When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, July 24, 2004

Editor's note: This post has undergone minor changes since it was first posted.


Quote of the Post: "Any event, once it has occurred, can be made to appear inevitable by a competent historian." - Lee Simonson

Random Playlist Song: Prokofiev - Toccata Op. 11

Toccata is the most tolerable piano work of Prokofiev's that I've heard. There's actually a vaguely discernable theme, though it only appears thrice, and briefly at that. Comparing his symphonies and piano concertos with his works for solo piano, the difference is apparent - the former sound like random notes strung together, but at least they don't sound bad per se, while the latter sound like someone is banging randomly on a piano.


Orientation camps are an excuse for everyone to indulge in acts mass stupidity, for by humiliating yourself together with everyone, inhibitions and barriers are broken down and friends are more easily made (NB: There is nothing wrong with engaging in juvenile acts, but one does not need to have the excuse of a camp to do so). Orientation camps are mostly similar, but I hadn't been to one since J1, and that wasn't a residential one, so I wanted to break the monotony of bumming, have fun, soak in some atmosphere and of course make the observations which I am now throwing into the public domain.

I was actually eyeballing 2 other orientation camps - the Arts and the Union ones, but I gave the former a miss because it started the day after I returned from Tasmania, and a source - the incomparable Critic 1 - informed me that the latter involved much running, and was 5 days long too, so running not being my cup of tea, I declined to attend that one too. In any case, orientation camps mostly follow the same format and have a similar itinerary, except that ODAC ones involve mostly outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing, and religious camps naturally have a religious component, so there's no point going for too many. I heard that the former was palpably more fun than the USP camp, though, except for the night when they played disco music overly-loudly. Not surprising, really.

One of the eternal mysteries of life is why post-NS guys are reluctant to go for orientation camps. This is not just based on my observations and informal surveys of NS friends (maybe I hang out with an anti-social bunch, since so few of them went for the camps) - I am told by one Union Camp organiser that historically, most camp participants are girls. One would think that, having been deprived of the company of attractive (or otherwise) females for the greater part of 2 1/2 years, they would be leaping at the chance to ogle at younger girls in wet T-shirts and grope them in various games mandating guy-girl interaction. There must be other extenuating factors militating against the boost NS gives to their libido. Perhaps they feel poor after losing their slave pittances, but retain the extravagant spending habits they picked up as slaves. Possibly in previous years some hadn't ORDed yet, but they did have leave and days off, and that still cannot account of all of the shortfall. Maybe it is just the drain of vitality, energy and motivation that slavery engenders.

In boys schools, orientation camps tend to be a more torturous experience, involving seniors unleashing their frustrations on their juniors, and perpetuating a vicious circle of torture. Also, there is a touted element of "male bonding", which inevitably involves rolling in mud or dust while being screamed at. However, the tale we will hear today is a happier one, for activities involving females can never be too intense, for reasons that I do not feel like expounding on.

The NUS USP Orientation Camp I went to was held at Costa Sands Pasir Ris, and not the NUS hostels as most other camps were. Though this limited the length of the camp (due to budgetary constraints), it allowed more interaction, since people didn't have personal rooms to retreat to.

THe camp was called "Kinigi", which we were told is the Greek word for game (actually, it means "hunt"), and nebulous associations with the Olympics were conjured up, but the only things Greek about it were the names of the Orientation Groups (OGs) and plots of most of the skits which ended the camp. Usually when camps have themes, said themes will be loosely woven into a storyline: there will be stories behind the various station games, for example, like how the group's crossing of an imaginary river represents their overcoming of an obstacle in their quest to reach the Holy Mountain. This was strangely absent during the camp.

Day 1

I was in the OG "Corinth" and the others were Argos, Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Sikyon (frankly, I'd never heard of Sikyon, so now I am suitably chastened and most aware of the depth of my ignorance), Sparta and Thebes (which almost no one could pronounce correctly). My OG had been assigned the "gods" Periander and Poseidon (incidentally we were the only ones assigned 2 "gods"). Now, I'd never heard of the former, but it seems he was one of the tyrants of Corinth, so calling him a god would be a very far stretch. Sparta was assigned the "goddess" Helen (presumably of Troy), Sikyon got Prometheus (he was a Titan, but I'm feeling benevolent) and Thebes had Asopus (couldn't they have found someone less wimpy than a mere river god?!). Unforgivably, Apollo got Argos, not Delphi, and Delphi was assigned "Hellas" (perhaps they meant Helles, who fell off the Golden Ram) - something is rotten in the state of Greece.

Our OG had 9 freshmen - 4 guys and 5 girls, and 6 seniors, one of which was PaRaDoX [!@#$%^&*()]. Obviously, not everyone could sleep in the small air-conditioned bedroom on the second floor, even discounting the seniors. No prizes for guessing which gender got the bedroom on the first night and which got to sleep on the floor, and no prizes for guessing if there was a swap on the second night.

The camp program started out with the obligatory ice-breakers. Unusually, I managed the game where you have to name everyone in the circle, appending the adjective (the first letter of which is the same as the first letter of their names) they choose to describe themselves with to theirnames. For example, I chose "Gregarious Gabriel" - though that's not totally accurate, especially not when I'm in large groups of unfamiliar people, it beats "Gay", and someone, short of adjectives, called herself "Horrible". I also played Polar Bear for possibly the first time (somehow, I'd only played Murderer before).

The next activity was coming up with cheers. There's no point making up new cheers, really, for cheers are all in the public domain, and other groups are liable to steal yours (as ours were later). After that we dressed a mascot up for the parade later. I got the task of making a beard, and spray-painting Poseidon's beard, crown and trident, but I forgot to take off my watch so it has golden specks on it now. Oh, and I inhaled no small amount of spray-paint. I'm sure that can't be good for health. After my task was done, I left for my Basic Theory test (yes! After so many calamities, it is finally over and done with) so I missed the parade of mascots, Night Games and the first of the activities involving cross-gender interaction - the Secret Pal pairup.

Now, the Secret Pal game involved everyone being blindfolded and then seated beside someone else from another OG (of the other gender, naturally). They then had a short chat, were given nicknames (eg Princess Peach and Super Mario, Aragorn and Arwen, Popeye and Olive, Yang Guo and Xiao Long Nu, Harry Potter and Hermione and worst of all, Mona Lisa and Leonardo Da Vinci [!@#$%^&*()]. There was also Sylvester and Tweety, but I'm not I want to consider the implications of that pairing). They then had to write 2 letters or notes to each other in the next 24 hours before their next meeting (this time sans blindfold).

Anyhow, after I returned and the Night Games ended, PaRaDoX led everyone (except one, who had fallen asleep) to a nearby coffeeshop to eat Bak Chor Mee (minced meat noodles), and we returned to the chalet sometime past 2am, and slept.

Coincidentally, there were some ex-42SAR workshop people at a chalet opposite, and seeing the USP banner, they made some remarks about me being a "scholar" (...) Actually, that deserves more ellipses. (.........)

