Order (BTO) projects - the average development cost per flat was $220,000 to $240,000, while the average selling price was $160,000 to $200,000, or $40,000 to $60,000 below cost

Of course, this conundrum can be resolved by remembering that HDB "purchases" land from the SLA (so it's just an internal transfer price). In other words, it's taking from the left pocket to put in the right pocket.

Anyhow, politically this is convenient too, for the stock of existing home owners (who are happy when flat prices rise since they feel richer) is larger than the stock of prospective home owners (who are unhappy when flat prices rise, since they will have to pay more for their first property). Of course, once the latter purchase their first property, they enter the former group and want prices to go on rising (besides the illusion of wealth, they also won't be underwater on their mortgages).

The old policy is supposedly changing, but there is still talk of HDB paying "market rate for its land and construction costs", and coupled with the usual naive market fundamentalism (e.g. public transport must be privatised, because private is always better) I don't think there will be too much of a change.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Three course meals and sandwiches

"Sex can be just gorgeous—and sometimes it is the most beautiful thing that can happen between a man and a woman. But don't you also think that it can be just practical? Like when you're hungry and don't want a three-course meal with wine, music, and ambience; you just want a sandwich. You don't love the sandwich. You don't hate the sandwich. You just want to eat the sandwich and feel satisfied."

- Pepper Schwartz

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Links - 8th May 2013

Evidence to Suggest that Copulatory Vocalizations in Women Are Not a Reflexive Consequence of Orgasm - "With regard to the reasons females gave for making copulatory vocalization, 66% reported using these to speed up their partner’s ejaculation. This was done to relieve discomfort/pain, boredom, and fatigue in equal proportion, as well as because of time limitations. Importantly, 92% of participants felt very strongly that these vocalizations boosted their partner’s self-esteem and 87% reported using them for this purpose. To further emphasize the secondary nature of a female’s orgasmin their motivation towards engaging in sexual intercourse, 68% of females responded positively (i.e., [5 cm approximate mid point on the 10 cm visual analogue scale used) to the question asking whether they would stay with an otherwise satisfactory partner, even if they never reached orgasm with them... all women in this study made copulatory vocalizations and that at least some of these were under conscious control... the intensity of vocalizations increased prior to the male orgasm and coincident with this. Once male orgasm had been achieved, however, lower levels of female vocalization were reported. Together, these data clearly illustrate that human female orgasm and copulatory vocalizations are dissociated during sexual intercourse... These are reflexive, honest or dishonest signals of their state of arousal. To reinforce the point concerning conscious control, nearly 80% of females reported making copulatory vocalizations even when they knew they were not going to orgasm themselves. As such, the expression of these vocalizations can and probably is used to manipulate the behavior of the partner and in particular to influence the timing of his orgasm... These data were remarkably consistent with findings reported in non-human primates, where, for example, in Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus) the likelihood of male ejaculation is related to the intensity and speed of female vocalizations during copulation (Todt, Hammerschmidt, Ansorge,& Fischer, 1995; Todt&Pohl, 1984) and this appears to be independent of the male’s copulatory effort"
"Their recent observations of a clan of horny Barbary macaques revealed that when the females made noise during sex, the males ejaculated 59 percent of the time, as opposed to less than 2 percent of the time when the females kept quiet. The scientists also noticed that the females made more noise when they (the macaques, not the scientists) were most fertile, and the power and speed of the male macaque's thrusting increased accordingly"

Why There Will Never Be Viagra for Women - "Psychologist Richard Lippa teamed up with the BBC to survey over 200,000 people of all ages from all over the world concerning the strength of their sex drive and how it affects their desires. He found a similar inversion of male and female sexuality: for men, both gay and straight, higher sex drive increased the specificity of their sexual desire. Straight guys with higher sex drives tended to be more focused on women, while higher octane gay guys were more intent on men. But with women—at least nominally straight women— Lippa found the opposite effect: the higher her sex drive, the more likely a woman was to report being attracted to both men and women. Self-identified lesbians showed the same pattern as men: a higher sex drive meant more women-only focus. Perhaps this explains why nearly twice as many women as men consider themselves bisexual, while only half as many consider themselves to be exclusively gay... Sexologist Lisa Diamond spent over a decade studying the ebb and flow of female desire, finding that many women experience sexual attraction to specific people, rather than to a particular gender. She writes, “The hypothesis that female sexuality is fundamentally fluid provides the most robust, comprehensive, and scientifically supported explanation for the research data.”"

