When you can't live without bananas

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I'm not fainting yet. Soon, maybe. I shall see how my shopping trip tomorrow turns out, and whether my carbon arc lamp prototype works first before fainting.


Guest editorial:

if u've been watching channel 8, u'd have noticed the insidious high amount of propoganda creeping into our tv programs.. many channel 8 drama serials are now sponsored by organisations like nkf and ntuc, particularly the former. As we all know, organisations sponsor shows so they can shamelessly plug their products during commercials but in the case of these 2 organisation, there havent been any commercials (obvoiusly!) but then of course, there's no such thing as a free lunch, so obvoiusly there's a catch behind the sponsorship.

previously, shows sponsored by nkf were crafted to tug at the heartstrings of singaporeans, with the shows focusing on the plight and misery of the patients. aha! but nkf either getting smarter, or realising that singaporeans are getting desensitised to that approach.

in the latest channel 8 9pm drama serial Timeless Gift (sponsored by nkf no less), the take home msg was cleverly hidden till the last episode when it was subtly put across. the show, in a nutshell was "A family is turned topsy-turvy when a son dies, leaving behind no will, a considerable fortune and an illegitimate son" (more can be found here http://ch8.mediacorptv.com/shows/drama/view/488/1/.html) Little mention was made of kidney patients except for the fact that one of the characters (not even a major character!) had kidney failure and needed dialysis but even that, the focus on that character was the fact that his sons had abandoned him after taking off with their father's money. ahh.. nothing about kidney patients you say... wait till the last episode!

well the story goes on yada yada yada... and in the last episode, the gist of it is that the patriach of the family find out that one of his sons had attempted to forge his will obvoiusly to award all assets to himself.. so what he does is, he writes his will, divides his assets into equal share for everyone in the family, and make it known to all. ahh... forgiving father eh? even giving a share of his assets to that
scheming son but that's where the catch is! that son's share would be donated to charity in his name.

only one character u say, so it may not be propoganda but it gets better! his other children decide to donate their share of the assets to charity too.. *gasP* ooh and it gets saucier.. they decide to make wills, willing their assets, if any, to charity in event of their death... so far so good but of course, to drill the message even
deeper into the minds of singapore, the matriach of the family just had to donate part of her assets so charity as well..

so here we have it. the ideal, model singaporean family with everyone willing their assets to charity! and notice.. in this case they were clever enough to use the term CHARITY, and not nkf, so as not to make it obvoius that it was merely a shameless call for more $! i have to admit though, it was really good, the way they waited till the last episode to strike, so subtly, yet so impactful.

even in NON sponsored drama serial (with the exception of foreign ones of course). characters in these shows would talk about government policies but being informative and propoganda is a totally different thing altogether. being neutral about the policies and not taking a stand would hve been informative to the public but taking a positive stand,eventually (and all the time???).. that's propoganda. and that's exactly what characters in the shows would do..

it is becoming increasingly difficult to not notice the efforts of the government's social engineering. well, for poor sods like me without cable, the merger of mediaworks(which never had much propoganda anyway .. conspiracy???) and mediacorp only spells one thing.. more indoctrination!

democracy....??? hmmm.....


Interesting observation on mercenaries:

"I'd just like to add that the argument that foreign mercernaries are less loyal and less motivated is not borne out by empirical evidence. When the Tuileries Palace was being besieged during the August insurrection which led to the end of the experiment with constit monarchy in France, the *only* loyal troops were the Swiss Guards, most of whom lost their lives trying to defend the (empty) palace. The royal bodyguard and the Gardes Francaises, all French, either ran away or defected to the revolutionaries. Similarly while Machiavelli campaigned for the Italian princes to use Italian troops rather than foreign mercernaries, when he finally did persuade them and Italian troops were used, they proved both less disciplined and less competent.

This is largely because most soldiers (well good ones at least) are not motivated by patriotism. They derive satisfaction not from serving some abstract nation but from exercising their professional skills as soldiers. In this sense they would not be so different from dentists, or lawyers."


