When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, January 15, 2005

"Irrigation of the land with seawater desalinated by fusion power is ancient. It's called 'rain'." - Michael McClary


*Canceled* Where is God in all these?...a Christian response to the Tsunami Tragedy

Maybe they were afraid I'd show up *g*

In other news:

"NUS Literary Society
Auditions for Evening of Poetry and Music

Description: We are looking for music groups to perform original or classical music at the Evening of Poetry and Music to be held in February."

Sounds like a ripoff of Ho Poh Fun's Afternoon of Poetry and Music. What's next? Morning of Poetry and Music?


Enming informs me that Re: Mysteries of the universe: What does it mean when in movie credits the crew have letters after their names?


- Wayne Wahrman A.C.E (Editor)
- David Cohn CSA (Casting)
- Garry Ulmer CAS (Re-Recording Mixing Supervisor)
- Jeffrey L. Sandler MPSE (Supervising Sound Designer)

"this means they are members of that organization that they are titled after...
MPSE= Motion Picture Sound Engineers Association
CSA=Casting Society of America
CAS=Cinema Audio Society
ACE= American Cinema Editors

Cinematographers are the most varied:
ASC= American Society of Cinematography
ACS= Australian Cinematographers' Society
BSC= British Society of Cinematography"


Greeks vs. Italians

A Greek and an Italian were sitting down one day debating who had the superior culture.

The Greek says, "We have the Parthenon!"

The Italian says, "We have the Coliseum!"

The Greek says, "We had great Mathematicians!"

The Italian says, "We had the Roman Empire!"

And so on and so on until the the Greek says: "We invented sex."

The Italian nods, and says: "That is true, but it was the Italians who introduced it to women."


University offers UFOs course

Santiago University is offering a degree in UFOs

Director of the course, Ricardo Bermudez told Las Ultimas Noticias: "There is something happening out there and we don't know what it is."

"The graduates will learn how to use scientific tools to investigate phenomena and specific methods of investigation."

The course, called Unexplainable Air Phenomena is available to all local residents.


The flying shrimp of death suit

"Mix a piece of hot shrimp with an overzealous hibachi chef, and what do you get?

Believe it or not - a $10 million wrongful-death suit.

The family of a Long Island furrier has been allowed to continue its suit against Benihana - one of the more unusual claims you'll ever see.

Jerry Colaitis' bizarre death at age 47 came 10 months after he injured his neck on a family outing to the Munsey Park outlet of the famed Japanese steakhouse chain, noted for entertaining chefs who grill tableside.

"The chef who was assigned to their table starts tossing food," said lawyer Andre Ferenzo, who represents Colaitis' widow, Jacqueline.

"He tosses a piece of shrimp, and it hits one of the children. They tell him to stop, he doesn't. He does it a second time, and it strikes the brother-in-law."

Fearing for their safety, Ferenzo said, Colaitis who lived in Old Brookville, and his family asked the chef to stop throwing shrimp because it was hot.

The chef smiled, then tossed a third piece at Colaitis, who hurt his neck trying to avoid the flying crustacean, Ferenzo said.

That was in January 2001. By June, doctors were telling Colaitis he needed surgery to repair an injured vertebra or face possible paralysis.

After two operations, he was admitted to the hospital again on Nov. 20. Two days later, Colaitis, who owned a fur shop in Queens, was dead from a blood infection, respiratory failure and renal failure."


Narrator: How would you like to be an 'expert' whose views were respected by thousands? Publich books? Give lectures?

Boy: Great! How?

Narrator: By leaping on the exciting, fun bandwagon of creation science.

Boy: But I don't know any science. I have no qualifications.

Narrator: Hey, no problemo! There are dozens of mail-order diploma mills all over the USA, just send your check, SAE and a 1500 word essay as your 'dissertation' Extra honours if you spell right!

(Creationism Comic)


http://xiaoanan.mypicgallery.com/astrocamplyra04/girl-hilk_large.jpg - Picture of an all-girl taupok. Everyone is probably tired of the whole thing, but the following comment is still amusing: "i happen to come from tt "premier junior college in the Bishan-Ang Moh Kio area" and i'm a j2. believe me, ME, a GIRL, has participated in a taupok-ing session when my og mates taupok-ed my ogl! haha! and i was near the bottom too! wth. nothing happened to me la! just tt my ogl got kinda squashed, but it was SOOOO FUN!!! i deeply believe, that taupok-ing is a personal and intimate activity, in which members share and express their innermost and heartfelt feelings for e taupok-ed person. isn't this romantic???"

BBC shows staff the door - "Staff at the British Broadcasting Corporation have been given instructions on how to walk through a door... "Follow these simple steps each time you use the doors," says the memo entitled Revolving Security Door User Instructions... Employees at BBC Radio Sheffield in the north of England had previously been instructed on how to get through the peril-laden task of boiling a kettle."

San Antonio Strippers to Wear Permits - "City Councilman Chip Haass pushed the measure, adopted unanimously by the 11-member council, as a way to make it easier for police to identify dancers."

City pulls plug on home in drawbridge - "The 36-year-old homeless man was evicted by police and city officials -- who were stunned to find he'd been living for at least three years in a little wooden village built into the beams and girders of the bridge's intricate underbelly... Dorsay tapped into the bridge's electricity to power a space heater, television, PlayStation video game and microwave. If he had to bathe, he might slip upstairs to the usually vacant -- and sometimes unlocked -- bridgetender's office and wash off in a sink."

