When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, December 31, 2005

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May everyone's new year (no caps) be better than how Jiekai spent part of yesterday evening - being dunked in a swimming pool in a slowly deflating dinghy.
"I don't mind what language an opera is sung in so long as it is a language I don't understand." - Sir Edward Appleton


What do you call a man who confides to his pals about how miserable he is, how little sex he is getting, how little he is being paid, how he has no friends and how life seems miserable in general?

Some answers I got: "sad.", "a whiner", "A whinger", "dont tell me........... humanities grad student!", "[The Associate's real name]" (x2), "quite a sorry man", "wo-man", "attention seeker", "[His own name]", "40 year old virgin", "loser" (x3), "A miserable sod", "angsty. you can also call him *** [Ed: The name of a mutual acquaintance], but i don't think that's the answer you're looking for", "Is this a trick question?", you [Ed: Gah.]

My suggested answer: "a loser."

What do you call a woman who confides to her pals about how miserable she is, how little sex (or love, if you like) she is getting, how little she is being paid, how she has no friends and how life seems miserable in general?

Some answers I got: "normal" (x5), "a normal gal" (x3), "the average singapore girl", "loserette", "depends on how she looks", "a 40 year old virgin", "Also loser", "a woman", "typical", "single", "a blogger", "girlfriend", "kimberly" [Ed: GAH.]

My suggested answer: "a poor girl who is discriminated against by her company and society by virture of her sex, needs TLC, a big hug, a bar of dark chocolate, a Jack Rabbit, a night out with the girls and lots of sympathy"

Someone: "hey, at least women know how to solve their problems :P"


A good response to those who claim that those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear from invasions of privacy:

"Anyone that thinks that violations of privacy are inconsequential should examine the behavior of the FBI under Hoover, and the executive branch under Nixon. They kept extensive files and detailed records of non-violent war protesters and civil rights activists through the fifties, sixties and seventies. They used the information they gathered to try to blackmail people like Martin Luther King amongst others, and suggested to these people that they should commit suicide."


"There's a door-to-door salesman. And he had one customer who never wanted to buy anything. "Maybe tomorrow," the salesman would politely say.

But every day he came back, the customer got angrier and angrier. "I don't want anything. Don't come back!" But the salesman always smiled and said, "Maybe tomorrow."

Finally, one day, the customer got so mad, he spit in the face of the salesman.

The salesman wiped the spit from his cheek, looked up in the sky and said, "Hmm. It must be raining.""

Commentary on the above story:

"This story is intended to be seen as some sort of insparational (sic) tale of a courageous guy who's doing his best to help humanity in the face of hopelessness. But that's not what this guy's doing at all. He's just being an asshole. Him (sic) going around annoying people doesn't help anyone. It just wastes his time and pisses them off. He's contributing nothing to society and is just feeding off the rudeness of others to make himself feel noble."

[To people who approve of religious harassment] "So, if I call you every morning to ask you if you are ready to follow the path of Cthulu, you would never get upset? I doubt that. People dont want things forced on them. Period... If these folks were knocking on doors to persuade you to become a baby-sacrificing satanist, perhaps you'd feel differently."

I wonder if court protection orders can be taken out on those who harass others so.


This is ridiculous. Someone added me to MSN and asked for Emma Watson's ICQ/MSN contact. Gah.

Oh, and this person had the cheek to ask me to speak French.

Friday, December 30, 2005

"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you." - Rita Mae Brown


16 year guy: while we can have very meaningful discussions.. i am unable to bring up between us metaphysical topics of feelings, emotions and other 5h1tz.

Me: unfortunate. but why would that be the case?

Him: i thought that part would be obvious.

Me: err. age gap?
you're a typical guy?

Him: you are 20something man. i am 16 year old boy.

Me: gah

Him: you no longer posess the same kind of emotions i have.

Me: I am a 20something man. Hath not a 20something man eyes? Hath not a 20something man hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a 16 year old boy is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?

damn this sounds like bad slash

Him: ........
nahbehcheebye mov.


Japan's humanoid robots | Better than people - "HER name is MARIE, and her impressive set of skills comes in handy in a nursing home. MARIE can walk around under her own power. She can distinguish among similar-looking objects, such as different bottles of medicine, and has a delicate enough touch to work with frail patients. MARIE can interpret a range of facial expressions and gestures, and respond in ways that suggest compassion. Although her language skills are not ideal, she can recognise speech and respond clearly. Above all, she is inexpensive . Unfortunately for MARIE, however, she has one glaring trait that makes it hard for Japanese patients to accept her: she is a flesh-and-blood human being from the Philippines."

Landover-Baptizon.com: buying info: Donkeys Can Talk (Creation Science For Teens) - "This book is a wonderful introduction to "Creation Science." Children will learn that people once lived to be 900 years old, that donkeys and snakes can talk, that the earth has four corners, that bats are really birds, that man is made of mud, that the first woman was made from a rib bone, that the world was made in 6 days, that God drowned everyone on earth one time because fallen angels were having sex with humans and creating dinosaurs, and much, much more!"

Stud muffins of science? New calendar a `good cause' for brawny professors (12/4/95) - "Put away your stethoscope, George Clooney, and put on your shirt, Fabio, because the "Studmuffins of Science" are ready to set hearts aflutter in 1996. New York-based science journalist Karen Hopkin talked 12 male scientists out of their lab coats and onto the pages of the first edition of her beefcake-meets-beakers calendar. They are shown skiing, swimming, lifting weights and -- in the case of Brown University research scientist Dr. Robert Valentini -- just hanging out. The 33-year-old Dr. Valentini, who studies techniques for healing damaged tissue, is "Dr.September." Other studmuffins-of-the-month hail from Stanford,Columbia, Cornell, the University of Minnesota and Colorado State University. Dr. Valentini claims the calendar serves a higher purpose than ogling."

Don't give to tsunami victims - the message of the American right's Philosopher-Queen. The ironic centenary of Ayn Rand - "Rand’s rabid anarcho-capitalism has clearly tapped into something primal in American political culture (particularly that of conservatives): it is revealing that she is almost invariably described as an “idealist”, rather than a maniac. She appeals to the ugliest side of Americanism (contrasting with its many, many strengths): a fear and hatred of the state, even in its most democratic form, and of wider collective action. Rand has only one conception of liberty –freedom from government. As one of her heroes, Howard Roark, says, “The only good which men can do to one another and the only statement of their proper relationship is – hands off!” Like most of the American right, she has no conception of positive liberty. When asked how free a man in Harlem with no healthcare insurance and a kid with cancer is, she has no answer. She cannot see when hands have been kept too far off."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Contravening my express orders and simple instructions to the contrary, and in spite of an undertaking on my part to review the issue tonight, The Associate aka He Who Must Not be Named aka mindgame aka nw.t. posted the the chat log in the previous post, proving many of my points about Malaysians. In the face of his blithe disobedience and wanton betrayal, he is thus deprived of the right of reply to this post (and definitely deserves much more). History will judge him by his perfidy.

Whereas I had more than half a mind to stop commenting on this stupid topic, being sick of it, but being roused to action by the aforementioned patriotic Malaysian throwing fuel on the fire and pissing me off even though I specifically told him not to,

Whereas individual preferences as to the country of residence differ,

Whereas the Economist Intelligence Unit is still able to rank 127 cities on their livability standards,

Whereas, thanks to inertia, people tend to prefer living in the places they grow up in,

Whereas it is unacceptable to claim that everything, everyone and everywhere is the same, and so lapse into a position of epistemological nihilism,

Whereas someone who has killed 10 people is definitely worse than someone who has killed but one,

Whereas one can address the question of why South Africa has the highest rape rate in the world, or call the person who brings up this fact rude, racist and/or stupid, cast aspersions on his character with vague assertions or change the topic, thereby conveniently avoiding the question,

Whereas mindless frothing just sadly proves the points that incited said frothing in the first place,

Whereas no one has got the point of the recent series of posts on Malaysia,

And whereas almost all the irate Malaysians flaming me in the comments boxes are incapable of logic trains more complex than variations on "fuck you lah",

Reasonable men can all agree that living in Somalia is preferable to living in the USA only if you are a Warlord or Islamic Terrorist (notwithstanding assassination attempts or your aspirin factory getting Tomahawk-ed). They can also agree that those who have never lived in either nation can make an informed choice about such a judgment.

On hard measures of living standards, Singapore trumps Malaysia in every category. Malaysia meanwhile triumphs in softer categories like food (arguable and argued) and having nicer people (as long as they don't try to cave in your skull with a parang, irate Malaysians flaming me in the comments boxes are incapable of logic trains more complex than variations on "fuck you lah" notwithstanding). Evidently, the hard factors seem to trump the soft ones, as the sheer number of Malaysians living (many as Permanent Residents or naturalised citizens to boot), working and studying here shows, and one cannot say that the reverse is true. So despite the much-talked-about merits of Malaysia, the invisible hand has spoken.

