When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

I forgot that my parents were going to a seminar today, and by the time they got back to me and reminded me, it was almost 2. Nonetheless, I realised it was the perfect time to make Patat Frites (Dutch fries) since I wasn't having dinner at home. So I adapted the recipe from Belgianfries.com:

Russett potatoes washed, peeled (I couldn't find the potato peeler so I used a knife), cut thickly, soaked in cold water for a few minutes and drained, then dried with a towel.

First frying for 5 minutes in what I estimated was around 160°C oil.

This was in between high and low heat

Fries "sweating" for 1/2 hr

Ingredients for the sauce: Albert Heijn Fritesaus, Albert Heijn Curry(-Ketchup) and Onion (for dicing into uitjes to complete the speciaal sauce)

Prepared sauce. The onion is supposed to go on top of the sauces, but I'm lazy so it always goes on the bottom.

I was supposed to fry them at 190°C for the second frying for 2 minutes until crispy and golden brown, but high heat was apparently too high - this is what they looked like after only 40 seconds. They were Chao Tar and too crispy (crunchy, even). Luckily, I still had 1 batch left.

2nd batch, tossed with some salt - they were ok. This was for just under 2 mins (I accidentally stopped my stopwatch so took it out a bit early). The flame looked similar to the first time - it was at the point just before the outer ring of gas caught fire.

Frites with the sauce

Post-mortem: All in all, quite good for a first attempt and without a thermometer. I think I should fry them a bit longer in both fryings for better crispyness.
July Trip
16/7 - Ravenna

The night before my phone screen got cracked, my strawberry body gel also fell onto the shower floor and the cap broke. When I tried to secure the cap with a rubber band, I didn't align it properly so the cap got a hole bored in it (there was a piece of protruding plastic in the cover where the gel came out from, and it pressed into the plastic cap).

The night before, I tried putting my SIM card into another's phone so I could check my SMSes (some idiot, probably my brother-in-law, had SMSed me despite knowing that my screen was cracked). Unfortunately, the American whose phone I tried using was SIM card-locked. Among the more interesting bits of information I got was that Verizon phones have no SIM card at all unless you get the US$400 one.

The Body Shop hemp oil someone gave me did wonderful things for my hair, and didn't smell bad too. I couldn't find it in Utrecht and can't find it in Singapore though. Maybe I should ask a branch here if they can import it from the UK. If customs is not happy, we can ask them to drink it and see what happens to them.

The previous day, I'd found that though prices on San Marco's were cutthroat, walking through the alleys near it, prices became more reasonable. I went to a shop manned by 2 PRCs and asked for a Calzone. One didn't understand, and the other had to tell her which. It seems someone's pronunciation is wrong. Oh, but then it's more likely that the PRCs, despite likely working in the area (and country) for a protracted period of time and actually selling the item, and being asked for it everyday, did not know it was properly pronounced that way.

Funny instructions to get to my hostel in Venice:

"From Mestre train station, walk down the stairs from the platform, and follow the arrows to Marghera exit. You will be on a deadend street called via g.Ulloa, walk straight. Turn left at the second street you see, Follow this street, you will cross a street called via g. Rizzardi, and continue one more block Turn left when you hit via g.Durando. Just past the bus stop, cross the street, and on your right there are two streets. One is called via l. Fincati, the other is unmarked. Follow the unmarked street which runs parallel to a gas station. At the first intersection, look right. Via Mezzacapo , 1 and the Hotel Belvedere are on the right, look for the Trattoria sign. (We assure you this is a 5-7 minutes walk!)."

While waiting for my train to Ravenna from Venice, I struck a blow in protest of the price gouging at St Mark's Square by eating brunch at the McDonalds at the train station. After 2 weeks I was getting a bit tired of Italian food and needed a change, so I had a McPremiere, a kind of fusion burger.

At Ravenna there was no all in one ticket machine at the station, but only a reduced functionality regional ticket sales machine which also didn't sell tickets for the expensive trains, and importantly didn't show the train schedules. Meanwhile the station staff didn't speak English. Gah.

There was a stupid machine at the bus stop at Ravenna, but it wasn't accepting coins and only accepted €5 and €10 notes - I only had €20 and €50 ones. So I ended up buying a €1,50 ticket from the driver instead of a €0,75 one.

I arrived at my hostel at 2:05pm. I wanted to see the Dante museum beforeit closed. Unfortunately, the stupid hostel reception only opened at 3:30 (7-10am in the morning, 3:30-?pm in the afternoonand night) - it was a Hostelling International hostel. Damn, I should've realised what the "non-members will be charged a €3 surcharge" notice meant. At least it was reasonably located and I wasn't stuck in a swamp or something.

Hostelworld.com, which I used to book some hostels, had a US$2 booking fee for each hostel booking. There was an option for a Gold Card to save on booking fees but it cost US$10. Very evilly, logging in with your account details was not enough to use the Gold Card - you had to enter your card number at each booking, and this was not made explicit (I only found out when digging through their help pages; it wasn't stated on signup or on the booking page itself). So I bet lots of people get charged without knowing this (they don't give refunds if you "neglect" to enter your VIP card number).

Most Italian water points have no way to stop the flow. What a waste of water.

I saw a woman riding pillon behind a man on a motorcycle and cupping his chest as if he had breasts. Maybe he had nice moobs.

When I finally got to the Dante museum after checking in and walking to the city centre, I found that it was closed for restoration/consolidation of their works (if I read rightly). Damn.

