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Saturday, December 17, 2005

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God, I feel so violated.
Someone posted a less funny version of the following on her LJ, so I feel obliged to share the better version.

Thank god people stopped sending me this kind of crap in the late 90s.

Hello, my name is Basmati Kasaar. I am suffering from rare and deadly diseases, poor scores on final exams, extreme virginity, fear of being kidnapped and executed by anal electrocution, and guilt for not forwarding out 50 billion fucking chain letters sent to me by people who actually believe that if you send them on, then that poor 6 year old girl in Arkansas with a breast on her forehead will be able to raise enough money to have it removed before her redneck parents sell her off to the travelling freak show.

Do you honestly believe that Bill Gates is going to give you and everyone you send "his" email to $1000? How stupid are you?
Ooooh, lookyhere! If I scroll down this page and make a wish, I'll get laid by every Playboy model in the magazine!

What a bunch of bullshit.

So basically, this message is a big FUCK YOU to all the people out there who have nothing better to do than to send me stupid chain mail forwards.

Maybe the evil chain letter leprechauns will come into my apartment and sodomize me in my sleep for not continuing the chain which was started by Jesus in 5 A.D. and was brought to this country by midget pilgrims on the Mayflower and if it makes it to the year 2000, it'll be in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest continuous streak of blatant stupidity.

Fuck them.

If you're going to forward something, at least send me something mildly amusing. I've seen all the"send this to 50 of your closest friends, and this poor, wretched excuse for a human being will somehow receive a nickel from some omniscient being" forwards about 90 times. I don't fucking care. Show a little intelligence and think about what you're actually contributing to by sending out forwards.

Chances are it's your own popularity.


Chain Letter Type 1:

(scroll down)

Make a wish!!!

No, really, go on and make one!!!

Oh please, they'll never go out with you!!!

Wish something else!!!

Not that, you pervert!!

Is your finger getting tired yet?


Wasn't that fun? :)

Hope you made a great wish :) Now, to make you feel guilty, here's what I'll do. First of all, if you don't send this to 5096 people in the next 5 seconds, you will be raped by a mad goat and thrown off a high building into a pile of manure. It's true! Because, THIS letter isn't like all of those fake ones, THIS one is TRUE!!

Really!!! Here's how it goes:

*Send this to 1 person: One person will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

*Send this to 2-5 people: 2-5 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.

*Send this to 5-10 people: 5-10 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter, and may form a plot on your life.

*Send this to 10-20 people: 10-20 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter and will napalm your house.

Thanks!!!! Good Luck!!!


Chain Letter Type 2

Hello, and thank you for reading this letter. You see, there is a starving little boy in Baklaliviatatlaglooshen who has no arms, no legs, no parents, and no goats. This little boy's life could be saved, because for every time you pass this on, a dollar will be donated to the Little Starving Legless Armless Goatless Boy from Baklaliviatatlaglooshen Fund.

Oh, and remember, we have absolutely no way of counting the emails sent and this is all a complete load of bullshit. So go on, reach out. Send this to 5 people in the next 47 seconds. Oh, and a reminder - if you accidentally send this to 4 or 6 people, you will die instantly. Thanks again!!

Chain Letter Type 3
Hi there!! This chain letter has been in existence since 1897.This is absolutely incredible because there was no email then and probably not as many sad pricks with nothing better to do. So this is how it works: Pass this on to 15,067 people in the next 7 minutes or something horrible will happen to you like:

Bizarre Horror Story #1
Miranda Pinsley was walking home from school on Saturday. She had recently received this letter and ignored it. She then tripped in a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the sewer, was gushed down a drainpipe in a flood of poopie, and went flying out over a waterfall. Not only did she smell nasty, she died. This Could Happen To You!!!

Bizarre Horror Story #2
Dexter Bip, a 13 year old boy, got a chainletter in his mail and ignored it. Later that day, he was hit by a car and so was his boyfriend (hey, some people swing that way). They both died and went to hell and were cursed to eat adorable kittens every day for eternity. This Could Happen To You Too!!!