The main point, of course, is why Malaysians (inevitably only the Chinese) like to come up with silly reasons to justify their purported superiority, often scraping the bottom of the barrel for arguments, why they come up with more puerile and ridiculous playground insults, and why they resort to ad hominem attacks instead of addressing the other side's points (a weakness admirably less apparent, even if not totally non-existent, on the Singaporean side).

That a childish tone is often adopted by both sides is not in question (I won't bother disputing which side is worse in this aspect), but insults on the Malaysian side are more baseless, and sometimes even smell of desperation, while insults of the Malaysian side mock real weaknesses, even if caricatured.

Someone: anyways
it could be an indication
that the malaysians with brains are staying away from flaming you
cos they don't get riled up so easily

Ivan also points me to two posts by Xiaxue in which she too was assailed by frothing Malaysians after recounting her true experiences. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. (Malaysia doesn't change)

Ivan: "forever bickering, and it seems a great deal of the assault is coming from the Malaysian's side
don't they have better things to do? like maybe try and raise their living standards and lower their crime rate?

Malaysians... eh... looking at their responses, it seems a great deal of them only know how to lash out at criticisms

well, I'm sure somebody will extrapolate and consider this a slur on ALL Malaysians and then be compelled to respond with a variant of "fuck you lah", thus further proving the statement"
More dead horse flogging follows.

DISCLAIMER: Gabriel and I had this conversation early in the morning when Gabriel was tired and could not bring his full faculties to bear on the conversation.

DISCLAIMER DEUX: this is presented in unexpurgated form, with only slight grammatical corrections, hence the free flow may be disconcerting and ranty to plough through. Let's see how long this post stays up before the heavy hand of the censors crack down!

DISCLAIMER TRES: more to follow on the nature of insecurity:)

Gabriel: Hilarious. Malaysian country bumpkins are flaming me. Hehe

me: whatever makes you feel warm and cuddly at night

Gabriel: wth is this: "Kalau saya terpaksa makan sos tomato dengan seribu kilogram mee saya, tentula aya akan pengsan..."

me: (sic) i will faint if forced to eat tomato sauce with my noodles

Gabriel: almost no one gets it typical. haha

me: mocking the culinary practices of other people is a common expression of bigotry and jingoism

gabriel: you don't get it either

me: really explain it to me then

Gabriel: the point is not that malaysia sucks (I freely admit that) but that malaysian chinese engage in reflexive, unthinking, visceral cheat-beating and my theory as to why this is the case

Gabriel: as I observed: A: South Africa has the highest rape rate in the world. B: You're racist/rude/narrow-minded! / You have a brain the size of a pea! / You're trying to undermine South Africa! / South Africa bashing! / Your country sucks too! / Have you ever been overseas? / You're saying that all blacks are rapists!

me: turn it around - do you wonder why singaporean chinese also engage in reflexive malaysia-bashing? (like yourself)

Gabriel : to us it's a parlor game not defending national pride and we raise genuine points most of the time rather than "I hate wanton mee with ketchup"

me: it's the same way when i mention that singapore is a sterile mean-spirited kiasu nation r: your toilets stink! / malays are all over the place! oh, and mocking the malaysian guiness book of records is a valid point for superiority?

Gabriel: yes, but that's usually from the "heartlanders" even educated malaysian chinse launch into this sort of shit it's called snide asides not main points. and the malaysian (no guinness, thank you) book of records is a valid point the malaysian exception

me: this is stupid you're just as asinine as those singaporean bashers you purport under your guise of rationality to "engage" this is just you baiting people becuase it's how you get your kicks. stop it

Gabriel: *shrug* as you wish "the rest of the world refuses to listen to us, so we'll do it the malaysian way" "LU SAKIT MANA?" what's this

Me: the tomato sauce in wonton mee is the singaporaen exception then? Hurh besides, if you don't get the joke about tomato sauce, you're just plain dumb. Many educated singaporeans have just as stupid arguments as many educated malaysians. I don't see malaysians as having a monopoly on bigoted nationalistic jingoism

(sic) You are sick in the -?

anytime a malaysian-bashing or singaporean-bashing post comes up, hordes of idiots crawl out of the woodwork to toss jingoistic comments on either side it's nescient and stupid and your lame baiting of people under the guise of intellectual dissection do you no credit face it, both sides are as ridiculously stupid when it comes to this question, thanks to nationalistic jingoism. you're just lying to yourself when you purport to make this some kind of pseudo-intellectual psychoanalysis of the malaysian chinese psyche - it's just you baiting and indulging in the kind of nationalistic bashing that gives you your jollies. it's stupid, feeble, transparent, and i've had to put up with people like you all my life.

Gabriel: that's rich.

Me: *grins* and for the record, i admit the malaysian book of records is a hideous embarrassment to Malaysia.

Me: put it this way - there are lame things that we can laugh at each other for no reason (same way how americans mock canadians for their accents and how everyone else mocks the british for warm beer) do you think cross-border jingoism is something any nation or population has a monopoly on? like I said, i don't deny that won ton mee in tomato sauce is a puerile fact to be sneering at (heh). but at least i take it in good fun. you insist on self-righteously coming up with some objective comparison of stupidity that tars the entire Malaysian chinese community while neglecting that examples of such behaviour persist on both sides of the causeway. in other words - you're just as much of an irrational bigot as those mats posting on your comments page, just with better grammar.

Gabriel: this is the faux equivalence theory

Me: and yours is the faux amour propre condition. so much for your distaste for apologetics

Gabriel: as I said: as you wish. as everyone should know, I entertain no delusions about singapore either

Me: "ooh i am not a bigot kneejerk reflexive basher who gets glee out of lame attacks i am simply a rational intellectual who is trying to prove empirically and scientifically the complete superiority of my way of life and the inferiority of the people across the border with elaborate, measured rhetoric"

Gabriel: this is the straw man

Me: *amused* "malaysian chinese are insecure and hence they use stupid arguments to bash us when we singaporean chinese are always rational and have good argumetns to prove malaysian inferiority". right. straw man.

Gabriel: misrepresentation

Me: fallacy of composition

Me: why is human nature so obsessed (by and large) with converting others to their point of view?

Gabriel: because people believe that they are right and others should not wallow in ignorance

Me: true, but distinguishing whose right is righter is tiring, no?

Gabriel: it's just like my brother in law's faux equivalences though to your credit yours are a bit more ambiguous and take more time to deconstruct

Me: *bows to an honoured opponent* same way how your elaborate rhetoric and pretense at intellectual rigour lend a self-righteous air of superiority and reasoned debate which conceal your bigotry, particularly when most kneejerk responses to your assertions are indeed stupid and puerile.

Gabriel: see? faux equivalence

Me: cognitive dissonance

[Ed in lieu of suspicious omission: that's rich again :)

Gabriel: about the only valid malaysian point is that singaporeans are nastier.
aiyah I don't want to talk about this]

Me: nastier covers a hell lot of territory

don't forget a far more boring body politic and a less entrepeneurial culture - those are not so much valid points as they are preferences though.

you could take a lesson from this:

"We will be victorious when we have mastered the world and crushed all the other races beneath our heel! As they have tried to crush us!"
"So how does that make you better or different from the other races you despise?"
"We do not seek to be different. Or better. We merely seek to be triumphant."

Gabriel: huh
Does Race Exist? A proponent's perspective

"I have found that forensic anthropologists attain a high degree of accuracy in determining geographic racial affinities (white, black, American Indian, etc.) by utilizing both new and traditional methods of bone analysis. Many well-conducted studies were reported in the late 1980s and 1990s that test methods objectively for percentage of correct placement. Numerous individual methods involving midfacial measurements, femur traits, and so on are over 80 percent accurate alone, and in combination produce very high levels of accuracy. No forensic anthropologist would make a racial assessment based upon just one of these methods, but in combination they can make very reliable assessments, just as in determining sex or age. In other words, multiple criteria are the key to success in all of these determinations...

The "reality of race" therefore depends more on the definition of reality than on the definition of race... I have been able to prove to myself over the years, in actual legal cases, that I am more accurate at assessing race from skeletal remains than from looking at living people standing before me. So those of us in forensic anthropology know that the skeleton reflects race, whether "real" or not, just as well if not better than superficial soft tissue does. The idea that race is "only skin deep" is simply not true, as any experienced forensic anthropologist will affirm.

Those who believe that the concept of race is valid do not discredit the notion of clines [Ed: "A cline is a gradient of change, such as from people with a high frequency of blue eyes, as in Scandinavia, to people with a high frequency of brown eyes, as in Africa."], however. Yet those with the clinal perspective who believe that races are not real do try to discredit the evidence of skeletal biology. Why this bias from the "race denial" faction? This bias seems to stem largely from socio-political motivation and not science at all. For the time being at least, the people in "race denial" are in "reality denial" as well. Their motivation (a positive one) is that they have come to believe that the race concept is socially dangerous. In other words, they have convinced themselves that race promotes racism. Therefore, they have pushed the politically correct agenda that human races are not biologically real, no matter what the evidence.