Dante bust in Museum, through barred gate

Tomb of Dante

The guidebook called Ravenna "home to the unpretentious final resting place" of Dante. Compared with overdone Florence, this was simple yet elegant.


I happened to wander into an unassuming little church, only to find a sarcophagus dating from the end of the 4th to the start of the 5th century said to be of Liberio III, bishop of Ravenna. There was also a nice crypt dating to the end of the 10th century and underwater. Sneakily, it was only visible when lit by a €0,50 donation. I was willing to donate, but had no €0,50 coin, so someone else put it in in the end. There were also damaged frescoes on some walls.



Church of Saint Francis - where the crypt and sarcophagus were. It's really plain and unassuming from the outside.

Seen in the Dell hostel window, possibly from one level of Dante's hell

There was a place called "Pizza & Kebab fantasy". I'm not sure that a kebab is worth fantasising over, but whatever. Oddly, they had pancetta and prosciutto (I realise I didn't see 'Parma Ham' in Italy - maybe I'd have found it only in Parma) - and no "100% Halal" signs. I think Italian culinary pride didn't allow Pizza places in Italy to be 100% Halal, unlike some other countries I could name.

NDP shop - they had red lingerie too

I then went to the Basilica of San Vitale. The guidebook had not stated a price for admission (perhaps implicitly stating that admission was free), but admission was combined with the Mausoleum of Galla Placida, the Basilica of St Apollinare Nuova, the Baptistry of Neoniano and the Museo Arcivescovile in one €7,50 (full price) ticket valid for 7 days, with a €2 supplement during peak season for the Mausoleum. I was beginning to seriously doubt that the information in my guidebook was a year old at most.

I was intending to see a bit of the Basilica today, and the rest tomorrow, but since entry was not free I decided to postpone my visit in case I ran out of time, since I arrived at 530 and thought I might not finish by 7 (especially since they would close by 645 or even 630). Entry was free for the "religious" (so if I said 3 Ave Marias and crossed myself as I went in, or submitted myself to trial by water I would've gone in free? [Addendum: someone: ""it is actually free entry for those belonging to a religious order, nuns and monks etc. eg french for nun is 'religieuse'"]), journalists (I wonder if places with free entrance for journalists get better reviews) and members of military forces (damn, should've brought my 11B).

Amusing Italian Warning Signs

Map showing how densely packed the World Heritage Sites and other attractions are

The most pathetic "Beware of the Dog" sign I've ever seen. I'm quite sure it was a joke.

Ravenna was totally dead on Sunday. At least half the food establishments were closed. Italy is so religious. Or maybe everyone was at the beach.

I walked through the duomo but it was very blah.

Palazzo detto di Teodorico

Palazzo detto di Teodorico (?)

S Apollinare Nuovo

The laboratorico di Mosaico was offering courses in mosaic making. Wah.

Translation issues: A promo to join the hostel association read: "The price for adhesion" (admission)

Despite bringing my own sheets, so far I'd only gotten to use them at Antwerp. I suppose if I'd booked earlier I would've been able to get cheaper places where I'd have been able to use the sheets. Oh well.

In my hostel bathroom there was a United Colors of Benneton condom dispenser, with pictures of 2 people of different colours (a white woman and a black guy) on it. Wth. Maybe they were promoting interracial intercourse of the sexual variety, the better to facilitate the ambition of: "All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep fuckin' everybody 'til they're all the same color." (Bullworth)

When you consume Coke that is truly ice cold, which I think you can only get with a really good dispenser or by putting a can/bottle on ice yourself (putting it on the rocks doesn't count - it messes with the concentration and gas distribution), you realise how Coke that's merely cold just doesn't cut it. I imagine it's like the difference between ice cold beer and just cold beer.

someone suggested that I only bring 4 shirts and don't wash any of them (ie Wearing each for a week). Of course, someone has never backpacked in July and anyway I'm not as disgusting as someone. So just as I'd done laundry on my last night in Rome, I did it in Ravenna again, using the drier both times.

No doubt someone would disapprove due to the waste of power, but I had no place to hang everything (there was a drying in Ravenna but it was full, and Rome lacked a drying rack; I also lacked hangers and string) and in Ravenna I was only there for one night, so the clothes might not have dried in time. Furthermore, my room mates would not have liked my transforming the room into a spider's web. Perhaps most importantly, I was on holiday and already had enough frustrations - why add to the troubles?

Having fungus grow on my clothes (or worse - myself) in the pursuit of the blind ideology of saving power was simply ludicrous.

In any event, the stupid dryer didn't fully dry my clothes, so I had to hang them around the room and sleep on the floor (not that I wouldn't have otherwise - as usual it was damn hot; I even slept in a wet shirt to cool myself down). Luckily no one else was hanging clothes.
Does Evil Really Exist?

"“People have been obsessed by evil for centuries—obsessed with what evil is, who is evil, and how to avoid evil—and the 21st century is no exception. President Bush famously dubbed Iran, North Korea, and Iraq the Axis of Evil in his 2002 State of the Union address. In casual conversation and media stories alike, terrorists, politicians and criminals are labeled evil. With all these accepted references to evil, it is time that its true nature is exposed and thoroughly examined,” Frankfurter says...

In many ways, the term terrorism and its close association with the concept of evil conjures meanings and responses similar to the terms witchcraft, devil-worshipper, and commie. And that, Frankfurter says, should be of concern to many.

“We become lost in these large-scale terms for evil, invoking them for every anxiety, every criminal suspect, every political maneuver,” he says. “Those who have become wed to large-scale schemes of danger and conspiracy have sought to root it out by any means necessary.”...

