"The happiest place on earth"

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Saturday, October 18, 2003

Many soldiers, same letter - Newspapers around U.S. get identical missives from Iraq - How low can they sink?

The Asian Squat

Bus turns over on I-94 - Hyles-Anderson College students were heading to Chicago for ministry work - "passengers were standing in the aisle, singing and rocking back and forth," causing the driver to lose control of the bus.

Librarian Action Figure - With push button shushing!

Make your own Artificial Vagina - Courtesy of Melvin

How to Tell When a Relationship is Over

Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass - "Abstract: The exponential dependence of resistivity on temperature in germanium is found to be a great big lie. My careful theoretical modeling and painstaking experimentation reveal 1) that my equipment is crap, as are all the available texts on the subject and 2) that this whole exercise was a complete waste of my time."

Who was the worst Catholic saint?:

* Be nonexistent. In Christianity's early days sainthood was a matter of popular acclaim. When the church formalized canonization in the 13th century, the traditional saints were grandfathered in, but later historical review found no reliable information about many of them and some appeared never to have existed at all. One egregious example is Saint Josaphat, who supposedly was the son of an East Indian king who persecuted his Christian subjects. When it was foretold that his son would become a Christian, the king had him brought up in confinement, but the son converted anyway. Scholars eventually realized this was actually the legend of the Buddha tricked out in Christian disguise.

Then there's Saint Ursula, said to have been martyred along with 11,000 virgin companions in 451 at Cologne. Although it's possible some women were martyred in that city at some point, the notion of there ever having been 11,000 virgins in one place at one time ultimately proved too much for even true believers to swallow, and veneration of Ursula was suppressed.

When Pope Paul VI revised the canon of saints in 1969, some traditional saints were downgraded because of doubts about their stories, if not necessarily their existence. Saint Christopher, for example, is thought to have been martyred under the Roman emperor Decius in the third century, but nothing else is known about him. The well-known story about his having carried the Christ child across a river--the kid supposedly became staggeringly heavy because he bore the weight of the world--is now recognized as pious fiction.

Not all fabrications about saints can be attributed to medieval simpletons. Take the case of Saint Philomena. In 1802 the bones of a girl between 13 and 15 years old, plus a vial of what was believed to be dried blood, were found in a catacomb in Rome. An inscription said, "Peace be with thee, Philomena" and included depictions of anchors, arrows, and a palm. Impressionable souls leaped to the conclusion that these were the tokens of a virgin martyr. A cult sprang up and hundreds of miracles were attributed to Philomena's intercession. Other devout persons of the era, several of whom went on to become canonized themselves, implored Pope Gregory XVI to start the canonization process, and devotions to Philomena were authorized in 1837. Reason eventually reasserted itself and Philomena was removed from the calendar of saints in 1961.

* Be crazy. Where to start? Paging through Butler's Lives we find the story of Saint Christina the Astonishing, who was unable to bear the smell of human beings. "She lived by begging, dressed in rags, and in many ways behaved in a very terrifying manner," we are told. "There is little in the recorded history of Christina . . . to make us think she was other than a pathological case."

What Really Happened (Pre-911 Page) - Collection of shrill and improbable conspiracy theories. Why people give such great credence is beyond me.

The Freenet Project - philosophy - beginner (Extract)

Why is the freedom to share ideas and opinions so important? There are several ways to answer this question:

1. Communication is what makes us human
2. Knowledge is good
3. Democracy assumes a well informed population

Censorship and freedom

Consider now that someone had the ability to control the information you have access to. This would give them the ability to manipulate your opinions by hiding some facts from you, by presenting you with lies and censoring anything that contradicted those lies. This is not some Orwellian fiction, it is standard practice for most western governments to lie to their populations.

The solution

The only way to ensure that a democracy will remain effective is to ensure that the government cannot control its population's ability to share information, to communicate. So long as everything we see and hear is filtered, we are not truly free. Freenet's aim is to allow two or more people who wish to share information, to do so.

Isn't censorship sometimes necessary?

There are many who feel that censorship is a good thing in some circumstances. For example, in some European countries propagating information deemed to be racist is illegal. Governments seek to prevent people from advocating ideas which are deemed damaging to society. There are two answers to this however. The first is that you can't allow those in power to impose "good" censorship, without also enabling them to impose "bad" censorship. To impose any form of censorship a government must have the ability to monitor and thus restrict communication. There are already criticisms that the anti-racism censorship in many European countries is hampering legitimate historical analysis of events such as the second world war.

