"The happiest place on earth"

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Saturday, November 09, 2002

Had dinner with Kairen at Bishan's Dome. We were supposed to work on GP, but in the end... Well.

On the way there, I met Zhixiang and his J1 A01C water polo friend who were also taking the train from Orchard. Zhixiang was at the gym in the morning and and swimming in the afternoon. He proclaims that army training is 'nothing' compared with what he used to do. Hehe. So committed.

I asked the J1 if he knew Yechao. Apparently he's quite popular now. He asked if I knew he was attached, and I replied that I did and that his girlfriend was very screwed up ;) And apparently the new vice-principal is very strict, and he's making RJ like other schools. Sad, very sad.


But then again: "that was last time mindef....
now is damn boring, conducting checks whole day, no more stayout, and no more off.
try standing out there and wave at cars for 5 hrs and you will understand"

Oh well.

Comments on blogs of friends:

"yechao's blog is irritating....
hm.. there's the jugs blog you post in (what fucking morons)
aureate's blog is okay
there's kun (??)
there's the yaoi blogs
there's the mugger blog
there's flippant.blogspot.com
the list goes on

aureate's blog is pretty interesting"
At home now, having spent the whole afternoon sleeping. Am replete with dinner and rest; now what the hell do I do tonight?

Andrew (Gan)'s kind advice on the wedding money issue: "hey, re: wedding angpaos, what my parents do is ascertain the cost of the wedding dinner per person, i.e. if they know shangri-la or mandarin hotel charges say $50 per person for use of the function room plus the lavish dinner, they use that as a rough estimate. But they consider that the baseline."

One of my recently married colleagues showed me her very cool wedding valuation Excel spreadsheet, which included a very nifty macro for calculating the ideal angpao amount based on a variety of factors - overall economic outlook (value pulled from another spreadsheet she uses for personal financial planning), closeness to bride, closeness to groom, wedding venue, fengshui factors, personal vs couple's wealth differential, number of guests, etc etc. I plonked in all the numbers, and came up with RM128.50. A bit more pricey than I would've thought.

Other comments:

"Is it a hotel or a restaurant?"

"The guy is your friend, or the gal is your friend? If you give too much money to your guy friend.. it's like insulting him.. but if you give too little money to the female friend.. it's like you're being cheapskate."

"Weddings can have damn good return on investment man... from your family and close friends can probably make back the cost already."
Me: "That's one way to measure your social rank in life; how much of a financial success your wedding was."

"THE BLOODY RESTAURANT 'SAPU'-ED THE WHOLE (leftover) BARREL OF BEER! WHY DIDN'T YOU DRINK MORE!" (My recently-married colleague venting her frustration to another of our colleagues who was only concentrating on hard liquor at the wedding dinner)

Another Saturday, and I'm immured at work. What is it with spending weekends doing productive labour?? One of my colleagues remarked to me wryly this morning, "I don't remember what my daughter looks like."

Ah, primary and secondary school holidays have begun - cry for lost freedom. Nothing has hammered home the reality of working life as forcefully as the sudden awareness this morning that, for the first time in my life, December is no longer a month to spend zoning in front of the PC - playing games, that is. Now all my zoning is for - *spit* - PRODUCTIVE purposes. Although I get paid for it, so...

Back to work. Shall clear as much effluvium from my desk as humanly possible; it might make my Monday a little easier to deal. Have a wedding tomorrow to go to as well; my ex-colleague's. Parents actually asked me - "how much angpao are you giving?" I said, "50RM". They immediately launched into a tirade at my niggardliness and the need to "show face". THIS, from the people who lambast me when I order too many fishcakes at the yong tau foo stall.

Shall now go an ascertain going market rate for wedding angpaos. *curses* I hate the trappings of civilization.

Friday, November 08, 2002

And these Tissot watches are remarkably cool! A colleague of mine has one, and it's FUN to watch the hands fly smoothly back and forth as you invoke different functions.
Pithy quote: "Keep your friends close, and your friend's wife even closer."

More scary referrals.

"Kids lolita sex" - Starting to get a bit weary of all the pedophilia floating around, and just why so much of it gets steered to this blog. We're not all sweaty, child-lusting perverts hanging out around a primary school, right? Right??

"Foxes having sex in animations." - Perhaps someone looking for hu li jing porn.

"Numbers handphone from gay personal in Indonesian" - Aren't there enough gay Indonesians around? And how many of them have handphones?

"Burgermeister Meisterberger pics" - .. Right. I swear, Kris Kringle always scared me more in that classic Christmas flick.

"origin of kimberly" - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was "Gah" (or "Air").

"Singapore NUS chio SOC", "chio nygh girls", "jasmine kok rgs", "scgs rgs icq" - ARGHARGHARGH. PEOPLE! If we had access to chio women, would be even bother blogging so damn much?????? Has it ever occurred to you that people who talk so much about girls' schools and chioness are the people least likely to be actually out doing (something about) them (chio girls)????? And would chio girls need to leave their contact details on the net, given that they're more popular than a keg of Tiger at a contractors' convention, and their handphone numbers have probably been passed around more often than a hors d'oeuvres tray? FACE FACTS - the only women on the net looking for dates are those so butt ugly they can't get a date or even someone to tell them the time in real life, or those with obscure and freaky interests (disorders) that can only be assuaged on the net (yaoi, crocheting, Hello Kitty pics, or bestiality). Same applies for males (*raises hand*), but remember, considering that, ceteris paribus, females are on the "limited supply" end while males are on the "overwhelming demand" corollary - any female who ISN'T able to get some in real life in the face of such (meat)market conditions must have serious ISSUES. (such as morality, celibacy, prudishness, bulimia, etc). Males, on the other hand, even some of the average and not so bad ones, HAVE NO DAMN CHOICE at times.

The above is of course discounting people who go on the net for legitimate reasons such as furthering one's body of knowledge, enlightened discourse with like-minded fellows, maintaing contacts with distant friends and loved ones, and keeping up with world events and social developments. And neopets. Ahem.

And below is an excerpt from a brilliant article which goes into the reasons why I've seriously cut down my irc usage.

"As online ads become more aggressive and clever and self-consciously crafted, what impact does that have on the human interactions that result from them? What does it mean to peddle yourself so effectively before you even meet your prospective partner? Can there possibly be any room left for the real, flawed, fragile human behind the ad?
And after buying into the suave, vegan pancake-maker and cognac-sipping reader of Whitman, can you possibly accept the humble, nervous accountant who stands before you? With such a marketing blitz, followed by frisky, flirtatious instant messaging and countless e-mails, followed sometimes even by long midnight conversations and phone sex, is it remotely possible not to be disappointed with the real thing?"

However, it's not just in the dating scene; it also applies somewhat in the platonic relationships / friendships arena. Although making platonic friends online seems far less stigmatizing, as the net represents the most efficient way for like-minded people with similar interests to get together and chat. But the issue of distorted perceptions and unrealistic expectations still remain - not to mention all the various solecisms and misinterpretations because there's no denotative body language or vocal tone context to put a statement in.

The text on a screen is not a person. But then again, in its defense, someone has once wrote that all perception of another human being is mediated in some way; through the eyes, ears, senses - so why shouldn't words on a screen (e-mail, icq) be just as valid a representation of an individual as far as communication and interaction is concerned? This person also added, "At least online one is consciously aware of the distortions; whereas in real life, we take them for granted." Very good point.