For those deemed evil, often the public response is to take drastic measures to cleanse them from the landscape. “One imagines the view of Tutsis in 1994 Rwanda, the view of Jews in 1939 Germany (and often in European history), and the view of Christians in second-century Rome. They represent predators, obstacles to safety and success,” Frankfurter says.

When society labels people as evil, it places them outside humanity where others don't have to think about motivations or context in any critical way. “Use of this label amounts to intellectual laziness and has led, consistently, to the worst atrocities we know about. Speaking of ‘evil’ leads people to evil,” Frankfurter says.

And according to the professor, people are thinking more about evil today. “We see and hear about so many horrible atrocities and crimes, yet are constantly presented with contexts and backgrounds and ways of understanding how they could happen. For many people, especially people of evangelical Christian bent, to label something or somebody evil has a refreshing clarity to it,” he says."

The Midanites were evil -> It was right and proper to wipe them all out
The Jews were evil -> It was right and proper to wipe them all out
Tolkien as Seven Syllable Regulated Tang Verse
Or "Something Enming did when he was Bored in Slavery"



“All that is gold does not glitter,
not all those who wander are lost;
the old that is strong does not wither,
deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
a light from the shadows shall spring;
renenwed shall be blade that was broken,
the crownless again shall be king.”

Friday, September 22, 2006

"Famous remarks are very seldom quoted correctly." - Simeon Strunsky


In the MOE HQ building, there's a section set apart from the rest of the complex - the Customer Service Centre, as well as the toilet beside it, presumably compartmentalised so outside people can visit them freely. I wanted to go to the toilet, but had to get a security pass before I could pass. Maybe they're afraid someone will blow up their toilet.

Someone pointed out to me that the flaw with an epistemological framework based on the existence of objective truth is that we don't live in an arid thought experiment world. This is true enough, but neither do we live in the idealised world beloved by those of the "never make generalizations" school of thought. For example, having the maxim "Don't discriminate against furry monsters" is all well and good, but if 90% of the furry monsters your firm hires are prone to feral fits and eat your customers, you're not going to hire them. In the real world, you don't have the luxury of unlimited time and resources, no matter how noble your aspirations.

SMS from Patch: "Chinese Sign seen outside no1 color centre photoshop advertising for job opening which welcomes malays. Who, i guess, must be bilingual." Unfortunately, he didn't manage to get a picture. If anyone is passing by Toa Payoh Block 69, I'd appreciate a picture.

"Mongol Experors of the Liao dynasty tortured prisoners by placing them under large bronze bells, whose continued ringing ultimately killed them."

I wonder how Colin Matthews feels about Pluto being demoted.

Never trust theories of male sexuality formulated by women and/or gay men.


Foreigner Gets Punished As He Impersonates Japanese AV Stars at TV in Japan - "This is how you make fun of people from other cultures. By getting them to do female orgasm impressions. And then wacking them with bats. On TV. In Japan."

YouTube - Windows Vista: Photos are Memories? - "We have receive an unbelievable response from the first 2 videos that Eden put together. Now, by popular demand, here is number 3! This is a fun spoof of M$'s previews of Windows Vista."
I never use the inbuilt OS tools anyway.

YouTube - Monty Python - Hitler in England - "Over here is Mr Hilter... This is Ron. Ron Vivventrop."

One Man + Six Pool Tables + Japanese Television Production Values = Awesome at TV in Japan - "This might just be the most amazing trick shots ever seen on TV ever before. Plus, it has smoke, shiny lights and a very animated old man just kicking ass. If guys did this kind of stuff here, trick billiards might just finally make it over to regular ESPN."
This is better than the Tornado Shoot.

Woman is fitted with 'bionic' arm - "A former US Marine has become the first woman in the world to be fitted with a "bionic" arm that she can control by her thoughts alone."

Researchers learn to extract crude oil from pig manure - "Inside a white metal building nestled among fields of corn and soybeans, the students pressure-cook the messy muck until it becomes thick, black, energy-dense crude oil remarkably similar to the stuff pumped from deep within the earth. As oil and gas prices continue their steep climb, the dedicated crew of engineering researchers at the University of Illinois are refining an economical process to transform smelly hog droppings into piggy petroleum that can be refined into industrial fuel."

Two judges scolded for behavior in court - "The Washington State Commission on Judicial Conduct has admonished two local judges, one for leading a football cheer before sentencing a man for manslaughter and one for forcing a Muslim woman out of the courtroom when she wouldn’t take off her head scarf... When Grant came into the courtroom, she instructed approximately 100 onlookers – mostly family members of Teang and Patricelli – to cheer for the Seahawks, who were to play in the Super Bowl that weekend... Grant even filed the formal complaint against herself."
A source informs me that yesterday, the Comics section of the Shackled Times was missing the Non-Sequitur strip.

He has since dug up the offending cartoon:

"He says if you don't take a bite, the terrorists win."


Naturally, we must be prepared to go to all lengths to defeat the terrorists - even if it involves implanting tracking devices and mind control chips inour brains.
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." - Mel Brooks


The NUS Computer Centre is organising a contest where students can win an iPod Nano for saying which aspect of the new email system they like the most.

There seem to be a lot of iPod Nanos floating around to entice us into taking part in contests and polls (the Student Perception Survey 2006 has a ton of prizes; finally there's a way for students to tell NUS why it sucks!), hmm.

At least we're seeing some results from the fee hikes!