Police say man sang, wielded hatchet during robbery attempt - "A Martinsburg man charged with breaking into a couple's home on New Year's Eve, holding them at gunpoint for more than an hour and making one of them play the piano remains in jail awaiting a court appearance"

Hamster-Powered Night Light - "Though Skippy the Hamster powers this night light by running on his excercise wheel, the same concepts and low-rpm alternator design could be applied to a school science project using different energy sources! A small wind or hydro turbine could easily power this alternator."

Bush Pushing for More Faith-Based Funds - "President Bush has succeeded in opening the checkbooks of five federal departments to religious organizations. Now he's setting his sights on money doled out by the states."
As Dr. Massimo Pigliucci observes: "As I believe Richard Dawkins once suggested, if Bush is so convinced that the US is God's chosen nation, why not save billions and start a faith-based missile defense initiative? Or, along similar lines, just pray that we find Osama bin Laden, rather than actually hunt for him? Of course, Bush's prayers to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq have not be answered by the Creator. Could it be that He favors the axis of evil instead?"

Police Not Probing 3 Gamblers Anymore - "Police said Monday they are no longer investigating three people who won $2.5 million playing roulette, possibly by using technology to outsmart the table... Police had investigated the possibility that the three used a laser scanner built into a mobile phone to help them win the cash. They wouldn't say on Monday whether they actually had found such a device. The device could have been used to measure the speed of the roulette ball when released by the croupier and the declining orbit of the wheel. A computer could, with such data, have calculated which section of numbers the ball would land on before sending this information back to the phone."
You can bet after the wheel has been spun, and they got enough data from imaging to improve their odds

RSC Public Activities: Culture competition - Pictures of mold-encrusted coffee cups

False prophets in Daniel in the Bible. Revived Roman Empire, Beast of the Apocalypse of Mark, and Antiochus the Selucid Greek - "The book of Daniel has become important to Christian theology because the gospel of Mark made constant reference to the book, calling Christ the son of man, and because Mark wrote an apocalypse borrowing the image of the Beast of Daniel's prophecy, which would appear again later in the Christian Apocalypse, the Book of Revelations. For this reason you often hear that Daniel predicted the rise of the Revived Roman empire, but an examination proves that the prophecy in the Book of Daniel can be dated to the time of Antiochus the Selucid Greek beast of Daniel's prophecy. The only reason there is a need to 'revive' someone is that prophecy turned out to be false in that the last few verses never came true."

Thursday, January 13, 2005

"He is indebted to his memory for his jests and to his imagination for his facts." - Richard Brinsley Sheridan


The reaction of members of the Cult of Mac (or, as Shianux describes them, 'Mac Whores') to the iPod shuffle is amusing.

My objections to Macs are now less than what they used to be; the OS is now based on Unix, and prices seem to have gone down somewhat, though it's still substantially cheaper to assemble a PC/get a PC assembled, so the infamous Mac tax is still around. However, the mice still have no right mouse buttons, and the software spread is lacking. But I think probably the thing that annoys me the most is the way the Cult of Mac reacts to each new announcement from Apple, as if they've been hypnotised.

Take the iPod shuffle, for example. Its tagline is: "iPod shuffle. Enjoy uncertainty". So basically, they give you one less major feature, and then tout it as a feature. Knowing the consumer is one thing, but I am amazed and astounded by their gall - marketing the lack of a feature as a feature.

As Mad Magazine observed:

"Any idiot can add lots of chemicals and additives to their food.
But it takes a businessman to add less of them, and charge people more for giving them less"

It isn't even that much better designed, aesthetically or functionally, than current flash MP3 playersl; perhaps the only innovation is that it can be plugged directly into USB slots (and some other MP3 flash player company has probably done this already).

Oh, and don't forget that Steve Jobs dissed flash MP3 players a short 3 months ago.

These Apple people would be able to see fridges to Eskimos, or bicycles to fishes, if you like, no thanks to some people (ie Mac Cultists) who are just going to go for this because of the Apple branding. Anything Apple = good. Bah.

Bear in mind too that in this at least Sim Wong Hoo is right - Apple is coming up with a product that Creative had years ago. If consumers really only wanted a bare-bones MP3 player, they'd have bought Creative's offering. They didn't then but they will now. Why? Because this time it's Apple that's making the product. Go figure...

Someone: "It's nice to see how Apple have innovated by coming up with an MP3 player that seemingly incorporates a new, never seen before technology called "shuffle". It's always nice to know that they look after their loyal customers to the extent of choosing their songs for them and basically telling them, hey, you guys are too stupid to choose your own music, but we'll do it for you!

In fact, I hear they're so hyped about this new concept of "randomness" and "giving chance a chance", that apparently, the next Ipod will not have any playing or skipping functions at all! The player will randomly fill up with songs when connected to your PC/Mac (any number between 1 song to the full capacity of songs), and then it will randomly stop, start and skip songs halfway, so that you truly "give chance a chance".

Isn't life great when people are now marketing a lack of a standard feature as a feature? :)"


"Event Title: Where is God in all these?...a Christian response to the Tsunami Tragedy
Organizer: Campus Crusade for Christ

Description: A talk by Dr LT Jayachandran. Followed by a Q&A session.

Expresses the Christian outlook and response to the tragedy, and attempts to answer the question on how a Good God can allow suffering to happen.

(As well as other related questions)

Dr LT Jayachandran is the director of Ravi Zacharias international ministries Asia Pacific Ltd.

He is experienced in conducting open forums for non-Christians to express and exchange their views on the Christian faith. [Ed: Emphasis original]

Date/Time: 20th January 2005 (Thursday)
6pm to 7:45pm

Venue: LT 9"

Now, I don't think they want to open *that* can of worms.