Consequently, at the beginning of the 21st century, even as a majority of biological anthropologists favor the reality of the race perspective, not one introductory textbook of physical anthropology even presents that perspective as a possibility. In a case as flagrant as this, we are not dealing with science but rather with blatant, politically motivated censorship. But, you may ask, are the politically correct actually correct? Is there a relationship between thinking about race and racism?... We fear that the social taboo about the subject of race has served to suppress open discussion about a very important subject in need of dispassionate debate. One of my teammates, an affirmative-action lawyer, is afraid that a denial that races exist also serves to encourage a denial that racism exists. He asks, "How can we combat racism if no one is willing to talk about race?""

On the moral and literary incoherence of C.S. Lewis's Narnia

Some articles passed along by the Janitor ("Eric Raymond. anarcho capitalist and founder of the open source movement. of course the stuff is good. I've been reading him since I first knew what linux is):

C.S. Lewis is morally incoherent

"Lewis’s creation is morally and dramatically incoherent in a deep and damaging way.

The core of the problem is Aslan, the godlike lion who sang Narnia into existence in The Magician’s Nephew (seventh book to be written but earliest in narrative time). The dramatic problem is that Aslan is a total deus ex machina, whisked onstage any time that Lewis wants to ratchet the plot past some obstacle or hammer home a moral, then whisked offstage before anybody has time to wonder why nothing ever seems to happen without Aslan in back of it. As a child I didn’t question this; as an adult, I grew quite fed up with the creature’s excessively convenient appearances and gnomic pronouncements by the middle of Book Three. He might as well have “Authorial Contrivance” stamped on his forehead in letters of fire.

But the problem with Aslan goes deeper than a mere dramatic flaw; or, if you like, the dramatic flaw is a symptom of a deeper incoherence in Lewis’s world. The deeper problem is that Aslan’s role in the Narniaverse fails to make either logical or mythical sense.

Logically, if Aslan is sufficiently powerful to sing Narnia into existence (as he does in the first book) he should have been able to create anything or anyone he needed to in order to cold-cock the White Witch (who is for certain not powerful enough to make worlds and hosts of sentient beings). Instead, all he does is mumble about a prophecy and rely on four children accidentally arrived from another universe to set things right."

An eloquent review of the above on Stumbleupon:

"An excellent essay detailing the flaws in C. S. Lewis' writing in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Especially recommended: the comparison between the major works of Lewis and Tolkien (who, interestingly, hated Lewis' Narnia series for much the same reasons the author of this essay did), and the final point: Lewis intended the Narnia series to be a long Christian allegory and apologia. By having Aslan offer himself as a substitute sacrifice for Edmund with the full foreknowledge that he would not actually die or suffer lasting harm, Lewis unintentionally casts light on the identical nature of the Crucifixion he so clumsily parallels. To wit: If Jesus was, as was Aslan, fully aware he would not die, and would in fact set into motion events leading to reawakening, assumption to a celestial plane, and an eventual return to "judge the living and the dead," then his 'sacrifice' on the Cross, the lynchpin of Christianity, is rendered into a bizzarre sadomasochistic type of divine masturbation."

Thoughts on the Prisoner of Narnia

"For all his enthusiasm, Lewis was a poor Christian, and an uneven (and ultimately unsuccessful) evangelist. J.R.R. Tolkien, who had been reponsible for Lewis’s conversion, understood this and was much bothered by it. When Gopnik reports that the Archbishop of Canterbury was offended by Lewis’s “vulgar, bullying” religiosity there is no reason at all for us to doubt that, either...

This describes with laser-beam precision what’s wrong with the Narnia books. It’s already a serious problem in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and it gets worse as the series progresses. By The Last Battle all that’s left of whatever narrative coherence Narnia originally possessed is a series of gorgeous imagistic set pieces. Lewis tries so obsessively to pump these full of allegorical meaning that, paradoxically, they lose all meaning. The clanking of the allegory machine is just too audible.

Even children pick up on this; I did, though when I first read the books I didn’t understand what I was feeling."
"If you watch a game, it's fun. If you play at it, it's recreation. If you work at it, it's golf." - Bob Hope


Me: Why do men like Thai girls?

The Associate: Because one day women will open their eyes and realise that Thai girls are: a) pretty, b) kind, c) like to fuck

Me: Used to be men.


Given that magic stone salesmen are sent to jail, and that I saw "the Crystal healing pack" in Borders today which promised, among other things, to "strengthen your immune system and improve your vitality", I wonder who else is destined for the slammer.

I saw, riding in the front passenger seat of a police car, an auntie with butch hair munching a piece of cake. Uhh.

Now that Christmas is over, I won't have to hear that awful song where a prayer is set to the tune of Auld Lang Syne. Yay.

At Tangs's sleepwear section I saw a bag in the shape of a female torso, complete with 2 breat-shaped mounds. The torso was covered with the stereotypical bra material; my friend didn't know what it was, and when I went to check one training bra, it unhelpfully told me it was made of 'spandex/lycra/cotton'. Since the material looked like a ranger suit, I must assume it was spandex. The whole thing was then covered in lace. My friend said it was "cute" (presumably in the same way Disgusting Chick stationery is "cute"). Naturally, if a male expressed appreciation for it he'd be called a pervert.

I was passed a flyer from "Truespa", "a 16,000 sq ft holistic spa & aesthetics centre", where I was promised treatment to "Give yourself the face, skin and body you've always dreamed of!", and promised that their normal $350/hr "Vela Smooth (TM) Introductory Special!" would be offered to me for 160. Notwithstanding the fact that I'll need a spend a year in there to get "the face, skin and body [I've] always dreamed of", going bankrupt in the process, I'm never paying them a vist because their flyer had a picture of a lotus pod with seeds in it, which reminded me of the breast rash larvae picture. (Oddly enough, the fake breast rash larvae picture is much more disgusting than the real breast larvae video).


Given how free our police are, I'm surprised they haven't yet cracked down on Falungong as a sop to China, since I'm sure the CCP doesn't appreciate signs like "Heavens will annihilate the CCP. Resign from CCP to ensure your safety".

God knows people have complained in the past, since Singaporeans make police reports about everything. Probably it's because they know how much power Falungong has, and don't want them to campaign against the Singaporean government in other countries with signs calling for the heavens to annihilate the PAP. Or worse, to have people immolating themselves in front of the Istana.

Normal Singaporeans, timid as they are, wouldn't go to such lengths, but I wouldn't put it past Falungong.


Channel NewsAsia headline: Spitting in public named the most irritable habit in Singapore

Personally, my vote goes to Bad English.


Dancing UFO - "is an exercise tool designed to effectively reduce abdominal obesity. Small and lightweight hence easy to store and carry, you are able to workout on the run, anywhere, any time.
An unprecedented high-tech innovation, it will help you regain and maintain optimum health."
qI thought it was Japanese at first.

Job re-creation scheme lets SMRT bus drivers become technicians - "From January 3 next year, SMRT bus drivers can enjoy a five-day shift work week, a dual career option and S$1,200 starting pay, along with attractive medical benefits and incentives."
Workers of the world unite: you have nothing to lose but your chains jobs bonuses dignity ungratefulness at refusing to accept the benevolence and charity of your employers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Following a recent suggestion by Gabriel, and remembering that this blog has widespread sway over the "Teeming Masses", and my own increasingly straitened descent into cabin fever, I am seeking roommates who wish to live in affordable yet excellently-located digs (eg. Grange Rd. 2+1 bedroom apartments are going for approx $2k a month - intolerable for an economically-challenged individual, possibly tolerable for a coterie). This is an excellent proposition for one or more of the following:

a) People recently graduated/employed and seeking to move out from under the thumb of Dis Pater/Mater
b) People currently living in Sengkang / Tuas / Senoko but have to commute to the city
c) People who wish to smoke/drink in their own personal demesne sans denunciation
d) People who require a housemate with discretion who will not enquire about dead hookers (unless the smell of putrefaction starts to get everywhere) or ritual sigils engraved on the floor (as long as it doesn't affect the security deposit)
e) People who are spoiled lazy bastards like me who will only insist on staying in a place that is within MRT, convenience store and ATM walking distance (5-10 mins)
f) People who need private space to indulge in needs of the flesh (consensual, solitary or otherwise)
g) People who want to share a MaxOnline Ultimate connection
h) People who are looking for affordable CBD studio apartments but, like me are annoyed that there are almost none
i) People who enjoy elaborately ranty conversations about topics esoteric (although I will shut up if you want and go serenade my rutabagas)
j) People who are okay with strange and obscene abominations shambling into the house at all manner of hours (such as the owner of this blog). Needless to say they can invite the own strange and obscene abominations too.
k) People who don't mind my filthy habits as long as I keep it strictly within the confines of my room and en-suite toilet

Character references available from Gabriel Seah.
"People seem to enjoy things more when they know a lot of other people have been left out of the pleasure." - Russell Baker


Someone: "bet i'm sure one of the search engine referrals to your blog will be "narnia aslan slash fanfic""


Novel copyright protection:

""FADE": This is not a common method of CP, in fact I only have one game with it, Operation Flashpoint. This is a very complex system in that the game somehow detects when a CD has been copied (from what I have found, in a similar method to Safedisc) but doesn't stop the game from working. Over time, the game degrades, guns aren't as accurate, enemies are stronger, and things just "don't work right", but you can still play. This is very clever, as someone copying the game will have no immediate indication that something is wrong."