Women in Bed: What's All the Noise About? (Part II) - "British primatologist Stuart Semple found that, “In a wide variety of species, females vocalize just before, during or immediately after they mate. These vocalizations,” Semple says, “are particularly common among the primates and evidence is now accumulating that by calling, a female incites males in her group….” Precisely. There’s a good reason the sound of a woman enjoying a sexual encounter entices a heterosexual man. Her “copulation call” is a potential invitation to come hither, thus provoking sperm competition. Semple recorded more than 550 copulation calls from seven different female baboons and analyzed their acoustic structure. He found that these complex vocalizations contained information related both to the female’s reproductive state (the vocalizations were more complex when females were closer to ovulation) and to the status of the male “inspiring” any given vocalization (calls were longer and contained more distinct sonic units during matings with higher-ranked males). Thus, in these baboons at least, listening males could presumably gain information as to their likelihood of impregnating a calling female, as well as some sense of the rank of the male they’d find with her if they approached. Primatologist Meredith Small agrees that the copulation calls of female primates are easily identifiable: “Even the uninitiated can identify female nonhuman primate orgasm, or sexual pleasure," she says. "Females,” Small tells us, “make noises not heard in any other context but mating”... William J. Hamilton and Patricia C. Arrowood analyzed the copulatory vocalizations of various primates, including three human couples going at it. They noticed that “female sounds gradually intensified as orgasm approached and at orgasm assumed a rapid, regular (equal note lengths and inter-note intervals) rhythm absent in the males’ calls at orgasm.” Still, the authors can’t help sounding a tad let down when they note, “Neither sex [of human] … showed the complexity of note structure characteristic of baboon copulatory vocalizations.” But that’s probably a good thing, because elsewhere in their article we learn that female baboons’ copulation calls are clearly audible to even human ears from three hundred meters away."

Weight gain in smokers after quitting cigarettes: meta-analysis - "Smoking cessation is associated with a mean increase of 4-5 kg in body weight after 12 months of abstinence, and most weight gain occurs within three months of quitting. Variation in weight change is large, with about 16% of quitters losing weight and 13% gaining more than 10 kg."

Momentous Corp.’s Company’s ban on smokers leaves people asking ‘Who’s next?’ - "if smoking were to be a protected status, it would have to be on the grounds of disability. Both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. “Nicotine addiction might be treated as a disability under human rights legislation, as is alcohol or drug addiction. If that is the case, then a rule banning smoking during leisure time would probably amount to unlawful disability discrimination, as would asking questions during recruitment about whether the employee smokes,” said David Doorey, professor of employment and labour law at York University... Much of the debate over such policies centres around the question: Who’s next? The obese? People who like to hanglide?... Michael Lynk, law professor at the University of Western Ontario, said companies who ban smokers argue they tend to have more illnesses, and be away from work more often. The same thing, he said, can be true for someone who has cancer, or heart disease... “We wouldn’t say [that] an employer could say ‘We don’t want to hire someone with one leg’ unless that’s a bona fide occupational requirement, like you’re a place-kicker for the Argonauts”... The one organization Mr. Lynk believes has a good argument on those grounds is the Canadian Cancer Society (which has a no-smoker policy), since so much of their work revolves around the advocacy of tobacco cessation."

Ship just got real in Leviathan: Warships trailer - "At some point, if you’ve seen enough indie game trailers, you might start to sour on how each game acts completely unaware that it’s just another physics-based puzzle platformer with a “retro” aesthetic. The developers behind Leviathan: Warships seem to be fully aware that strategy games are slow and difficult to convey as exciting in a short trailer. So, they thankfully played to that, and gave the world one of the best video game trailers we’ve seen in recent memory."

