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Saturday, October 08, 2005

In a survey, 19 males and 19 females were asked whether they preferred an anonymous person's look before or after plastic surgery, or were indifferent. Values of X=1, X=-1 and X=0 were assigned for respondings preferring the subject's new look, old look and being indifferent between the 2 respectively.

1) Calculate Xm Bar (How much a random male will like her new look)

From the data: Xm Bar = -0.26, Standard Deviation = 0.81

(Interpretation: The average guy was mostly indifferent towards the surgery, with a slight tendency to dislike the new look.)

2) Calculate Xf Bar (How much a random female will like her new look)

From the data: Xf Bar = 0.16, Standard Deviation = 0.90

3) Argue that Xi Bar (where i = m or f) represents the sample supporting rate of the surgery

Xi can take values of 0, 1 or -1 which respectively represent indifference, a preference for the post-surgical look and a preference for the pre-surgical look. Xi Bar, being the average value of Xi, thus represents not only the expected response of each respondent, but how supportive the sample as a whole is of the surgery (ie the sample supporting rate).

4) Is Xm Bar less than 0 at the 10% significance level? How about Xf bar? (Are the guys indifferent? Are the girls?)

H0: Xm Bar >= 0 vs
H1: Xm Bar < 0

Since sample size = 19, we must use Student's t distribution with n-1 = 18 degrees of freedom

Critical value: -1.33
T-statistic: -0.26/(0.81)/sqrt19 = -1.40

-1.40 < -1.33, therefore we reject the null hypothesis at the 10% significance level and conclude that most males think she looks worse after the plastic surgery. [Ed: Rejecting the null hypothesis at the 10% significance level means there's a less than 10% chance of rejecting the null hypothesis if it is true.]

H0: Xf Bar <= 0 vs
H1: Xf Bar > 0

[Ed: Some may note that my null here is different. This is because I wanted to test my personal hypothesis that guys prefer the old look and girls the new.]

Since sample size = 19, we must use Student's t distribution with n-1 = 18 degrees of freedom

Critical value: 1.33
T-statistic: 0.16/(0.90)/sqrt19 = 0.77

0.77 /> 1.33, therefore we cannot reject the null hypothesis at the 10% significance level. However, at the 25% significance level, the critical value is 0.69, so we can conclude at the 25% significance level that most females think she looks better post-surgery.

Normally this would be a weak statistical result from which to draw a conclusion, but since this is a frivolous little study, we can conclude relatively certainly that females prefer her new look.

5) Is there a difference between the sample supporting rates for males and females? (Does being male or female affect how likely you are to prefer the results of the plastic surgery?)

H0: Xm Bar - Xf Bar = 0
H1: Xm Bar - Xf Bar /= 0

Xm Bar - Xf Bar = -0.42
Standard Error: sqrt( 0.81^2/19 + 0.90^2/19 ) = 0.28

Since 19 + 19 = 38, we can use the normal distribution.

Critical value: 1.64 (10%)
T-statistic: -0.42/0.28 = -1.5

Therefore we cannot conclude that males and females have different opinions of the surgery at the 10% significance level. However, we can do so at a roughly 13.3% significance level (p-value = 0.133)

6) Give a 90% confidence interval for the population supporting rate, regardless of gender (ie How favourable the population, regardless of gender, is towards the surgery). Interpret this.

(-0.05 +- 1.64[0.28]) = (-0.51,0.41)

We are 90% sure that the true population supporting rate lies within this interval.


It is reasonable to conclude that respondents' answers were independent and identical, since I doubt any were bored or clairvoyant enough to collaborate to screw up my study.

There was possible selection bias: My sample was not random since respondents were young, and internet savvy. Also, some people didn't want to take part (they thought I would show them disgusting pictures). Of those who took part, not everyone saw all of the "Before" pictures (most saw only one).

The suvey did not take into account factors other than gender which might have affected preference for the pre or post operative look (eg sexual orientation, age, religion). This is both because I haven't learnt multiple regression yet and because I can't afford to waste any more time on this trivial study.

Most of the "after" pictures are of the subject in question at an older age with makeup, nicer clothes and a new look. Unfortunately it is impossible to divorce the impact of these factors on her looks from the impact of the surgery.

Lastly, the survey did not measure the strength of preferences (ie How much the respondents preferred or detested the subject's new look), but that would've introduced a whole host of new problems (ie Of subjectivity).

Johnny Malkavian: holy fuck. you must be the only blogger i've read EVER that blogs statistics. you've raised the geekbar so high, it looks like a dot
I just viewed some pictures of someone who underwent extreme plastic surgery. The difference is really quite shocking, especially since I've some "Before" pictures.

Someone: "she looks as if she had a nose job
and her eyes r pretty fucked""

A more detailed analysis:

Someone else: her nose... is so badly done
the guy tt did it ought to have his license revoked

she may have had sth done to her cheekbones and chin
her face is elongated and sharper than it used to be
her entire face shape is changed

Me: worse than MJ?

Someone else: no one can beat mj man
but i can confirm she definitely did her nose and chin
these 2 are definite

[Addendum: There is a palpable gender divide. A majority of males prefer the old look, and a majority of females prefer the new one.

Someone (2): makes her look like a Changi Village Ah Gua]

Friday, October 07, 2005


[On the value of suspicion] People who are utterly trusting are either saints... Saints tend to be sacrificed. They get the worst [treatment] in the world.

[On biased recall of memories by suggestion, and emotions] There was a wave of revealed child abuse cases... the psychologists... advised their patients to confront their perpetrators... it gradually became apparent that there were a number of cases where it couldn't be true... when they looked at the video tapes, the sound tapes, it became obvious the psychologists were leading people on... This father was accused of abusing his daughter. He was in jail at the time.

[On tutorials] I received an email saying I talk too much, and I probably do.

