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Saturday, June 24, 2006

London trip - London (13th June)

The next stop was Somerset House for the Byzantine exhibition.

St Mary Le Strand House

George III statue

Edmond J Safra fountain court

Long way down - they weren't kidding when they said not to sit or place stuff on the balustrade because of the sheer drop.

Jets varying their height

The Road to Byzantium was the third exhibition I visited on Tuesday not to allow photography (which explains the lack of pictures). I guess I was just unlucky.

The exhibition was in the Hermitage Rooms. Presumably this is where The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg sends its scraps to be displayed every now and then.

Many of the rooms in the Byzantine exhibition were strange. There were slots in the windowsill from which cold air was blowing - the air-conditioning. However, in between some of the windows there were also wooden cabinets from which hot air was blowing (heaters). Maybe Somerset House is too rich already.

I was wondering why there was a red-figure hydria from 500 BC attributed to the Berlin painter. It turns out that the Berlin painter is so named for he is "best known as the decorator of an amphora now in Berlin". Uhh.

In the room with stuff from the Yuz-Oha (Oba?) Barrow, there was an interesting lekaniswes (?) (lidded bowl) and pelikes (two-handled jar) which were decorated in the red figure style, but had white daubed on them to accent some of the decoration. "one details in gilded clay relief" <- Stuff I scribbled but have no idea how to decipher now

There was an intaglio from 50 BC with Isis breastfeeding Horus. The audioguide said it was a mdoel for early Christian scenes of the Virgin and Christ-child. Oh no, demonic imitation! The exhibition also talked about how early Christians could enjoy pagan stories and appreciate the morals they had without believing in them (which explains Classical imagery on luxury items from the Byzantine era).

There was a very interesting statuette of Dionysius (2nd-3rd century AD) with a 8th-9th century inscription of Pslam 29:3 and crosses monogrammed into it. The pagan god of wine was used to store holy water!

The thesis of the exhibition was the classical motifs and naturalism did not disappear with the transition to Byzantium but survived in the luxury arts (silver and gold) till even the 12th (or 13th, I forget) century. This may be true, but the quality was much reduced, the works were uglier and crummier and most importantly more stilted and less realistic.

The audioguide said that the best works, during the medieval era, were constantly compared favourably to Pheidias. Presumably this was because the Hermitage sent them their scraps, since I'd seen a copy of Phideias' statue (THE statue) in the National Archaeological Museum, and even this was unfit to be placed in the same display cabinet as the best works in the exhibition. The Veroli casket was remarkable though.

William Gladstone statue, St Clement Dames

After this I met up with Yifan and friends, having left them after a brief goedemorgen at the Michelangelo exhibition. Unfortunately I spent almost 3 minutes on the phone with him before he decided to come and pick me, so my prepaid credit was almost totally blown.

Dinner was at Fire & Stone, a pizza restaurant with excellent and cheap pizza. For £7,95 I got a sizeable "New York" pizza with "Crispy oven roasted smoked bacon, mozzarella, Fire & Stone's tomato sauce, garlic & rosemary roast potatoes, caramelized onion jam, topped with sour cream and smoked paprika". If at all possible, it tasted even better than it sounds. There was a sneaky "optional 12.5%" service charge, but I didn't begrudge them that, since even then it was cheap.

After that, we went to watch Avenue Q.

I had to pay £1 for the cloakroom. Gah. I should've remembered I had a seat in a funky configuration, and could've dumped my bag on the space beside me. Oddly enough, there were separate cloakrooms for males and females, and the male cloakroom was past one of the ticket inspection area, so I had to show my ticket, deposit my bag and then walk across the entrance hall to get to my seat, showing my ticket again in the mean time.

Some points:

- Christmas Eve is from the original Broadway cast
- They changed Gary Coleman into a guy! It's not as effective since Gary Coleman has a short stature and is supposed (I imagine) to have a high voice (confirmed by these ringtones which imitate him)
- They hid the band/orchestra behind the windows of the streets. At first I thought they used a minus-1 tape, but then they need to time the music properly to accommodate laughs
- Pollacks were changed to French ("Those French people are such assholes")
- Christmas Eve sings 'Tried to work in Chinese Restaurant' instead of 'Korean Deli'
- Instead of being embarrassed about what he did after sending Kate the e-card, Princeton nods his head vigorously with his mouth open
- Lucy headlines in Eurodisney instead of Celebration, Florida and London instead of Bangkok
- I think the Long Island Iced Tea was changed to an absinthe decorie (sp?) daiquiri
- Christmas Eve's wedding outfit is something an Ah Beng would design - lots of flashing lights and colourful boxes
- They removed the line "I fucked you" from the dialogue before 'There's a fine, fine line'
- I think they're trying too hard to sound like the original Broadway cast
- It was damn hot in the theatre. I think they were trying to sell more ice cream and drinks.

- They added a song about Nicky taking his time in the toilet, played at the end of the interval
- Princeton no longer resists when Brian tries to drag him out of his apartment
- Someone said that Brits don't know what a "TA" is, yet people laughed at "or fuck my TA"
- During the Money Song they actually had people going out among the audience asking for money. I wonder if anyone gave anything. Now I know what the people listed as "Swing" do.
- The mottos of the Monstersorri school are 'In Fuzz Fidelis' and 'Magnum Cum Louder'
- Everyone applauds when Rod comes out of the closet instead of staying silent
- What one review said is correct. The conclusion ('For now') is somewhat awakward and very unsatisfying. It doesn't solve the question of 'Purpose' but just puts it off till another day. I think comedy, existentialism or best of all, existential nihilism would be more in the spirit of the show.

After the show we had some time before our bus left for Cambridge. Brazil won so this Latino looking girl in a Brazil shirt flashed twice.

"The world's not so rigid anymore" - T-mobile flext ad. Unfortunately this plan has a 18 month minimum contract. So much for flexibility.
I can hear a very fast, strong beat coming from a distant apartment, and the sound of people mingling.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think an Ah Beng was driving around in his car with his car stereo turned up to the max.

I guess this is why they call it Eurotrash.

At least the beat isn't blasting continuously.

Time to turn on the 9th Symphony.

Someone: ah beng techno is essentially spun off from "eurotrash"

ah beng techno is usually remixed a bit with some hokkien phrases thrown in
and some malay and indian swear words

Friday, June 23, 2006

"Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you." - Spanish Proverb


Someone: my period still hasn't come.

Me: maybe you're pregnant hehe

[Editor's note: this is the best male response if a girl talks to you about her period]

Someone: ..
Who put their sperm in me?

Me: maybe the Holy Spirit

Someone: Thanks for teasing me that way. I love having really bad mental images.

Me: just what image does the Holy Spirit impregnating you conjure up
at least it's not Zeus seducing you as a swan

Someone: ARGH
): <

Someone else on the above: or seducing u as a cloud
a sperm cloud

Someone: nvm
i'm just annoyed right now
you just happen to be a victim of it
get over it!

Me: hurr hurr
I'm indignant

Someone: you're kinda privileged

Me: to have you vent on me?

Someone: not everyone gets to hear the stupid things i say!

Me: uhhhhhhhhhh

Someone: also-
you can bitch at me when you get annoyed
it's part of the bargain i made up in my head

Me: yay
but I don't like bitching at people when I'm annoyed
I rather amuse myself

Someone: then you can amuse yourself when you get annoyed
see? everybody's happy

Me: uhh

but when you bitch at me I get indignant (not annoyed)
this is girl logic

Someone: well you can make your way from indignant to annoyed, i promise to wait for you
it's not like they're that far apart anyways, right?

Me: how touching.

so you want me to get annoyed after being indignant when you bitch at me when you're annoyed?

this is very screwed up

Someone: not very
i get annoyed --> i bitch at you --> you get indignant --> you get annoyed --> you get amused --> i get amused
it totally works!

Me: ...
I should put "coming up with elaborate and suspect logic chains" in HGWT

Someone: how gabe wastes time-
tries to insert sanity into elaborate and suspect logic chains, failing which he updates a list called HGWT

Me: so you admit it's insane

[Editor's note: The following part is the quoting, in conversation, of another conversation]

someone else: nothing is great about tv
ti's just a good way to spend my time while working on stuff on my computer at night

me: can watch tv and work at the same time?

someone else: yeah the essence of multitasking!
read papers, type up notes
read the news

me: you explained this bit of feminine irrationality before

someone else: i like doing math, because you can watch tv and study.... :P
and daytime tv is very boring, so i watch feel-good dvds that i have already seen 10x before, so that i don't have to pay attention.

there is a perfectly good explanation for this.
my friend does it too, he studies with lord of the rings

try this out.
studying requires intense concentration
but being human we tend to get distracted often
instead of allowing ourselves to get distracted by 5 different things, it is more efficient to be only distracted by one thing

but if this one thing is something that you have seen so many times that it can'thold your interest for a prolonged period of time, then you are forced to focus more on work.
ergo, more efficiency.

