When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Quote of the Post: "God: The grand justifier and legitimizer; the all-purpose, irrefutable justification, especially for hating and killing and feeling good about it." - Thomas Szasz

Random Playlist Song: Muppet - The Great Gonzo Eats A Tire To The Flight of the Bumblebee


Today was NUS's Rag day. I was originally pondering whether or not to go for it: on the one hand, last year's Rag Day was held in conjunction with NUS's National Day Observance ceremony, and given the date today, it was likely that this would be the case again this year. I was also not sure if I wanted to sit through more than 3 hours of modified flesh parade with accoutrements, accompanied by mass hollering, yelping and other excitements. On the other hand, though, given that I used to be so amused by non-modified Flesh Parade, I thought it might be worth my time going down to amuse myself by seeing other people make a fool of themselves for a change, and observe the exuberance of youth. Besides, by going down I would be supporting the efforts of Ah Ma, who has been working hard on Rag for at least the past month, and who was becoming delirious from lack of sleep last we spoke. I was considering bringing my camera, which has lain unused since my return from Down Under, but then I was quite sure that others would perform this task more than adequately.

So I dragged myself down to the NUS Sports and Recreation Centre, arriving to an already assembled crowd busy cheering its lungs out. I flitted from contingent to contingent, seeking a good vantage point, until PaRaDoX called me over to sit with him and the few USP-ers who were assembled at their designated area.

Of the assembled contingents, the largest were those from the halls. This wasn't surprising, really, since they had no escape. The hall gestapos had probably roamed their halls' corridors, turning reluctant inmates out forcibly, and those who went home, thinking that they would thus be able to escape their halls' wrath, would be in for a reckoning on Tuesday. No prizes for guessing which was the smallest contingent, given that most people who went were either sucked in by their halls or home faculties.

Some time was wasted letting the halls beat their chests and blow their trumpets, then the National Anthem was sung, the flag raised and the pledge said. And then the festivities commenced.

For the next 3 hours or so, the various faculties and halls put up their performances. Though they differed in specifics, most of them were essentially the same: Flesh Parade with many more guys, more cheapskate-looking costumes, floats (for most of the items), many props and buckets of body paint liberally splashed over every square inch of bare flesh. Practically all the dances were choreographed in the same style - inspired by hiphop and some other genres I do not know the names of, with energetic, quick and vigorous moves. Few dances involved slower, more measured and graceful moves.

As for the floats, which IIRC, all the groups but Law, Medicine and USP used, most were vaguely fantasy-themed, with one having paper mache models of a Centaur archer, a swordsman and another warrior. The costumes were mostly garishly bright, which is pretty standard for this kind of thing. I was amused, though, by how so many male performers had bra-like contraptions fixed around their chests, perhaps as a gesture of solidarity with the girls.

After all the halls had finished presenting their items, our Guest Of Honour - the President of Singapore - arrived. Security didn't seem too tight, though. Someone could just have walked behind the grandstand and lobbed a grenade into the crowd, and it might have taken him out. I wonder if he was stunned by all the loud music, cheering and dancing.

I didn't catch all of the performances, especially toward the end, as after a while I (and no doubt many others, who left halfway) tired from prolonged exposure to Singapore's debilitating heat (they should cut the intervals and make it start later and end earlier), got fed up with the incessant cheering and grew weary ('sian') of watching too many essentially similar dance numbers about struggles and fights between good and evil. I know that Literature teaches that an engaging story has to have a conflict, but somehow when people applied that principle to their rag dances, they all ended up with similarly-themed dances. Of those that I did watch, though, Medicine stood out, for it had dancing confectionary: Gingerbread Men, M&Ms and yellow Hershey's Kisses were attacked by a giant ant and its friends.

Perhaps noticing how many people were wilting from the heat, and how more than a few were surreptitiously leaving the area, the organisers got the hall groups to come forward and start singing and cheering. They played several popular tunes one after another, and the hall denizens were progressively whipped into a frenzy. As a friend put it, "everybody machiam like go clubbing". When they got to the Village People's "YMCA", everyone became very excited and during the chorus, sung along and each made the letters "Y-M-C-A" with assorted body parts. Given that, except for the not inconsiderable number of Yaoi fangirls, Singaporeans are generally homophobic, I found this quite amusing. Meanwhile, on the field, people were degenerating into a state of madness. On one side, people were linking hands to form a circle, and skipped around such that the circle rotated (alternatively, I could say that "everyone held hands, formed a circle, and moved perpendicular to the normal with regards to the center of the circle. Their angular velocity could be described as alpha = tangential acceleration divided by the radius of the circle"), then alternately ran towards each other to collapse the circle into a line, then ran outwards again to reform the circle. On the opposite end of the field, people had formed a human train headed by a guy holding a dragon's head, and were running around.

And then it was "the time that everybody has been waiting for". The end. Well actually it was the awards presentation ceremony, but that was just before the end, so that counts. There were what seemed like a million prizes, but I didn't get the names of most of them, no thanks to the incessant cheering of Biz Ad (which swept most of the awards), which drowned out the MCs. One award whose name I did hear was the award for "least cost" float, which stumped me. I could guarantee that I'd win this award next year, simply by constructing a really crummy - but cheap - float.

After the awards were presented, the President (of Singapore) took his leave, to Kit Chan's 1998 version of "Home" (I assume it was the 1998 version since I didn't hear the "young voices"). At this time, the Biz Ad people were still busy cheering, and they were in the middle of a really odd cheer which I had never seen before, which involved everyone doing a half-squat (and thus look like they were farting, probably at the other teams) on the cheerleaders' cues. Luckily, someone noticed that the President was leaving, so they paused the cheer just in time. After he had left, though, they resumed the cheer, and didn't accord the same courtesy to the President (of NUS) and his vice-presidents.

Pandemonium then resumed. Eusoff hall's residents did a victory lap around the track, but they looked drained and instead of screams, all that came out of their larynges were whimpers. Meanwhile, Biz Ad was still busy cheering away, and during one cheer with separate parts for each gender (Specifically, the Chinese-Hokkien cheer that roughly goes: "xxx de4 zha bor xi bei chio ah! Hyo de sio se, hyo de sio se! xxx de4 ta bor xi bei yan dao! Hyo de sio se, hyo de sio se! etc" which roughly translates as "xxx's girls are very pretty. *some hokkien curse* xxx's guys are very handsome! *some hokkien curse*"), the voices of the overwhelming number of shrill, anorexic, chinese-speaking ah lians really shone through. [Appendum: Critic 1 informs me that the cheer actually goes: "xxx de4 zha bor xi bei chio ah! Yo zi sa si, yo zi sa si! xxx de4 ta bor xi bei yan dao! Yo zi sa si, yo zi sa si! etc" which roughly translates as "xxx's girls are very pretty. One, two, three, four! xxx's guys are very handsome! One, two, three, four!"]

At one point, I saw one of my SMM instructors in an Arts Orientation Week T-shirt, but he didn't seem to recognise me (or want to acknowledge my presence).

Many people wilfully stood on plastic barriers, those labelled "Warning - this is not a safety barrier". I was wondering if (and secretly wishing that) one would collapse.

I only saw 1 girl in a tudung today. Not surprising, really, for given the heat, if more had showed up, the paramedic would have had to deal with more heatstroke victims than the 2 gingerbread men that my source saw him treating.

I doubt anyone paid royalties for using various music tracks. This isn't so important for the dime-a-dozen generic techno and ah beng dance tracks, but more so for the recognisable tunes, and songs from movie OSTs.

There were some stilt-walkers, but was really innovative was where they got a girl to sit on a guy's shoulders, and let the sides of her costume flow down so he was covered. Though I wondered how the poor guys breathed or saw.

Patch on going for rag: "oh. you have a CHOICE?"
NUS isn't that bad!

Someone from NTU on NUS's Rag: "nus seems more happening"

Someone on University Activities like Rag and Flag: "my senior was telling me after a couple of years you'll find some of these activities totally meaningless and start to question your involvement". Indeed, the meaning imputed to Rag and Flag is grossly inflated. I would say that these activities are organised as a productive (or non-destructive, at least) outlet for youthful energies, to occupy their time and help them make friends.

An advantage of doing a Philosophy module: Since almost all of these buggers are long dead, and died before copyright acts were enacted and repeatedly extended for the profit of evil corporations, we don't have to spend money buying their books; Plato's Euthyphro, Meno and Republic, Descartes' First and Second Meditations and Mill's On Liberty are all in the public domain.



