When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Someone on my MSN list changed his nickname to: "http://msncheck.41m.com - free way to check who blocked and deleted you on msn". And so I visited the site:

MSNCHECK.41M.COM - FIND OUT WHO DELETED YOU ON MSN! [Addendum: Due to some confusion on the part of the Bohemian Bunny, the author would like to invoke Agagooga-rial infallibility and speak ex cathedra, advising readers not to trust their passwords to this site.]

"Welcome to MSNCheck.41M.COM. This website was built as a simple but very useful tool for MSN Messenger. Currently we only provide the Delete checker service. Enter your MSN username and password below and our powerful servers will login to your MSN account and scan your list for contacts that have deleted you. A list of e-mail addresses of all the contacts that have deleted you but are still on your list will appear once the scan is complete."

This sounds extremely dubious. Who are they trying to kid? It reminds me of the following email I saw:


*Send a E-mail from your account to psswrdhck@yahoo.com

*Put subject as `lost password`

*Type the following in the email: lostpasswordfor>victimslogin>sendto"your login/password""

*This message will be recieved by a computer that will think you are a staff member. You must enter your own login name and password as the script needs a valid login to work. You should receive a reply within 12 hours.

This information should not be used to interfere with another persons account!"

The sad thing is that it is probable that people actually fall for this kind of thing.
No contest for Singapore's Presidential Election, only SR Nathan eligible

"Only President SR Nathan has been given a Certificate of Eligibility to contest Singapore's Presidential Election; three other applications have been rejected by the Presidential Elections Committee.

This means that come Nomination Day on August 17, President Nathan will be returned unopposed for a second six-year term.

The Presidential Elections Committee, which announced its decision on Saturday, said President Nathan has all the credentials for the office of the President and is well regarded and respected for his public service.

It considers Mr Nathan a man of integrity, good character and reputation."

Damn, I was looking forward to voting.

In future we should issue certificates of eligibility to potential Members of Parliament too so that only men of integrity, good character and reputation, are well regarded and respected and possess the credentials for the post of MP are allowed to stand for election. No cheats, liars, frauds or political gangsters, nosiree.
"I found that most people fit into three intellectual catagories:
I think you broke the curve though, you are both dumb and ignorant, something many people thought possible but never acheived. Congratulations."

Heh heh.


No, Virginia, there is no Superfetch in Windows XP - "The same yokels who insist on spreading the "clean out your Prefetch folder" BS are now spreading the word that there's a super-double-secret registry setting in Windows XP called SuperFetch that will slice your boot times dramatically. No, there isn't. A commenter asked me about this the other day and I didn't have an answer. Fortunately, Bink.nu tracked down the real story and posted the details in a terse but accurately headlined story, Inquirer "Superfetch" story is crap"

Men's Long Hair Introduction Page - "I have been growing my hair since June 2002. I really can't say why I was compelled to start growing my hair long but I can say that it has now become an important spiritual journey. I have learned many things about myself and about others from simply letting my hair grow long. In 2002, around the time I turned forty, I realized that I had been wearing my hair short for twenty three years even though I had always intended to grow my hair long some day. It isn't easy for a man to grow his hair long. It takes a long time and while the hair is growing it can look pretty bad (as you will see in my progress pictures)."
Dang. Why didn't I think of this?

Psychic's crystal ball burns down his flat in unforeseen blaze - "M Vandrot, 24, who is studying botanics at Edinburgh University, left the ball on his windowsill while he visited the city’s Royal Botanic Garden. By the time he returned, the ball had destroyed his own and two other flats, and had left several others uninhabitable. The student, who uses the ball for psychic purposes, suffered blistering to his hand when he burst into his burning top-floor flat in the city’s Marchmont area in an effort to rescue his university course work."

E-meter - So that's what the machine the scientologist used is called!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Beauty Forever Saloon's Height Increase Program

"Height Increase Program Since 1989

With advanced technology, it is possible to grow taller.

At Beauty Forever, we are dedicated to help people add inches to their height and fulfil their dreams of looking taller and more confident than ever. Since 1989, we had been introducing various kind of Height Increase programs.

Not too long ago, the medical field experts from America discovered a new product, Traction Couch to enhance effects of height development. Beauty Forever introduced this product in year 2000 and has since received much applaud and positive feedback.

By applying traction, the couch counters the effects of gravity on the body, increasing the space between the spinal vertebrae and giving ample space for cell growth. It also gently stretches the leg muscles, with excellent results.

External physical forces and prolonged unnatural posture in many occupations can lead to excessive compression of the vertebrae, causing bone spurs. This couch allows the user to conduct recovery and treatment at home.

Both aging and external burdens can make the spinal disks deformed, causing unnatural spinal curvature, which in turn impedes blood circulation and causes back aches. This couch employs traction to correct spinal curvature and relieve pain."

The page has a photo of a man lying on a machine that bears a curious resemblance to:

1) The Rack (a medieval torture device)
2) A normal gym bench (couch?) with a winch in the middle

I think that there's a reason why people would rather pay £5,700 to have their legs broken, metal rods inserted through their bones and suffer continuous pain for many months.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Someone actually posted this in sg_ljers:

"I can't help but tears came streaming down my face when i saw the clip on Lee Kuan Yew's speech that 10 years from 1965, Singapore will be a modern city.

For me, i think that Singapore is able to have this day is all thanks to LKY.

I am so proud to be a Singaporean! There is no where else i rather be than my homeland!"