If you use humour or wit; that separates an A plus paper from an A paper or an A minus paper... Originality, humour and wit make an engaging paper worth reading, right to the end.

[On someone sitting outside the circle] It will be hard to lead the discussion from there. Come into the circle of trust.

***. She's not here. Oh! You're here.

[On anthropological studies] I have a lot of disgusting studies. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to share them with you.

[On inter-religious dialogue and understanding] There are many answers, but I'll give you the UN answer, since we live in a united world.

[On Durkheim] Catholics go to Mass, for example. Or they go to Suntec City, for example.

[On my sister asking my brother in law and I to feel the padding in Singaporean bras] If there's something wrong with you, there's something wrong with your sister as well.

[On Lennon's 'Imagine'] I wonder if Marx would approve of this song... 'That's what I've been saying all along! John, you're great!'

[Professor: The KKK, a famous group...] 'Famous group'. He makes it sound like a boyband.

[On problems with the projector] Is anyone here a techno sort of person? (technically inclined)

The short answers look alike to the homework questions. (answer questions look similar)

Some multiple choice [questions] are even more difficult than the short answer questions.

I don't like the textbook example. Talking about test scores. It's bothering. (bothersome)

[On multiple regression] If you have 1 y and 15 x values, you will torture eviews. The software will die.

[On MCQ answer D - "indeterminate"] When students cannot get the answer, they choose d).

This is roar (rho)

How many of you choose A? *hands go up* All the men... A is the answer.

[Me on someone: He's a dashing figure.] All in black. [Me: He's cold. Yet there are people who are able to wear hot shorts.] Women - they have a layer of fat.

war'king years (working)

Back to this boring example.

[On 'no perfect multicollinearity'] The most important thing: the spelling. The spelling is so long. Once you get the spelling right...

person'teej (percentage)

there's nothing new

The answer is...? Should we run Eviews first?

In other work (words)

q z'yeah (j)

If these 2 firms can co'load (collude)

This is not crap (correct)

According to the duh minor function (demand)

My solution was crap (correct)

We only need to consider the third guess (case)

Gifted mathematicians can think mathematics. Ordinary mortals like you and I can't... Even mathematicians learn it and practise it until they know it. They're really strange creatures.

[On requests for expert commentary on social issues] 99.9% of the thing the media want to know about are things for which there are no experts in the department... what we end up doing is: "I'm not really an expert in this, but if we work from first principles..."

I like to read what's on people's T-shirts. They tend to forget... [To someone wearing a female top with 'hot and delicious', or something to that effect] You're covering your chest now.

Why do women and not men like to cover their mouths when they laugh?

Ah, late. You get to sit next to me then. That's your punishment for the day.

ed chatterer (et cetera)

I left a blue curtle / kettle / curtain / laptop here. (bottle)

He's the lecturer. He can do what he wants. I'm the... teaching assistant. 'Make me a cup of coffee c' *mimes stirring*

[Student: He should really bring back webcast] I'm just the guy who makes coffee c.

[Student: All he talks about in his lecture is going to a CD shop] And then he plays John Lennon at the end.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

"One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory." - Rita Mae Brown

Random Playlist Song: Riku Nuottajarvi - Yehat (3DO version)


Someone on SMU: IMO theyre getting a very watered down version of management and organization theory
i read a lot of HBR/Sloan/K@W and a lot of it is fluff and ambiguous, but theres some useful stuff in there

im actually quite optimistic that SMU is on uptrend
currently its sucky
but i predict that with some reforms they can do pretty gd in 5-10

they need to reposition themselves into being hardcore on quant
what they call soft skills is secondary import
priority should be hard stuff like quant stats

i think that theyre not positioning themselves right
higher ed is very strategic
their focus on soft skills detracts from developing their core

in the end its useless to try for grad sch
so they end up making all these entry level ppl with an smu degree

i think it would be really hard to get into a good masters prog in econ, finance
or even the social sciences they claim to study
because its clearly not academically rigorous

that said its on an uptrend
if it was a stock i would buy now
and if i were at that level i might consider going

that said, im willing to do a serious study into the business model of SMU
we should make it a project of ours to document whats done right and whats lacking
then we sell it back to them as consultancy work

Heh heh.


Bunny suicides - I find these cartoons inexplicably fascinating. It's just like slowing down to view a car crash, really.

Asian Prince on Wikipedia - Naturally, I added to it.


Most attached people put pictures of their significant others as their handphone wallpapers. If they are not, girls usually put a picture of themselves with friends or of some cute thing (then again, attached girls sometimes do that). Meanwhile, male slaves put pictures of Japanese bikini models, and when they get their letter of parole they either switch to pictures of women flashing less skin and cleavage, random funny pictures ("like.. photos of... toilet bowls or sth"), the default wallpaper or something similarly simple like smiley faces.

So during one lecture, I saw this girl in front of me who'd put her own picture as the wallpaper. I remarked on that to a friend somewhat too loudly, and I think the girl in question heard me, because she looked at me funnily and then left the lecture early.

Someone tells me she knows guys who do that too, and one friend says he uses "a specially design wallpaper with myself on it", so.

Seen in the library: "Feature films in our library is (sic) strictly for use in relation to a course of study. This is a condition imposed by the Media Development Authority as our films are not censored"

I love these academic privileges. Our young and innocent 19 year old girls get to view filth that even 21 year olds (and indeed everyone else in our fair nation) are considered too immature to consume; that we, as a society, are not ready for. The flower of our youth are being corrupted by the malign influence of unwholesome foreign films.

Better send them to re-education camps in Third World countries to do hard labour, through which they will be spiritually cleansed and purged of evil thoughts. Going to rural Thailand to build toilets, for example.

Oh. They already do that sort of thing.

