When you can't live without bananas

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Thursday, December 11, 2003

Gabriel's Homepage's third incarnation is in the process of being put up. Stay tuned for details. In the meantime, the pictures are going up at PhotoBucket.

In the meantime, you can pray that He Who Must Not Be Named or Andrew post more often.

Has The Opium Myth Gone Up In Smoke?

Was pleasantly surprised that the ST published this strike for sense in the misguided war against drugs, which induces almost religious feelings in many. So much for all the propaganda about opium. Too bad he didn't talk about pot, but I understand it is similarly harmless.
The Evolutionary Tales - "With apologies to Chaucer and Darwin". The Evolutionary Tales deals engagingly with the overwhelming evidence for evolution and the pseudoscientific nature of "creation science."

Transitional Vertebrate Fossils FAQ - "a reference for answering the "there aren't any transitional fossils" statement"

Transition between apes and humans - Can you decide conclusively which ones are apes and which humans?

Forum with list of SAF training "incidents" - Some sound quite gruesome. Eg:

"Heard from fellow engineers, 93-95.

Exercise cut, bulldozers cover anti-tank trenches. THEN roll call, 1 man missing. Excavators used to dig, uncovered body parts of missing man, chopped up by excavators. The man was napping in the trench.

Mother spat at CO.

CO escaped punishment, even got sponsorship to study overseas."
He Who Must Not Be Named suggests that I meet up with all the blog "fans" that I've never met.

I don't mind. But who among the lurkers and occasional commenters actually desires such?

Maybe you'd all be better off having an audience with He Who Must Not Be Named!

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

CNN.com - Tests: Activists fed pork to sheep - Dec. 4, 2003 - I'm quite disturbed, though frankly not a little amused, by this. What will they think of next?

Britney Spears Lookalike


Women With Big Boobs Are Smarter This comes from the "Weekly World News News" stream - the same people who brought us "Crocodile Headed Man sighted in Florida"

Bossier School Board upholds Advil expulsion - A student is expelled from high school because she had Advil, an over-the-counter pain reliever, in her purse.

He Who Must Not Be Named urges me to maintain my studied silence regarding the "Best Singaporean blog thing", but I feel compelled to say a few words.

I never imagined anyone would nominate me for this kind of contest, but someone did, so there you have it. I have taken a look at some of my fellow nominees, finding some familiar sites in the process, and the quality of some, truth be told, appall me. Nonetheless, what was meant to be a friendly competition aiming to (among other things) showcase some of the best Asian blogs seems to have degenerated into petty squabbling and sliming. I don't believe in not saying something just because it will "hurt" someone, because when it comes to the crunch, anyone can be offended by anything, but there are limits, and there's a line between being light-heartedly mean for the purpose of getting a few laughs and being vicious (NB: Many people do not make the distinction, but what matters is that the person making the remark has).

Of course, remaining objective and laughing at yourself is hard when you are the one being criticised. Which is one reason why I've gotten into so much trouble over the years, but that is another story.

I will not comment on the other entrants, until perhaps the contest is over. You can always read other's spot-on critiques elsewhere (including below), for I will not tread on this heated battlefield for a change. Besides, I've half-made a resolution to be nice to people on even days, and brutally honest on odd ones :)

Monday, December 08, 2003

So far Gabriel has studiedly refused to blog about; or even talk about the Best Singaporean blog thing, which appears to be causing a stir among the digital hoi polloi (those who got nominated, anyway)

While I appreciate his utter reticence in the matter - (not entirely a surprise given the issues he's had with this blog and public exposure to date), I for my part feel that he deserves all the recognition he can get; after all there's always the slight probability that some hot, intelligent, morally compromised, geek-fetishistic and yet curiously tolerant babe/hunk who will come into his life, which is something he needs right now. (Alright, I admit it, if he/she comes into his life, he might introduce me to him/her too)

In the meantime, I've noticed that reactions among the nominees seem to be split into these broad categories:

a) Elitist bitching about the quality of language on some of the fellow nominees, be it scansion, grammar, punctuation, or overuse of vernacular. Okay, I have to admit I'm pretty damn sympathetic to this particular beef, because most people on the net trample the language into the mud harder than a Dance Dance Revolution pad in a Sumo wrestlers' frat house. However, this feeling has been leavened somewhat of late by the realization that a lot more bloggers have far better English than they appear to; it's just that when diarizing a rant, the last thing on your mind is whether it passes TOEFL muster - and sometimes it's easier to communicate colloquially leh. (see? note the empathic quality evoked by the "leh"?:) It's kind of like seeing a horde of CHS-HCJC guys in a social function; they'll all be Orc-grunting and conversing about soccer in broken English, then one of them will suddenly ask, "oy you got read Jorge Luis Borges b4? wa see beh cheem leh!", and then a surprisingly erudite conversation on Latin American literature will break out. I've seen it happen. So, with that in mind, I find myself very wary of casting my usual anal aspersions on people's use of language on the net. You never know if its just comfort zone writing or an immensely subtle parody. Conversely, didactically insisting on not just the Queen's English but speaking like the (a) Queen can be a mere testament to one's lack of anything resembling a life, or the quality of the dictionary by one's side. (I recommend the full Collins English; way cheaper than the OED and has etymologies)