"freshie = someone you can get fresh with"
i ain't a "hum sup senior"

apparently first year girls complain about hum sup seniors trying to get fresh with them

if you can read chinese, here's the official response

For the benefit of those whose Chinese is worse than mine, I shall attempt a very rough and abridged summary and translation:

Did NTU's Orientation Camp become too 'hot'? "It was only a game!"


"All orientation camps are dating camps, meant to excite us boys and girls. I feel that even if the activities during the camp were too 'hot', they were just for fun, and shouldn't have embarassed the girls or besmirched our reputation."

NTU's representative rebutted yesterday's Straits Times' readers who said that NTU's Sports Orientation camp was too "hot", the boys and girls groped each other too much, and were too daring. The boys were clearly trying to take advantage of the girls.

She said: "The letter writer talked about a girl pulling off a boy's swimming trunks, but verily: nothing of the sort happened. Our group of 10 - 5 boys and 5 girls - were being punished. The circumstances of our punishment were as follows: We were standing on the sea shelf (in the sea near the shore), with 5 boys at the rear, their backs facing 5 girls. While in the water, they took off their swimming trunks, and passed them to us, letting us give the trunks a good swing in the air, in the direction of other students. We then returned their swimming trunks to them for them to put them on. Everyone was simply having fun; a riotously good time. A lot of people were engaged in this manner of frolics on the sea shelf, and it was really nothing big.

The NTU Sports Club Orientation camp lasted from the 12th of July to the 18th, and was held at Sentosa, with 160 students, both new and old, taking part.

The Straits Times reader's letter also mentioned that the freshmen swam to Seletar Island with no safety precautions in place.

NTU freshmen 周诗薇 and 陈心怡 said this was a "sea crossing swim", and the distance was short, with the swim lasting only 15 minutes. All around were sampans and speedboats alongside the students as they swam, and there was a lifeguard too so safety was adequately taken care of.

周诗薇 said: "We played until we were very happy, and the student leaders were very concerned for and took good care of us. When we were playing games, even when we had to perform forfeits, if we didn't like the forfeits, we could choose others. All in all, camps are all about making friends through playing games, and I think other camps are also like this."

NTU's person in charge of student affairs said that however frisky the games got, the students never broke traditions. She said: "Young people like to play, in a moment of excitement, this sort of things may happen, and this can be understood and explained. This year, we specially gave the students a code of behavior, and asked them to respect others. I believe that in their games, they never denigrated anyone."


The Battle for Your Mind by Dick Sutphen - Persuasion and Brainwashing Techniques Being Used On The Public Today

This is a fascinating article, neatly giving voice to and confirming many suspicions that I have always had. An edited extract follows:

"How Revivalist Preachers Work

Most likely repetitive music will be played while the people come in for the service. A repetitive beat, ideally ranging from 45 to 72 beats per minute (a rhythm close to the beat of the human heart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state of consciousness in a very high percentage of people. And, once you are in an alpha state, you are at least 25 times as suggestible as you would be in full beta consciousness. The music is probably the same for every service, or incorporates the same beat, and many of the people will go into an altered state almost immediately upon entering the sanctuary. Subconsciously, they recall their state of mind from previous services and respond according to the post-hypnotic programming.

Watch the people waiting for the service to begin. Many will exhibit external signs of trance--body relaxation and slightly dilated eyes. Often, they begin swaying back and forth with their hands in the air while sitting in their chairs.

The "Voice Roll" Technique

A "voice roll" is a patterned, paced style used by hypnotists when inducing a trance.

Assured Continuation: Fleecing the Flock

When an eyes-open mass-induced alpha mental state has been achieved, they will usually pass the collection plate or basket. In the background, a 45-beat-per-minute voice roll from the assistant preacher might exhort, "Give to God...Give to God...Give to God...." And the audience does give. God may not get the money, but his already-wealthy representative will.

Bonding by Fear and Suggestion

In the last rally I attended, the preacher talked about the blood that would soon be running out of every faucet in the land. He was also obsessed with a "bloody axe of God," which everyone had seen hanging above the pulpit the previous week. I have no doubt that everyone saw it--the power of suggestion given to hundreds of people in hypnosis assures that at least 10 to 25 percent would see whatever he suggested they see.


Now those who want to be healed are frequently lined up around the edge of the room, or they are told to come down to the front. The preacher might touch them on the head firmly and scream, "Be healed!" This releases the psychic energy and, for many, catharsis results. Catharsis is a purging of repressed emotions. Individuals might cry, fall down or even go into spasms. And if catharsis is effected, they stand a chance of being healed. In catharsis (one of the three brain phases mentioned earlier), the brain-slate is temporarily wiped clean and the new suggestion is accepted.

A Game in Which the Rules Keep Changing

The use of hypnotic techniques by religions is sophisticated, and professionals are assuring that they become even more effective. A man in Los Angeles is designing, building, and reworking a lot of churches around the country. He tells ministers what they need and how to use it. This man's track record indicates that the congregation and the monetary income will double if the minister follows his instructions. He admits that about 80 percent of his efforts are in the sound system and lighting."

Of course it touches on non-religious mind control techniques too. The following is interesting:


Vibrato is the tremulous effect imparted in some vocal or instrumental music, and the cyle-per-second range causes people to go into an altered state of consciousness. At one period of English history, singers whose voices contained pronounced vibrato were not allowed to perform publicly because listeners would go into an altered state and have fantasies, often sexual in nature."


- BugMeNot.com - "Bypass Compulsory Web Registration

"I had an abortion" T-shirt - "The T-shirt helps to subvert the insidious silence that surrounds abortion and the shame that anti-choice extremists try to create around these personal choices and women who make them."

INTERVIEW: The Matrix Leeloaded Interview. Talkingcock questions the Archleetect on the coming leadership change.

Subservient President - "The Subservient President is a parody of Burger King's Subservient Chicken advertising campaign with a political twist. Instead of a guy in a chicken suit who will hop or do push-ups on command, The Subservient President reminds us that the current guy in the president suit will do whatever the oil industry or gas lobby tells him."

Quetzalcoatl: The Man, The Myth, The Legend - "Quetzalcoatl. We've all heard the name before. "He's that Feathered Serpent of Ancient Mexico". However, that only answers the WHAT. Ask, WHO he was, and you might get an answer along the lines of an unintelligble stare; or the standard response, "Yeah. He was the guy who was suppose to return from the East to reclaim his power, but the Indians mistook Cortés for him instead". Though it might seem a simple enough question, a far more involved and complicated answer is necessary."

Museum of Obscure Patents - "Yoga support system and method, US Patent No. 6,766,536 - Issued July 27, 2004."

Effect of ale, garlic, and soured cream on the appetite of leeches - "The Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association recently published an experimental study on the protective effect of garlic against vampires. Rather surprisingly, this study showed that garlic seems to have an attractive force on leeches (and probably also on vampires)."

Web Addiction Gets Conscripts Out of Army - "A number of Finnish conscripts have been excused their full term of military service because they are addicted to the Internet, the Finnish Defense Forces said Tuesday... 'For people who play (Internet) games all night and don't have any friends, don't have any hobbies, to come into the army is a very big shock'"
There *was* this guy who was diagnosed with Computer Games Addiction, as I recall

NakedText.com - The new face of art has no faces - "Ahh college, that time in a young person's life when they HAVE NO MONEY!!! So, what does one do if they and their friends have no cash, but simultaneously have an urge to create a new form of art (plus have a little fun doing so)? They make this site... You Paypal us... and your message shows up on our main page painted across whatever body part you bought and linked to the website you chose... The body parts that are currently for sale are: One female breast, Full female chest, A female butt, A male or female back"

On Hair Nazis - "In fact, my ultimate aim is this: I want to grow my hair till it reach my waist in thick, luscious curls that cascade down my sexy back."
The shoulder is enough for me.

Singles queue for man pillows - "Women of all ages have reportedly been rushing to buy their very own Boyfriend Arm Pillow - a snuggly alternative to the real thing... He comes with his own shirts for those who miss fussing over their man and one model has a vibrating alarm function to gently shake their sleeping beauty awake."

Christian dinosaur hunters dig for signs of Biblical dragons - It's amazing how some people can stare facts in the eye and blandly deny them

What, Me Register? - "I use a bogus identity (usually Margaret Thatcher) and a fake e-mail address. I usually list my birthday as 1/1/1970 (the beginning of the Unix era) and my ZIP code as 90210."