The second argument is that this "good" censorship is counter-productive even when it does not leak into other areas. For example, it is generally more effective when trying to persuade someone of something to present them with the arguments against it, and then answer those arguments. Unfortunately, preventing people from being aware of the often sophisticated arguments used by racists, makes them vulnerable to those arguments when they do eventually encounter them.

Of course the first argument is the stronger one, and would still hold-true even if you didn't accept the second. Basically, you either have censorship, or you don't. There is no middle-ground.

What about child porn, offensive content or terrorism?

While most people wish that child pornography and terrorism did not exist, humanity should not be deprived of their freedom to communicate just because of how a very small number of people might use that freedom.

The ultimate Indian!

An Indian and an American are seated next to each other on a flight from Los Angeles to New York. The American asked if he would like to play a Fun game.The Indian, tired, just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks.

The American persists and explains that the game is easy and a lot of fun.

He says, "I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me five dollars, and vice versa."

Again, he declines and tries to get some sleep. The American, now agitated,says, "Okay, if you don't know the answer, you pay me $5, and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $500."

This catches the Indian's attention and, figuring there will be no end to this torment, agrees to the game.

The American asks the first question: "What's the distance from the earth to the moon?"

The Indian doesn't say a word, reaches into his wallet, pulls out a $5.00 bill, and hands it to the American. "Okay," says the American, "your turn".

He asks, "What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four legs?"

The American, puzzled, takes out his laptop computer & searches all his references........no answer. He taps into the air phone with his modem and searches the Internet and the Library of Congress... no answer.

Frustrated, he sends e-mails to all his friends and coworkers but to no avail. After an hour, he wakes the Indian and hands him $500. The Indian thanks him and turns back to get some more sleep.

The American, who is more than a little miffed, stirs the Indian and asks, "Well, what's the answer?"

Without a word, the Indian reaches into his purse, hands the American $5, and goes back to sleep.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

5 things just occurred to me. 7 hours before my next class.

a) Studying about drug dependency and abuse, psychotropic drugs... an adverse effect listed for LSD is "bad trips". *Bad trips* is so descriptive - those two words conjure up images of fantasy schoolbuses rampaging off cliffs, flower-power magic carpets crumpling up underneath unsuspecting fun-lovers, hot-air balloons accelerating downwards (to its occupants' gaping horror). You're strapped in the rollercoaster, you're going down the steep end, and you know it derails shortly ... but you can't get off.

b) Friendster- does it still count if the vast majority of my 24 friendsters come from the same, tight-knit social circle?

c) If you huddle under the first name "Raffles", "Melbourne" or "GEP" (with that 20-yr old pyramid logo), please don't add me. I'll reject you and you wouldn't like that, would you? I wouldn't like that either.

d) Just authed debbie and geraldine. Debbie and geraldine please don't take offense if you're reading this ... i had the impression i was authorizing two totally different people. Till it occurred to me (for the umpteenth time) oh yah, i *do* know two debbies both from the same cell group and went to check the info/photos. Also was wondering "since when did little sop-singing fan-of-my-little-pony geraldine wear lipstick and eyeliner?" when i realized it was geraldine-who-lives-across-from-my-block geradline (pink is so your colour!).

e) I really enjoy pharmacology. I have a passion for it the same way that most of my coursemates detest it - with a vengeance. If i had more patience i'd easily picture myself going into drug research in a clinical setting. Maybe that's not so far away.

Panettone anyone? i'm picking up a couple over the next few days.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Does anyone know where i can get the script for "Finding nemo"? I can't find it on the net....

Sunday, October 12, 2003

My Grand Tour of England and Wales - Part 5 of X

Day 10 - Hampton Court-Bombay Dreams-Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat (Cont'd)

At the station where I got off in London, there was a guy peeing in a corner and there was so much pee, it flowed back to him after it hit the ground. I was tempted to take a picture, but he'd have punched me, so.

Bombay Dreams was showing at the Apollo Victoria theatre, and the lobby was veritably full of Indians, mostly old ladies. After collecting my ticket, I had lunch at a nearby Subway because I didn't want to chance being late, and had a Southwest Turkey Bacon sandwich - the hottest sandwich I'd ever had in my life. The menu did not label it as "hot" (as opposed to some other sandwiches), so I shuddered to think of how fiery some of the "hot" sandwiches must have been.