"Conferment of Honorary Degree on the Sultan of Brunei

The National University of Singapore will be conferring an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree on His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah and Yang Di-Pertuan of Negara Brunei Darussalam. The award will be given in recognition of His Majesty’s role in leading Brunei Darussalam in its development, as well as for His Majesty's outstanding contributions to bilateral relations between Singapore and Brunei Darussalam."

Ah, I am reminded that the hefty MOE subsidy that NUS students get is totally warranted, for our University is also used as an instrument of diplomacy, besides being the Premier Institution of Social Engineering.


Odd debates are going on in Wannabe Lawyer's blog regarding gambling and the stock market.

Most arguments against gambling fall into 2 categories:

1) Gambling is morally wrong
2) Gambling will have many side effects (crime, society falling into ruin, global warming, the coming of the Antichrist etc)

Shianux has already amply shown that 2) is patently false; primarily, the stock market is analogous in many ways to gambling, yet we do not see society falling to pieces (the other arguments can be read at leisure, but I will not summarise them here).

So people are therefore obliged to fall back on 1). And apart from dogmatically beating the drum of morality, they seem unable to offer any cogent arguments for why this is the case.

In amusement parks, people pay to enjoy, say, a ride on the roller coaster. They have not gained anything tangible, but have enjoyed an experience. Similarly, in casinos people pay for the thrill of gambling. Wherein the difference?

In times past (and in parts of the present Muslim world), usury (the lending of money to people on interest) was illegal because people thought it Morally Wrong to earn money on money. Today, we understand that interest has to be paid to cover the opportunity cost of the money lent, and to cover inflation, besides (and even Islamic Finance tacitly recognises this, but chooses to employ sophistic arguments and techniques to do what needs to be done).

Some also argue that in the stock market, you own a piece of the company in question, whereas in gambling, you own nothing. Somehow, this transforms gambling into a disreputable, Morally Wrong activity. But what about when people sell short, or trade foreign exchange? In the former case, people are selling things they don't actually own, on the hope of making good later. As for the forex market, people are essentially gambling on money. If money here is considered a tangible good, what about the chips that gamblers use in casinos? Claiming that using a mixture of luck and skill (mostly the former) to bet on money that may rise in value (ie the forex market) is somehow more morally acceptable than using a mixture of luck and skill (in some games like Poker, mostly the latter, I am informed) to bet on your stake, which then either rises or falls in value (ie gambling), smacks of specious reasoning to me.

Failing which, why is gambling with something you don't own wrong in the first place anyway?


My favourite misanthrope:

Commenting on this piece of research, FuturePundit asks:

If being drunk on alcohol at the time of getting married can be grounds for annulment then why can't being in love also be grounds for annument? After all, people in love are in an obviously naturally drugged mental state and they obviously can't think straight. So shouldn't people in love be treated as suffering from a mental handicap or a special form of mental incapacitation? Should the law treat lovers as legally competent to enter into the serious and important contract of marriage?
Annulling marriages that fulfill one of the conventional criteria for successful marriages is appealingly perverse.


The amusing things you learn/read in Mr Brown's (who, btw, has plugged me again! Yay) comments boxes:

[On NUS's no smoking rule and fines] hmm I wonder how the uni would tally up penalties for sloth and apathy...oh wait, that's a national past-time.

best comment on NUS rules by a foreign-talent lecturer i've heard so far: "you girls cannot wear shorts to school, but they never said anything about super-short skirts." [Ed: That figures. And explains the whole half-thigh length skirt zaogeng principle]

"[On supplementary reading] It's bedtime reading... After you have done your tutorials, from 8 to 10am, you read this book from 10 to 11am. You sleep better. (pm?!)"

It's true. You get to U at 8am to the 2hr lecture, where you do your tutorials in lecture. (Sounds familiar? :)

Then you go to the (unrelated) tutorial between 10am to 11am, and catch up on the lecture by reading the book.

After which, you find a place to crash and sleep. :) The book often double-duties as a pillow too. :)


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"Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy is indistinguishable from molasses." - Unknown


The whole taupok scandal is hilarious (and ridiculous).

Really, those who don't want to be taupoked almost always aren't. People pretend to run away and resist the same reason why wrestlers preen and taunt their opponents - for fun/to give a faux sense of realism. It's all an elaborate show and pretence, like courtship dances in the Animal Kingdom.

In response to my comments about all-girl taupoks (or the lack thereof), boon leong informs me:

"I've seen two all-girl taupoks during my two years in jc actually, so it exists"

Hmm. Must've had many spectators, just like all-female mud wrestling.


I heard an amusing story about NTU.

Apparently when it first started in 1981, they realised that the gender ratio was too skewed, so in 1987 they brought in Accounting and Business.

This didn't work in correcting the sex ratio back to normality, so they introduced Communication Studies (Mass Comms) in 1993.


School has started once more, so I may once more (or for once, as the case might be) rejoice in the following sensations and experiences:

- Sitting in some lectures with no one to talk cock and share snide remarks with, all the while going: "what the hell?! what the hell?!", even though we're only doing simple linear algebra slightly above Secondary 3 standard. Yet, when you go "what the hell?!", it probably means that you're learning something. Either that or the lecturer really sucks.
- Crowding with the unfamiliar throng after the serenity and placidity of the holidays
- Getting back into the school grind of lectures, tutorials, homework and term essays
- The shrill, anorexic, chinese-speaking ah lians, and lesser ones of their ilk
- Girls with skirts which go less than halfway down their thighs, making me wonder how they can sit without zaogenging (Someone informs me that they do actually zaogeng, and you're tacitly allowed to look, but you just can't say anything)
- Sloppily dressed males (ie me)
- Rich people who can afford to print their lecture notes in living colour