Day 2

We awoke to rain. Happily, this meant we could sleep in instead of playing a "Mass Participation Game". After a breakfast of Nasi Lemak, the others started playing the dumb pattern-recognition games (think 'Petals Around The Rose' and 'Black Magic') that I'd first encountered in J1, most of which I had never gotten and all of which I'd never liked. They later moved on to the game where one person poses a scenario which the others have to guess by asking questions to which the answers can only be "yes" or "no", and I was more enthusiastic about this, even contributing a scenario of my own (though some didn't think it was a very realistic one). I think that there aren't many of these scenarios, though, since of the 3 that others posed, I'd heard of 2 (Romeo and Juliet being found dead in a pool of water with glass shards around them and the man being found dead with glass shards around him in the middle of some scorched trees). The one of the man eating penguin meat and then shooting himself was new, though.

We then had station games around the resort. Some games were tried and tested (squeezing people onto a poncho) but some were new, or variations on old themes: forming words by giving each person 2 letters on cardboard linked by raffia - one hanging in front and one behind, forming a human train with each person holding up a balloon by pressing his chest to the back of the one in front of him (I cheated a bit by pressing my arms together instead) and then traversing various obstacles and one called "Baby In The Air", a Dog-and-Bone variant where the person catching bone would take 3 steps and then throw it at the lower legs of someone other than his counterpart; I scored 3 points for the OG in this, maybe because I didn't run fast (and thus far) enough and people thought I was a bigger target. We were fortunate, for at the last station we were scheduled at, we were just behind another group, so when the station master suddenly threw a bucket of water and a plate of flour at that other group, all our members but one escaped unscathed; it seems previous groups engaged in some game with guy-girl interaction, but maybe the station master had gotten bored after making 6 groups play that game.

After lunch we had beach games, and whenever there are beach games, you know that there are going to be sea games. One of them was Captain's Ball in the water. The twist was that the goal had to be a girl, and of course there were no chairs for them to stand on, so they got guys to be human chairs. I was picked to support my team's goal for what was probably the better part of 3 minutes, but felt more like 10, and my back was sore for a time after that. Another was the Limbo Rock, where the station mistress made us sing the Limbo Rock ditty (doh!), and where I managed to sort-of cheat my way under the pole. A third original (or relativly original - maybe I haven't been to enough orientations) game was Table Soccer, with a grass patch replacing the table, raffia on the ground the poles and humans the figurines. There was also Dog and Bone. This would not merit comment, except that I had the same number as one of the taller girls from the other group, and when we both went out, she said it was "very scary". Looks like the Big Friendly Giant image isn't being properly projected.

After everyone had washed up, there was the Secret Pal Revelation. Most people being bright sparks, they had long ago figured out the identities of their Secret Pals, but there was a semi-formal ceremony where the male (...) entered the chalet, announced his nickname and real name and then attempted to identify his secret pal. Some looked inquisitively at me as I entered without announcing anything. Maybe I should have said: "My nickname is Agagooga and I have no secret pal!"

I still feel too anti-social (or introverted, if you prefer) to mingle freely in large crowds, so the barbeque that followed was slightly uncomfortable. Though PaRaDoX BBQed some good satay.

As the barbeque was dying down, most of us played a game of Indian Poker, but with water instead of alcohol. Basically, everyone drew a card and placed it on his forehead so everyone but he could see it. Each person in turn had the choice of changing his card or staying his hand, and the persons with the lowest and highest cards had to drink, with the amount being drunk increasing with each time he lost - 1 of the small white plastic cups the first time, 2 the second, 4 the third and so on. At first, the others wanted the forfeit for girls to be reset after 4 cups, and guys after the whole bottle (1.5l), but when I hit what was to be 8 cups, they decided to reduce it to half the bottle (5-6 cups). In the end, I ended up drinking slightly more than one 1.5l bottle and another guy drank slightly less than 1 1/2 1.5l bottles. Our main OGL would have drunk the most, due to her unlucky hands, but we helped her greatly by advising her to change her cards, and once even let her change her card again when she got bad cards twice in a row. At the end of the session, slightly less than 10 of us (1 left towards the end, and another was out for a while to remove her contacts) drank 7 1.5l of water - good hydration for our island-wide games the next day!

It was then time for the preparation for our skit. This being a Greek-themed camp, it was decided to base the script on Greek mythology, as well as thread it around the themes of jealousy, divine intervention and war (?) which we had chosen by pickig cards at random. Not wishing to engage in the wilful murder of Greek mythology for our own ends with plenty of corniness, campiness and crappiness, I declined to contribute ideas for the script. Lachesis was unkind to me, unfortunately, and I got cast as a lustful Poseidon opposite a friend of Geraldine's as a bimbotic Athena. In the skit, I was to pursue Athena, who was pre-occupied with her city of Athens. In a fit of jealousy, I would then order Athens to be razed, and a war of ten months would then rage, only for Zeus to interrupt our petty squabbling, us reacting like petulant children, and Zeus dictating that the conflict be settled via a Talentime contest. Yes, I deserve to have the Furies hounding me for the rest of my natural life, but we all must make sacrifices for our OGs! Oh, and I got to utter the phrase, "Come forth, my minions!" with an outstretched hand.

Some time later, I found a corpse in our chalet, sprawled on the floor, with its head resting on a mattress. The corpse was in a most inconvenient position, making it hard for the rest of us to lie down, so after wondering, "What shall we do with this corpse?", I had to bulldoze it across half the room, but it didn't stir. Half a bottle of Chivas Regal and PaRaDoX make for a killer combination (luckily I missed the vomit in the sink).

Oddly, though sea water is supposed to dry the hair, when I ran my hands through my hair after our soak(s) in the sea, they felt softer. Whether it was the hair or my skin that was softer, I don't know.

Infuriatingly, army terminology was used during the camp. Our wake-up time was dubbed "reveille", the camp was described as "stay-in", people were asked to "fall-in" and there was a "luggage party" and "packets". Gah.

People commented that I was mild-mannered to everyone but I was very fierce to PaRaDoX. Ah, what more can one do to rogues? ;) I know his tricks, and besides which I think he still owed me money until I recently let him default by default (since I didn't press him for the sum).

I had thought that all the stories of cockroaches going into people's ears and not coming out, so they had to have operations to remove them, were just urban legends, but someone in my OG had that happen to him before, and he needed 2 operations to remove the insect. Argh.

Many of the activities involving guy-girl interaction seem forced and contrived. Perhaps they seek to teach post-NS guys to unlearn the habit of objectifying women and treating them purely as sex objects. Or maybe it's just an excuse for everyone to grope and be groped and get their cheap thrills while calling it good, clean fun. Or possibly it's a governmental directive to support the SDU's efforts at nation-building.

Day 3

After a breakfast of Nasi lemak (gee, that sounds familiar) and packing up, it was time for the island-wide games ala Amazing Race, a most inspired activity, given that all NUS and NTU faculty and hall camps seemed to have them too. I propose that in future camps, inspiration should be gotten from other reality TV series: WWE, Fear Factor, or Temptation Island.

After White Sands, East Point and Bedok Hawker Centre, we had lunch in Bugis, which kind of broke our momentum. At Mos Burger, someone tried to pull off the "chilli sauce exothermic reaction" trick: one person will tell someone not in the know that mixing chilli sauce and tomato ketchup causes an exothermic reaction, and the accomplices will place their hands over the mixture and proclaim that they feel the heat. When the unwitting victim places his hand over the mixture, the perpetrator of the prank will smash his hand into the mixture. Now, A tried to do it on B, a girl, but since there was no ketchup, he used iced water. It seemed that only one other girl, C, knew of this trick. Maybe it is a boys school thing. Anyhow, when D, an accomplice, placed his hand over the mixture, C smashed his hand into it, thus saving B and foiling A's plot. (Luther tried this trick on me before. I knew what was going to happen, but played along, then when he smashed my hand into the mixture, I immediately swung my hand onto his shirt, giving him apparent bloodstains. Heh.)

