When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, January 25, 2003

New ringtone: Gilbert and Sullivan - HMS Pinafore - A British Tar
We went to range. I was rather sick of it and was thinking of shooting 0/56 as a protest vote on Day 3, but in the end I decided to shoot my best and I'm now a Marksman by the skin of my teeth - 45/56. My $200 of dirty money should be coming in a month of two.

Our CSM was rather ingenious - after it rained, he got us to drag the foxhole covers to the 50m point so we wouldn't have to prone in the mud. Yeh. Why didn't *I* think of that?

Melvin went to stick an ARMY calender on his cupboard. I was profoundly offended at his lack of good taste. Then when I returned to the bunk later, I found that it had appeared on -my- cupboard. Luckily for him, I managed to restrain my primal instincts long enough for him to return and remove the poster before I defaced it.

Huijun was discussing with me, some time back, about how Singaporeans are so concerned with small things, but ignore the big things. You should see how passionate some people get about the most inane and trivial issues. This is probably due, in some part, to fear of the Men In Black, the ISD and being blacklisted and leading a hard life. There's a tendency to let the government take care of everything. And all the wretched "OB" (Out of Bound) markers are placed very near to the centre because of paranoia.

People like to complain about the ins and outs of politics, whether at school or in the workplace. I have always been blissfully unaware of the backroom deals, the numerous backstabs and such - because of my poor perception in that arena, my uselessness as a pawn and my ineptness in that field. Anyhow, I was able to see a particular manouevre in crystal clear focus because a few people were complaining to me about someone's engaging in it. Only it didn't really seem like backstabbing to me - just simple complaining about someone to colleagues. Though later he *did* bring his complaints to a higher level, so that's a different matter. Maybe it was too subtle for my notice.

"For too long now, too many subjects have been taboo, if they appear to touch on religious practices. We need to move towards accepting debate in areas which affect our social togetherness, even if this touches on aspects of religious behavior" - Mr K Shanmugam, Minister of Parliament, Sembawang GRC. This statement was made within some context, but generally, it seems he does agree with me, though I am more radical, and I think no one rebutted this point. The issue on Affirmative Action, however, is a different story. It plainly doesn't work, generates a crutch mentality and tells everyone that the group in question is inferior, which is why it needs the help.

Apparently the Chinese in China despise Singaporeans' poor command of Chinese. I'm not surprised, really. At least this puts paid to the myth that speaking Chinese (at least, Singaporean-style Chinese, with all words above - and some below - a Primary 4 level of difficulty said in English) gives us an Economic Advantage when doing business in China.

The announcements that they play at MRT stations are really irritating. The woman speaks in a very annoying fashion (whether it's her customary way of speaking, I don't want to know), and the announcements are made in an ingratiating, unctuous and obsequious way which, instead of mollifying people, infuriates them. Or at least me. The excessively courteous manner of speech. in fact, has the opposite of the intended effect. But perhaps the most irritating thing about the announcements is how often they are played - when they don't want you to board a train, they play the announcement 2-3 times before the train arrives, and once when it has. And they HAVE to play the announcements about the train at Platform A going to Pasir Ris or Changi Airport -every- single time. SMRT must think that Singaporeans are idiots who need messages drilled into them unceasingly. Or maybe it's an insidious ploy to stop people resting in train stations by driving those who loiter in them too long crazy.

How are personal care products for men different for those for women? I suspect it's part of the general conspiracy. Perhaps it's to assuage the guilt that men might have at the loss of masculinity, and maybe the scents are different (though I doubt it). The most probable reason (from a marketing viewpoint): so men don't use their girlfriend's/wife's products.

I passed by "Man Studio", a shop which sells clothes for Men (only). Ironically, both the sales attendants inside were women. In the same complex, I also saw one of the shops on carts selling Tupperware - I thought it was only sold at Tupperware parties? Maybe the Tupperware company has finally awoken to sales reality.

Pioneer Junior College (PJC) seems to have changed their uniform some time ago. The new one looks appreciably more comfortable and cooler than the old one. Probably, they changed it after numerous complaints. Maybe that's why I don't smell their students anymore ;) The stark difference can be seen at a photo taken at the PJC Graduation Ceremony.