b) Multiple auto-fellative high fives, links, encomiums, and kudoses to friends who got nominated, friends who should be nominated, and various calls for incestuous cross-voting between acquainted nominees. Jesus, as if we didn't fucking need Friendster to tell us that the digerati rapidly folds into an inbred mesh of personal relationships.

c) Sniping about layout, colour scheme, frames, scripts, etc. Erm. Given that I originally wanted to blog in .txt files, but was dragged kicking and screaming into CSS perdition by Gabriel's experiments with Dreamweaver (one of the myriad reasons why I don't blog here regularly anymore), I don't think I'm in a position to comment on the aesthetics of other sites. I do feel that content outweighs design; the number of frighteningly well-designed blogs with frighteningly asinine entries/people behind them is staggering - and not a few made it as nominees to the Asianblog thing. (But hey those of you reading this can have fun guessing if I'm referring to you and getting all huffy about my attitude in your own blogs). Frankly I don't mind reading a blog in yellow 36 point Times New Roman on a blue background, with cheesy MIDIs playing if the content is compelling.

d) Embarrassed people playing down how they don't care and speculating about who nominated them and a general "what the hell" clamour but putting up the "Asianblog nominee" bumper sticker on their sites anyway. A variant of this is the pseudo-modest "the other nominees are so much better than me but....".

e) Usual, unabashed, "vote for me!" pleas for attention and love. Yes, guilty as charged, but I swear, it's not Gabriel's fault. He was just misguided enough to let me rant here when whimsy takes me.

f) Studiedly ignoring it and refusing to make any reference or acknowledgement, or simply being unaware of it (I find the latter kind of unlikely given the intrusive ubiquity of instant messaging but it's possible). I obviously can't judge the motivation behind remaining silent either way, so I'll let it slip without some try-hard, smart-alecky barb.

A strange observation about blogging etiquette; people seem to be very free about making links willy-nilly to one another's blogs, referring to each other by first name even they don't *seem* to know each other in meatspce, and giving out critiques of surprising candour and brutality. Guess it's so much easier to bitch about someone or their motivations when you don't know them personally beyond a few cryptic, well-turned paragraphs and can't see them face to face.

Hell, it works for me, I'm just glad none of my few friends who blog actually got nominated because I'd be either be obliged to trash them or encourage all and sundry to vote for them. Or both. Either alternative isn't too pleasant - after all, "making bitchy statements about people and things we hardly know about is the basis for all conversation."

Also spotted a few more archetypes :-

i) Camwhore
ii) "Expatriates seduced by strange alien/Asian culture who can never quite go home" - think James Clavell at the most optimistic, Apocalypse Now (urban version) at the least.
iii) Earnest Christian using the Net as pulpit, prayer wheel and confessional.
iv) The classic "intelligent-and-emotionally-balanced-but-slightly-quirky-and-just-this-side-of-obliquely- literate-somewhere-in-tertiary-education" who's self-conscious enough to think "archetype" refers to her/himself.

In all fairness though, there *are* good blogs in the field; and a few which I think have way better writing than on Balderdash, regardless of whether their tone/content is that of critical assholes, genuinely insightful observations, or adolescent angst. Am tempted to write snap reviews of the entrants so far, but this blog entry has eaten up far too much of my masturbation-to-nurse-pornography, and Knights-of-the-Old Republic-playing time. Out of some obscure, hypocritically self-righteous courtesy, I shall not link to any of the other nominees, whether like or hate, but please do read through some of them, because there *are* good ones out there. (Chances are if you're a nominee reading this that feels offended by what I've written, I actually liked your blog)

Final observation; I seem to be crafting a longer blog entry than the nominees writing about this damn thing, which I suppose would be less pathetic if this was even my blog, if "pathetic" was a value judgement that hurts only if you pay attention to irrelevancies like the opinions of other people, and if my life wasn't such a dysfunctional, loserish quagmire right now that I spend half a night ranting about a fucking blog popularity contest.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Why Girls Do Better In Exams
A Musical Concoction 6

I managed to procure tickets for RV's latest concert yesterday, held at Victoria Concert Hall. I'd thought that with the Esplanade's opening, no one would want to go to VCH anymore, but I suppose it's now a budget location since they've probably slashed prices to compete with the former.