(one of the side effects of being in gep is that you acquire the ability to generate vast quantities of bullcrap on demand)

Someone: i have never denied my lack of sanity

but that is just too fucking weird

seriously though?
the gep thing just explains it all

i saw that whole chunka bull and i was like-
was he from gep?

Da Vinci Gode

[The] Da Vinci Gode

[Ed: The original video has been taken down. Here's a replacement (as of 21/08/08:


For some reason there're 7 identical versions of this production by "Columbia Pornstar Claque Films" on YouTube. I don't understand French but I still found this very funny. A transcription by Tim and a translation by someone follow. I asked Tim for a transliteration and a transcription but he ran off and suggests that I "call for experts".


(guy speaking french in obvious anglophone accent) : those who protect the
secret of the table..a secret that goes to the very foundation of humanity.

professor landon, the police need your help.

good that we can be of service. (finishes shitting) oh that's better

on the mona lisa, a 'preservatif' is a condom.

man : (can't quite catch what he's saying..something about the '60'?)
woman : how is this possible
man : it's a message that your grandfather left for you
woman : that he left for us
man : perhaps it's a puzzle
woman : can you decode it?
man crosses out words, triumphantly, 'da vinci'

phone rings, woman's voice : prof. landon, you are in great danger

v.o : a film by ron howard

sir leigh teabing! (can't quite catch what he says)

guy : i'm a party to a story that i don't understand
teabing : if you want to know who it is that has doen the killing

teabing : you monks have discovered the biggest secret(?) of all history.

title : the proof of the real/true nature of christ

woman: do you really believe this?
man: some people believe to the point of being willing to kill.

can't quite make out what he yells i nthe alleyway

leigh teabing : we must find out the truth and show it to the world.
mankind needs deliverance.


The Da Vinci Gode

[Tim's note: goder is a verb that means to grimace]

Guy: Nous voila mêlé à une guerre
visons à proteger un secret si redoubtable
que ça révélation ( ??? ) les fondements de l'humanité. [Ed: Some words are missing from this transcription]

Police: Professeur Langdon, (le) police a besoin (de) votre aide.

Langdon: C'est bien peu de ne pas vous être dans grand secours.
Oh c'est mieux. (oh seigneur?)


Langdon: C'est lui qui a fait ça avec son sang.
Neveu: Est-ce que c'est possible ?
Langdon: C'est un message de votre grand-père vous a laissé.
Neveu: Nous a laissé.
Langdon: Peut-être une sorte d'anagram.
Neveu: Vous pouvez la décoder?
De Vinci.

Phone: Professeur Langdon. Vous courez un grave danger.

Voiceover: Un film de Ron Howard


Langdon: Sir Leigh Teabing.
Teabing: Robert, Qu'est-ce qu’un vielliard infirme peut faire pour vous?
Langdon: Je suis empêtré dans une histoire que je ne comprends pas
Teabing: Si vous vous demandez ce qui peut pousser à tuer.


Teabing: Ouvrez les yeux, et decouvrez la plus grande dissimulation de l'histoire !


Neveu: Mais vous y croyez tout ça?
Langdon: Certains y croient, c’est pour tuer.
Langdon: Allez, t’es sympa sympa !

Voiceover: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, avec Paul Bettany, et Jean Reno.

Teabing: Il faut faire éclater la verité, à la face du monde.
L’humanité peut enfin être delivré.

Voiceover: Da Vinci Code.

Langdon: Non !!!
Man: Hahahaha, ahahahaha
Mignonne, mignonne, mignonne...
Langdon: Ho... ho... ho...
"An economist is a surgeon with an excellent scalpel and a rough-edged lancet, who operates beautifully on the dead and tortures the living." - Nicholas Chamfort


"雪花"歌词(中英文) - "雪花轻轻地飘……大地尽被笼罩……"
It doesn't identify who is responsible for the desecration though. "佚名" translates as "Anonymous", I guess.

Quotes of Reason - "Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned" - Unknown

The Worldly - Sweden’s Dance Sensation is Crazy and Wild - "How is it that a man with a mullet, giant 80s-style sunglasses, ostentatiously flashy clothing, humorously thick lips, and greasy hair can attract beautiful women, let alone make them dance and sing along to his catchy tunes? This writer is honestly confounded beyond comprehension, as a personal adoption of this image has only led to otracism and ridicule, especially on this west side of Los Angeles that indulges in superficial forms... In many hip-hop music videos, girls (aka “hip-hop bunnies”) are scantily clad while the lead singer speaks of serious subjects such as growing up in a rough neighborhood or losing a girl (it goes without speaking, of course, that these subjects require scantily clad hip-hop bunnies). Gunther, on the other hand, sings of sensual-oriented subjects like girls in string bikinis on a summer night, while the barely-clothed Sunshine girls rub tushes with each other (literally) in the music video of Teeny Weeny String Bikini."

Cat In A Bottle

DNA clears up Confucius confusion - "Chinese claiming Confucius for an ancestor can now use a genetic test to prove a direct blood connection to the grandfather of Chinese social mores, a state newspaper said on Friday. How the scientists had obtained a sample of Confucius’s DNA was not explained."
Someone: "oh that's because there is a recognised clan with direct ancestery"

How much money do beggars make? - "Anecdotal accounts suggest a few panhandlers do quite well. For instance, a recent news story tells of Jason Pancoast and Elizabeth Johnson, self-described "affluent beggars" from Ashland, Oregon. The couple estimates they can make $30-40,000 per year from panhandling. They boast earnings as high as $300 per day, and assert they once made $800 in one day. Similarly, a former Denver City Council president claimed to know panhandlers who made hundreds of dollars per week, or even per day."

Belgium Doesn't Exist! - "The TRUTH About "Belgium"; The New World Order's Belgian Conspiracy... Belgium is, and has always been, a leftist ruse; a device applied to propagate the Liberal agenda throughout the world. Hijacking a real country for this use would be difficult at best; the people living there wouldn't stand for it (i.e. the fall of communism.) Thus the idea to invent an imaginary country, insert it into the global consciousness through the perversion of history, and use it as a tool of manipulation was born... Typical of the Liberal Media, we have been inundated with pro-Belgium propaganda: Belgians' alleged superiority in the art of chocolate making; the reputed nutritional value of "Brussels sprouts"; how all quality diamonds can only be acquired through dealers in the mythical city of Antwerp; How french fries are actually a Belgian invention; and the "superior" martial artistry of Jean Claude Van Damme, the "Muscles from Brussels". Furthermore, Mystery! on PBS (need I say more?) regularly depicts Belgians -- such as Agatha Christie's "Hercule Poirot" -- as personable sleuths who always outsmart non-Belgians and uncover pro-Belgium versions of "The Truth.""

The Invention of the English - "Oliver Cromwell never existed, William Shakespeare was a Maine ferrier who lived from 1857 to 1892 and never left the county in which he was born. Churchill was a concatenation of manipulated photos of WC Fields-- news reels were montages of WC Fields out-takes, a French-Canadian voice actor & a Burbank janitor in chin-putty. Benjamin Disraeli was an alcoholic Hollywood soaps actor named James Levinson. Margaret Thatcher? A puppet constructed of terry cloth, angora and a cantaloupe."

The Daily Dish: Googling Sex - "Who's looking for "sex" the most? The countries with the most searches for that word is - surprise! - Pakistan, followed by Egypt, Iran, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Hmmm. It couldn't have anything to do with all that Muslim repression, could it? Arabic is the most popular language for "sex" searches. Islamism, like Christianism, doesn't conquer sex; it just fetishizes it and forces it underground. The most sex-obsessed Christian country? Poland. Congrats to the Vatican."

How to get rid of a snake in the grass - "Scientists have recruited snakes as undercover informants to lure rogue reptiles out of the swamps of Florida. They have implanted three lusty pythons with radio transmitters and let them loose to find mates in the Everglades, where the snakes are breeding out of control after being abandoned by pet owners. When the pythons get lucky, the signals from their radio devices tell scientists where to find them, and their new partners are captured and removed. “It’s the Judas concept,” Skip Snow, a biologist at Everglades National Park, said."