I have this theory about Bhangra music. I've a friend whose housemates and her like to laugh when they dance along to Bhangra. Other sources inform me that others also laugh when they listen to Bhangra. The reason they're laughing is because... they're racist!!!


One of the best justifications for genocide I've seen so far:

"When I read about Numbers 31, the whole chapter, it was about God commanding the Israelites to take vengeance on the Midianites. And in verse 15 the reason for killing the women was given. It's because they were the means to turn the Israelites from their God. There's also something about a Balaam which also needs reference to previous chapters to get an idea of what he did. I think this also is helpful setting the background of the context

In v17, if we understand it as it is without knowing the culture and background that may give us some foreknowledge of what sets apart virgins from the rest, it would seem cruel n unjustified that the rest be killed. so i think that there needs to be more context and background knowledge given and known first before using it as an irony to the title (which i take to imply an apparent contradiction between the standards of the god in question)

In Deuteronomy 20:13-17, as i was reading it, i read on to verse 18 and it says.
v18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshipping their gods and you will sin against the Lord your God.

And though it may seem very cruel in v13-17, when i came to v18, my attention was drawn to v18 and i'm forced to consider the 'otherwise' statement....

but anyway,..the thing is, i think given the title and the verses quoted, the apparent contradiction that is meant to be pointed out in this post is not brought out fairly because i think there needs to be sufficient attention to be paid in understanding the background and context of which the verses occur in."

In short, it's justified to commit genocide to retain the attentions of a people, rather than through any merits of your own.



I'm getting spam in the form of the "Bible Answers Monthly Newsletter". Wth.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Narnia is a very powerful and moving allegory. Unfortunately, most commentators, not being trained in the skill of close reading, are unable to divine the true meaning of the allegory. [NB: I will not care about the nuances of Turkish delight as written about in the book, but will confine myself to the limitations of the medium from which most readers, myself included, will be most familiar with the source material.]

Reality and delusion

First and foremost, one has to remember that Narnia was purely in the realm of imagination.

Nothing that happened in Narnia affected the real (outside) world. Time spent in Narnia did not pass in the real world. And those who visited Narnia were unchanged physically; even after spending what must have been 2 decades in Narnia, the children emerged into the real world as they left it - clear proof that it was all in the children's minds (since that's the only thing in the real world which changed).

So even if you are bored, unfulfilled and unloved in the real world, there is no use retreating into a fantasy one of make-believe, since that is just self-indulgent imaginal masturbation (or any other type, if you like) in a vacuum; no matter how happy you might be, it's all a lie. Sinking into delusion could even lead to unnecessary grief (think of what would have happened if Aslan and friends had not been triumphant).

Be that as it may, we can still draw many morals from the children's foray into Narnia, even if it were fictional even in the context of the story.

False trichotomies

The Professor commented to Susan that if Lucy was not lying or crazy (about her visit to Narnia), she must have been telling the truth. Unmentioned is the possibility that she is mistaken - perhaps she bumped her head in the wardrobe, or maybe it had been too long since the thing was claned out, and she breathed in spores from hallucinogenic mushrooms*. Of course, the depiction of the Professor commiting such a glaring logical fallacy is meant to be a commentary on how having a PhD and being a Professor doesn't necessarily mean you're smart, since you can still fall afoul of basic logic.

Moral issues with betrayal

Edmund betrayed his siblings, but this betrayal came about because he was bullied and mistreated by the rest - they have themselves to blame for inciting the betrayal. Furthermore, those who are the agents of salvation are capable of mistreating even their kind: what more their lessers? Also, one might consider that without his betrayal, there would have been no victory in the end: therefore to imbue his treachery with moral undertones is most unfair**.

Free will

The Pevensie siblings feature in a prophecy, and despite their initial reluctance to fulfill it, they are swept along by the river of fate in the end and play out their preordained roles. This shows that there is no room for free will when supernatural are at work, human agency is helpless, and makes one wonder how much they deserve the accolades poured onto them. For example, if the siblings had numbered three, no matter how brave, noble and good they were, they would not have been able to prevail, for by definition the Prophecy must be fulfilled (or it would be a false one, surely one of many, but then that's another issue).

Semi-deification of Aslan

All the (good) characters have an unthinking, almost sheep-like regard for Aslan, looking up to him all the time and generally fawning over him. However, no one asks why he left the land of Narnia in the first place - if he hadn't left, the land and its inhabitants would not have suffered so greatly (and for a long 100 years) in the first place. In the intervening time, Aslan must have been hibernating, chuckling in his sleep about how the inhabitants of Narnia were suffering so and daily growing more eager for his return. At the end of the movie he is also shown walking off into the sunset, and he has obviously done that before - he is not a very reliable lion, not always being there for his people and disappearing often according to his whims.

Much is made of Aslan's sacrifice, but as is obvious from the story, it's not much of a sacrifice if one dies, only to be resurrected after half a night (and knowing that one will be resurrected to boot, resulting in one having no fear of death). Furthermore, Aslan was present when the "great magic" - the underlying magical laws of the land (or some shit like that) - were written. Presumably he had some say in their formulation. So why is it portrayed as tragic when he has to be sacrificed in accordance with these same laws that he had a hand in formulating? I can sympathise with how Aslan felt when he was shaved, though - why, just the other night (or thereabouts) I had a nightmare about the same happening to me.

History is written by the winners. If the White Witch and her minions had won, the story would read very differently, and a diametrical spin would be put on Aslan. For example, the treacherous scum violated the spirit, even if not the letter, of his agreement with the White Witch (then again, he did do that, even with a neutral reading of events).

Primacy of human agency

Although Aslan is glorified and raised to the status of a demi-god, in the end it is through the pivotal actions of humans that Narnia is saved, and they are all crowned Kings and Queens, ranking above him. The story is truly a glorification of the power of humans to change their environment and the seminal role they play in the great events of our time - even if you are a talking lion who can resurrect yourself, who cares? Without the humans you'd achieve nothing.


CS Lewis has been radically misread for decades. Luckily I've unearthed just how naughty he was (then again, see the previous post).


* - Luckily there was a direct chain of transmission. If Lucy had told Edmund, who told Susan who told Peter, her original story (perhaps having dreamt of entering Narnia) could have been distorted, as anyone who's played the game "Broken Telephone" would know. Alternatively, Lucy could have said that her friend 'Bob' had been to Narnia and told her about it - in this case 'Bob' could neither have been telling the truth, nor lying nor mad, since he wouldn't have existed in the first place.

** - Some might argue that without Edmund's betrayal, victory could still have come, and at a lower price to boot. To fully address this objection, a dissertation on battle tactics and teleology (was what happened the only possible way it could have happened?) would be needed.


i) I liked the sneaky commentary about global warming and its perils (the melting river and how the children almost died). The Bush administration must be wroth.

ii) If you are ugly, you must be evil. If you look noble, you must be good. Excellent message to take home.
Narnia - Blending Truth and Myth

"Where does this movie transport the minds of our children? What kinds of enticements does it feed to their human nature and emotional appetites? What suggestions will leave lasting imprints in their memory? Those are the questions that Christian parents need to ask. And a single phrase answers all three: the world of the occult.

The enticing pagan worlds nurtured by C.S. Lewis and his myth-making friends were not inspired by God's Word or Spirit. Those stories grew out of a lifelong immersion in the beliefs, values, rituals, languages and lifestyles of former pagan cultures. C. S. Lewis himself -- even years after professing faith in Christ -- remained obsessed with those old myths. As in his famous 1931 "conversion" encounter with Tolkien, he continued to suggest that Christianity and paganism were, in some ways, mutually supportive...

The white witch, Jadis -- the self-professed Queen of Narnia -- emerged from that pagan worldview, not from a Biblical frame of reference. Her ritual sacrifice of Aslan has more in common with the ancient Winter Solstice rituals and blood sacrifices to cultural gods (whether Hindu, Mayan, Inca or Babylonian) than with the crucifixion of our Lord. Small wonder the movie director chose a sacrificial setting for Aslan that looks strangely like the ancient ritual stones and pillars at Stonehenge, now a gathering place for the world's fast-growing networks of neopagans...