Ah well. Another pithy quote: "The worst part about being Bill Gates is not knowing if your hand is having sex with you just for the money."

[Ed: Well, maybe a secondary school.

And wah. A correct referral for once. Though Jasmine Kok doesn't have a blog afaik.

Why'd anyone make a list of ICQ UINs of RGS and SCGS girls? Anyway M$N's the rage nowadays.]
Word of the day: "G�tterd�mmerung".

Oh well. Over the last week, and over the upcoming one, work promises to be particularly brutal. Both my backups AND my authorising supervisors are on long leave. This is due to the fact that 1/3rd our department is Indian, who are all taking two weeks off for Deepavali season, and my direct (Chinese) supervisor just *happens* to be on mandated leave these two weeks as well. (Mandated leave: banking regulations state that each staff member has to take at least 10 consecutive days off a year - this is to catch any irregularities that he or she may have been covering up at work.)

I also just heard that buying new landed properties in Singapore, particularly for construction of bungalows (believe it or not, there *are* still plots for sale at obscene prices); or redevelopment of existing landed property (defined by URA as "complete demolition and rebuilding") actually requires the developer, under what is quaintly called the CD Shelter Act, to build bomb shelters in every new development. This applies to apartments as well, ironically. Bet you didn't know that your typical HDB apartment store room is actually a legally mandated architectural feature meant to shelter you from the impending holocaust, eh?

Apparently the requirements for a landed property's bomb shelter are somewhat stricter, whereas for HDB apartments the household shelter seems to be just for show - I mean, do you REALLY think that flimsy little pantry next to your kitchen can protect you from a nuclear fallout when the whole building probably collapses in a glowing pile of rubble?

The Powers That Be decree the laws of physics:

"Singapore�s apartment blocks are robust structures that will not easily collapse even after being hit by a bomb (although localised damage to the target is expected). However, because household shelters are stacked one on top of another, it forms a continuous vertical hardened tower with a firm foundation to provide added stability and resilience against collapse."

RIGHT - in the PAP universe of physics, the outer shell of the building collapses when bombed, leaving a hardened pillar standing amidst the rubble. Or, rather, *several* hardened pillars - not every single apartment in a block is stacked up directly over each other. (Try to vsiualize this - all the units on one side of the building will constitute one "continuous veritcal hardened tower", and the other side will have another "continuous vertical hardened tower." All of this while the corridors and elevator shafts collapse into the void deck.)

Even they acknowledge some fundamental facts of the universe.

"The concept of household shelters is not new. Houses in Switzerland, for example, have household shelters as well. The difference between Switzerland and Singapore, however, is that the Swiss build their shelters underground to:

� Protect against the powerful heat and blast effects of a possible nuclear threat.
� Last for protracted stays of several weeks to survive the lethal nuclear fallout period.

Aboveground household shelters cannot readily meet these requirements.
(Emphasis added)


"Even after being hit by a bomb, it is very unlikely that local buildings will collapse like a pack of cards to leave the household shelters standing on their on. From engineering studies and tests conducted, buildings damaged by weapon effects are usually localised in nature. While several floors of the building may be perforated, thus causing the collapse of the adjacent areas, the building as a whole will remain standing."

Notice - *a* bomb. If conflict reaches a stage where a plane can get through Singapore's pretty good air defence systems; it isn't just going to be one plane; it's going to be *squadrons of planes* dropping *bombs*. Plural. And this obviously doesn't refer to terrorist attack of a single bomb - because terrorists don't give advance warning leading to them sounding the air raid siren to send your whole population into shelters.

Further skinflintery:

"Shelters should be fully utilised even during peacetime to make it cost effective. Therefore shelters are not purely designed and built to be dedicated shelters, but to serve peacetime functions as well. As these shelters are integral to the dwelling unit, separate maintenance is not required."

Wasn't that one of the reasons why they built MRT stations underground? Granted, those would be a little crowded now considering the growing population. Still I think the government could afford to stump up enough for a few rations, some generators, and some supplies. (Although the engineering cost of building a new reinforced underground shelter may get a bit high, I'll admit).

To add insult to injury, HDB home-owners are obliged to pay for the incremental costs of building such deathtra... erm.. I meant, HOUSEHOLD SHELTERS.

"On the issue of who should pay for the incremental cost of building shelters, the basic principle is that owners should bear the cost of their own protection at home. ...This figure can be regarded as a one-off up-front lump payment of the premium for assurance of protection in war � which is a relatively small price to pay."

I agree with the basic principle they outline - ie, homeowners paying for the maintenance and construction of personal home protection. There is, however, ANOTHER basic principle - that a person should be free to risk being explosively turned into incandescent vapour if he feels the "premium for assurance of protection in war" does not match the actual risk of war occurring. And, given the kind of "protection" that is being offered here, HDB owners are not only being coerced into insuring a risk against their will; they're getting crap coverage for that risk to boot.

Although, once again, to be fair, someone else has pointed out that the shelters serve another purpose, like NS - as part of Singapore's psychological arsenal of deterrence against would-be invaders. "Bring on the war, our people are ready to hide in their storerooms." After all, Who knows what the local geopolitics will be like 20 years from now? Better to be prepared, than dead. I might also note admiringly that little touches like this help to preserve a barrier mentality in the population that increases their dependence on (and hence likelihood of voting in) a strong central government - ie. PAP

If economic free-riding was *really* an issue here ie, the government not wanting to give away for free something as unimportant and voluntary as, say, protecting the welfare of the people in times of war, they should at least collect that money they're levying on all HDB apartments, and use that pool of money to construct and maintain proper communal shelters instead. THAT would be more cost-effective than building storerooms-cum-bomb shelters in EVERY Singaporean apartment.

"By comparison, a communal shelter at the basement would take occupants a much longer time to reach from their dwelling units. This would considerably increase their exposure [to] weapon effects even before they reach the safety of the communal shelter."

So which is worse; ten minutes of exposure to alpha radiation or sarin gas as you run to the nearest MRT or void deck, and the waiting arms of properly-trained and equipped paramedics, or HOURS of slow exposure in your HDB shelter without professional medical care? I suppose one compensation with the latter scenario is the higher likelihood that your whole family will asphyxiate / irradiate / go into convulsions together - that way you won't have to worry about getting lost or separated while fleeing the building. Or dying alone, for that matter.

SCD estimates that a family can last up to 4 hours in a sealed HDB shelter. We can compare this against one's life expectancy in a mandated, *ventilated*, reinforced bunker beneath a Nassim Hill mansion - I guess it's more important that the "Issue Elites" (Microsoft internal documentation jargon) and the economically successful lawyers, politicians, bankers and businessmen be protected to rebuild the economy and society after the years of hiding underground to avoid the nuclear winter and radioactive dust storms (Freeway Warrior meets Mr Kiasu). The upper-crust of the expatriate population in corporate-provided bungalows will be preserved as well along with their respective harems of Filipino-maid look-alike girlfriends and SPGs, so that they can repopulate the nation with hardy, mutant half-breeds capable of carrying out the brutal manual labour of reconstruction that the genteel, radioactive-illness-afflicted Chinese won't be able to stomach, but somehow able to plan, administer and manage.

In contrast, heartlanders are expendable. A few million casualties might even raise the PAP's electoral margins after the nuclear blizzard. "And the votes are in - all 50 of them (surviving expats, PAP supreme council members, a few lucky MPs, Caldecott Hill residents, etc). Ooh, perfect vote turnout this time." (Not that there's much else to do in a bunker apart from round-robin Twister. Or, for the more adventurous, some cavorting amidst gamma-irradiated Shenton Way ruins.).