There's going to be a Cosplay activity in RJC, organised by the Art Club. I feel like swooning. Also, they have some weird event on Sentosa on Valentine's Day - "Raffles Palawan Adventure". The website is hilarious:


- Whole event sponsored mainly by F & N (Qoo)
- Co-sponsors include Subway sandwiches (loads of sandwiches and cookies provided on the day!), EmitAsia (company that supplies us with TIME magazines), Swatch watches worth at least $100 and complimentary Pasir Ris chalets and much, much more!
- Since event held (sic) on Friday, students are allowed to remain in Sentosa for the rest of the day, or even stay for the weekend - though the school will not be held responsible for any event that takes place after dismissal 1300 14th February Friday"

There will be an Aquathalon (Biathalon), Telematch, Beach Games, Games Stalls and a Concert by the Beach / Talentime. Wah.

Roaming fees are wretchedly expensive. My charges from the week in London set me back by $61.34!

There was this weird Channel U show, "Happy Rules", featuring 2 people who'd won the various contests they'd held some time back for people displaying a particular attribute most strongly. One was the person who'd been found to look most like a Japanese, and the other was the fabled well-endowed Ann Poh. Finally seeing her image, I was rather disgusted. They are rather ugly and look deformed :( At least they didn't jiggle much when she went horseriding. Must be have used a customised brand. And in case people wonder why I keep making comments on Chinese shows, well, that's what's showing in my bunk most days.

In other news, Chong Yechao took part in a rapping contest, held to promote Eminem's movie, 8 Mile. Of the 4 finalists, he was the only non-Malay :0 He was fourth of four finalists, though.

Somehow, some people think that every single minute trivial detail of my life goes onto Balderdash. And everytime I write something they assume it's something that just happened, or something about them that will go up. Hah!

Why do girls like Legolas? I suspect almost all girls like him. Perhaps the best analysis I received was this:

"Four reasons for this: the hair, the namby pambyness, the elfhood, and the hair, in that order of importance"

Apparently the hair is important for his cute elf boy looks. Well, seeing as he has nicer hair than most girls will ever have... He's over 3000 years old too, and since girls like older guys, his appeal in this area must be phenomenal :)

Legolas probably combines the best qualities of the old, chivalrous, monster-slaying male, and the SNAG - Sensitive New Age Guy, so. I just think he looks like a cute young gay toy boy! :)


God, once again, has not entered the Garden of Aden (Eden)

biscult (biscuit)

[Forum letter] I used to be a primary-school Chinese language teacher but I have become a secondary-school English teacher after completing a bachelor's degree in English in Britain

I'm surprised that you can remember my name. [Me: Why should you be surprised by that?] Because I can't remember yours.

[Me: They gave me ex-RMJ till [the] 18th. After that, probably - discharge.] Discharged from army? [Me: No lah, I wish.] (I'll probably be discharged)

[On private diaries] What's the point of writing and not letting anyone read? [Someone: Because he got 7 extra for letting people read]

Untok di pek pang / spare arm / spare arms, datang sensjata / senjasta / senjata (Untok di pek sa, datang senjata)

[On Mug Root Beer] I want to drink more swill.

[To me] Were you a happy baby? [Someone else: Were you smiling when your mother gave birth to you?]

[Me on using light stick liquid to soak pipe cleaner placed at the rear sight aperture of the M16 for night range: How novel] Are you going to put it in your diary?

I notice that RJ students never fold their clothes

Indian Prince [Me: Asian Prince] He looks Indian.
This week, I've made some progress on two books. I finally started, and finished more than half of "Why Do People Hate America" by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, and I read a bit more of "On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace" by Donald Kagan.

The former is praised by The Independent, which tells you something, and Noam Chomsky, which probably should tell you something too, but since I don't know the latter's claim to fame, I don't know what I might conclude from his endorsement (besides the fact that he was happy at being quoted favourably in the book). "Why Do People Hate America" is, probably quite obviously, not printed in the USA. It is distributed in the United Kingdom, Europe, South Africa, Asia and Canada but, oddly enough, not in the USA itself. Thus, most of the people whom the book is putatively meant for will not get to read it.