More variations on 409 scams (re-formatted for ease of reading):

"Dear Friend,

As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday.

My name is Peter Water, a merchant in Dubai, in the U.A.E.I have been diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer which was discovered very late, due to my laxity in carrying for my health. It has defiled all forms of medicine, and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts.

I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focus on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world.

I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my
life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that God ! has called me, I have willed and given most of my properties and assets to my immediate and extended family members and as well as a few close friends. I want God to be merciful to me and accept my soul and so, I have decided to give arms to charity organizations and give succour and confort to the less priviledged in our societies, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth.

So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, Algeria and Malaysia. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this my self anymore. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization and to the less priviledged in Bulgaria and Pakistan, they refused and kept the money to themselves. Hence, I do
not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them.

The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of eight million dollars($8m) that I have with a Security Company in Europe for safe keeping. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and disburse it to some charity organizations and to the less priviledged.

Please send me a mail to indicate if you will assist me in this disbursement. I have set aside 20% for you for your time and patience. You can e-mail me at my private e-mail address: waterfamilys@netscape.net for easy communication While I await to hear from you, may God be with you and your entire family.

Remain blessed,
Peter Water"


Me: want to hear castrati?
Someone: eh? have you undergone some change i should know about?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Apologetics offer / Abortion and Suicide / Male Hair / Bollywood / Mullets / NUS Zen

Quote of the Post: "The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Random Playlist Song: Taizé - Jacques Berthier - Per crucem (Canon)

Per crucem et passionem tuam
Libera nos Domine, libera nos Domine, libera nos Domine, Domine.
Per sanctam resurrectionem tuam.


Up for grabs! A Doctor of Theological Studies degree from the International University of Nescience if you:

"Satisfactorily and logically explain how both these genealogies [Matthew Ch 1 and Luke Ch 3]
can both be the literal truth.

For a "cum laude" on your degree, provide in addition:

A satisfactory and logical explanation of why Matthew and Mark both found it necessary to prove that Joseph was descended from David and Abraham, given that, according to both writers, he was not the actual father of Jesus."


"In the end, abortion seems to be in a similar situation to drug traffic and consumption: If it's going to happen no matter what, it may be best to have some degree of control, that is, have it regulated rather than prohibited. It's not that abortion is ever a great idea, but anything else seems to me ethically worse.

... Doing harm to one's own body seems to be a private decision, from society's point of view, except when that harm is lethal; then, everybody judges and interferes with the late suicide's free will. Perhaps a way to describe it would be by means of property. In most circumstances, the only one entitled to make decisions about something is the owner. So who owns one's life if not exclusively oneself? Can someone claim ownership over my life or a part of it? Sometimes the objections address the consequences for other people surrounding the suicide's person's life. A suicide affects other people too, it's undeniable, but so does changing jobs, a marriage or moving abroad or buying a big bad motorcycle. Suicide is like saying "I play no more" so the rules of the game no longer apply, it's a complete severance of ties with everyone and everything, the end of existence. Nonexistence means no rights and no obligations. Nothing of ethical substance can be said about suicide because, once it happens, the perpetrator has been punished." (The Philosophy of Killing)



"I don't understand the rationale behind why some guys love to dye their hair the moment they stepped out of NS and enter the uni. Worse, I think they love to dye them in the brightest colour that can be found on the shelves where all the hair dying products are found. I think most of them actually look so much better with decently cut black hair... Seriously, they look like some chinese ah-bengs whom you meet on the streets, with loud, "fashionable" hairstyles that scream attention-seeking.

Somehow arts faculty seems to be the faculty where most guys gravitate towards, despite the fact that none of them are from arts. I don't meet so many girls around arts. In fact I only meet girls around school when I go to other faculties." (The Hairy Issue)



On Sunday, Ban Xiong SMSed me and asked me to tune to Central immediately. On turning on the TV, what did I see but a very strangely shaped tank chasing 2 people, one limping on with the aid of a stick, down a road.

Then I heard it - Bollywood Music.