There's this tutorial room which I have a weekly lesson, and every week when I go in, it smells of cows.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Routing The Race Deniers (Not That They’ll Notice)

"In response to PBS's claim that, "Race is a modern idea. Ancient societies did not divide people according to physical differences…," Miele writes a definitive chapter showing,

"The art of the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, and China, and the Islamic civilization from AD 700 to 1400 shows that these societies classified the various peoples they encountered into broad racial groups. They sorted them based upon the same set of characteristics—skin color, hair form, and head shape—allegedly constructed by Europeans when they invented 'race' to justify colonialism and white supremacy."

... Rejecting the straw man argument that the existence of race would require a race for everyone and everyone in his race, Sarich and Miele call races "fuzzy sets." They write,

"Human races are not, and never were, distinct, mutually exclusive, Platonic entities into which every living person, unearthed skull, or set of bones could be pigeonholed."" [Ed: Emphases original]

Unfortunately, the rest of the site does not seem as lucid.

I find the fact that some people deny the existence of race amazing. Many trumpet the fact that genes vary more within races than between them.

Using this same logic, species don't exist either since genetic distances within species can overlap with those between species.

Fearing the implications and corollaries of facts does not mean you have to deny them and commit intellectual suicide.

[Addendum: Race may not be a clear cut thing, but it definitely exists, even if it's more a gradient than a collection of neat categories.

People of different races have different susceptibility to different illnesses, for example. And often, it is a convenient proxy for bureaucratic expediency, though all too often in the interests of expediency exceptions are forgotten.

Even if race is used to justify domination and discrimination, that does not mean that we should deny its existence. It's like saying that since Social Darwinism led to eugenics and the Holocaust, we should pretend that Evolution is bogus. Or that since nuclear research may be used for making weapons of mass destruction, we should then stop using nuclear. Even if the concept of race was totally useless, does that mean that we should tell a lie in order to prevent racial discrimination? Surely what we should do would be to educate people and show them why racial discrimination is wrong. And how many convenient lies could or should we then tell? And who would decide when lying was acceptable?]


"[W]ith a bit of nerve, time and ingenuity, many rules can be dodged. A firm must by law have a physical (not electronic) file on every worker. Another Cracow technology company tracks its employees' activity using modern software, but keeps a paper-based system recording an entirely bogus reality where everyone arrives at 0800 and leaves at 1600.

The real routine—enthusiastically accepted by the well-paid staff—breaks both daily and weekly statutory limits on hours worked. But that's not the point. The harried manager explains, “When respectable executives in respectable companies are forced by lunatic legislation to break the law because it is impossible to run the company legally, they have to focus on issues that have nothing do to with competitiveness or adding value. It is extremely demotivating. Plus respect for politicians and administration crumbles and ‘thin end of the wedge' issues arise—if we are breaking some laws, where do we stop?”"

--- The Economist on Poland

This sounds like the SAF. Or indeed, any company or organisation which is ISO-certified.


Vegetarian Shoes

"I had started to teach myself to make shoes four years earlier after leaving Art College. I was inspired to hear that in parts of Africa, car tyres were recycled into soles. This got me thinking and soon I was making shoes out of anything I could lay my hands on, but being veggie I didn't want to use leather.

Then I made an exciting discovery, -a synthetic Microfibre material used for yachting upholstery. It looked and felt like supple leather, but was 'breathable', unlike other plastics. After some experimenting, I realised that this was what I had been looking for, and Vegetarian Shoes was born."
Let's blog, but do it properly

I refer to the articles 'Teach students the dos and don'ts of blogging' (ST Sept 29) and 'School act against students for 'flaming' teachers on blogs' (ST Sept 27).

Have we reached a blog-kage? It is a widely held axiom that citizens of a largely multiracial nation must strive to preserve racial harmony.

It is therefore imperative that seditious, racist remarks be barred from surfacing in public domains which can result in serious ramifications such as the jeopardy of our long preserved social cohesion.

Therefore in my opinion, it is absolutely justifiable that the trio who made inflammatory remarks in their blogs be hauled to the court.

More recently, some junior colleges meted out punishment to students who 'flamed' their teachers on the net.

The Singapore Teacher's Union offers backing to teachers who wish to take legal action against students who included diatribes in their blogs.

There was even a response in The Straits Times Forum which suggested that the do's and don'ts of blogging be taught in school.

Here are some alternatives which I can think of that one may wish to employ to ensure that our contents will not provoke any discontent.

We could install identification checks at blogging websites to prevent under-aged users from blogging.

After all, there is a great deal of responsibility involved in blogging, so we have to teach it in school.

If not, we can always impose our draconian tried and tested rating system of Gs, PGs and M18s on local blogs for the viewer's discretion.

A uniform set of blog contents and parameters can be imposed on our netizens through virtual laws to prevent them from venturing away from the circumscribed sphere of sanctioned topics.

We will then have effectively become blogger-citizens of the Stepford nation and disneyfied the virtual world in a way no other country has achieved. Kudos for showing the way!

With the thought of being sued for defamation for penning our thoughts too honestly on the net, the truncheon of authority that is wielded over our heads guarantees the curtailing of interesting contents, literary expressions and subjects which our young bloggers can concoct.

We will have succeeded in creating a newer, more banal species of blogs and bloggers. Andrew Sullivan, an essayist for Time magazine, has mentioned that blogging is 'serious inasmuch as it conveys real ideas and feelings in as unvarnished and honest a form as possible'.

We will have proven that Sullivan has made a fictitious point!

Let us all enthuse blogging and show the others the correct aptitude we should have for blogging.

Xu Hong Ming

In the words of my Upper Secondary A Maths Teacher: "WELL DONE!"

Wow. This must be the first ST forum letter parody/satire I've ever seen.