My seat was in row E, 5th from the stage - at only 15 pounds: Lastminute.com is good. Nonetheless, the legroom left much to be desired, so me and this American sitting beside me moved out along the row, only to be thwarted when a couple arrived at the last minute.

Perhaps due to it being a Matinee, the production that I watched was lacking in some ways - in many scenes, the lip synching was obvious to the point that I couldn't hear them singing, especially when they were speaking in what I took to be Hindi. Of course, my noticing this was helped by the revelation last year that musical (and maybe others as well) performances in large theatres always play a pre-recorded track of song, on top of which the performers sing, and my sister playing music from the show to me before I watched it. My scrutiny also revealed to me that what I thought was, in common parlance, known as the 'self-destruct button', was actually their microphones, and the wires were quite obvious trailing down bare backs. Though I wonder where the base units were hidden - perhaps in their underwear, or the cracks of their asses?

Some way into the show, I noticed that some of the "Indians" were actually ang mohs dressed up as Indians (at least half of the ensemble had Caucasian names). All of the eunuchs were Caucasian, for example. Most ironically, the male lead himself was a Caucasian (from the cast lists, I found out he was actually a chorus boy drafted in in the absence of the main lead). Guess they couldn't find enough real Indians.

Generally, the musical was cliched yet still enjoyable. The ending, though, grated. Why is it in vogue these days to include tacky post-modernist, self-referential elements in your productions? Argh.

Other notes on Bombay Dreams:
- They had 2 people to play percussion instruments, each sitting on a raised platform on either side of the stage, and one of them had the classic 'Jesus Christ' look (long, slightly curvy brown hair, moderate length beard and moustache)
- They couldn't hide their UK accents, especially when singing
- The transvestites were funny
- The choreographed mass dance scenes where a million extras appear from nowhere and start dancing were also funny. And I was impressed by the scenes with water fountains and rain
- The jiggling of buns and breasts was funny
- The Ms World headdress was freaky
- The pink aerobic costumes were very 'funky', especially the guys' with pink bandanas
- The fight scene with nunchakus was fun
- They didn't wait enough to take their second bow, but the encore piece made up for it
- It's very rare to find a story without love these days. Off the top of my head, I can only think of Cats, the Wizard of Oz and Joseph and the Amazing Techniclour Dreamcoat
- There were binoculars for rent at the back seats - disgusting
- There were primary school kids who came out of the theatre dancing (badly and out of sync) to and singing "Shakalaka Baby" (out of tune)

After Bombay Dreams ended, I had another musical to catch - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. The nearest stop to the theatre was Covent Garden and being bored and having time to kill I once again climbed the 201 steps for what I think was at least the 2nd, and maybe the 3rd time. After my ascent, I was sitting by the side of the station to recover but got suffocated by cigarette smoke, so my head remained dizzy for a while.

After collecting my ticket at the New London theatre, I noticed that the place where I'd had a meagre dinner before catching Cats in 2001 was closing. I actually wanted to have dinner there again, but there was no food left. I walked a short distance over to an Indian restaurant, "Spice of London", which claimed to be a branch of a famous restaurant from India, which offered a pre-theatre set menu, including a "dissert of the day" (which so amused me, I took a picture of it). One of the staff probably mistook my photo taking for intense interest in their set, and came out, describing the Lamb Tariwala as "spicy". I figured that, this being a place catering to Ang Moh palletes, I should be okay. Besides, I think I'd passed it over for the joint that was now closing down 2 years ago, so I figured I should give it a shot.

So it turned out that I was right. The Lamb Tariwala tasted of a pleasant blend of spices, and in fact was less hot than the sandwich I'd had for lunch. The Naan was crisp and the rice fragrant. There was good food, and good service to boot, though I had to press the waiter before he served me tap water, attempting to pull off the "still or sparkling?" routine when I first asked, which I naturally did not fall for.

Entering the New London theatre and going up the escalator, it was striking how many shows had run at the theatre from 1973-1981, but only one from 1981-2002. I noticed that they'd done extensive renovations since Cats, with its unique stage, had vacated the theatre. At least half of the seats must have been reconfigured. As with Bombay Dreams, I got an amazingly good seat which also cost around 15 pounds, but that may partially have been because the theatre was rather empty.