Gigs, Neil Gaiman, Pseudo-Postmodernism, Meaninglessness and Apologetics - ""Gaiman's theology, seen especially in the Sandman books and "American Gods" (and less so in "Anansi Boys"), is that gods are created by people... And as Voltaire said of God,"Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer (If he did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent him)", so Gaiman says that humans need gods and dream up gods, be they Allah or Jesus or Krishna, not so much to worship or sacrifice to, but to dream up some sense to our lives, to enable us to believe that in the mundanity and chaos of daily existence there is, after all, meaning and an end point. Storytelling and religion are, after all, the same thing."
akikonomu points out that Neil Gaiman is also seiditious. Maybe someone will feel offended and make a police report, and Gaiman will be arrested the next time he comes to Singapore.

Kill Bunny - akikonomu: this is very seditious. jesus is killed by a conspiracy of santa, the jews and easter bunny. all are ancient or modern enemies of "true christianity"
Shit! I was torturing the wrong prisoner. But at least the confession is slightly more convincing now.

Time to change all those screenshots and numbers...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

London trip - London (13th June)

When I got to Paddington station I found that left luggage was a ridiculous 6 pounds per piece per 24 hours. I was originally going to deposit my backpack in Victoria coach station, since I'd be leaving from there in the evening, but the baggage at the airport took too long to come out so I didn't have time, and had to be fleeced.

Some of the dispensers in the Tube for London maps accept Euro coins. There's also a free number on them to call if the map dispenser is down, but the catch is that it's not free for mobiles - it's hard enough to get people to make free calls, so who would bother calling on a landline later? And there's now a number to call to report graffiti on/in public transport. Wah.

I reached the British Museum at about 10:15, but my luck was finally bouncing back and I was not denied entry despite my ticket for the Michelangelo drawings exhibition (Michelangelo Drawings - closer to the master) being for 10am. Despite having gotten only about an hour more of sleep on the plane, I was not lethargic and slow, unlike on my first day in Athens.

The exhibition said that showing Michelangelo's preparatory drawings was the only way to display the full extent of his work in one exhibition. It was nice that they had photographs of the completed works beside some of the drawings, but the photographs could've been larger and greater in number.

Michelangelo was both a devout Christian and very gay, and both drove him in his work. Hurr hurr. No wonder he liked the male form so much.

The hot dogs outside the British Museum are now £2.50. Amazing. Going by past trends I expected them to be £4 by now (they were £2.50 in 2002 and £3 in 2003, or thereabouts).

I then went to the Handel House for the castrati exhibition (Handel and the Castrati) and the permanent collection. In the video introduction, they revealed that they played a newly discovered pastoral of his in a nightclub and it was very popular. Uhh. They also interviewed a taxi driver/violinist. Wah. They talked to this artist who drew juvenile watercolours allegedly based on the Hallelujah Chorus, and he said that if you were ever depressed, you should listen to Handel and you wouldn't be depressed anymore. No doubt many would despise him (Handel) for that.

When I was watching the video I began to be overcome by torpor and sleepiness, and the weather didn't help (most of the windows were closed, and people outside were not wearing sweaters - I wouldn't want to be over in July or August) but walking around the house restored some of my alertness.

During the first performance of Music for the Royal Fireworks, the pavilion with them (the fireworks) caught fire, a woman's dress was set alight by the fireworks, a painter fell to his death, as did a boy up a tree, and a man drowned in a pool. Meanwhile the firework maker/planner challenged the Royal Comptroller of the Ordinance and Fireworks to a duel. Pity.

Besides the familiar Samuel Johnson quote about London there was another amusing one: "Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has no pleasures".

The original production of Handel's Rinaldo had a flock of live sparrows. Uhh.

I wonder whether some of these stories are apocryphal. Apparently Susannah Maria Arne's (aka Susanna Maria Cibber, known as a scandalous woman) performance of "He was despised", caused Dr Patrick Delany, the chancellor of St. Patrick's Cathedral to stand up and shout: "Woman, for this, be all thy sins forgiven". Maybe people used to be a lot more dramatic last time.

There was a room with a reproduction of a Ruckers double-manual harpsichord, and the museum invited musicians to rehearse Baroque music there. This was cheesy but nice, especially as I was lucky enough to have a man come in and play while I was in the house.

Polyphony used to be rejected in Russian music before the 18th century because it was seen as too Catholic. Heh. [Someone: polyphony existed in a different form in russia as early as the 13th century
long story]

There was an 1868 facsimile of Messiah and visitors were invited to flip throuhg it. How generous.

Casanova about the female fat distribution of castrati: "To resist the temptation, or not to feel it, we would have had to be as cold and earthbound as a German".

In England the castrato voice was thought morally corrupting. Heh.

I was a bit disappointed at the Castrati part of the exhibition. Most of the exhibition consisted of information panels and paintings or pictures of the castrati, with a focus on their hysterics and tempers viz Handel. There were a few castration tools, but that was it for the artefacts. And there were discmans with recordings of countertenors and male altos. I suppose I was expecting things like Farinelli's handkerchief, and more information on musical analysis of their voice.

There was a room where you could try on costumes. That was very campy, but there was also a discman with the Handel house CD (mostly extracts from music he composed while residing in the house) and some books the bookshop sold, which was nice.

Handel House courtyard

Government of Gibraltar, Tourist Board, Finance Centre, Port Authority
I find it amusing that their government is an office in London, and not even on their own soil!

Some of the train cars on the Tube have buttons to press to open and close the doors, but the doors open automatically anyway at the station, so I don't see the point of them. Also, I think all doors open automatically because almost all the Tube stops are underground so the cold air won't rush in.

They now have painted circles on the station floors for buskers to sit. Looks like they're finally enforcing the rules.

There're a lot more Chinese (I say 'Chinese' instead of PRC since a non-negligible portion of them spoke in dialect) in London than in 2003 and before.

Traveling on London public transport without a valid ticket can lead to prosecution, criminal conviction and a fine of up to £1000. While they're at it they might as well impose the death penalty.
Lionel De Souza strikes again...

I refer to the report, 'Divided views over police checks on blogger' (The Sunday Times, June 18).

Personally, I have developed a great distaste and distrust of bloggers who post anonymously or use pseudonyms to disguise their identities.

I can understand that sometimes anonymous postings are unavoidable. However, when postings on the Internet are seditious or have a tendency to deliberately wound the religious feelings of any person, the perpetrator of the posting should have the full weight of the law brought to bear on him or her.

It appears to be the norm for bloggers to hide under the cloak of anonymity or use pseudonyms to blame, insult and rant out against the Government or individuals believing that their postings can better the political process or current events concerning Singapore. Netizens have no legal or constitutional right to condemn the whistle blower who brought blogger Char's blasphemous posting of pictures of Jesus Christ on the Internet to the attention of the police. The conduct of netizens is similar to that of cyber terrorists since netizens have unashamedly condoned the seditious posting of Char, which could have sparked off strong reaction as did the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper in February this year. Fortunately, Char's blasphemous and seditious posting happened in Singapore, a country of tolerance. I am certain that if this letter is published in The Straits Times, netizens and other cyber-terrorists will have a field day posting all kinds of nasty or defamatory remarks against me. They will do so anonymously or using pseudonyms. To these cyber-terrorists I say, 'Be brave and don't hide under the cloak of anonymity or use pseudonyms'.

They should have the conviction to stand behind any statements they make. If they do not have the confidence and passion to put their names beside their statements, I am sure that all right-thinking people cannot take them seriously. It appears to be the current trend for bloggers to hide under the cloak of anonymity to act irresponsibly by ranting and musing about current events. If their ratings and musings do not cross the line of fair comment, they are free to do as they please. However, for bloggers who choose to post seditious and inflammatory comments that could cause anarchy by damaging the fabric of religious and racial harmony; they should be dealt with vigorously under the law. Cases of this nature should not be dealt with by the Community Court where the punishment meted out could be probation and performing a number of hours doing community service. They deserve a more deterrent punishment. I hope that I do not sound 'sub-judice', but I hope that blogger Char receives his just deserts for his blasphemous and seditious posting.

Lionel De Souza

Matilah Majulah Singapura!!!


