When you can't live without bananas

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor." - Neil Gaiman


Quotes from essays for a general education module:

- "In each organism, diploid zygote formation depends on haploid gamete production, and the gametic cycles are in turn controlled by the mature organism developed from a zygote." Instructor: "I don't know what that means."

- Then I thought that it would hardly work in countries like Singapore, where half the people do not speak English or anything proper at all.

- Moreover it is in the University where we are placed on uneven playing fields in bidding for modules, and we learn in each semester how to refine our bidding skills.

I am starting a new mini-series called "u r wt u wr". Today's installment:

- There was a girl in a green shirt with a picture of a bicycle and the words "Want a ride?"
- A girl was in a purple top which had the word "Slutty" on it
- One girl was wearing an emerald coloured top with the words: "I only look innocent"
- Some girl was wearing a pink T-shirt with cap sleeves with the words "Cute", "Single" and others I couldn't see on it

(All the preceding exhibits were glimpsed in school)

Obviously, wearing clothing with such motifs or slogans is begging to have them commented upon, yet my money is on those wearing these pieces of clothing complaining about sexual harassment and claiming that they're being objectified if people actually do comment on them.

Me: if you want you can guest star as the guy who goes up to comment
but if you land in jail I can't help you =D

Expert on Defamation: that's just setting up urself for defamation

Me: what.
I didn't say who wore them what

Expert on Defamation: no, the bit abt guest-starring me :D

i can guest star as HWMNBD :)
he who must not be defamed

disturbed bunny: so many you can add to it lla if only you go shopping with girls more often
"voted most flexible by your boyfriend"
etc etc
tsk you are suaku laaa. i should take you shopping one day
i like "nerds have big hard drives" best

Someone: sadly i have a tee that says "trysexual - everything must try once"

Tenghui's birthday present - Aruba Aluba! (Pillaring), filmed in a Premier University in the Clementi-Kent Ridge area.
The original plan was to taupok, but someone got the idea of aruba-ing instead.

Victim: "pillar is not painful cos it is usually too thick to have concentrated pressure on the groin. but that chair... wah lau that was really painful. i didn't really fight back from the aruba cos i thought it's going to be something symbolic. but it became something actual and practical. "i feel comfortable".... haha"

Someone: "oh i thought the term was only used in taiwan ('阿魯巴')"

IslaFormosa Blog » Blog Archive » Hazing… The ‘Aluba’ Way!

"Among the most intriguing activities of young men in Taiwan (and Chinese East Asia) is ‘Aluba’. I quote the Wikipedia: “A male student is lifted up by several of his classmates and his groin is then rubbed against a hard object such as a pole, a tree, or even the edge of a door. In Taiwan, Aluba is usually performed by hitting the victim’s groin on a tree trunk or a pole.”... Aluba has an English equivalent called ‘Happy Corner’."

Bizarrely, Wikipedia reads: "Happy corner has been very popular among students in higher education since late 1990, especially in orientation camps (popularly called o-camps by students). Part of its controversy stems from the fact that some students hazed other students not familiar with the practice, or hazed the other gender, as an act of simulated sexual intercourse... Some have also criticized the Happy Corner subculture for contributing to an openness in attitude in sexual relationships among students."

Males express affection for same-sex friends by putting them down and hurting them physically. Females express affection for same-sex friends by exalting them and buying them presents.

"Women... Know Your Limits"
Someone: i show my gf who's a damn feminist. she found it funnytoo

Kids playing at swordplay at my estate
Does God get in the way of social cohesion?
Straits Times, 21st October 2006

"The way forward is not to sweep sensitive issues arising from religion under the carpet and pretend they do not exist.

Instead, what is needed is a frank yet sober discussion of religious issues in public, as even the religious leaders themselves admit.

As Brother Broughton puts it, "some religious problems cannot be settled by keeping quiet".

But the view among some is that inter-faith dialogue currently exists largely in the level of politically correct platitudes.

This is dangerous, says Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies analyst Yolanda Chin. "The tendency to silence or self-censor any debate broaching on conflicting views on religious issues may be well-meaning but also perpetuates the prejudices and stereotypes that are formed out of blissful ignorance."

Thus, the announcement from PM Lee of a national steering committee on racial and religious harmony was welcomed. It is chaired by Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports vivian Balakrishnan, and comprises government ministers and religious leaders."

Nowadays the only time I read the Shitty Times is when it lines the dinner table, but my Little Bird recommended this article to me, from what he calls "The Religion Special" of the #140.

The first part of the extract is surprisingly enlightened, but the last illustrates a characteristic lack of awareness. A national steering committee should be condemned, since it would serve to restrict and manage discourse.

To have a "frank yet sober discussion of religious issues in public" instead of "politically correct platitudes", we need to abolish the Sedition Act and related bugaboos (eg the ban on religious issues at the Speakers' Corner), otherwise coherent and reasoned discourse is self-censored suppressed, ceding the ground to nonsensical rants, ad hominem attacks and baseless sliming (a la the Sammyboy Forums), which results in a self-perpetuating cycle.

One thing we absolutely *don't* need is these ridiculous corporatist steering committees composed of supposedly representative leaders. From the Young Republic archives:

A: 1- Representation on MDA advisory committees (and representation in our intellegence agencies including the ISD) appears to be quite multi-ethnic. ( I've seen proof of the latter).

If the minorities in those committees are of the opinion that they don't think that Singapore's liberal enough to risk fatwas and stuff, who are we to disagree?

B: There are a whole load of fascinating assumptions to be unpacked in your argument. Primarily they boil down to your belief that groups of people, identified by their religion or their status as a group of a particular identifiable and state-identified "minority", can have their interests adequately represented on the basis of a corporate, indivisible opinion representative of the "majority of this minority", and that this opinion can be accurately embodied by the actions of each minority's state-appointed mouthpieces

If that seems like a mouthful, it's because the problems in this point of view are manifold. Let me explain each one. First, power looks after its own. Who do you reckon gets appointed to these committees, given that the government does the appointing? There is every possibility - indeed probability - that these so-called representatives represent a particular agenda of the state instead of the minority group from which they also, coincidentally, hail. Or does religion or race define the totality of the person, so that a powerful Muslim person can never have closer interests with a fellow powerful Christian person than with another Muslim person? To my mind that is somehow both naive and racist at the same time. An interesting conflation.