Someone I know was griping because he had planned to construct a wine cellar in a new house he was building, and the law apparently calls for a strict separation of one's wine cellar and one's designated bomb shelter, even going so far as to stipulate certain dimensions and structural criterion. Now, this new homeowner is justifiably upset because the wine cellar he planned to design has to be resized downwards considerably to make room for the bomb shelter, and for some bureaucratic reason, you can't combine the two of them into one general structure.

I wondered, "Why not?". I can think of worse things than getting pissed out of your head while the ICBMs are reducing the world above you to a giant radioactive parking lot (the badly paved, open-air kind with an old man sitting on a stool issuing tickets, not the nice multi-storey ones with autopay machines).

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Incidentally, it just occurred to me that those inspirational pieces of government propaganda on Signaporean TV really says a lot about the population. The ads I had in mind are:

a) The one where a despondent looking guy walks into his HDB living room over and over again, to the glum looks of his family, before entering in one glorious day to their hugs and smiles. This is followed by the soothing, "Three quarters of those who get retrenched find another job. Don't give up."

b) The one that's a bit too weird and abstract for my taste or capacities for description (it involves a park, flowers, cartoon graphics, and a bench) which ends in the words "Don't stop advertising."

I'm told there are others.

What does it say about the government's attitude to the population that it feels the need to pat them on the shoulder reassuringly just because they're unemployed, WHILE still hiking up prices for all manner of things? Note also that for all the gornaw about creativity and entrepeneurism, the official line is, "Get another job.", not, "Try to create something of value." or "Be your own boss." Get back to work - there's always some other MNC or GLC willing to take on a wage slave like you.

Also note the pleading exhortation of creativity - that they have to place an ad for ads. (Very charmingly post-modern:). Do they really feel that creativity and economic necessity has to be dictated? Okay, they're not the only country in the world to do this, but most interfere directly (like Malaysia has) with things like "Buy local goods" or :"Promote local tourism." Singapore goes, "Advertise more.".

I can only draw two conclusions about the latter ad; either that the government feels their captive populace are so easily manipulated that they will actually be inspired to buy more simply because more ads are being foisted onto them; or that advertising is such a vital sector of their economy that its continued health must be assured, no matter whether it works or not.

Btw, what did the Underdogs guy want from you?
Word of the day: "parastatal."

Been working late the past few weeks. Not entirely sure how long more can continue on with the 9am - 10+pm routine without cracking, although I am assured that people working in global investment banking firms have it far worse. Possibly - an old classmate of mine residing in Hong Kong in Credit Suisse First Boston tells me war stories of averaging up to 110 hours a week (that's about 15 hours a day - including weekends). But then again, the bastard is *paid* commensurately; this year his take-home pay including bonus was approximately 140K SGD. I get paid about.. well... let's just say it's an order of magnitude less.

As my colleague puts it, "We do First World work for Third World wages."

There has actually been a fairly rich panoply of events to blog about recently though, and a lot of it non-work-related. However, my few scrounged hours of leisure at the office are, inevitably, spent surfing news sites and keeping up with mail. The impetus to record my daily events for posterity has waned considerably; this entry is being made solely because I got to work remarkably early today thanks to a combination of 4 hours sleep the night before (I tend to wake up earlier when I sleep less, but I end up suffering more during the day), and light traffic (because of Ramadan; all the Malays are "buka puasa"-ing themselves for the day ahead.). Actually, fasting time tempts me to conversion - they get to go home earlier, and spend lunchtime slacking (obviously they don't have to go through the whole "quest for food" thing).

I just came back from a brief trip down to Singapore last weekend. That sojourn was made at terribly short notice - due to irritating bureaucratic legalities prohibiting Singaporean PRs from driving Malaysian cars, my aunt requisitioned me and my cousin to drive her car down to move stuff from her apartment. Not that I particularly minded - it *was* the long Deepavali weekend, and I expected to reap a pay-off in the form of food) Such expectations were gratified - on Saturday night, my aunt and uncle (who flew down to Singapore separately), took us to a herbal Chinese food restaurant opposite Raffles Hotel, which, I am told, Ong Teng Cheong was fond of frequenting. Probably for stress relief purposes - dealing with the PAP party machinery in a hostile government situation is enough to give anyone an infarction. The meal was superb; I particularly enjoyed the cod in herbal sauce and the braised scallops with whipped egg-white. And of course, my uncle brought out some choice selections from his cellar; a '96 Jasper Hills Shiraz; and a '94 Chateau LaGrange St-Julien. (Too bad he wasn't sufficiently induced to lay on the Sauternes for us:).

Later that night, went out to Crazy Elephant over at Clarke Quay to meet a few Melbourne friends; one now in SMM, and the other serving out his SAFOS bond at Tengah base (Air Force engineer logistics course). They all seem a tad burned out now - I suppose working life tends to dull one's sensitivities a bit. A lot of the boisterous clamouring one would have seen in days of yore was replaced by a sullen, stare-at-beer-mugs kind of awkward silence. Occasionally, a flash of the old humour would come through, in a brief remembrance of things past (the damn book still sits heavily on my shelf half-finished), and a few lighter moments when one of us using the bar's pool table as practice for his camp's upcoming tournament romped past several competitors in straight frames. Other than that, it was just the four of us, tired, prematurely burned-out, and just generally sian, and having little to fill in the conversation void once the first hour of general catching up was over.

How do people do it? How do people tolerate years of wage slavery - and often in far more appalling conditions than what we go through? Or is it simply that me and my generation (Read: "peer group") are (sic) "spoiled bastards?".

How do the adults of the previous generation endure up to 30+ years of such brutal living? Granted, my father has admitted that in his time, he was able to leave the office by 5 pm most days, but that obviously has changed in recent years, as employers realise to their joy that people are willing to be squeezed in this day and age.

Digression: The other day, while walking past Petaling Street, I noted the air mata kuching (longan drink) stall at the corner which has been there for about 40 years (current proprietor is second-generation). A rough estimate of his cashflow based on a 1000 customers a day, on average, puts his disposable income at about 50K SGD a *month* after rent (read: protection money), labour (he hires a couple of Indonesian maids to serve while he watches on benignly - they probably get paid in food and water and lodging), and materials (after all, the overheads on a bowl of air mata kuching are minimal. How much can longans cost, wholesale? Sugar? Ice?). He even reputedly owns a good number of the fake-watches and fake-sunglasses stalls in the immediate periphery. My point is - while he's certainly raking in the cash now, he must have spent at least 10 years of his life slogging it from 6am to 9pm *seven* days a week serving out bowls of sweetened longan crap to the incessant flow passers-by. Am I prepared to take that kind of sacrifice and hardship needed to spend my middle-later life just lounging around a cornershop watching the money flow in? Is it worth it? Tough question.

Sunday afternoon, I spent shopping. Yes, even I have to occasionally succumb to the lure of crass commercialism. Was down at Suntec, enjoying the lighting and architecture, especially the Stargate-like fountain terrace. Stark reminders of past times when I had occasion to tour the whole sprawling complex while it was under construction, and Suntec's fledgling years when most of it was empty, sprawling corridors as shoppers thought it was a difficult place to access. Managed to purchase a new pair of Fifth Avenue office slip-ons as was terribly sian of tying shoelaces in the morning (actually, tired of constantly replacing shoelaces as I tend to yank them too hard). This represents my first shoe purchase in almost 4 years. Now I officially own 4 pairs! (I face great sianness buying footwear due to my abnormally small size 5(British) / 37.5 (European) feet). Although the shoes are a little too big and they chafe my heels; I will have to find a cobbler to get some padding.