Uhh. Happily, the comments in there are not as depressing.
"Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art." - Tom Stoppard


Possibly dodgy item:

"Item Name: Height Growing Machine
Product Description: A portable and easy-to-use machine that helps to increase a person's height. This machine comes with a height-increase lotion which is to be applied at the side and back of the knees and ankles before the machine treatment.
Condition: Good
Venue: National University of Singapore
Price: $ 200"


I've sent a note to ask what exactly this is.


My analysis of someone's philosophy: "Liberalism is bad. Christianity is good. Singapore is fine."

A competing analysis: "It's more subtle than that actually. It's "This is what I learnt in Cambridge: The Enlightenment was bad. Augustine convincingly developed a Christian political ethic which had authoritarian implications. Therefore: Singapore is fine. Christian fundamentalism is respectable." Except of course the "therefore" doesn't really follow. But yeah I get your point."


Me: "Cannot extract the embedded font 'BKDHJHdlsdsaldkjdsakdsak'. Some characters may not display or print correctly"

Someone: aiyah, at least it isn't your lecture notes.
my notes full of circles. cannot find MathWBsomething

Me: complain lor

Someone: don't want. rare to get a singaporean lecturer

Me: should make them take QET (oral) [Ed: QET stands for the 'Qualifying English Test', administered for NUS students with low GP grades]

Someone: what's wrong with their english

Me: the worst is yet to be
I'll get back to you after ***

Someone: do you get ***?
wow. i heard ***'s the worst lecturer in NUS.

That's a comforting thought.

Someone else: Hist is my major now
I think I may have caught influence from you and started feeling studying lit was a pile of BS...

Glad to have saved a life!


Microsoft Messenger for Mac 5.0 seems to have many features that aren't it the Windows version. Probably this is since they don't have a good way to push it out to everyone, they actually have to code useful features (like multiple account support and support for other IM protocols) inside to lure users into downloading it. Possibly Mac users are also less obsessed with mindless frills like emoticons, annoying as hell nudges, winks, and flash smileys.

Someone sent me a link to this Japanese-language slot machine variant. I have no idea what the criteria for getting coins is, how to win the game (hell, if it's possible to win in the first place) and what all the items you can buy in the shop do. Assistance is appreciated.


loupgarou sends out a request: "so does anyone know how to connect a powerbook g4 to a 802.11b or 802.11g wireless router?"

Anyone with insights on this arcane task should post them in the comments box or mail them to me with the feedback form if the former is down due to server maintenance.
Various extracts from documents on my desktop:

Dani Rodrik

Controlling for labor productivity, income levels, and other possible determinants, there is a robust and statistically significant association between the extent of democracy and the level of manufacturing wages in a country. The association exists both across countries and over time within countries. The coefficient estimates suggest non-negligible wage improvements result from the enhancement of democratic institutions: average wages in a country like Mexico would be expected to increase by 10 to 40 percent were Mexico to attain a level of democracy comparable to that prevailing in the United States. Political competition and participation seem to be the driving force behind the result.

Verdict: Delete.

2) Objectivity and Truth: You'd Better Believe It
Ronald Dworkin

Archimedean or external skepticism is to be contrasted with internal skepticism. A skeptical thesis about value is internally skeptical if it presupposes the truth of some positive value judgment. I shall use moral skepticism as the leading example of internal skepticism, though it is easy enough to construct examples in other evaluative domains as well, as we shall see. I shall assume that all readers, including those drawn to archimedean skepticism, accept that our shared language and common experience include assessments on what we take to be a distinct moral dimension. I shall not attempt to define that dimension, or to separate the predicates we use to employ it. If I am right, no helpful definition of morality as a whole can be given. In any case, the existence of a moral dimension of assessment in our experience is not in question, though its status is.

Verdict: Try to read.

Roberto Mangabeira Unger

This little piece is not about how to read James or Dewey, Heidegger or Wittgenstein. However, it starts from the premise that certain tendencies in the evolution of the most general ideas available to us -- tendencies often described as pragmatism -- have been emasculated, philosophically as well as politically, and in this way made more palatable and less useful. It is never too late to change course. I offer here both an argument for why to do so and a proposal for how to do so. The point is not to rescue the real pragmatism; it is to enhance the real us.

*146 pages of similar material follow*

Verdict: Delete.

4) Quantum Microeconomics
Yoram Bauman

For another perspective on the Coase Theorem, consider what blues musician B.B. King said during a discussion about Napster, the pioneering musicswapping website. Commenting on the copyright-infringement lawsuits filed against Napster by various recording labels and artists, B.B. said that “copyright and things of that sort are something that will have to be worked out and they will be worked out. I remember when they didn’t want you to have a VCR, but they worked it out and I think for the best. Smart people always get together and work it out.” Although B.B. has yet to win a Nobel Prize in Economics, his words get at the heart of the Coase Theorem: if there’s nothing stopping people from trading, nothing should stop people from trading until they reach a Pareto efficient allocation of resources.

Verdict: Skim through, speeding past the parts I'm familiar with, then delete.

5) Sociotropes, Systematic Bias, and Political Failure: Reflections on the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy
Bryan Caplan

Economic models of politics typically make two assumptions about voters: First, their motives are egocentric, not sociotropic; second, their beliefs are rational, not subject to systematic bias. Political scientists have presented strong evidence against the first assumption (Mansbridge, 1990), but have become increasingly willing to accept the second. (Page and Shapiro, 1992; Marcus and Hanson, 1993) This article tests these two assumptions, then explores the tests’ broader implications.

Verdict: Skim through, go bleah and delete.