Secretly photographed? - Krystal Choo on moral courage for kids - "offenders repeatedly intrude upon the modesty of such girls, unfairly robbing them of their dignity... Girls need not be afraid to speak up and should not fear that others might accuse them of “asking for it” when they become such victims. This is because no one ever asks for violation and there is never a good reason to violate anyone. Knowing that society is always on your side and not the pervert’s side can also help girls overcome the fear and shock that such violation inflicts."
Excellent - taking photos of women in public is intruding upon their modesty and "violation" (note the similarity to rape rants). Now we can throw them in prison (as long as they're not STOMP contributors)!

Study: Belief in an angry God associated with variety of mental illnesses - "belief in a forgiving, loving God is associated with positive psychological traits, “almost protecting against psychopathology”"

Jason Collins Is No Hero; Mark Bingham Was - "You see, I'm old enough to know black people who weren't allowed to eat in the same places I did. And if they tried, they'd see the hurtful end of a water hose and German Shepard. I just can't get excited about Collins' news. Big deal. He had nothing on the line. His "coming out" benefits no one but himself. If a ton of endorsements were in jeopardy, or if his spot on a team were in doubt and he came out anyway ... well, then that would be impressive. Let's be honest: Collins is an uber-wealthy and talented super athlete in our celebrity-obsessed society. I doubt he has much to worry about outside of his bubble. So I'm sorry if I can't get worked up about this... Was I always rejecting gay heroes? Perhaps the problem is who the gay community chooses to hold up for praise: Barney Frank, Dan Savage, Rosie O'Donnell. These people aren't heroic, they are attractive meme-advancers. All three are quite mean human beings, I might add."

The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy - "As the first full-length study of conspiracy theories in the Middle East, The Hidden Hand reveals how such theories play a powerful role in the political life of the region. Placing conspiracy theories in their historical context, Daniel Pipes shows how the idea of the conspiracy has come to suffuse life in the Middle East, from the most private family conversations to the highest and most public levels of politics. Pipes then looks at conspiracies and their strength as a partial explanation for much of the region’s problems, including its record of political extremism, its culture of violence, and its lack of modernization"

Not for the first time: Oborne and Morrison wrong on Iran - "Some people can be accused of warmongering against Iran. Others can be accused of completely denying reality... The article goes on for some time afterward, and not a single mention of Iranian’s regional destabilization is mentioned. In fact, in the entirety of the piece, one would be hard pressed to find a reason to fear the acquisition of a nuclear arsenal by clerical fascists. Claims of ‘sheer ignorance’ regarding Iran’s aggression are deliciously funny when one can point to a bare-faced terrorist organization like Hezbollah... It is of course no secret that Hezbollah is sponsored to the sum of $200 million annually from Tehran and has received training from the Revolutionary Guards. Oh, and did anybody notice the Iranian-built rockets flying from Gaza in December? Not Oborne and Morrison it would appear. Instead the pair issue a compulsory dig at Israel"

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

So who owns oppression, really?

So who owns oppression, really?

"One of the chapters in Bertrand Russell’s Unpopular Essays (1950) is The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed. In the essay, Russell criticises the tendency of those who marched with him in support of various social justice issues to not simply stand against oppression, but also to insist that the oppressed are somehow epistemically privileged. They were wiser, more experienced, perhaps even more objective than those who were not oppressed. An uncharitable reading (Russell’s) would be that it’s actually good for you to be oppressed...

The same mistake can manifest in the opposite sort of way. It manifests when we dismiss somebody else’s opinion because of their perceived privilege – because they haven’t been there, or experienced that (namely, the places and things you have, or those you presume to speak for have). Mostly, we make this mistake when we talk about racism and sexism...

Why trust the view from the oppressed perspective to be more reliable than the non-oppressed view? Perhaps oppression brings with it such epistemic distortion that you’re less able to understand even your own situation, never mind that of others...

A phrase such as “check your privilege”... is meant to simultaneously destabilise your interlocutors epistemic foundations, as well as to shame them. Either or both of these effects result in a rhetorical victory for you, while making it less likely that she will ever again dare to express the heresy in question.

In arguments which pivot on oppression via sexual identity, this trick is accomplished through using a word like “mansplaining” in place of “explaining”. If the man then accuses you of being blinded by your rage, you could then deploy the word “ableism”, which accuses him of thinking blindness to be something negative. If you’re really lucky, the man in question would be both white and wealthy, in which case his “neoliberal whiteliness” will hopefully shut him up for good...