I wonder if the editor realised that this wasn't written by the usual gang of idiots. Either way it tells you something about our most esteemed broadsheet!
Miss NUS was being irrational:

Me: http://www.boobiethon.com/

Her: they are all fat ugly boobs mostly anyway. gross if u ask me

Me: haha
ang mohs are big
you're just jealous ;)

Her: americans are fat
i am so glad i'm not american

not all angmohs are big.. goodness dont u know -slaps forehead-
only americans. cos they are fat, land of macdonalds it is

Me: eh hello
on average ang mohs are bigger
the mean and median are higher


don't play statistics with me ok
I'm an economist

Her: i dont know where the hell u got ur info from
ur source is all crap
ditch it

thais are huge also. are they angmoh

Me: they have breast implants
you looking at too many transsexuals ah

Her: i'm basing my knowledge on the actual bra sizes available in those countries
french girls arent as big as americans for example
and thailand has all sort of sizes it's scary

and designs too.
according to my friends thailand is the best place for underwear shopping in this region

Me: my info: observation, interviews
yes but they're bigger than chinese

maybe thais are luckier than chinese then heh

Her: anyway some chinese have humongous breasts too
like u . HAHA


Her: yah same for angmohs. dont cap them all the same u bloody generalising economist
there are so many countries whose people fall under 'angmoh'. too generalise already

and americans are fat
hence the huge boobs from america
europeans arent as tua neh neh

Me: ...
in general, ang mohs are larger than chinese
larger does not mean HUGE

Her: now which part are u referring to when u mean 'larger'
how confusing
body size or chest size
nahbey ur argument got movable standards one


hello. what's wrong with you
denial :)

Her: hahahahahahaahhaahahhaah
u are cheating
still dare to say
and i'm tired and grouchy

Me: Use of the contraceptive pill can also cause an increase in breast size

Her: no wonder i've read so much american chick literature which mentions that
and i think i read much less trash than the average female singaporean population

imagine what other silly ideas are being planted in their head
therefore ur interviewees are probably biased as well. due to exposure to only one type of materials (rubbish books from US)
therefore ur interviews are declared void

hence i say ur sources are crap.
wahlau u're the one in denial

Me: ???
you're being irrational

what are your sources

Her: walking in the underwear department of 3 different continents
and collating information from other people who have done the same hahahahahaa

eh beats getting 2nd hand info right

curious : have u any figures of asian americans and asian asians

anyway last point: americans are the most overweight in the world
wouldnt that make for significanltly fatter boobies than the rest of the world

Me: wait
let me log into nature

"In a study in Hawaii, Maskarinec et al (2001) found that Chinese and Japanese women had a lower absolute area of mammographic density than Caucasian, Philippine or native Hawaiian women, but due to their smaller breast size, had a higher percentage density (which would correspond more closely to the Tabar pattern IV and V than absolute area of density)."

"The ethnic difference in absolute mammographic density was particularly evident among women older than age 50 years. Additional adjustment for breast size reduced these ethnic differences."

"Breast size differed across the three ethnic groups. Asian Americans (361,300 pixels) were significantly smaller than African Americans (662,900 pixels) or Whites (495,400 pixels), whereas Whites were significantly smaller than African Americans."

[Ed: Information is taken from papers published in Nature and the American Journal for Epidemiology on breast cancer]

Her: no i dont think u ah hahahahaha
this is an american study
find an international one [Ed: One of the studies was from the United Kingdom]

Me: so you claim only ang moh women eat a lot
chinese women in the US don't

I think they adjusted for body weight
they're not that dumb [Ed: There was talk of multivariate regressions so I assume body weight was controlled for.]

Her: no i claim the diet in america makes all the people there significantly fatter
u never know how the lard might affect the fats in ur breasts hahaha

Me: yes
so in america, ang mohs have bigger breasts than chinese

Her: maybe they angmohs have more adverse reaction to fats hahahahaha
u place them in europe they might end up smaller than the chinese

Me: you're being irrational

Her: u're taking what u read too literally
studies can be manipulated to reflect personal bias
studies can be found to support personal bias

Me: you do know that an A in Singapore is equal to an AA in Spain?

hah! and what's your personal bias?
you're being ridiculous
nothing I say will convince you like this

Her: u sound like a crazed christian. if bra sizes were god

Me: wth

I have statistical evidence from 2 studies. You have personal bias.

Information on this contentious issue from wider minds is solicited.

Why I wasted so much time arguing something that is immediately visually intuitive is beyond me.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language." - Oscar Wilde

Random Playlist Song: John Lennon - Imagine

Imagine there's no heaven,
It's easy if you try,
No hell below us,
Above us only sky.
Imagine all the people
living for today...

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to kill or die for,
And no religion too.
Imagine all the people
living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possesions,
I wonder if you can,
No need for greed or hunger,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one,
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

I first heard this song when it was held up in a classroom setting as a song advocating an utopian vision of peace. Perhaps because my close reading skills (hah!) weren't well developed at the time, or more likely because the lyrics weren't flashed for us (IIRC), I didn't realise at the time that it was an anti-religious song. On a second reading, all its anti-establishment sentiments come gushing out.

Interestingly, the socialist verse doesn't seem to have been present in an earlier version of the song, so originally the song's sole subject was religion.

Musically, it doesn't feel very developed, for some reason - more like an afterthought.


In a discussion on whether alcohol is Haram in Islam, beowulf points to this fascinating Wikipedia entry on Hanafi Islam:

"Hanafi is the largest of the four schools; it is followed by approximately 30% of Muslims world-wide. The other three schools of thought are Shafi, Maliki, and Hanbali.

The Hanafi school is considered to be one of the more liberal-for example, under Hanafi jurisprudence, blasphemy is not punishable by the state, despite being considered a civil crime by some other schools.

Another telling example pertains to the consumption of liquor. The Hanafi school defines liquor (khamr) only as wine made from the pressing of grapes, and this interpretation does not include other alcoholic beverages (e.g. beer, mead etc), which are classified as muskirāt (intoxicants). As such, if one follows the strict interpretation by Hanafi, only the consumption of grape wine, no matter how little the amount, renders an offender liable to the Sharia punishment of 80 lashes. However, this does not mean that the drinking of other alcoholic beverages is permitted; Hanafi calls for the same punishment on those who consume liquor (other than wine) to the point of being intoxicated."