The clue to our last stop was "Where the no spitting rule is violated", the answer being the Merlion near the Esplanade. Being fifth in the rankings before the Amazing Race, we decided to try to adhere to our motto of "we are relaxed" by walking from Bugis to the Merlion instead of taking the MRT or running. But when we were halway across the bridge, we realised that the clue was deceptive and the real checkpoint was located beside the Esplanade and were infuriated. After taking a picture at that last checkpoint, we decided to treat ourselves to a taxi ride back to NUS, where we were the second group back.

After some rest, we returned to working on the skit, and then it was time for the performances.

A girl in one group wore a laudable imitation of the front part of a chiton, albeit only the bottom half of one, with the top half looking more like a toga, since it didn't cover one shoulder.

Another group presented what I felt was the best of the 4 skits - an adaption of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, except that in this skit Oedipus was abandoned due to his being born with a tail, he grew up in a community of women which he left after a manly woman tried to court him, there being a fairy godmother who promised to remove his tail if he killed the king, said godmother later promising him firmer buttocks if he killed the queen, and his refusal, leading the fairy godmother to reveal the truth of his ancestry, his killing of the fairy godmother and his mother, his tail returning after the fairy godmother's death due to her magic dissipating and his dying after being suffocated by his tail.

The last group, given the theme "myth and legend", "psychosis" and one other, went on to present the only skit not involving elements from Greek mythology, but instead being a melange of the X-files, Dracula, Swear Bears (Care Bears who swear), King Arthur and Smurfs. How ironic.

After the skits, someone tried to promote Rag to us (ie compell us to join in), we watched a slideshow of pictures from the camp and finally, prizes were given out. Each group got a prize hamper, but oddly, "consolation prizes" for the most sporting group, the most spontaneous group and the like were given out before the prizes for the top 3 groups. This necessitates the question: what if the group that got third place overall was actually the most spontaneous group? Or if the group that got the first prize was also the most sporting?

Anyhow, we were wondering which consolation prize we would receive, since we were 5th before the Amazing Race started and we tried to adopt a philosophy of "We are relaxed" and "you3 qing2 di4 yi1, bi3 sai4 di4 er4" (Translation: Friendship first, competition second) during the camp, so we were stunned when we got first!

We got a survey form and one part asked us about the friendliness of our OGLs. Wth?!

Comments by others:

Respondent 1: 'frankly, i got quite sick of all the cheering. this is what happens when you're surrounded by 19 year old girls

usp camp proves to me the point that smart people are better conversationalists, but make up for it with a dearth in the looks department. am i courting controversy by saying that? hmmm

athena was cute.

my secret pal, mona lisa, thought i was leonardo di caprio and not leonardo da vinci. and she was from rjc.

orientation camps would be single-gender (guess which one) affairs if not for the poorly contrived games involving wet tshirts and grabbing of various body parts.'

Respondent 2: 'eh... seriously... the whole orientation sounds nothing short of a disaster to me... =P

i think its all one big forced interaction event where lan lan people have to go in a braver attempt to make some friends to "anchor" themselves into a social cliche before term starts.. lest they be left out in the frozen cold for the next 3 or 4 years

i think the whole greek mythology thing is over exploited by singaporeans when it comes to orientation... i know of one jc whose orientation revolved around "GREEKO GEEKO MYTHOLOGY" and whose student council president proudly proclaimed that "i wanted my juniors to have a better orientation than mine" In his valedictory speech...

no prizes for guessing which school... haha!

strangely.. maybe the reason why the guys are not heading for another "orientation camp" is becuase the word "camp" instantly kicks up gory images of green leafed vegation amidst rotting concrete buildings....unpalatable food and the three "S"s [Ed: Stupidity, Sadism and Senselessness]

anyway... i don't know why every orientation someone has to suggest that "we get the girl's t shirts wet"... damn... singapore society is really getting weirder...'

Respondent 3: "Well, can't tell for sure whether you had any fun or not ;), but hey, I made friends through making a big silly fool out of myself during such
freshman orientation camps, what with all the lame nonsensical games and cheers and the totally silly 'storyline'...

And I think many guys don't like to go for these camps because they are a) too poor b) just want to rest and relax at home after ORD c) too shy and/or socially inept after 2 years of slavery. =)

Either that or they would rather go and take part as a big group of friends, and if any of them are not keen, it is likely most wouldn't go as well."

Yes, I did have fun. And at least I haven't become that shy. No comment about socially aptitude, or lack thereof, especially since I never scored very high in that area ;)

Respondent 4: "Finished your blog. You are v diligent, but all those activities *shudder* are why I hate orientation activities.
PS: In the US, they don't waste time with that for univ orientations. They just cut ahead to socialising and getting drunk."

I don't mind going for 1 or 2 camps. It's good to be silly for a while - that's why I went ;)


Respondent 5: "It would be much better if you can post this in your LJ. I am so not-used to Blogspot...

So how many girls did you grope?"

Mr theonion, who might you be?

LJ is evil :) Anyhow if you like LJ so much, I *did* make a teaser LJ post you can comment on.


Zeus sent Aphrodisiac down (Aphrodite)

thee bees (Thebes)

Poe say don (Poseidon)

[Me on Thebes] Yay, they pronounced the name of their OG properly

[On my apparent lunch time Mos Burger order of a small Coke and 3 snap-frizen strawberries] Is that all you're having?

[Quanxing: I thought when girls see [a] brownie, they [go]: "[High, ditzy voice] Brownie! Brownie!"] [Me:] When Quanxing sees Whiskey, he [goes]: *mimes drinking something, puking and collapsing face down, arms outstretched*

Air di piss (Oedipus)

[On Rag] Our main competitors are Law and Medicine, so all the elitist groups are going to fight it out.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Elgin Marbles: fact or fiction?

Much has been written in the last few years about the Parthenon Sculptures, better known as the Elgin Marbles, named after Lord Elgin who brought the marbles to Britain. Unfortunately, most of the "facts" doing the rounds are propaganda disseminated by those who would like to see the Elgin Marbles returned to Greece.

Although a new book by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr. claims that the Parthenon depicts the book of Genesis, including Noah and his flood, this theory has not been widely accepted, and the Israeli government have not used it as the basis to claim the Parthenon for the State of Israel. At least not yet. The general consensus is that the Parthenon and its sculptures were designed by Pheidias, and funded by the city-state of Athens in the fifth century BC.

So, to clarify, here is the correct version of the Marbles and their history, without the revisions that have been attached to them over the years.

"The Athenian Akropolis ... was, from the late fifth century BC onwards: the monumental symbol of Hellenic civilization." Historian Nigel Spivey.

The Athenian Acropolis was important only to the Athenians, not to other Greek states. Some sanctuaries, such as Delphi and Olympia were Pan-Hellenic, meaning that they were important to all Greek states, but the Acropolis was not. Although almost every building in antiquity was 'sacred' - plays, for example, were put on as part of the cult of Dionysus - the Parthenon was not used to house the cult of Athena until the fourth century BC, when the Erechtheion was too dilapidated to do so any more.

