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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Why Singaporeans are so Lucky

This is the shit. Seen in a Singabloodypore comments box:

"You guys have to be fools not to realise how LUCKY Singaporeans are
read about the experience of this Singapore who went on tour to USA and come back fully understanding how LUCKY a country Singapore is.


Singaporeans are lucky people. If you open up the newspapers in Singapore to read , there is nothing but good news and good ideas from the ruling government. There is daily hope that things will get better. Once a week someone in Singapore achieve something big - like urine power batteries. Everyone live in harmony with the government - even opposition in Singapore is nice and quiet. The government is virtually perfect based on what the Singapore news papers say and are always thinking of ways to improve the lives of Singaporeans. The govt of Singapore is always helping its people - recently to help the poor buy flats. It looks like Singaporeans are relatively problem free and happy - not much suffering in Singapore.

When I went on tour in the US for one month and when I read the newspaper, I was horrified this country has so much problems. People going on strike because they think their pay is too low. Politicians arguing with each other on various issues. Unheard of in Singapore. The newspapers is full of criticism of the govt - obviously the Leaders in America are not as smart as Singapore leaders - nobody in Singapore can find anything wrong with the PAP. The people I met in America are generally unhappy with their lives and always talking about trying to change it - they dream of becoming rich, becoming movie stars, becoming singers, becoming this on that. I even met a 40 year old guy who was attending medical school - obviously he is unhappy with his job as a waiter. Contrast that with Singaporeans who are very happy with their current existence many are happy with their current jobs and don't dream much about the future.

When I was on tour, I found out America has poor public transport system - no MRT, few public bus. Can't imagine how they get around.

Their service sector is behind us by decades, I went the hotel restaurant to eat, the first day they were very nice to me. The second day I went back, they were not nice. I was offended, so like very good Singaporean I complained. They told me I did not tip them the first day. Waliao, in America must 'tip' to get service. In Singapore, I never have to tip!

Another day I wondered on to the streets and found a man distributing anti-government material. I read it and it accused the US govt of causing the suffering in 3rd world countries. Why does the US govt allow the people to accuse it? In singapore, this person would have been arrested. Another day, a Hispanic union group gathered in a rally accusing employers of discrimination - how can they do that? don't they know that busineeses if not given a free hand to do what they want will just invest in china or india. How come their union is not working with the employer to harmonise worker relations and persuade workers to accept their current conditions.

One day when I was on the "free and easy" part of my tour I found a way to take the bus around in Los Angeles. At my 3rd stop, a cyclist wanted to take the bus, the bus driver got down the bus and help him to mount his bicycle on a structure at the front of the bus. I was disgusted, how can he do that, it caused delay to every one on the bus. I'm surprised Americans put up with that. Half way through the ride, the bus got a bit crowded, just like Singapore people don't move to the rear. At the bus stop people trying to get up shouted loudly at the people in the bus to "move to the rear guys!! we can't get up!!". In Singapore, people would have kept quiet and waited for the bus driver to do something - if nothing is done they would have just waited for the next bus. This shows that Americans are impatient lot - unlike Singapore they don't trust the person in the leadership position(bus driver) to do his job.

As I move around in America, I realise the problem of older workers getting jobs is far worse that in Singapore. I saw very few old folks working in America - they are mostly sitting in parks or playing with their grand children. I guess they do that because they are unable to find a job. In contrary, we see many old folks in Singapore working as cleaners and at MacDonalds. We should be thankful that in Singapore even old folks can find jobs. In America, old folks are jobless and sitting around doing nothing. It is obvious the American government is unable to solve the structural unemployment problem and are unable to redesign jobs for older workers. These old folks in America must be suffering without an income and spending so much time in the park when they should be working.

I went to one place that was having an election for a Mayor. So much money wasted on posters and hundreds of people wasting time campaigning for the candidates. Why do they waste time doing that? In Singapore, instead of having so many people choose a president, we simply have a panel of 3 people to do it - it is cheaper and waste less energy. Obviously America has alot to learn from Singapore.

The only place I like alot is Las Vegas. Wow the bright lights and the wonderful casinos. Yes, I like it alot although one night at the jackpot machine, I don't know what happened to me and I lost $500. For some reason, I couldn't stop myself. But later when I watch the show with the pirate ship and girls in bikini, I felt much better and forgot my loss. Certainly I'll come back to Las Vegas. You can see that the Singapore govt also realise that most Singaporeans will like Las Vegas, so they are build 2 casinos in Singapore to bring Las Vegas to Singaporeans. See, how much the PAP govt cares about you, to make sure you're well entertained and have some excitement in your life.

You can see for yourself how lucky singapore is as a country. People above 60 are still able to find jobs and continue working. Everyone living in harmony happily. No time wasted on debates and protests. No confusing concepts to deal with. After my tour in America, I'm so glad that we have such a good government that put the smile on the faces of Singaporeans everyday...and when I open up the newspapers, I can see everything is fine and dandy. Our citizens are obedient and trust their leaders.

Addendum: This was written by Lucky Tan from Diary of a Singaporean Mind
Someone: hahahaha
i just turned my voice female using garageband, and it sound just like the real thing!

i'm going to have so much fun with this

Me: wah

Someone: give me something to read
i'll record and send to you

Me: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua. At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita kasd gubergren, no sea takimata sanctus est Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua. At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita kasd gubergren, no sea takimata sanctus est Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor invidunt ut labore et dolore magna aliquyam erat, sed diam voluptua. At vero eos et accusam et justo duo dolores et ea rebum. Stet clita kasd gubergren, no sea takimata sanctus est Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet.

Someone: cb..
Great Expectations: The Evolutionary Psychology of Faith-Healing and the Placebo Effect

"Experimental studies have shown that placebos, as well as being particularly effective for the relief of pain and inflammation, can for example speed wound healing, boost immune responses to infection, cure angina, prevent asthma, lift depression, and even help fight cancer. Robert Buckman, a clinical oncologist and professor of medicine, concludes that “Placebos are extraordinary drugs. They seem to have some effect on almost every symptom known to mankind, and work in at least a third of patients and sometimes in up to 60%. They have no serious side-effects and cannot be given in overdose. In short they hold the prize for the most adaptable, protean, effective, safe and cheap drugs in the world’s pharmacopoeia.” Likewise, another medical authority, quoted in a recent review in the British Medical Journal, dubs placebos “the most effective medication known to science, subjected to more clinical trials than any other medicament yet nearly always doing better than anticipated. The range of susceptible conditions appears to be limitless...

My view is this. The human capacity for responding to placebos is in fact not necessarily adaptive in its own right (indeed it can sometimes even be maladaptive). Instead, this capacity is an emergent property of something else that is genuinely adaptive: namely, a specially designed procedure for “economic resource management” that is, I believe, one of the key features of the “natural health-care service” which has evolved in ourselves and other animals to help us deal throughout our lives with repeated bouts of sickness, injury, and other threats to our well-being."