Was also irked to discover at DFS Galleria that overland (ie. non-plane) travellers are not eligible. Looks like Langkawi remains my only source for cheap liquor for now.

Sunday evening was spent glazing out in front of my uncle's plasma flat-screen TV with my cousins watching hackneyed DVDs (Rules of Engagement, Gladiator, Ben Hur). Dinner was leftover chicken rice. However, in a pleasant surprise, uncle called to take us out for 'supper' - which culminated in us ending up at Jeremy's Restaurant in the Carlton Hotel (run by the owner of Vis-a-vis (the restaurant, not the mailing list) in Bukit Timah as a more upscale (vis-a-vis Vis-a-vis(!)) version). Again, had more exquisite food - foie gras (been YEARS), escargot, mussels, and, of course, the usual assortment of grand cru Bourdeaux wines (none of which I recognized, except for the Lafite Rothschild).

Someone pointed out that my evident pleasure at such fine dining reflects the aristocratic bastardism of my 'spoiled brat' upbringing. Probably. But I like to think that my appreciation is heightened due to having spent years in Australia living off Coke, scrambled eggs, and instant noodles. Seriously though, I prefer to think of it as a preview / inspiration for the level of material comfort I should achieve - the stage where you don't have to squint at every item in a restaurant bill / menu, do service tax calculations in your head, and decide to go for the salad instead. But one thing I *do* realise is that I have a distorted perception of economic welfare - mainly because I seem to know of people my age who own Jaguars, hold 20,000SGD house parties in Nassim Hill, spend thousands of pounds on their mother's credit card WITHOUT THE MOTHER NOTICING BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT IT WAS PART OF HER OWN PURCHASES, take holidays in the Swiss Alps as regular constitutionals, and actually have a university education (note, a lot of people I know with those first few qualities miss out on the latter). You readers think everyone has a university education? Living your life assuming a university education is the *norm* instead of the minority privilege it actually is seriously distorts your thinking, as it did mine, I confess. One learns the hard way that out in the working world, "Where did you study?" is NOT always a good conversational starter, particularly if you have a senior executives who worked their way up from being clerks.

Back at the apartment, I rang Gabriel on the phone to help me carry out some eBay transactions for me as the only Net access in the house came from a terminal wired into the plasma screen TV, and my uncle and cousins were watching some interminable Korean VCD series. Due to some communication issues (re: continually being unable to log on), it took a while before I could leave the toilet in which I had sequestered myself to talk in privacy. Upon coming out, the cheese platter that my aunt had lovingly laid out for us was half-empty, and most of the icewine had been finished. Feel my rage. *deadpan tones*

Anyhoo, spent Sunday just catching up with some old associates and acquaintances, and nothing much happened. No one seems to have changed appreciably; nor were the conversations sufficiently fascinating to blog here (although it *was* good to catch up with a lot of you guys. Really. I mean it:) It does strike me that I almost never have friends in the same age group - it's always older or younger. Maybe I enjoy bridging mental gulfs?

On the long drive back to KL, it was spent listening to my uncle go on and on about his newfound love for wuxia novels and Korean series. He even waxed lyrical on the Korean cultural renaissance and how Korean series now placed an emphasis on romantic love, compared to the more seamy Taiwanese and Hong Kong series currently on the market. It's bizarre how this workaholic uncle of mine, after 30 years acquiring wealth through shrewd and ruthless deal-making to the point where he doesn't need to work anymore, now chooses to spend his nights watching Return of the Condor Heroes or Summer / Autumn / Spring VCDs until 3 am. Me - I simply passed the time tuning him out, chilling to Teresa Teng tunes and stared at the headlights trawling past.

Certainly there is a yawning chasm of perception between myself and my younger contemporaries; particularly those still mired in education. I mean, the sheer.. difference between the concerns I had 9 months ago and the concerns I have now are massive. Of course, being part of the productive economy as opposed to being a resource-devouring minor (or, to be more charitable, human capital investment) is the primary reason. That's why it's increasingly difficult to empathize with people who are, however justifiably, worried about their examinations or their university options.

The things I worry about these days seem to be more - real, for lack of a better word. Of course, since I went into university, the pressure to excel academically was totally expurgated, but I still had exams to pass. I still had all-night, pressure-learn-panic sessions for those subjects which I attended only two or three lectures the whole semester. But now, the nature of worry changes, as well as the object of worry. Before, it was a sharp, adolescent kind of fear, kinaesthetically akin to splashes of acid on parts of your skin. Now, it's more of a dull, incessant haze - like the throb of bruises all over that just won't heal. Before, I panicked to cram factoids into my head and complete assignments in time. Now - I worry daily that systems will fail or that information goes incorrectly checked. Interestingly enough, the... pressure applied at work is more subtle. Being late for a policy paper at work can be hedged, fudged, or called-off entirely, unless you have the misfortune to have THAT kind of boss, whereas being late for a university essay (although there are notable exceptions) results in an instant blow to your bottom-line, markswise.

But some things don't change. I still stare glumly at my phone bills each month, and I still can't afford all the books I would like. Nonetheless, even the gaps feel better in my highly cyclical financial state (overspending the first week after payday; scrimping dollars the week before). It's good to at least know that money is coming, and it's not coming after a painful confrontation with your parents as to why you spent all that money on comic books. It's good to be able to tell your parents that it's my damned money, and if I want to buy a new Furby, I don't have to answer for it. And perhaps I'm conservative, but it's good to be able to at least give a part of your pay back to your family every month, even if it means you have to eat one less meal at Deutsche Bierhaus, or spend less time making IDD calls.

It's NOT good to have credit cards though. Have resigned to simply clearing out my bills by next year, and starting 2003 with more stringent financial planning.

There's also the odd feeling that you're doing something - if not exactly socially relevant . .something that *matters* in the real world. Passing my philosophy paper or finishing an Oracle assignment in university was simply me getting my family's money's worth out of overseas education and hopefully opening the way to a job. Working in a real firm - well, I'm under no illusions about the morality of my work, which basically entails safeguarding corporate interests and widening the wealth gap. But nevertheless, I'm doing *something*. A paper I write directly affects how the bank I work for values a billion-dollar investment portfolio (not nearly as grandiose as it sounds, but I don't think anyone wants a long discourse on risk management at this point:). A system I helped plan makes work a little easier and our job a little more efficient. A bit of research I contribute helps affect a policy decision. Things like that. Material contributions to the real world - although "material" makes little sense in the nebulous world of capital markets, where *value* often exists as a digital exchange between computer systems in different banks, or, more metaphysically, as a notional pipe dream representative of investor expectations.

I don't worry so much anymore about the usual meaningless yet charmingly adolescent subjects of depressive introspection - relationships, personal popularity (or lack thereof), high-flung existentialism, low-brow nihilism, etc. Instead, my worries seem to have sharpened at both conceptual extremes; from the extremely trivial - stuff like finding a cobbler for my shoes which don't fit properly, wondering what to eat for lunch, dithering over what colour tie to wear, getting irritated at leaves falling all over car - and stuff at the other brutally practical and concrete extreme - career future, personal future, financial difficulties, further studies, workplace politics, and workplace problems (Like my boss' irritating tendency to pick at this horrible huge wart on his neck, while insisting on about 8 or 9 rewrites of a paper in successive drafts. All of the rewrites involving spending HOURS, I swear, HOURS trying to decipher his fucking horrible handwriting and shorthand notation, which all involves sentence restructuring and virtually NO value-adding amendment).