Remember, you could end up just like Pinsley and Bip. Just send this letter to all of your loser friends, and everything will be okay.

Oh, and if you accidentally send this to 15,066 or 15,068 people, you will instantly die. Thanks!

Chain Letter Type 4:

As if you care, here is a poem that I wrote. Send it to every one of your friends.


A friend is someone who is always at your side,

A friend is someone who likes you even though you stink of shit, and your breath smells like you've been eating catfood,

A friend is someone who likes you even though you're as ugly as a hat full of arseholes,

A friend is someone who cleans up for you after you've soiled yourself,

A friend is someone who stays with you all night while you cry about your sad, sad life,

A friend is someone who pretends they like you when they really think you should be raped by mad goats, then thrown to vicious dogs,

A friend is someone who scrubs your toilet, vacuums and then gets the cheque and leaves and doesn't speak much English... - no, sorry that's the cleaning lady,

A friend is not someone who sends you chain letters because he wants his wish of being rich to come true.

Now pass this on! If you don't, you'll never have sex ever again.


Chain Letter Type 5:

This e-mail is wicked-cool! It was started by Microsoft to test its e-mail tracking system because, you know, a big high-tech company like Microsoft always sends important new software out over the internet to be available to any moron who can operate a computer, right? Plus, they have formed a secret merger with Disney Corp., who has agreed to give up millions of dollars in revenue by giving everyone who reads this e-mail, passes it on, looks at it, knows someone that looked at it, or is related to someone who is a friend of someone who looks at it A FREE, ALL-EXPENSES-PAID TRIP to Disneyland, DisneyWorld, or EuroDisney! So pass this on to everyone you know that is gullible enough to believe this (or not)!

Even if it's not true, hey insulting all of your friends by implying that they are gullible by sending this to them is worth the improbable chance that you could go to Disneyland! Even if you lose all of your friends because they are tired of receiving this kind of junk from you, it's worth the chance, right?

And just for good measure, if you don't send this on, Microsoft will send its specially trained attack-goats to pilfer your house and eat all of your family, SO SEND IT ON!!!!!

Chain Letter Type 6:


If you receive an email entitled "Badtimes," delete it immediately.

Do not open it.

Apparently this one is pretty nasty. It will not only erase everything on your hard drive,but it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer. It demagnetizes the stripes on ALL of your credit cards. It reprograms your ATM access code, screws up the tracking on your VCR and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD's you attempt to play. It will re-calibrate your refrigerator's coolness settings so all your ice cream melts and your milk curdles. It will program your phone AutoDial to call only your mother-in-law's number.

So be careful! Forward this to all of your friends, relatives, neighbors, family, enemies, plumbers, garbagemen, stock brockers, doctors, and any other acquaintances! It's for their own good!

Thank you.


Chain Letter Type 7:

Here is a cute picture I drew.

(\ /) ( \ / ) ( \ /)
(/<\ ) ( / \/ \ ) / \ __
() ( )

It is a decapitated angel. Send it on to all of your friends so it will brighten their day like it did yours! If you don't, demon-possessed goats will move into your house and eat all of your socks, leading you to believe that something is wrong with your washing machine because all of your socks keep disappearing.

Have a nice day!!!


The point being?

If you get some chain letter that's threatening to leave you shagless or luckless for the rest of your life, delete it. If it's funny, send it on. Don't piss people off by making them feel guilty about a leper in Botswana with no teeth, who's been tied to a dead elephant for 27 years, whose only saviour is the 5 cents per letter he'll receive if you forward this mail, otherwise you'll end up like Miranda and Dexter. Right? Now forward this to everyone you know otherwise you'll find all your pants missing tomorrow morning.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Trying hard to forestall the rot

"Most notably, there was a near-complete shut-out of Singapore campaigners from the newspaper. Although the anti-death penalty forum organised by Singapore's Think Centre on 7 November was covered by the Australian and foreign media (including Reuters and AFP), it was completely ignored by the Straits Times.