Gloriously jargon-free and easy to follow, the author makes a prima facie case for the evolution of our favourable response to placebos, though the paper isn't concluded as well as it could have been, especially since there's no restatement and summation of the thesis (heh heh).


The Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction

"While other disciplines of science explored the periodic -- physicists with their pendulums, biologists with circadian rhythms, and mathematicians with sinusoidal waves -- chemistry, until recently, was bereft of this study. Although there had long been evidence that the rate of some reactions changed repeatedly, many chemistry luminaries thought it would be contrary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics for a chemical reaction to oscillate. However, applying the concepts equilibrium thermodynamics to non-equilibrium systems proved erroneous.

Yet this thinking so held the day that when Boris P. Belousov, director of the Institute of Biophysics in the Soviet Union, submitted a paper to a scientific journal purporting to have discovered an oscillating chemical reaction in 1951, it was roundly rejected with a critical note from the editor that it was clearly impossible. His confidence in its impossibility was such that even though the paper was accompanied by the relatively simple procedure for performing the reaction, he could not be trouble. Arthur C. Clarke best captured this spirit of this folly with Clarke's First Law: "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.""
Economics and Physics Envy

"The discipline of economics had gone the route of many social sciences. They had contracted "Physics Envy." That's the disease that gets you thinking that the only way to be respectably scientific is to do things the way the physical sciences, especially physics, do them.

As Jared Diamond has pointed out in his magnificent book, Guns, Germs, and Steel, social sciences cannot use the same experimental methodology that physical sciences use. Social sciences deal with human systems which are messy in the extreme and often not susceptible to double-blind, controlled experiments.

Diamond suggests several ways that social sciences can be scientific without succumbing to Physics Envy. We might apply them to economics, except that economics is not a science at all. Instead, it's philosophy, using mathematics to dress itself in the clothes of science.

Today's economics either regurgitates the obvious with a few equations thrown in or falls back on reasoning to replace experiment. Also with a few equations thrown in."


Gene Expression: Physics Envy

"In my previous post on this subject, I asserted the non-applicability of higher mathematics to economic analysis, arguing that true functions (in the mathematical sense) are missing from all economic relationships.

The root of the problem lies in the belief, held by academic economists, that deep down and in some mysterious way -- maybe only statistically -- the laws of supply and demand are like the laws of physics -- as, for example, the laws governing the attraction and repulsion of electrons and protons. But consider:

In physics, the law which describes the inverse relation between distance and force between charges (or masses) is not just a rough approximation, qualitative description, or statistical generalization. Rather, it is an extremely precise description, to roughly 20 decimal places of significance, in which measurement error plays a very small part... physicists will be the first to admit that even the most powerful mathematical machinery they are able to bring to bear on a problem can deal successfully with only the very simplest situations, beyond which their equations are useless. Thus, for example, their equations can be solved for the two body problem but not the three body problem in Newtonian mechanics; they can solve the Schrödinger equation when there is only one proton and one electron interacting, but not when there are even two protons and two electrons, let alone anything more complicated than that.

Furthermore, on those occassions when physicists do make complex predictions -- such as that nuclear fission would occur en mass, before the first atom bomb was tested (to choose an historical example) -- they do so with caution, double checking all their calculations, and hoping that they haven't overlooked something, or might accidentally set the atmosphere on fire."
"Household tasks are easier and quicker when they are done by somebody else." - James Thorpe


A question I just asked on Young Republic. Replies here are equally welcome.

I'm sure everyone knows what's happening in New Orleans now.

What do you think would happen if something similar happened to/in Singapore? Would we see parang-wielding mobs looting the CPF building as the Merlion was toppled by drunken breakdancers? Or would decades of social engineering kick in and ensure that, adhering to our Asian Values (TM), everyone would help everyone else, regardless of race, language or religion, and we would all pull through, ending up as a stronger country ever more ready to cut wages to be competitive in the face of global trends?
For the benefit of those on the RSS feed:

New blog picture

Friday, September 02, 2005

Overheard about "ASPIRE 2005" (ASIA PACIFIC STUDENT LEARDERSHIP [sic] WORKSHOP 2005), an international conference organised by the University of Malaya with participants and speakers from all over the Asia-Pacific:

"got e key to go to our room
that's where e shock came

e room sucked to e core
e whole hostel smelled like a zoo(due to stray cats' peeing in e hall...e cats could get to e 6th floor--where we stayed...to quote a hongkong fren...e smell was like elephants' poo)
e whole place was dirty(surprising since UM invited international students and it's pretty obvious that not much of cleaning has been done to e hall)

i had to share my room with someone (who was quite a nice person)
but we only had 1 key among ourselves

and upon opening the door
it was another big shock
e room was dirty
with no tiles(ie cemented floor)
e mattress was thin like a sheet of paper(ok la..not that thin...but it's thin enuf for me to feel e BED itself when i slept on it)
no blanket was given(later was given a bedsheet to be used as blanket---e v thin n rough kind)
there was no lan point or phone line in e room
there was no wireless internet access either

we left our room to go join some icebreakers conducted in e hall(and since we were already v late...we were quite extra)

started next day having quite a lousy breakfast(everyth was v sweet...this was e prelude to e rest of e meals provided by UM) On later days, they told us to come for breakfast at 7am and knocked on our doors at 7 in e morning cos they think we oversleep, but when we went to e canteen no one was there and e caterer only came at 8am.
had e 1st dialogue which was titled “China’s Economic Overheat & Its Impact on the Asia Pacific”.

e scheduled speakers were ppl like Dr. Mahathir Mohammad and Mr. Zhou Xiaochuan (Governor of People's Bank of China)
but e speakers that turned up was ASEAN secretary-general(not too bad) and manager of the central bank
this is quite a disappointment cos basically e panelist has been "downgraded" drastically...
i have looked forward to Mahathir and e governor of central bank speaking cos it's not like everyday u get to meet such bigshots and listen to them talk

this is followed by a screwed-up discussion(participants were split into grps to discuss e issues raised and to present our findings on e 3rd day) moderated by a student from malaysia(UPSI=teaching college)
he was dominating e whole discussion and making nonsensical deductions
in e end he got reprimanded by someone in e grp for his gibberish...which made him shut up and everyone else v happy

then we had second dialogue(Kyoto Protocal – It’s role and the Mechanism in Achieving it.) and again none of e scheduled speakers came
2 malaysian meteorologists came
e talk was pretty boring but not as bad as e 3rd one which was to come e next day

had opening dinner at night
reached e hotel at abt 7 plus but dinner only commenced at 9,30pm
their guest-of-honour(education minister of malaysia) was so late
and e whole dinner transformed into a pre-celebration of e national day of malaysia

e national anthem of malaysia and UM's anthem were played
numerous speeches were delivered before we could tuck in

and after e dinner
ppl started singing community songs of malaysia and e whole dinner turned into someth like a pseudo-pre-celebration of e national day
e malaysians felt very high after singing i think
but it was v weird for them to do such things since there were so many international students around
shouldn't e focus of e dinner be on students and e workshop(and not malaysia itself???)