Roland Bénabou, Jean Tirole

The most common and powerful of form of individually chosen but collectively sustained belief is religion. A simple extension of the model allows us to analyze individual and cross-country differences in a specific but economically important class of religious beliefs, namely those linked (or similar) to the “Protestant ethic”. By this we refer to a belief that there is a hereafter in which rewards and punishments will be determined according to effort and industriousness (or lack thereof) during one’s lifetime.31 The alternative view is that there is most likely no afterlife, or that if there is one, its rewards are determined according to criteria unrelated to industriousness, or even antithetical to material success: vows of poverty and asceticism, good deeds towards others, scrupulous observance of rituals, contemplation, the “extinction of desires”, etc. Uncertainty over the likelihood or nature of divine rewards (and punishments) can be simply modelled as follows:

a) In the production function, let θ be replaced by a fixed return, α ≥ 1. Thus, everyone agrees on the nature of economic processes (rewards in the material world).
b) Preferences involve no time-inconsistency (β = 1) but include an anticipal term for the “value of the afterlife”, u(e, θ), about which agents are uncertain.

Without loss of generality let u(e, θ) = θe, where θH > θL are now the two possible (expected) values of θ, conditional on σ = ∅, L.33 An agent’s preferences at t = 0, 1 are thus U i t ≡ E "(1 − τ )yi + τ ¯y − ¡ei¢2 2a + θ(μi)ei¯¯¯¯¯ Ωi t#

Verdict: Read the abstract and delete due to lots of Greek symbols in the appendix.

7) did it for your country, yourself & for a good cause
2004 global sex survey report

South Africans are the nationality most likely to watch pornography (60%) while the Danes are the ones who most favour blindfolds or handcuffs (55%) and sex toys are most likely to be used by Icelanders

Verdict: Skim through, tut tut at the decadence of modern society and the encroaching insidious influence of Western Values (even though "The Chinese have had more sexual partners than anyone else - 19.3 compared with the Brazilians (15.2), the Japanese (12.7) and the Danes (12.5)") and delete.

8) Beyond Belief
A.L. De Silva

The purpose of this book is threefold. Firstly it aims to critically examine Christianity and thereby highlight the logical, philosophical and ethical problems in Christian dogma. In doing this I hope to be able to provide Buddhists with facts which they can use when Christians attempt to evangelize them. This book should make such encounters more fair, and hopefully also make it more likely that Buddhists will remain Buddhists. As it is, many Buddhists know little of their own religion and nothing about Christianity - which makes it difficult for them to answer the questions Christians ask or to rebut the claims they make.

Verdict: Skim through, realise that I know all of this already (at least the non-Buddhist part), and delete.

9) Human Rights and Asian Values: What Lee Kuan Yew and Le Peng don't understand about Asia
Amartya Sen

There is little general evidence, in fact, that authoritarian governance and the suppression of political and civil rights are really beneficial in encouraging economic development. The statistical picture is much more complicated. Systematic empirical studies give no real support to the claim that there is a general conflict between political rights and economic performances. The directional linkage seems to depend on many other circumstances, and while some statistical investigations note a weakly negative relation, others find a strongly positive one. On balance, the hypothesis that there is no relation between freedom and prosperity in either direction is hard to reject. Since political liberty has a significance of its own, the case for it remains untarnished. There is also a more basic issue of research methodology. We must not only look at statistical connections, we must examine also the causal processes that are involved in economic growth and development. The economic policies and circumstances that led to the success of east Asian economies are by now reasonably well understood. While different empirical studies have varied in emphasis, there is by now a fairly agreed-upon list of "helpful policies," and they include openness to competition, the use of international markets, a high level of literacy and education, successful land reforms, and public provision of incentives for investment, exporting, and industrialization. There is nothing whatsoever to indicate that any of these policies is inconsistent with greater democracy, that any one of them had to be sustained by the elements of authoritarianism that happened to be present in South Korea or Singapore or China. The recent Indian experience also shows that what is needed for generating faster economic growth is a friendlier economic climate rather than a harsher political system.

Verdict: KIV

10) Is Culture Destiny? The Myth of Asia's Anti-Democratic Values
Kim Dae Jung

The ancient Chinese philosophy of Minben Zhengchi, or "people-based politics," teaches that "the will of the people is the will of heaven" and that one should "respect the people as heaven" itself.

A native religion of Korea, Tonghak, went even further, advocating that "man is heaven" and that one must serve man as one does heaven. These ideas inspired and motivated nearly half a million peasants in 1894 to revolt against exploitation by feudalistic government internally and imperialistic forces externally. There are no ideas more fundamental to democracy than the teachings of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Tonghak. Clearly, Asia has democratic philosophies as profound as those of the West.

Asia also has many democratic traditions. When Western societies were still being ruled by a succession of feudal lords, China and Korea had already sustained county prefecture systems for about 2,000 years. The government of the Chin Dynasty, founded by Chin-shih huang-ti (literally, the founder of Chin), practiced the rule of law and saw to it that everyone, regardless of class, was treated fairly. For nearly 1,000 years in China and Korea, even the sons of high-ranking officials were not appointed to important official positions unless they passed civil service examinations. These stringent tests were administered to members of the aristocratic class, who constituted over ten percent of the population, thus guaranteeing equal opportunity and social mobility, which are so central to popular democracy. This practice sharply contrasted with that of European fiefdoms of that time, where pedigree more or less determined one's official position. In China and Korea powerful boards of censors acted as a check against imperial misrule and abuses by government officials. Freedom of speech was highly valued, based on the understanding that the nation's fate depended on it. Confucian scholars were taught that remonstration against an erring monarch was a paramount duty. Many civil servants and promising political elites gave their lives to protect the right to free speech.