How they manage to come up with so many wacky ideas is beyond me. In this movie (or song sequence, at least), 2 idiots had somehow gotten into the suspiciously spacious interior of a tank, and were somehow driving it while singing and touching each other's hands while smiling inside. As they chased the aforementioned 2 people, the tank fired shells here and there, blowing up watchtowers from which guards were flung by the force of the blast. Meanwhile it never occured to the two people to escape from the tank by going off the path.

At the end of the song sequence, the tank stopped and the 2 idiots popped their heads out of the tank's hatch. They then fumbled with a pistol, which went off and hit the limping man in his leg, who then complained about his always being hit (so presumably he was limping due to a prior shot the 2 idiots).

There was then some weird martial arts sequence more remiscent of Chinese kungfu movies (or dare I say, Power Rangers), where another guy leapt down from a height, grabbed someone by the collar and flung him a far distance.

Interestingly, it was the first time I heard English being spoken in a Bollywood movie. I guess the tides of Cultural Imperialism (TM) are irresistible. Next we know, we'll see them eating at a McDonalds (before tearing it down to a catchy tune).


I saw a Chinese trishaw rider with a mullet. Funky.

For those who do not know what a mullet is, I offer the following explanation from Wo-hen:

People are always complimenting my hair. They say to me, "Nice mullet!" or "I really like your mullet, who's your barber?" At first, I was confused at this statement. I didn't know what a mullet was. I found out after asking my girlfriend at that time. Here's the story of how I got my hairstyle. When I first came to America, I lived in the South for five months. I lived in Alabama. All of the caucasian men had this hair style that was short on the top, and then long at the back. Trying to fit in, I decided to copy this style. Having this hair style is both practical and stylish. It is practical because it protects the back of my neck from the sun. It is stylish because people are always complimenting it.

A more technical explanation: "Physically it is characterized by short hair on the top, front, and sides of the head, followed by a long drape of hair on the back, reaching at least to the middle of the spine."


I've been especially sian since Saturday. Meanwhile it seems everyone around me is very stressed while I remain relaxed. So either I'm a genius or I'm going to faint when I realise what's really going on.
Apparently my posts are too long, so I don't get comments. So I shall try making shorter posts. Yay.


Nonsensical text of the day:

"Tighten up reality gangster
Stigma through idiot hearing
Keep frustration clear
Patience open head
Getting away with it lead
Some distant memory drove
Get the message
Indiscipline all remains
Wish double editorials cover"


I'm trying to gather systematically known cases of people being misquoted in the Straits Times.

Exhibit A:

Still, knowing that her philosophy professor uses such a method has made NUS first-year student Lim Qingru, 19, more conscientious in her work.

'I wouldn't copy text wholesale to begin with, as my professor has read quite widely and would be able to spot it. But now I'm more careful about putting in quote marks when they are needed.'

The person quoted informed me that she definitely said something different, something about her using a quote from Oscar Wilde and not attributing it because it was a well-known quote, but being corrected by the lecturer.

Meanwhile a junior of mine, the top student in the 2002 O Level examinations, got words put into his mouth when he was interviewed on the release of the results last year.

I forget what he said and what he was reported as saying (with the ample use of quotation marks, no less), except that he wasn't just paraphrased or even misquoted - both the letter and the spirit of the quotes attributed to him were fictitious.


Abortion, a philosophical approach

"Does a foetus become a human being when the heart starts beating? When there is a recognizable central nervous system? When it can react to external stimuli? When it can feel pain?... many other animals have a nervous system, a heartbeat, respond to external stimuli, and can feel pain, but most of us (vegetarians excluded -- but most abortion opponents included) don’t seem to have too many qualms about killing such animals.


If the problem is actual or potential personhood, not the developmental biology of our particular species of primates, then we have moved from biology to philosophy, a much more tricky terrain to navigate. Being a person is tightly linked to having the ability to lay down and recover memories (which make up our “identity” as a person), as well as to experience emotions (like love and suffering) and not just feelings (like sexual urge and pain). These characteristics are in turn dependent on being a member of a society, interacting with others, communicating one’s thoughts and receiving and understanding information about other people’s thoughts and emotions... personhood is most of all a question of psychology and sociology.