reached hostel at abt 1am
went to shower
and e bathroom sucked to e core again
there was no showerhead(jus a pipe sticking out from e wall)
no heater
no toilet roll(on e 1st day of e workshop...was provided later)
and e toilets did not smell too nice

u can imagine bathing at 1am without heater
it was freezing cold and e water jus gushed onto ppl who are showering cos there was no showerhead
we showered everyday at 1-2 am cos we ended like that everyday
it's mad

next day had e 3rd dialogue(The Significance of Cooperation Amongst Asia Pacific Universities in Moulding Quality Graduates for a Globalize World)which was crappy to e limit
2 deans from UM spoke cos none of e scheduled speakers came again
e speakers were unprepared and sounded more like promoting ppl to go n study in UM than to assert any opinion for e topic matter

then we had to prepare for presentation
which happened to be e time in which ppl from my grp found out wad we have done thus far was pretty much nonsense
i got shoved/forced/coerced to presenting e 1st qn
and someone else was forced to present e 2nd qn
e moderator guy volunteered to present e 3rd qn

presentation started at 9pm and ended at 12,30pm
this was e 1st time in my life i did a presentation at 12 midnight
had to greet my audience good morning

i think there's someth drastically/awfully/totally wrong with e way e programs have been scheduled
we shldn't end every day at 1 am plus
it's crazy considering we r supposed to wake up and have breakfast by 8am

e next day i went to kampong lonek(a kampong in negeri smebilan)
spent e whole morning on e bus..reached e destination at 12 plus in e afternoon and we were again shoved/forced/coerced to walk under e sun to take a walk ard e village

e trip turned out to be pretty ok except that it was v hot and e food wasn't v gd
but e non-muslims had to wait for e muslims twice cos they had to pray and we sat ard doing nothing much

i dun think muslims from other countries pray that much,do they?

we had dinner at some R&R station(e pitstops for ppl driving along north-south highway..and obviously good food was impossible to get there)
in e end i skipped dinner and jus drank ice blended chocolate at this pirated starbucks called Shalala cafe
apparently they had nothing to sell except nasi lemak and ice blended chocolate
dunno how ppl do business like that
it was at this time when 4 of us from e same bus got together and started complaining v loudly in e cafe(all 4 of us found nothing that was palatable and jus kept ourselves occupied by complaining non-stop)
ppl from UM heard us
e crew in e cafe were staring at us
but who cares
this was when we formed this grp to rebel against e UM ppl
e working attitude of e crew at Shalala was exactly e same as e ppl from UM(specifically e malays in UM...e chineses in UM were quite kind to us...i dun understand this racist behavior of e UM ppl...if they wan to organise an event like this...no point thinking along racial lines...it shows how narrow-minded you are and it reflects badly on e uni,e country and everyth else)

anyways we then carried on with e bus journey at abt 7 plus and reached putrajaya at 12 midnight(amazing...this is e time ppl visit night safari i think..not for phototaking at e administrative capital)

on e way we were busy complaining loudly on e "ill-treatment" of participants
throughout e whole journey we were treated to Siti Nurhaliza's(famous malaysian singer) MTV
not that many of e ppl on e bus could understand
only e 2 or 3 malays sitting in front wanted to watch that lousy vcd(which had prob playing after being played continuously for many times throughout out journey..started skipping and in e end was turned off--good riddance)

reached putrajaya and had a super-unbelievable experience
was shoved from places to places for photo-taking but there was nothing much to take actually
cos it was too dark and we were too far away from e buildings(roads were sealed for their national day celebration)

in e end we left putrajaya at 1 plus and arrived at UM at 2am(fell asleep on e way)

had KLCC tour on tues
it was better than previous days although it was also v rush
got to have 1.5 pathetic hours to shop at petronas towers
in e end grabbed a top and a jacket without half an hr cos e 1st hr was spent on eating(i had to buy clothes for e closing dinner--din bring enuf clothes cos i though there would be enuf time for me to shop around..according to e original schedule...but by now everyone reading this shld have realised nothing went according to e original plan...i wished i could sue them for deceiving the participants...we were drastically misled)

went to some handicraft centre which no one showed much interest(and we spent more time there then KLCC...we were complaining loudly abt lack of shopping time)
and went to KL tower after that(someth i dreaded cos i have been there twice before just recently)
my 3rd visit was spent on oogling at ppl in swimming pools near e KL tower using e binoculars in e tower..anyways i din start this oogling..forgot who it was but many ppl were doing e same thing... i guess e 5 days of torture so far had turned everyone more pervertic..haha

then returned to UM for closing dinner
e food sucked
i took one mouthful of veg and puked cos it was strong in pesticides smell
din continue eating

anyways i found myself feeling full all e time when i was in KL
i think e food couldn't whet my appetite

took many pics with e other participants cos most ppl were in traditional costumes

and then went out for supper at chinatown area
watched fireworks(released to celebrate national day)
and then returned to UM

e last day in KL was spent shopping
but i could only get a wallet cos we were stuck in e jam for a very long(traffic jam due to high traffic in KL...as it was a public holiday)

then rushed our way back to UM
got out luggage and took a limo back to KLIA

... hereby i conclude my report on my KL tour
all in all it sucked
to quote my fellow participants
"you get what u pay..paying 20USD for 5 nights of accommodation and food means u get 20USD worth of treatrment"
"aspire is totally bullshit"
"aspire sucks"

but someth good came out of it as well
made friends with many ppl cos we bonded together as we braved e bardship

... i felt like i was a POW when i was in KL
no words can describe how glad i am to be back"

Ma-laysia boleh!
A sad tale of the parochialism that often afflicts Singaporean Chinese and Malaysians; assuming language proficiency in another even when it is obvious none exists and refusing to converse in a language both parties understand: yax-471 Here, the first thing people register is your race

"2 pm at Han's diner in the basement of Park Mall. The lunch crowd had not quite dissipated and the staff were still busy. A couple walked in and moved to find their own table, discussing between themselves, in English, whether to take the one on the left or another one further in.

From the guy's accent, I figured he was an American-born Chinese (often acronymed as ABC). There are an increasing number of them in Singapore as we draw more and more professionals from all parts of the world.

The woman seemed to be a Singapore-born Indian or of mixed parentage. Her accent was identifiably Singaporean.

Just as they had decided on the table to their left and were about to sit down, a waitress went up to them.

"Nimen shi liang wei, shi ma?" the server said to the guy. She ignored the woman companion.

"I'm sorry?" ABC said.