Verdict: Read. I'm not so sure that he's got his ideas of Mencius being an exponent of democracy, or that meritocracy is democratic (though neither is it anti-democratic) right though.

11) Prediction of Androgen Receptor Antagonists Using Statistical Learning Methods, With Descriptor Selection by Recursive Feature Elimination
creampuff. Oh Yeah.

Androgen receptor (AR) antagonists are used to treat prostate cancer and premature puberty in boys. Only one AR antagonist has been shown to have no AR agonist activity in vitro and in vivo. Thus the search for better AR antagonists continues. We propose that statistical learning methods be used in this search – these methods can, from a structurally and chemically diverse dataset, generate a list of physicochemical features for discriminative classification. 138 AR antagonists and 101 AR non-antagonists were collected. 22 features were selected from support vector machine-recursive feature elimination (SVM+RFE) to describe the 239 compounds in chemical space, for statistical learning analysis by six methods: logistic regression, linear discriminant analysis, k-nearest neighbour, probabilistic neural network, support vector machine, and C4.5 decision tree. 5-fold cross-validation and Independent set validation were used in combination with the standard evaluation parameters to compare performance. Five antagonists and five non-antagonists were misclassified by SVM in the Independent validation set method. Our study suggests that statistical learning methods are potentially useful for the prediction of AR antagonists, and that the RFE-selected descriptors have great potential in further QSAR studies and molecular modeling studies of AR antagonists.

Verdict: OMG WTH?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

生活小插曲: Vacancy Ad Alert

"Dear friends,


Are you looking for an area to serve God with the media skills you have been equipped with?

Do you want to be part of an incredibly exciting/adventurous/life-changing/faith building move in history?

If your answer is yes and yes! - 102.3FM Voice of Grace is looking for a Producer-Presenter to join the English Programming Department.

[102.3FM VOG is Singapore's Christian community radio station under the direction of Far East Broadcasting International (www.febc.org, www.febi.org).]

We have been called to fulfill the Great Commission especially in these times, and if that is your desire, please contact me"


Since when did we have local religious broadcasting? Hell, since when did we have local non-governmental broadcasting apart from the BBC? Damn, I should set up my own radio station.
"You can not conduct an experiment in a lab to find out the truth.

The data on your hand are not perfect—sometimes very dirty.

This makes the empirical works in social science challenging…

That is why it is fun to learn Econometrics."

Yes!!! I am convinced!!!

"When you send emails to me, please make the email title start with [XX****] [Ed: Module code] including the square parenthesis, such as [XX****] The class is too interesting. I can not wait for the next one."

Also seen: a section titled "Other Terms and Conditions" [for taking the module]. Given that it's a compulsory module, I'm not sure that we have much choice about whether to accept them...


"Engineers play a vital part in the global economy. Whilst economists, politicians, national leaders, self-professed experts and other kinds of human beings generate much rhetoric, it is the engineers who have to define the limits of what can be done, and actually do it. For this, they sometimes get the blame when things go wrong (often due to administrative bungling) whilst the others might claim credit when things go right.
It would appear that engineers are less able to unite and organise themselves like doctors and lawyers in Singapore. Perhaps they ought to give more attention to communication skills."

Hah! Right.


"Webcast lectures is for class students of the module. If you wish to view webcast lectures that are not part of your course, please email the webcast administrator. The administrator will seek permission from the respective faculty on your behalf."

So much for the pursuit of knowledge; even students from the same university will not be able to quench their boundless curiosity and check out modules to do in future semesters. No doubt this is because of the engineering lecture incident last semester.
"Irrigation of the land with seawater desalinated by fusion power is ancient. It's called 'rain'." - Michael McClary

Random Playlist Song: Faure - Requiem - Pie Jesu (Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus/Carlo Maria Giulini)


NUS is very eager to send its students on student exchange. However, besides the loads of paperwork needed, there is the curious requirement of module mapping: for modules taken abroad to be credited for your graduation requirements, you have to "map" them onto a similar module at NUS.

This was almost enough to put me off applying for exchange, not least because of the tedium required. It also makes it even harder to find enough modules to read, given such factors as timetabling and modules not being offered ever semester. Most important of all, though, were the pedagogical reasons.

The very point of going on exchange is to learn new things; to require students to map their modules seems to defeat much of the point of going on exchange to me. For example, I've a friend who wants to do Italian and Gender Studies in Antiquity at a certain unnamed university abroad, but last I heard, was unable to map them, even to UEs - Unrestricted Modules outside your major - which is a big irony since they are supposed to be unrestricted.

I understand that NUS might not want us to go to California and read modules like Surfing, but module mapping already has to be approved by the authorities, so there doesn't seem to be any reason why we cannot map non-core (ie Compulsory) major modules, and especially unrestricted electives.


University of Copenhagen:

"Assessment: Four hours closed-book written exam. The exam questions will cover both theoretical and applied aspects of the course mirroring the distribution of lectures and exercises."


Damn Danes.


My brother in law, inspired by all the Management Bullshit he's been reading, suggested numerous modifications to the NUS CORS system of allocating modules by bidding. He said those who got good grades and were on the Dean's List should get more points, and that people should be allowed to trade points for things like ECA points.

People already hate the NUS administration. If these proposals were implemented, no doubt there would be a riot, even in our apathetic, depoliticised campus (society). And he wonders why his office is so unreceptive to his suggestions.

Someone on the proposals: "your bro in law is a dickheadcockface, haha"

[Addendum: ur bro in law is a freaking elitist and oughts to be shot in the head heh]


Tim informs me that in July, the Bukit Batok library still had a computer (or computers) using the OPAC with the old Octopus. I've asked him to take a picture.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Feedback sent to the NUS IVLE team.