It was rather embarassing, since I saw a lot of the people 3 years my junior whose names I could not remember even though I recognised their faces. It's been a long 4 years since we parted company, and I was never very good at names, especially not with people I worked with for only a few months.

TBS had invited 2 of his other choirs to perform as guests - Evil Cult (RJ Chorale) and St Hilda's Secondary School (over whom the row of girls behind me were gushing over). He really should have gotten some conducted by other people, for variety. I was disappointed to learn that he didn't let the Sec 4s, those who have the most experience and who in fact came up with the idea for the concert, perform, not even in one or two pieces, or for a batch song. Looks like he's still as evil as ever.

For some reason, it seemed that the majority of the audience were secondary school girls (you can speculate for yourself why this is so, but suffice to say that we can suppose that RV still isn't a very popular ECA in RI). This caused me some modicum of distress, and as expected, I wrinkled my nose in distaste when I was pushing through a throng of them. Worse, a majority of them were shrill and anorexic and a few - god forbid - spoke in chinese. I was afforded no respite, for a majority of the males were spiky haired ah bengs. What is this generation coming to?

I was interested to see how RV would perform under TBS, especially since I hadn't seen him conduct since his return from overseas studies so many years ago. They sound pretty much the same as last time, which probably says more about my ear than their sound (which is why nowadays I revert to my speciality of making semi-snide comments), but his hand movements seem to have become more exaggerated.

The alumni item wasn't bad (because I wasn't performing), except that, where usually the alumni choir's item is ahead of the current choir's item by leaps and bounds, in this case it was about as good. Whether that says something about the current choir, or about the alumni, I will not judge ;)

RV was competent during their first appearance, but after they adjourned for other groups to perform, they began to falter. The sops started straining while hitting high notes, and belted them out without restraint instead of attaining them gracefully. At other times, they sounded extremely muffled. That's the problem when you get previously untrained Sec 1s boys to work at the higher levels of their soprano ranges. [Ed: I paid little attention to the other sections because they rarely sung the melody lines (so sue me, I'm shallow) and also because I was never in them and am less familiar with them] After the interval they became even worse, and by the end of the concert, they were terrible, with flaws so egregious they would be audible to the untrained ear. The songs second and third from the end - Angel's Carol and Do You Hear What I Hear - were the pits (perhaps they sounded abysmal only because I am intimately familiar with the scores), and were much worse than when we did them in our day. Hell, I think even in my current state, I can sing better than they did yesterday. They were that bad.

BEATS did not perform at all. Maybe it's been disbanded, to be replaced with small groups formed from members of the same level ala RGS. The small group which did perform - "Viva" - wasn't bad, though they introduced themselves with the ever-popular: "We all like to make music, so we formed an acapella group". Argh, don't they know that they should avoid cliches like the plague? They performed but one song - All I Ask Of You from Phantom of the Opera. I rather liked the rendition, except that both Raoul and Christine's parts were sung in falsetto and "Christine" sang with a constipated look and hand movements reminiscent of a female Chinese Opera star. The torment this caused me is indescribable, unless they were adapting the song for a lesbian couple :)

Later, TBS came onstage with 11 choir members and started singing "The Christmas Song" in his operatic voice while conducting the 11 of them (a double faux pas). It was so spine-chilling, it almost raised my goosebumps. I wonder why he thinks all songs can be sung in an operatic voice. Or maybe his normal singing voice isn't very good. At least he didn't mangle "The Music's Always There With You" (since it wasn't performed), like he did at his "get lost" (not my invention) concert, and bring down the chandelier.

The repertoire has certainly expanded since the Wu Yi (Wu Jie) days. That is certainly a good thing, but the moves by most choirs that consider themselves to be in the top league to deliberately exclude more common and well known pieces is, I feel a mistake. It is good to perform a wide range of songs, but surely a sprinkling of audience favourites can't hurt. In fact, the move towards esoteric, dischordant avant garde and plain weird pieces (eg all of Goh Toh Chai's compositions) that some are making can only serve to further diminish the popularity of choral music, and we'll end up with either small ensembles that have an audience smaller than their numbers or crossover/pops choirs that sing muzak. Or maybe I can't appreciate modern music, just like I can't appreciate modern art made by splashing a bucket of paint on canvas.