"Nimen shi liang wei, zhuo nabien." The waitress pointed to a smaller table with two seats. The table the couple preferred had four.

By her gesture, ABC could guess that she wanted them to sit at the smaller table. "This table is taken?" he asked in his unmistakeable accent.

"Zhuo nabien; nimen shi liang wei."

The couple got up and walked out.

The waitress didn't seem to care. She then turned to another customer, a silver-haired Caucasian man who had been gesturing for service for some time.

"Order already?" she asked him. She’s evidently able to speak English."


Hackstadt.com - Exploding Whale

You have reached the definitive Exploding Whale website on the Internet!"

They have the original video! *throws confetti*

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"My favorite animal is steak." - Fran Lebowitz

Random Playlist Song: Brahms - Symphony No. 4 in e minor, Op. 98 - III. Allegro giocoso


More random stuff that lands up in my mailbox:

"asia terror threat

we take seriously french anti-terrorism magistrate jean-louis bruguière's claims that al Qaeda is preparing an attack on an asian financial center. french counterterrorist sources tend to publicly reveal such threats only when their information is particularly well developed and when available countermeasures to prevent the attack and capture the attackers are considered insufficient. there's little use in speculating on the timing of such an attack (other than the obvious 9/11, which would coincide with japan's snap elections), and both the targeting of financial centers and of countries which support the united states are consistent with broader al qaeda strategy. additionally, it is worth noting that the cities explicitly targeted were sydney, singapore, and tokyo--there's no desire on the part of al qaeda leaders to target china (hong kong or the mainland) and to broaden international opposition to their terrorist movement accordingly.

having said that, it is worth reiterating that al qaeda as a broad movement remains considerably less capable of marshalling global resources in a coordinated way than it was prior to the september 11 attacks, the result of a coordinated focus on known and suspected leaders and financial channels. to the extent that there's an exception to this diminution of capacity, it would be in east asia. counterterrorist efforts there are clearly weaker, but the domestic groups that directly aid (or at least help conceal) terrorist cells are also far less in evidence."


"Singapore is a dream for every public planner :) It's especially easy to impose e.g. a gas tax, which would require a long and nationwide political process in other countries."


Vegetarian furore as Gandhi is used to promote eggs - "Devotees of Mahatma Gandhi, a vegetarian to the point of neurosis, have been engaged in a furious row after the Father of the Indian Nation was chosen as a "brand ambassador" for eggs - a food he never ate... The leaflet quotes from a 1948 article by Gandhi entitled Key to Health in which he challenges the received wisdom among India's strict Brahmins that eggs are "flesh food" and not to be eaten. "In reality, they are not," Gandhi wrote. "Nowadays sterile eggs are also produced. The hen is not allowed to see the cock and yet it lays eggs. A sterile egg never develops into a chick. Therefore, he who can take milk should have no objection to taking sterile eggs.""
This all smacks of a religious dispute.

The Onion | Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory - ""Closed-minded gravitists cannot find a way to make Einstein's general relativity match up with the subatomic quantum world," said Dr. Ellen Carson, a leading Intelligent Falling expert known for her work with the Kansan Youth Ministry. "They've been trying to do it for the better part of a century now, and despite all their empirical observation and carefully compiled data, they still don't know how." "Traditional scientists admit that they cannot explain how gravitation is supposed to work," Carson said. "What the gravity-agenda scientists need to realize is that 'gravity waves' and 'gravitons' are just secular words for 'God can do whatever He wants.'""

Curiosities from Japan's porno shops. - "As everyone is well aware, Japan is absolutely brimming with bizarre shit, particularly when it comes to adult material. Tentacle rape, bestiality, people shitting on each other... They've got it all. So when I stumbled upon a seven-floor adult superstore, I knew I was going to walk out with some amazingly weird stuff. First, though, there's plenty of pervasive material available right out on the street, before you even make it into a porno store. For example, these delicious-looking treats I found at a market - "Yokohama Bust Pudding""

Church: God Punishing GIs Over Gays - "Members of a church say God is punishing American soldiers for defending a country that harbors gays, and they brought their anti-gay message to the funerals Saturday of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq. The church members were met with scorn from local residents. They chased the church members cars' down a highway, waving flags and screaming "God bless America.""
With all the links on alternate sexuality I post, I wonder if people think I'm gay. Hmm...

Photo Gallery (Tube Stake) - "Claim: Photograph shows bulletin warning London Underground travelers not to run on the platforms or concourses. Status: False... A Customer Service Advisor for the Central line confirmed for us that the bulletin shown in the image was not one actually posted by Transport for London ("I'm pleased to tell you that it's a hoax. Somebody has a very strange sense of humour."). It appears to be a digitally altered version of a genuine photograph of a bulletin which was displayed in a photo gallery on the BBC's web site."
I knew something was up with that picture. Good ole Snopes.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Why Men Can't Win

If you put a woman on a pedestal and try to protect her from the rat race, you're a male chauvinist. If you stay home and do the housework, you're a pansy.

If you work too hard, there is never any time for her. If you don't work enough, you're a good-for-nothing bum.

If she has a boring repetitive job with low pay, this is exploitation. If you have a boring repetitive job with low pay, you should get off your ass and find something better.

If you get a promotion ahead of her, that is favoritism. If she gets a job ahead of you, it's equal opportunity.

If you mention how nice she looks, it's sexual harassment. If you keep quiet, it's male indifference.

If you cry, you're a wimp. If you don't, you're an insensitive bastard.

If you make a decision without consulting her, you're a chauvinist. If she makes a decision without consulting you, she's a liberated woman.

If you ask her to do something she doesn't enjoy, that's domination. If she asks you, it's a favor.

If you appreciate the female form and frilly underwear, you're a pervert. If you don't, you're a fag.

If you like a woman to shave her legs and keep in shape, you're a sexist pig. If you don't, you're unromantic.

If you try to keep yourself in shape, you're vain. If you don't, you're a slob.

If you buy her flowers, you're after something. If you don't, you're not thoughtful.

If you're proud of your achievements, you're up on yourself. If you don't, you're not ambitious.

If you're totally beat after a hard day, you don't give a damn about other people's needs. If she's totally beat after a hard day, she's tired.

If you want it too often, you're oversexed. If you don't, there must be "someone else".
ketsugi informs me that wiser minds have obviated the need for me to conceptualise an iNothing advertisement campaign with iProduct:

"Announcing the Apple iProduct.

"I buy Apple products. It just makes me feel special." - Joan M'Benga, ethnic looking clip-art model

Apple iProduct. You'll buy it. And you'll like it.
Do you like Apple products? Do you live for every product announcement, every incremental upgrade, every rumor and fake screenshot? Do you wank and blare and drone and fucking gurgle about Apple products morning, noon, and night? Then get ready for iProduct. You'll be blown away. No matter what it is.