"With the new version of IVLE, we are now unable to view the class rosters for modules we are not taking. While I understand the need for privacy, the class rosters were a good way for people previously enrolled in the modules to sell their old textbooks to those currently taking them. This benefitted both current students, who got used textbooks for cheaper prices, and former students, who got to recoup some of their losses.

Many NUS students are not financially well off, and buying and selling second hand textbooks is essential for them to make ends meet. Please consider adding this feature back to IVLE, even if only for the first 3 weeks of the term."

Argh! How will I sell off my old textbooks and get new second hand ones now, especially with the demise of beatcoop.com (which itself has gotten beaten) and the NUS entrepreneurship society E-bazaar? NUS should be especially distressed by the fall of the latter, with all the spiel about entrepreneurship; it will "Motivate, Prepare and Nurture Successful Entrepreneurs" no more. The agency and matching problem has just become more acute.

What makes things worse is that of the 4 modules for which I have textbooks to sell, in 2 the forum is "not accessible" (presumably not by students not in the module at least) and for 1 the forum was closed early last year (ie Before I even took the module).

I could wait for the various subject societies to hold their used textbook sales, but not only do few societies do that, the sales come only in many weeks' time, by which many might already have bought their textbooks. Also, the societies take a hefty cut of the profits (though I hear the Science/Computing clubs only take a $1 cut). There's also the niggling fact of the NUS coop trying to shut down the Economics Society used textbook sale last semester, a stunt which they might repeat this time.

Maybe I can set up a booth outside the lecture theatres where the modules are held and shout "Lelong lelong! Second hand textbook for sale!" and haggle with students as they come out, but I'm not sure that the time and energy are worth it. Alternatively I can try to plumb social networks but that's probably even more troublesome than setting up a booth.

In any case, all is not lost. What we really need is an auction site like eBay (or dare I say, CORS) with reverse auctioning for efficient market functioning, but in the absence of that, my Arab and Javanese blooded friend who is annoyed at being classified as a Malay under our CMIO system has introduced me to CheekyIdeas, which has used textbook listings. I am pimping it to everyone I know in NUS, and so should you if you do!

[Addendum: I have since been told of a way to view rosters of modules you're not in. The IVLE team has also added a forum for people to buy/sell old textbooks.]
Feedback on the multiple posts sytem so far:

My No 1 fan blah blah: "headache for me
i'd rather u post one shot, and i know how much i have to browse
instead of browsing thru so much
cheat my time =D

Tym: "I lose my reputation as someone who posts interminable posts that no one bothers to read through

But that's the most distinctive thing about this blog! I will now go whack brown on the head...

Oh, they're good. But I just dont' (sic) see them as Agagooga style ;)"

Oikono: Perhaps as a compromise to blog layout, you could have a few post on specific topics and one on short random balderdash?

fan: I lose my reputation as someone who posts interminable posts that no one bothers to read through

Yeah that. Long posts please.

cowboy caleb: Thumbs up. Go for it.

lynnylchan: Yeah don't break up your posts. You're a rambler by nature. hahaha (now I've made you sound like some sort of ivy).

tinkertailor: trust me - those pple who like your posts long don't actually read everything.

cherub: u got ur own style, and i like to read it differently from the other bloggers.

yah, so keep to anything u're comfortable with. :)

Johnny Malkavian: fuck lar, i tell you your posts are too long all the time, and you do nothing

Sanz: i think the entries are better now for urs
easier to follow
last time i tend to skip ard

i really like ur new blog format
finally..i noe wat u re writing
last time i used to be very selective of wat i want to read and not read..cos the post are so long
now..at least i see the focus..and read most of it

xue: Please take his advice. The main reason why I don't read your blog regularly is the length of posts!!! Divide them up according to subject please. It makes for easier reading. You're not being a hits whore, just considerate and (dare I say) improving on your style. :P

jeffyen: I think one needs to understand the way to read this blog.

The key, which I've only just discovered days ago, is to understand the ***s.

*** means that the stories before and after are completely unrelated, and you
have to 'switch gears' and digest the next story.

Once this is clear to the reader, the entries become very easy to understand and
it won't be confusing at all! Yes, it *might* seem long, but that's only an

cloudsis: i wanna tell you that i still prefer ur old way of blogging

Deadly Mist: I read your blog because I've liked the style of it from Day 1. I don't think breaking it up serves any purpose, nor that it would make it any more readable?

But that's just my personal opinion.

felumpfus: long = guud.

SM: But I like your usual style of long postings..... and despite that anonymous' comments, i do read through all of it

to me it doesn't improve much, because you don't have a habit of titling your posts
previously when it was a long daily posting, you didn't have to. with shorter ones, titles become important.

it is slightly eaasier to link
with the shorter posts, you won't get that accomplished feeling of seeing high numbers of comments. like, 22. it'll be split up into 3, 5, 3

[shorter posts] less intimidating? only for idiots.
you see, with the level of English there is in your posts, it's hard not to intimidate
unless you wish to pander to the lowest common denominator of the civilised wannabe elites in Singapore

your blog is of the more impersonal newsy kind
when broken up into bits, it looks more and more like a desperate newsprint rag of traditional media
one advantage of the Internet wrt news is that long posts don't look as intimidating as on newspaper print so you can afford to write long

merge the one on jap occupation with johnny malkavian with mods for next sem
that's my optimal length ;) [Ed: Just under 3 1/2 pages on Firefox with 1024 x 768 resolution]

My evaluation:

Somehow, I feel naked when I post short posts. And I don't mean short by my standards. So perhaps I'll switch to shorter posts, but still have them at a halfway decent length, combining really short bits (preferably thematically linked) into one medium-length post - I'll suffer from diminishing marginal (even negative) returns if I have 20 ultra-short posts a day anyway as opposed to 10 short ones. Posts that are of decent length and can stand on their own will be pushed out anyway.