As I'm not done reading the book, I can't produce a general conclusion, but I have to say that the USA's ends are generally good. Self-interest is usually first, but generally they coincide roughly with the ends. And of course, if there are many aims to fulfill, naturally those agreeable with one's self-interest will be pursued first. Of course, the ends don't justify the means. The USA is made out to be bad for the world in many ways, but I wager it being the world's sole hyper-power is a lesser evil than, say, Iraq occupying that position.

To support the authors' claims that the USA has been imposing its will willy-nilly, they reproduce a list, "A Century of US Military Interventions: From Wounded Knee to Afghanistan", compiled by Zoltan Grossman, with a listing of 134 interventions from 1890-2001. However, many of these involved the evacuation of foreigners from war-torn countries, domestic deployments and states of high alert without any overt military action, and worse still, the Gulf War counts as 3 different military interventions.

The book deals with the issues of stereotypes. Stereotypes are unhealthy because people tend to stick to them, but the reason they exist is that, very often, they are true. Thus, while we should keep open minds, the stereotype is a good bet as to what the reality of the situation is.

The economic arguments about how America is trying to dominate the world aren't very convincing. If America was really trying to accumulate all the wealth in the world by exploiting everyone else, then why isn't anyone protesting (the half-washed protestors bandying billboards at conferences of world leaders because they have nothing better to do, and don't understand very clearly what they are protesting against do not count)? Why don't countries break free of the IMF, World Bank and WTO and just go into isolation since they'd be better served so? They can't all be daft.

The arguments about America's evils socially too smack of sophistry and sound shrill and alarmist. For example, the authors claim that one in ten Americans works for the Fast Food industry. Huh? American culture has, and is sweeping the world, but this is not due to some vast US conspiracy to extend US culture and soft power throughout the globe. People *want* McDonalds, baseball caps, MTV, Seinfeld and the like. Is it fair to deny them their choice? Local culture can and should be protected - but not through exclusion of American culture.

American culture also is not as contemptuous of foreign cultures as the book makes it out to be. The arguments do ring largely true, but what about where Americans have taken to elements of foreign cultures? Italian food? Tae-bo? Yoga? Acupuncture? Admittedly, they are modified somewhat, but when borrowing from other cultures takes place, rarely are traits borrowed wholesale.

One person, seeing me read the book, asked why no one wrote "Why do people hate Singapore?" or "Why do Singaporeans hate to be army boys?". Heh. I doubt any publisher would risk publishing that.

The latter book was considerably more readable once I'd gotten past the chapter on the Peloponnesian War. I'm not quite sure why - the Peloponnesian War has always held my interest more than the First World War. Maybe it was the way he retold and analysed it.

Friday, January 24, 2003

Prison vs Work

IN PRISON...you spend the majority of your time in an 8X10 cell. AT WORK... you spend the majority of your time in a 6X8 cubicle.

IN PRISON...you get three meals a day. AT WORK...you only get a break for one meal and you pay for it.

IN PRISON...you get time off for good behavior. AT WORK...you get more work for good behavior.

IN PRISON...the guard locks and unlocks all the doors for you. AT WORK...you must carry around a security card and open all the doors for yourself.

IN PRISON...you can watch TV and play games. AT WORK...you get fired for watching TV and playing games.

IN PRISON...you get your own toilet. AT WORK...you have to share with some idiot who pees on the seat.

IN PRISON...they allow your family and friends to visit. AT WORK...you can't even speak to your family.

IN PRISON...all expenses are paid by the taxpayers with no work required. AT WORK...you get to pay all the expenses to go to work and then they deduct taxes from your salary to pay for prisoners.

IN PRISON...you spend most of your life inside bars wanting to get out. AT WORK...you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars.

IN PRISON...you must deal with sadistic wardens. AT WORK...they are called managers.