There is nevertheless a vast difference between being blind to privilege of various forms on the one hand, and thinking that privilege makes you wrong (or rather, that absence of privilege makes you right) on the other. Yes, people have different viewpoints, and those viewpoints are always a factor of their class, race, gender and so forth. But if we think it offensive that negative traits are attributed to people because of these secondary characteristics (insert your preferred gender/race stereotype here), why is it not also wrong to attribute positive traits on the grounds of those characteristics?

You can’t be guaranteed to understand a situation better than someone else simply because you think you inhabit that situation. Yes, it is a factor, and it’s a factor which might even contribute to understanding, on average. But it might sometimes blind you to reality through confirmation bias, or through an overly emotive and maybe irrational interpretation. Meanwhile, someone speaking from a different position might have done sufficient homework, or be sufficiently sensitive, to have a better understanding than you do – even if she’s not a “representative” of the group in question...

It’s also a legitimate problem, and an evasion of your epistemic responsibilities, to refuse to question your own opinions simply because the questions are being raised by a rich, white, heterosexual man. To do so is to take a few external (and often arbitrary) signs as representing the totality of a person and the justification they have for their opinions. It’s a bold claim to make that “whiteness” or “maleness” overrides everything else about a person. In fact, in another world we might call these claims racist or sexist."

Where is she from?


My friend sent me a video and said the girl was Singaporean. However, I am positive that she is not (despite claiming that she's from Singapore) because of her accent in English. The title of the video is probably correct - she is Taiwanese, as those from Mainland China have a somewhat different accent in English. However I am throwing this open to the court of public opinion. Where do you think she is from?

Note: these 2 minutes of a longer video are excerpted under fair use provisions

PS: I have no idea where the original video came from. Do let me know if you know.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Tim Ho Wan queue a few minutes ago

Entertainment for the exams

Looks like someone just finished exams over at NUS Confessions:

"I'm a girl from SOC who just finished her last final exams in NUS. Looks and figure wise, I consider myself slightly above average only but not so much that I attract too much attention generally except in SOC. I would probably be nothing if I'm in FASS. Even so, let me recall dating record, 7 propositions from guys in SOC throughout my 4 years, one from FASS and one from Business. I dated 2 guys from SOC for just 6 months in total, FASS guy for 6 months and the Business guy for my final year. We are still together.

Now, this is generalisation, but I feel being in a male-dominated faculty like SOC or Engin really makes me feel like a piece of meat being mentally undressed wherever I go for classes. I seemed to get most of the attention and hence switch off from SOC guys totally. All the SOC guys who propositioned me are either ugly immature nerds or are just plain jocks who chose SOC only because it was the only course they could get with their results. There seems to be a variance between the the number of eye-candies in Business/FASS vs Computing/Engin.

I dated the 2 guys in the hope that their hearts are better than their outside appearances. Sadly, it was not the case. They are more willing to spend time understanding their video games and computers more than they spent understanding me or women in general. Come on, even though unlike most girls, I know programming and algorithms, must you discuss those topics again outside class? Women are not like logical machines, we need the emotional connection.

Dress sense in SOC is clearly no where near the league as in Business for example. Even on important presentations, most of you dress worse than a Business student in his slackest days. In fact, I got weird comments for overdressing when my group of guys chose to present in their shorts and slippers.

I find Business and FASS guys way more articulate and mature. Their command of English seems light years ahead compared to the stuttering nerds. Business guys especially, seem to have the aura of ambition that SOC students seem to lack. They can voice out their inner thoughts and emotions much better, know how to cheer me up when I'm down etc. It seems all the SOC guys are horny copies of each other whereas the non-Science guys have a more unique flavour to them. About the FASS guy, it was only because his parents didn't approve of us because of differing religions.

Fitness wise, I seem to feel that Computing guys are not as physically fit in general. I know they are exceptions so don't flame me, its just that the majority are short, skinny, nerdy dudes who seriously need more time out in the sun and on the track than behind the screen. Business guys seem to be taller, more buff and give me the feeling of protection.