As for post titles - screw it. There's no point coming up with banal, uninformative titles (a quick scan of the first line will inform one about the subject of the post anyway).

Japanese Imperialism and World War II / Reparations for Slavery vs those for the Holocaust

I don't know where the following might be from:

In opening the issue, any "revisionist" should make clear to China and Korea that the debate is not about the scale and nature of individual atrocities for which the "B" and "C" class war criminals were punished - many with death sentences. The standards of military justice applied may well have been less than perfect; but only the rabid fringe in Japan would deny that atrocities were committed, or seek to justify them.

It is, instead, about the events leading up to the war itself, and the burden of guilt of the so-called "A" class war criminals, including the seven who were hanged, and whose enshrinement in Yasukuni drives Chinese protests.

The first point for any revisionist to make is that the "orthodox" thesis - a blameless Japanese people dragged into the war by a fanatical fascist militarist faction whose leaders were properly hanged - is too easy a cop-out. As an excuse, it is morally available only to the tiny handful of people who passed the war in prison and the slightly larger handful who sat the war out in sullen alienation. Any 70-year-old Japanese will remember the general feeling, a month before Pearl Harbor, that war could not honourably be avoided, given what the Americans were demanding. They will remember, too, the national euphoria that prevailed in the initial, victorious six months of the war.

If by any chance Mr Koizumi adopts this line, he might even mention his politician grandfather who hounded an "unpatriotic" pacifist out of his party in the late 1930s, in the end finally destroying party politics.

The key question, however, is whether the sins of the Japanese nation were so extraordinary as to warrant execution of its leaders, even as a symbolic act. General Tojo and his crowd who gained control of Japan in the 1930s were certainly racists, but their assertions of Japanese superiority were partly a response to slights from the white, western world, such as the rejection of Japan's proposal for a declaration of racial equality in the preamble of the Versailles treaty. It was a racial war, but the Japanese had no genocidal project equal to the Nazis' systematic slaughter of Jews and Gypsies. They were racists, yes, but all imperialists were racists. Like the previous generations who fought China and Russia to win Taiwan and Korea, (victories acclaimed in many parts of Europe), they were trying to build an empire that could claim equality with the European empires. The racial resentment apart, they had much the same motives as the European imperialists: the same mixture of sheer national self-aggrandisement, the self-righteous belief in a civilising mission and the hypocritical cynicism to use the one to justify the other.

An amusing history game: try to match Japanese leaders with the imposing characters of 19th century British history. Matsuoka Yosuke had a bit of the flamboyant self-assurance of Palmerston, if not the wit. In the freelance buccaneer class, Sasakawa matches up with Cecil Rhodes (both eventually founders of educational foundations in Britain.) The dour General Tojo perhaps most resembled the pious General Gordon, the man who sacked Beijing, only 40 years before Tojo's men sacked Nanjing.

The big difference was that the Japanese came too late. And lost. The winners could declare that the imperial age had ended, cede their colonies and claim that they had saved the world for freedom and democracy. Why would mainstream Japanese politicians hesitate to talk in these terms? Probably because it would upset too many powerful Americans. The speaker of the lower house of the Japanese Diet, the former foreign minister Yohei Kono, got to the heart of it when he said last weekend: "We need an even-handed approach ...We need to rethink our habit of doffing our caps to America on the one hand and talking downto the Chinese on the other." Perhaps he had in mind the Chinese charge that putting Japan on the UN Security Council would be giving two votes to the US.

No, I would think that the big difference is that the Japanese carried out the Rape of Nanking in China and started the Death Railway in Thailand: the degree of the crime matters just as much as the type of crime.

And even if one argues that the crimes were the same, there's this thing called the Statue of Limitations, which leads me to this gem from my archives:

New York Times, September 11, 2001
Slavery Reparations

[T] o the Editor:

It seems to me that Prof. Martin Kilson (letter, Sept. 6) compares apples and oranges in his contention about the similarities of reparations by the Germans to Jews and our government to African-Americans. It has been my understanding, as a Holocaust survivor (Auschwitz-Birkenau, prisoner No. 172099), that the German reparations were to those Jews who suffered directly, not to the descendants.

A logical extension of Mr. Kilson's comparison might be payments by the Egyptian government to the Jews who were descendants of the slaves who helped build pyramids and other structures during the times of the pharaohs.

Norman, Okla., Sept. 7, 2001
In the runup to National Day, Martyn See has been posting Straits Times articles from 40 years past about merger and the run-up to independence. Not the sort of stuff you'll hear about in Propaganda National Education classes, nosiree:

5 days before Separation... Part Xl of the retrospective on Singapore's road to independence

"STRAITS TIMES, Aug 4 1965

Examining the PAP concept of Malaysian Malaysia, Inche Senu said: "The PAP itself a shining example of what its Malaysian Malaysia stands for.

"One can judge for oneself the troubles and tensions in Singapore ever since the PAP captured the State administration.

"First there was a tirade against all opposition parties and leaders coupled, of course, with the mailed fist shown to professionals, social workers, trade unionists and others.

"The PAP used every tactic and strategy familiar to Communism to create an air of anxiety and despair among the people - then baited them into submission with promises of patronage and protection to those conforming."
brown, the internet consultant, gave me a free session. He thinks that I should split my usual daily mega post into individual ones, even if I end up having, like, 10 posts a day. I should also space out each post time-wise and add titles.