The letters page also suggested bias in selection... it seemed very strange that while the Straits Times found letters from pro-hanging Australians to print, they couldn't find a single anti-hanging letter to print. This was even as lots of Australians were vociferously voicing their opinions down under. Did none of them write to the Straits Times, unlike their compatriots who favoured the death penalty? Or did the Straits Times trash all such letters?

Was the debate entirely in Australia? Were Singaporeans generally unanimous that capital punishment was justifiable? From the Straits Times' coverage, it would seem that Singaporeans either had no view to offer or were behind our government. But if one looked at the blogosphere, you'd see that many Singaporeans were, like Australians, either uncomfortable or downright against the death penalty.

How many, of course, is impossible to say. Singaporeans know full well that any attempt at taking an opinion poll on the matter would be seriously frowned on by the government. Even if someone wasn't afraid to pay for one, I doubt if any reputable polling organisation would want to take up the job, for fear of retribution from the government. Why, one might conceivably be charged under the Sedition Act...

Taking the 10 days' selection of news stories and published letters as a whole, there's more than a whiff of desperation... Why did the Straits Times go on and on telling Singaporeans that hanging drug traffickers is the right thing to do and that the world approves? And oh, by the way, Australia is going to hell with its drug problem... Finally, did you notice how gleefully the Straits Times reported on Australian opinion polls, but didn't commission a poll of Singaporeans themselves?"

And you wonder why "ST" stands for so many unflattering things in people's minds, and why the young are getting turned off traditional media.

JC critical thinking lesson: "My teacher said it, so it must be right.
It's in the Bible, so it must be right.
The Straits Times said it, so it must be right.
Lee Kuan Yew said it, so it must be right." (or words to that effect)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Outnumbered by the Vandal horde 5 to 1 though they were, the valiant defenders of the Eastern Roman Empire gave their lives dearly.

In their haste to scale the walls, the barbarians seemed to push some of their compatriots off the wall's edge, sending them to their doom.
Screwed Up Girl's Birthday-cum-Christmas Party invitation: "If you like, come dressed as a Lord or Lady or Knight in shining armour or Courtesan or some kind of royalty!"

What is wrong with the above sentence?
The Inheritance of Inequality, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis (2002), linked from Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal

"How level is the intergenerational playing field? What are the causal mechanisms that underlie the intergenerational transmission of economic status? Are these mechanisms amenable to public policies in a way that would make the attainment of economic success more fair? These are the questions we will try to answer...

Other work by Yeung, Hill and Duncan (2000) shows that parental behavior, including church attendance, membership in social organizations, and such precautionary behavior as seat belt usage, have significant impacts on their children’s earnings."

Seat belt usage?! Uhh.


Curveball - Stephen Jay Gould Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray's "The Bell Curve"

"The Bell Curve rests on two distinctly different but sequential arguments, which together encompass the classic corpus of biological determinism as a social philosophy. The first argument rehashes the tenets of social Darwinism as it was originally constituted. "Social Darwinism" has often been used as a general term for any evolutionary argument about the biological basis of human differences, but the initial nineteenth–century meaning referred to a specific theory of class stratification with industrial societies, and particularly to the idea that there was a permanently poor underclass consisting of genetically inferior people who had precipitated down into their inevitable fate. The theory arose from a paradox of egalitarianism: as long as people remain on top of the social heap by accident of a noble name or parental wealth, and as long as members of despised castes cannot rise no matter what their talents, social stratification will not reflect intellectual merit, and brilliance will be distributed across all classes; but when true equality of opportunity is attained smart people rise and the lower classes become rigid, retaining only the intellectually incompetent.