Second, let's grant you that they sincerely believe themselves to be representing "their" minority and indeed reflect a numerically great proportion of persons sharing that minority status. Doesn't it strike you as potentially problematic that (I apologise for the capital letters, I don't want to shout but I want to emphasise this point and I don't know whether I can bold this successfully for all email formats) PEOPLE WITHIN THE SO-CALLED "SAME" MINORITY MIGHT DISAGREE, and that THE MINORITY OF THE MINORITY MIGHT NEED PROTECTION? Or should people with heterodox opinions be penalised because they happen to share a religion with a number of nutjobs? Why shouldn't the rest of the population stand side by side with the repressed female or gay or simply religiously unconventional opinion of a member of a minority? Does the fact that this person is from a state-identified racial/religious minority mean we should abandon them to the opinion of that minority's "group" as a whole? Doesn't this amount to abandoning people to only ever forming identities within a pre-defined religious/racial group since cross-pollination of beliefs is basically prevented? Why can't people have interests that transcend racial classification, so that the interests of a racial block (as defined by one government-appointed arbiter) do not trump the interests of the individuals composed within that classification?

To illustrate the artificiality - in other words, the reliance on stereotype - that your position involves, let's consider the feminism parallel we both seem to have adopted. Leaving aside questions of my highly dubious qualification as a feminist (I read Germaine Greer while wearing a little summer frock and high heels and watching my boyfriend play sport - not a little ironic) - why does this numerical majority matter so much to you? Why do I have to persuade the majority of women to agree with me before you will? The notion that the interests of women are completely uninterrogable to men, or that the interests of Muslims are completely uninterrogable to non-Muslims, is extremely bizarre. But let's say only 20% - a mere minority - of women did have feminist sentiments on a particular issue. That's what, 10% of the population? Going by your logic, by which we judge the interests of people by first segregating them into minorities and then saying, ok, we listen to the majority of those minorities, the claims of this 10% of the population should be ignored. But how is that logical when your same approach would grant people of Indian descent (also about 10%, slightly less I believe, of the population) an important corporate voice on the basis of a majority of them voicing a particular opinion? (Even using the word "majority" there is construing it favourably, for reasons I have already explained relating to the problems of appointing one person as arbiter of some indivisible "minority" opinion.)

I do think there are nuances to being of a particular religion or gender or sexuality or whatever which require especial study on the part of someone who does not share that religion or gender or sexuality in order to adequately understand. This compared to the experience of someone who lives in the role of a person of particular religion or gender or sexuality from day to day. But the idea that a liberal atheist cannot ever understand or explain the concerns of a liberal Muslim - that a feminist man cannot ever fight for the cause alongside a feminist woman - is just wrong. We're not defined by these narrow categories. They're components of who we are, but I reckon any one of us can have a lot more in common with someone who ticks all the different category boxes from us than from someone who apparently shares the same "minority" statuses. And to assume otherwise creates the tyranny of narrowed aspirations that is the precise problem that Singaporeans face now, that stands in the way of any of us developing our own individuality.

C: Thank you B. Which is why I felt offended in the first place - presuming that Muslims must all be fanatical illiberal creatures is speaking (presumptuously) for them - and therefore what gives A the right to shoot is (ugly) mouth off? I have friends who are gay and liberal - and they happen to be Muslim. What of them? Have they no individuality? No say? Nothing, because Muslims must needs be patriarchal, antifeminist, gun-toting, Israel-hating, anti-Semitic terrorists? It seems as if the great number of moderate Muslims (not only in Singapore, but in Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as the vast number of moderate Muslims in the Middle East who are not of Indochinese origin) have been eliminated by A's totalitarian and
totalising discourse. And nothing irritates me more than totalitarianism of any sort.

Dialogue with the Muslim community is in order, and yet A is so thankful that the MDA has stepped in again to protect the Muslims from themselves, and in so doing, us from the Muslims. It strikes that in this day and age, what we need are more opinions, more views, more voices to be heard, rather than less.

D: Yes I believe this is what Amartya Sen has been saying in his new book: by looking at individuals only through the lens of the 'community' identity (e.g. Islam, South Asian, Jewish, etc) and not engaging with Muslims, Asians, Jews etc individually but only through the established 'community' leaders, we not only compromise the individual rights of expression etc of members of such communities but in terms of policy-making we tend then to view these communities through the skewed perception of their established leaders ( e.g. imams, rabbis, etc). There is no reason why an individual member of a minority should be any less an individual than an individual member of the majority.
On Young Republic on the Wee Shu-min outrage:

A: entirely disproportionate response to an unkind, unwise, but otherwise trivial rant of a private individual, just like the lucy gao/alexsey vayner brouhaha.

i suppose she will learn a good lesson about public diplomacy, but it seems like you're all too eager to see someone fall from grace, since if it had been anyone else less fortunate who said it you'd be praising them for having the right values about individual responsibility for success. why the double standard? or is it to compensate for your guilt-trip for being so fortunate to be on the right side of the bell curve distribution?

also i think it is sad that her opinions about society will only be reinforced by response from the celebration of mediocrity and culture of victimhood that condemns her.


>also i think it is sad that her opinions about society will only be
>reinforced by response from the celebration of mediocrity and culture
>of victimhood that condemns her.

Actually it was the celebration of excellent final outcomes, condemnation of those who lag behind and culture of "meritocracy" that led to her having the opinions that she has now.

It's no wonder people are so skeptical about the benefits of the free market and turn to reactionary socialism. Someone once sent me an article asking: "Why isn't socialism dead?" A fear of such ideology is, I think, a major reason why.

That the ends justify the means is a principle often propounded in undertaking distasteful tasks. A belief in market radicalism seems to take a different tack - the means justify the ends (free market outcomes must be right) which is, frankly, puzzling.