I also had the feeling that too many Asian songs were performed. This wasn't really the case, but I don't like Asian music, so. Anyway, just because we are Asian does not mean we have to sing many asian songs, just like how ethnic Chinese don't need to speak Chinese, Muslim Women don't have to wear tudungs, Sikhs don't have to wear their turbans and Germans don't have to drink beer. I also think that a judicious sprinkling of songs with accompaniment can add variety to a performance, since sometimes the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Sad, for it's all because judges like these things (avant garde, asian and acapella music).

According to Tim, Durufle's Ubi Caritas is a favourite piece of TBS' which he does every concert, and he did not disappoint. Bah. At least he didn't prepare an encore piece, unlike a previous RJ concert where he had 2 encore items and pretended that he had not prepared for the second encore.

I miss some things about the Wu Jie days (the stories he told that no one but Jasper understood are not one of them). He made us perform too many songs with accompaniment, partly due to the fact that we weren't very good and would go sharp of flat at the drop of a pin, but I am left with a lingering fondness for hearing such songs, a fondness which I rarely have the opportunity to indulge with live performances. He let us sing more popular music than is fashionable - pieces from operas, oratorios and other classics, but that is how I first heard of The Creation, Messiah or Ave Maria. Maybe performing songs reminiscent of the croaking of frogs being culled turns some people on, but I am not such a person and I do not think I would be the dilettante that I am today without him.

I think MCs should be banned from using the word "enjoy" to end off their interludes.

Mr Ong was there as always, and he was wearing blue SAF New Balance shoes. I think New Balance must have hooked a large fish, seeing how many civilians wear their line of SAF PT Shoes.

Many idiots were taking pictures with their flashes. Good luck for their pictures.

"I don't want to be seen next to you. It's embarassing" - I don't think it's as embarassing as it used to be.

Amusing quote from the past:
Someone (I forgot who): When *** conducts, you give 'A' grade singing. When *** conducts, you give 'B' grade singing. When *** conducts, you give 'C' grade singing.
Me: Maybe that is because *** is a 'A' grade conductor, *** is a 'B' grade conductor and *** is a 'C' grade conductor.

Amusing quote from the present:
Me to the guy next to me: Excuse me, you're alumni also? What year are you free?
Him: Sec 4. You're Gabriel right.
Me: Eh? How do you know?
Him: Your infamous webpage.
Me: *Buries head in hand and shakes it vigorously*

Since my page is so popular, I think I should add a shameless Paypal donation box. I can also capitalise on my notoriety as the person people love to hate by selling dartboards with my face as the bullseye and toilet seat covers with me on them.

The token negroes in Master and Commander rather irked me, for I am pretty sure that in the early 19th Century, blacks did not go to sea as common sailors. If they want to be so politically correct, they might as well include a Korean crew member as well as a blind, albino hermaphrodite.

My Very First Time - Nigel's blog. He makes it sound like he just got deflowered.
PerversionTracker: Apparently Useless Software - "We will assume that KillerRobots’ mention of "amazing 3D graphics" was somewhat sarcastic, as all we saw was a insect-riddled rendition of Pac-Man. Given that Gaichu adds only a few minor variations like movable barriers and poison pills, we were not overly impressed in the usual sense of the word. Instead, Gaichu is impressive in the way that a howler monkey’s perfect feces-flinging skills are impressive, as when the excreta achieves perfect coverage across the broad expanses of a suburban family on their first and last visit to the local zoo. So you see, this sense of "impressive" covers the gamut of emotional trauma, the agony of gratingly disparate worldviews, and flan lightly dusted with ginger."

Kazaa Lite shut down - The Kazaa Lite K++ project has been shut down by Sharman Networks on grounds of copyright infringement. How ironic. Oh well, there's always Diet K.


Friday December 5, 2003

You must have 8 A*s at PSLE, an IQ above 150 and excel in CCA and sports

by mr brown news@newstoday.com.sg

Some call these men the greatest entertainers on earth - flying without wings - defying physical limitations. But the risks these men take are great: Bodies have been battered, heads broken, careers ended in an instant.

Yes, this is entertainment, but the hazards are real: No matter whoever you are, whatever you do, please don't try this at home. Please - don't become part of a confrontational union.

Ok, now that we have got the violent union stuff out of the way, let's talk about wimps.

I was going to talk about Wimp Lizkit, that tough and angry rock group, cancelling their concert here in Singapore because of security fears. (Yes. Those violent car drivers who horn 0.2 seconds after the light turns green can be really scary in Singapore).

But I decided that the Army treadmill story was more relevant.