From the start, Joseph struck me as being very much tied to its start as a school musical. From having a narrator, the campy children's choir, and a wealth of American cultural references, to the blow up sheep and Egyptian Cheerleaders, the music largely played on synthesisers and the corniness, it just screamed "school musical". There were notable attempts at making it look less cheapskate (eg fire eating, Brazillian dancers) but overall, they didn't succeed. But then, maybe they didn't want to.

I liked the lack of any direct, and the few indirect, references to Jehovah, in keeping with the spirit of the musical. But unlike most other musicals, the performers' mics were eminently visible. And I doubted Joseph's coat really had as many colours as were sung about in the song, though ("It was red and yellow and green and brown, And scarlet and black and ocher and peach, And ruby and olive and violet and fawn, And lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve, And cream and crimson and silver and rose, And azure and lemon and russet and grey, And purple and white and pink and orange, And red and yellow and green and brown, Scarlet and black and ocher and peach, And ruby and olive and violet and fawn, And lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve, And cream and crimson and silver and rose, And azure and lemon and russet and grey, And purple and white and pink and orange, And blue.")

Strikingly, Joseph had the most protracted encore scene I'd ever seen, which managed to get most of the small audience off their butts and up clapping and singing, except for a bellicose, diehard group centred around me which stubbornly remained seated. One happy side-effect of the cast's encouraging of everyone to stand up and sing along was that they got a free standing ovation at the end!

Misc notes:

Hwa is terrible at doing housekeeping. His camera's memory card still had images from before my last visit on it.

Some grafiti is quite well done, with artistic merit, even.

In some ways, the shadow of the SAF lingered over me - I even had (bad) dreams of camp, and often I found myself not enjoying myself as much as I should have.

There was this female tube driver whose verbosity rivaled that of the pre-recorded announcements in SMRT stations. At each station, she would offer a verbose, informative and polite announcement. Another day, there was a man doing an announcement over the PA system in the station with a level of enthusiasm approaching that of a football commentator - he told the ladies the next train would have no seats, but the gentlemen'd surely give up their seats for them.

The travel time from Leicester Square station to Covent Garden is about 2 seconds. What's the point? What's the point, too, of playing announcements in both the train and the station? The result is that neither will be heard nor heeded.

The Indian restaurant I had dinner in on Wednesday had this green (jade?) sculpture of a dragon and phoenix, with a ball rotated by flowing water - a uniquely chinese artifact.

They still sell 500ml bottles of Coke in London, unlike evil Singapore where we've had 390ml bottles at 500ml prices for many few months already.

I declined beggars' pleas throughout my trip. Yeh. I actually saw an anti-begging poster saying 80% of the money's used for drugs and alcohol - I don't know about that.

I wonder how the British stand summer with few fans and even fewer air-conditioners.

I have been attached back. This gives me one less reason to complain about 42's torture of me, however futilely. I'm quite sure there is/was *some* way I could complain about what they did, but I don't know how. On the bright side, though, since I returned, I haven't been tortured too badly, both because of block leave and my CSM going on course. However, improbably, the madness of my company has recently reached new heights (or depths). Among other things, they want to check our bags before booking out, have roll calls after booking in and disallow staying out for medical appointments. They actually wanted to stop us leaving the day before our proper day of leave or off, but thankfully they revoked that draconian order. Hopefully, saner heads will prevail and these rules will be relaxed over time, but then we have no power, as tattooed invisibly all over us are the words: "Property of the SAF".

Even if you do accept that National Slavery is essential to guarantee Singapore's safety, we have to ask ourselves: are these ridiculous and unnecessary measures truly necessary to maintain Operational Readiness? Or are they just the sadistic whims of a few people inflicted on the rest to no practical end? Happy soldiers are (more) willing and (more) effective soldiers, so making them miserable does not help you fight a war. There is a reason why the Navy and Air Force are professional organisations made up, for the most part, of regulars, while the Army is just a place where regulars torture NSFs and everyone wastes their time.

Someone formerly from 42SAR was posted to 2SIR, and he tells me that, contrary to what people say about infantry, 2SIR is actually quite slack. They aren't obsessed with BUC, there's no RT (maybe just for his company), there's more freedom and they're less regimental.