Coverup girl

"In her 45 years, Barbie has been a doctor, pilot and figure skater, to name just a few accomplishments of this busty vinyl overachiever. But some in the Muslim world also consider her a decadent symbol of the West - hence Saudi Arabia's recent decision to ban Barbie along with her "revealing clothes and shameful postures."

So what's a kid to play with?

We don't know about the Saudis, but in at least one other conservative Persian Gulf nation the answer is . . . Fulla!"


Professors fight to keep Swift on syllabus as Pakistan's Islamists target 'vulgar' classics

"A review of books studied in the English courses at Punjab University in Lahore singled out several texts, including Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels as containing offensive sexual connotations which were deemed "vulgar".

The review appears to have been triggered by complaints made about the syllabus by the wife of a retired army general. She criticised the inclusion of two poems, including one by WH Auden, which she said promoted Jews, and a poem by Vikram Seth, who she said was too pro-Indian. She also said the poems of Adrienne Rich were unsuitable for study because she is a lesbian. "We have been tolerant for too long," the general's wife said in a meeting with academics from the department...

... Perhaps the most bizarre criticism is of a Sean O'Casey play, The End of the Beginning. Dr Arif makes no specific comment on the text but quotes several passages in which the apparently objectionable phrases are underlined. They include the phrase: "When the song ended, Darry cocks his ear and listens." Dr Arif has underlined the word "cocks"."

The Koran, Surah 56 - The Event, Verse 35-38

"Lo! We have created them a (new) creation
And made them virgins,
Lovers, friends,
For those on the right hand"
Excellent essay on what Power Rangers is, and why SPD sucks:

"PR doesn't just have aliens and wizards, it has alien wizards. Sorcerers using incredible super-technology spanning galaxies and tens of thousands of years. PR is never simply about science or magic over one another, it's about both run together in inventive ways. Up until about Lightspeed and Time Force, PR understood that -- and when TF would try and introduce magic (like Wes' ancient Battle Fire armor), the graft was so jarring over the otherwise unrelentingly tech-y Timeranger that it became downright comical. Forever Red is a great episode -- in a season otherwise bereft of technology or "created" Zords. Taken solely as a part of Wild Force, it makes absolutely no sense. NS and DT were the first time in years PR had again mastered the science/magic balance so necessary to the franchise's ludicrous suspension of disbelief.

As much as we deride season one MMPR (and god knows I do), it was heir to something remarkable. PR was co-developed by Tony Oliver, one of the voice actors and writers on the series Robotech. Robotech grafted three wholly unrelated anime programs together, creating a generational saga about an alien fuel source spanning worlds and two major galactic civilizations. It was incredible. Robotech had the freedom to grab what elements it needed from the source material and aggressively redialogue the material in order to take those elements to the fore.

PR has a similar freedom of scope. Can you imagine doing anything like MMPR with Jetman or GoGoV as the central element? Somehow Oliver had the vision of what could be done with Zyuranger's gorgeous aesthetics and "blank slate" storytelling approach, how two of the villains could be made into flying monkeys and force the fantastic Oz aspects to the fore. And yet, like Robotech was Southern Cross and Mospeda slaved to a reinterpretation of Macross, PR was Dairanger and Kakuranger slaved to a reinterpretation of Zyuranger. PR was such that further Sentais like Ohranger or even Gingaman could be bent almost unrecognizably out of shape in stark defiance to the source material in order to accommodate "PR" elements.

Megaranger was a "space" Sentai that never went into space. I've seen the original concept artwork, with jet harnesses taking the team into orbital battles. It was gorgeous. Saban Entertainment clearly looked at that concept art, looked at the finished high school dramedy Megaranger, and said "fuck it, we're doing space." PR used to be free enough that it could work in utter defiance of the source material and it held together. Most of the sequences in Space that had the Megaship out of Earth's orbit looked awful, but the narrative weight of the program held it together."
Seeing the Penniless in Singapore project done for a SMU "creative thinking" module has prompted me to pen some thoughts on that wonderful place. I was considering going there to do some field work and engage in participant observation, but I'd stick out like a sore thumb because I can't do gymnastics.

The SMU experience starts off with a compulsory $300 3 day orientation, at which "they had absolutely no fun at fuck", there were briefing and execution phases before each game and debriefings and After Action Reviews after, and at which people threw away their waterlogged SAF sports shoes after wet games.

You have to wonder at a place that requires one to pass courses in "analytical skills", "creative thinking", "leadership and team building" and best of all: "The Finishing Touch" (including modules on networking, etiquette and personal grooming) to graduate. It all sounds more like a finishing school or something out of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) than an academic institution. And of course there's the compulsory 80 hours of community service a year - easily fulfilled by going on an overseas expedition, since even sleeping hours are counted this way.

Apparently SMU's philosophy is that a lot of what you learn in normal universities is useless anyway, so they try to inject a dose of practicality into the curriculum. In that case, they should introduce courses which are *really* practical in the workplace to make them even more popular with corporations; "Taichi for the workplace - how to push your work to others", "Sucking up to your boss", "Backstabbing for climbing the corporate ladder", "Meeting annual goals through creative description" and "Making use of watercooler gossip for fun and profit" - they should just subscribe everyone to Dilbert for the duration of their course in SMU. In any case, we have a name for Institutions of Higher Learning which focus on practicality: Polytechnics. [Ed: I don't usually do disclaimers, but since this is Singapore, it is conceivable that I am biased against polys, so.]

One source told me that a common greeting there is "cheers", and that normal people go in and come out "false", "pretentious" and speaking with funny accents. My source then affected a bimbotic valley girl accent. I'm not sure how generalisable the experiences of this source are, but another little bird claims that "normal" (ie probably abnormal) people who go in come out "liberated". Meanwhile a third person (a native source) describes the place as soulless - people are only interested in networking, making money and getting good jobs (but since Singapore is soulless anyway it's "ultra practical").