When I told them that I didn't drink alcohol because it tastes like shit, more than one person asked me if I had eaten shit before. Their deliberate misunderstanding of similes is very irritating.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Random playlist song: Muppets - Manamana


Got the router installed by the SCV technician today. Unfortunately, there was a breakdown in communication, and I forgot to tell my father what we were supposed to get, so instead of getting a free modem, router and wireless card with a 2 year subscription to MaxOnline 3000, we got only a free router. So much for an upload cap of 30kb/s.

No matter. For I can now perform unspeakable acts from the comfort of my room.

Nagging issues:

1) If I do not turn on wireless security like our dear friend linksys downstairs, can other people snoop around or otherwise do funny things with my system? I don't mind letting the neighbours leech off my bandwith, but I don't want them to get heart attacks when they see my pictures of Asian Prince, or of Quanxing posing naked.

2) How can I link my desktop and laptop in a network or, at the very least, share files between them?

3) WinXP's wireless connection authorisation/authentication options are pitifully limited, especially when compared to what the Intel PROSet for Wireless utility that comes with my notebook offers

a) Somehow I can't configure my desktop to connect to my router when I turn on wireless security, even if I enter the right WEP key. Damn WinXP. It has worked so far on the laptop, though. No wonder "linksys" is leaving his system open! I have thus decided, at least for now, to merely restrict access by MAC address. MAC addresses can be spoofed, but it's very hard to guess the right one to spoof.

4) How exactly does port forwarding or the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) work?

At least I can still use M$N IM to send/receive files. M$N is good for sending/receiving files. In fact, the only person whose M$N file transfers to/from me consistently fail is my sister. Whether that says something about her magic touch, or Cambridge's firewall, I leave it to the experts to argue over.

ICQ file transfer needed me to set up port forwarding before it worked, though.

My attempts to set up a home network have failed dismally. After fiddling with the Network Setup Wizard, and putting both laptop and desktop in the same workgroup, I used the laptop and clicked on my workgroup under Network Places -> Entire Network -> Microsoft Windows Network -> ~ and I got:

"~ is not accessible. You might not have permission to use this network resource. Contact the administrator of this network to find out if you have access permissions

The list of servers for this workgroup is not currently available."

Quote of the Post: "Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?" - Edgar Bergen

Random Playlist Song: Schumann - Kreisleriana, Op. 16 - 8. Schnell und spielend

"The title can be understood by Germans only. Kreisler is one of E. T. A. Hoffmann's creations, an eccentric, wild and witty conductor. You will like much about him."


First and foremost, I got treated to dinner by Tym today, so thanks be to her :)


Please welcome the latest member in a very big (but sadly almost totally inactive) list of posters: Anonvarstud Ingénieur


I realise that I know next to nothing about wireless networks or working with networks in general.

I seek a master to initiate me into their mysteries.


Someone: [On jailbait] You must introduce me to all these people

Me: But they won't be jailbait for much longer.

Someone: Because then they'll be legal


My system has been rebooting spontaneously sporadically. At first I was wondering if I had a wire loose on my motherboard, then I got a tipoff from Xephyris:

"i'm guessing if you're using windows XP, it BSODed and autorebooted is all
it's the evil new scheme by MS to make you think windows XP doesn't BSOD

did you check the "atuomatically restart" box in the contrl panel > system > advanced > startup and rcovery ?"

Bloody hell.


" Interesting observations. I have a terrible voice...so am interested in any ways to make for better songs.
What say I? I say you should listen to the music coming out of the Czech republic & Poland. The structure of the songs being made by these czechs & Pols is superior to any previous forms of music. If your opinion of "modern" music isn't changed by them, then you are just being stubborn, imposing yourself to old dead music only for the sake of seeming cultured or high-brow.
I agree that the pop music of the masses is always poor...because most people are tone deaf idiots. You must dig deep into the underground...that is where the talent lies,in the artists who make music for themselves not the fans."

So. Anyone has recommendations about which Czech and Polish artists to try? Though I find that the "you are just being stubborn, imposing yourself to old dead music only for the sake of seeming cultured or high-brow" comment smacks of hubris.


His Excellency Saparmurat Niyazov "Turkmenbashi", President of Turkmenistan

"He has established Turkmenistan's international prestige and has displayed concern for the people's well-being. Following his election, one of the first resolutions to be adopted was a decree on the free use of water, gas and electricity by the people of Turkmenistan.

As founder and president of the Association of Turkmens of the World, Mr. Niyazov holds the official title of Turkmenbashi, Leader of all Ethnic Turkmens.

Mr. Niyazov was awarded the Magtymguly International Prize for achieving the aim of Magtymguly, the great Turkmen poet and philosopher: the establishment of an independent state of Turkmenistan."

I have one guess as to the person who started the prize.


Skydiving Festival

"August 20th-22nd 2004
Precisely what people jumping out of airplanes has to do with Singapore declaring independence from Malaysia is anyone's guess. But jump they will, and often too: some 2,000 jumps are planned for this two-day festival."



We're now coming to the end of Orientation Week. While other faculties are organising plenty of games, activities and groping sessions, USP has a different set of activities.

On Wednesday, I saw the people in Arts Orientation Week, instantly remarkable by virtue of their red T-shirts, clustering in the school field shouting, screaming and gesticulating vaguely, if wildly. Perhaps some were close to falling to heat stroke, and perhaps others were groping and being groped, in their turn ("Grope and be groped" - what a great O Week motto *g*). Some people were elevated above the rest - on chairs perhaps, and there was general pandemonium. Meanwhile, I was on my way to the Raffles Museum of Biological Diversity. Perhaps I should have signed up with Arts O Week as well, to get the best of both worlds.

In any case, the museum visit was fun, inasmuch as a museum visit can be fun. The public exhibits were quite extensive, especially considering the limited floor space of the museum, and our guide, a graduate student, was lively, informative and fun. Among other things, there was a giantic mounted Japanese Spider Crab, and a huge stuffed Leatherback Turtle. And we were told about the road-infesting crabs on Christmas Island.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, we met our academic advisors. While some professors played hard to get, one was helpfully waving a sheet of paper with his name written on it.

After that, while audible from downstairs were the yelps of people playing Orientation Games (one of which I saw in progress later, where 3 girls wagged their fingers and derrieres in unison, and shouted at the rest of their Orientation Group, presumably cursing them) , we had talks about the Student Exchange Programme and related programs. Apparently NUS will freeze your CAP (Cumulative Average Points - equivalent of GPA) while you're on exchange. I thought they wouldn't want to adopt policies that encourage, even tacitly, you slacking while on exchange. Then again, they seem eager to send as many of us away as possible, so that they can receive more foreign students here on exchange and boast that we have students from more than 70 countries studying in NUS.

Registrar's Office Circular - 20th July 2004

"(2) Lifting of Compulsory SARS Module

As the global Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak had been effectively contained, the University has decided to lift the requirement that all students must read the module SSM1205 Nation’s Health: Lessons from SARS as a graduation requirement. Students who have yet to read this module are therefore no longer required to complete the module as a graduation requirement."

I am at a loss for words.

"[You are cordially invited to a talk on:]

Possible Future Trajectories of the Islamic Resurgence
by Prof Ibrahim Abu Rabi'
Professor of Islamic Studies, Co-Director
The Duncan Black Macdonald Center
For the Study of Islam & Christian-Muslim Relations

Date: 11 August 2004 (Wednesday)
Time: 4 pm to 6 pm
*Light snack (sic) will be provided.

About the talk
Islamic resurgence has evolved through various historical phases in the interaction between the Islamic world and Western civilization. In the last century, Islamic resurgence became the Muslim response to rapid westernization and post-colonialism. With globalisation and the new world order, further transformations of the Islamic resurgence would be expected in response to the emerging challenges. The speaker will discuss the premises and present day outcomes of the Islamic resurgence. Examining contemporary developments and emerging trends, he will map out possible future trajectories of the Islamic resurgence as it evolves and transforms within different political and socio-economic conditions in the Muslim world including minority Muslim societies."

Damn. I have a sociology lecture at that time. Yes, I *could* skip it, but I'm too guai to do that (imagine that).

More sordid tales of intrigue and betrayal:

"i've heard of how e best of friends can betray each other to get a better chance of getting 1st class honours
there's this story abt this gal who saw her best friend's thesis, saw a few loopholes pertaining to plagiarism issues and went to inform e prof abt it
in e end she caused her friend to lose her 1st class honours"

To say nothing of the ways that people scheme to manipulate COS in bidding wars, taking advantage of others' irrational exuberance.