- It's easier to link to what I write
- It's easier to read and skip parts readers don't like and find parts they do
- It prevents information overload and reader intimidation
- I'll get more comments
- People will come more often every day/time period

- Is it confusing for readers to come and be faced with 30 new posts?
- It looks like I'm fickle and have an undisciplined mind since I'll have many short posts
- I can put my customary quote of the day on only one of the posts
- I like to come back and edit my posts and add material later (for example, this very post has changed since it was first pushed out), so if I publish many a day I'll have to edit them after they're published and readers may not notice that anything has changed (alternatively, I could just post all 10 posts at the end of each day)
- I might feel like I've to space the posts out temporally and I spend even more time blogging (uhh)
- One-lined posts make me look silly
- I lose my reputation as someone who posts interminable posts that no one bothers to read through

He also suggests that I move to a tool with scheduled posting like Wordpress or MT, but for those you either must pay or lose flexibility with free hosting plans. And scheduled posting and categorisation don't sound all that attractive anyway.

I think I'll try his suggestion for a week or so, and see how things go from there. Though I can't be bothered to give each post titles; res ipsa loquitur anyway. Do post your comments in this entry.

Jeff yen: tell brown: no, i have my own styleee
no one on the Internets does it...it's uniquely singapore

Addendum: If anyone knows of a offline tool for Blogger that allows scheduled posting, please let me know. Thanks.

[Editor's note: This post is dated exactly a week from the time it was originally written.]
One of the reasons I uncharacteristically went to Zouk on Saturday night for Absolute Reality was that I wanted to show off my hair, and indeed I did get some reactions ("I used to think very highly of you", "I only knew that it was you because someone told me - 'that's Gabriel'"). Of course, I also went because the head honcho himself pimped it to me, and I wanted to see if my reasons for not clubbing (I don't drink, smoke, dance, listen to modern music, pick people up or get picked up) held true. It was an... interesting experience, albeit one which I would not care to repeat in the near future (if at all).

At the entrance, we found that ticket prices had been lowered to $15 (as opposed to the originally advertised prices of $16 for a pre-ordered ticket and $18 at the door). Apparently Zouk had decided to undercut them, so they had no choice but to follow the market leader. The incompetent doormen took my whole ticket without returning me my ticket stub. This was needed for the lucky draw, most of which I missed anyway because my two lovely companions decided to drag me through the Heeren's Annex doing window shopping because it was "too early".

Though Absolute Reality supposedly had a reality show theme, the program was an unsatisfactory exposition of it. Granted, there were 5 contestants, but they were whittled down in a mere 3 rounds of games. Hardly "the search for absolute hunk & babe!" which the promotional poster promised (and which I've just noticed is grammatically suspect). Furthermore, both starting late and ending early, we got a lot less bang for our buck than was advertised. Hell, more time was spent promoting and showcasing US university life and an upcoming event [Beauty World, April 2006 at Chicago] than with letting the audience "witness American reality TV brought to life". But then that was probably the putative point of the evening anyway - apart from watching people you know be humiliated, partying and all the usual visceral action that goes on where the sun don't shine, so.

With the official program over, Calvin was chased from the DJ booth and the evening's festivities began in earnest. UV lights started to flash through the chamber, lending people's white clothes an eerie purple tinge reminiscent of the purple uniform and increasing everyone's chances of getting skin cancer. Better yet, at some points the UV lights started flashing in a poor attempt to imitate the Pokemon cartoon. Curiously, everyone seemed to be immune to its effects: perhaps prolonged exposure makes one immune to such stimulation.

A sip of Screwed Up Girl's vodka lime almost sent me into a paroxysm, something DXO's drinks conspicuously failed to do. After recovering from my fit, I gave each of my 2 companions one of my drink coupons (Screwed Up Girl proceeded not to use it. Argh!)

Saturday was trance night, and through the night the music grew steadily louder, until it was almost impossible to hear myself think. First one of my trouser legs started moving along with the beat, and later I felt my thoraxic cavity resonate; with such a powerful sound system, I doubt they need to keep a defibrillator on the premises. A friend started bouncing along to the beat, and others began to fall into the trance the music was presumably meant to induce, but with my mastery of Tantric Zen meditation, I managed to keep myself grounded and centred and thus immune to its debilitating effects.

During the event proper, sublimated dry ice with a slight edge to its smell had been emitted into the air at intervals, but as the night wore on, either due to increased emission or poor ventilation the visibility and PSI of the compound moved in opposite directions. Coupled with the poor lighting and ceaseless racket, I felt as if I had been transported to a World War I French trench during a round of chemical artillery shelling by the Germans. Through the smoke, I glimpsed some people on the dance floor to whom the nerve gas had got. Staying by the edge of the dance floor in groups, they were all spasming periodically, unable to move even to the centre of the dance floor, incapacitated as they were. I really felt for those poor souls.

Surprisingly early, at 10:40, some people overcame the effects of the nerve agent and got onto blocks placed in the middle of the dance floor to shake their booty. Unfortunately, not everyone had such a robust constitution, and I think I still glimpsed some people still spasming at the side. Even more unfortunately, I did not observe what some in my Sociology tutorial group did:

"Intimacy: In such a close, confined environment as a club, you have more feasible contact than you ever bargained for... You're sending a message to the guys: 'just touch me'"

"There are people who tarch, and there are people who want to be tarched. (touch, touched)"

I speculate that this was due to a combination of reasons: the early hour of my presence, the aforementioned reduced visibility and the fact that many or most people knew each other already. I am confirmed in my speculations by intelligence reports that someone was later seen snogging many females.