Academically, the first source told me that the way to score presentation marks is to talk with gusto, even if you spouting bullshit, and that you get marks for shooting people down (so I guess it's good for the business world). He continued and described SMU as the 'centre of banality in Singapore', and related how during their 'creative thinking' module, the students were given the phrase 'tabula rasa', and told to do anything with it. The students asked the Professor, but he just replied 'up to you' - exactly like business bullshit.

Perhaps they have been coasting by so far on all their marketing hype, so much so that some students have started believing it (some of them have the "We're from SMU. Therefore we must be special" attitude), just as some NUS students believe that 18th place on one of the many extant global University rankings is significant, but when the bullshit is discovered, the game will be over. Then again, Business has a good deal of bullshit anyway, so maybe SMU is doing something right (for Business at least).

Despite (or maybe because) of all this, SMU is loved by many of their students (more so than NUS at least), and they turn out better dressed, more confident students ("i have not met a senior, who after all their years in SMU is meek" - though that's probably mostly due to their intake in the first place). So maybe they are doing *something* right.


Me: SMU people don't bitch about bidding right

Someone else: not as much as u all. got online petitions. haha

i think smu ppl all scared of offending the administration
but that time there was this guy who sent out mass emails to protest against the fee hike.

the sch suddenly raise sch fees to 6.5k. then that guy damn courageous. pointed out that all the "dialogue sessions" with the dean, provost, president etc are all wayang becoz the student representatives invited are all sCholars! naturally they'll agree with whatever the sch does. and they dun have to pay sch fees anyway. then he gain alot of support, ppl kept fwding the emails he sent out.

at first the sch was damn firm on the fee hike. iin the end they had to back off a little and raise it in stages.
but such courageous ppl are rare in smu. he's probably the only one. haha.
we only learn how to wayang

Me: haha didn't whack him
what happened to SMU people being different?

Someone else: aiya cock 1 la. haha

Someone: my professor just used newton to prove that we could do well in class
he's from NUS.
F=mA. he claims m and a are motivation and aptitude

Me: ...
and F is your grade?
no wonder NUS didn't want him haha

Someone: the F part was a joke
and nobody laughed other than some india students who thought it was very funny

Me: I think it's very funny. for different reasons

Someone: i immediately received 3 msn messages saying "this guy's jokes are very cold"
from different people in my class

Also see: Previously posted conversation on silly grading methods in SMU (from November 2004 archives)


Someone (2): business is 80% shit and 20% real stuff
it's true

i've studied business, i've studied computing, i've studied maths
business is the ultimate bullshit
not only in coporate world
but also in texts]

Monday, October 03, 2005

"Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment." - Robert Benchley

Random Playlist Song: Raffles Chorale - Mate Saule


Magnatune: MP3 music and music licensing (royalty free music and license music)

"We're a record label. But we're not evil.

We call it "try before you buy." It's the shareware model applied to music. Listen to 418 complete MP3 albums we've picked (not 30 second snippets).

We let the music sell itself, because we think that's the best way to get you excited by it.

Our selection is intentionally small: we never waste your time with mediocre music.

If you like what you hear, download an album for as little as $5 (you pick the price), or buy a real CD, or license our music for commercial use. And no copy protection (DRM), ever.

Artists keep half of every purchase. And unlike most record labels, they keep all the rights to their music.

No major label connections.

We are not evil...

Give 3 Free Copies to Your Friends

While other record labels are busy suing their customers for introducing their friends to great music...

At Magnatune, we want you to copy our music for your friends.

Yes, at Magnatune you can legally copy any album you buy for up to 3 of your friends."


Event Title: Exploring The Da Vinci Code

Organizer: Campus Crusade For Christ

Description: Hello everyone! Heard about the bestseller novel The Da Vinci Code? Read it already? This fictional thriller, being a mix of fact and fiction has intrigued many and raised controversies on the true origin of Christianity! Was Jesus really married to Mary Magdalene? Is the bible collated by Constantine? Find out the biblical truths behind this novel by Dan Brown. This is a video talk lasting 65 mins by apologeticist Mike Licona, director of Apologetics Evangelism at the North American Mission Board. So come and join us in discovering the truths behind the claims made in the The Da Vinci Code! Refreshments will be provided after the video. All are welcomed!


Unfortunately, I'll be having a midterm then.


EULAlyzer - Analyze license agreements for interesting words and phrases - "EULAlyzer can analyze license agreements in seconds, and provide a detailed listing of potentially interesting words and phrases. Discover if the software you're about to install displays pop-up ads, transmits personally identifiable information, uses unique identifiers to track you, or much much more."

Lithium Ion battery care tips - So troublesome. I'd rather get a new one. Even longer essays on batteries at Battery University.

I Am A Terrorist Or “How I Threatened To Burn My Professor At The Stake” - "According to the bible, “Thou shalt not suffer a Witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18) I feel strongly that “Dr.” Patton’s heretical teachings in the voodoo field of neuroscience constitutes witchcraft. Therefore, next Wednesday before lecture, I call on my fellow Christians to gather rope and kindling so that we may burn “Dr.” Patton at the stake. It is my firm belief that we must set fire to ALL heretics who seek to destory our most cherished Christian beliefs. This may be crazy or irrational, but it is the only recourse I have that might actually accomplish something. Sure, I could boycott class all semester, but who else aside from me would care?" (Link from Post Hoc, Egro Propter Hoc)
I've always liked this joke:

I used to hate going to weddings where family was present.

Each time uncles and aunts came to me and slapped me on the shoulder and asked: "When's it your turn?"

They stopped doing that when I started doing the same with them at funerals.