Unlike Jesus, our Lord, Aslan negotiates the terms of the "ancient magic" with the white witch. And unlike God, Aslan attributes the ultimate victory to the humans, not to his own plan and power... In fact, those who want to see Aslan as Jesus Christ would have to do some mental gymnastics. The two opposites simply will not match unless God's truth is conformed to the human imagination. Sad to say, such spiritual compromise is happening every day. And the better the counterfeit, the more deceptive is its power...

To better understand the twisted Gospel taught through this mythical series, Part 2 of this Narnia series will look at the strange creation story told in The Magician's Nephew, the book that precedes The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the 7-set Chronicles of Narnia."

I love these fundies.

Someone: gosh.
illiterate americans
who have apparently never read any of CS lewis's critical literature essays where he imposes christian interpretations into every imaginable fiction book
bloody illiterate fundie americans
This is a unique piece of spam mail.

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Please excuse me for any inconvience caused by this message.

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Due to the deep crisis, authorities stopped gas in our small district and we cannot heat our home anymore. I do not know what to do, because the weather is minus 11 degrees Celsius already and radio says it will be up to minus 25 during the next month. I'm very afraid that if the temperature will be lower than 0 degree in our sleeping room, we will not survive.

I applied to local Red Cross and they explained me that many people ask them for help every day and they cannot help to each family. They adviced me to search help from individuals.

Thanks to free Internet access in our municipal library, I found several addresses, including yours and I decided to appeal to you with a prayer in my heart for a small help. If you have any old used sleeping bag, warm blanket, clothes in size L and XL, portable heater, canned food, vitamins, water boiler, medicines against cold weather, any hygiene products, I will be very grateful
you if you could send it to our home address:

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If you think that it would be better or easier for you to help with some money, please writes me back to my free e-mail valent@***.*** and I will provide you with details how to send it safely, if you agree. This way to help is very good, because in this case I will be able to buy a portable stove and heat our home during the winter.

I hope to hear from you very soon and I pray that you can help us. I also hope very much that this hard situation will become better in our country very soon.

From all my heart, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2006.

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E-mail: valent@***.***

To avoid the problem of moral hazard, I've stripped personal particulars from the mail.

If I actually lived in Russia, I'd send something but at this distance the postage will kill me.
And as I have responded many a time to your childish attempts to draw me into yet another senseless Malaysia-vs-Singapore bash fest, having lived in both countries makes me immune to any of the cherished illusions each side holds about their respective "superiority". Are Malaysians unhygienic, corrupt, and racist? Yes. Are Singaporeans sterile, kiasu, and meanspirited? Also yes. (as you said - stereotypes persist because there are elements of truth in them)

And just because there are Malaysian Chinese who are compelled to work in Singapore for the sake of monetary consideration or career development, well, that's the testament to the power of incentives. I know Malaysians who like it here after a while, and just as many who grit their teeth and endure and hope to save up enough to go back. What's your point? Your childish ad hominem that Malaysians working here are akin to people who leave the Garden of Eden to come to work in Purgatory is akin to sneering at Westerners who choose to work in 3rd world countries where they aren't necessarily treated like Gods unlike in Singapore.

Malaysia is hardly the Garden of Eden; I can think of valid reasons why some Malaysian Chinese would feel more comfortable living in Singapore. But to impute any notion of superiority on the basis of differentiated circumstances that appeal to different people with different preferences is a complete waste of time and reflects the wilfully childish mindset of bigots who feel a need to assert nationalistic fervour - the virtue of the vicious - which I find rich coming from the likes of you.

Besides, ... won ton mee in tomato sauce!! How can any sane human being live consuming that stuff!!:) (yes, I can stoop to your level of childish arguments if you so wish)
The fire is still raging at Minishorts:

emme: "Singaporeans brag because they forgot they couldn’t afford to pay us more than 4 cents for fresh water, when even sugus has gone up from 5 cents to 10 cents each. They also forgot that their country is so small they don’t even have a single state other than the whole country itself in contrast to our 14 states so their people being so shallow and narrow minded can only think from one mindset. They also forgot they had to steal soil from Johor to tambak their own land. They forgot that their artists are apparently not known here and the ones who are actually making it big are making it big here instead of there. M Nasir don’t even want to stay in Singapore. they forgot the lands they can afford to but is in malaysia. they forgot that when most Malaysians voted for the demolishing of the Johor-Singapore link, most singaporeans begged against -much like adik2 merayu kepada abang2. They forgot they actually move their aerials to get better receptions of our tv stations. we don’t even want to watch their station. they forgot that even PCK wants fame in Malaysia. Who wants to go to Singapore for fame? they forgot that their tallest form of a hill is not much taller than a cow dung hill that they had to name it “Mount” Faber to redeem its nonexistent height. they forgot that they come to Johor on weekends to stock pile on groceries and food delicacies. they forgot many things really because they needed constant reassurance that they’re better off than us. Insecure is the best word to describe them. Best of all, they forgot that they had to drink sewage recycled water because they couldn’t afford to pay more than 4 cents for fresh water. Next time any Singaporean tells you how he feels high class being in Malaysia because the rest of the world here seem low class, and how they whine about Malaysia this and that, just give them an imaginary pat on their back and smile because deep down you know they’re nursing their wounded pride because they had to drink from their own pee. Its akin to giving way to four year olds who give tantrums. deep down you know they’re so pathetic and that the only way for them to feel better is to say something bad about others not like them, and never will be like them. Pity singaporeans, a lot of the things they don’t have that they’re trying to take it out on us. the only image they established by acting like some big shots here in Malsyia is “jakun”. But of course, they wouldn’t know that because their definition of high class means to drink from pee recycled water. eww… pity."

I sent the above to He Who Must Not Be Named, and ironically he replied, "THANK you for at least citing someone who posts with something (approaching) sanity", even though the above extract proves my point, really, about the insecurity of the Malaysian Chinese (so what does that tell you?)

Jiekai and I accosted him yesterday, and pressed him as to why so many Malaysian Chinese work/study in Singapore but not vice versa if they hate the place so. After much fudging and waffling, he finally claimed blandly that it was the money and only the money that drew them, but huffily protested that they don't become as nasty as the Singaporean Chinese (allegedly).

To our ears, this didn't sound very satisfactory, but it probably comes the closest to a rational and reasonable explanation of their mentality which is sympathetic to their cause. One still wonders what to think of those who leave the Garden of Eden so readily to descend into Purgatory and suckle at the teat of Mammon.
I was at a dinner tonight and some carolers were in attendance to serenade us. Besides the usual litany, there were several more discomfiting numbers.

There was one which went something like: "Christmas isn't Christmas without Jesus". Another talked about the generic joys of worship, and the last was "The Lord Bless You And Keep You". Now, the first is arguably a carol of some sort, but the latter 2 can't even use that excuse, and have a tenuous relationship to Christmas at best.

Some might ask why I am fine with other carols, which arguably express similar sentiments (in spirit, even if not to the letter). Besides those carols having something to do with Christmas itself, there's also the same reason why the days of the week have no religious significance to any living people. One might also consider the difference between heartily retelling (and listening to) a Homeric tale and slaughtering a heifer for Zeus.

Ah well. This is what happens when you have a church caroling group doing the honours.

I think Christmas has become more religious over the years. This year, City Harvest sponsored a TV special, and at the Christmas party I was at, they said grace. That's one thing, but asking their god to bless the party is another. And after the birthday song they sang: "May the good lord bless you". Gah.

(This is what happens when the organiser invites many members of a religious society from school.)

Someone: I was at one where [someone] says this earnest prayer about blessing the fellowship, etc. --- and man, it was weird.
I was like, the boy KNOWS how much drinking and "fellowship" will be going on tonight, right???

Me: mass orgy ah

Someone: Not that bad. But still --- hardly holy. *eyeroll*
"fellowship" is churchspeak for social interaction
Basically it's a catch-all term for chatting --- gossip ;) --- "testimony", etc.
It;s churchspeak. like 'sharing'
We shd go to church together one day. You'd need me to translate for you.

Me: you'd need me to debunk the BS for you =D

Someone: No really, as an anthropological expedition.
No need you to debunk lah. It's usually pretty easy to tear apart the sermon as it goes along.
Unspun: Chrismahanukwanzakah & The Borg of Religions

"Christianity, unlike just about any other religion I know, has a tendency to be the Borg of Religions. And some Christians, apparently, cannot be Christians without trying to convert every other human to their brand of Christianity, by force or governmental coercion if necessary, or damning them to hell when conversion doesn't happen.

Many people — including Christians — don't recognize this, but it's not a new development and it's truth is pellucid to all who examine Church history. Although there is some dispute about the early origins of Easter, Halloween and Christmas, it seems clear that they either originated by the assimilation of pagan celebrations, or that at least parts of the modern-versions incorporate pagan symbolism and traditions. This is why, for example, Jehovah's Witnesses and other Christians do not celebrate some of them. (I know, some Christians don't count JW's as Christians. The question of whose G-d trumps all other versions and who gets to decide is a related question, but outside the scope of this blog article.)

