"The happiest place on earth"

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

"One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us." - Kurt Vonnegut

Random Playlist Song: Mozart - Piano Concerto No 23 in A, KV488 - 03- Allegro Assai (Vienna Philharmonic - Bohm, Pollini)

Although the Twenty-third Concerto is famed for its graceful melodies and elegant structure, it was not published during Mozart's lifetime. This fact might lead one to imagine that Viennese publishers were seriously short-sighted, which in some instances they certainly were, but in this case, they seem to be blameless, for apparently Mozart himself withheld the piece from publication. In a letter to his father, he cites it as being amongst "the compositions that I keep for myself or for a small circle of music-lovers and connoisseurs, who promise not to let them out of their hands." This special concerto was not a piece that he was willing to trade for mere money. Even when his finances were at their worst, he would not sell this score, but rather retained it as a personal treasure. It was music that had, for him, a deeper meaning, yet behind his decision might have lurked a measure of the showman's judgement. Four decades later, Paganini would also withhold works from publication, lest other violinists start performing his own trademark compositions. Like his later colleague, Mozart might have thought to keep this wonderful work from the hands of his competitors. If you wanted to hear this concerto, you had to attend a concert by its creator. [Classical Music Pages]


How the CPF led to property speculation (not written by me)

I think we have to agree but what we mean by 'choice'. Filbert seems to think that as long as there is no overt coercion, any choices you make are based on your own free will, so you ought to take full responsibility for it. For instance, if the government decides to force all males to do NS, and that's not enough to force you to migrate at the expense of great financial and psychological trauma - well, too bad, you chose to stay in Singapore. If the government makes you learn your 'official' mother tongue instead of another language and you refuse to go into private schooling which would cost 50 times more, well that's your choice. If you speak up against the government, knowing that you could be sued for defamation even if you were making legitimate objections, hey, that's your choice. After all, you knew the costs involved when you decided to make those silly remarks about aid to Indonesia, or investments in China. So because you were a free agent, and you knew the rules, it was entirely your fault. No matter what the rules were, and no matter whether you had a choice to play by them.

I'm no philosopher, but something seems wrong with that.

Let's say you have a government which says, "You have to save a certain proportion of your money, and you can either a. leave it in your CPF account and get nominal returns of 2.4% which won't be enough for your retirement or b. invest it in real estate and there might be a chance that your property will appreciate, and besides we encourage you do to this with rebates and first-time buyer policies, and so on."

Under option a., you will have barely enough for retirement. Under option b., you get a house, and if house prices fall, you still won't be doing so well retirement-wise, but there's a relatively good chance that your property will appreciate, and you could possibly sell it off and make a bundle. You might even do well enough so that you can go beyond your Minimum Sum and pay for a nice retirement holiday. What would you choose?

So everybody rushes out and buys property, raising property prices and confirming initial optimistic hunches. Many buy two, even. Huge speculation in the real estate market escalates. By the way, you aren't restricted by how much you can spend on housing - you can run your Ordinary Account to zero if you wish. You can buy second properties with your CPF. You also don't have to buy non-residential housing, any office space would do! By the way, that also drives house prices up for everyone else, raising the cost of living substantially.

Of course, some people enter the market at the wrong time, make the wrong decisions etc. It's not so bad if it's just the unlucky gamblers who are bumming out, but when most of your ageing cohort is playing the same game as well? So much for a central "retirement providing" fund.

So the real problem comes when you make those choices, a. and b. Maybe the government shouldn't be the uber-insurer so that it guarantees that no matter what happens whether you choose a. or b., but it should make option a. rather more attractive so that people have to think really hard about selecting option b. In other words, you should be really confident about being able to take on this additional risk - comfortably - before buying that piece of prime land. Now we have more options available to us: unit trusts, equity, and so on, so we might choose option a. so that we can earn bigger and better returns, and have a diversified portfolio. But what about the generations before us? The CPFIS only came into being in 1997. That option just didn't exist in the past.

So the real issue is in designing a system that works, and giving people the right incentives that will ensure people do not simply have it in their best interests to take the riskiest option by default. The system should also consider other crucial domestic markets - such as the housing market - and ensure that a retirement scheme does not create distortions because of perverse incentives. This is especially so when the government controls a huge chunk of the supply of residential housing, and, through the CPF, influences the demand strongly. The Singapore government also technically owns all land in Singapore (all land is technically on lease .) A lot of the 99 year lease holdings are expiring soon with rather marked uncertainty as to what the government is going to do, so in private property markets clearing the air might nudge these property prices up a little.

[More on the Young Republic Yahoo Group]


My God Problem

"No, most scientists are not interested in taking on any of the mighty cornerstones of Christianity. They complain about irrational thinking, they despise creationist "science," they roll their eyes over America's infatuation with astrology, telekinesis, spoon bending, reincarnation, and UFOs, but toward the bulk of the magic acts that have won the imprimatur of inclusion in the Bible, they are tolerant, respectful, big of tent. Indeed, many are quick to point out that the Catholic Church has endorsed the theory of evolution and that it sees no conflict between a belief in God and the divinity of Jesus and the notion of evolution by natural selection. If the pope is buying it, the reason for most Americans' resistance to evolution must have less to do with religion than with a lousy advertising campaign.