Apparently, there are soldiers out there who believe the new IPPT (Individual Physical Proficiency Test) in an aircon gym idea is not a good thing. These are the same people who reminisce about the good old days when National Service was a lot tougher.

I think every generation of NSMan believes that their training was the toughest, or at least tougher than the current batch.

1975: "In my day, our officers made us run 10km with our full packs, to reach our training location! Not like you wimps who get there by three-tonner now."

1998: "In my day, our officers made us sit in a hot three-tonner to reach our training location to do our 2.4km run. Not like you wimps who get to do your training without leaving the camp now."

2003: "In my day, our officers made us run our IPPT 2.4km on real roads in our camp, in the heat, not like you wimps who run on a treadmill in an aircon gym now."

2010: "In my day, our officers made us run our IPPT 2.4km on a treadmill. Not like you wimps who now do your IPPT as a written test!"

Singapore soldiers are a funny lot. We bitch when the training is tough and when Mindef comes along and makes things more convenient, we complain that the training has gotten too soft.

I believe that most of us become passionate about the toughness of training only after we finish our full time stint. Because while you are serving those two or 2.5 years, you would be crazy to complain that the training was too easy.

Even if you thought so, you would not come out and complain about it, because your platoon mates would probably beat you up for saying that the training needs to be harder.

"Sergeant! I want to give feedback! I think we should do more than this 24km route march we just finished! I think we should try for marathon distance, like 42km. Or else we will compromise the quality of our army training!"

(Blanket Party follows)

But of course, there is a fear of army training getting too soft. If we are not careful, our fighting men will one day need to get mommy and daddy to sign a consent form to let Ah Boy crawl in the grass or eat the food at the cookhouse.

We need our fighting men to be fit and tough as nails, able to take long periods without canteen breaks and able to work as a team. Build a team player, not a maverick.

That said, top government officials have acknowledged that Singapore needs its share of mavericks to help us make the leap forward.

So all those interested in being a Singapore Maverick, please pick up a form at your nearest community centre - to be an officially-approved maverick.

If shortlisted, you will be required to take an entrance exam, followed by an interview and submit an essay that describes in no less than 3000 words, "Why I want to be a Maverick, and how I can contribute to the good of the nation by being one without being confrontational".

Some schools will offer programmes for students who show the potential to be a Maverick. Maverick Assistance Plan schools, or M.A.P. schools, will have a special curriculum that caters to students with maverick tendencies. Classes will be kept small, around one to two students per class. To qualify, students need to have at least eight A*s at PSLE, an IQ of no less than 150, and excel in CCA and sports.

Singapore will be striving to become the Maverick Hub of Asia, attracting mavericks from all around the world.

But we want quality mavericks, not the kind that snip their (unmentionable) hair in protest, or who vote their union leaders out as and when they feel like it. No, we want the constructive and compliant kind, the type who feel a need to contribute to Team Singapore.

So if you think you have the makings of a Singapore Maverick, start studying hard now.

We want to farm you and nurture you, to help the rest of the non-Maverick but Equally Essential Team-Playing Citizens of this country come up with better ideas than doing IPPT in an aircon gym.

mr brown is the accidental author of a popular website that has been documenting the dysfunctional side of Singapore life since 1997. He thinks IPPT should be done in real combat conditions, like in union meetings.

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From the last page of the "Spot The Fake Smile" Test - "when a smile is genuine, the eye cover fold - the fleshy part of the eye between the eyebrow and the eyelid - moves downwards and the end of the eyebrows dip slightly." - So now I know why my eyes always look closed in photos!

Singapore Paranormal Investigators Proudly Presents "A Night with Tang-Ki" - "SPI cordially invite you to join our forthcoming club gathering with a highlight called "A Night with Tang-Ki". You will get to witness Taoist Tang-Ki's dance in trance, summon deities into their bodies and perform amazing acts like chopping their bodies with sharp swords. What's more. We will work together as a team to investigate the Tang-Ki performance using night vision goggles, measuring atmospheric changes during the ritual and perhaps a short interview with the Tang-Ki's. With luck, we may capture the first paranormal pictures on how spirits enter and leave the Tang-Ki's body, or record some abnormal EMF on the spot. It will nevertheless be a great opportunity to explore into the mystery of Taoism rituals and learn more about them from the Tang-Ki's. So don't miss out."

Photobucket - Good, *free* image hosting allowing direct linking!

Disturbing activities:

"i set eyes upon two young bucks frolicking on the bed, humping one another from various tricky angles."
More Miserable Moanings

I remember reading an article about how the American Right Wing has managed to mould public thought in America by its clever manipulation of language to its advantage. This puts me in mind of the SAF. Take the word "National Service" for example. It implies that it is a way of serving one's country, and has the connotation of duty. I refuse to accept the paradigm that the apparatchiks are trying to implant in me subliminally, which is why I call it "National Slavery". For, if not similar then related reasons, Chinx calls it "Neverending Slavery".