Oh and finally the fun part, the sex bit. I admit my sample size is small, but from the 4 guys I had, the FASS guy was the most creative (sorry my bf, but thats true) followed by my current bf with the 2 SOC guys far behind. I chalk it up to them being inexperienced virgins and if they have, its probably from porn. I know the argument, you can't get better without more experience but seriously as a girl with modern sexual needs, I don't care about your excuse of me being your first gf. It just proves how much of a loser you are for being a virgin or having your first relationship only in Uni. Either you give me a good time or I show you the door, the fairer sex is the one that decides when to spread our legs for you so we make the rules. My rule is that you don't waste my time learning on the job, you better know how to do yours before you start. Your learning should have started on innocent girls from your JC or poly. Imagine applying for a a fresh grad job when you are in your 40s. Uni girls like me have higher expectations of sex as we climb the academic ladder and gain more sexual experience.

So as a piece of advice to girls in NUS, date FASS and business guys. They are more mature, posses greater awareness of the real world outside the land of the Matrix and communicate better with you. Poor communication in a relationship is as good as bad or no communication. Sex with SOC guys, totally cmi, feel more like an emotionless porn actress after the act.

For my final advice to my male SOC mates before I leave, watch less porn and jerk off less, it is not only bad for you, its totally inaccurate. Dress better, go to the gym more often, take up those CELC speaking and writing classes then maybe you stand a better chance with women in the dating game. Remember, computers don't propagate your genes, women do.

#from a girl who actually feels disadvantaged in the dating game in the land of nerdy guys with so few eye-candies."

France 2012 - Day 2 - Montmartre

France 2012
Day 2 - 14th October - Montmartre


Having arrived at almost midnight the previous day, I set my alarm for 8:30am but woke before 7. It seemed the gods wanted me to roam and not chill, so who was I to deny them?

I had a lunch appointment, so I deigned to take the hotel breakfast (it was still kind of dark) and decided to walk around in the morning.

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What happens with Air France cost cutting - the most austere boarding pass I'd seen from a full-fare airline (someone left this boarding pass in the toilet - it was after the time printed on the boarding pass so I guessed he didn't need it anymore)

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"Square Caulaincourt"
I was curious about why it wasn't "Place Caulaincourt". "Square" is borrowed from English and refers to "Petit jardin public, souvent établi au milieu d’une place".

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Stair going down from Square

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Rue Pierre Dac

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Métro with old-style sign

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Rue St Vincent

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Dalida
Presumably the bust is not of her at 54

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View of Sacré-Cœur

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Legend of St Denis

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St Denis statue in garden, with him holding his head in his hands

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Ship mosaic

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Avenue Junot

According to the guidebook, this was the only original windmill left in the area.

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Windmill

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Creative vandalism. I asked 2 guys at the bistro door smoking and talking. They didn't know what CVD was (Google gives me results on the French Paradox about diet).

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I like the elaborated sign

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The man emerging from the wall was weird enough, but look at the buttocks on the right.

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Ship. Presumably this was the coat of arms of the area.

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No dog-walking

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Ostrich graffiti

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Rue Norvins, Sacré-Cœur in fog

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Engravings evocative of La Belle Epoque

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Rue des Saulles, with artist
I thought he was an Asian Asian but then he spoke in French. I suppose most Asians wouldn't waste their time sketching.

It was about 9am on a Sunday morning and there were a lot of Asians, and not just tourists. I counted 3 East Asian lady shopkeepers and one black. Caucasian shopkeepers were nowhere to be seen (IIRC).

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Sacré-Cœur in mist

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St Pierre

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Sign about St Pierre, church dating to the 12th c. This sign was covered by commercial operations:

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Wine - cheaper than hot chocolate.

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"Tu veux connaître et aimer Jésus, viens nous rejoindre !"
You don't vouvoyer sheep.

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Jesus behind a dustbin
I hope they at least get kickbacks from the concessionaires, who had set up in the courtyard

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"The parish of St Pierre has fallen to a strange sickness : the parishioners have lost their appetite, they don't eat anymore, they don't drink anymore and worst... they've lost their spiritual hunger (drumroll). Father Francis, the doctor J.C and the cook Claude have the mission of giving Life back to the parish (drumroll). Do you want to help them??? Every positive response will let the parishioners regain their physical and spiritual health"
You can't fault their marketing

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"No shorts or extravagant informal clothes"
Whatever "extravagant informal clothes" are

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Notre Dame of Montmartre

There was mass ongoing I counted 15 atendees, a priest, his assistant and an organist somewhere.