The power to buy anything — and feel good about it.
Will it be merely an incremental improvement? Will we simply increase the storage capacity of an existing product and increase the price? Or will we remove features and capacity and reduce the price? It doesn't matter. We'll still trumpet it as a brand new product, and you'll buy it. You know you'll want it. And you know you'll pay big for it. Steve Jobs could take a dump, put it in an off-white plastic case, add two grey buttons and a small LCD display, and you'd pay $600 for it. Just fucking admit it.

What is it?
We're not saying yet. But we know that won't stop you. Post at length about it on every message board you have access to. Come up with fake product photos and post them, too. Start rumors or deny them. Compare it with existing products, even though you don't know what you're comparing them to. With Apple products, rampant, fruitless speculation is easy and fun.

When can I get it?
Relax, hipster, we'll tell you when it's ready. And you'll tell everybody else. Whether they care or not. You'll clog every blog, forum, and message board in the known universe with product photos, testimonials, and praise for Apple. And the complaints and insults you receive are just proof that you're right.

How much will it cost?
Like you care. As you already know, it'll be twice as expensive as other companies' products with comparable features. But that doesn't matter, does it? No matter how much it costs, you'll feel special because you've bought an Apple product. If you forget how special you are, just look at your credit card statement.

Apple iProduct.
Your life. In a small, shiny, plastic case.

Also see: get an (i)Life

I'd also add something about including few features because users can't deal with them and the slogan: "Think different. Don't buy an iProduct."

There's a rebuttal, but of course I don't think it's even half as funny as the original.
I just watched March of the Penguins. It was terrible.

Too long. Too draggy (the two are not the same). Too anthropomorphic. Too much French existentialism. Too much of the 7-year-old French girl singing trite lyrics which don't match the music. Too much trance/New Age music (I bet they want to sell their OST).

You come out of the cinema hall knowing very little more about the Emperor Penguins than when you first entered. "National Geographic for idiots", as my sister pronounced it. No wonder it's so popular in the USA.

The cinematography wasn't bad, but it's nothing you can't find in your run-of-the-mill nature documentaries. All in all, it'd have been better if they'd wiped the audio track, made many judicious cuts and got David Attenborough in to do the narration.

(Then again, watching the trailer for the English version narrated by Morgan Freeman on Apple.com, devoid of the improbable soliloquies of French-speaking penguins, with a different and less annoying soundtrack and produced by National Geographic films, you'd think it was for a totally different show. And so perhaps it is.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

IPI's 2004 World Press Freedom Review

""Singapore has become as rich as it is because it has a strong rule of law," Backman argues. "The rule of law requires that laws be written down, that they are precise and that they are gazetted." Such vague guidelines on what can and cannot be discussed contradicts this commitment."

It was once argued to me that having OB markers are good because they allow for flexibility. Ignoring the question of whether we need OB markers in the first place, I suppose then that abolishing all our laws is also good because that too allows flexibility. We know that the wise ones will make the right decisions in the end, after all.


"Participating States will respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion." - Extract from the Helsinki Agreement, 1975, signed by the USSR

"In conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order to
strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed
a) freedom of speech;
b) freedom of the press;
c) freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings;
d) freedom of street processions and demonstrations.
These civil rights are ensured by placing at the disposal of the working
people and their organizations printing presses, stocks of paper,
public buildings, the streets, communications facilities and other material
requisites for the exercise of these rights." - Article 125 of the 1964 Constitution of the USSR

Rhetoric is all well and good, but if nothing changes except allowing a bastardised form of bartop-dancing, it's not worth the paper it's written on.
"Fallen heroes do not have children. If self-sacrifice results in fewer descendants, the genes that allow heroes to be created can be expected to disappear gradually from the population." - E.O. Wilson

Random Playlist Song: Raffi - Bananaphone


If only more textbooks read like Varian (or if only he wrote more of this sort of thing in):

"Some tedious algebra shows that *long mathematical expression*
(Don't worry, this formula won't be on the final exam.)"

"In general, the firm faces two sorts of constraints on its actions. Frst, it faces the technological constraints summarized by the production function. There are only certain feasible combinations of inputs and outputs, and even the most profit-hungry firm has to respect the realities of the physical world."


This must be the most biting Economist editorial I've ever read:

[On the Uzbekistan massacre] "The European Union and America have expressed their horror at the worst massacre of demonstrators since Tiananmen Square by imposing the following sanctions on Uzbekistan:


... The European Union has risen to the occasion as grandly as it did over Bosnia, Iraq and on so many other occasions: with a display of spinelessness worthy of a sea full of jellyfish"

Ooh, nasty. And there's a whole page of letters on ""Intelligent" Design", so the Bohemian Bunnie, who is saddened by the lack of Creationist bashing this term, can blow herself off.


"Dear students,

Ever wondered about the work of the Internal Security Department (ISD)? Like to know more about Singapore’s counter-terrorism efforts?

Come to the ISD Heritage Centre cum Counter Terrorism Mobile Exhibitions:

Date: 9 - 13 September 2005
Time: 10am – 10pm daily
Venue: Gek Poh Ville Community Club

Jointly organized by the ISD, South West CDC, Hong Kah North CCC, Gek Poh Ville Community Club MC and Home Team (Southern & Western Sector), the ISD Heritage Centre Mobile Exhibition gives an insight into the work of the ISD and security threats posed by communal/religious extremism/international terrorism to Singapore.

The Counter Terrorism Exhibition features latest technology/equipment in the fight against terrorism, information on staying vigilant and updates on terrorism trends. What’s more, there will be interesting fringe events like films, talks, skits as well as online games and quizzes to excite you."

Hahahahahahaha. If I join the ISD I can go work for the Straits Times after that.


Someone on Bastiat's broken window fallacy: "Many economists and economic journalists do advocate "broken window economics" without making it explicit that that's what they're doing. It happens because in order to avoid these errors you need a theory of value, and a workable theory of value can't be derived mathematically or obtained empirically; it requires philosophical investigation into normative (rather than positive) claims, something that economists are generally loath to do or explicitly say it isn't their business to do."


I saw a weird fixture on the wall of LT11. It was pointed at me and a red light was shining. As I stared at it, the red light suddenly switched off. During the break, I went down and it appeared to be a camera, with the words "3 CCD" engraved on it. If they're going to spy on us, they might as well webcast the lectures while they're at it! Aside: Someone asked me why the RJC staff room needed a fingerprint scanner. It's the same reason why we have CCTV cameras in NUS LTs and in Geylang! Big Brother is watching.

It's hard to quote people when you don't even know what they're supposed to be saying in the first place.

[Female student:] If you could make out with someone famous, who would it be? [Male student: A lot {of people}.]

If you woke up tomorrow and you were a guy, what would you do? [Tutor: That's a question all of us would've been asked once in our lives.] [Student: I would check out myself in the mirror.]