Things you learn: "Nugyen" is pronounced as "win"

There are many Koreans in Kyrgyzstan because Stalin shuffled them around.

Uzbeks wear funny wigs when riding on horseback.

Words of advice: "you should learn to differentiate your stress and worries. cos u'll realise theres a lot of things to piss u off in NUS. then at least u can sort of trick yourself into thinking that these are all individual little problems, and not, like, one big fucking NUS problem. then u wont go throw yourself off some NUS building"


the Duck Queen (Dark)

the minced chicken in crap (crepe)

[Me on Orientation Week: Did you get groped today?] A little. Not much.

a learn man (learned)

This picture was taken many years ago. Now all of these people are fat and old. At least 10 years older.

plair'sih'bo (placebo)

[On citations] Stem cells. Stem cells came out in 2000... Everyone wrote papers on stem cells. Thousands of papers... For biologists, we're more laid back, so we cite further back. (As for, studies from)

[On eyes for stuffed animals] Even for humans, if you lose one eye, you can buy a marble eye

Like cockroaches are fun. You all know the American Cockroach. That's what you find at home... Pill-bug roach. When you disturb it it curls up. Very cute. They're good as pets.

A lot of people are disgusted by leeches, because they suck blood. But they have to make a living... You won't get AIDS, or what.

[On addressing professors] Most of us would prefer that you don't call us 'Sir' or 'Madam'.... 'Dr ***'. Or 'hi'. Or 'you'.

I went for 3 camps. USP [camp] was the worst.

artificats (written) (artifacts)

The Economist is better than Newsweek because it's British. Newsweek is American.

[On going on exchange] You pay NUS school fees. A: You spend your time in NUS. B: You spend your time elsewhere. Which would you rather?

You pay the money first. Then you realise it was well spent.

Let me tell you: If you persist in speaking Singlish, you're dead.

Even if you speak perfect English, they won't understand you. Because [when] they look at you, they think you're from China. They think you don't understand English... They speak very slowly.

Another reason you should go for 2 sems: 1 sem, you get to know this guy or girl. Just when you are steady-steady, you have to come back (go steady)

the purgering falcons (peregrine)

The first culture shock I had was in the toilet. The guy and girl toilets were communal... No doors: shower curtains... [Someone: For the first few months, every time I opened the toilet door I screamed. Guys!]

Do not be shocked if you hear strange noises coming from next door. It's very natural... Just don't eavesdrop

As we learned from Mediacorp, Chinese Tea is a good substitute for alcohol. You bring a bottle of Chinese Tea. You tell them it is Whiskey.

Travel advice. When you travel, the first thing you must look out for - toilets.

Banking is very important... From my own experience, it took me one whole month to open my bank account. And they got my name wrong.

IRO [International Relations Office] tells me that there is a lot of money around. You just have to look for it.

Since you travel halfway around the world, and people think you're from China, you might as well go to China

very old, mee'dee'veil (medieval)

If you need funding or moral support, the programme is always willing to help

[On presenting his travel pictures to students] I always have a lot of travel pictures, but nobody wants to see them... I have a captive audience

[On nomads] They catch a lot of foxes, and they hang them inside their tents... So cute

[On Uzekistan pictures] Sorry, I have a... fetish for cemeteries

The current leader of Uzbekistan likes to glorify Timur the Lame. Because Timur the Lame was very cruel. He's trying to justify his existence.

These are Uzbek children. Aren't they cute? ... [Especially] when you compare them to Singapore children (Singaporean)

You see these pre-historic buildings. I think they go back to Alexander the Great's era. (historic)

Every'hwhere you go in Turkmenistan you see big pictures of the Turkmenistan leader. He calls himself Turkmenbashi [Ed: "Leader of all Ethnic Turkmens"] (everywhere)

[On Saparmurad Niyazov, Turkmenistan's leader] He spends a lot of money building these grandeur'se buildings which are useless (grandiose)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Word of the day: "apotheosis"
It's been an inordinately long time since I was actively blogging here; however I promised Gabriel that I would do so of late.

Basically, life has undergone some rather traumatic changes of late. At first, I was tempted to collate some of the more outré events over the last 9 months, but upon going through my offline journals, I realised with a shudder that it would transform this blog into another one of those dysfunctional adolescent rants, no matter how I embellished or attempted to inject bonhomie into their depiction - a nauseating series of cliches which, however emotionally acute to the person experiencing it, degenerate into a sickening litany of self-pity when lovingly and masochistically put to type on a blog to be read. Particularly to an audience which is no doubt jaded by repeated narratives of suicide, self-mutilation, parental/adolescent generation gaps, orgies of alcohol, eulogies over the carcasses of relationships, elegiac paragraphs of existential angst, schadenfreude sentiments at the discomfiture of one's foes, romantic expressions of unrequited love, futile teenage glances, wardrobe anomalies, bitter rending of garments at the adulterous betrayal by a significant other, et al.

So I'll keep the "Story So Far" section as short as I can.

Basically, (and without a trace of irony), at a moment when I had resigned myself that I was going to plod on with my existence in a reasonably comfortable groove, having figured out how to limp my life around a variety of mental and situational disorders, I suddenly got a job offer in Singapore. And a pretty decent job at that.

At one blow, virtually every single one of my PULGs were achieved, although pleasantly enough the underlying context for them had ceased to become an issue.

Be that as it may, I can't say I wasn't (and even now) looking forward to the fairly tumultous changes entailed in having to move *back* to Singapore after approximately 10 years away. Frankly, at that point in time, my life had descended into such a rut that if I'd gotten a job training mine-laying monkeys in eastern Uganda, my only question would have been, "Do I get to share their bananas?"

Most of my last two months were spent gleefully handing over work to colleagues at my previous employer's. I must confess at this point that one of the most difficult moments in the transition was knowing that I'd have to build up professional relationships in a totally new working environment - I'd become extremely comfortable with my old colleagues, if not exactly the job or my department's top honcho. Perhaps that in and of itself was a sign to move on though.

At this point, however, I would like to thank my immediate line managers in a public forum for giving me a good reference which probably helped clinch my current job. I doubt you'll ever read this, either of you, unless your web-surfing habits are way more diverse than I was led to believe. But thanks for putting up with my incessant habit of playing with the stuffed rabbit during any limit breach.

In any event, my department head was determined to squeeze every last drop of work from me; I had actually listed out fourteen outstanding projects and tried to get as much progress on ALL of them as was humanly possible.

Then on the final fortnight, a sudden epiphany happened.

I was just told by the HR department how much I had to pay back the Bank (because of my stupid 3 months-notice-or-3-months-salary-in-lieu clause in the contract which my fucking boss refused to waiver). And when I held the memo which said that not only was my pay for July being withheld to cover the above, I had to top it up with about $2000, it suddenly dawned on me.

I was *paying* to work my last few days in KL.

That last fortnight, I flatly refused to do any work my boss assigned me. I just made excuses and stayed away from the office. My immediate colleagues and manager were actually quite supportive of that; so supportive that I actually felt guilty and spent some effort ensuring that the projects that would most affect them were smoothly handed over whereas others that the big boss wanted would just rot fallow in my absence. (although I *was* responsible enough to hand over all my notes and research to a colleague to warehouse in case those projects were resurrected)

Also on that last week, I spent virtually every night getting pissed drunk; because all of a sudden acquaintances and fair-weather friends I hadn't known existed were popping out of the woodwork asking to go for dinner, have drinks, etc. I'm not so cynical as to say ALL of them wanted me to help look for job openings (the word had gotten out by now that I was going to work in an international investment bank) - I'm sure SOME of them were sincere at least.

One thing's for sure, duck farmers make a HELL lot of money. (Went out for drinks with couple of friends, a friend of theirs dropped by, heard i was going to singapore, immediately ordered two bottles of cognac, then got his driver (HIS ie. not his family's) to fetch us all to a karaoke lounge and he paid for another 3 bottles, AND the girls, AND the mama-san actually treated him to another bottle. And yes, the guy who treated and paid for everything was a duck farmer - owns 25 duck farms in Malaysia and a slaughter house in Singapore - and he's like 5 years older than me)

The first week in Singapore was characterised by running around like MAD looking for a place to stay. It's basically a long and frenzied tale of poring through newspaper ads (Incidentally, it seems *impossible* to find a News Straits Times for sale in Orchard Road from 7:30pm onwards - a fact that caused me no end of frustration because the person I was staying with didn't have a subscription and I tended to forget to buy it in the mornings) calling agents, coordinating times, running from weird area to weird area, tearing my hair out in frustration at so many nice places outside my budget; or nice places within my budget but located in weird locations, etc etc.