So, on the issue of mainstream monotheistic religions and the irrationality behind many of religion's core tenets, scientists often set aside their skewers, their snark, and their impatient demand for proof, and instead don the calming cardigan of a a kiddie-show host on public television. They reassure the public that religion and science are not at odds with one another, but rather that they represent separate "magisteria," in the words of the formerly alive and even more formerly scrappy Stephen Jay Gould. Nobody is going to ask people to give up their faith, their belief in an everlasting soul accompanied by an immortal memory of every soccer game their kids won, every moment they spent playing fetch with the dog. Nobody is going to mock you for your religious beliefs. Well, we might if you base your life decisions on the advice of a Ouija board; but if you want to believe that someday you'll be seated at a celestial banquet with your long-dead father to your right and Jane Austen to your left-and that she'll want to talk to you for another hundred million years or more—that's your private reliquary, and we're not here to jimmy the lock...

I admit I'm surprised whenever I encounter a religious scientist. How can a bench-hazed Ph.D., who might in an afternoon deftly purée a colleague's PowerPoint presentation on the nematode genome into so much fish chow, then go home, read in a two-thousand-year-old chronicle, riddled with internal contradictions, of a meta-Nobel discovery like "Resurrection from the Dead," and say, gee, that sounds convincing? Doesn't the good doctor wonder what the control group looked like?"

Inventing a Religion by Dr. M.D. Magee - "In the nineteenth century, the Japanese were an irreligious people and admitted it themselves. Fukuzawa wrote: “I lack a religious nature, and had never believed in any religion.” Educated Japanese saw the educated European as superstitious, and preoccupied with other-worldly matters. Japanese could not comprehend how supposed spiritual leaders like the Pope, or the Archbishop of Canterbury, could be so revered and important. Yet the bureaucrats saw some advantage in it. They manufactured a religion from the turn of the twentieth century to serve the purposes of their rulers—Mikado-worship."


How to Deconstruct Almost Anything

"Professors of Literature or History or Cultural Studies in their professional life find themselves communicating principally with other professors of Literature or History or Cultural Studies. They also, of course, communicate with students, but students don't really count. Graduate students are studying to be professors themselves and so are already part of the in-crowd. Undergraduate students rarely get a chance to close the feedback loop, especially at the so called "better schools" (I once spoke with a Harvard professor who told me that it is quite easy to get a Harvard undergraduate degree without ever once encountering a tenured member of the faculty inside a classroom; I don't know if this is actually true but it's a delightful piece of slander regardless). They publish in peer reviewed journals, which are not only edited by their peers but published for and mainly read by their peers (if they are read at all). Decisions about their career advancement, tenure, promotion, and so on are made by committees of their fellows. They are supervised by deans and other academic officials who themselves used to be professors of Literature or History or Cultural Studies. They rarely have any reason to talk to anybody but themselves -- occasionally a Professor of Literature will collaborate with a Professor of History, but in academic circles this sort of interdisciplinary work is still considered sufficiently daring and risquÝ as to be newsworthy.

What you have is rather like birds on the Galapagos islands -- an isolated population with unique selective pressures resulting in evolutionary divergence from the mainland population. There's no reason you should be able to understand what these academics are saying because, for several generations, comprehensibility to outsiders has not been one of the selective criteria to which they've been subjected. What's more, it's not particularly important that they even be terribly comprehensible to each other, since the quality of academic work, particularly in the humanities, is judged primarily on the basis of politics and cleverness. In fact, one of the beliefs that seems to be characteristic of the postmodernist mind set is the idea that politics and cleverness are the basis for all judgments about quality or truth, regardless of the subject matter or who is making the judgment. A work need not be right, clear, original, or connected to anything outside the group. Indeed, it looks to me like the vast bulk of literary criticism that is published has other works of literary criticism as its principal subject, with the occasional reference to the odd work of actual literature tossed in for flavoring from time to time.

The basic enterprise of contemporary literary criticism is actually quite simple. It is based on the observation that with a sufficient amount of clever handwaving and artful verbiage, you can interpret any piece of writing as a statement about anything at all. [Ed: Emphasis mine] The broader movement that goes under the label "postmodernism" generalizes this principle from writing to all forms of human activity, though you have to be careful about applying this label, since a standard postmodernist tactic for ducking criticism is to try to stir up metaphysical confusion by questioning the very idea of labels and categories. "Deconstruction" is based on a specialization of the principle, in which a work is interpreted as a statement about itself, using a literary version of the same cheap trick that Kurt Gðdel used to try to frighten mathematicians back in the thirties."

What follows is a delightful step-by-step procedure for deconstructing almost anything.


Sex Among the Lotus: 2500 Years of Chinese Erotic Obsession

"Eras represented will range 'from the explicit imagery of 200 BC tomb tiles and sexual escapades of Tang dynasty emperors to the latest pornography hot off China's commercial presses.' And visitors will see such rare objects as 'a 10th century rock-crystal penis, exquisitely painted pillow books created to educate young brides and concubines, an extraordinary selection of shoes for bound feet, and remarkable photographs of sex workers from Shanghai's notorious red light districts.'

In response to what single piece best represents the show, Vollmer's response was, 'The delights and excitement of concealed and revealed sexuality are present in a spectacular small ivory sculpture of a woman probably made for a man's desk. Measuring about five inches long, this exquisitely-carved ivory woman reclines under an inlaid lacquer coverlet. Even when exposed after the coverlet is removed, the woman's erotic appeal is further emphasized by the fact that she is partially dressed. She wears a bib-like bodice, tiny shoes and leggings -- leaving something more for the mind's eye.'

'China has a long history focused on sexuality and erotica that stimulated libidos. Secondly, the erotic obsession with women's feet is both foreign and familiar as well as repellent and fascinating, but it provides a singular insight into Chinese culture'"

Asian Values (don't forget the Indians and the Kama Sutra) must be celebrated and perpetuated to strengthen the moral fibre of our society and preventing it from falling into Western decadence!