[Student to a guy: If you were shipwrecked on a desert island with another female with another female, what would you do?] Come on, we know what he'd be doing... Play chess maybe.

I am what you would call a Submarine Catholic. I surface when I'm in trouble.

Suppose your parents couldn't swim. Both of them fell into the water, and you could only save one. Which would you save? [Student: I wouldn't save either... I'm in this phase - hating my parents]

What you learn in University: never believe course descriptions.

[Tudung girl:] I am a Muslim - obviously.

My name is ***. I'm a life science major and I don't know which year I'm in.

I'm passionate about flerms. All sort of flerms... Hollywood flerms (films)

[Student on someone else having no one to ask a stupid question: Why don't you ask him?] I'm the tutor. I'm exempted!... It's okay, it's okay [I'll answer].

As far as possible, I won't try to burden you. I won't make you write a lot of things, do little projects. If you want to we can do that! [Students: Noo...] ***, give me more work!

[On Taylor's 'Primitive Culture'] It's quite fat. It's big. Very concise.

[On rousing my wrath] I know all your buttons already. Just display extreme stupidity. [Me: Then you just debase yourself.] I don't mind.

[On a picture of a caveman and Dubya side by side] I don't want people to think that I'm comparing the mental capacity of the leader of the United States and that of our friend Fred.

[On 'Intelligent' Design] We can propose 'intelligent attraction'. Why do things fall from a height? Gravity is just a theory.

The question I want to ask is that who was on top? Not in that way [presumably sexually] but evolutionarily.

central limit theory (theorem)

We have to tran'fer a little bit. (transfer)

[On p-values] If you really don't understand what I say, you can just memorise this... It still work. (works)

As a statistician or an economist you are just a consultant. You do not make the decisions.

[On choosing the null hypothesis] Just like OJ Simpson case right. We believe he is innocent, then gather evidence to show he is guilty. (Simpson's)

[On the t-statistic] You tell your boss: Sample average must be greater than C. He won't be happy. What is C? You will get fired.

[On student unhappiness and apathy] If students are unhappy, the reputation of NUS goes down. If the reputation of NUS goes down, the value of your degree goes down the drain.

A lot of students are very radical. If NUSSU were to lead a protest march up Kent Ridge Crescent, I think a lot of them would come.

[On NUSSU positions] I'm so tired of hearing Engineers. I believe Arts students are superior, because of the modules you take.

[Me: When I smile, I look like a mad man.] If you don't laugh hysterically, then you look alright.

[On a pay as you go pensions system] A lot of European countries have something similar to this, which is why they are all going bankrupt.

[To me] I like it when you corect my English. Reminds me of my RGS days.

At the same tair'm (time)

Both kin be better off (can)

this cree'tea'ria (criteria)

I think we are agreed (we'll have a break)

compee'tive market (competitive)

the grim lance (green lines)

We reach a general equi'br'erm (equilibrium)

pass through the original de'mer'n (endowment)

parting through this black point (passing, blue)

p'rare'der'tore optimal (pareto)

total enrolment (endowment)

the re'sh'you of the prices (issue)

Well russ law (Walras')

Monday, August 29, 2005

Joke is on religion as Christians laugh at themselves

"Religious jokes will be told to hundreds of Christians today in an attempt to determine whether they would fall foul of the Government’s religious hatred legislation. In “The Laugh Judgment” competition, more than 4,000 people voted on 700 religious jokes sent in to the satirical Christian website ShipofFools... Some of the jokes were so offensive that they do not bear reproduction. One of the worst, a masturbation joke about Jesus, so upset the Church in Denmark, where it was first told, that religious leaders raised money to send the comic responsible to Israel to educate him. He gave the money to charity."

Ship of Fools: The Laugh Judgment

"Heard the (banned ) joke about the Rabbi, the Priest and the Imam? While the UK plans to outlaw the vilification of religion, we launch a serious search for the funniest, and potentially most offensive, religious joke ever – while there's still time.

In the garden of Eden lay Adam
Complacently stroking his madam,
And loud was his mirth
For he knew that on earth
There were only two – and he had 'em.

We are not told, in this fragment of early tradition, how the Lord responded to Adam's merriment – a shame, because it might have shed some light on the eternally-funny relationship between religion and humour. Ever since then, they have had a complex and controversial partnership.

Admittedly, the limerick above may not be the most offensive religious joke you have ever heard. Of course, it brings the Bible and breasts dangerously close together – but then so does the Song of Solomon...

Ridiculing religious beliefs, criticising religious practices and offending religious people is surely a mission from God. Not in all cases, necessarily, but certainly in some. It's not a freedom so much as a responsibility.

Ship of Fools has never had much interest in mocking other religions. If truth be told, we're a bit blinkered and don't know enough about them. But to mock the excesses of our own, that's what we were put on earth to do. When Christianity gets dangerous, irrational, nasty, or just plain nuts, then insulting and abusing it is not just a pleasure, but more a profound calling.

The really confusing thing about the proposed law is that if "material that is threatening, abusive or insulting" to religious groups is outlawed, then both the Bible and the Qu'ran will be technically illegal. Both denounce false, wicked and foolish religion in the strongest terms, and have proved only too capable of stirring up religious hatred. The law that is supposed to protect religion could make it criminal."

At least some people out there have a sense of humour. Most of the jokes submitted aren't offensive at all, but a few are really biting.
On Thursday I attended a CORS bitch session organised by the Arts faculty administration. Apparently the Arts Club had heard about the online petition and had notified the faculty administration, which then organised the session. So despite nary a word coming from its collective lips in public, it was working behind the scenes. Be that as it may, there wasn't (and still hasn't been) any word from the other faculties or indeed the University Administration in general about the CORS cockup, so even if they are working behind the scenes to solve the issue, students (NUS's customers, after all) are not being placated and are just becoming ever more disenchanted and apathetic.

The email about the bitch session had gone out to 5,000 Arts students, but only 5 normal students turned up (with 2 representatives from NUSSU and 1 from the Arts Club]: a miserable response rate, which I theorised was due to several factors:

- The bitch session being held at 10am, some people had classes.
- Those who didn't have classes didn't feel like waking up earlier to come to school for it. It would've been better to hold it in the afternoon or evening, since people would rather stay back in school than come to school earlier.
- Those for whom Thursday was a free day didn't care to sacrifice it to come back, not being as bo liao as me.
- The vast majority didn't care, module and tutorial allocation being over already. Either that or they thought that "No one cases (sic). It's just a cover up session offering lame excuses." or "u have too much time man, most pple dont give 2 hoots abt it"

The minutes of the session are supposed to be emailed to all Arts students, but some excerpts follow, with personal comments.