Commanders like to say that if their men fail their IPPT and SOC, it is their failure as commanders for not training their men. All very noble and admirable, but unfortunately, the men are the ones who suffer for their commanders' "failures". Taking the blame is nothing - it's the punishment that kills.

Just as Ivan reminds me of Julian, I realise that Vincent reminds me of Luther. It's not just that they are both tall - they both can be corny (the latter more than the former), and have a knack for making certain types of statements which I am at a loss for words to describe.

One reservist MO was giving out his namecard to all the patients he saw. And one reservist corporal was marking geography essays. The joys of reservist life.

We were discussing how to raise productivity, and hit on the idea of using computers to answer calls, as many companies do nowadays. On calling, you caller would hear something like this: "Welcome to the Armour Medical Centre. For English, please press 1. For Mandarin, press 2. If you want Malay, you've dialed the wrong number. Please put down the phone." The caller would then be invited to press a number corresponding to which unit he wished to reach, and put on hold, to be treated from time to time to placating messages such as: "Thank you for waiting. All our operators are currently unavailable. Your call is important to us. For your convenience, a fax line is also available at ***", until someone bothered to pick up the phone or the caller grew so fed up he put down, and soothing music like songs from the recently cut Army Songs album, or "Medics of the Field", the official song of the SAF Medical Corps.

I noticed that SFI's proclaimed mission is to "provide safe and wholesome food". Notice it says nothing about tasty food. I was also always under the impression that safe food is a non-negotiable item. Further, this mission implies that SAF food in the past was neither safe nor wholesome.

I was having a hair cut at the 46 barber, and I noticed that due to the dearth of reading materials, people usually read what's available while waiting. Old issues of 8 Days and Cleo seem to be all that the barber stocks (since she probably reads both), and most people would have read the former, so you see men reduced to reading Cleo when they would not in any other circumstances. The looks on their faces range from bewilderment to disinterest. Meanwhile, I am mostly smiling condescendingly for among other things, half the magazine is ads, and 3/4 of the remainder is disguised ads (features or pictures of products, with prices and availability).

The ever efficient SAF shot an arrow to someone, and eventually it was passed along to me. That in and of itself wouldn't have been so bad, but I had to do the same task 3 times in a row, increasing in intensity, tedium and detail each time, which meant the first 2 times (and 1 1/2 hrs) were wasted.

The putrid miasma of Singapore, especially that in my camp (all that reclaimed swampland, you see) seems to have given me back my slight cough.

"Lithographer" is an SAF vocation. I am speechless.

The SAF should, in addition to the SAF Counselling Hotline, set up an anonymous channel for complaints. The chain of command just doesn't cut it.

People say I looked rejuvenated after my trip. Let's hope this burst lasts till next June.

The guys got 3 days off for not more than 24 hours of work during the Army Half Marathon. Wah.

Tri-Circle brand locks are very lousy. With his skeleton key, Law managed to open Zhenhao's lock after the latter locked himself out of his cupboard.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I was giving reservists jabs at Khatib and Maju. They get half a day off, and half a day of pay, just to spend 5 mins taking an injection (or two, as the case might be). Wah. Also, the driver who drove me on the first day understood English better than he spoke it, and sensed I had the same problem for Mandarin, so he suggested I speak to him in English, and that he'd reply in Mandarin, which was an excellent arrangement. Later on the same day, the clerk who was with us treated us to some snacks from the canteen because he was ORD-ing in 6 days time. The Khatib canteen had some really innovative food, all of which I was trying for the first time - I had sardines wrapped in a pancake, pastry with some bland mildly salty potato filling and sasane (however you spell it - the chewy thing with sesame seeds on the outside) with a coconut filling (instead of the usual peanut or lotus paste). And then on the second day, Channel 8 was filming at Maju, and I also saw Johann there.

Bob is gone for 2 months, so I should be able to sleep on 2 mattresses. However, others keep stealing them before I can take them, and worse, someone is trying to evict me from my secret garden, reducing me to mono-syllabic utterances. Gah!

The E-Mart in my camp sells Seventeen magazine. Why this is so puzzles me, as I am probably the only NSF who has ever bought this magazine, and then only twice.

I think I am very much a goody two shoes. Maybe 2 year soldiers are more willing to take risks as they have less to lose. At the same time, nothing ventured, nothing gained. However, more attention seems to be paid to me since I am the No 1 enemy of 42SAR.