There's a shop called "John 3:16 Photo Supplies" in Funan Centre. Wth?!


Jushi Sentai France Five - Fan-made Sentai... in French!

Computer Rage - "Rather than bottling up the frustration with technology and entering into "techno-frustration denial," we propose to let the user vent in safe, controlled, and vicarious ways."

The Firefox religion - "One of the questions I’m asked most frequently by innocent observers of the Firefox phenomenon is: “What’s all the fuss about? It just surfs the web.”"

Microsoft: Legit Windows or no updates - "Aiming to crack down on counterfeit software, Microsoft plans later this year to require customers to verify that their copy of Windows is genuine before downloading security patches and other add-ons to the operating system."
You die. All die!!!

FRBSF: Economic Letter - Does Singapore Invest Too Much? (5/15/97) - "Of all the world's nations, Singapore seems to be a prime candidate for excess saving and investment. Singapore's saving and investment rates are the highest in the world, and much of this saving and investment is mandated by the government. I find that we cannot rule out the possibility that Singapore invests too much."

SGMassage.COM - The "massage" industry in Singapore goes online!

Friday, January 28, 2005

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.
Tim was musing that he'd like to hear the laughing song (Pokpok Alimpako) again. So I fired up Winamp and played it (to locate the file), then sent it to him.

At this point, my sister happened to be in the room, and she commented on how awful the song was. When it came to the end, when they started laughing, she exclaimed: "Oh god. It's hideous", "What's wrong with having some melody?" and "What melody?" (with regards to the song).

I told her that ACJC choir songs are all like that (they are), and that this was why I didn't listen to modern classical music, since much of it was like that.

When I relayed these sentiments to Tim, he commented:

Tim: hahaha :)
you have to hear it live

Me: yeah it's worse then
I think I've heard it live before
it's worse. cos you can't press "stop"


My sources inform me that the MSN Messenger 7.0 beta screws up ICQ. Tut tut.

It's been in beta for an awfully long time. And I notice even relative technophobes are switching to it in droves. Perhaps this is a devious plot to deliver the coup de grace to ICQ, since they can wait for more and more users to switch to the MSN 7 beta and dismiss complaints about ICQ crashing with the refrain "it's only a beta", until no one is left using ICQ.


I may not have fully understood what the author's text was trying to say, but I laughed out loud when I read the following passages:

"Descartes had… [asked] how an isolated mind could be absolutely as opposed to relatively sure of anything about the outside world. Of course, he framed his question in a way that made it impossible to give the only reasonable answer, which we in science studies have slowly rediscovered three centuries later: that we are relatively sure of many of the things with which we are daily engaged through the practice of our laboratories. By Descartes’s time this sturdy relativism, based on the number of relations established with the world, was already in the past, a once-passable path now lost in a thicket of brambles. Descartes was asking for absolute certainty from a brain-in-a-vat, a certainty that was not needed when the brain (or the mind) was firmly attached to its body and the body thoroughly involved n its normal ecology. As in Curt Siodmak’s novel Donovan’s Brain, absolute certainty is the sort of neurotic fantasy that only a surgically removed mind would look for after it had lost everything else. Like a heart taken out of a young woman who has just died in an accident and soon to be transplanted into someone else’s thorax thousands of miles away, Descartes’s mind requires artificial life-support to keep it viable. Only a mind put in the strangest position, looking at a world from the inside out and linked to the outside by nothing but the tenuous connection of the gaze, will throb in the constant fear of losing reality; only such a bodiless observer will desperately look for some absolute life-supporting survival kit."

"It is possible to go even further along the wrong path, always thinking that a more radical solution will solve the problems accumulated from the past decision. One solution, or more exactly another clever sleight of hand, is to become so very pleased with the loss of absolute certainty and universal a prioris that one rejoices in abandoning them. Every defect of the former position is now taken to be its best quality. Yes, we have lost the world. Yes, we are forever prisoners of language. No, we will never regain certainty. No, we will never get beyond our biases. Yes, we will forever be stuck within our own selfish standpoint. Bravo! Encore! The prisoners are now gagging even those who ask them to look out their cell windows; they will “deconstruct,” as they say—which means destroy in slow motion—any one who reminds them that there was a time when they were free and when their language bore a connection with the world.

Who can avoid hearing the cry of despair that echoes deep down, carefully repressed, meticulously denied, in these paradoxical claims for a joyous, jubilant, free construction of narratives and stories by people forever in chains? But even if there were people who could say such things with a blissful and light heart (their existence is as uncertain to me as that of the Loch Ness monster, or, for that matter, as uncertain as that of the real world would be to these mythical creatures), how could we avoid noticing that we have not moved an inch since Descartes? That the mind is still in its vat, excised from the rest, disconnected, and contemplating (now with a blind gaze) the world (now lost in darkness) from the very same bubbling glassware? Such people may be able to smile smugly instead of trembling with fear, but they are still descending further and further along the spiraling curves of the same hell."

- Various extracts from Bruno Latour, Pandora's Hope, Essays on the Reality of Science Studies. Chapter 1: "Do You Believe In Reality?" News from the Trenches of the Science Wars

In other news, my sister complains about Descartes and epistemology, but finds Kant easy to understand.