Lol I remember this:

Horrible Eighties Cartoons

California Raisins: Designed by some farmer's association in order to sell more raisins, these "hip" little sun-dried dudes took the world by storm. Now that farmers have stopped putting hallucinogens in their crops, I think we can safely say that a show about talking raisins is about as "hip" as falling into a pile of hacksaws.

Is this person hot?
hahaah! im posting!!!!! *grins*

ermmm.. hmm my platoon was nearly disbanded (or so we heard) but luckily now we'r not.. the prob is that we'r not in the estab.. so actually gonna disband when the new men come in to "replace" us.. but heard now wont.. just that during reservice (hopefully i wont be recalled), we wont get to do the work we do now.. hmm.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Whatever, Gabriel.

Normal snappy mood for debate has been dampened by a moderately somber week - four funerals in succession since Monday. Thankfully no one directly close to me, but all relatives of friends and relatives of relatives. Also thankfully, I had only to attend one of them, but the sudden outbreak of mortality one week before Chinese New Year doesn't really augur well, even to my modern, positivist, post-Enlightenment mindset. Guess the old superstitious Chinaman paradigm is hard to shake.

One of the people who passed away was the infant daughter of a colleague. Now, this colleague was one of the more unpleasant to deal with, for a variety of reasons. I obviously never liked her much, but maybe now I understand a little bit more about why she was always so snappy and bad-tempered - apparently her daughter had been ailing for quite some time now. Ah well. Sometimes in one's self-obsession with self-gratification, one forgets about the world around us; even the little portion of it that encompasses the people we see and interact with from day to day. Even our closest ones.

But in the end, the dead only know one thing, that it's better to be alive.

"Everyone you meet can teach you part of what you need to know. But you need to know some incredibly unpleasant things."

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

To sum up about the summing up:

"The documentary evidence is what the founders of a religion explicitly wanted" - Some of which was modified, distorted, left out, mistranslated, misrepresented or such throughout the ages. And which was also written for that age specifically - polygyny in Islam was a concession to the polygamy practicing Bedouin, women who walked around *bare-breasted* were admonished to throw a cloth over their bosoms, and you wouldn't tell 4th Century AD peoples that slavery was prohibited. Everything is to be taken in context - witness the ridiculous battle believers in Creation Science wage because of over-literal readings of texts.

"ALL religions have absurd practices" - Some more than others? *shrug* And some practice them more than others, even disregarding the effects of comparative development. Again, this is hard to prove, so we shall not go into that minefield.

Anyhow, my stand is, and always has been that I'm perfectly happy if you flagellate yourself while dancing in front of waxen voodoo dolls and engaging in auto-erotic asphyxiation - just don't try to ban abortion, burn widows on funeral pyres or lop people's heads off with swords for making decisions that concern them only.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Happy Thaipusam to one and all.

First things first - on the way home from Genting yesterday (an interesting day trip which would make a funny blog entry in and of itself if I was so inclined), we drove past Batu Caves, where the Thaipusam ceremonies were being conducted. We had cleverly avoided that road on the way up, knowing that traffic would be horrible, but on the way down, we were slightly high from air pressure changes and the euphoria of finally being able to see more than 10m ahead once we dropped closer to sea level (think Mists of Ravenloft type driving conditions while we were up there). It was almost midnight, and we thought that the highway past Batu Caves should be clear. HOW WRONG WE WERE! Think Armies of Darkness - all around us - and in a three-lane highway, the lanes on left and right were choked with parked cars and motorcycles for about 1.5km. And imagine the resultant bottleneck in which we were trapped for 2 hours.

In the midst of exhaustion and raw frustration at being stuck, a few brief moments of humour were attained. Notably due to the six FRU vans (Special Response Unit aka SWAT) stationed there. As my friend put it: "What are they afraid of? Kavadi-bearers running amok?"

(For the culturally ignorant: kavadis are the metal harness thingies with needles that Thaipusam celebrants stick all over their body. Think Hellraiser with Indians.)

NOW THAT IS A SCARY THOUGHT. I can just see the headlines: "Psychotic kavadi-bearers run riot though the city! Blood flows in the streets!"