The Parthenon was built as a giant treasury come bank, to house the riches of Athens, rather than as a temple. This is reflected by the fact that there are only a handful of ancient references to the building.

"The monuments of the Acropolis at Athens, in particular, occupied a very special place in the heart of the Greeks [in Elgin's day]" British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.

It must be nice to be able to re-write history with so much fantasy and hindsight. The Parthenon was important to the Byzantine Greeks not because of its' past, but because it had been converted into their cathedral. By Elgin's day it had become a mosque and been destroyed in an explosion. The ancient glory of the Parthenon interested Western travellers, but few Athenians.

"Blind are the eyes that do not shed tears while seeing, O, Greece beloved, your sacred objects plundered by profane English hands that have again wounded your aching bosom and snatched your gods, gods that hate England's abominable north climate." Byron, Childe Harold.

Dear old Byron is often cited to show that Elgin was condemned in his own day for bringing the Parthenon marbles back to London. Byron was not considered the most reliable source in his own day, and went into exile because of his terrible reputation.

Most scholars, on both sides of the argument, agree that had Elgin not brought the Marbles back to London, they would have been badly damaged in Athens, and possibly destroyed. Byron, who liked being rude about Elgin because he did not like Scots, did not think the Marbles should have been brought to London because he had a Romantic notion of ruins. He did not want the Marbles preserved, but rather wished them to disintegrate in the ruins of the Parthenon, for this would have been more Romantic for him.

"More damage was done to the Parthenon in 1801-2 than in the previous 2,200 years" Melina Mercouri, former Culture Minister of Greece (The Times, 15.1.83).

In fact the Parthenon Elgin saw, was not as well preserved as the Parthenon visitors see in Athens today; the latter is a result of several reconstructions of the building by the Greek Archaeological Service. The Parthenon Elgin saw was a ruin. It had been converted first into a Greek church, when much of the sculpture was deliberately defaced, then into a mosque.

In 1687, during the Last Crusade, it was a munitions store; it exploded and the building's wall came tumbling down. Approximately half the sculpture that survived all these disasters was then lost, chopped up and used as building stone, or as souvenirs.

"Elgin took sculpture from Turkish-occupied Athens by a combination of bribery, duplicity and sheer force majeure." (Nigel Spivey), through "bribery and corruption of Officials" (Melina Mercouri). "Elgin did not act legally in stripping the Parthenon of its sculptures." (British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.)

Just as in Homeric Greece, the Ottoman Empire had a tradition of hospitality and of gift-giving. Elgin gave the Sultan and his circle lavish gifts, and the Sultan and his circle gave the Elgins and their embassy lavish gifts in return. This was the custom. The Elgins became favourites of the Sultan because Elgin was the representative of Britain, and the British had helped drive the French out of Ottoman Egypt.

The Sultan gave Elgin a Byzantine sarcophagus from his own Mosque and the few old stones - for that is how he saw the Parthenon sculptures - that Elgin wanted from Athens were mere trifles to him. He issued a firman, a copy of which is preserved, which was an Imperial decree, there being no higher law at the time than the wishes of the Sultan. Yes, Elgin did give many gifts to the authorities in Athens to speed work along. These gifts are often described as 'bribes', although the modern interpretation is inadequate. They were more akin to tips, unless one considers leaving a tip to the waiter in a restaurant a bribe.

"There is no question that his original intent was ... to decorate his own baronial residence in Fife." Nigel Spivey.

This rather curious statement contradicts every single source that exists, though that is rarely an impediment to Restitutionists. Elgin originally intended to make casts and drawings of ancient remains to help furnish examples for the decoration of Broomhall, his seat.

Once he intended to bring the Parthenon Marbles back to London, he was always clear that he wanted them to be housed in the British Museum. He even sold them to the Museum for less than his expenses bringing them back had been, declining many higher offers, from Napoleon amongst other.

Melina Mercouri pointed out that "After independence was gained, one of the first Acts passed by the Greek government was for the protection and preservation of national monuments."

Unfortunately the Greeks did not act on the Act, for the sculptures on the Acropolis continued to deteriorate when in the hands of an Independent Greek State. Comparison of the Caryatid from the Erechtheion brought back by Elgin, and those that remained in Athens make this clear; the carving on the London figure is still crisp, whilst the surface of those in Athens have deteriorated to such an extent that they can no longer be exposed to air, but rather have to be kept in a gas-filled box.

Apparently, it is highly racist to suggest that the present inhabitants of Greece are not the direct descendents of the Pericles, again according to Mrs Mercouri. It might be pedantic to point out that historically Pericles did not have any descendants, but also useful to point out that many migrations have occurred in the last two and half millennia, as well as intermarriage and decimation of peoples by acts of God.

It would be ridiculous to try to claim that Fred Bloggs of Chester-le-Street was a direct descendant of the Celts, or that George W. Bush was of the Sioux, and it is equally ridiculous to try to claim that the modern Athenian carries the blood of Pericles and of fifth century Athenians in his veins.

The Byzantine emperors saw themselves as heirs to the Romans not the Greeks, and the Greeks in what is now the modern state of Greece only began to claim descent from the Ancient Greeks when they realised that it would help their cause, winning Western support, during their War of Independence.

" ... the time has come for these Marbles to come home to the blue skies of Attica, to their rightful place, where they form a structural and functional part of a unique entity." Melina Mercouri.

"The Parthenon Sculptures form a work of art that makes sense only as a whole" according to Marbles Reunited.

"The Parthenon without the marbles is like a smile with a missing tooth" added Neil Kinnock, not a man known for his winning smile.

These quotes, and others like them, give the misleading impression that the sculptures in Athens and those in London would be brought together to form a whole with the building for which they were created. Restitutionists like to imply that the sculptures would be put back on the Parthenon.

If this were possible it would be a very interesting proposition, but alas it will never happen. The Parthenon sculptures can never be put back on the Parthenon because Athens is a very polluted city and acid rain would dissolve their surfaces. Archaeologists in fact regularly ask for the very opposite to happen; they ask that the Greek Archaeological service remove the last remaining sculptures from the building.

Of course if pressed, the Greeks will agree that the marbles, if returned to Athens, would be housed in a museum there, just as they are housed in a museum in London.

"... The sculptures showed clear traces of colour that the scraping destroyed." British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles.

"The surfaces of the sculptures had been left largely untouched since ancient times" but, at the British Museum, they were "crudely scraped to reveal their raw marble sub-surface". This act of barbarism was followed by an "institutional cover up", according to William St Clair. He refers to a cleaning in the 1930s that removed the brown sludge from the Elgin Marbles.

A conference on the condition of the Parthenon Marbles was held in December 1999; most agreed that the cleaning was harsh, but a method popular at the time, a method which the Greek Archaeological Service continued to use for several decades, and which the Italians still consider acceptable. Heaping scandal upon scandal, "the museum abruptly cancelled the plans to publish the proceedings" according the William St Clair, who clearly has not noticed that all papers submitted by participants are freely available on the museum's website.

Although publication in a book would have been an option, it was not possible in this case as many Greek participants did not wish to submit copies of the papers they had presented at the conference.

One fear expressed by curators is that if the Elgin Marbles were returned, this would create a precedent, with other countries claiming that art was illegally acquired and should be returned to them. But "the precedent argument is unusually silly. For one thing, the Greeks do not want anything else "back"." According to Christopher Hitchens.