Also, "10 entries with the best comments, selected by the Judges will win an additional 1GB of mailbox space. Computer Centre reserves the right to use your quote." Uhh.

IVLE has a feature showing when students downloaded files from the workbin. Wth?! This is very disturbing.

Someone commented, on my Dr Blight hairstyle, "This is the hairstyle I had in secondary school". Somehow, I don't think that was a good thing.

In NUS, there's the usual rhetoric about learning together and helping each other, with everyone benefiting, but since we have the bell curve, helping each other is lifting it and not helping, but conversely hurting yourself. A viable (even if impractical and even perverse) strategy to do well might then be, instead of improving your grades, rather, depressing others'.

This has been a week of extremes. I had the easiest exam I've had since Lower Primary - 20 questions where you match terms to their definitions (as given in the lecture notes), 10 true/false questions (some rewording of each other - eg XXX is impossible if YYY, XXX is possible if YYY) and 20 where you chose one of 2 options, and there was the chance to mark out one or two special questions for extra credit. This is what happens with visiting Professors - last semester Macro II was 100% MCQ. On the other hand, I also got what must be the hardest homework I've had in a long time (at least since JC), and which makes up 12% of one module's grade.

I saw someone who printed his/her (I forget) notes in purple ink. I asked why and he/she said he/she didn't want to waste black ink, and that that was for his/her essays. Uhh.

The Malay stall at the Arts Canteen sells what must be the cheapest French Toast in the world. I ordered 2 pieces and was amazed that each was only $0.30. I was even more amazed when I received the goods, because I'd thought each piece was only half a slice of bread, but in reality it was a whole slice. When I bit into it, though, I was surprised to find that it wasn't sweet. Another bite shocked me even more, since there was chili-sardine-onion filling inside. Wth?!

I asked a classmate from Beijing why there were so many PRCs in Business. She said there were a lot of PRCs in NUS, period. I then theorised they went to Business for the Beijing Feng Wei canteen stall, and she said you can't find the food Beijing Feng Wei serves in Beijing. Hah!

On 18/9, the Guan Yin jigsaw stall making the Ramly burgers Halal had been moved so there was now another stall in between them. HMM.

I saw a girl wearing a "Terror on Tracks" windcheater which was almost long enough to cover her shorts (PE, not hot or FBT).

I heard a jazz ringtone for the first time.

One part of the NUS dress code I'm amazed everyone adheres to is "no midriff-baring outfits" (or words to that effect).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sounds like terror in the air

"Mysteriously snuffed out candles, weird sensations and shivers down the spine may not be due to the presence of ghosts in haunted houses but to very low frequency sound that is inaudible to humans.

British scientists have shown in a controlled experiment that the extreme bass sound known as infrasound produces a range of bizarre effects in people, including anxiety, extreme sorrow and chills - supporting popular suggestions of a link between infrasound and strange sensations.

"Normally you can't hear it," said Richard Lord, an acoustic scientist at the National Physical Laboratory in England who worked on the project.

Dr Lord and his colleagues, who produced infrasound with a seven-metre pipe and tested its impact on 750 people at a concert, said infrasound was also generated by natural phenomena.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in southern England, said: "Some scientists have suggested that this level of sound may be present at some allegedly haunted sites and so cause people to have odd sensations that they attribute to a ghost - our findings support these ideas."

In the first controlled experiment of infrasound, Dr Lord and Professor Wiseman played four contemporary pieces of live music, including some laced with infrasound, at a London concert hall and asked the audience to describe their reactions to the music.

The audience did not know which pieces included infrasound but 22 per cent reported more unusual experiences when it was present in the music.

Their unusual experiences included feeling uneasy or sorrowful, getting chills down the spine or nervous feelings of revulsion or fear.

"These results suggest that low frequency sound can cause people to have unusual experiences even though they cannot consciously detect infrasound," said Professor Wiseman, who presented his findings to the British Association science conference.

Infrasound is also produced by storms, seasonal winds and weather patterns and some types of earthquakes. Animals such as elephants also use infrasound to communicate over long distances or as weapons to repel foes.

"So much has been said about infrasound - it's been associated with just about everything from beam weapons to bad driving. It's wonderful to be able to examine the evidence," said Sarah Angliss, a composer and engineer who worked on the project."
"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat." - Lily Tomlin



[On using notes from a Level 1 module as reference] Go back and look at those notes if you haven't already burnt, buried, destroyed them somewhere.

[On Singapore] In the 90s there was a trade deficit for many years. Not often mentioned in the news.

[On BOP balancing] Maybe, instead, Amazon decides to take the Singapore dollars and buy Singapore exports... 10 packets of chicken rice. Ormaybe they decide they don't like chicken rice and just decide they want their goddamn US dollars... Damn Yankees.

[On statistical discrepancies in the balance of payments] For many years, in Singapore, there were some things that were not published. Trade with Indonesia, for example.

The textbook talks about real exchange rates. It doesn't say anything about fake exchange rates (...)

We're talking about Big Macs here, so they're all the same. It doesn't mean the Big Mac in Japan has sushi inside.

[On marking the growth of a variable] Gordon doesn't use the dot. He uses a triangle. I think he doesn't have the typeset for the dot.

are tr'er lee generate these numbers (arbitrarily)

[On generating simulated data and estimating a model] The true case happens in heaven... In this case we know, but we assume we don't know. When we wake up we don't know... Once you live in this world you are in the general estimation model world... We live as a god in this world, then we wake up and live as a normal person, as an Econometrician.