An X-ray of my soles revealed that I have "bilateral accessory naviculae". So now I know why it always hurts so much.

I was sending this guy to Tengah Airbase at night to report sick, and noticed one medic staring at me. After a while he said, "You're Gabriel Seah right? I'm from RJ too. 1 year your junior". For the life of me, I didn't know who he was. It seems my wanted posters are distributed far and wide (and how come my fellow RJ-ians always get cushy postings?! Gah).

I wonder why the SAF let the Straits Times do a story on DB. Probably it was for PR reasons, but what the article did not say was more telling than what it did. It was interesting to find out what Jehovah's Witnesses do in DB - they get a special T-Shirt and to tend the nursery, cook the food (so there's no cookhouse there?) and feed the fishes. I wonder what happens to non-Jehovah's Witnesses conscientious objectors.

Other interesting facts about DB:
- they get 5 slices of bread for breakfast (we get 4)
- they wake up at 6am (5BX personnel wake at 5:25am, and the rest at 5:45am, at least on paper)


Often, joyous events themselves do not give one that heady a thrill, but recollection of them gives one the time and perspective to appreciate them, and for the events to gain the shimmer that only nostalgia can give falsely them. On the other hand, with time, people remember their past sadness to be less intense than it was, as time has dulled their memory and they desire to be happy.

I wonder why some people like to try to interfere in matters that, if allowed to go on uninterrupted, either will not, or have an infinitesimally small chance of, affecting them. This is all the more puzzling and unpleasant when the gains to others of allowing these events to continue far outweighs the expected loss to the antagonists. Perhaps, in addition to desiring to eliminate, as far as possible, even the smallest of risks to their well-being, these people like to scold others to feel important, and have a fixed idea about the perfect order of the world, and any attempt by others to upset it upsets them.

It's funny. Some people profess to be very religious, but they don't even seem to make the slightest attempt to do the basics of what their religion asks of them.

Piffling matters, observations and thoughts

Timothy Ang's doing history at Cambridge. So maybe my sister will get to teach him. Haha.

A lot of people on Friendster put their real photos up. I'm surprised as people are usually skittish about letting others see their true visage.

I heard the MMPR communicator ring tone play several times while in the MRT one day. Looks like there are other fans out there.

Some people think that only attachments greater than 1MB in size are considered "large". These people apparently have never had to deal with 700kb of attachments flooding their Hotmail Inboxes, almost filling them.

I was eating Walkers Sensations Four Cheese and Red Onion crisps which "combines smooth Red Leicester, full-bodied Cheddar, mellow Gouda and piquant Parmesan. Sweet, tangy red onion is added to make this a deliciously indulgent treat." Unfortunately, I've never tasted the first and can't remember what the third tastes like.

Current affairs

Some teachers attribute the bad english of JC students to their not studying Literature for their O Levels. Pffth. I didn't do Lit for my Os. All you need is adequate exposure and practice. I think the poor English is due more to the failure of our policy of bilingualism (which also contributes to a low level of Mandarin, albeit not as low as English).

"If you can die for your country, why can't you die for yourself?" - Rock Band "Hell On Earth" leader Billy Tourtelot. Indeed.

Why do hackers always hit opposition, anti-PAP and Civil Society websites, and not those of the PAP or government?

OB Markers

Someone was telling me that his female significant other, despite being Malay, dislikes Malays for the same reasons that most Singaporeans who dislike them do. I found this quite interesting, for they tend to be a close-knit lot. Also, it's high time that we face "sensitive" issues instead of clamming up and citing vague threats and concerns. Throwing a veil of silence over something and pretending that it does not exist does not make the problem go away - in fact it is merely a temporary escape, not a solution and meanwhile the problem will stew and grow. Indeed, the artificial silence may merely serve to emphasise the problem more: "It's like being overly polite to someone blind, disabled, etc. You both know he's blind, but you're making him feel worse by trying to be nice and "sensitive" and not talking about it". Imposing a blanket ban on dialogue and discourse regarding racial and religious matters does not make racists or fundamentalists any less prejudiced. Lacking a healthy outlet, such sentiments will fester.