It is good to hear that Mr Hitchens has the omnipotence to guarantee the actions of all future Greek governments. The Restitutionists claim that the Parthenon sculptures are unique, but they only want those in London back; not those in Paris, Italy, the Vatican, Germany, Denmark - or at least they have so far failed to ask for those. Various Greek governments have however asked for the return of the Victory of Samothrace from the Louvre, the Bassae frieze from the British Museum, and assorted other works of art, which are all also presumably 'unique'.

"They [the Parthenon sculptures] are a tribute to the democratic philosophy." Melina Mercouri.

The Parthenon was built to house the tribute Athens gathered from its Empire. Although Athens herself was Democratic, as long as you were a male land-owner, its empire was not. States that tried to leave the Athenian fold were sacked, and Pericles was an early and enthusiastic fan of crucifying ones enemies.

Although Democracy is a Greek word, so is hypocrisy. Since the Greeks make such a fuss of how the British Museum displays and has cared for the Elgin Marbles, one can assume that they themselves have done a better job. But then again it's always silly to assume. Although there are many wonderful museums in Athens where their half of the Parthenon sculptures could be housed, for the last decade the majority of these have been in an inaccessible basement store room, which scholars and tourists alike are denied access to.

Some of the sculptures remain on the building, where they are being eaten away by acid rain. Other were removed as late as 1993, but still have not been restored. A few blocks of the frieze are on display, and some of the pedimental figures sit forlornly in gas filled box - they were removed in 1977, by which point they had become too delicate to have contact with air.

Despite this the remains of the frieze were not taken down until 1993. So, if some Greek fairy god-mother could wave a magic wand and send the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum back to Athens tomorrow, they could not even be displayed next to the Athens Parthenon sculptures.

The Athens pieces are in such bad condition that if the two were ever displayed next to each other, it would cause considerable embarrassment to the Greeks, and seriously bring into question their custodianship of what they themselves describe as their greatest cultural treasures.

The British Committee for the Restitution of the Parthenon Marbles rather disingenuously claims that ownership of the Marbles is no longer an issue, and that the Greeks only want a loan. This does not however mean that the Greeks accept British ownership, as the last Culture Minister made clear.

The loan requested is also a permanent one, which seems to defy any rational interpretation of the word "loan". If we wanted to call in this loan and bring our Marbles back to London do we honestly believe the Greek government would pack them up and ship them back to us? And if they didn't, what could we possibly do about it? Send in the SAS in a dawn raid to bring them home?

The Elgin Marbles are quite happily housed in the British Museum, which saved them from destruction in the first place, and which has cared for them admirably ever since. When the Greeks can demonstrate that they too have done an admirable job of caring for the Marbles in Athens then, perhaps, we can discuss a loan.
I still feel dazed, and a little sore too. My sense of time and space has been warped yet again. *boggle* Yes, I have a weak constitution.


I got posted out of 452SAR! Muahahaha.

*does dance to Huitzilopochtli*


"While I openly proclaim myself a Theistic Evolutionist, i.e. one who believes in both the existence of a God and that evolution does occur, it riles me to no end when Creationists and fellow Christians resort to half-truths, occasional outright lies, withholding of valuable information, out-of-context quotes, irrelevant and illogical arguments, and already-refuted points, and much hysterical arm-waving and hollering to strengthen the case for the story of creation, which, to put it mildly in my point of view, is complete bullshit."

Interestingly, Ivan's take on Creation "Science" approximates my view of religion in general :)


I am told that SMU students have to do 80 hours of community work every year. Somehow, I find that to be at odds with their desired image as a modern, progressive, funky school.

Mandating that students give back to the community says nothing about their characters; doing something because you have to do it does not make you any more moral or compassionate. Of course, some would argue that sometime during those 80 hours, the students will suddenly be struck by an epiphanous revelation and realise the character and virtue building benefits of doing community service.

More likely, they will grow to resent and even loathe (if they haven't already) this monumental consumer of their time, and the grand scheme will backfire.


A bad-tempered buzzard that dive-bombed cyclists on an English country road has finally met its match after it swooped on a van.

The buzzard's reign of terror ended instantly when it attacked the van near the market town of Holsworthy in North Devon on Wednesday.

"It took on more than it could chew," a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said on Thursday. "It was a pure accident."

She said the buzzard was probably defending chicks in a nest near the road. The driver was a local man who was deeply upset by the accident.

The buzzard had attacked more than 20 riders, including competitors in a bike race who suffered head injuries and gouged helmets last weekend.

One cyclist who was attacked said he was upset to hear of the bird's death.

"You never like to hear about a wild bird being killed," Paul Dixon, 71, told the Daily Express. "Mind you, it will spare us all a few scratches."


Pavarotti rocks the boat on family holiday - "When you tip the scales at 25 stone or so, a life on the ocean wave can have its problems. Such as the boat listing at a dramatic angle when you happen-to move over to one side."

The heat's on and the Japanese can cool off with horse-flesh ice-cream - "In its mission to generate as wide an appeal as possible, Ice-Cream City is not restricting its target market to those with a sweet tooth. Basashi vanilla, for example, draws on a Fukushima region speciality and includes chunks of horse-flesh sushi. Yagi no aisu is ice-cream made with goat’s milk and goat meat, and gyu tan is cow-tongue sorbet. In the adjoining freezer, customers are offered ice-cream flavoured with real octopus, abalone, oysters, shrimp, crab and whale. The most expensive, selling for about £5 for a small tub, are shark’s fin and sea- urchin roe ice-cream."

Clinton's mentor was Mao, Chinese readers are told - "In the Mandarin version of My Life, Mr Clinton extols the wisdom of the Chairman, repeatedly quotes his most famous sayings and enthusiastically recounts a childhood conversation with an unnamed uncle about the mysteries of the Maoist Middle Kingdom."

American Idol’s William Hung Found Dead of Heroin Overdose - "The announcement of his death sent shockwaves to the tens of people who still found him funny."

Man Faces First-Degree Murder for Testing ''Knife-Proof'' Vest - "A 32-year-old man faces first-degree murder charges for allegedly killing his nephew in a demonstration of a bulletproof vest they believed could also stop knives."

Say a little prayer for me - for $5 - "With Catholic clergy in short supply in the US, Indian priests are picking up some of their work, saying Mass for special intentions, in a sacred if unusual version of outsourcing."

The secret formula for going to the moon - "Three presidents, hundreds of congressmen, and the government and private teams assigned to the project were afraid of the kind of world that would result if the United States did not succeed at the manned lunar landing. Specifically, they were not afraid of aliens, or of epidemics, or of economic depressions — they were afraid of the adjusting alignments in a world in which U.S. technology and leadership came to be thought of as second-rate, and where the United States wasn’t everyone’s partner-of-choice in business, in culture, and in security."

[info]shadafakup: "People say I have interesting links. You must be the link Santa then, which might be a good or bad thing."

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Quote of the Post: "One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses not to take medicine." - Sir William Osler

Random Playlist Song: Vivaldi - Gloria in Excelsis Deo RV 588 - II. Et in terra pax hominibus


Comparing Online Music Services to P2P Networks - "Discount the fact that the Big Five labels continue to take money from people even when they're stone cold dead, Ray Charles being the most recent example. You can be pretty sure sales of Charles' music and recordings went up when it was announced that he passed away, and you can be equally sure that Big Music wasn't channeling the profits to Charles' relatives."