- NUS already rents many more servers during the CORS period. So in a sense it's already outsourced. However there's a minimum duration you can rent them for, and renting servers costs money. After a certain point you get diminishing returns, and spending more money on servers isn't feasible, unless school fees go up. Again.
NTU has a 'fastest fingers first' system, which invariably requires a lot of servers. Yet, they seem to be able to cope, at least hardware/bandwith-wise. I still believe outsourcing bidding to eBay/Yahoo Auctions is a good idea because, if nothing else, they have more servers worldwide to act as buffers in case of high traffic.

- The first method of allocating modules NUS had was going to the lecturers personally to get them to sign on your forms. Consequently, people camped in school overnight. The next system tried was balloting, but what would happen was that people balloted for modules which were hard to get, rather than those they wanted to do. They would reason that they'd be able to ballot for the unpopular modules later, and would surely be able to get them. Some people would get 8 modules, and some 3 (or 1, or none), and have to run all over the school in the process too. The whole system also suffered from a lack of transparency.
Personally, I feel that CORS is preferable. Human nature is perverse, and humans are irrational. People don't like bidding for what they perceive as their birthright or due as customers; they rather queue for NDP tickets than bid for them, for example. I've no information on how much students bitched about the previous two systems, though. Perhaps their perceived democratic and/or fair natures satisfied students. Or perhaps the Internet lubricates information flow and makes complaints more likely to be heard.

In any case it seems other universities manage to allocate modules in a way more acceptable to students than NUS can. Cornell allocates modules first by seniority then on a first-come-first-serve basis. Perhaps they have smaller class sizes and a better faculty:student ratio, so they can afford to be more flexible in increasing the enrollment of popular modules. Furthermore, students don't mind the seniority factor because they know that one day it will be their turn to be favoured for modules.

- CORS usually only functions during office hours because of the hours technicians keep. However, in future it is plannned that CORS will keep longer hours in future, even if it at the expense of the technicians.
If you want to go high-tech, you must go all the way, so. Maybe for their work they can get more vacation days.

- I suggested that a University-wide module preference exercise be conducted so resources can be better allocated; right now only Arts conducts it, and only for Arts modules in Semester 2, and core major modules in Semester 1. Right now less than 50% of Arts students participate in the exercise, but the faculty cannot reward participation or punish non-participation with bidding points (as with the current Module Feedback exercise). However, apparently the timetable for Semester 1 cannot come out so early, and other faculties don't want to or cannot carry out such an exercise, so implementing this project on a University-wide basis is unfeasible, especially since Arts was the one mooting CORS in the first place (due to its wide number and variety of modules and flexible curriculum structure).

- There is a limit to how big class sizes of popular classes can be so teaching quality is not compromised. Fire safety regulations and a limited number of class/exam venues also limit class sizes.
A variety of modules also has to be offered: we can't only have a small handful of large, popular modules. Psychology is actively recruiting to solve their staff shortage. Apparently Economics used to have the same problem, but now we have recruited much foreign talent.

- I suggested an ERP-like tax on late bidders, graduated according to how late they were. eg Those who bid in the last 10 minutes pay a 100 point premium, those who bid in the last 30 minutes pay a 50 point premium and those who bid in the last hour pay a 25 point premium. This will enable us to do away with the ridiculous close (sic) bidding, which is in the first place antithetical to the supposed aims of CORS - unless it's supposed to train us in the finer arts of gambling.

- The purpose of having many rounds of bidding is to protect first major students then faculty students. Yet sometimes you can get a module for less in later rounds. I suggested having a rebate - if a module goes for less in future rounds you get refunded the difference, but was told that by that time the student would have gotten other modules and the points would just roll over to the next semester, and he'd be able to mow other people down. The solution, I was told, was better planning of module quotas by departments.
It still smacks too much of central planning to me. I still suspect that the market could do a better job, if only it was liberated. Oh well. Possible ISM/Thesis: The Economics of CORS.

- The reason for the downtime during tutorial bidding was that since some Science/Engineering tutorials had places allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, the word got around to the Freshmen that all tutorials were allocated so, ergo the downtime.
I was unable to login at 9+, 11+ and 1+, and it was still a little slow at 7+. I find it difficult to believe that everyone was bashing at their keyboards for more than 4 hours. Besides which, CORS has been around for since the 2003/2004 academic year. Surely such a serious issue should have been foreseen and anticipated after so long. And apparently 2 years ago CORS was quite stable.

- It was suggested that a real time system on another server showing minimum bid points be set up, like a stock market counter. People would be able to view bids without logging in.

- SMU's system of closed bidding where you pay what you bid was brought up.
Paying what you bid is a VERY scary prospect.

- One aim of CORS is to have as many modules go for 1 point as possible.

- Staggering tutorial registration times throughout the day was considered, but that would be a pain for and disadvantage those having lessons.

- There is room for flexibility: when students appeal, priority is given to help graduating students graduate in time, then major students and so on.

There was also talk of better avenues for communicating with students. Apparently some people (mostly freshmen) don't know they have NUS email accounts. So SMS/corporate blogging/an IVLE 'Arts' module were suggested.

All in all, it's good that the Arts faculty, at least, is reaching out to students. However, ultimately it remains to be seen what will be done about the issue. At the very least, an apology would be the least they could do; blithely blaming students for the system's faults without acknowledging failures in planning is unhelpful at best. It also remains to be seen if the University in general will display similar enthusiasm in engaging with its future alumni (and presumed support base).

(Captain Intrepid has written an excellent summary of CORS and its advantages and disadvantages, though I disagree with his endorsement of close (sic) bidding.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Varian makes 280 pages of prescribed reading (for 1 module alone, and not all of it relevant) in a span of 2 weeks less onerous:

On consumer theory: "The second axion, reflexivity, is trivial. Any bundle is certainly at least as good as an identical bundle. [Ed: ie 2 apples and 2 oranges is considered at least as good as 2 oranges and 2 apples] Parents of small children may occasionally observe behavior that violates this assumption, but it seems plausible for most adult behavior."

On budget lines and kinked indifference curves: "This case doesn't have much economic significance - it is more of a nuisance than anything else."

On normal goods: "We would normally think that the demand for each good would increase when income increases, as shown in Figure 6.1. Economists, with a singular lack of imagination, call such goods normal goods."


The bak kwa from Kuala Lumpur and Macau tastes different from that from Singapore. They both have a funny, unpleasant taste and smell. So though it's cheaper to buy bak kwa from there, it is not a better deal.


I saw 18 "CWS Ladycare" bins at a lift landing one day. I've always wanted to have one at home: they're funky because they "contain antimicrobal gel", so I can throw used tissues into them without fear. A pity they weren't automated with a motor and sensor like the one I saw in Tasmania. That'd have been worthy of a place in a museum.


[Professor: Luqman. Do you preferred to be caleld Abdullah?] Most people call me Abdullah, but my parents call me Luqman.] I have no quick answer to that.

[On the Nicoll highway foreman] Remember his name? Remember his name? Mr Ho. I can't remember the rest of his name.