The recent "shocking" study that showed primary school kids only mixed with members of their own race showed that decades of smothering all non-sanitised dialogue on racial issues and trying to force the races to mix does not increase racial understanding. There is a lack of statistical evidence, but from anecdotal evidence, I think it safe to conclude that, and I think Singaporeans will probably agree with me, despite the attempted social engineering, Singaporean society today is not a truly multi-racial one, though neither is it a pluralistic society a la Colonial Malaysia (but then take away government racial quotas on HDB flats and other such policies and we may lapse yet further). Most people have few friends of other races and racist talk and jokes continue to circulate like wildfire. Just because Singaporeans can't say these things publicly does not mean they don't in private, and indeed forbidden fruit is always sweeter. Seeing racially balanced groups of friends prancing about on television does not make people form similarly balanced groups in reality.

Perhaps our society just isn't mature enough to accept this level of healthy discourse, which is truly a pity.

"it IS true that singapore has experienced less racial clashes than neighbouring countries. and in major global events when race becomes
a sensitive issue, singaporeans have managed to stay indifferent, or at the very least, civil." True, but we are not, and never were, the only multi-racial society, and many of the rest are not in as much trouble as the government would have you believe would ensue with its heavy hand lifted.

Of course, all this is debatable, but we will never have hard data to evaluate and perform cost-benefit analysis, so.

In a similar vein, whenever calls go out to liberalise society, a chorus of voices always shouts in unison that our society is not "ready" for the said measures yet. Was Singapore in the 1960s ready for a multi-racial policy? Is our workforce today "ready" to accept CPF cuts? These policies were rammed down the throats of the populace without so much as a "if you please", so why can't they government do the right thing and liberalise society today? Is the spectre of economic or political catastrophe the only thing that can galvanise them?


You don't watch wrestling? [Me: No, my mental state has not degenerated to that level yet.] Oh my god. Your supersonic English

Japanese guys like to degrade Japanese girls. They like to make them pose in degrading positions.

Has Melvin gone back to bunk? [Me: No, he's still here.] He told me he wanted to book out. [Me: He doesn't like to book out. He likes to stay in bunk and eat instant noodles and sleep.] So that his tummy will get bigger and bigger.

Army trains you to eat fast then go back to bunk and sleep.

There are some people who spend 5 hours a day looking for new porn websites... I used to do that during my holidays. [Someone: That was before you discovered child porn. Just go to Kazaa.] **** also looks at child porn. [Someone: I only look, I don't collect. You have... how many gig?]

[Someone: Every site I visit is child porn.] That's because the only sites he visits are child porn ones.

Every new technology is used for child porn. World wide web... Gnutella... Kazaa.

[On child porn] How come I've never seen it? [Someone: That's because he only plays Neopets.]

Who's Duli Yang? [Me: Duli Yang, Maha Mulia, Seri Paduka] Ok, ok, I know.

[On Close Combat Training] Please ensure you have a good view of us jumping in the field and groping each other.

Eh look at the rape high school club. [Someone: Got rape primary school club or not?]

[On our proficiency test] Can moderate what. All fail, then moderate.

[Me: Is Wang trying to corrupt you?] Watersports.

Let's go and look for child porn now [Someone: Third on his list. After scat and watersports]
Straw Poll:

My sister claims that "ar-tic":

"its wrong lah.
duno what stupid dictionary you use.
its one of the most common singapore mistakes. like 'tew-tion'

also no one will understand u outside sgp if you say that. possibly only malay-sia, where they have v. similar mispronounciations"

But then this is the same person who claims "stoo-dent" is wrong and only "styudent" is correct, and that "mo-damn" (modem) is wrong and only "mo-derm" is right.

OTOH, my source says that: "ooh
semantic matter
the supreme authority on the topic (the OED)
claims that both ar-tic and arktic are both acceptable"

My brother in law recently very kindly lent me his MP3 player, a Frontier Labs Nex IIe. It's light and easy to upload files into. The earphones take some getting used to, as they clip onto the ears, but they offer vibrant sound which brings out the immediacy of some pieces. Earphones also make stereo effects more noticeable. I'm not an audiophile though, so I don't know how they truly compare. Pity it only came with a 128MB CF card (though I can use the one for my camera for this too), so I get sick of the songs quickly.

I bet he's lost the manual, though, so I might not discover some functions.

Seen today:

A woman driving a man. How rare

A 7-11 where one can top up cashcards. Except that you must use cash, and there's a 50 cents surcharge, which is very dumb.

Also, Tung Lok seems to be one of the few restaurants which has resisted the temptation to hire PRCs for its staff.
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