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The church was quite plain, with modern stained glass.

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Church door

In a sign of old age, I took my time browsing and enjoying the market stalls near the church.

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Sausagefest - stall with regional hams and sausages

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"Liberty. Equality. Leftist Front"
Notice they don't mention Fraternity - rich people are presumably not brothers of the Left.

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Sacré-Cœur in mist

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Café culture, aka people-watching (and presumably gossiping about them)
Inside there was a table of 3-4 people, all of whom were facing the window

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I don't know why I took this

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You know things are bad when you have a map of dustbins

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"Militant du goût"
This is an organisation dedicated to gastronomy

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"A little too much Franche-Comté"

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View from top of the butte

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Sacré-Cœur

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"If you love birds, don't feed them"
Feed the birds... NOT

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Even at this early hour (9:45am) individuals from a certain demographic were alreay there. From above I saw them scamming hapless tourists.

I decided to skip Montmartre cemetery due to time constraints - Offenbach and Berlioz could wait. The rain would've made it gloomy and treacherous anyway.

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Human statue, and not a very good one too. He fidgeted and talked to someone, and moving.

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Sacré-Cœur

It was my third time Sacré-Cœur, but it was always nice to walk through.

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Door

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View from Sacré-Cœur

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To crypt

I couldn't remember visiting the crypt, so I went there (turns out it was closed in 2006). I asked the staff member what was inside and she said "les reliques de la basilique". I was quite annoyed because there was almost nothing inside: just stuff not ostentatious enough to go upstairs.

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Chapel

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Altar

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"Anonyme"

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Houses of God in France

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Stuff

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St Denis and St Genovefa (Geneviève). The latter is the patroness of Paris.

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Sts Donatien and Rogatien

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Bourru - new wine
This was 3-4% and was like a soft drink!

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Pork sandwich specialis "Sandwich Raclette". Their motto: "Some lard or some pork"

I went back to St Pierre, and there was another service ongoing with 2-3 times the people and 3 times the priests. I was impressed.

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"A bit too much of Franche-Comté" again
The stalls were part of the "Fête des Vendanges" (grape harvesting festival)

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All I can say is "mmm"

It was quite fun visiting the stalls and talking with the stallholders. I was very surprised at how friendly they were, and remarked on this to one stallholder, who said they came from all over France. On hearing this, I suddenly understood: they were not Parisians. I told the stallholder that Parisians were not nice, and he diplomatically said "it's different".

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Hunny. I can't tell if this was supposed to be Winnie the Pooh in his honeybee guise:



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Ivy-covered house

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Vineyard
Would you dare drink wine made from these grapes? The terroir is rich with vehicle fumes

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Artificial cigarette ad

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Random street

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"Marriage and PACS Salon"
Civil unions are not left out!

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"Daily produce is expensive. FALSE!... Superior cooked ham"
So what does one do with inferior ham?


Ad for flowers
There were 5 men in the series (from a static display I saw) but the videos only featured the black guy

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"Sex beasts: seduction in the animal world"
Too bad I wouldn't be in Paris to see this (well it's on until August this year)

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"97% of people who try SKYN recommend it... It changes everything. Skyn Original: the sensation of not wearing anything"
They can go fight with Okamoto
Are the 97% women who recommend it?

Line 5 of the Métro actually stops *inside* Gare d'Austerlitz. That was quite cool.

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"Bachelorette: (un)faithful, rebellious/beautiful, (im)perfect... These girls have everything to (dis)please"

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"No: not everything was better in the past"
Against uncritical romanticisation of the past!
I was amused by the cod liver oil - I used to consume that

I was waiting for my lunch appointment with a Selebriti, and a Jehovah's Witness passed me a pamphlet. One guy then came to argue with them, saying they were criminals and condemned them as 5 centuries out of date. Then the Jehovah's Witness said the Nazis condemned too.