The example is rather abject (abstract)

If we reject the null hypothesis, we reject homoskedasticity. We hope that we reject [it] so we can learn something new.

You cannot damage these PCs, because they have been tested thoroughly by previous students.

[On whether water is permitted in a lab with a "no food & drinks allowed" sign] [Student: She told me to keep my food. She didn't say anything about my water. So I deduced water was allowed.] I wish you guys would use your deductionfor better purposes in life.

It doesn't matter whether you write it in pen or pencil. It doesn't matter whether you write in pink, red, black... Please don't write the answers on stone tablets. Please don't tattoo the answers onto your buttocks.

The problem is that those who are most likely to get extra credit are those who will least need it.

Memorising the definition of a term given to you is neither necessary nor sufficient.

[On green tea] You can send me an email about whether it's worth drinking, cos if I'm gonna switch from coffee it better be good. 'If I drink it every day for my entire life I will live 1 day longer' won't cut it.

[On the sliminess and intellectual dishonesty of redefinining the English Language to suit your purposes] If I had $10 in my pocket, and someone asked me if I had a dollar, I would say no... It would depend on the context. Suppose you were in a court of law because a legal issue arose over the graduation tickets... 'Do you have 600 graduation tickets?' It would be misleading to say yes [if you had 750]

[On not using the visualiser] I'm worried that it'll be too small. And also you'll see my messy handwriting.

Dare'tch where the confusion comes from (There's)

[Student: Someone went to steal the Mac mouse] Who would want to steal a Mac mouse? There's only one button!

z'year'rho (zero)

There're 2 cases of special validity. They're freaks of nature... Freaks of logic.

[On a female student being unable to open the door] Did you get locked in?... That would be bad. Getting locked with me in this room.

[Me: She said "'something' from Science"] 'I ame from Science'. I didn't know such fine things came from science... *Later* remember i said, 'didn't know there were such fine things in science' turns out she's probably an econ maj, so there really isn't such fine things in science (aren't)

[On investing in 4D] Buy 5 numbers. 'I have diversified my unsystematic risk. Therefore my portfolio is efficient.

[On Financial Economics] If we don't have any maths, we can do everything in 5 minutes. It's so simple.

[Me: What did he say?] 'Where did I get the 8?' [Me: What's so funny about that?] Custom. When the lecturer makes an error you laugh. It's an NUS tradition.

[Me: I wondered if the one coming in was from Science.] It's ok, you don't have a sciencedar. [Me: Sciencedar?] Gaydar, Sciencedar.

If you type in 'What is a bond' in Google, what do you get? Any of you tried? You get James Bond.

[Lecturer: 2 more slides and I'll give you a break.] Aiyah. I thought '2 more slides and I'll let you all go.' ***

[On an 'Investment Education Podcast'] I thought of sending you an email last night, but if I did that, you wouldn't come here, because you [would] already know everything.

Another thing: Will I give these formulas in the exam? [Students: Yes!] No. *Laughs from the audience* Why should I?

[On discounting a 30 year twice-yearly bond] If you have to add 60 terms manually, it might be difficult.

Imperfect capital mobility is something you will do in part of your problem set. *thunder* Wow. Somebody up there doesn't like that idea. This is a strange September... It usually doesn't rain so much in September.

Of course, we're not going to do the other 4 in class, because they will be in your problem set. *Consternation from audience* I do the easy part in class, you do the hard part in your problem set - that's the point.

[On the Mundell-Fleming IS-LM-BP model] It's very nice to teach. You can play around with lots of funny things, and kill your students with it.

[On why he's going to JB] I'm going there to buy underwears. (underwear)

One principle is the smarter you are, the more comfortable your body is (???)

This is why I am against the attendance policy. I am 100% sure there is a positive correlation... between attendance and grades... you have to show me the causal estimator... People tend to be confused between correlation and causation.

female niece (femaleness - femininity)

How SPH could ruin CHIJ's reputation

Don't label our girls 'easy', say angry convent schools

It seems the Franchise school hasn't learned from the NKF's costly lesson. If they take SPH to court, SPH will call up Davinder Singh, who will call up witnesses and maybe even commission a statistical study revealing that many people know and have heard of the generalization and even the allegations, and thus to comment on it is eminently fair.

And then their reputation will be well and truly ruined as a "tongue in cheek" comment will have been sanctioned by the court. Maybe the franchise will even be ruined.

Hurr hurr.

A: anyway it's a universal thing ( stereotype or urban myth?) that catholic schoolgirls in uniform are repressed when it comes to u know [what]

B: hard case
­cuz many influential people are ij girls
­or married to ij girls
Me: wasn't NKF influential?
B: not as influential as 100 years of ij education
davinder from sji
given the clout that ij girls have in sg
sph would prob not want to risk it

Me: how come RGS didn't sue New Paper

B: cuz they are not catholic
there is a certain moral std that they are required to adhere to

C: btw i don't think the IJ girls ppl have a case against SPH
firstly i've never heard of a "class of people" suing for defamation
how do you prove that ALL IJ girls were defamed?
the school has no locus standi

there's always journalistic privilege as a defence
though i fail to see how the article is a "matter or public interest"

D (ex-convent girl): haha the convent girl is the symbol of a man's deepest darkest desires right? wtf :P

Sunday Times article tarnished our image: CHIJ chairperson

Wednesday • September 20, 2006

Ansley Ng

ELEVEN convent schools in Singapore have threatened legal action against Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) for an article that allegedly defamed convent schoolgirls.