Those who believe that economic might is right and who thus oppose such wimpy bleeding-heart liberal policies as a progressive tax system and subsidised basic health care should bear in mind that a corollary is that political might is right - if the poor, frustrated and disenchanted masses rise up against you and loot your property, you shouldn't have any right to object.

Some might try to impose false dichotomies on me again: that if I do not support the untrammeled forces of the free market, I'm advocating giving the lazy and the stupid as much as the hardworking and the intelligent, or that if I think discrimination and environmental factors must totally account for why a certain group is disadvantaged compared to the rest I must be racist or support eugenics/Social Darwinism. Bizarrely, the post-modernists label me as simplistic and close-minded, and others (right-wing positivists, perhaps? Or maybe my neologism of "altar men", after the "either you're kneeling before the altar, or on the altar watching others kneel before you" philosophy) accuse me of spewing post-modernist bullshit.

It's so hard being a centrist these days. No wonder everyone likes to be an extremist though it's obviously wrong.

"In “The Rise Of The Meritocracy”, published in 1958, Michael Young, a British sociologist and Labour Party activist, conjured up an image of a society obsessed with talent. The date was 2034, and psychologists had perfected the art of IQ testing. But far from promoting social harmony, the preoccupation with talent had produced social breakdown. The losers in the talent wars were doubly unhappy, conscious not only that they were failures but that they deserved to be failures. Eventually they revolted against their masters.

The rise of the talent elite has bred resistance, which started on the right. T.S. Eliot, a 20th-century poet and critic, argued that choosing people on the basis of their talents would “disorganise society and debase education”. Edward Welbourne, a Cambridge don, dismissed IQ tests as “devices invented by Jews for the advancement of Jews”. But after the second world war the resistance spread leftward. Leftists argued that meritocracies were not only unpleasant but unjust. If “talent” owed more to nature than nurture, as many social scientists insisted [Ed: This is one reason I suspect why the PC people are so dead against nature arguments], then rewarding people for talent was tantamount to rewarding them for having privileged parents...

There are plenty of signs that another backlash is on the way, from John Kerry's complaints about American companies outsourcing jobs to a rash of riots in China. Much of this resentment focuses on growing inequalities. People complain that these are straining the bonds of society to breaking point: a new aristocracy of talent is retreating into golden ghettos and running the global economy in their own interests. “The talented retain many of the vices of aristocracy without its virtues,” said the late Christopher Lasch, an American historian, in one of the best analyses of the trend. The logic of talent wars is meritocratic: the most talented get the most rewards. But the reality of democracy is egalitarian: the people can use their political power to defeat the bell curve."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tonight, I heard La Campanella horribly butchered. The concert was advertised thus: "Exceptional violin students of the Conservatory take centrestage in Double Stops", and indeed this piece was performed exceptionally badly.

The violinist played the wrong thing not once, not twice but *three* times, and each time it was the same part that she got wrong. Instead of playing the right bars for those parts of the song to transition into the next section (a variation on the original theme), she played the original theme (my music kaki suggests 'recapitulation' but indicates that I should use a less cheem term), so it was extremely jarring and the piano had to audibly and visibly accommodate her.

Her very high bits were very scratchy, she had a lot of hairy notes (blurred notes) and she did painfully slow pizzicatos near the end, really taking her own sweet time. Paganini is hard, but the first error is particularly unforgiveable (3 times?!). On the up side, her imitation of the bell was quite good, and the running passages were reasonably graceful ('well the girl was aesthetically pleasing'). I tried to blog my outrage immediately after her performance, during the interval, but unfortunately there was no wireless reception in the concert hall.

Beethoven's Spring was technically alright but horribly bland. Hubay's Carmen Fantasie Brilliante was interesting.

The night's violinists all seemed to be PRCs and all closed their eyes ('stage fright'). The boys were also better players than the girls, because their clothes were in varying degrees of un-ironed-ness ('evening gowns cannot be crumpled. technically impossible unless you use a steamroller').

Unfortunately, the best female performer had a really awful dress which could best be described as an orange mermaid gone wrong (the black shoes didn't go either, which didn't help). She got the 2 most challenging songs of the night's programme, which was a pity since they were both awful songs, beyond the rescue of the best violinists. Chausson's Poème, Op 25 must've been about existentialism, since there seemed to be no theme or even melody in it. Ravel's Tzigane was horrible as always, despite (or maybe because) of its being a vehicle for showing off violin technique. Essentially the former bored me and the latter raised my blood pressure.

The best performer took on Bazzini's La Ronde des Lutins, Op. 25, and originally earned from me the ultimate compliment - he made a French song sound good! (I have since discovered that he was Italian, which explains why the song sounded good and why Tzigane and Poème could not be rescued). Kaki on the best performer: "jaw dropping. just the first 10 bars and my jaw dropped", and on the best female performer: "flawless technique".

Besides La Campanella being butchered and the bad costuming, there was only one other factor spoiling the evening: this annoying couple beside my concert kaki who kept on chattering despite the former's finally telling them off during the last piece; after the concert this Brit in the seat behind me also told the girl off: "If you can play better..." (things always sound more authoritative with a British accent). Personally, I think playing ability is irrelevant: even if Itzhak Perlman had been sitting in that seat, I'd have scolded him for chatting; it's like how movie critics don't have to be able to do better to make legitimate criticisms of a film.
Republicans Give In To Bush, Betray America

When I was working in Russia some years ago, a friend in Kaliningrad told me a perhaps apocryphal story about Nikita Khrushchev, who, following Stalin's death, gave a speech to the Politburo denouncing Stalin's policies of imprisoning people without trial. A few minutes into Khrushchev's diatribe, somebody shouted out, "Why didn't you challenge him then, the way you are now?"

The room fell silent, as Khrushchev swept the audience with his eyes. "Who said that?" he asked in a reasoned voice. Silence.

"Who said that?" Khrushchev demanded angrily, leaning forward. Silence.

Pounding his fist on the podium to accent each word, he thundered, "Who - said - that?" Still no answer.