But I guess the only adolescent hangover is that I still suffer from the one things which all humans share according to the Cherokee Indians: loneliness. The nature of what I have to deal with may have changed, but my capacity to deal with it remains fixed in the childish mindset I've been carrying around for years, it seems. So much for "maturity."

In related but practical matters, I have yet another dilemma to contend with. Currently am on tap for a job at GIC. Given that the vast majority of the readers on this blog are probably from the cultured ("cultured" in the Yakult bacteria sense of the word), Ecole Nationale d'Administration-type scholarship caste, I probably won't have to explain what the GIC is or does.

"On tap" basically means that I get to go for the interview, next week, with a strong implied chance of getting the job assuming I dress up, comb my hair, dance the dance, talk the talk, and don't vomit all over the interviewer. This is not as much of an achievement as it sounds, for a variety of reasons, some of which I'll share here.

The primary reason is that I'm just *not* sure what kind of job I'm interviewing for. Is it some lame admin or HR position? But then again, as someone once pragmatically pointed out - in your CV, people tend to see the "Goldman-Sachs" or the "Morgan Stanley", and ignore the bit that says, "Clerk" or "CEO's coffee-pourer".

Another reason is that this interview is with a very specific subset of GIC. Despite their justified notoriety as being one of the tougher scholarships to obtain (I am told), it's not very well-known that GIC is split into three separate companies - GIC RE, GIC SI, and plain old GIC. They have different investment mandates - go to www.gic.com.sg and see for yourself. My interview is with GIC RE - which potentially means a *very* narrow specialization, and (to me, at least), fairly boring investment opportunity sourcing. I mean, how fun is it to do the PV of leasing cashflows for the next 20 years? The most technical thing one ends up doing, even in a front-line position, will probably be haggling over IRRs with truculent developers. On the plus side, they *do* have significant portfolios in REITs and other associate property securizations, which makes it a little more interesting. And now, having successfully bored every single reader worrying about ORD / A levels / O levels / getting laid, I shall move on.

See, I'm of two minds about taking up this job (contingent upon it being formally offered me, as compared to the current verbal handshake offer). Firstly, the logistics issues are frightening. I have to move back *down*; re-apply for a PR, get new credit cards, get new housing, (possibly) apply for a car loan, shift all my crap (ie. books + PC) down south, abandon the creature comforts I have here, and so on and so forth. The administrative difficulties are staggering. Not to mention the brutal work hours - but I'm already used to pretty brutal work hours. In fact, I work much better late at night. Another thing to worry about is that the GIC RE team comprises of either old, highly-experienced lao jiaos, or young, sprightly, over-qualified post-grads from Stanfrod types. It's bad enough being the one-eyed king in the valley of the blind, which I am in my current job, thanks to my ability to format graphs in Excel any way people want; it's even worse to be the vegetarian at the Meat-Packers' Association technical symposium.

But the opportunities are tempting too.

Firstly, I can achieve the "get out of family's house" dream I've been ranting on about at length in earlier posts.

Secondly, as I also mentioned previously - BROADBAND!

Thirdly, by all lights, GIC's still GIC, and even if the specific job scope is narrow, the prestige is still greater, and it would be good to move away from a support-centre job and into an actual business unit. An ancillary benefit of this is that the job means meeting more people, widening scope of contacts, networking, etc.

Fourthly, GIC RE's mandate is in *offshore* investment - which means I won't be sizing up HDB financing (hah!) or wondering if it's cost-effective to chop down another nature reserve for another golf course (at least not a local one. I believe in exporting one's environmental despoliation to other countries for *their* descendants to handle). Travel - now there's a tempting prospect.

Fifthly, I can lose weight! Currently am weighing in a bit too heavy at 65kg (by my semi-anorexic standards); living alone would mean eating a lot less consistently and wholesomely as I'm the person who'd rather drink a lot of milk than walk all the way down to 7-11 for a hot dog. Ergo: weight loss.

Sixthly, I might have more friends around me. But this one is tempered by the realization that these days, everyone's going to be too busy working to meet up or hang out. A sad but true fact of life.

Actually, if anyone knows of a decent place for rent or even purchase (not bloody likely, but if the price is reasonable...), please let me know. Gak. More post-tertiary education issues to contend with; like finding a house, signing a lease agreement, and not pissing off your landlord. Am looking for a plce with these factors, in order of importance

a) MRT-access - 300m or less would be perfect.
b) Reasonable rent. $400-600/month.
c) SCV; if not actual SCV, then at least cabling / port for subscription
d) Enough space for all my books and PC.
d) Freedom to smoke
e) Freedom to get quietly smashed in private (if a room).
f) Laundry would be nice.
g) Cooking would be nice as well. Willing to pay reasonable extra.
h) Freedom to bring 'hos back to my chillin' bachelor digs! (Fantasy world, but who knows? Oceans rise. Cities fall. Hope prevails. Yeah right.)
i) Reasonably near Central is nice, but I don't care if it's in Boon Lay as long as it's NEAR THE MRT.

And that's all I have to say for now, as work calls. Damn, I haven't even gotten in any serious gaming time in over a week. Am losing my edge.

Hopefully Andrew Gan [8/11/02 - edited upon request] has transferred some merchandise he purchased for me over to my sister - for some reason he seems chary of hanging on to it until December. Oh well.

A final anecdote that sums up today's climate - my colleague who just came back from leave related to us how a stentorian Indonesian customs officer took away a yellow plastic gun she had purchased for her four year old son. The good customs officer promptly went through the scientific process of assessing its lethality by simultaneously peering down the barrel and pulling the trigger, whilst my colleague's son was wailing plaintively, "That man took away my gun!". After some altercation, the deadly weapon was allowed into the country, and reportedly the weapon's owner immediately retorted, "Once he gives me back my gun then I shoot him!"

This is a pointed political analogy to the issue of Iraqi regime change, North Korean disarmament; and the general attitude of the Israeli army to the occupied territories:)

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Someone's getting snotty about language, I see:)

Here's a quote that says everything you need to know about politics and human nature:

"There would be dancing in the streets if the (Iraqi) regime fell. Half would be dancing because they are happy, the other half because that's what they are used to doing for whoever rules them.�

Tuesday, November 05, 2002


Monday, November 04, 2002

This is ridiculous. They look like they're posing for a movie.

The Last Action Heroes!

HERE COME THE MEN IN BLACK: Special undercover Indonesian police officers showcased their anti-terrorism tactics during a demonstration at the Brigade Mobile Police headquarters in Jakarta yesterday. The demonstration was held to show that the government was ready to face any terror threat.

[From 30th Oct's Straits Times]

Lively Star Control 2 Discussion Thread

They're remaking SC2 in time for the 10th Anniversary. Yes 2002 is the 10th Anniversary. Woo hoo!

Quicktime Commercial for the remake

Toys for Bob - the company set up by Paul Ford and Fred Reiche III, which is remaking it

Estimated time of release - November 2002 (At least that's what they say)

Estimated price - FREE

Open Source too.