Today has learnt that a lawyer's letter has been sent to the media company on Monday, demanding an apology and costs and damages to be paid for a "defamatory" article that was published in last week's Sunday Times, which described convent girls as being "easy" with members of the opposite sex.

Three days ago, The Sunday Times, the weekend edition of The Straits Times, published a story titled "Singapore A-Z … once more, with feeling", a "tongue in cheek" look at Singapore icons and subjects which coincided with the recently-launched Singapore — the Encyclopaedia.

Under the alphabet "I", the newspaper ran a short description of "IJ girls", term for girls who study in CHIJ (Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus) Catholic mission schools.

"'IJ girls' is a generalisation for girls who study in CHIJ schools and who like to hem their school uniforms real short, wear their belts real low on their hips, and are allegedly easy when it comes to the opposite sex," a paragraph read.

A cartoon above the paragraph also showed a girl in blue lighting up a cigarette.

"Singaporeans perusing our pages should note that this is done in tongue-in-cheek," one part of the article read.

According to sources, a letter of demand was sent to SPH on Monday, asking for an apology to be published in this weekend's edition of The Sunday Times.

It also demanded that costs and damages to be paid to the Infant Jesus Board of Management, which manages the 11 schools.

The board comprises 14 members, including two nuns, eight former students and four men, who are linked to the schools.

The story upset many alumni and parents and the board members were believed to have received more than 50 phone calls and email messages of complaint between them.

Yesterday, The Straits Times letters pages published a letter written by Donne Marie Aeria — the board's chairperson — rebutting the story.

Ms Aeria called the article "an ill-conceived idea and done in bad taste".

"Was there a need to tarnish the image of thousands of students, past, present and future, including girls as young as six years old in Primary 1, with an image that they are 'allegedly easy when it comes to the opposite sex'?" Ms Aeria wrote.

"It has caused much distress, pain and embarrassment to ladies of all ages, that hail from our CHIJ schools."

There are currently about 16,000 girls studying in the 11 primary and secondary CHIJ schools.

SPH declined to comment when contacted.

Aljunied GRC MP Cynthia Phua, who studied in CHIJ Secondary School (Toa Payoh), called the generalisation "insensitive".

"Eleven schools are all wearing the same uniform. It's too much if you see one case and generalise," said Mrs Phua, whose daughter is studying at CHIJ Primary School (Toa Payoh).

"If (The Sunday Times) wants to stick to its comment, they should clarify who their sources are."

Addendum: The original paragraph is archived on this blog
My mother always separates the covers of plastic containers from their corresponding bodies.

Since we have a lot of clear plastic containers of similar sizes, I always end up grabbing the wrong cover for the container I need to close, realising the container can't be closed and spending forever looking for the right one.

I couldn't find a lid today so after failing to force the container shut, I secured it with 2 rubber bands. Unfortunately it spilled on the counter, so I threw away the container after transferring its contents to another.

If one day I find a lid which won't fit any container, I suppose I will have to throw it away too. The gods knows we have enough plastic containers anyway.
MFTTW: "being a graduate student is like being a rubbish collector: it's a dirty job but someone has got to do it. and it's also a job often farmed out to foreigners."
"He who deals with lying, deluded, psychotic, vindictive, treacherous bitches might take care lest he thereby become a lying, deluded, psychotic, vindictive, treacherous bitch. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I just burnt several holes in a pair of shorts I tried to iron. This was because the setting was to Cotton when it was made of some Synthetic material, but I'd ironed it at this setting before so the more important reason was that I'd neglected to check if there was water in the iron (there wasn't).

This is why I don't iron much. Grr.

One day more and I'll be rid of these darn assignments!

Or at least till after the mid-term break.

Monday, September 18, 2006

If this scares you (note the phrase "for simplicity"), you shouldn't do Economics at the University level.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"I don't need a baby growing inside me for nine months. For one thing, there's morning sickness. If I'm going to feel nauseous and achy when I wake up, I want to achieve that state the old fashioned way: getting good and drunk the night before." - Ellen DeGeneres


According to The Campus Observer (Student representation in NUS), the NUSSU Council can "take disciplinary action against any member who has acted in any manner derogatory to the union". Considering that membership is both automatic and (I think) compulsory, this would seem to be Kafkaesque (kind of like "You are soldiers now, so you must submit to our Stupidity, Sadism and Senselessness"). If I make legitimate criticisms of NUSSU, does that mean they'll stop me drinking from the Milo van?

Last time when I was doing Physics I noticed that they liked to derive 10,000 formulae which were essentially rearrangements of each other and was wondering why they went to such trouble. After getting funny results in portfolio analysis I realise why - when you substitute in numerical values and perform algebraic manipulation, mistakes can appear, so it's better to find a formula which will give you the value you want immediately on substituting.

I tried using an external wireless card in school and I finally could get reception where none could be had before with my internal wireless adaptor. Some others were complaining, and one claimed that IBM antennas are different from those of other brands.

Some time ago I was told a vicious rumour that USP students were not allowed to vote in their home faculty elections, just as they can't play for their home faculty in inter-faculty games. A friend of mine managed to vote in her business elections, so my curiosity was piqued. I went to see if my name was on the Arts electoral roll and it was. Bloody hell. Never believe everything you hear (especially not if it is that ghee and lard are the same thing).

There was some "BS35645.a" document, a "Code of practice for love/romance", which defined "Romance" as "A Roman Civil Engineer". Unfortunately I can't find it online.

Someone once claimed that NUS produces good paper engineers, but NTU produces good practical engineers.