Go figure.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

"Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory." - John Kenneth Galbraith

Random Trivia bit: The word envelope was borrowed into English from French during the early 18th century, and the first syllable acquired the pronunciation (ŏn) as an approximation to the nasalized French pronunciation. Gradually the word has become anglicized further and is now most commonly pronounced (ĕn'və-lōp). The earlier pronunciation is still considered acceptable, however. A recent survey reveals that the (ŏn'-) pronunciation for the word envelope is used by 30 percent of the Usage Panel and is recognized as an acceptable variant by about 20 percent of those Panelists who normally use the (ĕn'-) pronunciation. Other similar words borrowed from French in the modern period include envoy (17th century), encore, ennui, ensemble, entree (18th century), entourage, and entrepreneur (19th century). Most retain their pseudo-French pronunciations, with the exception of envoy, which, like envelope, is mainly pronounced with (ĕn) now.

An effective argument against favouring certain pronunciations merely by virtue of etymology


It seems someone has received a warning letter from Starhub, dated 11th January, for alleged violation of copyright.

Worse, it says that they, in turn, have received a letter from the infamous law firm Lee & Lee

[Update: Another letter from SCV courtesy of Lee & Lee]


I just screwed up my sleep schedule again.

I'm going to be so dead tomorrow.


Dilbert strip:

Carol: I just fired off a scathing letter to a columnist for misusing the word "dongle". I'm intoxicated with the feeling of verbal superiority. My sad life has meaning. I feel alive!

Sounds like my sister and, to a lesser extent, me. Heh.


A friend of mine, using Trillian 3.0, was unable to connect to M$N (though my Miranda was successful), so we were chatting on ICQ.

It transpired that the reason why he didn't like Miranda was because of its horrible UI.

I then went away for a while and he kept messaging me, not noticing my "Away" status, since Trillian didn't show it in the chat window.

Ah well. I prize functionality over UI. What's the point of a beautiful application that doesn't work?


"Using a "setup" program to *UN*install software might seem strange... but it makes perfect sense when you remember that Office is from Microsoft, the company that makes you use the "Start" menu to stop your PC."



Women accused of 'hot dog' prostitution - "Two Long Island women who sold hot dogs and sodas from a truck were arrested on charges that their menu also featured sexual acts in exchange for money."

Murder prank goes awry; pair arrested - "A pair of pranksters who staged a murder scene inside their home Wednesday landed in jail after a friend who police say was high on methamphetamine phoned authorities, believing one of his pals had killed the other"

The singing toddler - "A nursery song by a four-year-old girl has soared into the pop music charts in Germany, zooming ahead of Kylie Minogue to land at third place, according to music industry sources. Little Joy Gruttmann from Cologne is the youngest recording artist in German history to make it to the Top 10 - with good prospects for making it all the way to the top of the pops during the holiday season. Her tinny-voiced rendition of Schnappi - Das Kleine Krokodil (Snappy - The Cute Crocodile) has put Joy ahead of Minogue's I Believe In You on its way to the top."

Distraught elderly woman tries to rob Pocatello bank (only in Idaho!) - "An elderly woman with a walker, but no weapon, was taken into mental protective custody Tuesday afternoon after she told tellers at Citizen's Community Bank on Flandro Drive she was there to rob the place. The woman said she was poor, and her gun was in hock at a pawn shop, but she was intent on committing a heist."

Lawyer Jokes No Laughing Matter - "Did you hear the one about the two guys arrested for telling lawyer jokes? It happened this week to the founders of a group called Americans for Legal Reform, who were waiting in line to get into a Long Island courthouse. "

Violent sex 'is killing the Tasmanian devil' - "A disease that has devastated the Tasmanian devil population is probably being spread by the animal's boisterous sex life, Australian scientists believe."

In two minds about therapy - "A new play which suggests therapy may increase dependency has reignited the debate about whether it makes people more needy."

The President of Good and Evil by Peter Singer - "Singer examines Bush's ethics from a number of points of view – Utilitarianism, a Judeo-Christian value system, and a Libertarian perspective – and in every case fails to find a consistent framework that would make sense of Bush's moral reasoning. Turning to psychology Singer speculates that Bush's sometimes-rigid adherence to the ‘letter of the law' (but not its spirit) indicates that the president is stuck at what Harvard psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg termed the Conventional Stage of morality, which he describes as, “an orientation toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of social order.” Kohlberg describes this as the level of moral development most often associated with 13 year olds."


Beloved Cartoon Character Comes Out of Retirement - "A spokesman for Focus on the Family responded that the organization was happy to see the return of Mighty Mouse, “While Mr. Mouse has had his share of troubles over the years, he is still one of our finest entertainers. His unique style of merriment combined violence and romance without a hint of sexual ambiguity. In short, just what our children need today.”"

Sale of spanking tool points up larger issue - "On a spring day, Susan Lawrence was flipping through a magazine, Home School Digest, when she came across an advertisement that took her breath away. In it, ''The Rod," a $5 flexible whipping stick, was described as the ''ideal tool for child training." ''Spoons are for cooking, belts are for holding up pants, hands are for loving, and rods are for chastening," read the advertisement she saw nearly two years ago for the 22-inch nylon rod. It also cited a biblical passage, which instructs parents not to spare the ''rod of correction.""

Humanists, Atheists Look to Higher Global Profile - "Humanist and atheist groups around the world are looking to boost their profile in 2005 to counter religious fundamentalism and efforts by some Western leaders to relaunch faith as a keystone of national life. Under pressure from the rise of militant Islam, Vatican activism in the European Union and the re-election of a "born-again" Christian to the White House, they feel they must resist to ensure the ideas of secularism survive and spread."