This argument has attracted a variety of twentieth–century champions, including the Stanford psychologist Lewis M. Terman, who imported Alfred Binet's original test from France, developed the Stanford–Binet IQ test, and gave a hereditarian interpretation to the results (one that Binet had vigorously rejected in developing this style of test); Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore, who tried to institute a eugenics program of rewarding well–educated women for higher birth rates; and Richard Herrnstein, a co–author of The Bell Curve and also the author of a 1971 Atlantic Monthly article that presented the same argument without the documentation

The general claim is neither uninteresting nor illogical, but it does require the validity of four shaky premises, all asserted (but hardly discussed or defended) by Herrnstein and Murray. Intelligence, in their formulation, must be depictable as a single number, capable of ranking people in linear order, genetically based, and effectively immutable. If any of these premises are false, their entire argument collapses... The central argument of The Bell Curve fails because most of the premises are false...

Herrnstein and Murray's correlation coefficients are generally low enough by themselves to inspire lack of confidence. (Correlation coefficients measure the strength of linear relationships between variables; the positive values from 0.0 for no relationship to 1.0 for perfect linear relationship.) Although low figures are not atypical for large social–science surveys involving many variables, most of Herrnstein and Murray's correlations are very weak—often in the 0.2 to 0.4 range. Now, 0.4 may sound respectably strong, but—and this is the key point—R2 is the square of the correlation coefficient, and the square of a number between zero and one is less than the number itself, so a 0.4 correlation yields an R–squared of only .16. In Appendix 4, then, one discovers that the vast majority of the conventional measures of R2, excluded from the main body of the text, are less than 0.1."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"I forget who it was who remarked: 'Of course we must be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out.'" - Richard Dawkins


The latest update to my homepage has brought my quote total to 9,719. Hurrah!

I went to Candy Empire at Millenia Walk to look for Kettle chips, but the only flavour they stocked was Kettle Sensations - Spicy Indian Masala, and Lime and Ginger or something was out of stalked stock. Damn. No Herb and Spice or Honey Baked Ham!

Tym brought me to "No. 1 Costumes Costumes" to look for a Wo-hen costume, but I didn't manage to find anything suitable. His style is very unique - you can't just be obiang, you need to be a particular flavour of obiang. And I didn't see any mullet wigs either.


parkaboy blogs about and archives a parody letter ("Sydney 'race riots' actually attacks on criminals") sent by the "Australian Union of Students" to the Straits Times Forum. Not surprisingly, it was published, despite such choice lines:

Australian state governments, which run the police, have cut the number of police patrol officers, and have instructed them not to respond immediately to crimes like they used to do. Also, patrol officers have been instructed not to prosecute criminals unless they see the crime taking place, which they never do since they generally turn up two hours later...

Most criminals in Australia are from ethnic minority groups, mainly the Irish 25 per cent of the population. This is hardly surprising since these groups send their children to schools which actively encourage crime.

For example, at Irish Catholic schools in Australia they teach: 'Which is better, for your family to die of starvation, or to steal a loaf of bread? Obviously, to steal a loaf of bread.'

In contrast, at government schools in Singapore, you teach that it is better for your family to die of starvation than to steal anything.

Irish-Australians are behind the push for the introduction of so-called 'human rights' into South-east Asia. Asians call these so-called rights 'Western values'. In fact they are Irish values, and most Australians reject them. The ideas Asean leaders call 'Asian values' are supported by the vast majority of Australians.

After reading "Skydiving is too risky for S'poreans", I have stopped being surprised at what trash the ST Forum will publish.

Some attribute this to the "editors [being] constitutionally incapable of detecting irony", but more likely, it is because whoever edits the letters to the Straits Times, like me after reading "Chee out to undermine Singapore", has stopped being surprised at what nonsense unthinking lappers-up of the Propagandistic line are capable of turning up.

After all, there were Western left-wing intellectuals who idealised and propounded
Communism as practised in the USSR and China even when Stalin and Mao were killing everyone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

NUS Seminar on Discovery Channel documentary on Singapore

At about 2pm today, Tym smsed me and asked if I was going for some History seminar at NUS convened in the wake of the recent seditious Discovery Channel documentary. Having heard nothing about it (they probably figured no one would come down during the holidays - it wasn't even forwarded to the USP students, as this sort of thing usually is), at first I replied negative, but she eventually persuaded me to come down, and I walked into the seminar room about half an hour late.