Confucius on women and oppressive governments

"Women and people of low birth are very hard to deal with. If you are friendly with them, they get out of hand, and if you keep your distance, they resent it." - Confucius

Addendum: 子曰:唯女人与小人难养也,近者则不逊远者则怨

(via The Analects of Confucius - Lun Yu XVII. 25. (472))


In passing by the side of mount Thâi, Confucius came on a woman who was wailing bitterly by a grave. The Master bowed forward to the cross-bar, and hastened to her; and then sent Dze-lû to question her. 'Your wailing,' said he, 'is altogether like that of one who has suffered sorrow upon sorrow.' She replied, ' It is so. Formerly, my husband's father was killed here by a tiger. My husband was also killed (by another), and now my son has died in the same way.' The Master said, 'Why do you not leave the place?' The answer was, 'There is no oppressive government here.' The Master then said (to the disciples), 'Remember this, my little children. Oppressive government is more terrible than tigers.'

- The Book of Rites: Book II - THE THAN KUNG, Section II, PART III, Passage 10

(An extended retelling of the story above may be found here)
Amazon.com: Books: The Trouble with Confucianism (The Tanner Lectures on Human Values)

As Confucian thinking makes a comeback in contemporary China, people are wondering if it will merely serve as a conservative tool for a despotic government as in imperial times, or if it could act instead as a liberalizing force. Wm. Theodore de Bary, depicting Confucius and certain later Confucians as Old Testament prophetlike figures, suggests that the true Confucian spirit is one of protesting and rectifying governmental injustices. This model of Confucianism, de Bary illustrates, is not a backward dogmatist intent on maintaining the status quo at all costs, but a whistle-blower, a moralizing evangelist responsible to the people and to heaven for speaking out against existing evils and abuses. Throughout, de Bary sympathizes with the scholar-official who feels trapped between the needs of the people and the will of an autocratic government, which reflects a parallel dilemma in today's China.

Book Description
In Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and other parts of East and Southeast Asia, as well as China, people are asking, "What does Confucianism have to offer today?" For some, Confucius is still the symbol of a reactionary and repressive past; for others, he is the humanist admired by generations of scholars and thinkers, East and West, for his ethical system and discipline. In the face of such complications, only a scholar of Theodore de Bary's stature could venture broad answers to the question of the significance of Confucianism in today's world."
My Ben and Jerry's waterbottle got stolen. Damn. Oh well.

My moral approbation falls freely upon the cretin.
"I hate the outdoors. To me the outdoors is where the car is." - Will Durst

Random Playlist Song: Elgar - Chanson de Matin


I feel like getting yellow paint and drawing yellow boxes outside LT 11, as well as other places where smokers like to puff. Unfortunately NUS is boring and strait-laced. Though I hear some people improvised fireworks on the roof of one of the Engineering building some years back, and when they ran out of control, they fled in all directions before the police came.

NIE should hold a crash course for our lecturers and teaching assistants. Some of them would benefit greatly.


The most creative example would be: you think about you have a baby boy, ok, you measure its height everyday. And suppose you plant a tree in your backyar, with the baby boy. And every year you measure the height of the tree at the height of the baby, and then you can regress your baby's height over the height of the tree. And you'll definitely see R square [to be] very high... You cannot say that the growth of [the] tree caused the growth of [the] baby, okay. Of course, unless, in some magic world that's true. So based on... you live in some magic world that's true, then the regression really tell you causal relationship (imagine, backyard, and, on, measure)

[During the makeup lecture] Now I have to move on, otherwise I'll have to give another makeup lecture.

[After a plug for the Economist] Honestly, browsing old issues... will not help you perform better in your midterm or final exam.

Cash-in-advance - CIA. A very bad acronym again, but it's okay.

[On the government and the central bank] Most countries - central banks are independent. Of course, if you go to Africa, they're the same thing.

[On imprecise use of the term 'white horse'] forgot i was talking to an arts student. i've gone back to using terms loosely. How liberating! (sms)

[Lecturer on an economic model: For convenience, Williamson sets it to 0.] For convenience, let's do away with the maths.

The truth of the matter is your tutor is sick, so he has to be gone... Sorry, not 'he's going to be gone'.

[Female lecturer:] He graded the midterm... If you have a problem with the grading, you look for him, because I don't have what he has. (???)

[On a digital handout] You'll get a typewritten sheet of paper. Whatever, you print it out, it's typewritten.

It's very interesting to see this equation, because George W. Bush doesn't seem to think the lifetime budget constraint holds. So he keeps spending and spending. We'll see what happens soon.

[On her definition of the classical dichotomy] Trust me. This is the correct definition. Or the less misleading definition.

You can do an experiment and go around asking people, or economists, or people who think they are economists, whether they think money is neutral... This we will do in future lectures. It's the exciting part.

2 by 2 mare'trix (matrix)

from this gair'm (game)

the pee off (payoff)

[On a zero-sum game] Fortunately, in my class, I don't play such a game.

This is my bestest strategy (best)

Player 1 is the woes player (rows)

ah 1 s (o)

[On the different pronunciation of lecturers] You know what this is called? The flavours of asia.

I rather do maths than do essays. [Me: Then do 'mathematical economics'.] That one is too much maths. (has)

[On Freud] His theories were very circular... If you were very violently opposed to homosexuals, maybe it was because you were a latent homosexual. If you were sympathetic to homosexuals, maybe it was because you were a latent homosexual... Anything could support the theory.

[On vicarious discharge of deprivation - eg TV violence as a safety valve] I think it only applies to hunger and thirst. It doesn't apply to sex - I'm not the best judge of that. You may [be].

Men express aggression more physically... Women derogate their rivals. They say nasty things about competing women. That certainly counts as aggression.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A source informs me that you can't get a Ben and Jerry's fix in Sydney. However, you can get Krispy Kreme.