... So, while there is very little question that by performing an abortion we are in fact killing a biological being that belongs to the human species, it is an entirely different -- and much more difficult to defend -- proposition to say that we are killing a person.

Abortion opponents may shrug all of this philosophical quibbling as irrelevant on the ground that the procedure -- at whatever stage it is practiced -- kills a potential person. But this is a rather odd argument, with far reaching consequences that should be seriously considered by whoever proposes it. For example, the mass of cells in question will become a person only if many conditions other than biological development are fulfilled, including being raised in a proper physical, psychological and social environment. It is ironic, therefore, that we spend so much energy debating abortion while most of us are much less passionate about more apparently mundane issues such as, say, health care and education for all those non-aborted foetuses.

Even more radically, if a fertilized egg is a potential person, so is every single unfertilized one, and every sperm as well. After all, the egg or sperm only needs a gamete of the opposite type to begin the developmental process that will lead to the generation of another person. I suppose that is why the most rabid religious fundamentalists (including the current Pope) are against masturbation or sex that doesn’t have the goal of reproduction. But it is hard to see what these people could do to avoid the natural “waste” of unutilized human eggs. Should we explant them from every woman and fertilize them artificially? If your intuitive answer was “no,” and yet you are against all types of abortion, you may want to consider the consistency of your philosophy."


(NUS) Students on ‘Bad Teaching’ - Some things never change, and I doubt they will.

Buyer won't return city's pricey error - "On Saturday, the city of Wichita unwittingly auctioned off two pieces of a valuable Rosati sculpture for $45. The sale was intended to clear out junk -- old desks, unneeded office equipment, outdated Christmas decorations. The four pieces of the 1981 sculpture "Upright Form V," which assembled could be worth up to $30,000, mistakenly ended up among the junk, city officials said."
The trouble with modern art...

W-B man: 'Witches are trying to kill me' - "A tree stump in the center of his small front yard is adorned with wooden stakes: nine point skyward, and seven jut from its side along its circumference. "It's a map of the neighborhood," Jenkins said. "Each spike points to where a witch lives."

EGBG anti-telemarketing counterscript - " Telemarketers make use of a telescript - a guideline for a telephone conversation. This script creates an imbalance in the conversation between the marketer and the consumer. It is this imbalance, most of all, that makes telemarketing successful. The EGBG Counterscript attempts to redress that balance."
Something to use the next time the NKF comes a-calling...

Maggots make medical comeback - "A medical device? They remove the dead tissue that impedes healing "mechanically," FDA determined. It's called chewing. But maggots do more than that, says Sherman, who raises the tiny, wormlike fly larvae in a laboratory at the University of California, Irvine. His research shows that in the mere two to three days they live in a wound, maggots also produce substances that kill bacteria and stimulate growth of healthy tissue."

Tesla coil at full power (33KV/20KVA)

Power Rangers: Time Force - "Because of the September 11th attacks, many episodes were re-edited after their first airing to remove potentially offensive material, such as buildings being blown up. In one case, an episode was not shown again after its first airing."

What the Bubble Got Right - "Dressing up is not so much bad in itself. The problem is the receptor it binds to: dressing up is inevitably a substitute for good ideas. It is no coincidence that technically inept business types are known as 'suits.'... A nerd, in other words, is someone who concentrates on substance. So what's the connection between nerds and technology? Roughly that you can't fool mother nature. In technical matters, you have to get the right answers. If your software miscalculates the path of a space probe, you can't finesse your way out of trouble by saying that your code is patriotic, or avant-garde, or any of the other dodges people use in nontechnical fields."

All Entertainment All the Time - "The university had merged almost seamlessly with the consumer culture that exists beyond its gates. Universities were running like businesses, and very effective businesses at that. Now I knew why my students were greeting great works of mind and heart as consumer goods. They came looking for what they’d had in the past, Total Entertainment All the Time, and the university at large did all it could to maintain the flow."
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