Christianity — the consummate political movement in many respects — naturally assimilates other practices in order to sustain itself. At various times in history, it has done this by a combination of the stick and the carrot. The height of the Inquisition and the modern infiltration of the United States government by religious fundamentalists are examples of the stick, the ugliest versions of Christianity at work. Whichever version of the incorporation of Christmas into the Christian tradition you buy, the fact that Christian leaders more or less peacefully acquiesced (various theologians such as Tertullian and Augustine opposed it as a pagan festival) in allowing and modifying the meaning of the practices of pagan religions rather than simply killing off others may be viewed by some as the carrot.

Whether via the carrot or the stick, Christianity essentially annihilated these other religions.

But then, in a sense, they were simply returning the favor the Jews and the Romans had visited upon them. Before the Jews expelled Christians from the synagogues and inserted curses into the liturgy (so Christians wouldn't say them and would thus expose themselves), Christianity was considered a sect of Judaism. It was treated by the Romans the same as other Jewish sects and exempted from military service, etc. After the expulsion, the Romans followed suit and no longer counted Christians as Jews. Christianity became illegal in the Roman Empire until the Edict of Milan in 313 C.E. ("C.E." is the designation Jews and Muslims prefer to "A.D." "A.D." means "anno domini," which translates "year of the Lord" and is a reference to Jesus; "C.E." is the acronym for "Current Era.")

The adaptability of Christianity in this sense is the stuff of legend. And there's no reason to believe this will ever change. In fact, Robert Heinlein, in his book Stranger in a Strange Land shows just how adaptable Christianity could be in his not-fantastical version presented in a world posited in some non-descript post-World-War-III future that severely tested the underlying tenets of Christianity. The unprovability of Christianity (as with other religions) is its strength. When things don't fit, Christianity makes them fit. When G-d doesn't answer your prayers, that's your answer. Your child survived cancer? Praise G-d! Your prayers were answered. Your child succumbed to cancer? We cannot understand the ways of G-d."

Monday, December 26, 2005

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

[Ed: In the pursuit of academic excellence, a larger version of the image has been uploaded.]

I can visualise this as an O level Oral Exam question: "Describe what is happening in this picture, and share some thoughts about it."
Search Referrals:

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1) New York City has 11 letters 2) Afghanistan has 11 letters. 3) Ramsin Yuseb (The terrorist who threatened to destroy the Twin Towers in 1993) has 11 letters. 4) George W Bush has 11 letters. This could be a mere coincidence, but this gets more interesting: 1) New York is the 11th state. 2) The first plane crashing against the Twin Towers was flight number 11. 3) Flight 11 was carrying 92 passengers. 9 + 2 = 11 4) Flight 77 which also hit Twin Towers, was carrying 65 passengers. 6+5 = 11 5) The tragedy was on September 11, or 9/11 as it is now known. 9 + 1+ 1 = 11 6) The date is equal to the US emergency services telephone number 911. 9 + 1 + 1 = 11. Sheer coincidence..?! Read on and make up your own mind: 1) The total number of victims inside all the hi-jacked planes was 254. 2 + 5 + 4 = 11. 2) September 11 is day number 254 of the calendar year. Again 2 + 5 + 4 = 11. 3) The Madrid bombing took place on 3/11/2004. 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 11. 4) The tragedy of Madrid happened 911 days a - Considering he typed out more than half the bloody email...

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And the following came up on the Google site search:

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Young Republic on "Asian Values":

A: Saw the sanest piece of writing in local media, in ages. Thanks XXX!

I'm constantly annoyed at how often the "Asian values" argument comes up.

What makes it worse is that my current employers seem to seriously entertain the assumption of some unified set shared by all Asians before the "White Man" arrived on our unified, harmonious, Asian shores. "Core Values"? Pffft.

B: It's still rather disconcerting that an ideology essentially cooked up by (western educated) politicians like Mahathir and Lee kuan Yew, and spread by ( western educated) apostles like Tommy Koh and Kishore Mahbubani, have once again become vogue arguments. Were they not supposed to have been killed off in that very Asian financial disaster of 1997-98?

C: Yeah, though Mahathir and Mahbubani both went to NUS...should they be considered Western-educated?

Anyway, I see the Asian values debate as a sign that we are entering a new age of nationalism, that if used well can actually be good for Asia. It is no accident, just one of those tide turns of history that happen every few decades. To me, if we can assign to "Asian" values bold new reinterpretations, we can create forces of good.

D: I believe The Rise Of India And China, that wonderful catch-all story for slow news days, has led to the re-awakening of int'l interest in Asia and hence has revived the Asian values argument. What I find particularly annoying is that publications which normally uphold normal journalistic standards of 'asking the tough questions' become transformed into passive goldfish sucking up every word which proceeds from the mouths of media-appointed gurus like Kishore Mahbubani and Lee Kuan Yew.

Not long ago there was a laughably silly article by Mahbubani on The Rise Of Asia which seemed to have been written by someone incapable of spouting anything more lucid than oft-repeated platitudes and generalisations. Mahbubani repeated the usual pieties about colonialism etc etc but I was very irritated by his claim that historians are puzzled by why, in his words, 'London not Beijing was the centre of the world'. Actually, historians aren't puzzled. In fact no one is puzzled. For Mr Mahbubani's information, there were these little things called the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. I trust these events are less mystical to Young Republic readers than they are to Mr Mahb. Mahb then went to on to mention that many Asian countries 'came to grief' as a result of 'experimenting' with 'Western' forms of government. These countries were obviously too numerous to be named, but my poor brain seems to be unable to name a single one! How strange! Mr Mahb must be so much cleverer than I.

This silly article was printed by Time Magazine as though it were the gospel truth on Asia, with no countervailing points of view to combat Mr Mahb silliness. This seems to me to be very bad journalism -- that is, even worse than what one normally finds in Time.

B: Or perhaps he was being very "asian" by not muttering "The Philippines". Which despite nearly two decades of freedom and democracy frankly hasn't been able to get its act together.

Moreover, in another sense ( although this might not have been what Mr Mahb meant), civil liberties and democracies did indeed 'come to grief' in many Asian and African states that inherited a Westminister parliamentary system.

I have little respect for Time magazine myself. As its name suggests, it seems to be staffed full of people trying to catch the prevailing intellectual disease of the day- the more headily sweeping the better, it seems.

D: Strangely, life in democratic Philippines seems to be much better than in the days of Ferdinand Marcos. I wonder why though. Perhaps it is because people find that shooting on unarmed protesters is rather frowned upon these days.

>Moreover, in another sense ( although this might not have been what Mr Mahb meant),
>civil liberties and democracies did indeed 'come to grief' in many Asian and African
>states that inherited a Westminister parliamentary system.

No, it wasn't what he meant. He meant that the Asian countries came to grief as a result of adopting democracy.

Me: The Philippines is a favourite counter-example for those espousing the joys of repression, but perhaps its ubiquity is an indication of the weakness of this argument.

By a curious confusion, some critics have moved from the proposition that there are exceptions which prove the rule to the proposition that exceptions *are* the rule.

Equally curiously, those espousing the joys of repression inevitably either live in non-repressive areas, or benefit from the fruits of repression, given that they are associated with or part of the machinery of repression.

Surely it makes more sense to compare a country as it transitions between and settles into different political stages than compare two different countries with very different politico-socio-economic contexts.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

"Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat." - John Morley

Random Playlist Song: Muppets - Swedish Curse

*Chicken squawks and drops*

Kermit: What was the dire prediction?

Scooter (?): The old gypsy woman said that in the final stages of the curse, everyone would turn SWEDISH!

*Gasps of shock*

Kermit: I don't believe it.

Gonzo to his chickens: Girls, did you hear that? In the final stages of the curse, we'll all be forndes splerndis kyuree.

*Sounds of shock*

Kermit: Gonzo!

Scooter: Oh, it's happening already! Gonzo just turned Swedish! Soon everyone will fyurse g'murse hersee myurnee hernee...

Kermit: Oh, Scooter!

Fozzie: Oh, Scooter. Kermit, listen to Scooter he her hernee hernee hernee...

*Sounds of people speaking in Swedish*

Kermit: Hey listen to me everybody, err. Hey, there's nothing terrible with turning Swedish. I mean, some of my best friends are nyur gong ger smear dee meesher...

*Sounds of people speaking in Swedish, and an instrument playing and people singing along*...

Most of the comments on the Muppet Show on Jump The Shark angrily retort that it never did.