Islamophobia myth - "Does Islamophobia exist? The trouble with the idea is that it confuses hatred of, and discrimination against, Muslims on the one hand with criticism of Islam on the other. The charge of "Islamophobia" is all too often used not to highlight racism but to silence critics of Islam, or even Muslims fighting for reform of their communities."

At long last, Dr Jason Long has managed to get his book BIBLICAL NONSENSE - A Review of the Bible for Doubting Christians published. Good for him! (100% of the text is available at the website for preview)

Debunk'd - The CFI's campus crusade for common sense

"Believers know: Get them while they're young. And they've sent their Christian soldiers onward to America's campuses to convert, cajole, and corral as many more troops as possible. These groups, with names such as the Campus Crusade for Christ, with thousands of campus ministries around the country, are well funded and omnipresent. New York University alone has more than 30 official religious groups on campus. Arrayed against this holy horde are a few stoic nonbelievers, skeptics, atheists, humanists, and agnostics, organized mainly under the banner of the SUNY Buffalo-based Center for Inquiry.

"They [Noebel and LaHaye] seek to advance the Christian biblical worldview and have it replace philosophy, law, history, psychology, and literature as they are now taught in the schools," says Grothe. "It sounds like I'm making it up—it's too ludicrous to believe." Nevertheless, it's the opinion underlying the Left Behind books, which have sold more than 62 million copies.

Grothe makes no bones about the social component of these secularist gatherings, considering that for many attendees, church-as-pickup-spot is out of the question. "Nonreligious people want community also," he says. "When you find someone that you like and who is attractive and shares your basic worldview—how rare is that when your worldview itself is rare?""


I have found out just why we have so many damn bazaars in NUS. It seems that the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) mandates that all ECAs hold one bazaar a year to 'inculcate the entrepreneurial spirit'. Once again, social engineering takes its toll on us.

Expectedly, the ENS bazaar had all 7 of the things that all NUS bazaars sell. I also have come up with a list of things that most NUS bazaars have, though these are not as mind-numbingly common as the 7 things almost all NUS bazaars have:

- boxer shorts
- sundresses
- a new age/easy listening music stall which half the time is playing a variant of Pachelbel's Canon
- backpacks/haversacks

I tried to sell an Evenstar to one girl, but she'd bought one in New Zealand already. Gah. Mr Brown did buy one Evenstar and 2 pendants off me though!

One of my blog fans, one of Chara's friends, came down to say hello.

The day after our bazaar ended, one organised by another society popped up in the same spot, with at least 2 stalls (poser shirts and boxer shorts, new age/easy listening music) selling exactly the same stuff and manned by exactly the same people as during ours. And I'm positive I've seen some of the vendors who man the booths many times before. Maybe their business revolves around providing merchandise for NUS bazaars.

For the very low price of $3.90, I got custom-made for me a badge with Wo-hen Nankan's face on it (the picture in question being the first one you see on visiting his site). This most unique and hopefully studily constructed artefact is now pinned onto my bag, so that his hauntingly penetrative eyes will bore into people's souls as I walk down the corridors of the Premier Institution of Social Engineering. (If anyone wants to have a badge custom made, contact me for details)

I'm going to customise one or two more badges. I briefly contemplated getting the "breast rash larvae" pic onto one, but dismissed the idea, no least because I would not be able to look at it myself.

I went to a vending machine to get a snack. Now, this vending machine was of the screw variant - the snacks were wedged in between the coils of a screw, and when the screw turned, it freed one packet which then fell to the bottom of the machine to be collected.

While pondering what to buy, I noticed that by freak chance, one packet of Peanut M&Ms was almost out of the screw. So I selected that particular screw, it turned and I ended up getting two packets for the price of one!


[On seeing my custom made Wo-hen Nankan badge] Who is that girl on your bag? [Me: It's a guy.] Who is he? [Me: His name is Wo-hen Nankan... W-O-dash-H-E-N N-A-N-K-A-N] Who is he? A singer? [Me: Yah] What nationality is he? [Me: Vietnamese] I need to know what young people are into. Is he your idol? [Me: Yah]

Actually you all are quite good. You don't ask me for so much. Some people even ask me to upload my scribblings [of working on OHTs].

You need a care'feign fix (caffeine)

The racial of the marginal utilities (ratio)

pair'r'el shift of the budget line (parallel)

Dee cart (Descartes)

[On an irrelevant quote] The student just stuck a quote in there. It could be from a pop song or the Declaration of Independece

This is less than meaningless, this essay. It's about an argument that doesn't even exist.

[On a really bad essay on close reading] Have you learned anything from reading this essay? [Student: That if I don't understand the essay, it's not my fault]

There will

There will be a day, I haven't planned the day yet: I'll come in with a gag. All of you will be doing the talking

export demand for w'air't (wheat)

in this kay (case)

Envelope the extended brain size (Envelop)

[On the holes in the skull below the eyes for nerves to run through] Is this why we have eyebag? (eyebags)
"All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others." - Cyril Connolly


For those of you who are still on the old Atom feed, there's no better time than the present to switch to the Feedburner feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/Balderdash).

Some advantages of doing so:

- optimised feed compatible with all versions of RSS/Atom
- item stats let me (try to) tailor content to readers


Russian acquaintance: in russian [the meaning of] "nah" is very close to "fuck off"

Me on a Bulk and Skull LJ icon with the letters "OTP" emblazoned across it: What does OTP stand for btw?

Someone: it stands for "one true pairing" or some stupid shit.