I don't know why people bother to wear jackets which don't even cover the whole of the top half of their body. Even better: their bottom halves are barely covered.

I find the practice of wearing a tight cardigan and buttoning only one button in a strategic spot to emphasise the bosom very irritating.

laser fairy (laissez faire)

[On multiple equilibria] Going on a date, that kind of game.

[On a picture of the world at night] Singapore is right here. Right now, it's a little red dot.

[On Landes, 1998] It's a very good 10 pages. Among the things it tells you is that Harvard University doesn't have a Geography department.

We are lucky enough to have air-conditioning... heat debilitates. Humidity adds to the heat. You know that if you sit outside this lecture theatre you don't really want to work.

[On schistosomiasis] the larva of snails (larvae)

[Demonstrating the wimpiness of Economics compared to the other Social Sciences] Of course I'm not gonna get you guys to read an entire book.

[On explaining economic development] Jeff Sachs, whenever he gives talks - he just throws Singapore aside. Whatever graph he draws, Singapore is in some obscure corner.

[On explaining economic development in SEA] The mosquitoes that inhabit this region are less commando than in Sub-Saharan Africa

It might be the only part of David Romer's book where you don't find a model. Similarly, this might be the only part of the lecture where you don't find a model.

Charles Jones. His friends call him 'Chad'.

[On Freedom House's map of the world] I can't see what goes on in Singapore, but I believe we are partly free. [Student: Not free] Not free? Everything costs.

In Singapore, if you vandalise you get caned. In Myanmar, if you don't vandalise you still get caned.

Don't worry too much about the maths. Think of it as another language.

You better know what Arsenal is. It's a way to earn cookie points.

Are you an Arts Student? [Female student: Business] What is your weight? Not your mass. [Student: 50kg]

Did your Dad use the cane on you? [Student: Definitely. Not. I will tell him to use it on my grandson] (his?)

Everyone talks about outdoor air quality. No one talks about indoor air quality... What about SR2? That place smalles.

Yesterday I had my teeth checked at NUH... 'There is a theory that dentists, before marriage, need to check the teeth of their partner.' He said: 'Yah, it's true. I would like to do that.' I meant it as a joke. He thought I was serious. The nurse was laughing.

8.0 rich t'er (richter)

[On a programming test] It's open-book - you can bring anything, but not anyone.

That's why in USP we look at other things beside your exam grades. But what you say in your interview and what you do later - 'I like the challenge'. So we give you the challenge.

[On a post-mortem of SQ006] I'm not supposed to know this. 2 years ago I attended a conference in the UK. One of the guys was an investigator... I was the only one from Singapore. If he can show it to those guys I don't see why I can't show you. I don't think SIA will be very happy.

Machines are not affected by machines of the other sex. They don't get angry at other machines.

I wonder if I can still live my childhood dream - to have a number named myself. *** ratio or the *** number.

[On the sham of finance] I wonder if Treynor, Jensen, Sharpe and Modigliani could make so much money, why did they do Econs? 'I didn't apply my own theory.'

[Me: He looks very happy] He feeds on the expression on our faces. *mimes shocked look*

Help wee'mern and children (women)

Shed more light into this area (on)

[On a video about child prostitution] I hope you all will enjoy it.

[On Darwis Rianto Lim] They presented him 2 boys. He chose one. They went to his hotel room. Everything was revealed. Metaphorically.

I've met so many good men. There are so many good men out there. No male bashing here.

The vice squad doesn't have a hotline. AWARE wrote to them, we got the customer service hotline.

SPH on CHIJ Girls


IJ is short for CHIJ, or Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, a school founded in Victoria Street by Catholic nuns and priests. There are now 13 secondary and primary schools in the family.

'IJ girls' is a generalisation for girls who study in CHIJ schools and who like to hem their school uniforms real short, wear their belts real low on their hips, and are allegedly easy when it comes to the opposite sex.

But bad rep aside, they are also known for being smart, creative and well-spoken, at least going by how alumni include actresses Andrea De Cruz and Sharon Au, singer Tanya Chua, model Charmaine Harn and Campus Superstar finalist Teresa Tseng."

The Franchise school was the only school to actually make it in.

Singapore: The Encyclopedia The Straits Times - encouraging IMF and WB delegates to prey on jailbait! At $75, it's even priced for them.
"Quotation ... A writer expresses himself in words that have been used before because they give his meaning better than he can give it himself, or because they are beautiful or witty, or because he expects them to touch a cord of association in his reader, or because he wishes to show that he is learned and well read. Quotations due to the last motive are invariably ill-advised; the discerning reader detects it and is contemptuous; the undiscerning is perhaps impressed, but even then is at the same time repelled, pretentious quotations being the surest road to tedium." - Henry W. Fowler


Someone: a female:
sexual harassment >> physics.

she claims that she would rather be sexually harassed [verbally] than to study physics.

Me: why did she opt for it in JC then

Someone: dunno
maybe she's not taking physics
maybe she's not in JC

Me: she is
and she is
don't try to smoke me

Someone: are you sure you got the right person?

Me: unless there're 2 girls who don't mind that

Someone: actually
there are more.


anyway I'd rather have something done to me of a similarly distressing nature than do lit

Someone else (on the above): hahaha
now that i'm taking the stupid subject i empathise

the lecturer seems to be wooling his way around
i thought i would get a british/american lecturer
but no, i get this weird singaporean

everyone is still wondering how he got phD

Someone: why ARE they so tall?

Me: dunno

Someone: it's a flat country!