Finally, after a long and strained silence, the elected politicians in the room fearful to even cough, a corner of Khrushchev's mouth lifted into a smile.

"Now you know," he said with a chuckle, "why I did not speak up against Stalin when I sat where you now sit."

--- Thom Hartmann

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another picture post:

Even movers are Christian these days. Next you know we'll see Christian ice.

someone's 1.4kg monster courgette

The following were all taken in school:

A madman I met along the AS1-6 corridor

No exit through the exit. Quite Kafka-esque.

People are like teabags...
... Once you use them, you throw them away.
... They always come with strings attached.
... We always label them.
... They're always getting into hot water.
... They're naturally bitter!
... They don't reveal their essence unless you hang them up and give them a well-needed dunk.
I was exorcising the motivational posters in Chatterbox one day. Others added their contributions.

Most wrong P-plate placing I've ever seen, along Heng Mui Keng terrace

LT11 Water Parade (Lost and Found corner?)

Ringafling ad, seen near AS2. My 'favourite' is "Hi, my name is 'Milk,' I'll do your body good.
One person guessed it was a bash, another told me he knew it was a bash, but he doesn't know whose (just that it's probably not an Arts thing). Maybe it's Science - they always have the most silly bash concepts (S.T.R.I.P, Dare 21).

Young Singaporeans - Your gateway to the "Last Paradise on Earth"... "In NZ, the government looks after you from the day you are born till the day you rest in peace. The government of your adopted country will never let you go hungry... Do not procrastinate any further. Singapore is no longer a pot of gold for you."
"I'll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there's evidence of any thinking going on inside it." - Terry Pratchett



'If a nuclear bomb hit us, I would be the King of France.' is actually true in a true-false conditional.

Sino-US trend deficit (trade)

[On a presentation] To synchronise ourselves, we are all in black tops and sandals (our dressing)

High rates of grorth (growth)

US blair'ms China for its tread deficit (blames, trade)

The younger generation has only seen the US economy doing well. Therefore they don't know the importance of farming (saving)

[On a presentation] I hope you all understood most of that, but if you didn't, that's okay.

Em'pie'rer'curl estimates (empirical)

Desperate times calls for desperate measures (call)

[On what honesty in doing problem sets gets you] I did it myself. That's how I know I got it all wrong.

Sometimes we say one man's ponens is another man's tollens.

'State will play in a bowl game.' Who's State? What's a bowl game?

[Student: Here *hands tutor tissue*] What is it? [Student: A tissue. Unused.] Thank you.

[On EN2101E] All 4 of my literature books are about sex.

[On engineering diagrams] [Instructor: Don't you all, the Engineering guys, learn this in school?] You mean Art and Craft?

Aviation fuel is very cheap. The fuel surcharge is nonsense... How does SIA make so much money? [Me: By cutting the pilots' pay.]

[On bidding being silly] This is true. You spend more time learning bidding skills than anything [in class]

[On an essay] 'Multi-sensual instructional process'. This I don't get. What is a multi-sensual instructional process?

Last time - the chalkboard. It was very slow... while the students are copying they are thinking. What has happened now is that the syllabuses have increased by - 300%...teachers can give a lot of notes... your thinking time is compromised.

[On possible accusations of nepotism] 'What happens if my daughter gets an A?' If she gets an A she gets an A. I can't help it.

[Instructor: 15 years ago there was this stall at the Arts canteen selling kway teow... They used to have very long queues. They guy had a secret formula.] *Sotto voce* Marijuana. After a while you need 2 plates to get the same kick]

[On taking photos of public property] Newspapers, all the people... If you're in a public space, anyone can take a photo... If someone barges into my class and takes a photograph, I will take the camera and throw it away.

[On publishing an article based on another's ideas] The law of confidence. 'It's not my fault. I gave him a beer and he blurted out to me. Even though I gabe him the beer so that he would blurt it out.'

[On copyright] Multiple copies - meaning copy 1: pages 1-5, copy 2: pages 6-10? [Instructor: That's an interesting interpretation of 'multiple copies']

[On my Asian Prince card] He looks very wealthy. [Me: He is]

I like your shirt. [Me: It's doubly haram] It's triply haram, cause you're in it. [Me: Thanks]

I used to go to Church when I was young. My whole extended family is Christian. [Me: Then what happened?] I read the Bible.

[At 10:48] Here's a good time to take a short break, so be back by noon. (11)

[On rules vs discretion and crying babies] You need to have some mental fortitude and maybe a streak of cruelty to carry out this policy.

If you work it out - actually I'm not sure if I want you guys to work it out. Maybe I should leave it for the problem set. *Audience groans*

[On Central Bank independence] They're going to tell the government to go to hell.

[On property prices] Clementi region has good schools, [a] good university.

[On his homework partner filing for graduation in the middle of the term without telling him] It was so sudden. No warning at all. Like the Thailand coup.

[Me: are you motivated by his 'motivating example'?] No, it's discouraging.

[On panel data] After 1 year, age is one year more, obviously. Sex is diff... the same. *Laughs from audience*

Taking ***, they get a B from me. They are working in the same form. (got, firm)

idiosyncrity error (idiosyncratic)

[On a row of waterbottles at the back of the LT] What is this, water parade?

[On the end of the exam] All good things must come to an end.

high'poh'tee'nurse (hypotenuse)

[On Wo-Hen] It's good to have this kind of people around. I don't know about you - he makes me feel good to be normal.

[On late handing in of an assignment] I suppose that if I accept this joker's tutorial exercise, I will have to do the same thing to those [who are finishing them up now]... If you have the gall to do the same thing later, put yours on the small stack [and I will decide whether to accept them later]... [It's a form of] entertainment.

I didn't name the arguments Modus Tollens and Modus Ponens. They were already named that way... All the good arguments are named after me.