Someone on Zhen1 Qing2:

i think there has already been 5 kidnapping cases
and they used the same good ol' cliches
mr. a broke up
then he goes to a park
then he sees a lovey dovey couple
haha quite funny

extremely heart warming eh
the people in zhenqing are always eating by the way

NB: Above person just got me into trouble. Gah.

My sources tell me Horse is in Prague now!
Human rights: A suitable target for foreign policy? Cover story The Economist April 12, 1997

"WE SET this nation up to make men free, and we did not confine our conception and purpose to America," proclaimed President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. As the century draws to a close, the Wilsonian idea that it is America's mission to promote freedom abroad retains a powerful grip in his country.

On a recent visit to China, Newt Gingrich, the speaker of the House of Representatives, told his hosts that the idea of freedom was so central to American identity that a Chinese-American relationship that did not include discussion of human rights was impossible. In such a dialogue, proclaimed the normally garrulous Mr Gingrich, "I can't speak. I have nothing to say." Yet, for all the boldness of Mr Gingrich's words, western policy on human rights is a mess.

For the past six years, the European Union has sponsored a motion censuring China at the annual session of the UN Human Rights Commission. This year, however, France and Germany have backed off, making a common EU position impossible.

In Washington meanwhile, the Clinton administration has been facing a barrage of accusations that America is sacrificing human-rights policy on the altar of trade with China. Fighting for human rights in places like Myanmar and Nigeria has become more difficult as a result.

The whole shambles will merely confirm the prejudices of sceptics who think that the very notion of linking human rights and foreign policy is mistaken (see article). "Realists" argue that the "internal affairs" of other states are not the proper business of foreigners.

that rule is broken, they say, the door is opened to all sorts of unnecessary disputes. Why argue with another country if it presents no threat to your security and is prepared to co-exist with you peacefully?

The realists also often argue that it is hubristic to try to export western ideas of freedom to places with different traditions and levels of development. Attempts to introduce western political models into poor countries have a habit of coming unstuck: look at Africa or Cambodia.

The West's own experience teaches that rights evolve over time. Universal suffrage came to Britain only in 1918. Racial segregation continued in parts of the United States until the 1960s. These are powerful arguments, but they are not ultimately convincing.

It is true that in the long run internal changes, particularly wealth and better education, tend to be the main agents and underpinnings of civil rights. But that is not to say that there is no role for external pressure.

In some places-South Africa, for one-such pressure has undoubtedly helped to bring change. The pressure need not be for wholesale reform. It is possible to object to governments torturing or silencing their citizens without asking them to adopt the American constitution in its entirety.

But why bother to object? Why should it matter to the citizens of Western Europe or America if one lot of foreigners is mistreating another lot?

For several reasons. The first is simple morality. If you hear your neighbour beating up his children, do you give a shrug and say it is none of your business? Most people think not.

Realists argue that the moral rules that apply to individuals do not apply to states, whose relations should be governed by considerations of national interest not of morality.

But countries are made up of individuals, and in democracies their wishes are meant to be reflected. Few voters would endorse the idea that their governments should completely ignore moral issues in making foreign policy.

Most tend to feel-correctly-that at some stage their own countries would be defiled by maintaining uncritical relations with an utterly barbaric government. Who would argue for normal relations with Nazi Germany?

Good for one, good for all But morality is not the only reason for putting human rights on the West's foreign-policy agenda. Self-interest also plays a part.

Political freedom tends to go hand in hand with economic freedom, which in turn tends to bring international trade and prosperity. And governments that treat their own people with tolerance and respect tend to treat their neighbours in the same way.

Dictatorships unleashed the first and second world wars, and most wars before and since. Democracies seldom, if ever, take up arms against each other. Even in more prosaic issues than those of war and peace-the observance of international agreements on trade or the environment, for instance-liberal democracies are more likely to play by the rules.

They, after all, accept the concepts of scrutiny and legal challenge. A world in which more countries respected basic human rights would be a more peaceful and orderly place.

All very well, the sceptics reply, but even with a global economy the world is not a global country with a global set of laws, a global police force to enforce them and a global judiciary to try wrongdoers. Moreover, in the real world, western democracies trade enthusiastically with countries like China and Indonesia.

They may wince at massacres in Beijing or East Timor, but they will not, in Jack Kennedy's words, "pay any price, bear any burden" to promote liberty. They will almost certainly not go to war and they are generally reluctant to disrupt trade.

The countries singled out for a bashing are often soft targets, like Myanmar, which offer few economic opportunities and have little power to hit back. Sometimes when the West claims to be acting in the interests of human rights, it is really responding to domestic pressures-such as protectionist demands against cheap competition.

It is true that there are elements of inconsistency, even hypocrisy, in the West's attempts to foster the cause of human rights round the world. So what?

That is an inevitable consequence of the fact that human rights are only one of many foreign-policy concerns. Keeping the peace and encouraging trade are also important goals.

The point is that democracies should both accept and proclaim that promoting freedom is an important aspect of foreign policy.

that objective should be pursued will depend on circumstances. Some governments are more brutal than others; some are more susceptible to pressure than others.

Depending on the egregiousness of the offence and the other interests at stake, supporting human rights may mean anything from armed intervention to a statement in parliament. The effort will not always succeed, but it is unlikely to be wholly ignored.

Nowadays autocrats are defensive, especially when they are accused of failing to respect human rights-witness China's outraged protestations every time it stands accused.

The idea of democracy, and indeed the practice, albeit often in a flawed manner, is spreading as never before. Pressure for human rights discomfits oppressors, encourages their victims and, in the long run, makes the world safer. Apply it.

I've always thought he looked like a clown.

Yaoi Girl's arms are aching from "carrying boxes of sweets and cds around".

Bah :)

I'd love to see females carrying chairs next time. Sexism is evil.

"as I ate my dinner I was gratified to find out that he had got close to the part where surely manly comradely kingly kinly and whatever other ties don't go as far, Aragorn and Boromir! Or, I have yet to see what reason you had for lying full body on top of Boromir, Mister Aragorn, Sez the Evenstar. You know, if you've watched the show.

So. Anticipation."

You. Stop thinking filthy and perverted (in all senses of the word) thoughts.

Or I'm gonna pick up Yuri just to annoy you.

Stanley's doing office work for the CID now.

I repeat: How come everyone gets all the cushy jobs?!
And the incomprehensible mystery is solved.

The mystery caller was He Who MUST Not Be Named.

Of course. How could I have been so stupid?

Perhaps I didn't know him for who he was because he didn't use any bombastic words.

And he denies that he was the one who called twice, only revealing his identity this time because he needed me to do dirty work on eBay for him.


[1st call:

Him: "Who do you know who talks like that?"

Me: Actually a lot of people]

Charles Tan Yong Chye is an IQA inspector for medical centres.

He's stayout but opts to stayin (?!)

How come everyone gets all the cushy jobs? :)
Oh this's ridiculous.

Tired of reality TV? Try the Everitt road show

THE most talked-about show in town is not playing at the Esplanade, but at an outdoor theatre in the east with a cast of amateurs and an unpredictable plot.

The Joo Chiat drama - a long-running neighbourhood war in which seven families are united against one - has become Singapore's answer to reality TV.

But the fans watch it live.

Up to 100 people a day, from as far as Malaysia, turn up at Everitt Road hoping to catch some action...

Ms Chan said laughingly to her father: 'Dad, all these people have actually been waiting for us to come home. This is so sad, they have no life!'

A young man with spiffy gelled hair called out: 'Hey, old man, we came to watch you dance. Dance leh!'