Someone: I wonder if he thinks that way of Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Papers...]
"I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants." - A. Whitney Brown


Someone: CAP is the biggest self-congratulatory joke to emerge from the singapore "writing scene" because nothing really comes out of it

but then you see the same alumni going back there year after year
but they remain equally un-famous

it's just a precursor to humanities programs in JC where the humans people form their little cliques and toss around random quotations from various writers and poets in lieu of actual substantial conversation

and use phraseology like "oh it's so Byron-ish", "this is like some awful scene from an Anais Nin nightmare", "you garish catastrophe of a human caricature"

HWMNBN: give me a link to a chinese mp3 search engine

Me: *links*

HWMNBN: i can't read chinese!

Me: "give me a link to a chinese mp3 search engine"
you're very smart.

HWMNBN: the cock is rubbing off on me (hm that sounds a bit weird)

Someone: don't blame the IMF for your own stupidity
admit to your own stupidity with regards to econometrics then
what has it got to do with the IMF

Me: their data is unmassageable

Someone: perhaps it is not true, then, if you torture the statistics enough, they will confess

Me: my torture skills aren't good enough

Someone: which is why i will advice you

Me: moral of the story: there's a reason why grades on exchange aren't counted

Someone: oh come, this is second year stuff.

me: not in NUS :P
before this module I'd neve rheard of the chow test, durbin-watson statistic or hodrick-prescott


"Sedition complements treason and martial law: while treason controls primarily the privileged, ecclesiastical opponents, priests, and Jesuits, as well as certain commoners; and martial law frightens commoners, sedition frightens intellectuals." - Breight, Curtis, C. Surveillance, militarism and drama in the Elizabethan Era, Macmillian 1996: London.

If Original Sin stains everyone even though they have nothing to do with the alleged commiter of the crime, it is a wonder that christians who commit sins are dismissed as not being True Christians, bad apples and unrepresentative of the religion. In any case, the corollary of religion not being responsible for any of the evil attributed to it is that it's not responsible for any of the good either.

It seems there's no distinction between "practise" and "practice" in American English (though there is between "practised" and "practiced"). Another reason for snobs to look down on it.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Someone on Wikipedia, commenting on "JAP" here allegedly being the football code: "according to List of FIFA country codes, it is JPN. JAP is not even listed as an obsolete country code."

The equivalent I'm told, of a Banana is a Coconut - Brown on the Outside, White on the Inside. So of course we have something which is Brown Through and Through, the analogue of Urine (Yellow Through and Through). How fitting.

Chlorophyll freshens the breath. No wonder it's in tic tacs.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

London trip - Night of hell (12th June-13th June)

London trip - Night of hell (12th June-13th June)

Last Monday, I had a bus booked to go to London, but I had bad luck all the way.

I hadn't eaten dinner, so I tried the Smuller's Macho Smulmenu that I'd seen advertised for a long time (some fried minced-meat filled contraption with Cajun sauce, wedges and a bottle of drink). They were out of Cajun sauce, the first was too hot and the second was fried like fries - for too short a time and with too little seasoning. I ended up throwing the food away.

I arrived at the Eurolines bus stop at about 10:30, about 15 minutes before my 10:45pm bus was due to depart, and saw a bus waiting there. Nonetheless, people were sitting on the pavement so I figured that more than one bus was due to depart from this spot, and that the buses were due to depart promptly (I was used to Dutch efficiency). I was going to enquire as to whether that was my bus, when a housemate's friend greeted me - he was due to leave on the 11:02pm bus to Frankfurt to watch a World Cup match projected on a screen somewhere outside the stadium (it was a Korean pride thing). We exchanged a few words, and meanwhile the bus waiting at the bus stop zoomed off at 10:32pm, more than 10 minutes before my bus was due to depart. I then uttered the prophetic words: "That better not be my bus".

A few minutes later, another Eurolines bus pulled into the bus stop. I queued patiently to board, only to see a black couple (or family - but I only noticed the parents) panicking as they found out that their bus had already left. They asked me what time it was, as they were heading to Eindhoven to catch a flight, and rushed to the train station. With a feeling of impending doom, I asked the bus driver if this was the bus to London, and he said that it'd already departed.

Panic, anger and anguish swept over me in waves as I tried to figure out my next move. I'd heard of transport leaving late, I'd heard of transport leaving on time, but this was the first time I'd heard of transport leaving *early*! I tried to call someone to ask for advice, but as usual she was not picking up. I tried to call the Eurolines emergency number, but no one picked up either. I then headed back home to ponder my next step.

On the way back, I noticed in amusement that the bus driver was in shorts. This was 11pm, so maybe it was an after-hours close-one-eye thing. Meanwhile, the Eurolines emergency line was finally manned and I was blithely told that I was supposed to show up 30 minutes before my bus was due to leave (I thought it was 10 mins - I must've mixed it up with the National Express bus). I asked when the next bus was, but he claimed he had other things to do, and to call the help line the next morning. I definitely couldn't wait till then, so I went back to consider my options.

I saw that there was a Ryanair flight from Eindhoven to Stansted the next morning for €110 before tax, but not only was Eindhoven a way off, it'd take me some time to get to London from Stansted, so I'd definitely miss my timed entry to the British Museum's Michelangelo exhibition. My other option was to postpone my trip altogether, but I already had some sunk costs - Michelangelo ticket (£10+ including a ridiculous £1+ online booking fee), Avenue Q ticket (£30, and I'd have to stand Yifan up), a bus to/from Cambridge (£9) and a return bus on Wednesday evening from London (the fare was 65 Euros return but I wasn't sure what the fee to change the ticket was). I also would've to rejig my schedule, have less time to procrastinate on doing my projects and studying for my exams, and probably wouldn't be able to see someone. Jolene then saved me by pointing me to Opodo, which pointed me to a BMI flight from Schiphol to Heathrow which would get me in London in time for Michelangelo.

Meanwhile, I was trying to call my brother-in-law since someone was still not picking up or at her terminal. I had 5 cents left in my VOIP Buster account after making a stupid mistake a week or so before (I didn't know they would bill me for "Direct Callback" and ended up depleting more than €4 of credit by routing a free call through my mobile phone) and so I ran out of credit before finishing the conversation. I tried to top-up my VOIP Buster account, but Paypal payment was rejected (they asked me to update the date of card expiry, but it was already correct). I tried paying directly with my Mastercard, but it was also rejected; the only moment it'd acted up before this was in the Berlin Metro, but after that it worked so I assumed it was a freak error. The rejection must've tripped some security switch, for further attempts at credit card verification asked me to enter a phone number for automated verification (their machine would call me and recite a number, which I would enter into the system). Unfortunately, I was registered as being in Singapore (to save on VAT) so this wasn't an option.

I then tried to call my brother-in-law with my mobile phone, but he didn't pick up. Meanwhile I tried topping up my Skype credit, but again my Mastercard was rejected so I had to use the Visa; when my mother had offered me it I'd rejected at first but luckily I accepted in the end. And just as my account was topped up, someone finally responded via IM.

After some correspondence, I decided to book the flight - Opodo rejected me since I didn't have a UK address, but oddly enough it was significantly cheaper to book from BMI's website than Opodo. Unfortunately, it was at 7:55am and the train to Schiphol would take me half an hour at least (excluding waiting time). Furthermore, the first bus from my place to the train station was at 6:15am, and I couldn't cycle. So I decided to go to the airport forthwith. Of course, given my luck I missed the second last bus to the station, so I had to wait half an hour for the last bus. When I reached the train station, I'd naturally missed the 1:14am night train to Schiphol and had to take the 2:14am one.

Things you discover at weird hours: At Smullers, they display both the empty cash boxes prominently, presumably to deter burglars. Also, one ticket counter at the train station is open 24 hours with a protective barrier raised between customers and the attendant which is not present during normal hours (the man was smoking inside - it's probably verboden, but I don't blame him), as is the kiosk (run by the company 'Kiosk' - duh).

When I got on the train, I assiduously set alarms to make sure I would not miss the Schiphol stop. Given my luck, of course, I happened to wake up just after the train left Schiphol. I didn't actually know this, but I'd awakened and immediately transitioned into a state of preternatural alertness, and there was the ole feeling of impending doom. And so I had to get off in Leiden and take the next train back to Schiphol, losing 45 minutes of sleep in the process (though I gained a fitful and much-interrupted 30-40 mins in total by sleeping on the train).

At Schiphol, I found this exhibition people were sleeping around, consisting of plastic blocks with panels of photographs/text embedded in them, and with some plastic blocks serving as seats. I got there at 4:10 and entered the area circled by blocks (hopefully to avoid detection), but didn't get to sleep for a while. Unfortunately I was rudely awakened with a "Good morning!" at 5:10 from a security guard, as were the others. I then went to sit at a table and put my head on it, but I was similarly awakened after half an hour. I understand why they would want to chase off vagrants sleeping on benches and the floor, but what's wrong with putting your head on the table?! I was reminded of what it's like going to Range as a slave, but at least we were awakened more politely.