And of course, there're noisy bazaars, of which there seem to be at least one a week in NUS, which all have bands performing so loudly that we in the Old Admin Block can hear them during lessons. The worst thing is that they all sell the same crap, which probably all comes from the same suppliers. Almost every bazaar will sell the following:

1) An assortment of skimpy tops in garish colours which look like they won't last 5 washes (which doesn't matter, since the Screwed Up Girls who buy them will probably tire of them by the third wash) and which sell for $10 and under
2) Tiny floral/pink bikinis
3) Cheap looking costume jewelry
4) Flip flops or other flimsy female footwear which looks like it was glued together in a Bangladeshi sweatshop (which doesn't matter, since the Screwed Up Girls who buy them will probably tire of them after a week)
5) Poser T-shirts
6) Various computer thingamajigs - USB hubs, mice, thumb drives and other peripherals
7) Printers and printer ink

At least it is of some comfort that the second worst chicken rice in Singapore (the one in the NUS Arts canteen - 'the Deck'; the worst being the one in the old [and new, I might add] RJC canteen) now has a sign which proudly proclaims: "New cook, new taste".

Following in the grand alliterative tradition of The Grinning Gecko (not too expensive, but not very good food either) and Munchie Monkey's (cheap food, but you assuredly get what you pay for), here are more suggestions for rotten cafes in NUS:

Alluring Alligator
Burping Babboon
Crazy Cobra
Drooling Dragon
Excited Elephant
Flamboyant Flamingo
Flighty Fowl
Hesitant Hen
Icky Iguana
Jumping Jellyfish
Kinky Kangaroo
Lusty Lizard
Masticating Mandrill
Noisy Nightingale
Oily Orang Utan
Porcine Porcupine
Queer Quail
Rotten Rhino
Satiating Snail
Smelly Snail
Smiling Salamander
Tacky Tiger
Ululating Urial (Sorry. *You* go find an animal starting with 'U')
Waltzing Wallaby
Xenophilic Xenarthra (Sorry. *You* go find an animal starting with 'X')
Vivacious Viper
Yodelling Yak
Zonky Zebra

"Robert Sternberg has suggested instead that there are essentially three separate kinds of intelligence - analytic, creative and practical. Analytic problems are ones formulated by other people, clearly defined, that come accompanied by all the information required to solve them, have only one right answer, are disembedded from ordinary experience and have no intrinsic interest: a school exam, in short." - Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters

I have this theory that lecturers make their lectures seem easy and fun, at least until the date from which the "F" grade shows on students' transcripts if they drop the module (thereby affecting their vital statistics, their CAPs). Then all the dry and boring stuff comes out.

It is most amusing to see a Manakin do a moonwalk, ala Michael Jackson.


[On sending email] If you are 'Tan Meiling', tell me you are 'Tan Meiling'. Don't put there: 'Blue Devil', 'Golden Arrow'. I don't know who you are. (won't)

[On the best 5 of 8 class quizzes being used for cumulative assessment] Some of you, you do so well. After 5 you do so well, you decide not to come to class anymore. That's alright, you're adults.

[On class quizzes] Some of you like to do this. Your tutorial is on Thursday. You come for the Tuesday class, you get all the answers, then you come on Thursday.

I try not to have tutorial on a Monday. Then your weekend is spoilt (schedule tutorials)

If you really have problems, come to me in a group, but with the problem solved (?)

A student came up to me. 'Can we have more interaction?'. So I began to ask questions. But he did not want to answer questions. I think he just wanted to observe them [interacting].

Some of my colleagues... Oprah Winfrey. Walk around with the mic.

Just nod your head or laugh, so I know you've understood.

Switch off the front lights? Ok. I'm gonna switch off the front lights. I'm also an electrician [not just a lecturer]

pah'rah'meters (parameters)

see'mul'tay'shear'ness changes (simultaneous)

Very big derry association (dairy)

The worst is LT8 and LT11. I'm always being punished, given LT8 and LT11.

[On something boring] Don't make noise. We are coming to the most exciting part.

I don't know what's wrong with the first row. NUS disease. Everyone sitting in the first row is contaminated.

From my experience, at least a third of you think that evolution is complete nonsense, or are deeply skeptical.

[On reasons for doing the module] The main reason is you have to get rid of your science requirement... and you don't want to do physics. I fully understand. I also don't want to do physics.

[On learning what science is] The next time you talk to a scientist, you can tell him what science is all about.

mee'no'pause (menopause)

West Berlin. Those were the good old days, when we had a wall. Everything was subsidised.

I went to Cornell. That was a horrible place. You don't want to go there... Middle of nowhere. Half the semester, everything is covered in snow.

I am totally against lectures. You spend 2 hours getting more information than you can absorb, then you spend 2 hours trying to recover from all that.

[On course requirements] Willingness to think, discuss and argue... 'Just let him talk, he can't possibly mean this; this is NUS after all, correct?'

[On laymen being willing to talk about evolution but not quantum physics] If you talk to a psychology or philosophy major, they'll say: that's exactly the problem. People think they know what they're talking about.

[On Evolution] If I teach Chemistry I don't have to deal with aversions to redox reactions

[On the archaic meaning of 'Symposium'] Plato's Symposium, which is not an argument with a guy named 'Symposium'... I once saw a poster: 'Symposium on drinking problems'. A drinking party on drinking problems.

[On Aristophanes] This guy, believe it or not, is a comedian. He looks like a hangman, but he's really a funny guy.

We try to play a game in the clast (class)

When are my consultation's times? (consultation)

A flastic of anxeity (fluster)

A lot of you are complaining that since you came to University you have no time. Is it true? [Everyone: YES!] We shall analyse that later.