Me: "not everything in holland is flat"

Someone: i should hope not!

Me: :P
wanted to buy the t-shirt

Someone: would the joke transfer well, that's the thing

Me: it'd be funny on non-well endowed girls

Someone: there would have to be a 2nd line at the back or something
"unfortunately, i am"


"So many years have passed, but I still feel a warm glow whenever you touch on those happy days in National Slavery. Bring tears to my eyes, it does. I like to think I made a difference in at least one Armour CPL's life...


I see the jokers are still out there.


"The Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century was made up of a distinguished collection of unemployed statesmen and stateswomen. Another member was Michael Manley, the former prime minister of Jamaica, apparently not disqualified as a development expert by his haivng bankrupted the Jamaican economy from 1972 to 1980."

"Paul Krugman... drew an analogy between capital-intensive Singaporean growth and capital-intensive Soviety growth, setting off a cyclone of protest. Singapore's prime minister denounced Krugman publicly and announced that Singapore would henceforth have a goal of 2 percent per year technological progress" - Irony has been dead here for decades.

I just realised why my counter registered such a drastic drop in hits when I reinstalled it - I forgot to republish everything. Gah.

A 2 MP camera in your phone isn't much good if it can't focus. Let alone do Macro. Gah.

I was advised to change my parting, or I'd have a centre parting forever. The front is relatively easy, but the middle is often truculent and bounces back into a configuration resembling the old one, making my hair look very weird. What bothers me more, though, is how the flesh where my new parting is hurts after I've had the new parting for an extended period of time. This is extremely strange, though it seems to be decreasing in intensity.

It's such an exciting time to be in JC. One option for H3 (the replacement of S Papers) is to do a module at NUS. So instead of spending 1 year on S Papers and taking the exams at the same time as everything else, they spread out their workload, spending one semester (13 weeks) at NUS, skipping some classes in the meantime and have exams at a different time from those in school. To boot they get Advanced Placement Credit (APC) at NUS, which is a pity since those doing H3 wouldn't be aiming for NUS in the first place. But perhaps the best part is that H3 is easier than S Papers. For example, Biology H3 is the module LSM1102 which The Master of Office describes as "mostly a level stuff. more detail". Meanwhile, the Economics H3 option comes from Business rather than Economics (bloody hell) - BSP1005 ("Managerial Economics"). Ah, it's such a scam!

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations

"To be sure, geography is only one factor in play here. Some scholars blame technology and the rich countries that have developed it: they are charged with inventing methods suited to temperate climates, so that potentially fertile tropical soil remains fallow. Others accuse the colonial powers of disrupting the equatorial societies, so that they have lost control of their environment. Thus the slave trade, by depopulating large areas and allowing them to revert to bush, is said to have encouraged the tsetse fly and the spread of trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness). Most writers prefer to say nothing on the subject.

One must not take that easy way out. The historian may not erase or rewrite the past to make it more pleasing; and the economist, whose easy assumption that every country is destined to develop sooner or later, must be ready to look hard at failure...

In general the discomfort of heat exceeds that of cold. We all know the fable of the sun and wind. One deals with cold by putting on clothing, by building or finding shelter, by making fire. These techniques go back tens of thousands of years and account for the early dispersion of humanity from an African origin to colder climes. Heat is another story...

The easiest way to reduce this waste problem is not to generate heat; in other words, keep still and don't work. Hence such social adaptations as the siesta, which is designed to keep people inactive in the heat of midday...

Slavery makes other people do the hard work. It is no accident that slave labor has historically been associated with tropical and semitropical climes. The same holds for division of labor by gender: in warm lands particularly... The aim is to shift the work and pain to those not able to say no.

The ultimate answer to heat has been air conditioning. But that came in very late--really after World War II... In America, air conditioning made possible the economic prosperity of the New South. Without it, cities like Atlanta, Houston, and New Orleans would still be sleepy-time towns...

Heat, especially year-round heat, has an even more deleterious consequence: it encourages the proliferation of life forms hostile to man. Insects swarm as the temperature rises, and parasites within them mature and breed more rapidly. The result is faster transmission of disease and development of immunities to countermeasures... Winter, then, in spite of what poets may say about it, is the great friend of humanity: the silent white killer, slayer of insects and parasites, cleanser of pests...

Personal experiences can be misleading, if only because of the variance among individuals. One person's discomfort is another's pleasure. Still, the law of heat exhaustion applies to all, and few manage to work at full capacity when hot and wet. Here is a Bangladeshi diplomat recalling his own experience and that of compatriots when visiting temperate climes:

"In countries like India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria and Ghana I have always felt enervated by the slightest physical or mental exertion, whereas in the UK, France, Germany or the US I have always felt reinforced and stimulated by the temperate climate, not only during long stays, but even during brief travels. And I know that all tropical peoples visiting temperate countries have had a similar experience. I have also seen hundreds of people from the temperate zone in the tropics feeling enervated and exhausted whenever they were not inside an air-conditioned room.

"In India and other tropical countries I have noticed farmers, industrial labourers, and in fact all kinds of manual and office workers working in slow rhythm with long and frequent rest pauses. But in the temperate zone I have noticed the same classes of people working in quick rhythm with great vigour and energy, and with very few rest pauses. I have known from personal experience and the experience of other tropical peoples in the temperate zone that this spectacular difference in working energy and efficiency could not be due entirely or even mainly to different levels of nutrition.""

Addendum: This is from David S. Landes, 1998

Keywords: Harvard, no geography department
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