I went to eat Laotian food with the Selebriti, at "Lao Douang Chan".

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Lao Douang Chan menu: it seemed mostly Vietnamese. Notice the menu was in French and Chinese - but not Lao.

Amusingly the guy spoke Mandarin (it was run by Laotian Chinese).

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Laotian Laksa (pork), item 45. It wasn't very spicy.

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Noodles with 3 Treasures (char siew, sio bak, chicken). I tasted onion oil, and it was like Indomie. This was Cantonese.

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Beef skewers, served with medical gauze. This was Laotian-Vietnamese

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Mussels (Thai). These were the only bad item, as they weren't very fresh and the Chili-Basil didn't quite work. They were also small.

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Selebriti

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Another table had something that looked like bak zhang. I asked and it was an off-menu item like amok. It was alright.

The spring rolls were alright.

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How the beef satay worked: the gauze was to keep the skin of the rolls separate

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Perles de coco à la cacahuète (coconut balls with peanut)
This was like mua chee with coconut and peanut inside

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Coconut ice cream. This was super gao.

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"Caroline Vigneaux loses her dress"

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"14 years of line 14. Come share a moment of conviviality with our staff on Monday 15 October from 7am onwards"
Erm. Good luck for the morning rush hour.

In Rennes station, one of the huge ads had stickers on it denouncing large ads, saying 50x70 was enough. Ahh, socialism!

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"C&A" ads with stickers: "Stop looking for disaster. Stop advertising"

The website is hilarious. Here is a translation:

"Stop the advertising invasion in the Paris metro. I am upset and disgusted to be subjected to innumerable ads in the metro. They attack me and fatigue me. I cannot escape without closing my eyes. They are often sexist, the hype encourages overconsumption, wastage and spending more. I am not opposed to commercial and cultural information.

This is why I ask:
- that we remove all advertising brackets/frames in the Paris metro
- that we replace them with a maximum of 4 non-luminated panels of 2 square metres per station, on which will be posted posters which are no larger than 50x70cm... this will let the user come closer to know more according to his needs rather than imposing on users. This will be 8 square metres of posters per station, rather than 144 today on average
- that in corridors non-luminated panels will have a space of at least 30 metres between them

I support the non-violent action and civil disobedience of Reposeurs"

I suppose the same people will complain when fares went up if their measure is accepted. The solution, undoubtedly, is higher taxes!

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"(Re)disover your colleagues!"

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"We love, we support... 3rd National Day of Listening. Listening to the excluded"
Taxpayer money supporting subversive social enterprise!

I tried to get a SIM card, but the normal Relay (bookshop chain) didn't sell SIM cards. I was asked to go to a tabac (tobacconist) - perhaps mobile phones are addictive. Yet, Relay sold porn. At one tabac I said I was in France for 2 weeks and they told me they couldn't get me a SIM card: they had to courier the card and stuff like that, so I was asked to go to an operator's office... but they were closed on Sundays. Gah.

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La fille du régiment

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"For you to play"

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"Carole, fighting cancer
Paul, sick with Alzheimer's
Jean, victim of a stroke
The most intolerable would be to have to choose between these sicknesses
With the Foundation for Medical Research, you choose to fight against all sicknesses"

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"Some men have problems expressing their feelings. Not our designers" (Renault ad)


One good way to tell that you're in a Third World country is to see whether you need to throw your toilet paper in a dustbin instead of the toilet bowl. Yet, how do women tell? Female toilets are not always furnished with dedicated feminine hygiene bins (I've been to unisex toilets in developed countries where they just have a normal bin), so how do you know if the dustbin is for toilet paper, or just for your used amenities? One suggested solution to this conundrum was to see what other people threw in (or just to see if there is a lid) (a frequent traveller to Burma tells me there you throw the paper into the toilet bowl).

You can't drink alcohol in public in France anymore. I was quite surprised by this law. Apparently it was enacted in 2009.

My original route for my week-long vacation had been to start in Toulouse and go north. Now it was the reverse, so I would be able to make "Stravinsky and Dance". But I decided not to waste 16€ and torture myself. Unfortunately I only had a week or I would've visited Cordes-sur-ciel and Gordes.
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