Pirated DVDs Worth More Than Drugs - And they are less socially undesirable, too.

New iPod - Ooh. Maybe I'll shed my reservations, especially since they're now US$100 cheaper and have a 12hr battery life now. And I didn't know the old models didn't have a "shuffle songs" feature?! God, how does anyone live without the playlist shuffle feature? Maybe I should buy one and make my brother in law jealous. Muahahaha.


"By confirming your registration:
1) You agree to refrain from the use of obscene, sexist, racist, homophobic, threatening or other ridiculously immature comments when communicating with fellow members.
5) You promise not to upload any cover versions, especially of "The Pina Colada Song"."

Those are new ones :)


Gunthernet says that:

"The four main things in Günthers life are Champagne, Glamour, Love and Respect!"

I'm quite sure Love wasn't in there the last time!


To camp we go. Updates will resume on Thursday (or whenever).

Monday, July 19, 2004

Quote of the Post: "Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything." - Frank Dane

Random Playlist Song: Cambridge Singers - Donkey Carol


I was asking someone what she liked to see on this blog - I aim to please and cater to my audience, after all - and her response was:

"I like your travelogues. And your daily 'random links' type stuff is interesting."

Interestingly, those are precisely the things some people dislike. Oh well. I shall endeavour to write on a good mix of topics.


Comment a friend made some time back (on joining an elitist group):

"yes, i believe we'd know all about elitist societies
you were gep too right"



Jiekai on Why those China girls worry me:

"Sadly her opinion isn't very far off from that off the average Singaporean woman. How in the world did the ST allow such unvarnished prejudice onto its pages?... A controlled press makes for more responsible reporting? *cough*"

Indeed. So much for responsible reporting.


Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism

"Despite its pretensions to cool-headed rationality, modern atheism originated in the irrational, psychological needs of a few thinkers. Paul Vitz subjects the apostles of atheism to the same psychological analysis with which they attempted to debunk religious belief. The psychological source of their militant atheism, he shows, was the absence of a good father. Starting with Freud's "projection theory" of religion—that belief in God is merely a product of man's desire for security—Professor Vitz argues that psychoanalysis actually provides a more satisfying explanation for atheism. Disappointment in one's earthly father, frequently leads to a rejection of God. A biographical survey of influential atheists of the past four centuries shows that this "defective father hypothesis" provides a consistent explanation of "intense atheism." A survey of the leading intellectual defenders of Christianity over the same period confirms the hypothesis. The book concludes with an intriguing comparison of male and female atheists and a consideration of other psychological factors that can contribute to atheism."



A mother passing by her daughter's bedroom was astonished to see the bed was nicely made and everything was picked up.

Then she saw an envelope propped up prominently on the center of the bed. It was addressed, "Mom." With the worst premonition, she opened the envelope and read the letter with trembling hands:

Dear Mom,

It is with great regret and sorrow that I'm writing to you. I had to elope with my new boyfriend because I wanted to avoid a scene with Dad and you. I've been finding real passion with John and he is so nice-even with all his piercings, tattoos, beard, and his motorcycle clothes. But it's not only the passion mom, I'm pregnant and John said that we will be very happy. He already owns a trailer in the woods and has a stack of firewood for the whole winter.

He wants to have many more children with me and that's now one of my dreams too.

John taught me that marijuana doesn't really hurt anyone and we'll be growing it for us and trading it with his friends for all the cocaine and ecstasy we want.

In the meantime, we'll pray that science will find a cure for AIDS so John can get better; he sure deserves it!!

Don't worry Mom, I'm 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself. Some day I'm sure we'll be back to visit so you can get to know your grandchildren.

Your daughter,

PS: Mom, none of the above is true. I'm over at the neighbor's house. I just wanted to remind you that there are worse things in life than my report card that's in my desk center drawer. I love you! Call when it is safe for me to come home.


Illuminating extract from a book I found on my sister's bookshelf:

"It is well-known medically that some paralyses are 'hysterical' in origin, that is they have a mental rather than physical cause, usually as a result of some severe emotional stress. Disfiguring skin conditions, blindness, apparent inability to heal or speak, and all manner of seeming mental disorders, can also be induced by hysteria, and while to the patient such ailments seem all too real, and may last for many years, they can sometimes be cured by a reversing or neutralizing of the original, debilitating emotional problem. Although treatment with drugs is of course the most usual way of doing this today, other nonetheless well-recognized approaches are via psychotherapy or hypnosis, the 'cure' as effected by the latter often being dramatically sudden.

It has to be acknowledged that even to this day no-one really knows what hypnosis is, whatever individual hypnotists themselves may claim they know. In essence hypnosis appears to be a belief system shared between two individuals, one, the subject, who abandons himself, in terms of his waking consciousness, to the other, the hypnotist, who by taking charge of the patient's unconscious mind may be able to free elements that the patient's consciousness has previously repressed or held back. So-called 'hysterical' individuals often seem to make particularly good hypnotic subjects and consistently the effects of hypnosis upon these can be in direct proportion to the degree of awe in which they hold the hypnotist. While scientists mostly remain reticent about stating anything too positive about hypnosis because of its continuing mysteries and uncertainties, few would deny that it can and does produce some remarkable phenomena, including spectacular 'cures'.

For instance, the now veteran British hypnotist Peter Casson has on his files the case of a woman who, for fifteen years after a major car accident, had been quite unable to close her hand or to grip with it. Several operations had failed to improve her condition, but on the strength of just one hypnosis session with peter Casson she found that she could once again close her hand and use it normally....

An even better attestation of hypnosis's medical potential is a British doctor's highly dramatic use of it as a last resort for a particularly disfiguring skin condition that was well documented, with accompanying photographs, in the British Medical Journal of 23 August 1952. The patient was a sixteen-year-old boy who two years earlier had been admitted to East Grinstead's Royal Victoria Hospital suffering from ichthyosis, a most unsightly condition that from ever since he had been born had covered his body with a black, horny, reptilian layer that was as uncomfortable and evil-smelling as it was disfiguring. Although two attempts at plastic surgery had been made, in both the reptilian layer had quickly replaced the skin that had been freshly grafted, so that even Sir Archibald McIndoe, the most eminent plastic surgeon of the day, pronounced further conventional treatment useless.

By chance, however, the boy's plight came to the notice of a young physician with an interest in hypnosis, Dr A.A.Mason, today a psycho-analyst in Beverly Hills, California. Mason asked if he might at least try hypnosis, and on 10 February 1951, having induced a hypnotic state, he suggested to the youth that his left arm's reptilian layer would disappear. There ensued an extraordinary transformation. Within five days the horny covering was soft, pink and normal for the first time in the boy's life. During the next few weeks hypnotic suggestion was given for the clearance of the reptilian layer on the right arm and then for specific remaining areas of his body, each time with between 50 per cent and 95 per cent success. although the cure was slower than it might have been in the case of, say, a hysterical blindness or paralysis (almost certainly because of the very nature of the disease), it is little short of incredible that it should have happened at all. And a fascinating feature is the fact that, because of ichthyosis's rarity, Dr Mason did not even realize at the time that he was dealing with such a congenital, structural illness. As he has frankly admitted, had he realized he would most likely not have tried hypnosis, because he would have thought it unsuitable for anything so deep-seated. But because he believed he could do it, he succeeded. Accordingly, it is the most striking, possible attestation of what mere words, given the hypnotic state, can do."