Interestingly enough, in the US every Chinese restaurant has a buffet. I used to think it was authentic. Now I don't think so anymore... Nice and greasy.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"Never have children, only grandchildren." - Gore Vidal


The Riddling Reaver I got from eBay was described as being in "very good" condition, but when I got it I realised that even the most charitable appraisal could only deliver, at most, a verdict of "good". I made note of this to the seller and he said it was "very good" considering it was 20 years old. Slightly peeved, I left him neutral feedback with a gentle chiding about an inaccurate description. In return for my polite, factual and *neutral* feedback, I got negative feedback from him and some really far out comments ("Rubbish ebayer"). I checked his feedback history and found that he had similarly burnt other unfortunate souls. I emailed 4-5 of them to commiserate and 1 replied:

"It was so nice to get your message, because I felt so aggrieved by the whole incident with ***. My 1st negative feedback and really brutal - and all over a £3.00 transaction! I haven't bought on ebay since as it left me feeling so wronged. Still, I suppose if I'm losing sleep over something like that, I need to develop a thicker skin. Anyway, thanks for getting in touch - it's good to know that I'm not the only one to be bruised by him."

After some thought, I figured that the feedback system would be improved and people would be more inclined to give genuine feedback rather than spiteful, unwarranted feedback in retaliation or misleadingly glowing feedback for fear of retaliation, if the decision was made in secret by both sides (you leave feedback, he leaves feedback and both sides see what the other party has done after they themselves have moved and cannot alter their decision); right now if you are the first to leave someone feedback he can see your move and respond to it. Hmm, this may even have an element of time inconsistency.

I emailed eBay with my suggestion, but like YouTube (which keeps setting my uploaded videos to Chinese) they sent me a stock reply (not an auto-replier, mind you) clearly showing that they hadn't read my email at all.

The second time, they did reply properly (unlike YouTube, which sent me a rubbish response maybe 2-3 times), and it was bizarre:

"I assure you that we are committed to the continuous improvement of our website to make it both a fun and safe place to trade. However, please note that our company policy does not allow us to accept or consider ideas or proposals, other than those that we have specifically requested.

Please understand that this policy is intended to avoid the possibility of future misunderstandings when new products, services or features developed internally by eBay employees might be similar or even identical to your idea or proposal."

Hopefully what I suggested falls under "Send us your suggestion to improve the eBay site." I'm not going to re-submit it in another obscure corner again.
Me: I'm not good at spotting you underaged people [at clubs]
I need a bionic eye

Someone: hahaha its quite easy what.
just look for the ones with lots of eye makeup, jeans, skimpy top, one BIG group of girls.

Me: sorry was on the phone

Someone else: nah it's alright
and don't ever use sorry when talking to me

haha =p
one of my idiosyncrasies

i hate the word

Me: wth?!
... women

Someone else: not really a woman thing =p
i hate it cos it makes me feel bad when people say it to me

Sec 2 friend: Does cytokinesis happen during telophase in mitosis or does it happen after?

Wth. Why're they learning A level biology in Sec 2? And it seems the Sec 1s are learning what they're doing now. I wonder what they'll do in JC.

Someone: i've found your blog useful in one aspect
everytime i get a chain email
or someone posts stupid stuff on the forum
i just send them a copy of the Ultimate Chain Email found on your blog

Someone else: lenovo rocks
'submit feedback' button leads directly to 'cannot find server' page
this is a ploy

Me: haha
I remember the IBM days...

Someone else: oh well. they're prcs

Someone: [I've been single for] a year +
now i'm turning gay
checking guys out

Someone else: gabriel if you want more people to like you as a conversationalist, i suggest you emulate wt by being enigmatic and freaky


Me: Girls who like Jap guys who look like girls are ugly

Someone: ahhahahah

you got me really hard this time haha
i can't stop laughing irl.

Me: how many of those do you know :P

Someone: not many actually, but the question itself is hilarious haha
the thing is
it's like lesbians
usually, people think lesbians are hot
but those are girls that like girls
in this case, you're asking about girls who like guys that look like girls

;Someone else: i find them very immature
gets so excited when they see e jap guy pics or hear their names

Me: haha
I get excited when I see wo-hen pics or hear his name

Someone else: u're exceptional haha

;Noodles girl: I'M NOT UGLY.­

Someone else: yes.
guys who look like girls are hideous
and should be castrated for the better good of humanity.

girls who like jap guys are usually cheena and ugly
they usually dress terrible, read manga
speak too much terrible singaporean chinese

and are..



shugly ( shit ugly )

Someone (2): uh...­
they are not necessarily ugly, but they are painfully act-cute

;Someone (3): i know some jap looking guys with the cutest girls i've ever seen
im so jealous i wish i look jap

Me: take note
Jap guys who look like girls
not Jap guys who look like guys

Someone (3): most jap guys look like girls?
they still get all the chicks
no diff
"A country can be judged by the quality of its proverbs." - German Proverb


Disadvantages of using your laptop in class: People can see that you have a MSN contact group called 'SGBOY'. Hurr hurr.

Some people who'd gone to the US on exchange said that the difference between the US and Singapore was that in Singapore people would look at you and go "Why are you like this?" (said in Chinese), but that in the US people would look at you and go "Oh, so you are like this." (said in Chinese too); they said that in Singapore people hold you to a standard and stare at you if you don't fit in, while in the US you can wear what you want - one day you can wear makeup and a skirt and basketball shorts the next, and no one will say anything.

I asked the Malay stall woman not to give me a plastic bag, but she insisted and said that otherwise the plastic store would close down. Uhh.

A presentation on the US-China trade deficit suggested that one way to improve it would be for China to develop its civil society. This was too outrageous a claim to let pass, so I called them up on it. The response was that a more democratic China would result in consumers having greater choice and buying more US goods. Uhh.

One of my minions told me that a gaggle of people was behind me in the corridor, and they were going: "Look, it's that blogger... His hair is so long. He thinks he's Vanness Wu?" Someone: "next thing you know a yaoi fangirl with too much time on her hands will produce gssq/vaness fanart -_-" Someone else: "vanness wu. ­what an insult. ­you should smack them"

The people who write the menus at Munchie Monkey are as deprived as those who ocme up with bash names. Smoothies were described as "a fruity twist for those in heat", and 3 scoops of ice-cream was named "Ménage à trois".