"I was very sure it would start with LKY, end with LKY and there would be a shot of him crying in the middle" - One of the panelists on why she didn't want to watch the documentary at first (I only started taking notes at the point where I heard this, so this review is not as long, rigorous or detailed as I would like)

The majority of the panelists who I heard approached it with a typically academic mindset (pouncing on it as if they were critiquing a paper) and seemed dismissive of the documentary, complaining it was reductionist, had omissions and that it was a work of popular culture. But then, what else do you expect of a 3 hour documentary, even if it is screened on the Discovery Channel instead of during Propaganda National Education classes and made by a fair and balanced foreign television company, instead of being a fair and balanced Channel NewsAsia documentary or a biased party political film made by an ordinary Singaporean? A 900 page book would be more intellectually vigorous, no doubt, but definitely not as accessible.

Then again, if what one of the panelists read from was an official announcement from Lion Television and/or Discovery Networks Asia (I would link to it, but can't find it online), the people making the documentary were probably asking for it, with claims of their work being the definitive history of Singapore.

One panelist complained that the documentary was too neat, and the interviews were chopped into pre-fitted jigsaw pieces, to fit nicely into a preconceived idea of Singaporean history. Of course, that's one way to view it. But then, any narrative needs a structure (and a "thesis" - hah!) if it is not to descend into an incoherent and/or interminable rant which only academics have the time and/or training to fully understand and analyse (preferably writing a paper or commentary on it afterwards). Which is why I would characterise the documentary, rather, as being focused, disciplined and clear (I caught only a few clips rather than the whole thing, but this is my 99% confidence interval).

Another was critical of how the documentary started with 1819, the classical date for the founding of Singapore. The panelist pointed out how Singapore's fortunes, being connected to maritime trade, wax and wane according to Chinese trade patterns, and pre-1819 Singapore was no exception to this. This is true enough, but when Singapore was refounded (if you like) in 1819, the older, long-gone settlements had little or nothing to do with the new one. It's kind of life saying that one needs to study the history of Carthago (Carthage) in order to understand modern-day Tunis - the only thing you need to understand is the geography of the area, and how this impacts/impacted on both cities' socio-economic circumstances.

The non-academic who I heard speak was more charitable to the documentary, glowingly noting how they dug up lots of archive footage (including perhaps the earliest known footage of Singapore, from 1905), and managed to persuade many people to speak, including some who have never been interviewed before, or who you don't usually see interviewed in this sort of production, due to fear of defamation suits and the like (the panelist estimated a 95% rejection rate for interview requests).

Unfortunately, I had to run off after an hour to pick up some Exchange material due to more hiccups in the NUS administration.

(I wanted to get Tym to review this review before I posted it, as well as adding her own comments, but she's out getting pissed as usual, so too bad.

She informs me though, though a drunken haze, that "Anyway, to be fair, you missed the meatier parts of the discussion", presumably the Q&A.)

[Addendum: Tym's belated comments:

First off, hello, not in a drunken haze.

Some points to add:

1) Despite the blatant limitations of it being a 3-hour documentary, I think the reason it was so heavily critiqued is because of all the media hype that went with it, all of which built it up to be this purported definitive version of Singapore's history. If it had not claimed to be so "epic" and definitive, then critics could've perhaps gone easier on it. A 900-age tome that sets out, upon first publication, to declare itself THE authoritative history of a particular country (as opposed to one that acquires that reputation/authority because enough people deem it so) would face the same scrutiny and criticism.

2) I don't think the panelist in question was criticising the documentary for being chopped up into jigsaw pieces. I think she was highlighting it as an inherent limitation of the medium (i.e. where such made-for-Discovery documentaries are concerned).

3) None of the panelists made this point, but here's my take on whether to include pre-1819 history: If you include it, you're enlarging the definition of what it is to be Singapore (and, by extension, Singaporean) beyond the 'commonsensical' narrative that's been propagated since 1965. However, if we accept that Singapore is in fact a postmoder, postcolonial, postideological state "with no natural resources" and that has built itself from "mangrove swamp to metropolis", then pre-1819 history is indeed irrelevant to the definition of modern Singapore and bears perhaps the same relation as ancient Carthage to modern Tunis.