The drivers may be late off (laid)

[On being conned into buying a timeshare] I was hooped in once. One timeshare somewhere. I never go [there]. You see, even as an economist, not applying the principles. (?)

baking pisa / pea'zah (pizza)

I want to dwelve into these (delve)

Apparently some people enjoyed the readings so much last semester that they stole them

A hundred percent continuous assessment. You know what that means? You all got graded today.

[On formatting essays for submission] You don't need to put my name on it, I know what it is.

Everyone thinks that they know about English Literature, so they can talk about it... Science, we are slightly better, we pretend that everything is very complicated.

Can you have science without a paradigm? [Student: No] Primary school: One word answers. Secondary school: Two word sentences. Tertiary education: Full sentences.

No biologist thinks that inheritance is passed on in any way other than DNA. There are a few with different theories, but we call them freaks. In the social sciences we would call it a different point of view.

many unobserved a'n'air'meh'lees (anomalies)

American textbooks make the world so easy, but they're very heavy to carry around. Because what can be explained in half a page, they take ten pages to cover. That's why they're so easy.

[On feedback] They said the course is difficult, it is dru, it is boring. I won't tell you what they said about the lecturer. You can go find out for yourself.

[On supplementary reading] It's bedtime reading... After you have done your tutorials, from 8 to 10am, you read this book from 10 to 11am. You sleep better. (pm?!)

amaze'n (Amazon)

the re'noy'cence in Europe (Renaissance)

A lot of the statements people make are actually very cover'lier (cavalier)

You can find order in chaos. That sounds more like poetry than econometrics.

[On describing inferential statistics] Most textbooks are not very helpful. They just put a lot of crap like this to get it out of the way... At least I'm honest.

This is what the private sector does all the time. Con you with statistics. Nowadays, with Excel - very nice graphs... Distract you from the important data.

[On students walking out of lecture before the bell has sounded] In economics we call this rational expectations of the end of the lecture. In statistics we call it 'perfect forecast'.
This site is the third search result on Google for 'Jennifer ellison boob job' (sans quotes, a referral I keep getting).

I am ambivalent (sorry, no pictures of her breasts before she got them enhanced).


Moral skepticism

"In meta-ethics, moral skepticism is a theory which maintains either that ethical claims are generally false, or else that we cannot sufficiently justify any ethical claims, and must therefore maintain doubt about whether they are true or false.

For example, the claims "it is wrong to kill" and "it is acceptable to kill" are both false, according to the first version of moral skepticism. The moral skeptic says that this is because ethical claims implicitly pre-suppose the existence of objective values, and that these do not exist.

Such a position is exemplified in J. L. Mackie's book Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong. Mackie's main argument against the existence of objective values is the argument from queerness - objective values would be very queer things indeed, very different from everything else in the world - indeed, they would have to be something like the Platonic forms (which Mackie considers a "wild product of philosophical fancy"). Furthermore, how we are supposed to discover these objective values is mysterious.

The moral skeptic's conclusion is that objective values are merely useful fictions for the preservation of society."


Current hair status:

Fringe: When pulled down, some parts go just past the bottom of my nose. When pulled back, the strands are about 1cm from the top tip of my ear.
Side: It goes maybe 2-3cm past the end of my earlobe
Back: At its longest, the hair at the back now touches my collar, so when I move my head my hair tends to get tousled. This doesn't mean that the hair is very long, just that I have a short neck. Pity.

I was thinking of how I could keep the hair at the back in order. It's long enough to be formed into a tuft and pinned or tied, but that would look hideous even by my standards, so (apparently some people possess the secret lore of how to clip presentably, but I know not any of them).

Ah well. At least I can now bunch the hair at the back up into a small tuft with one hand and run my other hand through it. Daily conditioning has paid off.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

"I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally." - W. C. Fields


I finally got tired of all the broken promises by MSN. They first announced the account upgrading at the end of June 2004, but kept pushing the date back, from "next month" (ie July) to "this fall" to "by the end of September" to "later this year" (ie the end of 2004). So when the calendar rolled over into 2005 I was furious.

Then, Benjy sent me this: Get your Hotmail account upgraded from 2MB to 250MB

And it worked! Well at least the first step, from 2MB to 25MB, did. Now to wait for 250MB.

Such discrimination against users on the basis of country. No wonder my secondary account, opened in 2003, got upgraded to 2GB, but the account I've had since 1998 hasn't. So much for treating loyal customers well...


IVLE My Community - NUS Freethinkers' Community

"Hello fellow freethinkers,

Are you fed up with irritating invitations/threats from religious fundamentalists to attend religious services?
Are you disturbed that so many people today, in the 21st century, are still treating ridiculous fables/legends as the unquestionable truth?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you have us for company.

All atheists, agnostics, deists and other freethinkers, whether students or staff:

Welcome aboard!"

To join, login to IVLE, click the "Add/remove communities" button at the bottom of My Workspace, then click "Add communities" and the category "Religion & Beliefs". Click the check box beside the community name and then click "Bookmark".


Extract from my tutorial answers:

Science philosophies

Question 4: Do Popper's and Kuhn's descriptions of science correspond to your own ideas about science?
Answer: They make something relatively simple seem profound and obscure.

Question 5: What is the relationship between science and truth?
Answer: What is truth?

That aside, studying Popper and Kuhn's views on science is instructive. I do not agree with the whole "facts do not exist" spiel though, for not only does it lead to epistemological nihilism, it is also self-contradictory.

The important thing to keep in mind, as always, is that nothing can be taken and held as the Gospel truth, and that paradigms should be discarded when their time has come.

I was in Seminar Room 2, and I asked someone where Tutorial Room 1 was.