Take, then, what the SAF, with its collective wapred mind, considers "privileges". E-mart "breaks" are a "privilege". Canteen breaks are a "privilege". Booking out is a "privilege". By defining basic rights as "privileges" and using the term copiously, they get most slaves to accept implicitly that they are fortunate to be given these "privileges". I reckon that if they had their way, they would proclaim that it was a "privilege" that us slaves do not spend 2 1/2 years imprisoned at the bottom of a pit, wallowing in our filth and excrement, with naught but unleavened bread and brackish water to survive on, and "Property of the SAF" tattooed all over our bodies.

All this just goes to show once again that for all their glowing talk of "duty", "honour" and "sacrifice", and the gold medals Lee Kuan Yew gave the first batch of Slaves, it is all a sham to deceive pre-enlistees and the fortunate members of the public who have not had the chance to "serve" their country. Once you're in, the facade is dropped and you are treated like the inhuman scum that you are, not deserving of humane treatment, to be stripped of human dignity in the name of "discipline" and "regimentation", all because you have little or no rank (a concept that, in the end, is empty and worthless for a surefire way to get it is either through good A level results or signing on)

Meanwhile, in an insidious if ingenious ploy, the best and brightest, the natural leaders of any rebellion from among the ranks, are co-opted into the system as Officers and given a few more "privileges" than the rest to placate them. Some others are elevated to the posts of Specialists - junior commanders and given similar "privileges", albeit to a lesser degree. They are then turned on each other - BMT Sergeants against their Recruits, jailers in DB against the inmates and indeed, Local Third Sergeants against their Men. The fellow slaves who should stand united instead fall to the strategy of Divide and Conquer, and the slavemasters are satisfied.

More and more, I tend to agree with parts of He Who Must Not Be Named's theory - "i admit NS has become more about social engineering and mind control than it has about actual military defense." Why else do they enslave everyone when not everyone is needed? Why can't conscientious objectors choose to do non-military "service", as is the norm in other countries with conscription? And why else is the philosophy behind NS "make them suffer" rather than "make them defend Singapore"?

Only the 4 Ds can end my misery: reDeployment (not strictly a 'D' but we have the 3 'Rs', so) - extremely unlikely due to my lack of skill and impending ORD, Downgrading - unlikely since I'm too stupid, lazy, honest (I don't even take MCs unless I am very sick) and blacklisted, Discharge - only a matter of time (188 days as of 6th Dec) and Death - also only a matter of time. The question is whether it will take more or less than 188 days in 42SAR to kill me.

188 days to go. I've survived this long in oppression before, albeit not in a place where I am Public Enemy Number 1. Sometimes I just want someone to comfort me and tell me everything will be alright soon, and that soon I will be free - except for the 2 weeks of ICT every year and RT sessions lasting 3 hours each, 3 times a week, 8 weeks a year - from this organisation based on lies, and able to get on with what's left of my life with what's left of my energies, mind and sanity.

As Cesspit used to say, "ming2 tian1 hui4 geng4 hao3" (Translation: Tomorrow will be a better day).

The Weekly Grind - 42SAR

Latest tidbit from "Gabriel's Believe It Or Not?": In 42SAR, the Powers That Be have decided that for 3 months, enlistees will only visit the 42SAR Canteen so they can ascertain the quality of the current caterers and decide whether to retain them - as if everyone didn't already know it was a sucky canteen and so voted with their feet and wallets. It seems that, after at least a year of offering mediocre, un-fresh food and overpriced drinks, the stall holders have complained. So much for the free market, and so much for commanders leading by example and suffering with their men.

My company has sent so many people to the Unit Fitness Program that it can be renamed the "42 Fitness Program", seeing as more than 95% of its "participants" are from 42. I wonder what will happen when, one day, we have too many people to fit in the gym comfortably. Furthermore, they told us, at first, that we would have to take attendance at 42 at 4:00pm, a good half an hour before UFP starts officially, so we would have even less time to settle our work. Luckily, they realised their folly and changed the time for attendance taking to 4:20pm.

In one day, we had 5BX, SOC and UFP. Then the next day we had 5BX again, then a run out of camp, to the Scout Camp (Sarimbun - they got lost, incidentally). Gee, I wonder who plans our training program.