My mother came down with me to "help" - while I admit she spotted things and asked questions I wouldn't have thought of - good ones; she also spent a lot of time criticising my choices and the way I was coordinating the timetables with the agents and insisting I squeeze in as much house viewing as I could while she was in singapore - while I was harried like mad trying to flit from place to place without spending too much of my dwindling supply of Singapore dollars. In fact, at one point, I thought she had left, so I went to see a place; and while I was there she called me and said she was postpoining going back, and insisted I keep the agent and the landlord of the house I was viewing there for half an hour while she caught a cab down to see the place herself ARGH.

Anyway, here were the choices of accommodation I was faced with for a while, and the factors I considered for each place. I wonder if I made the right choice in the end.

a) one bedroom apartment directly on top of Pearl Center in Chinatown. $1000.

Pros: DAMN convenient - less than 5 minutes walk to Outram Park MRT, damn lot of food around, being on top of shopping center with easy access 7-11 and lots of sundry, fruit, tailor, handphone shops, kopi tiams - (think Lucky Plaza type with way more cheena sleaziness), and, in the words of the agent who showed me the house: "very fang pian! come downstairs can mai hao ma already!" (buy numbers - Singapore Pools stand was just opposite the lift), well maintained, very nice kitchen, reasonably cheap for CBD flat.

Cons: lots of KTV and China girls hanging around (or is that a pro? My mom didn't see it that way...), damn small apartment - living room two thirds smaller than bedroom, turf club on the fifth floor of building not particularly reassuring, furnishing not that great, tiny toilet/shower, zero facilities, the damnation of neverending phone calls and nagging from my parents about the dangers of KTV girls if I actually decided to stay there

b) Beaumont - directly opposite PUB building located next to Somerset MRT (Devonshire Road). Open concept studio apartment (essentially a giant open rectangular room with a bed at the end). $1100

Pros: Damn near Somerset MRT, apartment with facilities (pool & gym), a balcony (for smoking), open concept means space is pretty maximised, reasonably sized kitchen, okay bathroom

Cons: Washing machine is not a dryer, bed and cupboard a bit old and lousy (although the other furnishings - sofa, table are quite okay), have to walk up a hill to get back home (okay i'm lazy:), tiny TV provided, apartment a bit old, no real convenience stores or sundry places around (nearest would be Centerpoint or the BP station a block away)

c) Seng Poh Gardns - somewhere near Tiong Bahru market. Pre-war converted shophouse; single open concept studio apartment on second floor. $1200

Pros: The absolutely nicest furnishings of all the places I'd seen - cream carpet, cool looking bed, frosted glass shower with damn nice showerhead and tiles, glass kitchen top with protruding metal basin, Ikea standard cupboards, chairs, table, the only place whose landloard provided a VCD machine, near acccess to a wet market (although slightly irrelevant as i didn't intend to do cooking), near soundproof pre-war walls, pretty large space (larger than the first two), also the juxtaposition of the intensely old fashioned facade (you enter through this narrow stone stairwell that's like a damned monastery, enter a corridor - at the far end is a stone spiral staircase leading down where you can see the rear courtyards of other shoplots in the same block) and the supermodern interior really strikes a chord with me - deception resonates with me:), the HDB estates have quite a few hardware and bric-a-brac stores around for my needs.

Cons: Not near MRT - have to cut through quite a few blocks of walking, tiong bahru a bit out of the way for city access, difficult parking for visitors who drive, a bit steep for a place located somewhat out of the way with zero facilities, washing machine is not cum-dryer, only electric hot pot provided - no gas cooking.

d) Liang Seah Place - basically another reconverted conservation house (ie. old shophouse converted to bucolic apartment - expats love those). Two options at this place - one was a one-room set up essentially a double hotel room (not suite) for $1200, another one a pretty large one bedroom for $1600 - slightly out of budget. Also a split level for $2200 - way way out of budget. Pros and cons below describe the cheapest option Pros: Pretty near Bugis MRT (located opposite Parco on Beach Road side), very cute place, provides a safe(!), has a gym, large TV, willing to pay for SCV, nice view of huge old tree and playground outside window, lots of great food around downstairs, nice hotel room style furnishings, toilet with bathtub

Cons: Small, horrible veneer smell pervading place, have to walk damn far out into the corridor to the rubbish chute, no washing machine-cum-dryer in the apartment - have to walk out to a nearby one in the gym. (weird place for a washing machine i know), no gas cooking allowed in room (only electric hot pot)

e) Weird place on Race Course Road - $1100, open concept studio on top of Indian fishhead curry restaurant.

Pros: Next to Farrer Park MRT station (the new northeast line), lots of good Indian food around,(banana leaf rice and mamak stalls galore!), pretty new development, cool hydraulic car park.

Cons: Fucking neh-vana, very domi-neh-ted (just out of Little India!!!), no-neh to hide, (yes i delight in racist jokes, like all of you. Strangely enough, I don't see a dichotomy between having friends with individuals while still harbouring racist sentiments), smell of fishhead curry pervading apartment, hideously small (even smaller than (a)!!!), crappy furnishings, crappy old microwave oven, the whole apartment having a feel of a movie where the misunderstood anti-hero is fleeing the law and has to hole up in some slum apartment with a bottle of Jack Daniel's in a brown paper bag - despite being new.

f) Hollywood Gardens on Oxley Rise. Next to the old Je t'aime jewellers and Church of the Sacred Heart. Low-rise walk-in on the 7th floor. $1300

Pros: ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NONE. THE MOST HIDEOUS PLACE I SAW. let me describe my visit to this place. my mom and i got there, we were waiting for the agent. agent pulls up in a mercedes, darts out of his car, runs up stairs motioning us to follow, we follow, not knowing it's on the fucking top floor of the low rise, pass by shut and paclocked doors on the 4th, 5th and 6th floor (the padlocks were rusted through), and as we hit the apartment the agent shouts, "i'm rushing somewhere, close the door when you're done.." and then he darts back past me and my mom down the stairs, and into his mercedes, and as we his car pulls away, we enter the house and spot all the Cons below..

Cons: Far from MRT, far from bus stop (the nearest on Clemenceau Avenue isn't exactly on a lot of bus routes) rotting furniture, curtains like cobwebs, dust everywhere, walking up 7 fucking floors, zero facilities, twenty year old development, padlocked apartments all around making the place feel like The Shining, not particularly large, insane asking price, positively negative fengshui, generally freaked us out and we were out of there in 5 minutes.

g) Sofia Court - behind Peace Centre. One bedroom apartment going for $1200

Pros: The largest of the apartments I'd seen, decent furniture, very nice marble tiled bathroom, apartment with a pool, fully equipped kitchen, old but well maintained development, convenient access to Cold Storage in Peace Center, lots of cabinet space,

Cons: Damn bloody far walk down Sofia Hill, through Peace Center, cutting across Bencoolen Road to Selegie Road to take a bus down to my office, all that extra space a hindrance to maintain, generally pretty boring area to live in without anything of interest around.

h) Club Street - one bedroom conservation house apartment above a Spanish restaurant. $1450. Directly opposite China Square.

Pros: Nice parquet floor, good furnishing, large TV, toilet with bathtub, pretty comprehensive sundry mart just across the road (servicing the far more expensive Emerald Court apartment complex), washer cum dryer, surprisingly quiet behind double glazed windows, lots of yuppie eateries around, generally cool "expat" type place in heart of city area, comprehensively furnished with washer cum dryer, clothes hanging area, cupboard space, decent bed, fully equipped kitchen, nice sofas, rubbish chute in apartment, basically the most "yuppie expat" looking place in terms of location and general ambience. (the tiong bahru one being a very close second but only in terms of interior furnishing)

Cons: Top end in terms of budget, not the most convenient in terms of walking distance to MRT (nearest being Raffles Place), later was told Club street is a gay area (although that means I can pimp my ass if i need rent money), irritating hidden cost of having to pay $10 every month to service the air conditioning, no facilities, the only place that insisted on a 2 year lease, virtually no security.