It tells you something that at the New Zealand's Natural in NUS, half the flavours are no/low fat.

Someone showed me some of the official unofficial smoking points in NUS. It was very interesting, not least since the biggest one (with a "NUS is a smoke-free campus" sign, no less) is where I've seen female students smoking in NUS for the first time (they're more risk-averse than the guys); I saw a female staff member smoking in a carpark - apparently it's a loophole in the regulations. I'd document these corners, but that would incite a crackdown, so.

For a test, I watched a documentary on Millennium Tower in Hong Kong (some people watched the wrong video, heh). The various concerns (providing a good mix of facilities, having a church for weddings, express lifts etc) reminded me of playing SimTower.
"The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too." - Oscar Levant


I notice the girls who gush over Jap guys who look like girls tend to be ugly.

"Singaporean men marry foreign women because they're losers. Singaporean women marry foreign men because Singaporean men are losers."

My brother-in-law was in a cab with a Malay taxi driver, and they both agreed that Singaporean Malay food was better than Malaysian Malay food. However, Indonesian food trumped them both. He said there was one good Malaysian "Malay" food stall though - Merlin Prata in JB, just after Imigresen. The cab driver was intrigued, though, when he was told that Malaysian Chinese hawker food was better than Singaporean Chinese hawker food ("Isit? I don't know.")

I can't stand how rude some Christians can be. I SMSed someone to ask him something and then out of the blue he replied: "you know what you need in your life? jesus." Not only did he need his god more than me, it was totally irrelevant and totally inappropriate. Worst of all, it was also extremely rude, since he knows my feelings about such matters. Much worse, I might add, than mocking someone for his baldness. He deserves to be mauled by bears!

A fine specimen of the other gender supplied me with a remarkable insight the other day: women don't want to be understood, since that'd make it too easy for their partners. This explains why they play games, throw smoke bombs et al. They want to be understood instinctively on a visceral level (on reflection the last point seems to contradict the first - perhaps instinctive understanding is alright but intellectual understanding isn't).

I think my printer's finally given up the ghost after 2 years and 9 months. It was printing kookily for a while, but it seems the holes are finally well and truly clogged - I tried 3 cleanings, 2 deep cleanings and changing the cartridge, but nothing works. Using third party ink probably had something to do with it, but using original ink would be so expensive, I might as well get a new printer (or even a laserjet). Time to trek down to Business to get 4 cent/page printing.

Someone I met for the first time looked at my hair and asked if it was rebonded. I asked how she knew and she said usually guys don't have such straight hair. She claimed that girls are genetically predisposed to have straighter hair.

I think an important reason why the politically correct group always likes to dig up and focus on examples of discrimination (even when it is questionable and when other factors undoubtedly play a part) is their ideological obsession with equality (whether equal opportunity in the mild case or equal outcomes in the extreme one).

Some simply refuse to accept that unequal outcomes can be due to innate differences and endowments, and instead blame discrimination, upbringing, the environment et al. But then innate differences and endowments are not a person's fault any more than discrimination and the lot are.

In any case, even if innate differences exist, they are not immutable. Gattaca is a good example of this.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Speech By DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng During The DAP Economic Forum "NEP vs VISION 2020: WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE?" In The Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall On 26.9.2006

"The United Nations Human Development Report consistently list Malaysians as suffering the worst income inequality between the rich and poor in South-East Asia. This is conceded by the 9MP which showed the share of income of the bottom 40% of the population declined from 14.5% in 1990 to 13.5% in 2004 whilst the share of the top 20% of the population increased from 50% in 1990 to 51.2% in 2004.

The income inequality within the Chinese community worsened in the period 1999 to 2004 from 0.434 to 0.446 whilst for Indians from 0.413 to 0.425. The income inequality amongst bumis was even worse from 0.433 in 1999 to 0.452 in 2004. Marginalization of Malaysians generally can be seen with the Ninth Malaysian Plan (9MP) showing the Gini Coefficient nationally worsening from 0.452 in 1999 to 0.462 in 2004.

How come UMNO does not talk of reducing the widening income disparity between rich Malay millionaires like him and poor Malays but continue to hit out at Chinese as if there are no poor Chinese and all Chinese are millionaires like him? If UMNO is sincere about helping poor Malays and Malaysians who are marginalized he should be asking the government to abolish the 5% bumi housing discounts given to million ringgit homes (as if Malay millionaires need a discount) and distribute Petronas RM70 billion ringgit profits to the people."

Someone should sue him for defamation.
Action in the High Court of the Republic of Singapore ("Singapore High Court")
Lee Kuan Yew v Review Publishing Company Limited and Hugo Restall
(Case No. S540/2006/Q)

This is hilarious, and quite Kafka-esque: "We sue you for defamation for alleging that we sue people for defamation unnecessarily"

Page 9 of the Writ of Summons for a libel suit against FEER reads:

"16. In addition, the phrase "How many libel suits have Singapore's great and good wrongly won, covering up real misdeeds?" was repeated and given special prominence in a box in the Article."

They even helpfully include in Appendix A an extensive list of defamation suits won by the plaintiff.

Irony, thou art dead.

Why My Vote Matters-A Dialogue With Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew

MM Lee: You mean to tell me you have, you're one of the 40% who voted against the PAP and something happens to you?

Ken Kwek, 26 - Journalist; Never voted: I mean, I've never voted for that matter, but I mean - we talk to hundreds of voters in the course of our work, and it's either "no comment" or "if I vote against the PAP..."

MM Lee: Let's get down. What are the hundreds of voters? You name the hundreds of voters, a few of them. Tell me.

Ken Kwek: Well, I mean I can't name them-

MM Lee: No no.

Ken Kwek: By name.