Sign seen at Schiphol: "There is no chewing gum sold at this airport." Wth. There're "streets" at Schiphol - the main throughfare after passing passport control is called "Holland Boulevard".

One of the few saving graces of having to take this flight was that I got to look at the Rijksmuseum at Schiphol. Theoretically I could view it when I fly back to Singapore, but there're always contingencies (though I doubt MAS will screw me like Eurolines did). The permanent collection was small (8 items) but there was a temporary exhibit of 9-10 items ("Really Rembrandt?")

Rembrandt - An Oriental, 1635

Bouwmeester - Seascape with a herring fleet. c. 1680-1720

Adriaen Hanneman - Prince William III (1650-1702), the Prince of Orange as a Child, 1654
I keep looking at this but keep seeing a Princess.

I was looking at flights, and the only smoking flight I could find (IIRC the only smoking flight I've ever seen) was to Varna, which is in Bulgaria.

One BMI staff member had a nametag with the British and German flags on them. I assumed that meant she spoke those 2 languages. The other staff members had no flags on their tags, but I was still amused by looking at the gigantic sunhats they were wearing.

When I arrived at Heathrow, I reflected that I should've taken the earlier flight (at 7:10am or something) to London City Airport. The queues would've been shorter and I would've gotten into the city earlier (and so have to rush less and pay less for left luggage), faster and cheaper. Oh well, the benefits of hindsight. I was also wondering if I could've gone to the EU queue at immigration and flashed my verblijfsdocument (residence card), but wasn't sure.

I think British immigration officials hate my face. The last time I'd flown in (2003), I'd written down as my occupation "conscript soldier" and thus was asked to show my ticket for the way back. This time, I didn't write anything funny down, but again asked to show my return ticket, what college someone was in, how long she'd been studying in the UK and "why're you only here for a day?". Heathrow is the only airport where I recall seeing signs stating that violence or intimidation directed at their staff is treated very seriously. I do not think that it's a coincidence that it's also the only airport where I've been interrogated for so long and so probingly. No wonder their staff get assaulted!

At the toilet they were selling a chewable toothbrush in the dispenser - "Fuzzy brush". Wah.

The allowances for intra-EU travel are insane: 3200 cigarettes, 200 cigars, 3kg of tobacco, 110l of beer, 90l of wine and 10l of spirits. And all this comes under "for your own use" (or for that of your family). No wonder the NHS is in such trouble!

The ATMs in tourist areas in London all said that "we will not charge you for this transaction". They're so proud of it, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they get kickbacks from the foreign banks. Incidentally, if your bank card works overseas (Plus, Cirrus and Maestro) why can't they rig it such that your bank card works on all local ATMs (of course, you'll have to pay a small fee for the additional convenience).

Sign on the tunnel to the Heathrow Express: "No flash photography". Wth.

The quiet zone on the Heathrow Express train is called "Entertainment free carriage". Bah.

someone was amazed to hear that I took the Heathrow Express, which she bills as the most expensive train in the world (£15 for a 15 minute ride). I pointed out that she'd been extolling the joys of it as compared to the 1 hr ride via the Piccadilly line and had even tried to persuade me to take it in 2003 (I took the Tube in the end, having a less sensitive physiology), and she said that that was when she was rich.
Special Eviews Functions

Singular Matrix Warning

When you estimate a regression with dummy variables, you have to be careful not to “include the same variable twice.” Try entering g(-1) twice and see what happens:

LS g c g(-1) g(-1)

Here is the message: “Near Singular Matrix”. That is E-views’ way of saying that it is getting a headache trying to carry out the task that you have assigned it. You asked it to determine the separate affects of g(-1) and g(-1) on g. “Huh?” Is E-views’ answer.

Here is another task what will give E-views a headache:

LS g c g(-1) AFTER72 BEFORE72

Again the message: “Near Singular Matrix”. Do you understand why?

Here is another one with quarterly dummies that won’t work:

LS g c g(-1) Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4

Here are some that will work:

LS g g(-1) Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4
LS g c g(-1) Q1 Q2 Q3

Do you understand that both of these are really the same regression, just expressed a little differently??

GAH. They need to improve the help system and UI. Contextual clues as to what a "Near Singular Matrix" is would be nice.
National Statistics Online - Product - All Items Retail Prices Index (RPI) excluding Mortgage Interest Payments (RPIX) Index and Percentage Change over 12 months (Inflation) Tables (RP05 & RP07)

Can't they offer this in Excel friendly format?! Entering the values for each month into Excel manually is killing me! [Addendum: Especially when you realise you've entered the wrong thing!!!]

I guess this is why they hire people for data entry and research assistant posts. Gah!

Magi Magi Jijiru!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

"Show me a cultural relativist at thirty thousand feet and I'll show you a hypocrite. Airplanes are built according to scientific principles and they work. They stay aloft and they get you to a chosen destination. Airplanes built to tribal or mythological specifications such as the dummy planes of the Cargo cults in jungle clearings or the bees-waxed wings of Icarus don't." - Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden

"[T]here is ample evidence to support the proposition that scientific rationality has become "our destiny." For better or for worse, and not minimizing the impact of colonialism on demolishing the self-confidence of non-Western societies in their own knowledge systems, it is an empirical fact that modern science has acquired a near universal appeal. One need not look beyond the desperate eagerness of Third World societies to emulate the success of technologically advanced societies (often with disastrous results) to be reminded of the deep appeal this cognitive style has come to exert. While one can have reservations about its desirability, the fact that we live in a world where one cognitive style is being sought and adopted by diverse cultures can hardly be denied." - Meera Nanda, The Science Question in Postcolonial Feminism, in The Flight from Science And Reason 426-27 (P. Gross, et al., eds.1996)

As cited in: The Panda's Thumb: A Smithsonian Anti-Science Museum?, which adds:

"Indeed, I would argue that scientific understanding is the only understanding on which genuine respect can be based. The alternative is an attitude of "you believe your thing, I'll believe mine" which is not really respect, but just mutual silence, which often can breed resentment."
"As far as commercial dealings are concerned, riba is to be avoided at all costs. Riba means "increase," and covers any unjustified accumulation of capital; hence it is generally translated as "interest," though "unlawful gain" might be more appropriate. Islamic law pays close attention to the interpretation of this term, and merchants too much legal advice on ways to avoid the full rigor of the law. But the Qur'an is unequivocal: "Those who eat up riba shall only stand as would one who has been touched by Satan. That is because they say 'Trading is just like riba.' Allah has permitted trading and has forbidden riba." "O believers, devour not riba, doubling and redoubling, and keep your duty to Allah that you may be successful. And guard yourselves against the Fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers."...

The cardinal principles of commercial transactions are (1) to avoid riba, and (2) to avoid the appearance of gambling or speculation - both strictly forbidden by the Qur'an. Since these are integral to most commercial practice, many stratagems were devised to get round them, generating a whole literature of "lawful" stratagems (hiyal). Riba is defined by Schacht as "any advantage to be derived from the granting of a loan." This means not merely paying back more than was borrowed, but for example, receiving any favors from the debtor - food, the use of his property, horse, or even (in theory) sitting under the shade of his tree.

One way to make a loan at interest is through fictitious sale (bay al-in or bay al-ayniyya). The debtor sells the creditor an item and immediately repurchases it for a higher sum, payable at a later date. The difference represents the cost of the loan (the "interest") and the object is retained by the creditor as security. The loan could also be unsecured through a fictional sale. The creditor sells the debtor an item for a sum (x + y) representing the base price plus interest, the total amount to be paid at some future date. He then buys back the object at its base price (x) which he pays to the creditor immediately. The debtor thus ends up with the sum he wants (x), and later repays the originally agreed price (x + y)...

It is a principle of trading in the Islamic system that there be no unjustified enrichment - no monetary advantage is to be received without giving counter value. It is not permitted to purchase an item and resell it immediately before paying the first owner his money. This amounts to riba. Items that can be weighed or measured cannot be exchanged for items of the same type in greater or lesser quantity, nor should there be a delay in performance of the contract. For example gold, if worked, can only be sold for the equivalent weight in gold, which means that the artisan receives no wage for his work. The solution is to pay for the worked object in silver, or to supply the raw gold and hire the artisan to work it. Contracting parties should have sure knowledge of the counter-values intended for exchange as a result of their transaction. These values should be determined at the "session". As a general rule (to which, naturally, there are exceptions) one cannot arrange the sale of things at a future date, since this involves "risk" (gharar), and may entail dealing in non-existnet commodities. For example, one cannot sell crops that have not been harvested, animals that are as yet unborn, salt that has not yet been mined. Insurance has thus been regarded with some suspicion, since this is selling a commodity (an accident claim) that does not yet, and may never, exist."

- Islamic Financial Institutions: Theoretical Structures and Aspects of Their Application in Sub-Saharan Africa, John Hunwick

HWMNBN informs me that Islamic derivatives and insurance exist.

Monday, June 19, 2006

"Being in the army is like being in the Boy Scouts, except that the Boy Scouts have adult supervision." - Blake Clark


YouTube - Potato~~~~~~ - "How to peel a potato"
Only the Japs could've come up with such a thing! Then again the Taiwanese came up with the T-shirt fast-folding technique.

Mr. Limpy - "Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with me. I think I'm under a lot of stress lately... The ultimate realistic limp penis comes without the excuses, but feels just as realistic as the real thing. Whether you dance with it, play with it, pack it, or just need a good paperweight, contrary to any experiences you may have had, the uses for Mr. Limpy are limitless. Comes in Pink, Mocha, Chocolate and Lavender."
This comes from the same people who brought us the Fleshlight.

Urinals for girls - "Recently some projects constructing urinals for girls have begun in schools in several countries, including Vietnam and India. Girls' urinals are an effective solution for pre-adolescent girls who do not yet demand much privacy when urinating."

Hail the mighty prawn cocktail and the return of the two-dish decade - "Yet if people want to re-create the authentic taste of the '70s, it's important to follow the rules of the time. It's no good just grabbing a recipe for steak diane or apricot chicken; you've got to adopt the correct '70s sensibility... Steak diane, for instance, was far from being a complex dish involving cream, chopped parsley, cognac and garlic. Instead, it consisted of a piece of steak thrown in a frypan, with a good wallop of Worcestershire sauce to finish. Welsh rarebit, far from being this thing involving milk, mustard, beer and a double boiler, was suspiciously similar to cheese on toast. "Take the cheese, son, put it on the bread, then pop it under the griller ... voila: Welsh rarebit."

MediaWatch-UK - If you don't agree with us you can fuck off! - "MediaWatch-UK is a collective of grumpy old men and frumpy old women singularly dedicated to spoiling the fun of the rest of the British population. Please take time to browse through our site and read about our campaigns. For members of the bigoted right wing press who are having trouble making up enough anti-gypsy and anti-asylum seeker stories to fill their pages, our press page contains a wide range of outraged and reactionary stories that you can seize on to."

Undutchables: undutchables.nl - "The recruitment agency for internationals"

Book Reviews of The UnDutchables - "At an informal get-together, a Dutch woman introduced herself to a British woman. When asked what her profession was, the Dutch woman tried to translate "Ik fok honden" (I breed dogs) - into English. Unfortunately, rather than "breed" she used the English vulgar cognate of the Dutch verb "fokken." Calmly, she informed her shocked companion that her working relationship with her animals was extremely intimate."

North Korea - Military Photos - "On your arrival you will be assigned to a guide and a driver. That will constantly follow you. You can't leave the hotel on your own. The daily program consists of 2-3 visits to a landmark. In the hotel you can watch BBC,NTV (russian chan),and a couple of chinese channels, so you can't really complain about freedom of speech. The food is good, and you can't complain about that either. In a park he saw elder women picking up herbs, the guide said that it was for the rabbits, although it was clear that it was the kind of herb that the "owners of the rabbits" could eat."

Mail::RFC822::Address - "Mail::RFC822::Address is a Perl module to validate email addresses according to the RFC 822 grammar. It provides the same functionality as RFC::RFC822::Address, but uses Perl regular expressions rather that the Parse::RecDescent parser. This means that the module is much faster to load as it does not need to compile the grammar on startup."
StumbleUpon review: "How could a human mind conceive of such an expression? This page prroves the existence of god"

de wondere wereld van Daniel Chesterfield aka Hilarious fake magic tricks - " A guy performs magic (lifting things & flying & turning coin into food). But when you see how he does the trick :) :] :}"
This is lame but hilarious! Looks like some Belgian guy.
Someone: where do you find so much of this stuff online?
Me: people send it to me *g*
Someone: you're like some kind of crap rod

Flash Earth ...Google Local and Windows Live Local in Flash

Gunther-related stuff found which looking up a search referral (previously mentioned):

Gunther - Gigolo - Basically it's the Ding Dong song with scantily-clad men gyrating instead of women. Heh heh.

[Addendum: "Une parodie de Gunther faite par l'équipe de Radio +" Could've fooled me!]

Gunther sings Gunther - "I named my dog Gunther, and after several months of training someone had to come along and show me the very greasy European singer of the same name and his soft porn music video for the song "Ding Dong Song." I just couldn't help myself.... "

Our version of Gunther's Ding Dong Song - "Me and a few friends about a year ago this is the first video i ever made so dont be too harsh i would go back and do a re edit but all the files got lost... oh yea and we had a crappy camera but yea im only in the video like once or twice im mostly planning and behind the camera a bit..."
This is the only good homage I've seen so far - the rest are all idiots lamely lip syncing to the camera!
xxoos wanted to go to Amsterdam, and I still hadn't seen the Rembrandt-Caravaggio exhibition, so I went along as well. Sportingly (or stingily), she agreed to walk to the city centre with me.

Koningin Wilhelmina (Queen Wilhelmina). This is in Wilhelminapark. It's a really awful statue for a Queen.

Squashed pigeon on the way to the city centre
Besides being deaf, I am also blind. xxoos had to point this out. But at least I take better photos than the Cock. A guy in a car waved at me after I took this picture; this was damn weird, which is why I like this country - both liberal and weird, which is right down my alley.

xxoos had a better eye for zaogengs than I, and claimed that she could see a lot (including one patriotic female who was wearing orange), but then I can only look while being respectable if I'm gay, so. She also pointed out that many of them have big thighs (I theorise it's from a life of cycling), something which I had noticed but was reluctant to list in my previous "how to avoid zaogeng-ing while cycling" list both due to lack of visual confirmation and politeness (hah!)

"After I ate bacon, I never looked back" - contextless

I told xxoos to use the train toilet because it was free, but she claimed she wanted to use the one in the station because there was more space, so she wasted €0,50. (... women) A lot of women also had the same idea, so the queue for the female toilet was very long, almost spiling outside the toilet gates, so one popped into the male toilet.

In Amsterdam they had this party to celebrate 10 years of legalisation (Legalize! Educate not criminate! Stichting Legalize! Haal drugs uit het strafrecht!). There were a lot of police, and from the smell in the air, people were smoking it in public.

Pot cart

The performance artists were getting in on the picture also. This guy's costume was good, except he didn't paint his hands.

People getting relief from the summer heat in a pool behind the Rijksmuseum

Man and dog in pook

When I got to the Van Gogh museum for the Rembrandt-Caravaggio exhibition, I was pissed off to find that my museum card did not get me a reduction on the exhibition - I still had to pay €10 (they even had a sign specifically listing €10 as the price for those with the museum card for youth). This was not as bad as for those without the museum card, for they had to pay €20 for a combined ticket to the Van Gogh museum and the Rembrandt-Caravaggio exhibition - particularly galling since Van Gogh had nothing to do with Rembrandt and Caravaggio. I wonder if they'd have organised the exhibition if the asbestos problem had not hit the Rijksmuseum (how lucky that this year is the 400th anniversary of Rembrandt's birth). And then when I got in I found that photography was disallowed. Grr. It must've cost them a helluva bomb to get all the Caravaggios in. At least the audioguide was included in the price.

One was called the Southern Rembrandt and one the Caravaggio of the North. Gah.

The soft lighting of the exhibition was ironic since Rembrandt himself recommended that one painting by hung in strong light so it would be more striking.

They put Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes and Rembrandt's The Blinding of Samson beside each other. I found this interesting, because essentially the same event (female treachery) is given 2 completely different spins.

In Caravaggio's The Holy Family with St John the Baptist I saw Jesus' genitalia for the first time in painting.

I like clearly defined painting and dislike muddiness, evident in some of Rembrandt's pieces, but muddiness is employed to great effect in "The Denial of St Peter". Unusually, Jesus is in the background, almost invisible. This causes the focus of the viewer's attention to be directed to Peter's face which contorts as he realises his betrayal. Also, despite Jesus' face being in shadow, Rembrandt manages to make the disappointed look in his face evident (I won't go into the morality.

The end of the commentary on audioguide 8 told the listener that the exhibition continued above, yet there was room 9 beside room 8. Tsk.

"Caravaggio used to say that painting, however and by whomsoever it might be practiced, must remain no more than a vain and idle pastime so long as the principle of painting directly from life was not entirely and consistently adhered to... This was a view which was just as firmly held by our great master Rembrandt, who also made it his principle to paint only from Nature and who looked with suspicion on any tendencies contrary to this principle." - Dutch critic and painter Arnold Houbraken, 1719
This is ironic considering that Van Gogh greatly admired Rembrandt (even saying that he'd give 10 years of his life to sit looking at the Jewish Bride for 14 days with only a crust of dry bread), yet produced kindergarten crayon etchings that the latter would no doubt have despised. I wonder what the two would say about art from Impressionism on. One could always fudge and claim that grotesque buckets splashing on canvas is even more true to life and nature, since it reveals the inner dynamism of it. But then since this is not apologetics, no one (I hope) would accept such a lame excuse.

"What is a devout church father doing alongside a naked woman?" - The audioguide on placing Caravaggio's St Jerome writing beside Rembrandt's Bathsheba bathing. The audioguide called it a provocative choice. What they didn't add was that it was a seditious one as well.

A funny poem from 1681 by Andre Speltz (sp?) on Rembrandt's painted women: "When he'd paint a naked woman... as model no Greek Venus but a maid find in a wood"

Artemisia, the wife of Mausolus (of Mausoleum fame) mixed his ashes with wine and drank it so her body would be a living tomb for her husband. Uhh.

Rembrandt's Rape of Ganymede is funny since it portrays Ganymede as an ugly crybaby (and urinating at the same time). I wonder why people are offended when Alexander the Great and Frederick the Great are portrayed as bisexual and homosexual respectively, but no one complains about Zeus.

Caravaggio's "The Supper at Emmaus" offended people because he depicted saints as ordinary people. It's lucky these people who took offence did not mutilate or destroy the painting, since now another interpretation is that this prosaic quality allows a contrast with the ethereal figure of Christ.

In all the exhibition was amazing, if a bit overpriced. But since I can't prove I'm not a brain in a vat and all my thoughts are not pre-programmed into me, Rembrandt and Caravaggio might actually be crap and my reactions and evaluations dissolve into the ether and are worthless (damn, I'm getting good at Argumentum ad Ludicrum. I can get my PhD in theology now).

The exhibition noted that no one calls Rembrandt by his last name, and that Van Gogh didn't want to be called by his last name too. I think I once read that it's silly to call Leonardo Da Vinci by his last name (so to speak), since it simply means "From Vinci"; "Van Gogh" translates to "Of/from Gogh" (but I'm not sure what "Gogh" is so the translation might not be correct), but then no one thinks it's stupid to call people "Smith", "Taylor", "Baker", "Weaver" and the like.

Rembrandt enrolled in a Latin school so he could go to University. However, he dropped out at 14 to be an artist. Doubtless people bemoaned his irresponsibility and said he'd never amount to much. But then the expected return on making everyone an engineer is higher than of letting people do what they want: as the saying goes, "For every winner, there are dozens of losers. Odds are you're one of them". You just get a lower variance (probably).

At the end of the exhibition you could record your video reaction to it. Heh.

The only reason I'm not making a snide remark about the museum posting of the "Go to the museum as often as you can" quote by Van Gogh is because of the museum card.

I walked out the door of the museum, and then realised I'd left my bag in the cloakroom, which was beside the door. I tried to go back in, but the guy at the door waved his finger at me with a "no no" when I told him the reason. Annoyed, I dug out my museum card, and then my cloakroom token. I wonder if he'd have let me in if I'd only shown my cloakroom token. It's just beside the door, damnit.

A black woman with braided hair in the park near the Van Gogh museum asked me, in an American accent, if I would like her to braid my hair for me. Gah. Do I look like someone who wants braided hair?!

"A lot of people here don't wear bra one" - xxoos


I am told that this sign informs the viewer that Chinese get their first jug/glass of "wine water" (drinks) on the house. The discrimination is disgusting. It's one thing to give free soup/dessert/drinks to those who speak Chinese to you. It's another to discreetly discriminate by having a sign in Chinese saying you get a free drink, thereby excluding those who don't read Chinese. But to say that only Chinese get a free drink?! And what about Bananas who, unlike Urine, cannot read Chinese?
The restaurant with this sign, "Namtin" had lots of awards, but their har gao (€4 for 4) and siu mai (€2,75 for 4) (xxoos wanted to ta bao dim sum) was alright only. Actually the siu mai was mediocre - mostly meat and very little prawn. The only good thing I can say is that the pieces were huge.

I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant with xxoos and a machine came by to empty the dustbin outside the restaurant. Instead of the dustbin being turned on its head, emptying its contents into the truck, a snout-like appendage unfolded from the truch and started thrusting rhythmically in and out of the dustbin, guided by the hands of one worker. How appropriate for Amsterdam.

I ordered sweet and sour pork Hong Kong style at the restaurant. I was wondering how different it would be from normal sweet and sour pork, but it turned out to be the same. At least it wasn't drenched in the sauce like most sweet and sour pork, so it was a bit crispy. Meanwhile my duck was excellent - the skin melted in my mouth, being close to Hwa Ting quality.

Funky books: "Combat Training for the Special Technical Soldiers Taking Free and Passively Qin Na, Lectured by Liu Yi, The Combat Coach for Special Technical Forces, The 35th Generation Disciple of the Ancient Orthodox Shaolin Quan"; Chinese Kung-Fu Series 6, 8 and 15: "Ten Routine Spring Leg", "Changquan - Long Shadow Boxing", "13 Emei Shortsword Techniques"; Treatment of common diseases with Qi Gong Therapy, Believe it or not: Aneicnt and Mysterious Chinese Qigong
Also in the shop: MAO ZEDONG: Man, Not God - Quan Yanchi

Naughty figurines illustrate Asian Values

"All bikes will be removed and utterly destroyed" - Seen in a shop window or some such. Gotta love the translations.

"How are you? Wij zijn gesloten" (We are closed) - sign in a shop window. Gah.


Nieuwe Kerk

I don't know why so many places say they're 100% Halal. Is it possible to be 99% Halal? Maybe I can set up a restaurant where 10% of the ingredients are non-Halal, then it'll be 90% Halal.

The guy in front of me while queuing for the bus back from the station had 3 ABN AMRO wereldkaarten in his wallet. Wah lao.
"Many central bankers view discussion of the monetary base with about the same enthusiasm as I would have for the propsect of being locked in a telephone booth with someone who had a bad cold, or some other infectious disease." - McCallum, 1999:8

I find the same way about this textbook.

Wth is this 3D empirical yield curve?! I suspect more than half the book is not only not in the syllabus but of a level far beyond what the syllabus requires.

Damnit, they need to get an American textbook for this module. It's hard enough already as it is.
I'm going to die after going back to NUS, after nua-ing for so long.

Book seen in the library: "Taxation of international performing artistes". Uhh.

There was a party billed as: "Be there from 22h00 at Cafe de Steeg to celebrate the birthday of genius economists Smith en (sic) Keynes". Wth.

The only Dutch food you see in restaurants is pancakes. Hurr hurr.

Sign seen in the History department:
*Picture of a man lifting a glass of beer* (Each line gets progressively smaller)
And forget who you are!
I sure don't want to know you!
What's MY name, anyway?
Beer is your friend!
It doesn't really say anything down here.
But thank you for checking!
I like fluffy bunnies...

At a Burger King in the Hague I saw 3 prices for onion rings. That was normal enough, but under them there was small print scribbled. I looked carefully and the small print told the viewer how many rings came in each packet size. Gah!

The cheapest hair salon I've seen so far: "No nonsense kapsalon voor Hem and Haar. Wassen, knippen, blowen va. €11/-"

English is sometimes used in signs, for headlines, keywords, motto or jingles. I suspect it's because the use of English is seen as cool and lends the product an aura of superiority or coolness.

Seeing ducks waddling across the grass while people are sunbathing in the park is very funny.

I saw the kebab man near my place walking from the minimarket with 3 6-can packs of soft drinks. Considering that the kebab van is right beside the supermarket, I wonder that people would mind paying more than twice as much for a can of drink from him when they could get one from either the minimarket or the newspaper/stationery agent across the road.

A slight majority of females here tie their hair. This might seem surprising given the climate until you disentangle the effect of their not having been forced to tie it for 10-12 years.

xxoos crashed for a couple of nights and wanted to eat pizza, so I finally had an excuse to call Domino's (or rather, place an order online)!

Creamy Bacon - Crème fraîche, kaas, dubbel bacon, ham, champgnons, ui en oregano (Sour cream, cheese, double bacon, ham, mushrooms, unions and oregano) xxoos doesn't eat onions and prefers tomato bases but I managed to cajole her into trying this.
It came about 10 minutes late; I made the order at 9:29 but the printout on the box said 9:40. Nonetheless the guy gave me a €1,95 discount since he only just made 10:10pm, so I only paid €10 for a 35cm pizza.
God, it's been years since I had Domino's!

xxoos also showed me what must tie as the most expensive toilet in the world (the tie is held by a toilet near Aachen which I will "feature" when it comes to it):

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Urinoirs: €0.60
Toilettes: €1.10
This is in Luxembourg, which is supposed to have the most expensive Big Macs in the world. Unfortunately (xxoos is perverse) they cost the same as in Germany, but even so, they have [one of] the most expensive toilets in the world, so xxoos was pacified.


single levels (similar)

drive'rn (driven)

in core'm gaps (income)

croation of institutions (creation)

trading pot'ners

greater axis to foreign markets (access)

mare cher nissin (mechanism)

two come pens (companies)

trade berries (barriers)

to ablide by certain rules of the game (abide)

There are a few ways you could improve your presentation. Besides your special pronunication of English, your accent which is something different from what we're used to.

[Student: I agree. It's a bit boring.] What is boring? The artivle? The subject?

trade dee'er'spore'ras (diasporas)

verbertim (verbatim)

I forgot to bring a picture of a cola nut... It's chewed by Muslims in West Africa as a stimulant. Not unlike wine. Just kidding.

merchant gao'd (guild)

I will set up an incentive schedule... to incentivise it, to prevent moral hazard, I will not be giving the answer to these questions. To further incentivise you, I will ask one of these questions in the final exam. I will sit here and shout encouragement at you... the official break time is 4, but you can stop earlier.

Now we have some econometrics questions. I'm really bad at it. I asked *** [the other, main teacher] for the answers but she refused to give them to me because of the moral hazard problem. [Student: Your moral hazard problem] I have prepared some answers, but they are likely to be crap.

[On lowering expectations] Pretend that you don't know about econometrics, and people start *makes hand gestures*

Next week there's no tutorial at 3 o'clock. It will be at 11, because I have to be home in time for soccer.

[On the economic explanation for autocorrelation in the Taylor rule] You always have to remind the econometricians that there are people there at the end. Pulling the strings, moving the data.

[On Hayo & Hofmann, 2003, estimating the Taylor rule for the ECB from 1/99-7/02 and comparing it to the Bundesbank 8/90-12/98] 11 September is in it, so can we learn anything from this crap paper? They draw all kinds of crap conclusions from this.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

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Divided views over police checks on blogger

Religious leaders and social observers interviewed believe the law has a role to play in teaching people about the need to balance the right to free expression with the need to respect another's faith.

'The right to free speech stops when it begins to hurt the religious sensitivities of others,' said Father John-Paul Tan, parish priest of the Church of St Mary of the Angels in Bukit Batok.

'That's when sometimes the law needs to come in to educate people.'...

One compared Char's action to a newspaper reproducing seditious remarks or offensive cartoons, noting that the law treats such an action as seriously as creating the content.

Law professor Thio Li-Ann from the National University of Singapore said that in investigating the matter, the Government was being even-handed and recognising respect for religious faiths as a key principle here.

She added: 'Given that 80 per cent of Singaporeans subscribe to some kind of religious faith, it is not conducive to denigrate any faith.'

Supporting the use of law, Anglican Bishop John Chew noted that disrespect of any religion or religious figure could result in ill will...

Agreeing, chairman of the Centre for Contemporary Islamic Studies Ridzuan Wu called for society to take a consistent position when any religious figure is mocked.

'Muslims feel it is offensive to deride the Prophet, and it is offensive to do so to Jesus Christ and other religious figures,' he said...

There were several netizens who also backed tough action. One was a Muslim American management lecturer based here, known online as 'JD'.

Said the 44-year-old: 'I support Singapore's use of the Sedition Act. People shouldn't have to put up with derogatory comments and cartoons that blaspheme their faiths.'


I guess it's time to:

- Ban the Da Vinci Code
- Unban the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Unification Church
- Stop condemning suicide bombers and religious extremists because we can't denigrate their faith
- Stop Christians condemning "false" Christians since it denigrates their faiths
- Report pastors/priests who preach at funerals and say non-Christians are fools, dommed and condemned to burn in hell
- Report people who say that "all gods are the same"
- Ban crucifixes worn by non-Christians
- Ban the swear word "Christ" or similar derivations, since this is taking the name of god in vain and offensive to Christians
- Ban books exposing Scientology
- Start reporting your neighbors and enemies for Sedition, making police reports at the drop of a hat (or for the slightest non-religious grudge) since if you "must [feel] very strongly about the issue", the police will "investigate"
- cut ties with Israel since this offends some Muslims
- Ban the teaching of Evolution in schools since it offends fundamentalist Christians
- Since evolution is termed as a 'Faith', even religion by its opponents, have Evolutionists cry 'Sedition!' at attempts to demonise their credo
- Take after the UK, where Christians were going to tape Muslim sermons and Muslims Christian ones so they could look for material in them to report each other
- Emigrate

Remember kids, Jesus was crucified for offending the Jewish religion!

I saw a movie poster in London which read: "Muhammad - the Last Prophet". MUIS would no doubt condemn this, since it implies that all other prophets who came after him are false, and this denigrates other people's faiths.

Consistency is the name of the game!
I wonder how the American high school students who get conned into applying for NUS will react when they find out that irregular tutorial attendance gets them warning letters. Usually people are sad to leave college, but people are happy to leave NUS. That's the truest benchmark of NUS's failure as a University.

If every guy needs a girlfriend, a wife and a mistress, every girl needs a nice guy and a jerk.

Today, Little India and Chinatown are tourist attractions, but with HDB racial quotas they'd never form.

I somehow entered a eBay bid amount in pounds when I thought it was Australian dollars. And consequently won the auction. Shit.

Not only is Inter Rail much cheaper than Eurail, its price varies depending on which country you're from (Hungarians get lower prices than Austrians, for example). Gah.

Applying the principle of extreme dilution, I declare my Coq Au Vin Halal just like ripe fruit.

Oops, I forgot about the bacon.



Someone: dead soldiers suffer no more
average 2 funerals/mth they don't tell u guys that cause it's classified

if you die during saf hours u get full parade, if off, then it's an unofficial one, promote 2 ranks, give ur parents some crap insurance & says ur son sacrificed for country, suck it up

we do all of them, unofficial means weekend u book out and die
official means during training or choke on fishball during canteen break

Me: but either way there's a ceremony

Someone: yes
free on the house from saf, serve and fcukoff

i'm immune to deaths
quite a number of suicides
ippt drop dead

Someone else: i don't know what the hell i'm thinking
that's why i'm talking to you - you're so logical it's like filing my emotions into different folders and according to file types

Me: I don't know if this is supposed to be good or not

Someone else: yes it's good
i'm comparing you to the one machine i love
that's gotta be a compliment

[Editor's note: It's a Mac!!!] The person is actually anti-Mac. I got confused because only Macs inspire such slavish devotion and anthropomorphism.

Me: uhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Someone else: you get uhhhh-ed quite a lot
maybe i say a lot of uhhhhh-inducing things

Me: nah
other people uhhhh me also
they tend to be female ;)

Someone else: ... men
maybe you're allergic to females?
i feel sorry for you if you're allergic to females btw
nitey =)

Someone: *gong* ok.. i dont know nuts bout politics and history so. :P
for eg. i didnt know christopher columbus was from spain until recently

Me: err. he was from italy

Someone: ><

but u cant really tell from his name, i mean it wasnt as if he was antonio or something

Me: ...
antonio is also a spanish name you know

Some christian's nick: "You're the only God whose power none can contend"

My comment: there're other gods? o.0
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