It's a tough choice as to which of the two life is worse without, but it takes $5 million to set up a Krispy Kreme franchise in a new country. I'd imagine that importing ice cream pints is much cheaper.



Lucas: Emma, this is Lilah, my new housemate. Lilah, this is Emma.

Emma: Oh hi.

Lilah: Nice to meet you.

*Lilah and Emma freeze in a handshake for a panel*

Emma: Hun, I need to use your bathroom real quick. This way?

Lucas: Yeah, just past the kitchen.

Lilah: She's cheating on you.

Lucas: What? No wait... WHAT?!

Lilah: Trust me. I'm a girl, we can sense it on eachother. (sic)

Lilah: She's hiding something else too... I'm not sure what.


Muslims win toy pigs ban - "Novelty pig calendars and toys have been banned from a council office — in case they offend Muslim staff. Workers in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, were told to remove or cover up all pig-related items, including toys, porcelain figures, calendars and even a tissue box featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet."
Ah well. The Muslim exception.

Godsend Screams - Comment in StumbleUpon: "Hooooly shit. I'd like to somehow convince this guy to play at our local 'Black Metal' venue just to watch the crowd reaction. I think Zack Parsons said it best: "If you tell me you've heard something more ridiculous than Christian death metal performed Acapella then you are a liar.""

Recovering Christians: Pascal's Wager revisited - "Many objections to this simplistic argument can be found, but more novel and interesting is an alternative wager postulated by a Darwin Bedford, the "Atheist Messiah and Spiritual Reality Therapist"

Stormfury attempted to weaken hurricanes - "Watching monster hurricanes bear down on populated areas raises a question: Can't we stop these things? Preposterous as the idea might sound, scientists have tried to do just that — and failed. But does that mean it's an idea that can't work?... A mature hurricane of moderate strength and size releases as much condensation heat energy in a day as the fusion energy of about 400 hydrogen super bombs," Robert and Joanne Simpson wrote in a report to the Project Stormfury Advisory Panel, a scientific body formed in 1964 to try to find hurricanes' "Achilles' heel... In the face of this gargantuan machine," the Simpsons said in 1964, "man's puny resources do not allow the brute force, head-on, or trial-and-error approaches."
Someone: scream in horror

Me: not that bad lah
not that SACSAL-y

Someone: dont u think the contestents all look a bit animalistic
they are so not beauty contestant looking.
die lah. not even top 100 this year maybe HAHAHAHAHA

ok some look good but so typical
i bet that one will be the winner lah
let's expect same results as past 2 years

goodness another animal

Me: "If you have it, flaunt it. if you don't, bitch about those who do" :P

Someone: is that such a thing as sacsal-y look
i thought that was more a behaviour

Me: there's a look also


tian ah. aunties also. they raised the age limit by 10 years is it hahahaha
freaking hell i am having so much fun mocking the girls

oh god. we have maids as participants also

u know i have an evil idea of flagging photos as 'may offend' for all the girls which i dont like :x
long live flickr


way better
time to switch the girls man

Me: the sacsal quotient is higher leh

Someone: hahahah
ok so ur guage of how good or bad the contestants are depends on whether they look like sacsal or not

Me: why they join this sort of shit
then NS guys will wank over them

Someone: maybe that's their lifelong ambition
to have a whole fanclub of wankers

Me: ........

I like F*
the rest are icky

Someone: ah i see u like kawaii type
i bet u download tons of japanese porn secretly. or just watch them. u probably have like male fans supplying u with porn

Me: wth
you ah. freudian projection!
Having been kidnapped to Tampines last night, I ate at Marrybrown just now, on my sister's recommendation that it was "not worse than KFC", and somewhat cheaper besides, and am now regretting it immensely.

The chicken itself was passable, being crispy and neither too oily nor too dry, albeit rather tasteless. The other items were horrible, though.

The mashed potato was awful, having, in the words of my brother in law, the consistency of coagulated phlegm. To top it off, a crust seemed to have formed around the coagulated phlegm in the short time since the mashed potato had been scooped into our container, and the gravy was tasteless.

It was a tossup as to whether the coleslaw was even worse. Any 5 year old could have made better coleslaw - this one had a dressing that remarkably managed to both lack any taste and yet seem fat-laden at the same time. Meanwhile, the vegetables in the coleslaw looked like they came from a 5 year old's fruit salad (ie in irregularly sized chinks) instead of being properly shredded, with a generous sprinkling of Frozen Mixed Vegetables (Corn, Carrot and Peas) thrown in.

The fries, though as crispy as those in most places, were somewhat limp and lacking in flavour, being the second worst fast food fries I've ever had, with the sole exception of KFC's before they launched their current "Crispy Fries" (they have since dropped the "Crispy" part).

To top it off, they got my order wrong - I'd ordered the Chicken Sandwich, but they gave me the Chicken Fillet Sandwich (which was hot). From the bite I took it seemed passable, though, just being a hotter version of their original recipe chicken.

I'm never going back there again.

Doing research on this wretched company, I came across their equally wretched website which had their poorly-sung and poorly-conceptualised jingle played on loop on all the site's pages, with no option to mute it.

Since they were so eager to drum it into everyone's heads, I have transcribed it - make of it what you will:

Annoying Marrybrown Jingle

Relax your very heart (weary)
Fast'ten just slows down (???)
Follow us to Marrybrown

Delicious food that's flowering (???)
Writer you all the way (Right with)

Crispy chicken, tasty burger (burgers)
Licious Nasi Marrybrown (Delicious)

Something were'chwa every penny (worth your)
Good choice good taste all well and ray hey dee (ready)
Just don't think twice,
Let's all come and join in to Marrybrown

We can always right! (get it?)

On their website, you can also see their cute squirrel waving to you and shouting: Marrybrown BOLEH!


I saw a "69" bus service in Tampines. I wonder if some idiot will write in to the Straits Times forum protesting at the existence of this subtle avenue for corrupting our young.
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