Me: I see you're not into slash either ;)

Someone else: Slash is fun, but Bulk and Skull? *shivers*

How Girls Waste Time
123. Whining about men not being chivalrous or gentlemanly while refusing to conform to archaic and sexist notions of proper gender behavior themselves
Another one I'm quite proud of


"McGinn reminds us that philosophy is hard. It is not as if all the smart people went into other professions, leaving the dregs for philosophy. When superstars in other professions try philosophy, their results are a joke."

Heh heh.

Possible evidence for the evolution of the incest taboo in primates:

"In the wild, [gorilla] females, who become sexually mature at about age 8, leave their natal group and attach themselves to a new group" (Apes & Monkeys)

Apparently the opposite happens with chimpanzees (the males leave the troupe when they reach sexual maturity).


"Topic Magazine: Some laws were meant to be broken
Topic Magazine (www.topicmag.com) wants to see you at your finest, breaking the most ridiculous laws of your state/country. Send us a photo of you in action breaking one of the laws below. Well be featuring the most creative and outlandish photos in our upcoming sin issue, which means your pic will be credited in an international magazine.

If there is a stupid law in your region that we dont mention here, go ahead and break/document that, too. We cant wait to see your unlawful Kodak moments. Direct all
replies to info@topicmag.com.

Thailand :.
-No one may step of any of the nations currency.

-It is illegal to pee in an elevator.
[Ed: Emphasis mine]

-It is illegal to roam the streets wearing black clothes, felt shoes and black shoe polish on your face as these items are the tools of a cat burgular.

-It is illegal to be a drunk in possession of a cow.

Liverpool Laws
-It is illegal for a woman to be topless in public except as a clerk in a tropical fish store.

-Any boy under the age of 10 may not see a naked manequin.

-A man may be arrested for wearing a skirt."

Anyone willing to brave 3 (6?) months jail and a $500 ($1000?) fine?


Seen in the readme of the KeepStatus Miranda plugin:

"--- Disclaimer ---

If something terrible happens, don't blame me."



Cowpat Roulette - "The game is called "Cow Bingo" or "Cowpat Roulette" and all it requires is a field divided into numbered squares - and a cow - it explains. Spectators bet on their chosen numbers, the cow is led into the field, and the winner is the player who picks the square where Daisy deposits the first cowpat."


I was handed a flyer for eyebrow embroidery. From the before/after shots, it looks like a way of restoring sparse eyebrows. A cure for bad eyebrow plucking, perhaps?

In other news:

"Find Steven Lim" Digital Photo Contest

"Participant simply just need to take three photographs Together With Steven Lim in three different places & times with Steven Lim wearing different attire (just different tops will do) and each time you take a picture with him, remember to ask him for an autograph with the exact date of photo taking on a piece of paper as proof (total collect 3 autographs on any papers). Thus, all you need to do is to take three pics, develop/"wash" the pictures to 4R sized real photos in any photo developing shops and collect three of his original autographs, and send it to us together with the downloaded, printed and completed application form which you can download here and join in the great fun! The best entry that is chosen by Steven Lim will be the overall winner. Entries that Steven Lim like will also be posted on the web at this section to be appreciated by people around the world concurrently during this period and they stand a higher chance of being picked as the overall winner. So send in your entries ASAP!!! There is no limit to times of participating. For further details, please refer to the form. Closing date is strictly on 30th June 2005 and definitely there will be a winner takes all. No registration fee needed!!!!


Winner: Cash prize of $500 SIN Dollars with autographed book written by Steven Lim, titled Steven Lim, the street eyebrow plucker.



The NUS co-op is realy scummy. They will only let you use your discount card to buy one copy of each textbook at once.


[On quartiles] Why are we studying all this boring stuff? Personally, I find it very boring. Some of my colleagues study income distribution. They spend day and night staring at quartiles

Ames, what's your name? (full name)

Boys: there are more girls here. Come and join them.

[On someone who folds paper very quickly] Eh, you sell popiah one ah

These are some of the games we play. You can get to know each other better. Have you found out each other's names?

[On Singapore] How about human capital? What have we been doing [to increase it]? [Someone, whispering: USP]

The minister mentor lamented that he allowed women to come to the University. Then all of you don't want to have children.

Some people, like Italy (countries)

You'foo population (youthful)

How many of you are Singaporeans?... Most of you are Singaporeans. I thought most of the time I am not speaking to Singaporeans.

[On almost no one living below the poverty line in Singapore] We hardly have people begging in the streets. [Me: That's because they put them in jail.]

OECD stands for 'Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development'. It's a rich man's club. But now some of them are quite poor. (for)

Who else is from China? Who is from China?... *incredulously* You're all Singaporeans.

Singapore received a lot of ate (aid)

[On imperfect information] Do you know everything about your girlfriend before you marry her?

air'true'istic (altruistic)

[On an economic analysis of Ah Beng and Ah Lian's decisions] Of course she doesn't have to pay for the meal. Ah Beng is paying for her.

[On Sungei Gedong] I heard a lot of SMSes coming in. For some providers, this is [considered] Malaysia. So you better be careful.

Do plants need to breathe? Maybe I should make you stand up. You're all, like... [Student very quickly: Yah, plants need to breathe]

[On squirrels] They eat meat. You think they eat nuts alone? Nooooooooo...

[On hair under the Nipah plant's leaves] [They] reach puberty

[On the girls' more skimpy dressing] You know girls can adapt to heat better than guys? We're baking.

[On the ecosystem] Who eats garoupas? [Student: Me]

Is there an insect on my hair?... It had legs... That's why I tied up my hair. [Someone: That's why I did my hair in a bun] [Me: Why don't you wear a tudung?]