There were actually a few other places I saw, but nothing particularly notable about them, other than their location (near Novena and Newton, and one in Balestier Road) The rest of the pre-work week, other than the Kafka-esque hunt for a house, was occupied by fucking bureaucratic hassles - getting my utilities account, getting a health check up (x-rays, blood test), signing the tenancy agreement, going to my new bank and being given ANOTHER huge form to fill up, photocopying CFA books (there's another Bleak House story with regards to the CFA books which I stupidly shared with a friend in Malaysia, leading to issues regarding their division once I'm working in Singapore), and right now, having to arrange for cable, handphone, fixed line, and broadband, moving the last of my stuff from KL (with much heart-rending pain, sanity prevailed and my father convinced me that I couldn't ship ALL my books down) and double ARGH finding out that i'm going to be taxed flat 15% of income for 2004 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WHAT THE FUCK) simply for being a foreign resident working in Singapore for less than 183 days in the year.

Off-tangent observation - aunties and tai tais seriously know a LOT about real estate. when i was searching the classified ads for apartmetns for rent, my mom and her friends could like identify the locations and pros and cons of virtually ANY apartment estate I named out loud.

Hm, this blog will have to continue later, as the cybercafe (which took me 2 days to locate, where the hell are they when you need one?) I am currently tapping on for my Internet fix is about to close. And my Malaysian mobile phone on roaming can't dial bloody Citysearch.

(reminder to self before weekend) Things to blog about:

-Trip with Gabriel to NUS + observations
-First week living alone again
-The joys of Ikea shopping
-The Catch-22 of needing a bank account to get a mobile phone + SCV, but not being able to open a bank account without a local contact number....
-Observations about anal security guards and mile high compliance manuals in new workplace.
-Scary evil new boss
-Making faces during conference calls
-Amusement that three of my old secondary schoolmates are actually in jail
-The not so joys of having to rebuild life from scratch with regards to personal independence
-Supper with Ivan near the Indian temple
-preparation for all night chor tai dee sessions

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Quote of the Post: "The best defense against the atom bomb is not to be there when it goes off." - Anonymous

Random Playlist Song: Aled Jones - Puff the Magic Dragon

"Some people believe the song, "Puff the Magic Dragon" is about drugs, others believe it is simply about lost childhood. Whatever your opinion, you must admit that hearing this song will certainly take you back to the Sensational Sixties!"



"Also, bras are worse than ties. For most occupations you are not required to wear a tie anyway."

I suppose you've worn both, but I don't think you've such a small neck, so ties aren't as uncomfortable for you as they are for me. As for bras, I don't know about our relative chest sizes, so :)

I thought most males who worked in air conditioned workplaces wore ties?!

Sharp VCRs suck. Their interfaces are cumbersome and counter-intuitive.

I got my IBM T42 today. Yay. Only thing is, wireless access in school is rather spotty. It isn't a problem with my built-in network card, though, since I am currently leeching off "linksys"'s wireless network at home. What a kind soul. Heh.


It seems A Girl's Guide to College: Making the Most of the Best Four Years of Your Life includes a paragraph from Joy Chia :0

Though Dino Ignacio closed his site down long ago, his legacy lives on, continued by others who have picked up the torch. Meanwhile, we have: Bert, the Sesame Street muppet, appears on posters carried by supporters of Osama bin Laden - "Eh? Is that really Bert, the irascible muppet partner of Ernie on TV's Sesame Street, peering over the left shoulder of Osama bin Laden in the poster shown below? How did he get there?"

Singapore Wants You! - "Singapore works as a company... When a decision is made to support life sciences, the government can provide billions in funding, build 2 million square feet of life science space in the middle of town, and change the curriculum of all schools to incorporate it."
We don't just work as a company. We *are* a company.

War against apathy - "Many professionals feel that their ideas and suggestions make little or no difference to policies. The authorities, they believe, will invite public feedback, listen, but often reject them. Another is a fear, often exaggerated, that after a long authoritarian rule, critics will be punished for saying or doing the wrong things. So, it's better to leave it to the government, they say. Just carry on with one's own lives."
They complain that people are apathetic, but promise to *demolish* opponents of the government. Really, you can't have it both ways.

John Kerry's convention "salute" brought out some amusing comparisons - Heh.


CSI: Reality (Source: JumboJoke)

At the 1995 annual awards dinner given by the American Academy for Forensic Science, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizzare death. Here is the story.

"On 23 March 1994, The medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound of the head. The decedent had jumped from the top of a ten-storey building intending to commit suicide (he left a note indicating his dispondency). As he fell past the ninth floor, his attempt on his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter not the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide anyway because of this."

"Ordinarily," Dr. Mills continued, "a person who sets out to commit suicide ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended."

That Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to homicide. But the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

"The room on the ninth floor whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing and he was threatening her with the shotgun. He was so upset that, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife and the pellets went through the window striking Opus."

"When one intends to kill subject A but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. When confronted with this charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. The old man said it was his long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her -- therefore, the killing of Opus appeared to be an accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded."

"The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal incident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother."

The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

Here was an exquisite twist.

"Further investigation revealed that the son (who in fact was Ronald Opus) had become increasingly dispondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten-storey building on March 23, only to be killed by the shotgun blast through the window."

The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

Editor's note: The above is strictly fiction


solsetur on pussies:

"The problem with having cats in your estate, is that they get all horny at night.

Horny, then they start making lots of noise. Experienced that before? The place I live being a private estate, means that unless somebody actually gets really pissed and goes on a crusade drowning/spaying all cats within the compounds, we have to put up with weird nocturnal habits from the cats occasionally. So after one of the residents go on a rampage we'll have peace for a while, till some sentimental cat lover abandons their darling Kitty, unspayed.

Then you have a week-long session of nightly weird and loud moaning.

It's a mystery how I learnt that the cats were to blame. Did my parents go 'oh, the cats are getting hot and bothered for some torrid street sex' to me when I was 7?

FUCK. It's really some orgy down there. Just now some cat was just going on-and-on-and-on as if it was masturbating itself. Now I can hear a symphony of snarling and, uhm. Cat-tish moaning. There's at least 2 cats - that's torrid sex action tonight for sure. Thank goodness my window faces the main road - cats are down in the valley. My poor parents and neighbours! (So what if you got nice chalet-window view and me, lots of tar and tarmac? I get sleep tonight!!)"

I hate pussies too :)

Monday, August 02, 2004

Quote of the Post: "Most people have seen worse things in private than they pretend to be shocked at in public." - Edgar Watson Howe

Random Playlist Song: Holst - I Vow to Thee, My Country (The Last Night Of The Proms Collection)

Unfortunately, I do not feel the same way about my country.


I don't know what my mother's problem is.

My father asked me what time I needed to go to school tomorrow, and I said that it would depend on if I got a call tonight (because I needed to find out if my OG was going for Flag).

Then my mother had to chip in with the comment, delivered in a sardonic tone to boot, that if Screwed Up Girl called me, I would go. Considering that there is nothing going on between me and Screwed Up Girl, and that this is assuredly not the first time that she has seen fit to deliver irrelevant and incendiary comments of this nature, I wonder if she is doing to me what she often accuses other people (read: me) of doing to her: provoking me.

A short while later, when I ignored her question about my getting a new school bag so as not to start shouting at her, she said I was becoming "very rude". When I pointed out that she had just pissed me off, she ignored my point and then complained that I sometimes responded to her queries, on my leaving the house, about my destination with the word: "Out". Of course, my reply was that this was only (okay, mostly) so because I had a good teacher: her. I should have added that past experience has been that when I do tell her where I'm going, who I'm meeting and what I'm doing, I will be subjected to a barrage of snide remarks, unwanted comments and unwarranted criticisms, as well as a question I can't always answer: namely, when I will return. Her parting shot: I'm becoming like one of her Hendersonians.

No wonder people can't wait to move out (to a hostel, or otherwise).


Today was NUS's Freshmen Inauguration Ceremony. Most people, in their right minds, would not have gone for it, but we were all told that the freebies were very good, so the University Cultural Centre was rather full (though the third level was empty).

We sat through the usual: seeing the senior staff parade in their academic gowns, complete with odd-looking headgear, and listening to speeches. In one, we were told that NUS and its forebears had produced and were producing the Nation's finest leaders, civil students, engineers, doctors, lawyers and such. Odd, for I thought that the Nation's finest were all on PSC Scholarships to Ivy League Universities or Oxbridge. We were also given glowing and inspiring speeches (and later watched videos) about igniting our passion and realising our dreams. Great stuff, but meaningless if you have neither passion nor dreams.