Once again, I am terribly misrepresented - I'm not displeased or pleased that Gabriel has seen fit to conclude the debate. In my exact words at the time: "Okay lor. Now run along - I have to finish watching the Fellowship of the Ring DVD (the 4-DVD special extended edition)"

In fact, I thought it was a dead issue, which makes me surprised that he mentioned it again below. Please tell the nice people what I told you about the wimpy excuse of "living/evolving religions" and fundamentalism. I dislike such provocation, man.

To sum up:

a) The documentary evidence is what the founders of a religion explicitly wanted. It usually requires a lot of ridiculous practices in today's modern context. I don't have any creative interpretations about them whatsoever. Which is why I respect fundamentalism in a twisted way - they're the only ones with the courage to stick to their founder's intentions. The soft liberal religious are just trying to have their cake and eat it, from a salvation point of view.

b) My argument simply states that ALL religions have absurd practices, only that you focus excessively on Islam's ones, and that they're all as equally hokey as one another. My issue with your debating technique is that you have serious fallacy of composition issues, as well as a very one-sided presentation. THAT'S IT.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

I was forced to watch a CD with MTV videos downloaded from the Internet sometimes this week. Kylie Minogue was prancing around the screen, baring flesh tastelessly. I don't know why people always think that the more flesh you reveal, the better. If you want to show flesh, please do it more tastefully next time instead of just relying on your body and your sickly sweet voice reminiscent of the odour of putrefying flesh to attract attention! Tangentially, I suspect that male strippers have better technique than female strippers.

After the MTV was Enemy at the Gates. It's interesting how the woman had money for lipstick in wartime, and how all the Soviets had American accents.

Someone left a F&N Fizzkidz notebook, with a trivia quiz inside, in the dispensary. Now, if the Fizzkidz are all kids, why does the sole female have disproportionately big breasts? Weird. And there doesn't seem to be minority racial representation inside either. Too bad for political correctness :)

My Pilot G2 07 got stolen at Tengah Medical Centre while I was accompanying 2 patients there one night. One medic asked to borrow it and didn't return it to me. Gah. I had that pen since the good old RJC days and it has accompanied me through BMT and SMM! Grr.

Support Company has a Unisex toilet ala Ally McBeal. Heh. Open minded CSM.

I wonder which drill command sounds funnier - Panji Panji / Punji Punji or Masek Masek? I haven't decided :)

Someone suggested calling the Pseudo-Western food that SAF Cookhouses give us "Fusion" food. LOL.

There was this show on Channel 8 where lithe women were bouncing on big air filled balls and smiling. Exercise fads are very weird.

The most popular brand of bath gel in my unit seems to be Shokubutsu. It is advertised, on the bottle, as having 99% of its active ingredients coming from plants. One wonders about the 1% that doesn't come from plants, and about the passive ingredients. Bad marketing, but at least they're honest.

Most of us call Jason, Jason Toh Ah Beng, for he has some Beng tendencies, but compared to real bengs, he really cannot measure up :) (This is meant as a compliment)

My white hair is growing in quantity and becoming more and more visible. Oh dear.

Effeminate males, ceteris paribus, tend to be nicer than more masculine ones.

They always like to use the Imperial March from Star Wars during SAF parades. I bet they don't have any permission from Mr Lucas, but he probably won't care to take on the SAF in court. Any local court would probably throw the case out anyway, though with his clout, he *might* be able to lobby the US Armed Forces to pull some strings. Anyhow, the Imperial March is the theme of the bad guys. Probably a Freudian slip on the part of parade planners.

There was this show on Channel 8 where lithe women were bouncing on big air filled balls and smiling. Exercise fads are very weird.

Melvin has been picking up many of Boon Huat's bad qualities, rather one major one - irritating people. Tut tut. Kiong and I must scold him more!


[On 'Letter to a Son'] I read it before... Read it on your website. Very funny what, your website. Especially the referrals. You mean people actually search for... [Me: Yes]

[On my Strawberry and Red Berries exfoliating body scrub] Kanna. Tastes like fruit punch. (smells)

[Me: Do you think he looks like Gollum?] Gay boy. Gay boy cum Porn Man. [Me: Why is he 'gay boy'?] He keeps trying to fondle me.