How about soft shell crabs? [Student: They evolve so we can eat it] (them)

[On a plant particle landing in some girl's hair] It's trying to pollinate you

[On 'How Girls Waste Time'] Strictly speaking it's not a waste of time, because they're not doing anything anyway.

mud flats (flies)

You can go to Splash. I don't know where young people shop at nowadays. Zara, Mango. Not: CK Tang, the dowdy place. Metro, the dowdy place.

I give you a feel of what you can expat later on (expect)

[Phone rings] Eh, if I can switch off my handphone, why can't you? I better switch if off now *Laughs from audience* Nobody calls me.

Let me tell you a little bit of stories (more)

Angles' curve (Engel)

[On a video of an archerfish extinguishing someone's lit cigarette] NUS should have some of these guys, huh... Prevent the smoking ban from being violated.

If you go back to Chomsky, what does Chomsky say about the origin of language? Not that anyone reads Chomsky, because he's so hard to understand.

[On 'observing' Evolution] Very few of us have seen Africa, but we still believe that Africa is out there... Anything you do about Shakespeare is not by having Shakespeare come and talk to you. (done by)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Come see me slave away at a booth!

Yes, on Monday and Tuesday I will be slaving away behind a booth at The Forum in NUS (below the Central Library)

Come down and watch me grovel, cajole and plead as I hawk my wares.

Choice selections (from my booth) include:

Evenstar (Exact Replica)
Price: S$235
Description: "This Evenstar has been painstakingly reproduced from the original used in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Crafted in sterling silver and white gold plated."

The One Ring (24 K Gold-Plated)
Price: $70
Description: The enclosed One Ring is beautifully plated in 24K gold, and features the full authentic Elven inscription rendered in the ominous Black Speech of Mordor. The inscription appears on both the inside and outside of the ring. The One Ring comes complete with a silver-toned chain, and a beautiful book-shaped box. It is available only in a US size 10.

Too bad they're not selling Andúril. If not I could walk around threatening people with it. Or double wield it with the short sword I have at home.

Also available at my stall: various pendants for $19

And of course there will be the 7 things that all NUS bazaars sell. At least I think so (though I hope not).
"A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five." - Groucho Marx


If anyone knows a one-eyed, one-armed, four-foot [tall] hermaphrodite from Africa, pleae introduce her (or him) to me.

If we hook up, Andrew and He Who Must Not Be Named will buy us a one-week, all-expense paid trip to anywhere in the world.


Wannabe Lawyer makes the excellent observation that intellectual property is both non-rivalrous and non-excludable.

As such, it fits the defintion of a public good, and should be paid for by the government and financed with taxes :)

Jiekai: "The conventional Chinese point of view about history and the world at large seems to have combined a zealous self righteousness about being "Chinese" with a major inferiority complex that continually harps on China's victim-hood status for most of the past 200 years. I would regard the one, huge, singular failure of Chinese political culture is an inability to come to political compromises- the ability to
"agree to disagree", so to speak. I wonder if these "intellectual" PRCs have come to realise that much of Chinese history has been scarred, not by the lack of "benevolent" or "righteous" men coming to the fore, but by their insistence on wiping out their opponents first- preferably through violence. An intellectual climate that seems to favour non- dissent is not particularly valuable..."

(Young Republic Yahoo Group)


The Straight Dope: A list of what appears to be every Monopoly rule variation ever devised by the mind of man, ranging from the mundane to the criminally deranged

"Herewith a sampling:

- If you land directly on Go, you collect $400 instead of the usual $200. There's also the "subway" variation--if you land directly on Go, on your next turn you can choose not to roll the dice and move instead directly to any other space on the board.

- If you go bankrupt, you can file for reorganization under Chapter 11, meaning you distribute all your cash on hand to your creditors but continue to play.

- Players can establish "investment funds" by paying any sum of money into the bank. Subsequently they draw 10 percent interest on their investments (plus $200) every time they pass Go.

- If you own all four railroads, you can build "stations" on them. (These stations look suspiciously like houses, thereby demonstrating the monotonous uniformity that is characteristic of modern architecture.) Rent progresses upward until you get to "Grand Central Station," the equivalent of a hotel, which permits you to extort $1700 from the unlucky sap who lands on it.

- For the ultimate in sybaritic living, we have the concept of "building beyond hotels": an Estate with Gardener's Cottage (a hotel plus a house), an Estate with Gardener's Cottage & Rolls Royce Garage (a hotel plus two houses), and a Palace (a hotel with three houses). These permit rents to be raised to truly astronomical levels--a Boardwalk palace will net its owner a whopping $7500, resulting in instant ruin for the lessee/victim.

- Then there's the WAHOO card, which you get one of every time you land on Free Parking. Among other things there is the Three Mile Island Contamination card, in which "the color group of properties of your choice is contaminated by leaked nuclear wastes and no owner of a property on that group can collect rent until they have twice passed Go and paid a $500 clean-up charge to the bank." Guaranteed to bring a touch of realistic contemporary angst to the game.

Finally, for those who are truly interested in making Monopoly a spiritually significant experience, hustling Straight Dope managing editor Pat C. suggests a splendid variation called Cosmonopoly. Here, instead of chasing after tawdry commodities like Baltic and St. Charles Place, we aspire to the Platonic virtues, Truth and Beauty. We replace Community Chest and Chance with Free Will and Predetermination, one of the cards from which may sternly admonish you to "GO DIRECTLY TO THE METAPHYSICAL VOID. Do not pass Being or Essence. Do not collect $200." To get out of the Metaphysical Void, you either have to grasp the meaning of the universe or roll doubles twice.