He said he thought it was on Level 5 of the block, so I went down to Level 5, but it didn't seem to be there.

I went back up to Level 6 and found that Tutorial Room 1 was opposite Seminar Room 2.



My sister asked me what I would want my epitaph to say.

I suggested: "It's Morphin Time!".

She said that was quite good :)


"a cheerful transformation name for what is essentially decomposition to feed the maggots and fertilise the soil"

"here lies a weird guy."


More tales of Handsome Boy, Steven Lim

"I am looking for a girl friend now for a serious relationship!!!! My trust had been betrayed by a 16 year old girl and we ended our six months relationship on 26th December 2004. All the promises she had given cannot be fulfilled but all turned around and laughed at me at the last minutes. She used to listen to me and put me in priority. She had changed suddenly and heartless and I am so so heartbroken because I really love her. I cried so badly while walking in Orchard's shopping malls feeling betrayed why she had chosen her job over me. She dun care about me anymore! Many people recognized me as Steven Lim and feel puzzled why the sadness. All I ask from her is to get a job that ends earlier like 8pm not after 12am everyday, so that we can spend more time together like before. That is wrong!?!? Relationship needs time together to be healthy n sweet! But she dun listen to me anymore!!! I am a Virgo and I had to admit that I am a demanding/picky boyfriend and I need someone (a gal) that dun argue too much and rather be submissive towards me to save time on quarrels, supportive towards my passion in performing art, pure and can gradually give me 100% of total devotion, pretty, slim, dun irc, dun smoke/drink, preferably no curfews so we can roam together if we want to, close to female friends rather than guy friends and age between 16-21. Follow me wherever I go, lift me up when I fall and I would like to bring u see the sunrise, sunset and walk the globe with you or on my motorbike, holding your hands tightly till the day we die. Love me for what I am, Steven Lim is earnestly waiting for you. Eye for a girl. Contact me with the following numbers and email me with pictures if interested. Thank you. Extra note in case you regret you contact me. I always subsidize 2/3 of my girlfriend expenses only, not full. Just my way of doing things."

Erm. Right. That pretty much speaks for itself, I think. Maybe her mother saw him making a fool of himself on television multiple times (it wasn't even funny; pathetic, more), and realised that this was the man her daugher was going out with.

A 28 year old looking for a 16 year old girlfriend? Maybe because their mental ages are closer than would seem at first glance.

I recall someone's suggestion - pair Xiaxue and Steven Lim together!


Believers go on rack to prove God relieves pain

"People are to be tortured in laboratories at Oxford University in a United States-funded experiment to determine whether belief in God is effective in relieving pain.

Headed by Baroness Greenfield, the leading neurologist, the new Centre for the Science of the Mind is to use imaging systems to find out how religious, spiritual and other belief systems, such as an illogical belief in the innate superiority of men, influence consciousness.

Scientists have long been baffled at the persistence of these beliefs in the face of seemingly irrefutable logic. Professor Lewis Wolpert, the biologist, has speculated in the past that a belief in how the world was created and what happens after death may have conferred an evolutionary advantage."


The Nazi's testimony - "Oskar Gröning was at his local philately club when a fellow stamp collector cast doubts on the Holocaust. Gröning knew he was wrong - because 50 years earlier he had served at Auschwitz."
Of course, the conspiracy theorists would have a different answer,

You just might be an altie (a person so militantly pro-alternative medicine and so distrustful of conventional medicine that he will never admit when conventional medicine is effective and refuse ever to concede that any alternative medical practitioner might, just might, possibly be a quack) if... - "If you dismiss every well-designed randomized clinical study that failed to show a benefit for an alternative medicine or therapy over placebo control as either not proving that the therapy is ineffective or as having been manipulated by nefarious forces (conventional medicine, the pharmaceutical companies, the government, etc.) to produce a negative result"

Herbal Remedies Found to Contain Toxic Heavy Metals - "Some herbal remedies may do more harm than good. Researchers writing today in the Journal of the American Medical Association report that 20 percent of herbal medicine products sampled contained dangerous levels of heavy metals."

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS TRUE EVEN THOUGH YOU CANNOT PROVE IT? - "Great minds can sometimes guess the truth before they have either the evidence or arguments for it (Diderot called it having the "esprit de divination"). What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"

Scholars Mull Their Separation From the Mainstream - "When humanities scholars gaze in the mirror, what is reflected? If the 120th Modern Language Association convention is any indication, many prominent scholars in language and literature see their growing estrangement from mainstream discourse"
I think the problem with academia is that academics write only for other academic to read, and the nature of the humanities and social sciences is that, unlike the hard sciences and engineering, they actually have direct relevance to the world.

The essential scientific and political links in any Tsunami Early Warning System... - "Here is a brief analysis of what is required, highlighting the links in the chain that may prove difficult to achieve. The science is the easy bit - the political will and local planning within each state are what will really count."
I recall there was a great deal of outrage when people found out that a warning system was considered but never implemented. This post shows just why.

'Dark forces' behind tsunamis - "Just 11 days after Asia's tsunami catastrophe, conspiracy theorists are out in force, accusing governments of a cover-up, blaming the military for testing top-secret eco-weapons or aliens trying to correct the Earth's "wobbly" rotation. In bars and Internet chatrooms around the world questions are being asked, with knowing nods and winks, about who caused the submarine earthquake off Sumatra on December 26, and why governments were so slow to act in the minutes and hours before tsunamis slammed into their shores, killing almost 150 000... Scientific evidence, however, cuts little ice with many conspiracy theorists. " [Ed: Emphasis mine]

Concentration test for men - I wonder what the one for women's like. Some girls I sent it to didn't even notice the distraction. Bah.