My S4 was praising my "not giving up" and continuing to participate in the various physical activities I'm being put through, which set me wondering why I was being so silly as to continue. The reasons are probably the same as why I'm not actively seeking to downgrade (I'm too stupid, lazy, honest and blacklisted) and why I worked relatively hard for our recent IQA - my misguided sense of responsibility.

One Thursday's company PT ended at 10:30 for people like me who got <225cm for standing broad jump. I was so zoned out I could'nt do anything till late afternoon. They must think we're as free as they are. The extra-long duration was justified as being "for your own good" and a way of "helping" us so we wouldn't have to do RT. This is just like saying that gangsters demanding protection money is for our own good and a way of "helping" us so that they do not have to come down with their whole gang to break our legs later.

We had our HQ Company "OC evening" one night. Our fire wasn't burning well, so our Senior Medic brought out his "secret weapon" - the solid fuel from the field rations. It's reputed to be poisonous but apparently some MOs had endorsed it before, so we merrily cooked our satay until we realised that white flecks of solid fuel were appearing on them, whereupon we dumped the solid fuel and Ban Xiong valiantly ate the contaminated sticks (so if he gets stomach cancer in a few decades we'll all know why). Later there was a somewhat ingenious party game where pre-chosen groups of 4 from each platoon had to eat boxes of "delicacies" - pieces of capsicum, lemon, onions, carrots and chili padi generously seasoned with wasabi. I was selected but luckily the others ate the chili padi for me. For our troubles, we won the top prize - 2 boxes of chocolates, but even that wasn't enough to clear the bad taste from our mouths.

People were killing time before booking out, so they bounced a squash ball at my cupboard - at Asian Prince's head. They missed it most of the time, due to his mystical powers, but they hit the picture of Blue Bear and Kimberly a few times! Gah.

Nowadays large parts of our routine orders repeat every few days. I think they ran out of stuff to put in them and just want some filler space, but all that happens is that people ignore what's written in them.

Some time ago, Second and First Sergeants in my unit joined the Third Sergeants and below in having to sign book in / book out books. A pity for them, but it means the rest of us should no longer be imprisoned by arms clearing late, since the 2SGs and 1SGs will kill the armskoteman and poison the Duty Officer if if they clear arms after 6:30pm.

Those who take the shuttle buses out of camp aren't allowed to stand on the buses, contrary to public practice. I think they're kiasu, as usual.

Ban Xiong has finally been promoted to S/3SG (Substantive Third Sergeant), so he will finally earn pay less grossly disproportionate to his workload and responsibility. It's been good having a L-3SG (Local Third Sergeant) around. Having a S/3SG is so boring, as they're a dime a dozen and it's so easy to attain that rank. Now for L-3SG - you need an outstanding individual for him to warrant the favour and recognition the rank confers. And there are fringe benefits too - people get to misuse your name and emblazon it all over the place!

I wonder why people like to make light of my suffering. Perhaps they think that if they can do it, so can I, so all my breakdowns, depressed looks, tiredness and pains must be faked. By the same token, since I do not get footrot, everyone who claims to have it is faking it and should be charged for mutilating their skin to fake the condition.

The Weekly Grind - Medical Centre

One morning, one DXO got bitten by a snake which refused to let go. So he managed to catch it, tie it up in a bag and bring it to the medical centre. In the afternoon, I noticed that the snake was still there, so I decided to kill it so it wouldn't bite anyway. Someone suggested autoclaving it, but I thought alcohol a better choice. So I put the bag in a giant metal bowl, the sort used for kneading pastry. I then poured alcohol in and let it seep in through the small holes in the bag the Senior Medic had poked with a syringe earlier to allow the snake to breathe. After a while, the snake became agitated. Someone suggested injecting alcohol into the bag since it was seeping in slowly. I thought that was a good idea, but while I was waving the syringe around, I poked myself deeply on a finger, so I let someone else do the dirty work. Being bored with just injecting alcohol into the bag, he then squirted alcohol into the snake's mouth when it was open, and later injected alcohol directly into the body of the snake. The snake was in its death throes when someone else came by and snatched the bag away from me, intending to free it. I tried to protect everyone by getting the bag back, but alas, to no avail. He then washed the snake in the drain (it was raining) and flung the now-immobile snake down the slope towards the guardhouse. So if one of the guards gets bitten one day, we all know who to blame.

Idiots always sleep on my mattresses with their boots on and leave dirty stains on the sheets, so I have now made bedsheets items of individual issue. Hah!