(Note: As pointed out by a member of the audience at the forum, the "mangrove swamp" generalisation is grossly wrong as only less than 20% of Singapore was not forested land in 1819.)

So it depends on where you think Singapore --- as an entity, or as a state, or as a society --- begins and ends. And that, of course, comes with its own ideological and cultural baggage.]
University of Pennsylvania Evolutionary Psychologist Visits UNL

"Like Dr. Hibbing at the last "brownbag," Dr. Kurzban complained about academic silencing. While he did not explicitly name political correctness, he did say:

* Feminist scholars view evolutionary biological from a political perspective. Dr. Kurzban said "I don't care if you say 'This theory is stupid. It's not worth my time.' But saying 'This theory is a plot by The Man to keep women down' is not useful.'"

* Graduate students at one university petitioned the academic Senate to prohibit evolutionary psychologocial texts from being assigned by any professor. This was instigated when one black collegian said the theory "challenged her identity.""

The comments thread is also interested, especially this quoted bit:

"I would like to put in a quote from the book Origins of Genius by Dean Keith Simonton pg.115

"Several investigators have found the incidence rates of parental losses than what holds true for the rest of the population. Thus, one ambitious study of 699 eminent figures of world history discovered that 61% lost a parent before age 31, 52% before 26 and 45% before 21. Another study of 301 geniuses found that over one-fifth were plagued by orphanhood A follow-up investigation, also based on famous people from all area of accomplishment, discovered that nearly one-third had lost their fathers early on.""


geekgeek on Sondra in today's Digital Life:

"There, I hope you're all happy now. Don't even need to publish a book anymore, even the PRESS has done that for you, summarised (almost) everything. National circulation no less. Good job guys, really."

My observation: Well, you know that wouldn't have happened if people hadn't started flaming, cursing and kicking up a big fuss in public (as opposed to voicing their concerns sotto voce) in the first place.

So ironically it's the people who professed to be so concerned about Sondra's privacy (who went by many nicknames but most of whom shared the same 5 IP addresses), one of whom was such a good friend of hers and was so concerned that he threatened to punch some of us at her funeral, who are responsible for the shit hitting the fan, ironically bringing about the very thing (nay, much worse) that they claimed to be so against.


Church 'misused welfare' - "HILLSONG Church is generating money by recycling public funds aimed at disadvantaged people back into its own coffers through tithes, a NSW MP has alleged."
Dig deeply enough anywhere and you will probably find some scandal.

Hold the Limo: The Prom's Canceled as Decadent - "It is about social manners, class, gender roles; and to a more or less open degree, it is about sex. That may explain why recent decisions by two Roman Catholic high school principals on Long Island to cancel proms for the class of 2006 - both citing exasperation with what the educators described as a decadent "prom culture" - seem to have struck a chord well beyond the worlds of Catholics, high schools or Long Island."

Did drug cultures open up spiritual worlds? - "Graham attempts to explain why, about 50,000 years ago, humans suddenly began to think creatively after having evolved anatomically millions of years before. He believes that it was due to altered states of consciousness (ASCs) triggered by experimentation with hallucinogenic plants, such as ayahuasca, datura root and the psilocybin or "magic" mushroom. He suggests that art and religion can be traced back to these ASCs experienced by ancient shamans and their communities."
The second part of the theory sounds like crap though.