MM Lee: No, you tell me who you've spoken to and they say "we're afraid to vote..."
Quotes on Religion - Carl Sagan:

"One prominent American religion confidently predicted that the world would end in 1914. Well, 1914 has come and gone, and - whole the events of that year were certainly of some importance - the world did not, at least so far as I can see, seem to have ended. There are at least three responses that an organized religion can make in the face of such a failed and fundamental prophecy. They could have said, Oh, did we say '1914'? So sorry, we meant '2014'. A slight error in calculation. Hope you weren't inconvinenced in any way. But they did not. They could have said, Well, the world would have ended, except we prayed very hard and interceded with God so He spared the Earth. But they did not. Instead, the did something much more ingenious. They announced that the world had in fact ended in 1914, and if the rest of us hadn't noticed, that was our lookout. It is astonishing in the fact of such transparent evasions that this religion has any adherents at all. But religions are tough. Either they make no contentions which are subject to disproof or they quickly redesign doctrine after disproof. The fact that religions can be so shamelessly dishonest, so contemptuous of the intelligence of their adherents, and still flourish does not speak very well for the tough- mindedness of the believers. But it does indicate, if a demonstration was needed, that near the core of the religious experience is something remarkably resistant to rational inquiry." - Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain

All the forum letters are about stupid things. Time for editors to act

All the forum letters are about stupid things. Time for editors to act

I turned to the Forum pages of the Straits Times today, as well as previous days, and noted the sort of letters being published.

The main themes focused on banal exultation of irrelevant and perversely insidious moral values, brainless enquiries/complaints, beating the hollow drum of patriotism, sterile corporate template replies to enquiries/complaints which mostly avoid the issue and responsibility, glowing praise of the government, petitions from peasants to the Emperor, thanking taxi drivers, totally pointless shit and basically plain idiocy. Here are some of the letters:

. Long Live the Great Leader - a paean to an exalted figure, gushing obsequiously in praise of him;

. Condoms encourage promiscuity - about why we should ban condoms so only married couples will engage in congress;

. Why is company racist? - complaining about how a company's ad did not keep to the requisite quota of 1 Chinese, 1 Malay and 1 Indian (with 1 Other if budget permits);

. Smile, Singapore! - about how we should have heeded the Government's call to welcome the world with smiles;

. Singapore is truly meritocratic - about how a WASP immigrant from the USA, despite all odds, managed to secure a high-paying job here, in contrast to the discrimination he faced at home due to his being on Medical Leave all the time;

. Worms because of unethical supplier - about how there were worms in a restaurant's soup because the supplier let an expired batch through (ignoring the fact that the cook and waiter should have spotted the worms while serving the soup);

. Town council should not raise conservancy charges - begging the town council not to raise conservancy charges;

. Singapore Boleh! - about how we should emulate Malaysia in having a nationwide "Boleh" campaign, and urging us to insist to one and all that Singaporean hawker food tastes better even if we would secretly rather drive up to JB to eat.

The other letters are about inconsequential concerns and events. These are time-wasters and sad to read:

. Haze is getting bad - about one person's breathing problems;

. Speeding may cause accidents - about as informative as saying that old age kills;

. Taxi driver picked me up - about how a taxi driver deigned to ferry the letter-writer.

These letters do not provide any wholesome and meaningful points. The more a person reads them, the more he would be made to feel that life is hopeless and meaningless since this is the best that Singaporeans can come up with.

Forum letter writers are happily ripping off the editors and the public by giving us stupid letters that piss us off. It is useless to bar only children and those below 18 from reading these letters as the tasteless letters in the Forum continue to defile intelligence and common sense.

Where are our educators? Why are they silent on this sad state of affairs? What does our conscience tell us about such letters being printed in public? Do we have a conscience at all?

One may argue that we have a choice not to read these letters. But if it Hobson's choice everyday with such low quality letters, where is the freedom for one to choose a wholesome and good letter when none is available? The alternative, not to read the Straits Times and drink deeply from its overflowing cup, is surely unthinkable.

What about the public's right to read good letters? And why do we create for ourselves a famine of intelligent, meaningful letters?

A letter that is worthwhile reading would give hope to the viewer about the future of Singapore and Singaporeans.

A good letter should result in stirring a person's mind to think critically, possibly on issues never before considered or which no one else dares to raise. A good letter should result in stirring one to reject hitherto acceptable half-solutions. A good letter should teach us at least one non-obvious thing. A good letter should elegantly yet adequately deal with pertinent issues.

How should we rate a letter for its value? We should not give ratings to reflect its worth based on banality, idiocy, lies, half-truths and brainwashing, but instead focus on good wholesome values such as prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude.

Unfortunately, none of these good values can be found in the letters mentioned above.

Letters that espouse the desirable values are rare. These are all not published in the Straits Times Forum. I particularly enjoy reading those on blogs such as [redacted to remain a non-political observer and avoid becoming a partisan player in blog politics].

Yet if it remains only an online blog post, it alone would not be able to help us make further progress, especially if most people continue reading the Straits Times and the Straits Times Forum.

It is not enough just to point out society's ills. Society must also be willing, aware and able to change.

I would like the Board of Straits Times Editors to critically review and evaluate the quality of the letters currently being published.

The guiding principle of the authority should always be driven by good and responsible values that promote critical thought.

And it should not be influenced by the editors' undiscerning taste that leads to a sense of hopelessness for the intelligent reader.



All the movies are about sex and violence. Time for censors to act

I turned to the cinema pages of the Life! Section in the Straits Times last Saturday and noted the sort of movies being shown in town.

The main themes focussed on violence, crime, death and sex. Here are some of the movies:

. The Black Dahlia - about Hollywood's most infamous sex murders;

. Dead man's shoes - about revenge;

. Silk - about spirits;

. Death Note - about death;

. The Departed - a crime drama;

. Wet hot sake - about sex, sleaze and sensuality;

. My Summer of Love - more sex and sleaze.

The other movies are about inconsequential events. These are time-wasters and sad to watch:

. Talladega Nights - about brainless and crazy people with fast cars;

. World Trade Centre - a disaster;

. Rob -B-Hood - no theme.

These movies do not provide any wholesome and meaningful lessons in life. The more a person watches them, the more he would be made to feel that life is hopeless and meaningless.