We were also led in taking the NUS Students' Pledge by the President of the Student Union. True to form, NUS's Students Pledge is very Asian in character, talking about students fulfilling their potential and carrying out their responsibilities to society and the nation!

Oh, and the NUS choir performed. They weren't very good, though.

NUS's module registration system, CORS, will not let us register for modules which have conflicting lecture slots. I find this strange, for they have webcasted some modules' lectures in the past, and will surely do so in the future.

Furthermore, there is their rhetoric about their "NUS Global Campus", "an initiative to enable NUS to fully exploit IT for teaching, learning, research and administration" [emphasis mine]. What better way than to save students time and free up Lecture Theatres by webcasting lectures, especially popular ones? After all, it's not like students don't skip lectures that they do not feel like attending anyway. Hell, my friend is already "attending" lectures by viewing their webcasts, albeit only because CORS screwed up and let me take modules with concurrent lectures.

Ideally, we would have web-based tutorials too, at least some of the time, but we may not yet be ready for that step as not everyone has the requisite hardware at home.

NUS buildings all look very drab from the outside, being painted mostly in dull shades of grey. They should repaint the building exteriors with cheerful colours, or maybe let loose aspiring graffiti artists/mural makers on them.

Occasionally, I feel quite bad - so far I haven't done anything for/with my home faculty. Ivan on O Week - I should have gone, then I would be able to play station games involving worms!

I'm very gey kiang (Hokkien for trying to be too smart). In trying for a 4 day week, I miscalculated and now I'm stuck in a bidding war. Whee.


These range over quite a wide range.

This sounds rather official, doesn't it? 'Singapore: the making of a nation'... Don't worry, there's no attempt to put forward the People's Action Party's viewpoint in this module.

Not that I want to watch all these silly TV programs... I accidentally come across them when changing channels. They're so silly I can't resist watching them... The most silly programs are the dating shows.

One of the benefits of having a university education in Singapore, as you might know, is that you are automatically a member of the SDU (Ed: Social Development Unit - a dating agency for graduates)

You're not dating for fun. You're looking to settle down. Maybe produce future scholars.

[On past USP projects and dating] There are some, like counter-terrorism, that don't seem very relevant, but if you change a few names, use your imagination... Dealing with your in-laws.

... Evolution. Definitely useful for understanding why your partner is in such a primitive state. Those are the modules that are relevant for love, dating and marriage.


A: i'm bothered by groups of people that don't like to mix with others outside their race. as well as those that speak loudly with disregard for others

B: sorry. but that seems to describe malays?

A: ah, and now you know why i don't have that many malay friends. tho my best pal is malay


Someone on PGP (Prince George's Park residences) vs halls:

Friend: what i can't stand, is being forced/obligated to take part in hall ccas

advantages [of hall]? less privacy, more interaction, over half the people prc/indians, little time to study. hmmm.

pgp is hall without eca, more privacy (which cld be bad) and lots of space to manage your own time

and a common, and advantageous (for me) misconception: pgp does NOT cost more. it only looks like it costs more cos it's like a high class condo styled after an italian seaside town

crash-ees are welcome, though the rooms are minute. charges begin at 1 introduction to a hot female friend. lol


Someone said that one quality he admired in me was that I’ve been updating my site all these years, and that he’d never have the drive to do that. I am amused: I’ve never quite thought of it that way. I thought that I’ve been updating it because I have nothing better to do.


AcidFlask has come up with an extended version of the discourse on why Life Sciences in Singapore has no future.

"singapore's fiscal policies can be loosely summarized as throwing billions of dollars into the air, then telling the world's major companies that there is free money up for grabs. hopefully along the way the uneducated, unwashed and inferior local populace will be able to learn something in the process. presumably by induction."

Brother in law: "This is just rubbish. That's what teenagers write. And you can quote me on that."


Same Sex Parenting

The Canadian Justice Department undertook a study on this very issue as an impact assessment on the proposed Canadian same-sex marriage legislation.

To the surprise of just about everyone, the study showed that the children of gay and lesbian parents may have an advantage over other children. These children have more positive role models because their parents tend to have more supportive and egalitarian relationships with more equal division of labour.

Also, gay fathers tend to be better than heterosexual fathers in exhibiting authoritative parenting techniques with clear limitations, in addition to warmth, affection, and support.

There is one major caveat to the study in that it is relatively unrepresentative - the socioeconomic class of most of those currently involved in long term same-sex relationships with children means they are well educated and financially secure.

But as things stand right now, parenting skills is not an argument against same sex marriage.


Sunday, August 01, 2004

Quote of the Post: "If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can't be done." - Peter Ustinov

Random Playlist Song: Prince of Egypt - The Plagues (Let My People Go)


Supposedly, it is good for a high proportion of your country's citizens to own their homes. This gives them ready collateral for loans, a cushion against volatile rental fees, a sense of security and belonging and possibly an investment that appreciates with time (though given that the housing bubble in many countries seems ridiculously inflated and ready to burst, that might not hold true today).

However, the thing is that homes in Singapore cost so much that you will have to spend the next 20-30 years paying off your mortgage, and you will thus be tied down to Singapore.

So the drive to encourage home ownership in Singapore could just be a way to prevent people from becoming "quitters". Imagine that.


After a round of bidding, I have gotten all 5 of the modules I bid for... for 1 point each. Maybe there're good reasons why those modules (or at least the lecture slots I went for) aren't in demand. I am also stuck with a 5 day week, mostly thanks to the vagaries of USP module timings (since almost all USP modules have 2 classes a week). Boo hoo. Then again, someone else tells me that he has a 6 day week, and I wouldn't want to take modules solely to furnish myself with a nice timetable, so. At least in a 5 day week, no school day will be too tiring, and I have no bright ideas about what to use the spare day for. No matter - there's always next semester.

"I thought NUS halls are more like prisons" - Brother in law

"have you been to eusoff/temasek? the corridors look like tt of an asylum
grey doors with metal handles... dark corridor... quite scary" - Someone Else

Benjy tells me that in NTU, you can get 3 AUs (Academic Units - their equivalent of NUS's Modular Credits) from joining the choir or guitar ensemble. Wah.

He also tells me that he has a friend (who doesn't even stay in the NTU halls) who wore a pair of jeans for 2 weeks. He said that the feeling was "very shiok".


I went for The A Capella Society's "A CapellaFest 04" concert at ACS (Barker) yesterday. Now, this isn't usually my sort of thing, but Benjy was desperate for someone to accompany him, and promised that he would answer some awkward (heh heh) questions of mine in return for my company. Though he evaded them in the end. Bloody hell.

Anyhow, I hadn't attended a concert featuring Singapore a capella groups for quite some time, and needed a reminder of why I disliked modern a capella music. I may not have enjoyed the content of the performances, especially not the mouthdrumming and gimmicks (one group had 2 of their members start dancing during a song, for example), but I appreciated the technical mastery (some of) the performers displayed.

Our tickets (in row 6 of the stalls) cost $28, inclusive of a SISTIC handling fee. In view of the venue and the performers, both of us felt that it was rather overpriced. This was partially made up for (depending on your point of view) by the concert's length - concerts put up by amateurs usually last about 2 hours, but this one was 3 hours long, and ended close to eleven o'clock. So as you could imagine, it was quite tiring, since not all the performers were good.

Benjy wasn't very impressed by the lack of skill of some of the performers either, so he periodically commented to me about how many groups were messy, and how many redundant singers each group had. On my part, I was almost as irked by how some of the performers used the word "wrote" when they meant "arranged" - one member of In-A-Chord claimed that one of them had "wrote" the song "Ice Kachang", for example, when it had actually been written by Dick Lee, in his persona as the Mad Chinaman.

One group, ngam, did a medley of 1980s Cartoon Theme Songs (Care bears, Gummi bears, My Little Pony, Transformers and the like). Given that half the audience looked to be in secondary school still, this wasn't wise, for they probably hadn't watched most of the cartoons (except for Pinky and the Brain, the sole 90s cartoon).

Towards the end of the concert, a group of primary school kids in uniform, who had come in a group on a chartered bus, left early. Some of the performers than took their places. I guess no one told that school that the concert would last for 3 hours. Maybe their parents didn't want them to stay up past their bedtime. Or maybe it was a conspiracy by the performers so that they would get places to sit. How cunning of them.


Celebrity 18th birthday countdowns have long been the rage

"Since the days when Shirley Temple steered the Good Ship Lollipop through puberty, fans have been meticulously dissecting the first kisses, first signs of breasts and first romantic encounters of our nation's most popular female child actors.