In response to this question:

For every prime number p there is a number n such that

p = 4*n + 1
p = 4*n + 3

Apparently Euler has proven that

For every prime number p for which there is a number n such that
p = 4*n + 1
there are two numbers x and y such that
p = x^2 + y^2

I'd like to see the proof for this proposition.

Someone gave this answer: I have coded this program which demonstrates that for every prime number satisfying p=4*n+1 has a valid pair of x and y such that p=x^2+y^2



void main(void)
unsigned int p,n,c,sroot,x,y;
char at_least_one_factor=0;
float p_xx;

if((p % c)==0)
cout << "n=" << n << setw(8) << "p=" << p;
if((unsigned int)p_xx==p_xx)
cout << " x=" << setw(3) << x
<< " y=" << setw(3) << y << '\n';
cout << "\nEnd.";


Someone else's response:

It reminds me of the prolbem where a mathmatician, a physicist and a programmer are all asked to prove that all odd numbers are prime.

The mathmatician says, "1 is prime, 3 is prime, 5, is prime, 7 is prime, by induction all odds are prime."

The Physicist says that is incorrect and resorts to experimentation He tests 1 and finds it is prime, then finds that 3 is prime, 5 is prime, 7 is prime, 9 is...an error in measument..11 is prime, so all odd numbers are prime."

The programmer says that is incorrect and writes a program to prove it. he runs the program and it prints out

"1 is prime"
"1 is prime"
"1 is prime"
"1 is prime"
"1 is prime"
"1 is prime"
"1 is prime"

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Quote of the Post: "The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were." - David Brinkley


So I happened to stumble upon this page, from a discussion about how the music video of this year's NDP song was a ripoff of an Australian song which came out last year.

I downloaded the music video of the song - Home - and found it oddly familiar. I was positive I hadn't heard such a dreamy and surreal National Day Song before. Then, it hit me... This was a rehash of 1998's Home, sung by Kit Chan, which we had been forced to sing in Secondary 3. I suppose they ran out of ideas. Maybe 2005's song will be a new arrangement of "Together", 1999's song.

On the NDP site, it says that "Due to rising copyright costs charged for downloads of 'Our Singapore Songs', we regret we have to refer you to this site for more song downloads: Sing Singapore. We hope we will be able to bring back our downloads again in the future". I didn't know you had to pay royalties for offering National Songs for downloads, or that the national songs were so popular. I also don't know how letting people download the songs from Sing Singapore solves the problem - aren't both sides funded by the government anyway?

In any case, I was sufficiently piqued to watch the music video and note salient bits.

Home 2004 by Young Voices

- Throughout this music video, we see young children in Chinese Maidservant uniforms (white long-sleeved top, black trousers) running about, sometimes with sepia-toned footage. I wonder what the link, or implied link, between the uniforms and Singapore is

- Instead of sticking to a cute childish way of singing, the 2 girls (check) sometimes lapse into a Pop Diva way of singing, but they can't quite do it properly, so it sounds even worse than it would. I like the boy's singing, though. His voice is clear, strong and pleasant

- From the music video, you would think that the singers were just a motley band of young children. However, there is rather too much controlled ooo-ing, ahh-ing, harmonising and descant singing (much of which is beautiful, actually) for that possibility. The voices also sound too mature and trained. Looking at the credits, the truth is revealed: Young Voices is actually "Danielle Lynn Goh (Raffles Girls' Pri Sch), Shanice E Nathan (Marymount Convent Sch), Ang Yifeng (Nan Hua Pri Sch), Tampines Primary School Choir and Tanjong Katong Girls' School Choir"

- one of the girls likes to give the camera a constipated face

- One line goes: "Sail down the river which brings us life". What, the Nile?! If there were one river that gave life, the Singapore river definitely would not be it. Has anyone seen the garbage floating in it recently?
- the enunciation leaves much to be desired. Eg: "wherever I may choos to go", "just like the reaver which brings us life", "Diss is home, surely"
- the soloists and choir also have some problems singing in unison
- mid-way through the song they start playing a drum. Argh.

Nonetheless, all in all I prefer this to Kit Chan's 1998 rendition.

Oh, and I downloaded the "making of the music video" video, and guess who was treating a poor injured boy?

Quote of the Post: "Man is ready to die for an idea, provided that idea is not quite clear to him." - Paul Eldridge

Random Playlist Song: Robert Shaw Chorale - Beethoven - Hallelujah from 'Christ on the Mount of Olives'

The version with piano accompaniment could never stand up to that with an orchestra


I got a plug from an unlikely source:

"I would like to say something again about Depression.

Well Depression is caused by being too bored, with nothing to do, then one uses all the spare time one has to brood over oneself until the person becomes too bored and if this is prolonged, the person will fall into depression.

Well everyone can be very bored in one time or another in their lives. Homosexuals imitate the lifestyles of gals to spend time away, and heterosexuals mingle around gals to also spend time away. Gals certainly do know how to spend their time well. Everyone can learn a thing or two from them. :D

To get rid of depression, let's study the gals...


Thank you for the tipoff.

Since I was there, I got to read the following: "Gals are horrible! I prefer guys, guys so sweet, so demure, so well-behaved, so learned, so nice, so handsome. Gals ah, especially from gals school one ah, terrible ah machiam like animals sia!!!! wah lau cannot make it!!! I want to be with my guy guy buddy buddy from my same boy school wan, same class wan, always together wan, always play play together like buddy buddy..."

It's beginning to look like a joke again.


Some joker left on my Phlog:

"Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

wrote Jesus Christ @ 17:38:59, Friday, July 16, 2004"



A kindred soul (since he hates seeing stirrups when they aren't supposed to be there) has written a King Arthur review. I like his wit. Maybe I should have been more hardworking in writing my review.

"We learn in voiceover that the Sarmatians were a fierce and warlike tribe in central Asia who fought against the rising Roman tide. Wait a minute. What the hell does this have to do with King Arthur? We learn that the Sarmatians were beaten by the Romans, all but a handful of "knights", and that thereafter they provided their sons as "knights" for the Roman armies. Interesting, because a 30-second Google run turns up the inconvenient fact that the Sarmatians were never, in fact, conquered by the Romans, and their cultural influence extended to medieval Europe. [...]

The Bishop's party is being attacked by these sort of Pictish-looking folks, whom the scripwriters have chosen to call "Woads", on account of that's what they use as war-paint. Anyway, the Bishop, having cleverly made himself less of a target by disguising himself as a plumed, red-cloaked officer on a tall horse at the front of the column, and leaving a hapless assistant to be shot through a tiny chink in the armored carriage, survives the ambush. Not from any actions of his couple dozen guards, who upon being attacked mill about in a visually interesting but undisciplined style which allows them to be shot in the back and/or swarmed by skinny naked abos, instead of, say, forming a line with shields and swords pointed toward the enemy. No, the knights thunder in to the rescue... They come galloping in, firing arrows into the forest at enemies they can't see, dismount, and begin milling about in the same picturesque fashion as their hapless co-beligerants before them. [...]