[On not catching what a student was saying] If you exhale and do not inhale, you can prevent a sneeze. This will be very useful if you are in ambush, enemy soldiers... I'm sorry. I had to distract myself while trying not to sneeze.

[On someone volunteering to do 5-6 people's laundry and ironing daily] I can think of only 2 explanations. The first is that he has some sort of eccentric fetish for ladies' underwear, and the only way he can conceal it is to wash everyone's clothes.

[On a documentary about elephants digging graves for old females and standing around while the old female stands in it, then covering the grave with leaves and bamboo] The biologist in me is screaming and shouting and crying out... This is Nobel Prize Zoology... Which channel did you see this on? There's lots of stuff on the Discovery Channel about the supernatural. I don't believe any of it.

This is our first tutorial, and our objective for today is to get to know each other. That's the most important thing. if we have time, maybe - just maybe, we'll talk about Muller.

Tell me what you want to be called. If your boyfriend calls you 'Pookie', and you want to be called 'Pookie', that's okay.

[On icebreakers] Then you come up with a stupid question for the next person. If you give a stupid answer, it's ok because it's a stupid question.

Psychoanalysis... You can make stupid claims. Penis envy... When you read about it, it sounds sort of true, sort of not true.
"In our own day and country, the notion of souls of beasts is to be seen dying out. Animism, indeed, seems to be drawing in its outposts, and concentrating itself on its first and main position, the doctrine of the human soul. This doctrine has undergone extreme modification in the course of culture. It has outlived the almost total loss of one great argument attached to it - the objective reality of apparitional souls or ghosts seen in dreams and visions. The soul has given up its ethereal substance, and become an immaterial entity, "the shadow of a shade." Its theory is becoming separated from the investigations of biology and mental science, which now discuss the phenomena of life and thought, the senses and the intellect, the emotions and the will, on a groundwork of pure experience. There has arisen an intellectual product whose very existence is of the deepest significance, a "psychology" which has no longer anything to do with "soul." The soul's place in modern thought is in the metaphysics of religion, and its especial office there is that of furnishing an intellectual side to the religious doctrine of the future life.

Such are the alterations which have differenced the fundamental animistic belief in its course through successive periods of the world's culture. Yet it is evident that, notwithstanding all this profound change, the conception of the human soul is, as to its most essential nature, continuous from the philosophy of the savage thinker to that of the modern professor of theology. Its definition has remained from the first that of an animating, separable, surviving entity, the vehicle of individual personal existence. The theory of the soul is one principal part of a system of religious philosophy which unites, in an unbroken line of mental connexion, the savage fetish-worshipper and the civilized Christian. The divisions which have separated the great religions of the world into intolerant and hostile sects are for the most part superficial in comparison with the deepest of all religious schisms, that which divides Animism from Materialism."

- Primitive Culture, Sir Edward Burnett Tylor

Since I don't know of any religion which subscribes to materialism (as opposed to animism), I'm not sure how this is considered a religious schism, unless it is one between the religious and the irreligious, the latter of whom, historically speaking, have been few in number and many of whom have paid at least lip service to the prevailing animistic mindset.

(See also: Philosophical Perspectives on Behavior: From Animism to Materialism, a chapter from "The Things We Do: Using the Lessons of Bernard and Darwin to Understand the What, How, and Why of Our Behavior" by Gary Cziko, which concludes:

"The world today is divided along many lines. One of the most obvious is the line dividing the wealthy, industrialized countries of Europe, North America, and Oceania from the poorer, less industrialized countries of much of the rest of the world. Perhaps less obvious, but just as striking, is the line separating materialist (physical, natural) methodologies and beliefs of science and scientists from overwhelmingly psychic (spiritual, supernatural) or dualist methodologies and beliefs of the rest of the world’s human population. While science is now thoroughly materialistic in orientation and methodology, most individuals doubt that life, its origin, its meaning, and its experiences can be accounted for by physical properties of matter, energy, and their interaction, and hence believe in a God or gods, spirits, angels, paranormal happenings, and other supernatural entities and phenomena."

As a side note, it seems this was put online by the author of the book, who teaches at UIUC. How charitable of him.)
Someone tried to send me the following joke. Though Mrs Sng had told us a variant of it 5 years ago, I still find it funny, and so will paste it below:

Pope vs. Jews

About a century or two ago, the Pope decided that all the Jews had to leave Rome. Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish community.

So the Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish community. If the Jew won, the Jews could stay. If the Pope won, the Jews would leave.

The Jews realized that they had no choice. They looked around for a champion who could defend their faith, but no one wanted to volunteer.

It was too risky. So they finally picked as their representative an old man named Moishe who spent his life sweeping up after people. Being old and poor, he had less to lose, so he agreed. He asked only for one addition to the debate.

Not being used to saying very much as he cleaned up around the settlement, he asked that neither side be allowed to talk. The Pope agreed.

The day of the great debate came. Moishe and the Pope sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. Moishe looked back at him and raised one finger.

The Pope waved his fingers in a circle around his head. Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat.

The Pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine. Moishe pulled out an apple.

The Pope stood up and said, “I give up. This man is too good. The Jews can stay.”

An hour later, the cardinals were all around the Pope asking him what happened. The Pope said: “First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was still one God common to both our religions.

“Then I waved my finger around me to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground, showing that God was also right here with us.

“I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that God absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?”

Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moishe, amazed that this old, almost feeble-minded man had done what all their scholars had insisted was impossible! “What happened?” they asked.

“Well,” said Moishe, “First he said to me that the Jews had three days to get out of here. I told him that not one of us was leaving.

“Then he told me that this whole city would be cleared of Jews. I let him know that we were staying right here.”

“And then?” asked a woman. “I don’t know,” said Moishe. “He took out his lunch and I took out mine.”
"Channeling is just bad ventriloquism. You use another voice, but people can see your lips moving." - Penn Jillette

Random Playlist Song: Schubert - Impromptu in G-flat Major Op 90 No 3 (Paul Badura-Skoda)


I feel so gratified:


You wrote about faghagism (aka tehcoolestlatestthingsincebeinglesbo)! You are so tuned in to the nines. I'm proud of you *HUG*"

OTOH we have crap like this:

"Name: sasaa
Email: spikeemhard@yahoo.com
Where are you from?: Heaven


I mean, I don't mind getting flamed, but most flames are short, unintelligent, incomprehensible, unspecific, grammatically suspect or all of the above.


Someone: i heard from ppl in hall ex co
selection of hall residents
basically they take your appl form, which has your photo
the girls will choose the male residents
the guys will choose the girls
so if u're dying for a space in hall, put a slutty picture hahaha


Army on parade for gay recruits - "The army came out in style this weekend when it launched a recruitment drive aimed at tempting more gays, lesbians, transvestites and even transsexuals into the ranks."
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