A smiling Mr Chan obliged by waltzing in his driveway with an imaginary partner for about 30 seconds or so, to the onlookers' amusement...

Video footage from the Gan's security camera catches Mr Chan dancing in his front yard.

Mr Chan said jokingly the following day: 'People have to join Star Search to become famous, but we have become instant celebrities.'...

The dispute involves a tangled web of old hurts and recent slights spanning 10 years and incorporating issues such as parking space, littering, verbal abuse, harassment and stalking...

Public interest in the case has heated up, fanned by two Mandarin documentaries aired about two weekends ago, which showed video footage taken by the Chans' neighbours.

The most talked-about clips: Ms Chan and her mother showing off their diamond jewellery and asking their neighbours: 'You have or not?'; Ms Chan saying that she dislikes poor people; Mr Chan, clad in just a pair of shorts, dancing around and shaking his bum at the camera, with his daughter singing 'Call the police'.

The footage has caused much eyebrow-raising over how a well-educated person like Ms Chan, who holds a doctorate in life sciences and teaches at a secondary school in Bedok, could behave in such an arrogant and childish manner.

Avid gamblers also became devoted fans when the Chans' car licence-plate number, 3174, came out tops in the 4-D draw on Oct 13...

Madam Cheong said: 'Last November, Ms Chan followed my eldest son to the bus stop while he was going to school for an exam and scolded him in public. My son felt so embarrassed.'

Ms Chan denied it indirectly, saying: 'They must think I am very good at multitasking. Where do I have so much time to do all that they accuse me of?'

The Chans said that after some conflict with the older Chua brother's family and the Lohs over parking space, their two cars were vandalised repeatedly - 132 scratches over two years, in fact.

They also said that the Tays had dropped cigarette butts into their backyard, burning a hole in their awning.

All three families have denied responsibility for the incidents.

The Gans' unhappiness stems from the spotlight outside the Chans' house that shines directly into one of their bedrooms. The Chans say the spotlight is for security purposes.

The families are also rankled by the name- calling dished out by the Chans, such as 'cheapskate', 'low-class' and 'bastard'.

The Chans say these were merely said tit-for-tat - in response to their neighbours' Hokkien expletives.

Both sides claim that they have video and photographic evidence of the other's wrongdoings.

[NB: This whole thing reminds me of Lin Yucheng - from the quotes to the story to the writing. LOL]

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Contrapunto Bestiale Alla Mente - Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634)

Tempo: 160

4c2 4c2 4c2 4.c2 8c2 4c2 4c2 4c2 4b1 8c2 8b1 8c2 8d2 4e2 4c2 4c2 4c2 4.c2 8d2 4c2 4d2 4d2 4d2 8b1 8a1 8b1 8c2 4d2 4c2 4c2 4c2 4.c2 8c2 4c2 4c2 4c2 4b1 2c2

I go searching for a digitised form of one of my old GP handouts and I find it, in its entirety, on the web. Wah.

Allan Bloom - "The Closing of the American Mind" - Music (1987)

"Nothing is more singular about this generation than its addiction to music...

When I first started teaching and lived in a house for gifted students. The "good" ones studied their physics and then listened to classical music. The students who did not fit so easily into the groove, some of them just vulgar and restive under the cultural tyranny, but some of them also serious, were looking for things that really responded to their needs. Almost always they responded to the beat of the newly emerging rock music...

This is the significance of rock music. I do not suggest that it has any high intellectual sources. But it has risen to its current heights in the education of the young on the ashes of classical music, and in an atmosphere in which there is no intellectual resistance to attempts to tap the rawest passions... But rock music has one appeal only, a barbaric appeal, to sexual desire-not love, not eros, but sexual desire undeveloped and untutored. It acknowledges the first emanations of children's emerging sensuality and addresses them seriously, eliciting them and legitimating them, not as little sprouts that must be carefully tended in order to grow into gorgeous flowers, but as the real thing. Rock gives children, on a silver platter, with all the industry, everything their parents always used to tell them they had to wait for until they grew up and would understand later.

Young people know that rock has the beat of sexual intercourse. That is why Ravel's Bolero is the one piece of classical music that is commonly known and liked by them. In alliance with some real art and a lot of pseudo-art, an enormous industry cultivates the taste for the orgiastic state of feeling connected with sex, providing a constant flood of fresh material for voracious appetites. Never was there an art form directed so exclusively to children.

Ministering to and according with the arousing and cathartic music, the lyrics celebrate puppy love as well as polymorphous attractions, and fortify them against traditional ridicule and shame. The words implicitly and explicitly describe bodily acts that satisfy sexual desire and treat them as its only natural and routine culmination for children who do not yet have the slightest imagination of love, marriage or family. This has a much more powerful effect than does pornography on youngsters, who have no need to watch others do grossly what they can so easily do themselves. Voyeurism is for old perverts; active sexual relations are for the young. All they need is encouragement...

These are the three great lyrical themes: sex, hate and a smarmy, hypocritical version of brotherly love. Such polluted sources issue in a muddy stream where only monsters can swim. A glance at the videos that project images on the wall of Plato's cave since MTV took it over suffices to prove this. Hitler's image recurs frequently enough in exciting contexts to give one pause. Nothing noble, sublime, profound, delicate, tasteful or even decent can find a place in such tableaux. There is room only for the intense, changing, crude and immediate, which Tocqueville warned us would be the character of democratic art, combined with a pervasiveness, importance and content beyond Tocqueville's wildest imagination.

Picture a thirteen-year-old boy sitting in the living room of his family home doing his math assignment while wearing his Walkman headphones or watching MTV. He enjoys the liberties hard won over centuries by the alliance of philosophic genius and political heroism, consecrated by the blood of martyrs; he is provided with comfort and leisure by the most productive economy ever known to mankind; science has penetrated the secrets of nature in order to provide him with the marvelous, lifelike electronic sound and image reproduction he is enjoying. And in what does progress culminate? A pubescent child whose body throbs with orgasmic rhythms; whose feelings are made articulate in hymns to the joys of onanism or the killing of parents; whose ambition is to win fame and wealth in imitating the drag-queen who makes the music. In short, life is made into a nonstop, commercially prepackaged masturbational fantasy...

The music business is peculiar only in that it caters almost exclusively to children, treating legally and naturally imperfect human beings as though they were ready to enjoy the final or complete satisfaction. It perhaps thus reveals the nature of all our entertainment and our loss of a clear view of what adulthood or maturity is, and our incapacity to conceive ends...

I believe it [rock music] ruins the imagination of young people and makes it very difficult for them to have a passionate relationship to the art and thought that are the substance of liberal education...

I suspect that the rock addiction, particularly in the absence of strong counterattractions, has an effect similar to that of drugs. The students will get over this music, or at least the exclusive passion for it. But they will do so in the same way Freud says that men accept the reality principle as something harsh, grim and essentially unattractive, a mere necessity. These students will assiduously study economics or the professions and the Michael Jackson costume will slip off to reveal a Brooks Brothers suit beneath. They will want to get ahead and live comfortably. But this life is as empty and false as the one they left behind. The choice is not between quick fixes and dull calculation. This is what liberal education is meant to show them. But as long as they have the Walkman on ' they cannot hear what the great tradition has to say. And, after its prolonged use, when they take it off, they find they are deaf."

Huihui [NB: They're coming back mid December!] just introduced me to Tom Lehrer.