"After the Movie, the only Muppet that mattered was Miss Piggy, a publicity hog who like all overhyped mediocrities overshadowed real talent. I ain't talking about Fozzie or Kermit, charming as they were. I mean Camilla the Chicken, Gonzo's long-suffering girlfriend. Watch her swoon with silent delight as Gonzo tries to win back her chicken heart: "you're sweeter than wine or vanilla, Camilla!" Watch her sudden, and entirely believable, transition from chipper assistant to terrified victim during a Swedish Chef vignette when that Scandinavian psycho threatened to fricassee her, and you will learn about acting. I still get teary-eyed when I remember the scene from the Movie where Gonzo tries to flirt with Miss Piggy, and Camilla puts her little chicken head on his shoulder, resigned to his wandering eye, loving him in spite and perhaps a little because of his flaws. Meryl Streep has never managed such depth and complexity on screen."



"I know this is a question everyone has on their minds, hope you'd provide a good answer!

If you had a choice, would you enter the political arena in S'pore? And which party would you choose to pledge allegiance to, the PAP, or numerous Opposition parties?"

Whoever sent this in (without a return address too) must be mad.


Me on Merv's rant on pre-cooked hor fun: One reason why Malaysian hawker food generally tastes better.

Merv: Strange thing is ... most chefs in zi char places - Are malaysians


Seen in a comment box:

"I like the part about NUS. Yeah Top 20, so what? I'm not ashamed to say I got a pass for my Physics major from that esteemed institution because I memorised like hell. Till today I don't know what is going on in Thermodynamics."
Consumating: Hot nerdy girls and indie rock boys! With glasses! - "Consumating is a site that helps geeks, nerds, hipsters, and bloggers find dates (and more!) that uses tags."
Uhh; 1711 girls and 4605 boys - somehow I'm not surprised.

Real or Fake? / Choosing a Christmas tree can be an ethical quagmire for environmentalists - ""Allow me to put in a plug for Hanukkah, which celebrates the miracle of a little bit of oil lasting eight days," he said. "You've got to love a holiday that's all about energy efficiency""

Santarchy! (Santacon) - "Every December, for the last 12 years, Cacophonous Santas have been visiting cities around the world and generating a bit of naughty Christmas fun as part of the annual Santacon events. It all started back in 1994 when several dozen Cheap Suit Santas paid a visit to downtown San Francisco for a night of Kringle Kaos. Things have reached Critical Xmas and Santarchy is now a global phenomenon. Please note that Santarchy is not a movement or protest against Christmas or commercialization. The media fabricated that one, along with many other details."

Tread lightly in the season of good cheer - "Some Christians say they are fighting against a cultural attack on Christmas, an effort to turn the sacred holiday into a generic, politically correct winter festival devoid of any trace of their faith... "If they want to put Christ back in Christmas, they should skip the mall and give that money to the poor""

Chrismukkah - Cards for Interfaith Families - "Well, you've found the one place where you don't have to choose! Here you can have it all. Here we celebrate Chrismukkah- the merry mish-mash, one-size-fits-all, unisex, alternative, non-denominational, non-judgmental, non-polluting, all-inclusive, sustainable, holistic, X-treme hybrid holiday celebrating diversity, religious tolerance, ideological, theological and political freedom, peace on earth and the inter-connectedness between all animals, plants and minerals."

A Gallery of Intact Penises in Art - "These pictures are intended for USAmerican women and others who may have never seen intact ("uncircumcised") penises before - or not known what they were looking at.

It's a Wonderful Internet - Modern version of "It's a Wonderful Life" which, strangely enough, I have never watched.

Friday, December 23, 2005

In response to my comment that our police are too free, given that they have time to investigate who put up harmless white elephant cutouts, come a dozen-strong in riot gear to chase off 4 silent protestors and keep requesting Martyn See to aid their investigations, my brother-in-law claimed that this was justified because they were responding to complaints made by members of the public. No doubt he would similarly justify police raids on gay spas.

So I suppose if a public-spirited member of the public decided to report his neighbor to the police for engaging in unnatural sex (don't ask) or report a fellow citizen for seditious remarks (like saying that Singapore is not ready for an Indian Prime Minister), I suppose they would be justified in storming these people's homes in riot gear to catch the felons.

If the same public-spirited person saw 5 kids playing in a playground, he would dial 999 and 15 riot police (you need at least 3 times as many police as criminals), responding to a complaint made by a member of the public, would come down and disperse the illegal assembly with tear gas.

An efficient police force which responds to all complaints made by our civic-minded citizens - that is what we all want.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

"Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies." - W. L. George


Someone who didn't leave a return email address:

"have you heard Eartha Kitt's Santa Baby?"

It's not bad too. The style is quite similar to the previous girl I talked about, but Eartha Kitt tends to be a bit lazy with her singing and the notes, sliding around and adding grace notes all over the place. Not slutty so much as sleazy (a la lounges with hostesses who sidle up to you).

Thanks for the suggestion anyway.


LangaList Std Edition 2005-12-19 - Apple's MacOS On Intel PCs

"It's pretty early in the game and lots could change, but the Intel-based versions of the MacOS that are scheduled to start appearing next year probably will only run on special, Apple-branded PCs that contain a proprietary security chip. The MacOS will look for the security chip, and refuse to run if it's installed in a PC without the chip--- which is to say: It will refuse to run on any other brand PC, even if all the other hardware is identical.

It would only be a small--- tiny--- additional step for Apple to make it so the PC will *only* run the Apple OS: Once you add a BIOS-level security chip, you can set it to monitor almost anything; and to only allow the PC to run if conditions are exactly what the vendor specifies. There's no technical reason why Apple couldn't cripple its PC so that they will work with only Apple-approved software.

It sounds a little paranoid, but it's in perfect synch with the company's long history of artificially restricting its hardware. Consider: Why are there no Mac clones? There's no technical reason at all. It's that Apple won't allow it to happen, using legal measures to remain the sole provider of Mac hardware; thus allowing them to charge premium prices. Apple likes a captive audience...

(If you get the feeling I dislike Apple's marketing, you're right. The wonderful thing about personal computing is that it places enormous power in the hands of us all. Companies that pursue elitist policies--- and Apple is far and away the worst in that regard--- work against the democratization of high-technology; and also appeal to some of the basest of human instincts: "I'm better/cooler than you because I 'think different'," or some such. Apple's technology is fine, but their approach to marketing just rubs me the wrong way. It always has.)

Bottom line: Apple's move to Intel is NOT for the end-user's benefit. It's solely for Apple's benefit. If your interests align with Apple's, then you'll do great with their hardware and software. But if things like "bang for the buck" or wide applicability and broad compatibility are important to you, Apple has *never* been a good choice. And I'll be very, very surprised if that changes any time soon."


Google It You Moron. - "Internet Lesson 101: Always check Google before asking a question. Someone thinks you are a moron, and just gave you a link here because you asked a question that would have been easily answered with a quick Google search. Next time search Google before asking a question, and only if you couldn't find anything should you ask someone for help."

Bah, Humbug - The horrors of December in a one-party state. - "And yet none of this party-line unanimity is enough for the party's true hard-liners. The slogans must be exactly right. No "Happy Holidays" or even "Cool Yule" or a cheery Dickensian "Compliments of the season." No, all banners and chants must be specifically designated in honor of the birth of the Dear Leader and the authority of the Great Leader. By chance, the New York Times on Dec. 19 ran a story about the difficulties encountered by Christian missionaries working among North Korean defectors, including a certain Mr. Park. One missionary was quoted as saying ruefully that "he knew he had not won over Mr. Park. He knew that Christianity reminded Mr. Park, as well as other defectors, of 'North Korean ideology.' " An interesting admission, if a bit of a stretch. Let's just say that the birth of the Dear Leader is indeed celebrated as a miraculous one—accompanied, among other things, by heavenly portents and by birds singing in Korean—and that compulsory worship and compulsory adoration can indeed become a touch wearying to the spirit."
National Education Lessons we can learn from the NKF scandal - Part 3

18) KPMG report page 80, Section 5.3.15

"It is apposite to recall the maxim - delegatus non potest delegare: a delegate cannot delegate"

Using Latin, inter alia, gives your report a touch of class. (Personally I think French is better to give the aura of pretension)

19) It is not justified to pay executives obscene amounts of money, as it is not a guarantee that shenanigans will not go on

Some would justify paying executives great amounts of money commensurate with their performance, or with the responsibility their job entails. Others claim that with high pay, executives will not be tempted to engage in questionable activities. This has clearly been shown to be wrong.

20) KPMG report page 44, Section 1.11.3

"There was no truly effective governance mechanism capable of challenging executives in their management of the business, and re-directing the NKF to its true purpose as and when needed."

Some with doctorates might argue that checks and balances don't matter because if you have the wrong people, they will manage to subvert the checks and balances of the system. However, this begs the question of how you get the right people in in the first place, and how you stop them from being corrupted. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and if checks and balances don't exist, even the best people might become over-confident (affecting their judgment) or lose their integrity with time, and there will be no mechanism to correct or replace them.