Was any straight male free of impure thoughts when Elizabeth Taylor (turned 18 on Feb. 27, 1950) officially became a woman? Wasn't it the baby boomers who counted down the seconds to the 18th birthday of Annette Funicello (Oct. 22, 1960)?

And try this fact on for size: Between 1982 and 1985, no less than three major label artists -- including Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Aerosmith and Eric Clapton -- recorded or released different songs titled "Jailbait.""

Microsuck | What's So Bad About Microsoft?

The Enlightened Despot - "For some years, some biologists have argued that there was a 7th day of creation, during which God thought about his prototypes and finally made the crowning glory of his creation here on Earth: the giant squid... The world was created as a habitat for the giant squid. Humans were put here to control the large predators that would otherwise bother the giant squid. We are programmed to ignore the giant squid, and to not take actions that would harm them."

Methods of Media Manipulation, by Michael Parenti - "Their job is not to inform but to disinform, not to advance democratic discourse but to mute it, telling us what to think about the world before we have a chance to think about it for ourselves. When we understand that news selectivity is likely to favor those who have power, position, and wealth, we move from a liberal complaint about the press's sloppy performance to a radical analysis of how the media serve the ruling circles with much skill and craft."
I think he's being paranoid, but nonetheless his points are worth bearing in mind

10 Truths About Trade - Hard facts about offshoring, imports, and jobs



Search referrals:

NB: I have long been struck dumb by my search referrals. Nevertheless, I am daily exposed to new depths of depravity and some of the following puzzle me. I would appreciate if someone could explain the search referrals which I have bolded below. You can leave a comment at the end of the post, or use this form.

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Keira Knightly Breast Pics - There won't be very much to see.


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Pringles Haram or Halal - Apparently Emulsifier 471 (and some others) contains pork fats. On a bulletin board, someone commented: "all i can is is that all u guys r over acting. no need to be that particular. eat what u want except PORK and alcohol. and concentrate more on relevant things in life". Indeed :)

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ACJC school uniforms photograph - You'll have a better chance on Webshots.

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"milo van" photo - They sent one to NUS's matriculation. Wah.

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JC girls zhao geng - They misspelled the word!

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Substitutes for Sunsilk shampoo in rural India - I didn't know that the brand was so highly regarded.

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list of halal food caterers by MUIS in sg - I thought that all of them were Halal. Next time, I might set up a food catering company myself, billing it: "The last non-Halal catering in town" (in a conscious reference to the one that proudly proclaims that it was "the first Halal catering in town)

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Quote of the Post: "People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it's safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs." - Unknown

Random Playlist Song: Edward Elgar - Unaccompanied part-songs op.26-1 - The Snow (University of Nebraska Women's Chorale)


The email I sent to elgar.org in mid-May asking about the lyrics of The Snow (since I only ever sang the desecrated Chinese translation) finally was replied to. Apparently it'd "resurfaced from under a pile of others".

The Snow

O snow, which sinks so light,
Brown earth is hid from sight,
O soul, be thou as white,
As white as snow

O snow, which falls so slow,
Dear earth quite warm below;
O heart, so keep thy glow,
Beneath the snow.

O snow, in thy soft grave
Sad flow’rs the winter brave;
O heart, so soothe and save,
as does the snow.

The snow must melt, must go,
Fast, fast as water flow.
Not thus, my soul, O sow
Thy gifts to fade like snow.

O snow, thou’rt white no more,
Thy spark’ling too, is o’er;
O soul, be as before,
Was bright the snow:

Then as the snow all pure,
O heart be, but endure;
Through all the years full sure,
Not as the snow.

                                  C. Alice Elgar

Actually the Chinese desecration translation we sung wasn't too bad. But just imagine, say, the Chinese national anthem sung in Swahili. Good though the translation might be, it still wouldn't be right.


It seems that I am not the only one faced with NUS sian-ness syndrome (one reason why entries have been scarce of late). Aine puts it best:

"Don't make me go back to school, please.
You know that feeling you get when you spend six to seven months basically doing nothing but playing and dabbling and wishing in a random way for something to do, and then you look up and realise that you do have something to do and it's starting soon but you don't really know if you want it to? I'm having that feeling now. Yeah."

It's worse if you've been relatively inactive intellectually for 32 months, and have been feeling anti-social recently. I suppose it'll get better after school starts.



"I dislike wearing clothes designed for females only because they tend to be uncomfortably tight... I appear to one of the last female acquaintances of my age group still hanging on to comfort as the foremost axiom of attire, the rest having long succumbed to peer and hormonal pressures."

What a rare and spunky soul.

Female fashion is such a hoot. The only thing I have to worry about is ties. Damn ties.

"If men can run the world, why can't they stop wearing neckties? How intelligent is it to start the day by tying a noose around your neck?"


Pseudo-personality test

I remember being given something almost exactly like this by Mr Hogan in Sec 1 during an Oral Communications class. The course was supposed to be conducted by a Denyse Tessensohn, whose book we were forced to buy, but we rarely saw her so it was left to the other teacher, Mr Hogan, to fill in most of the time, and he was much better and more entertaining than her. Of course, Melvin Tay screwed up the test by giving answers like: "I saw 2 Indian lesbians chasing each other around a coconut tree", so the test didn't bode very well for him.

I was actually going to spoof it, but the test was so silly (and the results to vaguely connected to your answers) that I decided that it was already a subtle spoof of itself and personality tests in general. So I present, in its stead, the Oreo Personality Test:

Psychologists have discovered that the manner in which people eat Oreo cookies provides great insight into their personalities. Choose which method best describes your favorite method of eating Oreos:

1. The whole thing all at once.
2. One bite at a time.
3. Slow and methodical nibbles examining the results of each bite afterwards.
4. In little feverous nibbles.
5. Dunked in some liquid (milk, coffee...).
6. Twisted apart, the inside, then the cookie.
7. Twisted apart, the inside, and toss the cookie.
8. Just the cookie, not the inside.
9. I just like to lick them, not eat them.
10. I don't have a favorite way because I don't like Oreos.

Your Personality:

1. "The whole thing."
This means you consume life with abandon, you are fun to be with, exciting, carefree with some hint of recklessness. You are totally irresponsible. No one should trust you with their children.

2. "One bite at a time."
You are lucky to be one of the 5.4 billion other people who eat their Oreos this very same way. Just like them, you lack imagination, but that's okay, not to worry, you're normal.

3. "Slow and Methodical."
You follow the rules. You're very tidy and orderly. You're very meticulous in every detail with every-thing you do to the point of being anal-retentive and irritating to others. Stay out of the fast lane if you're only going to go the speed limit.

4. "Feverous Nibbles."
Your boss likes you because you get your work done quickly. You always have a million things to do and never enough time to do them. Mental breakdowns and suicides run in your family. Valium and Ritalin would do you good.

5. "Dunked."
Every one likes you because you are always up-beat. You like to sugar coat unpleasant experiences and rationalize bad situations into good ones. You are in total denial about the shambles you call a life. You have a propensity towards narcotic addiction.

6. "Twisted apart, the inside, and then the cookie."
You have a highly curious nature. You take pleasure in breaking things apart to find out how they work, though not always able to put them back together, so you destroy all the evidence of your activities. You deny your involvement when things go wrong. You are a compulsive liar and exhibit deviant, if not criminal, behavior.

7. "Twisted apart, the inside, and then toss the cookie."
You are good at business and take risks that pay off. You take what you want and throw the rest away. You are greedy, selfish, mean, and lack feelings for others. You should be ashamed of yourself. But that's ok, you don't care - you got yours.

8. "Just the cookie, not the inside."
You enjoy pain.

9. "I just like to lick them, not eat them."
Stay away from small furry animals and seek professional medical help - immediately.

10. "I don't have a favorite way, I don't like Oreo cookies."
You probably come from a rich family, and like to wear nice things, and go to up-scale restaurants. You are particular and fussy about the things you buy, own, and wear. Things have to be just right. You like to be pampered. You are a prim.


Turning the tables on Nigeria's e-mail conmen - "Our ministry was founded in 1774 by a wonderful lady by the name of Betsy Carrington... a test she had to remove the top part of her clothes and paint the top half of her body and breast with the red Masai war-paint as a gesture of faith and belief to them so that they would accept her and trust her. She was almost immediately accepted by them and was one of the most trusted westerners known at that time. As a qualification to enter the Holy Church of The Order of The Red Breast, all followers must go through the initiation procedure"
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