When I finally decided that I had had enough, I exited the enclosed compound... to find that a lot of people were outside talking (at least half and maybe even up to two thirds of the number who were inside). A pity I didn't think of that sooner.
It turns out that my prophecy that you would theoretically be able to get a NUS module for fewer points in later rounds (contrary to the system's intent) has come to pass:

"i decided not to bid for mno1001 in round2a and 2b coz the limited slots available were really ridiculous and banked that some slots for other categories of students did not take up would be free in round 3A

my dangherous gamble paid off, as there were total of 95 slots available in round 3A and bidding wasnt that hot today

for round 2 if i had won i would have paid at least 900-1000 points or even more for mno1001
but i only got the module for only 372pts for round 3a

well i also got screwed for another module
i paid 800 points for it in round1a(siao ppl!) and my buddy got it in round 3a for 300 odd"

Monday, August 08, 2005

"Why do some women of a certain age opt for plastic surgery in an attempt to preserve their youth? Why do the husbands of Dogon women in Mali insist that their wives spend five days a month living alone in a small dark hut? Why are stepchildren at greater risk of fatal abuse than a parent's natural offspring? And just what is it that makes a man with a fast car and a strong chin that much more attractive than your basic Mr Average?

At first glance, these would seem to be four entirely unrelated questions, each requiring a completely different explanation. But, as in most things, first impressions can be misleading. In fact,there is a theory that explains all these phenomena, that reveals the natural connections that exist between them. This is the theory of evolution by natural selection."

- Barrett et al (2002) Human Evolutionary Psychology

And so the semester begins once again.
"Nice guys finish last, but we get to sleep in." - Evan Davis


At Zouk's "Absolute Reality" on Saturday night, 2 people asked me: "Are you going to blog about this?"

I gave both of them a look.

But anyway I'm bogged down with SEP paperwork, and have school tomorrow, so that update will not be up so soon.


Cheaploh!: The Only Singapore Shopping Blog - "Cheaploh! is the only Blog on cheap shopping in Singapore. We scour for novelties and food that we really like that are under S$2 and list them here. Updated daily."
Some might find this interesting.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

On why it's a bad idea for your hairdresser to say you've put on weight:

"some background facts
women, when going for a haircut, are usually in a somewhat annoyed mood already because their hair is too long, flopping around their eyes badly, making them look shaggy and unattractive

so haircuts are usually relaxing experiences
a chat with the hairdresser also helps to restore good mood

now, in the light of these, being told by ur friendly neighbourhood hairdresser that you've put on weight, is something that disrupts this relaxation experience
the more a woman thinks a haircut should be relaxing, the more she will take offense at such a comment

it has nothing to do with customer service blah blah blah. which is what is commonly first assumed."


... women
Tomorrow afternoon, I will be visiting Boon Lay Poly aka ITE West aka NTU (I didn't come up with the first 2 names, so go lynch the NTU students who did) for unspecified purposes.

I look forward to the change in environs, even if only for half a day.
hoi polloi
The common people; the masses.
[Greek, the many : hoi, nominative pl. of ho]

Usage Note: Hoi polloi is a borrowing of the Greek phrase hoi polloi, consisting of hoi, meaning "the" and used before a plural, and polloi, the plural of polus, "many." In Greek hoi polloi had a special sense, "the greater number, the people, the commonalty, the masses." This phrase has generally expressed this meaning in English since its first recorded instance, in an 1837 work by James Fenimore Cooper. Hoi polloi is sometimes incorrectly used to mean "the elite," possibly because it is reminiscent of high and mighty or because it sounds like hoity-toity.·Since the Greek phrase includes an article, some critics have argued that the phrase the hoi polloi is redundant. But phrases borrowed from other languages are often reanalyzed in English as single words. For example, a number of Arabic noun phrases were borrowed into English as simple nouns. The Arabic element al- means "the," and appears in English nouns such as alcohol and alchemy. Thus, since no one would consider a phrase such as "the alcohol" to be redundant, criticizing the hoi polloi on similar grounds seems pedantic.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the following citations for "hoi polloi":

1668 - John Dryden, "Essay of dramatic poesy": If by the people you understand the multitude, the hoi polloi, 'tis no matter what they think; they are sometimes in the right, sometimes in the wrong: their judgement is a mere lottery.

c1821-2 BYRON in Lett. (1830) I. 633 [We] put on masques, and went on the stage with the hoi polloi.

1837 J. F. COOPER Europe II. 94 After which the hoi polloi are enrolled as they can find interest.

"It is interesting to note that when hoi polloi was used by writers who had actually been educated in Greek, it was invariably preceded by the. Perhaps writers such as Dryden and Byron understood that English and Greek are two different languages, and that, whatever its literal meaning in Greek, hoi does not mean "the" in English. There is, in fact, no such independent word as hoi in English — there is
only the term hoi polloi, which functions not as two words but as one, the sense of which is basically "commoners" or "rabble." In idiomatic English, it is no more redundant to say "the hoi polloi" than it is to say "the rabble," and most writers who use the term continue to precede it with *the*...

Hoi polloi without the is certainly standard, but it someimes has an unidiomatic ring to it (Bernstein 1977 describes it as "clumsy"). The decision you have to make as
an intelligent writer, therefore, is whether you are more for etymology than for idiom. We recomend that you favor idiom, but if etymology has won you over, keep in mind that simply omitting *the* is not always enough."

- Merriam) Webster's Dictionary of English Usage (1989), usage note

(Difficult library reference questions list archives)
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