Kids... - "1. sTicKyCaPs. I HaVe No IdEa wHy ThEy LoVe tO wRiTe lIke ThIs, sO IrRiTaTiNg lOrX, I dUn eVeN kNoW WhAt tHe hElL ThEy aRe wRitiNg aBoUt, aNd tHeY aRe So pROuD Of It lOlx ~"
Lamenting the moral degeneracy of the youth is a popular parlor game, but this guy really hit the nail on the head.
"Fig Newton: The force required to accelerate a fig 39.37 inches per sec." - J. Hart

Random playlist song: Aaron Waters - Go Fly Win

When you need a hero to protect the place you live
Fighting monsters all around who try to get within
Awesome power no surrender Rangers never fall
Look to the sky as they arrive when you hear this call

Go Power Rangers
Fly Power Rangers
Win Power Rangers
Here we go

Repeat Chorus

Bad guys they are all the same they want complete control
Intimidate eliminate the Rangers from the throne
But the good guys always have a way to win out in the end
So look to the sky as they arrive the heroes who defend

Chorus x2

Guitar Solo

Chorus x4

Ron Wasserman recently released this song on RangerBoard after an interview with him was published; it'd previously only been heard as a snippet on some (one?) of the Space episodes.

And my confusion about the music for Turbo/Space was cleared out. It seems after he left in Season 3, he came back to do some music for Turbo and the first half of Space.


When I first moved my homepage to Prohosting, I had a good deal. With a one-time setup fee of US$9.95 (or thereabouts) I got 50mb of space and 5gb of bandwith, and sans ads too.

A few months (possibly a year) ago, Prohosting sneakily changed the deal without telling me. I started getting warnings that my daily bandwith was being exceeded. I was wondering why my homepage was so popular, but never bothered to check until a few weeks back, when I found that suddenly I was granted only 1.2gb of bandwith. Pissed off, I filed a support ticket which has never been replied to. However, since I only get an average of 20+ visitors a day, I was too lazy to do anything.

However, the final insult was when I got this notice:

"This notification is to make you aware that there will soon be new restrictions placed on your Free.ProHosting.com account.

Effective December 9th, 2005, all new and existing free accounts will only be able to use the following file types:

.htm, .html, .gif, .jpg, .png, .js, .css, .jpeg, .txt, .shtm, .shtml, .pl, .cgi

... Also, please be aware that we will be enforcing a file size limit of 1MB as advertised on our web site...

We hope you enjoy your Free.ProHosting.com account.

Happy Holidays,

Free.ProHosting.com Support" [Emphases mine]

Especially considering the fact that I got this a day before it was due to come into effect, I was outraged. You get what you pay for, I suppose.

In any event, my homepage has moved yet again (this is the 7th URL it's been hosted at), and is now kindly hosted by Johnny Malkavian.

The new url is: http://gssq.entryplug.org/. Unfortunately, Geocities realised I was using them for URL forwarding, so they removed the http://www.geocities.com/gssq/ page. Ah well. http://gssq.blogspot.com/ has been more well known for quite some time, so it is as good a "site to go to to get a link to Gabriel's Homepage as any.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Earn filthy lucre!

Job: Make outbound...

[Update: Due to overwhelming response (and the end of hiring season), the ad has been taken down. Unfortunately, no one has yet paid me an ample bounty]
"My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me." - Benjamin Disraeli


I donated half a Euro via Paypal to the Downthemall Firefox Extension team and they sent me an iCard (from Apple, hah!). Now I feel ashamed.


Crank Dot Net - "Devoted to presenting Web sites by and about cranks, crankism, crankishness, and crankosity. All cranks, all the time."

Switch. Off. - "Why Switch Off? You can do things that Mac & PC users only dream about, like meeting other people, breathing fresh air, going for walks in the country and seeing daylight with your own eyes."

The Physics of Extra-Terrestrial Civilizations - "Specifically, we can rank civilizations by their energy consumption, using the following principles: 1) The laws of thermodynamics. 2) The laws of stable matter. 3) The laws of planetary evolution."


The Right Price for Digital Music - Why 99 cents per song is too much, and too little.

"In the early 1900s, jazz musicians refused to record phonograph records because they feared rivals would cop their best licks. We can laugh at their shortsightedness, but it's reminiscent of today's music industry, which is so afraid of piracy it still hasn't figured out how to incorporate digital downloads into a sustainable business model...