Science Made Stupid - "What is Science? Put most simply, science is a way of dealing with the world around us. It is a way of baffling the uninitiated with incomprehensible jargon. It is a way of obtaining fat government grants. It is a way of achieving mastery over the physical world by threatening it with destruction. Science represents mankind's deepest aspirations - aspirations to power, to wealth, to the satisfaction of sheer animal lusts."

The Economics of Flatulence - "The dilemma resembles that of a cartel like OPEC. A collusive agreement to cut back production (thereby raising prices) is most easily sustained with a small number of producers, but typically crumbles as the number of producers rises. The difficulty of identifying and punishing cheaters makes cheating more worthwhile, leading to a breakdown of cooperation."

Why Singapore is a Pathetic Place - For the few who haven't seen this, a Hong Konger's perspective on Singapore.

The Natural "Crime Against Nature": Homosexual Behaviors In Animals - "In the approximately 1,000 to 3,000 species whose behavior has been well researched and described in the literature, approximately 450 have been shown to have clear homosexual behaviors."

U.S. Ally Sentences Elderly Mother to Prison, Hard Labor - "After torturing her son to death, allegedly by boiling him in water, the government of Washington's closest Central Asian ally, Uzbekistan, has sentenced his 62-year-old mother to six years of hard labor in prison, according to human rights groups, who are calling on the Bush administration to speak out against the continuing persecution of independent Muslims there."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Me at Sunday's Blogger's Brunch. I must say, this is one of my better photographs.

If you wish, you may mentally composite this into the artistically styled versions available from:

Mr Brown (Impressionist water colours)
Expat@Large (Spaced out style postage stamp shapes)
myrick (The Classic - black bar blindfolds)

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Sunday Times January 9, 2005
Lifestyle section
Reflect page
Page L12

Tan Tarn How

THE death of so many in the wake of the terrible tsunami exactly two weeks ago is a difficult thing to comprehend.

The sheer scale of the tragedy is partly behind the inability to fully grasp the nature of the beast.

Another reason is that this is a natural disaster, not the bitter fruit of human action or inaction, even if it is true that many would have been saved if given warning of the impending deluge.

Humankind is supposed to have mastered the elements, or known enough at least to prevent death and devastation of such magnitude.

The tidal waves show not.

The calamity has had some religious leaders striving to explain God’s role in the calamity.

We all know that the chain of events was unleashed by the sudden movement of the Burma Microplate above the adjoining India Plate. That is the what.

The why is the – much – harder part.

Some religious leaders even say that it is a payback for the accumulated sins of our race.

But it is hard to conceive why so many innocent people, including children, should be called to account for deeds they were not even aware of, much less committed. What manner of celestial justice can this possibly be?

This is hardly the first calamity that challenges religion to reconcile the notion of an all-powerful God with one that is merciful.

Before the tsunami, for instance, hurricanes swept through the Carribean, flattening 90 per cent of the buildings on the Grenada island and killing 2,000 in Haiti.

Malaria kills a child every 30 seconds.

Over 12 million children have been orphaned by Aids in sub-Saharan Africa.

An estimated 27 million women, children and men are forced into slavery around the world.

There are the genocides in Sudan, Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia.

About 1.2 billiong people subsist on US$1 per day.

And then there are the lesser battles of those who, sometimes, amid plenty, go without electricity and running water, including, it must be added, some of our own citizens.

In other words, enormous as the current tragedy is, it is only one part of a global map of human desperation.

Each instance of pain, whether by human agency, nature or both, is a theological challenge.

Thankfully, the more thoughtful among those whose role it is to interpret life and death for their followers, have desisted from easy explanations.

One is the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, who hypothesized that it would be wrong for Christians not to question what God was up to.

Ultimately, though, the religions fall back on faith, admitting that cataclysms like these cannot be understood.

The secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Iqbal Sacranie, told the BBC: “This is the will of God almighty. It is this aspect that is beyond us. Allah knows best.”

Archbishop Williams himself concurred, noting that believers “have learnt that there is some reality to which they can only relate in amazement”.

Buddhist leaders pin it on karma.

Chief priest Ananth Subramania-Batter at the Shiva Murugan Temple, which is in the United States, said Hindus believe that everyone has a predestined date of death.

“It is a lesson for all of us,” the priest told a newspaper, “that no matter how secure we feel or how advanced we are, anything can happen at any time and anywhere. There are things that are out of our control.”

Misery is not a proof against God, the religious leaders asserted.

“God is to be found in the hands of those who are helping to bury the dead, to bring clean water to the living, to administer medicine to the ill and counsel to those in darkness,” was how one of them put it.

If that is how the more fortunate can be galvanized to help the less, then we can only be thankful for it.

I prefer to see the problem of evil as evidence of the non-existence of a supreme spiritual entity. [Ed: Emphasis mine]

It is much simpler that way.


I never expected to see this in the ST!
"The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory." - Paul Fix

Random Playlist Song: Paganini - 24 Caprices for solo violin Op.1 - No.18 In C (Itzhak Perlman)


Viewing my counter I noticed that only 33.10% of the visitors to this blog came via referrers. Which means that more than two thirds actually type my blog URL into their browsers, instead of clicking onto here from another site.

I always thought that two thirds of my hits came from people looking for zaogeng pics, or pictures of Emm* W*tson naked.

So who are all of you, the two thirds of the over 200 people I get everyday?


Apparently today, while my father was using my laptop, it BSODed.

He then freaked out and told my mother, and both of them started screaming, shouting, ranting and raving forthwith. This was related to me by my brother in law, since I was not at home when this happened (I thank all the seven Shichifukujin for sparing me from this horrendous fate).