[On a whiteboard in the Treatment Room] Quote of the day:
The unexamined life is not worth living - Socrates
Life w/o sex is not worth living - ALLAN TAN

Why you got so many condoms in your cupboard? Got something wrong with you? [Me: They were there when I moved in]... When do they expire? Don't waste. Give me, I go and cheong. (do you have, Is there, waste them, and I'll)

[On underwear] Robinsons. [Me: What? Oh. You zaogeng more than me what.] It's okay for us to zaogeng.

Why do so many people like Geraldine?... Bomoh [witch doctor] ah?

[Seen on noticeboard] Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Tun Tan Sri Datuk Utama Seri [someone's initials]

Gabriel, you can wear bra ah

[To me] A lot of people decided not to keep diaries, because of what happened to you, except that it was in a diary format (have decided, what happened to your weblog happened to their paper diaries)

[Sign in food court] no pork, no lard, cater for all 'races' (people who don't eat pork, but not vegetarians or people who don't eat certain types of meats other than pork)

Actually Letter to a Son' goes rather out of point towards the middle. The writer would fail his GP. I'm not vehemently anti-PAP, and the writer does start to rave incoherently towards the end, but much of the 'letter', especially the first part, *are* true :) I think it's meant to be a spoof of the "letter" that was in "Shoulder To Shoulder - Our National Service Journal".

He Who Must Not Be Named was not pleased by my attempt to bring some closure to our exhausting debate. My main gripe with his arguments really, were that he had many creative (to put it charitably) interpretations of various written creeds and dismissed offhand documentary evidence laying out specific mantras and doctrines to be followed. And his argumentation technique seems to involve wearing people out by carpet bombing till they give up. And since he will probably read this, there is no need to ICQ it to him.

I seem to be getting at least one search referral saying "gabriel seah" per day. My infamy preceds me indeed. Beloved where e'er I go, indeed. *cough*
I've narrowed my choices down to:


Choices. Which one for the postcards, and which ones for the lithographic prints and desktoppers?

Heck, I'll just save money and get the 12 notecard pack of Underachievement.



Shipping is US$20. That's even more than the postcards themselves (US$ 6.95). It's exorbitant.


I think I won't get them after all. Maybe I'll just make my own.
Some weird site.

"Blogs are made by two types of people: stupid people who actually post their true feelings so they have no secrets or privacy, and smart people who post false entries, entries with carefully selected and ordered words that in no way reflect the writer's true emotions but are made to manipulate the thoughts of simple-minded readers and trick them into thinking the posted passages are candid and true beliefs."

And some other weird rantings about the usual stuff on sex and such.
I think I'm rather sian of games now. Most times, there's no kick.

The myriad of units in Empire Earth are just too boggling - there seems to be a different unit for every task, sometimes more. It's nice to have Club Men, Spear Men, Slingers, Javelin Throwers, Rock Throwers and such, but they're pretty much too similar, while being too different. Or maybe I should play more extensively rather than sporadically but intensively so I don't get sick of it.

Blackthorne was quite fun on MAS but maybe that's because I hadn't played it for a while, and I was soundly thrashed by the computer in Street Fighter 2. I could never make it at fighting games (except for Acclaim's 1994 Wrestlemania, and I wager Lin Yucheng had something to do with that ; actually I think it was more fun playing most things with Yucheng and Tim).

Anyhow, most of the genres nowadays aren't really very appealing. Real Time Strategy Games are all the same, first person shooters give me headaches, most RPGs too since nowadays most of them have 3D, headache inducing interfaces (Might and Magic 9 and Morrowind for example), I don't like racing or card games and simulation games aren't really that interesting.

I think only good turn based strategy (eg Alpha Centauri) or non headache inducing RPGs (eg Baldur's Gate II) will turn me on now :)

Or maybe most games are too hard for my puny brain to tackle. *gasp*

I also feel very sian of blogging now, but I think that's because of my residual headache.

Gah, my headache is returning. Time to moan in agony.
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