What we need is a system that will continue to pack the corporate coffers yet be fair to music lovers. The solution: a real-time commodities market that combines aspects of Apple's iTunes, Nasdaq, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Priceline, and eBay.

Here's how it would work: Songs would be priced strictly on demand. The more people who download the latest Eminem single, the higher the price will go. The same is true in reverse—the fewer people who buy a song, the lower the price goes. Music prices would oscillate like stocks on Nasdaq, with the current cost pegged to up-to-the-second changes in the number of downloads. In essence, this is a pure free-market solution—the market alone would determine price...

The big wild card here is the impact of illegal file sharing. David Blackburn, a doctoral student at Harvard, has argued that peer-to-peer systems increase demand for less popular recordings but dampen sales of hits."

The economic analyses may be off, but the idea seems sound.


one step into the past?

"In the early 20th century, Singapore was described as the "most colourful city in the world". In 1939, an English visitor, Carveth Wells, compared his pre-war (World War I) and post-war experiences in Singapore. The greatest change after the war, he wrote, was the "exciting night life of the city" (adding, "if you do not include the less respectful attitude of the Asiatics to white men").

Street after street was "devoted entirely to brothels of different nationalities. Malays, Indians, Africans, Arabs, Chinese, Japanese and Europeans were all on view…with girls on view behind iron bars, like caged animals…". Does it remind one of the plight of foreign domestic workers and foreign brides today?"


USAS4001: Understanding Contemporary Science Wars

"In the last two decades we have seen the emergence of increased awareness of the role that premodern traditions of science can play in advancing scientific knowledge in the future. This has engendered intense debates concerning the distinction between science and pseudoscience often described in terms a contestation between the defenders of Enlightenment science and its post-Enlightenment critics. Many multicultural critics have criticized the tradition of Enlightenment science - its historical self-understanding, its metaphysical and epistemological presuppositions, its structures of theory and experience - as a body of knowledge that has distorted not only our understanding of natural phenomena but also the relationships we establish with nature. These criticisms have often been buttressed by postmodern, social constructivist, environmental and feminist standpoints which appeal to multicultural traditions of natural knowledge in order to buttress claims concerning the limits of Enlightenment science. These charges have evoked an equally vehement defense of the Enlightenment tradition by philosophers and scientists who see modern science as a dependable body of knowledge now being attacked by superstition. Nevertheless it is possible to perceive these science wars - as they have been dubbed - as really the latest stage of continuing concerns that have always been a part of science about how we can best draw the line between science and superstition. In this course we will examine the arguments from both sides in an attempt to make sense of the attempts to reorient science in a multicultural direction and the claim that the future growth of science can be promoted through a wider dialogue among civilizations."

Wow, this sounds very funky. I wonder when it was last offered.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

I aver that Kettle brand (Australian, not American) Herb and Spice flavour potato chips must be one of the best flavours ever.

First you admire the texture of the chip - it's surface is rough with bumps, unlike the unnaturally smooth surface of most potato chips. Being cooked in sunflower oil lends it a quality which an inferior Malaysian potato chip, casually fried in palm olein, is unable to match.

When you bite into it, you hear the Kettle crunch - loud, deep and sonorous, complementing the chip's body and crispness.

And then the Herb and Spice flavour comes into play. Unlike some potato chip flavours it is complex, not hitting the pallete all at once. One could describe it as Salt and Vinegar, but that would be doing it a grave injustice, for not even Kettle's own Sea Salt and Balsamic Vinegar can compare.

Damn, I should set up a business parallel importing it into singapore.

"Kettle chips only use the best Australian grown potatoes. We wash them, slice and slowly cook them in sunflower oil the authentic way to give them a deliciously tasty crunch.

Kettle Chips have the besst flavours, as they contain no artificial flavours, or colours.

There is no science in cooking Kettle chips, just skill, experience and a passion for our craft. Discover the Kettle difference for yourself." (Emphasis original)

[Addendum: A source informs me that Candy Empire, Millennia Walk has Australian Kettle Chips, Red Rock Deli Chips and Australian Tim Tams.

I love globalisation!]
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