The Weekly Grind - Other SAF and Misc Stuff

Why is there a tendency to label all enlistees who display signs of fatigue or injury not readily obvious (eg severed head, haemorrhages, deep lacerations) as "chao keng"? This bashing is regularly engaged in not only by commanders but by fellow enlistees, which makes it particularly disturbing and dangerous to the cause of enlistee unity. One day, one of these "chao keng" enlistees will die. Oh wait. That's already happened. Meanwhile some commanders find ways to disappear or avoid training or work, and/or are forever on MC (maybe regulars who take too many MCs should be discharged w/o a pension for "poor health"). When they come to report sick in camp, they get MCs easily even though they're not really sick - because they're regulars.

Commanders are supposed to lead by example eg not asking their men to do anything unless they are willing to do them themselves. If that is the case, why are they granted so many more "privileges"? Some justify this by saying that they have earned it after going through SISPEC and OCS, but from many accounts, those institutions are not that difficult to pass out from, and sometimes enlistees go through more. Besides, how can 9 months in OCS justify a lifetime of respect? Bollocks. "Rank is worn, respect is earned" - this saying is not uncommon, but how many people with rank actually earn it?

The mini furore over the recent announcement that reservists would be able to do their IPPT in gyms on treadmills was amusing. Some complain of a lack of realism - why don't they do their IPPT in Standard Battle order (Helmet, Webbing and Rifle) then? No one goes to war in singlet and shorts. Anyhow, we all know that the SAF is imbued with a peacetime mentality - why else are the men treated as slaves and inferior beings rather than fellow soldiers to fight and die alongside with? Know what "SAF" stands for? "Singapore Acting Force". 'Nuff said.

My sources inform me that in the near future, officers and specialists will be enslaved for 24 months, and enlistees for 21. Though I will not get to benefit from this, I am happy for all the poor unfortunate souls after me, who will be slightly less poor and unfortunate.

The NKF came down to give us a "free" health screening. I was intensely suspicious and sure enough, it turned out to be a series of cheap tests, ending with a donation drive, and many were conned into signing up for recurring monthly donations. When it came to my turn, I stalwartly refused and was asked why. Each of my points was countered adroitly (or otherwise) by the woman they'd put at the last counter. The temp staff being paid ridiculously ($8/hr?) was justified as getting them to provide "quality service" (from office temps? And I didn't even talk about the perm staff's bonuses). Their lavish building was "sponsored" (for the price of the building, think of how many dialysis machines they could have bought). And they "didn't pay the full cost" for the VCDs they flooded us with and all the TCS Channel 8 TV Shows they commissioned (imagine how many needles could have been bought instead). I didn't even mention how they had a glut of publicity, and even a yearly televised fundraiser. They suck money from the populace unceasingly, and their thirst is never quenched.

I bought this lousy Made in Ma-laysia deodorant some time bad. I do not know what possessed me to buy it, for not only was it from a cheapskate sounding brand, it had an odd rose smell. After my purchase, I found to my displeasure that it didn't last very long and made me smell like a cheap harlot doused with some quantity of hair spray. But since it was for camp use, it wasn't that bad. Then one day, I shook the bottle to ensure the roller was wet. The roller flew off and the liquid spilt all over my bosom and face, some nearly entering my mouth. Wth.

Outside the Middle Of Nowhere

Company and organisational "visions" and "missions" always sound suspiciously similar, probably because they are written for their own sake, and not for any further purpose. Anyhow, since only the gullible take heed of them, why do they even exist? I think that visions and missions are the quintessential products of New Age Management Kitsch, or worse - an ISO 900X requirement!

The New Paper reported that a survey of 2 boys' schools and one girls' school found that in the former, requests for games sites far outnumbered those for porn sites, and it was the reverse in the latter. This being "Singapore's Number One Tabloid!", I was immediately suspicious. For all we know, these 3 schools were blips on the radar and the proportion of site requests were the other way around in 30 other schools, and I have my suspicions about which girls school was surveyed. But assuming the story was not misleading - so much for the so-called fairer sex.

I wanted to watch Messiah with Andrew but thanks to 42 which won't let me take half a day off on that Friday afternoon. Gah. Oh well, there's always next year.


Is alcohol a drug allergy? [Me: You're allergic to alcohol? So sad. Then you can't go clubbing.] Oh, shut up.

[Me: Ah, all the action we missed out on when we were 18] Watch 'Girls Gone Wild'.

[On tucking Ban Xiong in] You must read him a bedtime story or sing him a lullaby.

[On CFM] She dresses well

[On CFM] So ugly, so disappointing

[On CFM] Your CFM is CMI - Cannot Make It.

Life in 42 is getting from bad to worse

[On the Casio Exilim] That one's just for girls lah

[On SOC] If you really cannot [do it], then do what I always say - go and injure yourself.
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