Wickedly delicious ;)

National Brotherhood Week

One week of every year is designated National Brotherhood Week. This is just one of many such weeks honoring various worthy causes. One of my favorites is National Make-Fun-Of-The-Handicapped Week, which Frank Fontaine and Jerry Lewis are in charge of as you know.
During National Brotherhood Week various special events are arranged to drive home the message of brotherhood - this year, for example, on the first day of the week, Malcolm X was killed, which gives you an idea of how effective the whole thing is.
I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another, and I know there are people in the world who do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that!
Here's a song about National Brotherhood Week.

Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
And the black folks hate the white folks;
To hate all but the right folks
Is an old established rule.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
Lena Horne and Sheriff Clark are dancing cheek to cheek.
It's fun to eulogize
The people you despise
As long as you don't let 'em in your school.

Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks,
It's American as apple pie.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 'cause it's very chic.
Step up and shake the hand
Of someone you can't stand,
You can tolerate him if you try!

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Moslems,
And everybody hates the Jews.

But during National Brotherhood Week,
National Brotherhood Week,
It's National Everyone-Smile-At-One-Another-Hood Week.
Be nice to people who
Are inferior to you.
It's only for a week, so have no fear;
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

More tales of prurience:

"bloody hell im feeling pretty err lusty at this moment. hahahahaha. im sorry. just hafent ogled at guys in such a long long time. haha. and have guys with sexy sexae voices bump into you and brush their fingers on your arm. hahahahahaha. im sorry i didnt mean it in such a perverted way. sorrysorry. feeling like triking that out too. hahahahahahaha. how fun. we were people watching on orchard yest. wif max and leeying. fun man. but no cute guys. wat a downer. except the oohhahh-able international sch guys!!! =]=] and the malay posers. malay guys in their "rap hiphop" getups are hot! hahaha. sorry. so are international school guyyss!!! haha. too bad la. just feeling deprived. he is like yah not exactly hot but sigh. i love him so much anyway. blardhy. haha. and that cute guy on the bus. wtf. he sat down! just when i got into a position to observe him better! lieuuu. hahah. i am sorry i sound so errrrrr slutty. nono. im not that type lehz. whoever i ogle at is forgotten once i lose sight la. im not that shallow. blardhy hell.... hahahahaha. amusedddd. oh btw i think it is true the attached guys somehow have so much more appeal. =] but of cos. tt doesnt apply in some cases! wink."
A paean:

Are you blind when you're born? Can you see in the dark?
Can you look at a king? Would you sit on his throne?
Can you say of your bite that it's worse than your bark?
Are you cock of the walk when you're walking alone?

Because Jellicles are and Jellicles do
Jellicles do and Jellicles would
Jellicles would and Jellicles can
Jellicles can and Jellicles do

When you fall on your head, do you land on your feet?
Are you tense when you sense there's a storm in the air?
Can you find your way blind when you're lost in the street?
Do you know how to go to the Heaviside Layer?

Because Jellicles can and Jellicles do
Jellicles do and Jellicles can
Jellicles can and Jellicles do
Jellicles do and Jellicles can
Jellicles can and Jellicles do

Can you ride on a broomstick to places far distant?
Familiar with candle, with book and with bell?
Were you Whittington's friend? The Pied Piper's assistant?
Have you been an alumnus of heaven or hell?

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats

We can dive through the air like a flying trapeze
We can turn double somersaults, bounce on a tire
We can run up the wall, we can swing through the trees
We can balance on bars, we can walk on a wire

Jellicles can and Jellicles do
Jellicles can and Jellicles do
Jellicles can and Jellicles do
Jellicles can and Jellicles do

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats

Can you sing at the same time in more than one key
Duets by Rossini and waltzes by Strauss
And can you (as cats do) begin with a C
That always triumphantly brings down the house

Jellicle cats are queen of the nights
Singing at astronomical heights
Handling pieces from the Messiah
Hallelujah, angelical choir

The mystical divinity of unashamed felinity
Round the cathedral rang "Vivat!"
Life to the everlasting cat!

Feline, fearless, faithful and true
To others who do what

Jellicles do and Jellicles can
Jellicles can and Jellicles do
Jellicle cats sing Jellicle chants
Jellicles old and Jellicles new
Jellicle song and Jellicle dance

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats

Practical cats, dramatical cats
Pragmatical cats, fanatical cats
Oratorical cats, delphioracle cats
Skeptical cats, dispeptical cats
Romantical cats, pedantical cats
Critical cats, parasitical cats
Allegorical cats, metaphorical cats
Statistical cats and mystical cats
Political cats, hypocritical cats
Clerical cats, hysterical cats
Cynical cats, rabbinical cats

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle bells that Jellicles ring
Jellicle sharps and Jellicle flats
Jellicle songs that Jellicles sing

Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats
Jellicle songs for Jellicle cats

There's a man over there with a look of surprise,
As much as to say, "Well now how about that!"
Do I actually see with my own very eyes
A man who's not heard of a Jellicle cat?
What's a Jellicle cat? What's a Jellicle cat?

[NB: The original Broadway lyrics have been replaced with the LONDON lyrics]

Something I don't understand.

Band with former RI, present RJC boys called "The Hotties" (Ugh). Band performs mainly Chinese Pop (eeeeee). Band is so "hot" that it performs at numerous events including:

RJC Talentime // 15th February
Solace // 16th February
RJC Friendship Week Mini Concert // 20th February
RGS PSL Carnival 2002
Oasis Competition @ Heeren
Teacher's Day Celebrations
Asianbeat 2002
HOTTIES LIVE IN CONCERT (NUS University Cultural Centre)

Arts at the Atrium (RI) 2001
RGS PSL Carnival 2001
RI Teachers Day
Nanyang Prom Night
RI Grad Night
MusicWeed // 28 Dec

Arts at the Atrium (RI) 2000
With my lame foot, my options are limited.

Heh heh I found an option in the System Configuration Utility that allows you to limit physical memory. It specifies the maximum amount of physical memory Windows 98 will use.

I'm using 100MB now. System's at a crawl, but problems seem to be gone. And Norton Diagnostics doesn't show any problems with memory.

The pain relief lotion - LMS (Methyl Salicylate Lint.) that the SAF gives smells unnervingly like that you get from Chinese medicine shops - an off-Sarsaparilla scent. And it doesn't work, too.

Hmm this guy says his jv16 Powertools' Registry Cleaner is the best on the market.

Shocking statistics! Perfidious cover ups! Diabolical concealment!

The lotion's smell must be driving me mad.
I believe some of these have been posted before :)

Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me, either. Leave me alone.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire.

It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's paper, that's the time to do it.

Sex is like air. It's not important unless you aren't getting any.

Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.

No one is listening until you make a mistake.

Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.

Never test the depth of the water with both feet.

It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

It is far more impressive when others discover your good qualities without your help.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

Duct tape is like 'the force'. It has a light side & a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.

Don't squat with your spurs on.

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

Some days you are the bug, some days you are the windshield.

Don't worry, it only seems kinky the first time.

Good judgment comes from bad experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.

Timing has an awful lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your mouth is moving.

Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

We are born naked, wet, and hungry. Then things get worse.
Cottleston Pie

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
A fly can't bird, but a bird can fly.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
Why does a chicken? I don't know why.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.

Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie,
A fish can't whistle and neither can I.
Ask me a riddle and I reply
Cottleston Cottleston Cottleston Pie.

-- A. A. Milne
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