The key then, is to have checks and balances not only within the discrete sub-system or organisation (in this case, the NKF itself), but without - with the public, the press and regulatory bodies. The individuals whose job it is to ensure the checks work cannot be in awe at the prowess, reputation or mystique of one or a few supermen, trusting that since they are the right people, the checks and balances inherent in the system do not need to work

21) KPMG report page 94, Section 5.3.55

"That which "worked well in the past" may not always work; the rationale that "if it's not broken, let's not fix it" cannot apply to the NKF, particularly... when it was incorporated as a company."

Proclaiming that the old way of doing things has hitherto guaranteed success, and that to tinker even slightly with it will inevitably spell disaster for all concerned is a false dichotomy and plainly disingenuous, especially when times are a-changing, and so is the organisation. Stability and stagnation will not serve as the world moves on. New models are needed, and those in whose interests it is to preserve the status quo (or for other reasons dogmatically defend it) must not be allowed to hold the organisation back.

22) KPMG report page 100, Section 5.4.2

"We found that certain members of the former Board and/or Executive Committee did not disclose on a timely basis their actual or perceived commercial interests in third party suppliers who contracted with the NKF before such contracts were entered into."

Allegations of cronyism, nepotism and conflicts of interest (Interested Person Transactions) are most worrying and damaging, and full disclosure of relationships must be made. Even if not aired (due to fear of defamation suits, perhaps), such concerns will always linger if not addressed.

23) The perils of running non-businesses as businesses

Running a non-profit organisation as a business risks introducing a business mindset to the organisation, which brings with it the potential for abuseprofits and morals are almost always mutually exclusive. If you adopt a business mindset, you will behave with a business mindset rather than fulfilling your stated aims.

24) Bland assurances are useless

No matter how good an organisation's marketing or public relations is, or how it is claiming to be noble and to serve the public good, actions speak louder than words.

Other amusing bits of the report:

1) Page 172 & 174, Section 6.5.2-6.5.3, 6.5.13

"In 2004, the NKF disclosed or caused to be disclosed in several press releases and fund raising promotion materials that 2,900 to 3,600 children and their families were supported or assisted by the NKF... Records maintained by the DPA however show that up to 31 December 2004, the NKF-CMF benefited an aggregate of 145 children in the form of financial subsidies... In response, Mr Durai stated that "this is a matter of interpreation and sematics". and that "there was no intention on the part of the NKF to mislead members of the public.""

2) Page 125, footnote

"We were unable to determine how it came to be calculated that Ms Matilda Chua had 151 days of unused leave as at 31 July 2000"

3) Page 180, Section 6.7.7, point 5

"We found that as much as 90% of the running costs of the CEO's office amounting to $1.2 million were charged to haemodialysis at the NKF... it is unlikely the CEO would have spent 90% of his time on clinical activities, much less haemodialysis in particular."

4) Page 189, Section 6.11.2

You can make a profit on drugs and still claim you're subsidising them (note the difference between a subsidy and charging customers a below-market price thanks to savings on bulk purchases).

-End of Part 3-

Part 1, Part 2
It is easy to exceed your expectations if you don't expect very much.
I was amused by Minishorts' entry in response to an offhand comment of mine about Ma-laysia, and even more so by some of the vehement responses and comments by her fellow Malaysians.

Bashing the other country is a time-honoured tradition in the Malay Peninsula - attribute it to the trauma of Separation; to Singaporeans, I think comparing their country to and making light of Malaysia is a mere parlor game, obligatorily indulged in every now and then out of boredom. Malaysians, however, seem to take it very seriously and readily spring to the defence of their beloved homeland, with everyone jumping on the bandwagon. More generally, Singaporean (usually "heartlanders") like to proclaim that their country is better than anywhere else regardless of what they are comparing it to. Malaysians seem to confine their breast-beating to trying to show Singapore up - they must always be better than adik.

Perhaps Malaysians are defending their National Pride, and probably their own too - being known for clogging the World's arteries with Palm Oil is no mean feat, as is having the man who walked backwards, the woman who lived in a room with snakes or having their very own "Malaysia Book of Records" because the Guinness one (you know - the one the rest of the world uses) doesn't accept that Malaysia's oldest man is older than the World's oldest man due to a lack of documentation. Or perhaps it is jealousy, as geekgeek speculates ("I'm Sorry =("), since Malaysia is the land of low quality products, where people drink Kordial instead of Jus (100% Jus, not "Nature-Identical" Jus, I might add), a fact which even cats recognise (my brother-in-law tried to feed his pussy cat food from a Malaysian tin complete with a tudung woman on it, but the cat refused to eat the food, even when he sneakily mixed it with premium British wet cat food; it just picked out the good stuff for itself).

Malaysians come up with reflexive, visceral slurs that don't always make sense. Whereas Singaporeans point to Malaysia being crime-ridden (especially JB), dirty, smelly, a place where no one speaks English if you look Malaysian (or Singaporean, for that matter) and an uncivilised Third World country, at least they have reasonable grounds for doing so. What do Malaysians come up with? They parochially lament that we don't know how to make Hokkien Mee (this is like someone from Penang claiming that those in Sarawak don't know how to make Laksa), we erroneously call Canai Prata (yes, and we can't refer to Holland as the Netherlands either), or that we have such a travesty as Wanton mee with ketchup, as if they would be force-fed such if they paddled down on their sampans (maybe they fear culinary choice, and so would rather not have it for their own good, lest they be tempted to stray beyond the familiar and predictable).

Perhaps the abang mentality that their politicians hold has filtered down to the populace at large. But then it seems only Malaysian Chinese react so intensely. Maybe they feel jealous and discriminated against and thus have to assert their superiority to Singaporean Chinese so they feel they've got the better deal overall. Insecurity, in a word. Or maybe me and my friends just don't know many Malaysian Malays, and almost none of us speak Malay (corroboration on this point by those who do would be welcome).

I am sure people will respond to this with a litany of "Why Ma-laysia rules", including such things as political choice, better food, a less stressful system of education and the like, but then that'd be missing the point, of course. [Addendum: I forgot about the people who would respond with non-sequiturs and ad hominem arguments. If you want to make a point, at least make a valid one instead of waving your hands around and proclaiming how stupid, narrow-minded, bigoted or intolerant I am (not that these points are supported in any way beyond mere assertion in the first pace).

A: South Africa has the highest rape rate in the world.
B: You're racist/rude/narrow-minded! / You have a brain the size of a pea! / You're trying to undermine South Africa! / South Africa bashing! / Your country sucks too! / Have you ever been overseas? / You're saying that all blacks are rapists!]

Someone: "i think they are proud of their dirtier toilets, street stands, even of their corruption.... they are saying, look at us, for we have not sacrificed our humanity for earthly rewards.

less stress, then they come to singapore and study in NUS for fuck? and take our taxpayer money as their scholarship! fuck off lah!

they like to come to singapore and then complain that it is not like home... then go home, loh! no one is holding a gun to your green passport. [Ed: So many Malaysians work in Singapore, many of them commuting for insanely amounts of time, but how many Singaporeans work in Malaysia aside from the Singaporean managers at the resorts?"]

Someone else: "and their trilingualism. don't forget their trilingualism
it's very important to them that not only do they speak better mandarin, they speak one more language than singaporeans [Ed: Malaysian English is even worse than Singaporean, and that's saying something!]

"The only reason singaporeans visit malaysia is to stay at the singaporean-owned/run resorts!"

nice conciliatory gesture. suggest that the malaysian edition of Fear Factor feature that sort of food [wanton mee with ketchup]"
I got the following in my mail (no, I'm not a female student - someone just forwarded it to me). Somehow along the way, it went from being addressed to all female students to student leaders. Ah well:

To: Presidents of NUSSU & its Constituent Clubs
Presidents of Student Societies
Presidents of Interest Groups

Dear Presidents

We would appreciate it if you could circulate the attached invitation to all your female Exco/Management Committee Members and encourage them to attend the Dialogue Session on the evening of 11 Jan 2006 at LT 31, S16 Building (next to Science Canteen). You may also extend the invitation to your female fellow students.

Please inform them to send their replies to activity@nus.edu.sg by 27 December 2005

We need your assistance as the expected number of female students attending the Dilaogue session is 100. Many thanks for you help.



Dear Female Students

The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) would like to invite NUS Female Students to attend a dialogue session with the female Members of Parliament led by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister of State of Finance and Transport. She will also be accompanied by 5 female Members of Parliament.

The dialogue session will be held on Wednesday, 11 January 2006 from 8pm to 9.30pm at the Faculty of Science, Lecture Theatre 31. The schedule is as follows :

7.30pm - Reception (LT31 Foyer, Level 3, S16 Building, [next to Science Canteen] )

8.00pm - Commencement of Dialogue Session

9.30pm - End of Dialogue Session

Interested female students, please register with us before 27 December 2005. Kindly send us your reply with your name, course, year of study, matric no. , contact no., email address and topic of interest for discussion (if any) to activity@nus.edu.sg

Thanks and regards
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