We see that the Saxons have been buying crossbows, no doubt from some time-travelling Venetians or something. The Saxons are so intimidated by six guys and Kiera's scowling that they bunch up into a shield wall in the middle of the ice. So Kiera can fire arrows into their midst without worrying much about aiming. [...]

So, we finally get to the big climactic fight. Let's examine the order of battle. On the one side we've got a couple thousand burly Saxon carls, in mail and leather armor, armed with broadswords, battle axes and large round shields. On the other, we have several hundred scrawny and undernourished but well-painted forest children, armed at best with kitchen knives stolen from the Saxons. Some of them do have bows, though. Plus six knights on horseback and one screeching teenage girl in (finally!) the traditional Scottish boiled-leather bikini. Oh, and a couple of catapults capable of hurling Greek Fire over long distances. PLUS A FRIGGING TWENTY-FOOT WALL THAT DIVIDES THE COUNTRY IN HALF. [...]

Do the knights continue their successful tactics from a moment before, harrassing the flanks of the enemy, or wait in reserve to mount a charge against weak points in the enemy line? Of course not. They dismount and die gloriously, most of them. And the ones that didn't deserved to, the stupid gits. I think the Britons won, but by no fault of their own.

I think there was also a scene where Arthur and Kiera get married, but by this time I was being carried struggling out of the building by several security guards, feebly shouting lines from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so I'm sorry to report total ignorance on the style of her wedding dress. But if it wasn't the boiled-leather bikini I wouldn't be interested anyway."


"Senders email: urjunior@hotmail.com

haha hey brother. this is ur RV junior. Was a sec 1 when u were sec 4. hmmm seems to me that u are quite a free person man. hmmm... well... i actually wanted to say u haf no life, but i guess this is how u wanna live it anyway.

haha jus telling u, there is nothing called MODERN MUSIC. is either R&B, pop, rock, etc. each genre has it's own style and techniques and yeah, looks out for different things. in the old baroque days, i reckon that debussy pieces will be branded as outragous, or perhaps even offensive. Which btw, beethoven was blasted for his symphony no. 5 to be too "radical" during his time. yupz

anyway, is it me or do u haf hell load of time? to u noe, like write all these stuffs out. haha well u suppose for normal people, they won't even care abt these stuffs and jus shrug it aside. i mean, yeah i dun like most gals antics and there are so many things in the world that i disagree on or hate. but heck. i dun think abt them, or perhaps, shld i say they dun impact me so much till i can write so much abt them.

haha yeah i noe my english sucks, so dun make comments on it. find urself doing sth more useful please. haha.

hmmm somehow i think u are quite a social inapt rite. haha dun think u haf many friends. hmmm think people like u are like jus fragments of society that refuse to conform and yet make noise abt it. well... no man is an island. hope u are happy with wadever u are doing. perhaps u can do with less sulking and channel ur energy towards more positive areas.

yupz yupz. really hope that u will haf a happy life ahead. thats the most impt thing.

p.s. i dun noe if u are reading this crap. dun even noe if u update this web anymore. it's been a long while huh.
haha if u do, jus treat it as a junior u do not know saying hi

well... deep down inside, i think u are a jerk, but heck
haha, we live our lives differently, luckily our lives don't cross anymore huh. i think u would hate my guts and i DO hate urs hahahahahahaha. yupz yupz
but still, yeah, like i said, hope u are happy with who u are. BYE

ur junior"

Wow. I got this flame about 12 hours after unveiling for my modern music page. I knew a flame would come soon, but I didn't expect it to come *this* soon (about 12 hours after I unveiled it).

Anyhow, I would send him a reply, but he didn't leave a return address (no, I don't think urjunior@hotmail.com works), so I will have to post my reply here:

"Yes, I suppose I do have a lot of time. Or rather, I try to make time for my ranting and various projects and pursuits. I don't think I have as many friends as most people, but I'm happy with those I do have, so there. I conform as I see fit, or in extremis, but I do not see how either this or voicing out my opinions is a bad thing. After all, you're making noise about my making noise, aren't you? As for the impression you seem to have of me as a sulking malcontent - I don't know where you got that bit from :) And if you'd read the "news" section on my index page, you would know that - yes - I do still update my homepage.

I hope you have a happy life too. Peace."

And I've also update the rubric on my modern music page:

"Unlike most people my age, or indeed my age group, I am not into modern music. I use the term "modern music" liberally - besides mainstream pop music, it also has under its aegis such genres as rock, heavy metal, Euro-trash, trance, dance, grunge, soul, punk, techno R&B, reggae, alternative or even new age and gospel.

I do not dislike these divers genres, which I lump under the category of "modern music", by virtue of their being new, popular or accessible, nor to set me apart from the hoi polloi, but simply because I dislike them, improbable as that might sound. I do not consider myself one of the cognoscenti - I hate opera, detest buckets of paint splashed on canvas (generally, Impressionist art and its successors) and am riled by most modern theatre (pretentious and inaccessible). I am not even a great fan of widely acclaimed 20th century composers of classical music like Bartok, Rachmaninoff, Prokofieff and Shostakovich and indeed dislike most of their works; I just genuinely dislike modern music, but for an odd song here and there. My usual criteria for judging how pleasing music (and indeed, all forms of art) is not how far it shatters conventions, break conventions or shocks people, but simply how much aesthetic value it has."


Jiekai on China's protests over Lee Hsien Loong's "private trip" to Taiwan:

"Basically I think we should tell the Mainlanders to fuck off. We've already
done our bit to recognise them as the One True Receiver Of The
Heavenly...er....People's Mandate To Rule The Middle Kingdom...er....Republic by not really letting the uh....breakaway rebel province of Taiwan have an embassy here, just a "representative office". That's what the government should tell them. ( Of course the clever folk the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wouldn't put these points in such harsh terms, but hey, that's what diplomatic verbiage is for =) )

There's really compelling reason for us to give these opportunistic bastards any face by grovelling and apologising simply because LHL caused *gasp*, a "great offence" by visiting Taiwan. Why should we give in? We're a sovereign state. If we give in on this point today, it won't be long before these vicious Communists demand that we stop doing military training in Taiwan.

It's disheartening to note that the government of the People's Republic is hardly less corrupt than its predecessors. It's sadder to understand that when it comes to championing freedom, democracy and truth, China's leaders are about the same level as most of the infamous despots, kings and emperors that China has had the misfortune to call its rulers through the millennia. It's disgraceful that the Chinese government continues to call for aggression against a free people when it denies these rights and freedoms to its own people. And it's utterly outrageous that the Chinese government should attempt to bully my country into submission simply because it doesn't agree with our foreign policy.

And no, I'm not going to apologise for causing any offence, especially to citizens of the People's Republic. Please don't reply by sending me nonsense like " You're an enemy of the Chinese race because you oppose a Unified China blah blah blah". Of course I oppose a unified China- if you discount the military threat that Taiwan faces (mostly the fault of the PRC government), I'd rather take my chances with Chen Shui Bian than with a bunch of unelected and utterly unaccountable cadres in Beijing. And yes, you can quote me on everything I've said."


Seen on Who lives near you?

"who i want to meet
no one. im wary of meeting people online. shoo shoo shoo all you people. shoo. just leave me be and let me be a voyeur. -breaks out into evil laughter-"

Mirth overtakes me. Someone is so cute funny.
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