On the Catholic side of the board, instead of collecting all the properties in a color group, your aim is to acquire Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Piety, Fortitude, and Fear of the Lord. Playing pieces to select from include the Jean-Paul Sartre piece (comes with blank dice and it's up to you to to decide how far you want to go) and the Nostradamus piece (you just sit around and guess who's going to win). Entrepreneurs interested in making a killing on this outstanding concept may write care of this column for a complete prospectus."


It seems my Evil Plot regarding angels has not succeeded. I have 2 theories about why this is so. Either the administration sensed that something was wrong when they saw my name on the letter, and so chose not to do anything about it, or they came here to see what I was up to.

Moral of the Story: In future, do not blog about evil plots and devious schemes before they come to fruition, no matter how tempting it might be.

My brother in law keeps expropriating my things, and then resolutely claiming that they are his. This, of course, is because he already has so many things, he doesn't know which ones are his and which ones aren't.

First it was my teddy bear (which he has been somehow sodomising and so has had, for more than a year, a huge, gaping vagina where its perineum used to be. Next it was a cyan-coloured linen shirt of mine which somehow appeared in his cupboard and which he'd worn a few times, claiming it was his.

And then a few days ago, when I wanted to wear a pair of old and dirty shoes that I'd not worn for a while for my field trip to Sungei Buloh, I found the shoes much dirtier than I remembered them, and with a pair of dirty and smelly gray socks in them.

I voiced my shock and disapproval, and he claimed that the shoes were his, even though I was (and am) positive that that was the pair that I'd gotten in Melbourne in 2002, no least since I'd been wearing it to camp for more than a year, and had trudged through the mud of Hastings in it. He again persisted in his claim, and in the end I didn't wear that pair of shoes.

I wonder what he'll expropriate next. Maybe my Power Rangers VCD collection.

I wonder what the strings of little letters printed on cubes (or other shapes) that some girls are fond of making and then attaching to some appendage or protrusion (on themselves or their possessions) where dangly accessories are usually placed are called.

I was at a shop holding a closing-down sale once and wanted to buy enough letters to spell out something which would be characteristically "恶心" (e3 xin1 - nausea inducing). Then I realised why the letters were so cheap - there were no vowels.


Dinosaurs: Science Or Science Fiction - "When children go to a dinosaur museum, are the displays they see displays of science or displays of art and science fiction? Are we being deceived and brainwashed at an early age into believing a dinosaur myth? Deep probing questions need to be asked of the entire "dinosaur industry". This article will discuss the possibility that there may have been an ongoing effort since the earliest dinosaur "discoveries" to plant, mix and match bones of various animals, such as crocodiles, alligators, iguanas, giraffes, elephants, cattle, kangaroos, ostriches, emus, dolphins, whales, rhinoceroses, etc. to construct and create a new man-made concept prehistoric animal called "dinosaurs". Where bones from existing animals are not satisfactory for deception purposes, plaster substitutes may be manufactured and used. Some material similar or superior to plasticine clay or plaster of Paris would be suitable. Molds may also be employed. A 144-page book titled "Make Your Own Dinosaur Out of Chicken Bones" provides step-by-step instructions complete with detailed drawings and diagrams."
Don't you just love conspiracy theories?

All Look Same - Think you can tell the difference between Chinese, Japanese and Koreans? I got 7/18. Bah. They look very similar anyway.


NUS Mission:

"Advance knowledge and foster innovation,
educate students and nurture talent,
in service of country and society" [Ed: Emphasis mine]

There! Now no one can fault me when I call NUS the Premier Institution of Social Engineering. Well, maybe about the Premier part.

I think that there are even more SACSALs [Ed: For those who can't tell, Shrill, Anorexic, Chinese-Speaking Ah Lians] in Business than in Arts. Which is probably why the girls you see in offices are all of a certain type.

I saw an ad for a second-hand textbook pasted on the door of a vestibule of a lecture theatre. I must give that person bonus points for bold marketing.


[On City Harvest] My friend told me it's a very arousing experience. It's even better than Zouk.

Unfortunately my taste does not extend to caucasian men, who are hairy, smelly and unattractive.

Deconstruction for deconstruction's sake doesn't get us anywhere. Deconstruction itself can be deconstructed... Claims he can see 'Power Relations'... Free play, any symbol can mean anything.

There's nothing textal about them (textual)

[On claims purportedly substantiated by evidence but not actually so] Bamboozled again by science. They think you're illiterate... Not to be antagonistic to Churchland. 'Aha! [You're wrong so you suck]' You outgrow that after high school.

You have to write it down. No sighing! It's a writing class.

Discuss (Descartes)

He said the readings were too hard: the reading for that day was 10 pages of Descartes. He took the landscapes class: their reading for that day was 40 pages of Foucault, who makes Descartes look like child's play.

[Me] Intelligent Design is that bastard stepson of Creation Science

Should Intelligent Design be taught in a Science class? [Student: You're teaching us Intelligent Design in a Science class] Then I'm a bad teacher.

There's a huge debate about whether Intelligent Design should be taught in schools. Mainly in the mid-Western states. If you go to the coasts, where the developed people live...

[On not teaching Creationism in schools] The courts don't heed the Constitution very much, but this time they took a quick look

[On misspelling 'irreducible' twice] That's why it's good to have English Language majors in this class

[To me] It feels really weird not sharing classes with you this semester... No weekly dose of sarcasm.

[Lecturer] Some of you may be unlucky enough to get me as your tutor.

The pigs are at the side (peaks)

One day you will wake up in the morning and scream: Eugh'ray'kah! You realise what the mean is. (Eureka)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes