When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

The October 2002 archives have been restored.


"On Monday, someone left a walkie-talkie in the Ops Room, so all throughout the day we were treated to Mat Radio - 9 hours of music sung by Malays, non-stop chatter and commentary. Among the topics covered were: How to find child porn on Kazaa (You must use version 2.0 and you must search 'underage', not 'lolita'), the relative merits of females walking by and the necessity of getting the police to arrest some schoolboys walking by at about 12pm for truancy. We were also treated to the latest chart toppers in Malay and English both. The 'DJs' also whispered disturbing things, like "Come and play with me... Let your body take control... Come and play with me", and entertained their (small) audience with quips such as, "For 5 dollars an hour, for 5 dollars an hour, I will give up my life for this place! This pathetic place". I wonder how they can keep it up. Now I know how RPs can stand the boredom, and why most of them are Malays, the race being of the gregarious sort and more able to entertain themselves such."

"More tales of lasciviousness: I walked into the bunk one day, only to find Boon Huat, Yi liang and Yong Siang on one bed, sprawled on top of each other and giggling softly like demure schoolgirls. After a while, they began grabbing at each other's clothes and trying to pin each other down. And after I wrote that paragraph, I was attacked by Yiliang and fled the bunk yelping, slamming the door after me (and spoiling the door handle in the process)."

"All this - for what? "Pain is temporary - glory is forever" - Dicky, testosterone charged T-Shirt slogan. I beg to differ. "Infinitesimal glory gained from the performance of silly, imprudent, breast beating endeavours is temporary, injury and death are forever". So what if we get Best Unit? Whatever modicum of glory and honour that we get is fleeting - it will be forgotten by the next year, when a new unit wins the BUC (unless we win again, but how long can one keep winning?). And if every unit is good, even being 9th place is not a badge of shame. There are no palpable benefits arising from winning BUC. Perhaps regulars get promoted, and we get more money for more useless souvenirs, but that is all. And for this dubitable goal, we have numerous strenous training sessions, much hollering, and people are even - gasp - threatened with an extension of their ORD dates."

"During range, I realised that my CSM-to-be's laugh sounds unnervingly like Krusty the Klown's. And they both've a husky voice, a paunch and are balding ;)"

"The latest thing to be spirited away - my towel. In the morning it was hanging outside the bunk. At night, after range it was gone. Someone really doesn't like me."

"Our QM (storemen) branch now has a policy ost wonderous - don't report sick for a month and you get 2 days off. I want!"

"Yesterday night, while 'doing work', he, Yiliang and Boon Huat took part in an orgy and started laying into each other, sprawling on the floor, drawing the curtains round themselves while noises of pleasure emerged from behind the shrouds, giggling and stamping each other with ink stamps until the letters of one fell out and theyhad to scour the floor for them. Must be pre-bookout stress."

"My poncho has again undergone a miraculous transformation and been transmogrified into a groundsheet! I attribute this miracle to the power of Providence (a word that, oddly enough, I've only seen used in subtitles to Chinese Gongfu movies)."

"Although we've no Malays in our camp, racial balance is still maintained in a way, by means of... Pseudo-Malays! These people have Chinese or Indian names, and aren't Muslim, but somehow, they look Malay. Whoever said there was no racial tolerance in the SAF?"
Maxims for Revolutionists - George Bernard Shaw, 1903. Man and Superman

"A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education."

"Every fool believes what his teachers tell him, and calls his credulity science or morality as confidently as his father called it divine revelation."

"No man fully capable of his own language ever masters another."

"Do not give your children moral and religious instruction unless you are quite sure they will not take it too seriously. Better be the mother of Henri Quatre and Nell Gwynne than of Robespierre and Queen Mary Tudor."

"Assassination on the scaffold is the worst form of assassination, because there it is invested with the approval of society."

"Vice is waste of life. Poverty, obedience, and celibacy are the canonical vices."

"To a mathematician the eleventh means only a single unit: to the bushman who cannot count further than his ten fingers it is an incalculable myriad."

"The man with toothache thinks everyone happy whose teeth are sound. The poverty stricken man makes the same mistake about the rich man."

"The unconscious self is the real genius. Your breathing goes wrong the moment your conscious self meddles with it."

"The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps it. Nevertheless a passion for gaming is common, though a passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown."

"Mens sana in corpore sano is a foolish saying. The sound body is a product of the sound mind."

"Do not mistake your objection to defeat for an objection to fighting, your objection to being a slave for an objection to slavery, your objection to not being as rich as your neighbor for an objection to poverty. The cowardly, the insubordinate, and the envious share your objections."

"Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get. Where there is no ventilation fresh air is declared unwholesome. Where there is no religion hypocrisy becomes good taste. Where there is no knowledge ignorance calls itself science."

"Acquired notions of propriety are stronger than natural instincts. It is easier to recruit for monasteries and convents than to induce an Arab woman to uncover her mouth in public, or a British officer to walk through Bond Street in a golfing cap on an afternoon in May."

"Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself."

My second favourite:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

And the best of all:

"If you begin by sacrificing yourself to those you love, you will end by hating those to whom you have sacrificed yourself. "

July Trip: 15/7 - Venice

July Trip
15/7 - Venice

In Florentine buses, even if the ticket machines in the buses were spoilt you still needed a valid ticket, or you could be fined. Wth.

On this day, I left my phone in my shorts pocket and then unwisely hung it on a bar in the shower above my head. It fell out and since this was a higher height than in the falls it was used to, its screen got cracked for the second time in 2 1/2 years (not a bad lifespan considering how often people's phones get stolen/lost/shortcircuited by water).

Santa Maria dell Salute


People and Pigeons
I thought feeding pigeons was illegal! Oh wait, this was not Singapore.
On my to do list: Bring pigeon feed laced with delayed effect poison

St Mark and his lion - Facade of Doge's Palace

Some freak on a pillar

Basilica side

Figures striking a bell on the turn of the hour

Bell building

"Out of respect for this sacred place, it is forbidden to give explanations inside the basilica" - this sign was put up by the management, demonstrating that they were both liars and hypocrites. Liars because explaining increases respect for the sacred place. And hypocrites because they themselves gave explanations (albeit free ones).

Inside, photography was forbidden but luckily they didn't damn their souls further with more hypocrisy and lies about why this was so. They did forbid mobile phones in a desperate and contemptible last attempt to squeeze every last cent from visitors, though.

Entrance to Basilica

Shawls were not free or lent but were sold. Bah, what a mercenary city. I'm not sure if they enforced the "no bare shoulders" dress code though.

There were lots and lots of lavish mosaics inside, all of them on gold backgrounds and with evident Byzantine influence; the figures on the arches looked like Byzantine princesses, and Greek characters could be seen on the scrolls in the mosaics and on the mosaics themselves. No wonder non-flash photography was banned - postcard sales would be hurt too much otherwise.

Entrance itself was free, but there were lots of extra which were not - €1,50 was charged to view just the altar alone. The treasury (€2) had a 3-5th century Persian Sardonyx (jug), 3500-2800 BC Egyptian rock vessel and Persian and Chinese plates - objects not usually found in cathedral treasuries. Wth. And there was also a suspicious number of Byzantine artifacts, all dating from before 1204. Ahem. The Byzantine chalices were marvelous - agate was shaped into the body, and the texture of the agate reflected the light differentially. The agate and sardonyx vessels all had a wonderful texture.

An interesting item was an image of the Virgin Mary and Child. Superimposed above the figures on another plane was a golden halo, a pendant and a necklace, so it looked as if the halo was theirs and they were wearing the hewelry.

Church treasuries all have body part relics, but this collection was particularly rich and densely packed (the area was quite small). I didn't understand what the doge from 976-8 (San Pietro Orseol) did to deserve having a relic inside there, though.

There was a skull labelled "S Jacobi Minoris Apostoli". I looked it up and it translates to: "(Head of Apostle Saint James the Less), a younger brother of Jesus, who was the head of the first Christian church." Right.

Upstairs was the Loggia (€3).

View of St Mark's Square from Basilica

The horses of Constantinople St Mark were magnificent. I didn't know they were so old (they were carbon dated to the start of the 2nd century BC).

Facade of Basilica

Andrew wanted to go see other things and had a night train to Paris to catch, so we parted ways here.

Venice must be the most overpriced city in Italy, with the €1 public toilets. No wonder 70% of their money comes from tourism.

I wanted to protest the gouging of tourists around St Mark's Square - by going to McDonalds. For example, granita prices were all standardised at an exorbitant rate - drinking water from the lagoons might've been a more palatable option. Unfortunately McDonalds was too far, so I had to postpone my snub.

In the Doge's palace, phones, film and video cameras were forbidden. I was beginning to see a pattern in Venice. The concession price was €6,50 and school groups paid €5 per person. How kind, one might think, except that many other places, especially outside Italy, offered free admission to school groups. More annoyingly, the concession for school groups as only valid from 1 Sept to 1 March, which coincidentally was the off-peak tourist season. Hah!

"To maintain decorum - and respect other visitors to the museum - those in beachwear or skimpy clothing will not be admitted. Similarly, admission will be denied to those with covered faces" - Sign at Doge's Palace. Wth. It's not even a church.

The reason why attractions offer youth/student discounts is not because they are kind, but to attract these demographic groups, since if they didn't, these people would be partying, drinking and picking each other up, sleeping late and waking up late.

An information panel in the Doge's Palace informed visitors that St Mark was chosen as Venice's patron saint so there'd be no connection to both the Pope and Byzantium. Tsk. They showed their devotion to St Mark by stealing his body from Alexandria and bringing it to Venice in 829, supposedly to fulfill a prophecy that he'd rest in Venice (sounds like an apocryphal, post-hoc prophecy to me).

I'd seen a lot of arms and armour, but what I found in the Armoury was still impressive. There were some very long swords, up to 2 arms' length. I wonder how they were wielded.

The Doge must've been quite sad. He was confined to his palace and needed permission and an escort to leave Venice, and for only a few days at most.

Given that Venice is in a lagoon, it was amazing that the items in the palace didn't seem to be damaged by the sea air.

A painting showed the arrival of St Mark's body in Venice - miraculously unputrefied. I wonder what it's like now. Hurr hurr.

The Doge's palace housed Il Paradiso, the longest canvas painting in the world. It didn't say just how long it was, or how long the longest painting in the world was, though.

Sala del Maggior Consiglio (Chamber of the Great Council) approached Versailles in grandeur in size. Close, but not quite. "Maggior" also seems to be one of the few Italian words not ending in a vowel.

Doge Palace's Courtyard

Giant's Staircase

The Four Tetrarchs, corner of the Basilica

In Rome and Naples, multi-attraction cards were sold, but only the first 2 places were free and the rest were half-priced. In Venice, the discount card cost only €4 and so wasn't bad, but everything else was so expensive, so.

Bell tower

The bell tower, rebuilt in 1912 after a collapse in 1902, had no stairs, only a lift. Aww. I hope a fire never breaks out there, and the lift never breaks down while there're people at the top. The top was very cool and there was a great breeze, making me feel the happiest I'd felt and would feel in Venice.

The top was very crowded and there wasn't much space to maneuver. People were busily camwhoring using cameras with flipout LCD panels.


One binoculars was spoilt and there was a piece of paper stuck on it reading: "Guasto. Broken. Kaputt." I thought this was some joke, but I have since found out that "Kaputt" is an actual German word.

Me at the top. Maybe I should've requested another attempt.

There was a DVD of Venice available in Chinese labelled "和平" (he2 ping2 - "Peace"). Wth.

Bells ringing
I didn't know they still worked. If nothing else, it'd deafen us tourists.

I wonder if scaring pigeons, or even running through the square chasing them, was a crime.

Facade of basilica

A 64MB CF card was retailing in Piazza S. Marco for €44. Wth - a 512MB one in Munich had been €40.

Why do the operators all look like escaped felons?

Venetian canals are only slightly dirtier than the Singapore river. This when they're real waterways and heavily trafficked. And this in a country which is largely bo zheng hu.

There was an interesting (and free) historical musical instrument collection in the Church of San Maurizio, with such strangely named instruments as the chitarra lira, violino muto con tromba, monocordo al arco com campana, antifonario and ghirondo. There was even a Violino d'amore salterio (something to do with love, presumably). Unfortunately the light inside was atrocious, so all I have to remember it visually is this amusing story about Vivaldi:

"Soon after being ordained as a priest, his illness caused him to stop celebrating Mass because, he said, it was too tiring, and the functions were scheduled at the most difficult hours of the day for him. Whether or not this was just an excuse to devote all of his time to music has not been proven. What is certain is that the hertiage he left... vastly compensates any personal weakness."

There was also a very apt line on another information panel, on the two person's paupers' graves: "No pilgrimage may be made to the tombs of Antonio and Amadeus: the only way to pay them homage is to listen to them".

Other interesting bits:
- After the Counter-Reformation some instruments were banned in churches. Uhh.
- The 4 seasons is the most performed and recorded piece of Classical music. Beethoven's 9th is a distant 2nd (I thought it'd be his 5th. Hmm.)

"Man on a horse", 2004, bronze.
There was a shop selling stuff by a certain Botero, who evidently had a fetish for fat people.

Grand Canal from Accademia bridge

On the door of the Accademia: "We regret to inform our visitors that we have no air- conditioning (sic) service".

In the Galleria dell'Accademia there were many Venetian paintings. They were alright, but I think they can't compare to the other Italian masters or those of other countries. Even Paolo Veronese, the most famous of the lot, had something lacking in his work.

There was a still life of a cat with a prize salami in his mouth, lifted off a plate.

After exiting the Galleria dell'Accademia, I noticed the sign about photography being forbidden. It wouldn't have affected me anyway, since there was nothing I wanted to take, but there was something seriously wrong with Italy. The country must be full of mercenary people and money grubbers.

Venetian Arsenale, essential to Venetian naval power and still used by the navy. It still looks very much like a 1732 painting.

A peek into the Arsenal


Quiet canal

Exhausted performance artist
Him: "A special picture. Very special."

Monument near San Zaccaria

I read the guidebook wrongly and went to see, housed in S. Zaccaria, his supposedly incorruptible body (conveniently enclosed in a reliquary). In doing this, I didn't have enough time to go see Titian's tomb. Oh well. Maybe another day, when the weather is better, and when it is apropos to ride in a gondola.

What I missed Titian's tomb for

The water ferries that serve for public transport in Venice are so expensive and slow. I didn't see one local on them - it was all tourists, for whom the speed was presumably tailored, whether to prevent seasickness or let them enjoy the scenery. The locals all had their own speedboats.

I saw some newlyweds in a special gondola. It was specially decorated and those manning it were not jailbirds - for once. Probably this was the only time locals ever stepped into a gondola.

Berlin is probably the best European city to visit. It's cheap, people speak English, there're many good things to see - culture, history and museums, public transport is good and efficient and the weather is good. Amsterdam is almost as good - it's more compact but also more expensive, even more people speak English and it's the City of Sin - you can get stoned, laid and if you look hard enough you can probably also find a place to get euthanised.

View from the bridge from the train station

Throughout the afternoon, I saw groups of mostly young locals in bikinis and boardshorts crusing down the canals in their boats, cheering and waving at us tourists in waterboats as they sped past us and mostly blaring music loudyly. This was because on this day there was some festival commemmorating the deliverance of the city from a plague. There was a fireworks display from 11pm-12am, but it was too late for me to attend.

The girl in my hostel room had brought a hair iron along. ... women.

On both nights I slept on the floor because it was too hot. The Sri Lankan guy asked: "Why're you still sleeping wearing your T-shirt?" It wouldn't have helped even if I'd taken it off anyway - my top wasn't the only part that was hot.

One of the few good things about Treinitalia is that their self-service machines can help you check schedules and connections in advance. There're no platform numbers, though, but I think this is because they're not confirmed till just before the train comes in.

Around this time, I was suffering from travel fatigue. The combination of hot weather, large crowds and too much traveling (as my father commented) was taking its toll on me - this was my 15th full day of travel in a row, the longest I'd been on the road since 1994 (Brunei doesn't count).

I was getting tired more easily than in my previous trips.

Now I knew what someone meant by "I didn't feel like doing any sightseeing [in Rome]", but I only felt this way in Venice.

July Secret Diary #3 is ready.
Strong S'pore needed to say 'no' to neighbours -Lee

"Lee acknowledged that there was growing support for opposition parties among Singapore's voters, but said the office of the elected presidency had been put in place to prevent a profligate opposition government from touching the island's vast monetary reserves.

"Without the elected president and if there is a freak result, within two or three years, the army would have to come in and stop it," Lee said."


Friday, September 15, 2006

CAP Calculator for NUS Students

FASS provides a CAP Calculator and an Average Grade Simulator (tells you what you need to score to attain your target Vital Statistic given your current Vital Statistic and the number of MCs you're reading in the current semester), but though they are a commendable effort, I find them deeply unsatisfying.

The CAP Calculator is tedious to work, needing a lot of clicks, mouse moving and wrestling with dropdowns. Furthermore, inputs and results cannot be saved, so if one has done 30 modules, recalculating one's CAP is a bitch.

The Average Grade Simulator is less tedious to use, but there's the irritating issue of how they won't let you aim for a lower Vital Statistic than the one you already have.

Other faculties have similar tools, but my cursory survey of them shows them to be equally disappointing. Given how these tools fail to meet my requirements, all this while I've been manually calculating the minimum Vital Statistic I need to get to secure my desired type of degree. Like all Vital Statistics, of course, this one is secret, not least since I don't want to be made fun of (again).

Recently I was bored and decided to work some Excel magic, so after some Excel manipulation and beta testing by my dedicated cadre of beta testers, voila: Agagooga's CAP Calculator 1.0, Release Candidate 1 (Excel Spreadsheet) (Hosted by Savefile.com) (Hosted on my website after Savefile.com shut down). [Addendum: Uploaded wrong version. This version fixes a problem with cell D28.]

Agagooga's CAP Calculator 1.0 has been released.

Changes from RC 1:
- Instructions on using the calculator
- Cell colouring for aesthetics and functionality
- Notes about D & D+
- Note if your target CAP >5

- Can be saved to your hard disk for future reference and updating as you graduate through your University career
- Space for up to 80 modules
- CAP Calculator (duh!)
- Outputs minimum target CAP for your remaining modules to attain desired degree, with automatic compensation in the case of First Class, given an inputted value for Thesis MCs, to 9 decimal places for you sticklers
- Option to input number of SUed MCs you have done, are doing or will be doing
- Compensation for F grades (this was a bitch!)
- Predicts your job, based on the type of degree you get
- A worksheet, 'The shameful underbelly', where I hide some of the ugly tricks I used in coding this, and you can look and suggest to me a less messy way to perform some functions
- A disclaimer so no irate NUS students who failed to graduate with their desired degree (or at all) will come at me with parangs
- You can't beat the price!
- Some other things I forgot

- Locked cells so you can't screw it up like some of my beta testers
- ISTEXT and ISNUMBER checking so if you leave some fields empty and others filled, it doesn't screw up the program
- Restricted values for some fields so you can't screw up the program
- Some other things I forgot

Known Issues:
- One beta tester is on Open Office and this doesn't work for her (she gets 0 in one cell although the formula is correct). I guess sometimes you get what you pay for.

Special thanks:
- All my beta testers and everyone who didn't ignore me when I pestered them about it, especially The Master Of Office and YuCheng, Lin.

Again, if you missed it, the download link is:Agagooga's CAP Calculator 1.0 (Excel Spreadsheet) (Hosted by Savefile.com) (Hosted on my website after Savefile.com shut down)

For sending bug reports, brickbats and Paypal Donations, the address you want is gabrielseah(at)hotmail(dot)com. Or you can always use the feedback form.

If no bugs are found, this will become version 1.0 in a week's time.
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rjc suicide - From search referrals I know about these things without reading the newspapers. It's a cyclical thing: there're suicides every few years. Haiyah, do badly at most end up in NUS, then - go and fry gao laak.
I just had my fastest haircut ever. I don't think it could've been more than 5 minutes; she just pulled everything to the back and evened out the length.

Then again, I want the same hair length, no layering, no washing ($10 for cut, $18 for cut and wash - I didn't know the premium was so much! No more washing for me. Maybe I'll go up and shampoo my hair myself next time) and have no split ends, so there was nothing to cut also.

Though her gossiping with some other customers, having another customer to get back to, and my non-female lack of fussiness might've something to do with it.
"What four-letter word should pop into mind when the stock market takes a harrowing nose dive?

No, not those. R-I-S-K,"

Thursday, September 14, 2006

"My mother used to say that there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet. She's now in a maximum security twilight home in Australia." - Dame Edna Everage


Suff's World: The SJI Mats List - "This entry would mainly concern the SJI Mats (duh!), but is also useful for our friends, and people getting to know any of us. And not to forget...potential satays and pratas..."
And yet, non-Mats who use the word "Mat" are branded as racist. I suppose this is like how niggers call each other "nigger", yet a non-nigger who uses the term is liable to be lynched.

Police tackle crime with prayers - "Police and Christian groups in Lincolnshire are to combine forces to tackle crime with the power of prayer.Churches and Christian groups will get emails alerting them to crimes on which they can then focus their prayers. The Prayer Watch scheme has been proposed by the Lincolnshire branch of the Christian Police Association (CPA)."

Foodie Paradise :: Ben & Jerry - "Arrr……i wan ice - cream! Too bad this brand is not available in Malaysia"
I have just added this to "Malaysia: the Land of Poor Quality".

Wingwoman - "Want to pick up more girls? Use another girl! Miss Laura Leu trades in her pen for a pair of wings to help a guy in need."

Has 1 in 8 people had sex with an animal? - "A study of 51 chronic zoophiles found that for 88 percent of the women the main motive was "emotional involvement," whereas 59 percent of the men said they did it because it was cheaper. Ain't it always the way?"
Emotional involvement? Maybe it brings out the animal in them.

Looking for 4 extremely special USB ports. - "one girl is looking for a 4 USB port to go with her stylish computer.
- special design 4 USB ports which matches and possess the exquisive, elegant and classy taste.
- Not those normal plug and play mini ports which can be found at SLS, funan or PC shows etc....
- must match the lavander decoration of her office and stylish design of her light pink rose computer with a red lava lamp next to it.
- Can be in a shape of a mini cup holder, a paper clip or whatsoever.
My Office IT Dept has raised both hands and surrender on her requirements liao.
Anyone knows where to find?"
... women

Voice of the 80s: Viswa Sadasivan - "Viswa recounted an incident during matriculation at the Yusof Ishak House when a bunch of seniors, including himself, set out to rag the freshmen. They created two passageways for freshmen who were climbing up the stairs – one was labeled "For virgins" while the other "For non-virgins". Viswa recalled that there was a minor stampede as many girls made a scramble for the "For virgins" passageway. Not contented with the spectacle, the raggers spoke sternly to a number of them with comments such as "Don't bluff" or "Are you sure?". Naturally some were not amused, but most took in the spirit of fun and ragging. Not surprisingly, Viswa and his "collaborators" were hauled up to the Superintendant's office, and subsequently had to pay a visit to the Vice-Chancellor for a friendly warning."
Wah, this sort of ragging okay what. They should take this alumnus's advice, especially since they quoted him in their own newsletter.

Lost Reality... He Said, She Said - "The show that answers that eternal question: 'How often do you find a woman who looks like that, and likes football too?' He Said, She Said. She's everything a guy could want - and more."
"fucker dosent kick in till 1/2 way through"

Facebook Group: I'm Getting a World-Class Education But Have No Idea What To Do With It - I thought this was an NUS group.

SoMA Review - The Five People You Meet in Hell - "Edgy Kreep, the protagonist of Rich Pablum’s parable, is a 91-year-old who works a meaningless job at Angeli Pier, a seaside tourist trap that “should have been condemned sometime during the Harding administration.” When a freak accident sends him to “the other side,” Edgy encounters a string of irritating losers and annoying blowhards compelled to explain the meaning of life. As Rich Pablum (a.k.a. author and screenwriter Billy Frolick) sees it, hell in the afterlife is an awful lot like the living hell we endure here on earth, except that every car is a Kia and all the newspaper articles are written by Andy Rooney."

diesel sweeties - "It's Quiz O'Clock and You're on the spot... What's more offensive to you, the Nazi Swastika or the Playboy Bunny?"

Miracle is sunk - "A priest has died after trying to demonstrate how Jesus walked on water. Evangelist preacher Franck Kabele, 35, told his congregation he could repeat the biblical miracle. But he drowned after walking out to sea from a beach in the capital Libreville in Gabon, west Africa."

The man who is allergic to his girlfriend - "When they moved in together, Matt Baines and Cloe Height envisioned romantic evenings cuddled up on the sofa. But within a month they realised getting close was out of the question. A kiss or embrace would bring Mr Baines out in a nasty red rash. In fact, sometimes just brushing past Miss Height would provoke an angry reaction in his skin."

The Secret Of Impressive Writing? Keep It Plain And Simple - "Writers who use long words needlessly and choose complicated font styles are seen as less intelligent than those who stick with basic vocabulary and plain text, according to new research from the Princeton University in New Jersey, to be published in the next edition of Applied Cognitive Psychology."

Video Games, Authority, and Problem-based Thinking - "But when the players go out into the real world, I think there's a real danger—and I see signs of this in my students, and young people in general—of failing to understand not just the complexity of the real world but also its mystery. I'm using "mystery" as opposed to "problem" on purpose: problems have solutions, mysteries don't. People are profoundly mysterious entities, I think, and understanding them in the real world involves understanding that you're never going to entirely understand them."

Maximizing your ROI at Pizza Hut - "Like the salad served at the Pizza Hut but dislike the idea that it’s expensive and you are not allowed to take more than once? Here is a guide on how you can maximize your return of investment, invented by some creative Taiwanese students."

Beer Battered Deep Fried Bacon Double Quarter Pounder - "Yes, it's pretty gross. This started out as a dare from a friend on IRC, one I immediately said "OK!" to. It took a few weeks to work up the courage to try. First off, it was surprisingly tasty - everything was kind of nicely nutty, and if I'd had to eat 1/5th of one, that'd be just nice. Something like chocolate mud cake, a little goes a long way. I did eat the whole thing in the end though - it was the heaviest thing I'd ever munched on, and left me unable to each for a good 24 hours afterwards. It was thursday's lunch, and I didn't feel hungry until friday afternoon :)."

Abolish curly fries to save our children! - "Like a drug dealer who had just hooked another innocent youngster, the girl smiled slyly as she dumped a handful of little green packets into the bag. She knew that my son would visit her again, but next time, he'll want something besides artificially colored ketchup. Next time, he'll want something with a little more "kick." My unsuspecting boy didn't realize that his green ketchup was actually a "gateway condiment," a substance that leads to more dangerous foods, including (dramatic pause) curly fries."

Guard families cope in two dimensions - "Maine National Guard members in Iraq and Afghanistan are never far from the thoughts of their loved ones.But now, thanks to a popular family-support program, they're even closer. Welcome to the ``Flat Daddy" and ``Flat Mommy" phenomenon, in which life-size cutouts of deployed service members are given by the Maine National Guard to spouses, children, and relatives back home."

This Film Is Not Yet Rated - "This Film Is Not Yet Rated takes a close look at why Boys Don't Cry, The Cooler, American Psycho, and A Dirty Shame (amongst others) were looked on unfavorably by the ratings board. It has to do with sex and nudity. Certain things - like a female orgasm, simulated gay sex, or pubic hair - can be enough to result in an NC-17. On the other hand, graphic bloodletting is usually accorded an R, while bloodless killing may get nothing more restrictive than a PG-13. If that seems hypocritical and bizarre to anyone reading this review, imagine how filmmakers like Kimberly Peirce, Wayne Kramer, Mary Harron, and John Waters felt. Even actress Maria Bello couldn't comprehend how a shot of her pubic hair and a close-up of her face during an orgasm could cause a controversy."
He should watch "Cut".

Immoral Foreign Blogger - "The PRC has recently seen fit to lift the Blogger and Blogspot ban in China... this also means that Chinese readers can now read the Sex In Shanghai guy. Most of us have already looked at Sex In Shanghai because it's #1 on the China Blog List. It's about a foreign "teacher" juggling his relationships, dates and one-night-stands, often with his students... Anyway, now that Blogspot/Blogger is accessible from China, the Chinese can read all about his escapades. And Chinese readers are furious... There are also various death threats towards the Sex in Shanghai guy floating around the blog world. The PRC was right. Everyone really was much happier with a censored 'net."

Why women wear bras - "This is largely a myth: "...wearing a bra... has no medical necessity whatsoever", says Susan M. Love, M.D in her "Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book". Breasts were fine before the invention of brasserie. This is similar to the myth that women supposedly need corsets to support their stomach muscles. Also there is no proof that bras would prevent your breasts from sagging. Your breast is supported by ligaments, and if breasts ligaments act anything like other bodily ligaments, they may atrophy from the constant unnatural support from the bra."
I have a personal testimony for anyone who thinks that sagging is real.

The Rebel Sell - " If we all hate consumerism, how come we can’t stop shopping?... Brands don’t bring us together, they set us apart. Of course, most sophisticated people claim that they don’t care about brands—a transparent falsehood. Most people who consider themselves “anti-consumerist” are extremely brand-conscious. They are able to fool themselves into believing that they don’t care because their preferences are primarily negative. They would never be caught dead driving a Chrysler or listening to Celine Dion."
For once I don't disagree with a Close Reading!

SpamReturner - Addons - Miranda IM - "Sends spam (IM!) messages back to (IM!)
It is thought as a kind of fun, to give the (IM!) spammers back what they produce. ;-)"
Nice proof of concept.

OSU Scientist questions the moral basis of a vegan diet - "Why is it right to kill the mouse and not the cow? This question is central to a study of bioethics that explores the moral foundation of a strictly vegetarian, so-called vegan diet... What goes unaccounted for in Regan's vegan conclusion, according to Davis, is the number of animals who are inadvertently killed during crop production and harvest. "Vegan diets are not bloodless diets," Davis said. "Millions of animals die every year to provide products used in vegan diets.""

Ryanair - New airport security procedures (NSFW)

Get Into the Paris Hilton - "Jimmy Fallon: Is the Paris Hilton roomy?
Paris Hilton: It might be for you.. but.. most people find it very comfortable."

LifeInShadesOfGrey - I used to be linked with the text "If blogging's mental masturbation, he's in permanent orgasm", but not any more. Aww.

Chef's protest turns ban on foie gras into a goose fair - "With its railroad strikes, meatpacker riots and anti-slavery protests, Chicago looms large in the history of American civil disobedience. This week hundreds of diners opened an unlikely chapter in the annals of civic rebellion, feasting defiantly on foie gras. On the day Chicago made history as the first American city to outlaw foie gras, chefs across the metropolis signalled their protest by swamping their menus with dishes featuring the delicacy, from pizza through hot dogs to ice-cream."

Tom Volk's Fungus of the Month for April 2001 - "This month's fungus is Agaricus bisporus, the white button mushroom or pizza mushroom, also known as Portabella and Crimini"
Mmm, Champignons.

The Japanese Are Crazy - "KONNICHI WA! We hand pick the BEST highlights of Japanese comedy series and hillarious pranks that are no where as extreme or quirky as in other parts of the world."

YouTube - singapore ah ma - "singapore ah ma with a sense of humour"
I'm still trying to grok this.

My 6-year-old was traumatized - "Since then, she has not stopped mentioning Barney’s p***s. This has shaken the bedrock of our family. I made an emergency call to our church’s pastor about this bombshell in my daughter’s life and he is unsure how it will affect her future. "
Sounds like it isn't the daughter who is traumatised.

Cultural expectations of muscularity in men: the evolution of playgirl centerfolds. - "OBJECTIVE: We sought to assess whether cultural ideals of the male body, as illustrated by magazine models, have changed over the past 25 years. METHOD: We examined 115 male centerfold models in Playgirl magazine from 1973 to 1997. Using the models' heights and weights quoted by the magazine, together with visual estimates of body fat, we calculated the body mass index (BMI) and fat-free mass index (FFMI) of each model. RESULTS: The Playgirl centerfold models became increasingly "dense" and more muscular over time, as indicated by the significant correlations between BMI, FFMI, and year of publication. DISCUSSION: These observations, in combination with previous studies, suggest that cultural norms of the ideal male body are growing increasingly muscular."

Christianity and Mathematics - "Transformation under Christ - Differentiation is an operator on functions that takes one functions and transforms it into another form. The new form is related to the old form--the derivative tells interesting information about how the original function behaves graphically--but it is a completely new function. When someone accepts Jesus as Lord of their life and gives themselves wholly to God as one of His creatures, a similar transformation occurs. The person is transformed through Jesus and the Holy Spirit into a new self. This new self is redeemed, purified of unrighteousness, and claimed by God for eternal life. The new self is truly new, yet it still retains characteristics of the original self. God does not want his people to be identical to one another. God's creatures are distinct individuals with unique thoughts, unique gifts, unique appearances, and unique contributions to the body of Christ! Let us rejoice in our diversity in the community of the redeemed!"

Old Version Download - OldApps.com - "Now Providing more than 2000 Old Versions of 150 programs"
I never knew OldVersion.com had competition.

Tea 'healthier' drink than water - "Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits, say researchers."

China acts on funeral strippers - "Five people have been detained in China for running striptease send-offs at funerals, state media say. The once-common events are held to boost the number of mourners, as large crowds are seen as a mark of honour."

The Myth of Asia's Miracle - "Consider, in particular, the case of Singapore. Between 1966 and 1990, the Singaporean economy grew a remarkable 8.5 percent per annum, three times as fast as the United States; per capita income grew at a 6.6 percent rate, roughly doubling every decade. This achievement seems to be a kind of economic miracle. But the miracle turns out to have been based on perspiration rather than inspiration: Singapore grew through a mobilization of resources that would have done Stalin proud."

Bush's Last Day - "Tuesday, November 2nd, 2004 was a day that surprised the 59,439,413 of us who did NOT vote for George W. Bush. Together we can minimize the damage of this administration and ensure that a positive change begins on Bush's Last Day, January 20, 2009."

Wah things getting very tricky nowadays. - "Here's smth that happened to me in mid july but I never really gotten to posting it. People were distributing flyers about a party for teenagers, looks pretty harmless doesnt it? On normal view you would assume it was just a party for teenagers. Even after looking through the flyer I could think that it was a normal party but just one, only one word gave it away. Isn't it interesting, they seem to be trying to lure teenagers like me to attend their functions so as to convert us."
Editor's note: the poster reads "let us rejoice & be glad in His salvation."

"Are there any health benefits from swallowing semen?" - "Semen contains at least 13 prostaglandins and high concentrations of hormones that retain potency if taken orally. The quality of the seminal hormones is thought to be superior to even prescription versions. In the study women who regularly consumed their lovers sperm showed such benefits as a reduction in ovarian cancers, lowered depression and many even had acne symptoms lessen or stop entirely. It is thought that the oral consumption of the potent hormones had a balancing effect on woman's hormonal ups and downs caused by their periods and pregnancy or breastfeeding."
Summarising other articles on the same: Of course sex is very good for us. Isn't it?

Cycling in Skirts - "Undergarments: One of the most important, yet most often neglected, trappings of a serious skirted cyclist. If you are the type of woman who pays $15+ for a pair of undies, you will be thrilled to hear that cycling in skirts is a perfect way to maximize your investment. While I'm sure your lover(s), children, neighbors (assuming you line dry your skivvies), etc. appreciate them, cycling in skirts opens up a whole new audience for these pricey little gems, and makes their purchase seem that much more worthwhile. For those of you who buy your undergarments at Walmart, please reconsider. While undergarment exposure for a skilled skirted cyclist is minimal, it is imperative that these fleeting glimpses be pleasant for onlookers, and a source of pride for yourself."

Welcome to the Jack T. Chick Museum of Fine Art - "An online catalog/ collection of Chick's classic tracts!"
So much for blocking chick.com

Cereal, Ezekiel 4:9, Sprouted Grain, Original
"Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them." - James A. Michener.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A pictorial series:

From the bazaar that just ended today:

Diners is accepted for Sweet Corn (the secret ingredients of which are Planta and Sugar)

The Ramly burger is falsely advertised as Halal. Quoth I: "Figures of deities, if any, in the applicants' premises should be hidden from the public's view." I must call the MUIS Halal Hotline to complain.

Elsewhere around NUS:

Bak chor mee stalls aren't the only establishments to have CCTVs these days. This was seen on the door of a com lab.

Why is the window on the door to the tutorial room barred? Damn, I always knew NUS was a prison.

I call this series "Why School Fees are Going Up"

At the front of LT11 there is this huge LCD screen facing the lecturer. Its purpose? For him to see what's on the screen behind him.

At Level 6 of Block ADM (USP block) we have this huge plasma screen giving us mostly outdated information that we all get in our email anyway.

Somehow I doubt there's a "Cut Waste" panel in NUS


Dead Pussy I found on the side of the road while walking him

This was not my idea. Lynnette wanted to take this side-by-side shot. In my defence I will submit that I last had a haircut in early February, while her last was yesterday!

Since the start of this week I've been adopting a Dr Blight-esque hairstyle to obscure a temporary disfigurement on my left temple.

It didn't really succeed, since a friend I MMS-ed those to (hurrah for Starhub's MMS-SMS 1-to-1 convertability till end 2006) asked me to show her how I'd done it. Maybe my technique was really subtle. Or maybe my double chin was more noticeable than the curtain of hair covering my temple.

Anyhow, in those shots I tried to achieve the "some doe-eyed, upward shot of their face staring up as if they're giving some sort of blowjob and the guy took a picture from up there" look. For your viewing pleasure I've replicated them below:

Various responses:


"haha..anw, your head never tilt up enough.. and must zheng1 da4 your yan3 jing1..which u din quite do to full effect
surf more girly blogs nad learn (Y)"

"wah. you really look like a girl in them... the first one is quite funny. the second one is weird
you should look down more. act demure and coy
try again
I think you're not that bad looking as a girl actually
atleast in the photo it's ok
not your body lar...but your face is convincing enough"

"maybe you should take away the LT background
but then the smile a bit too guailan
but i dunno how to fix it la
i don't think the "doe-eyed" smile is something guys can usually pull off heh"

i think your attempt has a different kind of vibe altogether
those annoy me. yours are.. hmm.
no i think it's cos your eyes not big enough.
maybe if you photoshop for the beeeeeg eye look"

"if [you were] were on the regular client i would send the emoticon of a monkey vomitting blood over"

"the second one is obsene
the one where your sitting on a red couch
it reallly looks like your giving a guy a fellatio la
the other one in the LT is better"
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