Supposedly, if any money has to be paid for my laptop's future repair, I will have to foot the bill. Of course, if I used the perverted brand of logic that my parents are so fond of (The laptop was fine before my father used it. My father used it. Therefore my father is responsible for whatever might go wrong with it), that would not be so.

But I'm too tired to press the point with them, so.

Rational argument is always useless in the face of a priori conclusions.


"It is a persistent historical tradition across cultures to begin arduous and otherwise meaningful intellectual journeys with both beverages and snacks! So come on time to class on Tuesday and we’ll begin our own 14 week journey with hot Milo, coffee, tea, fried bananas and curry puffs. That way, if you decide to drop the course the day after, at least you will have gotten something out of it!"



Translation: Some student (Age 15): "If I were the principal, heh heh... I'd only choose pretty female teachers to come here to teach"

This is an innocuous sounding line from Lianhe Zaobao was uttered by a PRC student in Li Hua Secondary School (aka 河谷中学 - He2 Gu3 Zhong1 Xue2, aka River Valley High School, aka 立化中学, aka The School with the Most Disgusting Uniform in Singapore Bar None), but the person who uttered it was told to write an apology to Lianhe Zaobao and the Principal's Office.

With incidents like this and that of the AJC girls who kissed for fun while posing for their class photo (also archived in talkgeek2me.com with the original photo, on the yuri LJ community (with commentary on and analysis of the kiss) and on sg_education on LJ sans photo, it's no wonder that we're having trouble encouraging creativity.

People need to let their hair down. Oh, I forgot. They won't even give their pupils very much freedom where their hair is concerned.


”For copyright, the implications (of electronic publishing) are fundamental. Established notions about copyright become obsolete, rooted as they are in the technology of print. The recognition of a copyright and the practice of paying royalties emerged with the printing press. With the arrival of electronic reproduction, these practices become unworkable. Electronic publishing is analogous not so much to the print shop of the eighteenth century as to word-of-mouth communication, to which copyright was never applied.”

- Ithiel de Sola Pool, “Technologies of Freedom”

"Throughout the time I’ve been groping around cyberspace, an immense, unsolved conundrum has remained at the root of nearly every legal, ethical, governmental, and social vexation to be found in the Virtual World. I refer to the problem of digitized property. The enigma is this: If our property can be infinitely reproduced and instantaneously distributed all over the planet without cost, without our knowledge, without its even leaving our possession, how can we protect it? How are we going to get paid for the work we do with our minds? And, if we can’t get paid, what will assure the continued creation and distribution of such work?

Since we don’t have a solution to what is a profoundly new kind of challenge, and are apparently unable to delay the galloping digitization of everything not obstinately physical, we are sailing into the future on a sinking ship. This vessel, the accumulated canon of copyright and patent law, was developed to convey forms and methods of expression entirely different from the vaporous cargo it is now being asked to carry. It is leaking as much from within as from without. Legal efforts to keep the old boat floating are taking three forms: a frenzy of deck chair rearrangement, stern warnings to the passengers that if she goes down, they will face harsh criminal penalties, and serene, glassy-eyed denial.

Intellectual property law cannot be patched, retrofitted, or expanded to contain digitized expression any more than real estate law might be revised to cover the allocation of broadcasting spectrum (which, in fact, rather resembles what is being attempted here)"

- John Perry Barlow, "The Economy of Ideas: Why Everything You Know About Intellectual Property is Wrong"


Legislative Sentry: HB1677 - Have Miscarriage, Go to Jail? - "Guess what? You just earned yourself up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Why? Because you failed to call the cops and report your miscarriage within 12 hours. True? Not yet. But if Delegate John Cosgrove (R-78) has his way, HB1677 will become law in a few short months, and this scenario will be reality for many women in Virginia."

Solving and creating captchas with free porn - "The ingenious crack is to offer a free porn site which requires that you key in the solution to a captcha -- which has been inlined from Yahoo or Hotmail -- before you can gain access. Free porn sites attract lots of users around the clock, and the spammers were able to generate captcha solutions fast enough to create as many throw-away email accounts as they wanted."

Navel Gazing - Why even feminists are obsessed with fat. - "There's simply an irreconcilable contradiction between feminism and femininity, two largely incompatible strategies women have adopted over the years to try to level the playing field with men. The reason they're incompatible is simple. Femininity is a system that tries to secure advantages for women, primarily by enhancing their sexual attractiveness to men. It also shores up masculinity through displays of feminine helplessness or deference. But femininity depends on a sense of female inadequacy to perpetuate itself. Completely successful femininity can never be entirely attained, which is precisely why women engage in so much laboring, agonizing, and self-loathing"

N Korea wages war on long hair - "A campaign exhorting men to get a proper short-back-and-sides has been aired by state-run Pyongyang television... It stressed the "negative effects" of long hair on "human intelligence development", noting that long hair "consumes a great deal of nutrition" and could thus rob the brain of energy."
Women must be dumber than men, then.

Controlling the Internet: The use of legislation and its effectiveness in Singapore - "Internet legislation in Singapore is analogous to a drift net in that it is wide enough to catch an ambit of transgressions as it trawls the ocean of the digital pulses. There is a deliberate vagueness and ambiguity in the language of the legislation that allows for flexibility of interpretation that is useful when dealing with technology whose developments and uses one cannot foresee. An example of this ambiguity would be the Internet Code of Practice that states that ‘(p)rohibited material is material that is objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public morality, public order, public security, national harmony’. Conversely, however, the very drift net nature of the legislation has a potential for abuse in its interpretation and application."
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