Movie directors are happily ripping off the public by giving us worthless movies that harm us. It is useless to bar only children and those below 18 from watching these movies as the tasteless pictures in the media continue to defile good sense and morals.

Where are our educators? Why are they silent on this sad state of affairs? What does our conscience tell us about such movies being screened in public? Do we have a conscience at all?

One may argue that we have a choice not to watch these shows. But if it Hobson's choice everyday with such low quality movies, where is the freedom for one to choose a wholesome and good movie when none is available?

What about the public's right to see good movies? And why do we create for ourselves a famine of morally enriching shows?

A movie that is worthwhile watching would give hope to the viewer about the meaning of life and its purpose.

A good movie should result in stirring a person's mind and heart to do good for society. It should focus on wholesome family values of love and care, and respect for the elders and the government.

How should we rate a movie for its value? We should not give ratings to reflect its popularity based on violence, crime and sex, but instead focus on good values such as kindness, gentleness, love, peace, goodness, faithfulness, self-control and joy.

Unfortunately, none of these good values can be found in the movies mentioned above.

Movies that espouse the desirable values are rare. These are 'Chariots of Fire' and 'Akeelah and the Bee'. I particularly enjoy watching Jack Neo's portrayal of our primary school system in 'I not stupid'.

Yet if it remains only a portrayal of our country's meritocratic education system, it alone would not be able to help us make further progress.

It is not enough just to point out society's ills. The movie's director should have concluded the show with lessons on corrective measures for the public.

I would like the Board of Film Censors to critically review and evaluate the quality of the movies currently being screened in public.

The guiding principle of the authority should always be driven by good and responsible values that promote hope, compassion and love.

And it should not be influenced by the public's lust for sex, violence and death that leads to a sense of hopelessness for the viewer.

George Lim Heng Chye
"Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use." - Wendell Johnson



What's the difference between Transport [Economics] 1 and 2? [Other student: Nothing]

[Starting the first lecture after the mid-semester break] So let's begin. I guess you guys are all happy to see me. [Audience: No] No?

[Student: Sir, this week is week 7] I consider this week week 8... is this too difficult for you? [Student 2: Yes]

[On how extreme 'rational expectations' is as an assumption] A lot of econs students don't have the right models, and even a lot of lecturers are not sur eif the models they have are correct.

[On William Phillips] I remember from Wikipedia he was also a crocodile hunter, so he was an early day Steve Irwin.

That's the end of the history of Macroeconomic thought talk. We're not going to move into the SP-DG model yet. Instead we're gonna take a 10 minute break. *Cries of relief from audience*

I see you guys have had a good break. 10 minutes. But we have work to do! Wait a minute, that's Saruman (???)

[On making snide remarks about 'Beautiful Voice'] After I went back I got 6 pimples. It's really karma... after bitching about him.

The effect of attendence on score in the final exam. That is what I am very interested in finding. If I find out I will let you know... if you find a good IV [Instrumental Variable], please let me know.

Engin reminds me of NJ. Dark and gloomy. Hot and humid. [Me: Everything is gray]

The difference between formal logic and informal logic. Informal logic you can do while you're in T-shirt and jeans.

[On the argument from authority] According to John Lennon, lowering interest rates at this time will not affect economic growth.

[Student: You look like you're going on Safari, game hunting]... [Me: Do I look like I'm going on safari?] You look like Steve Irwin. You need a baby.

It's not surprising that the majority of Australian tourists on Bali are against the death penalty for drug trafficking... Most of the Australian tourists on Bali would probably get hanged... Who cares what those Australian tourists on Bali say? They're all high anyway. Most of what they say is false. *Student asks him to uncover notes on the visualiser* You can't see anything? Are you Australian?

It's okay, I don't have anything against Australian tourists. If I teach a class in Australia I'll make fun of you guys.

[On what happens when 2 circular arguments collide] I can imagine 2 people arguing: is the Bible the word of God or the Quran? 'The Bible is the word of God' 'Prove it' 'It's in there: "The Bible is the word of God"' 'No, the Quran is the word of God' Tch tch tch...

And zen I do the F-test (then)

dependable variable (dependent)

the ward test (Wald)

In order to solve for this optimal waste. (weight)

[On girls singing in Chatterbox] Really, USP has all the [Me: Weirdos] No, bourgeoisie... Where do you find people who do opera?

By the way. How did you guys do on your test? [Student: Are we supposed to get it back?] You're supposed to lah, after I've marked them.

This is just a discussion. It will not come out in the exam unless he teaches it in the lecture. But for the lack of anything better to do, unless you have any questions...

[On Tag Hauer] Who cares right? It's Maria Sharapova. Whether it's false or true it's Maria Sharapova.

God is omnipotent and omnibenevolent. So why is there evil in this world? An earthquake in Afghanistan is evil... George Bush is evil. *Whispers* *** *** *** is evil!

[On the argument from ignorance] I don't know that X. Therefore X, or not X. I don't know... anything. I don't know anything. I can't think of any examples.

You're arguing that God operates on a different logical plane. That is arguing ad hoc - why?!... [Student: The others argue that the god does not have a different logic from humans] If you say that you don't know that God uses a different form of logic, that's the argument from ignorance... There is no reason to think that God has different logic from humans. The burden of proof is on you... The common way of putting it is 'You don't understand God'

Hume has a problem with induction. When you want to justify induction, you use induction.

It's easy to draw in God in all these informal fallacies. People always use informal fallacies.

Just now we did the design thing and then we realised that the iPod has the worst design. [Me: So why is it so popular?] We have no idea... It's confusing. It's not user friendly lah. I didn't even know how to turn it off. [Me: I thought Macs are supposed to be good for idiots.] Only the computer lah. The iPod is horrible.

It doesn't matter what I say about you, because some day you will be getting a lot of chickes... girls like financial analysts (!@#$)

[Me: Intelligence doesn't matter. You also won't be happy] Check out IMH [Me: They're very intelligent meh?] No, they're very happy. [Student 2: All the crazy people I know are unhappy. They're lucid enough to know... They're all intelligent]

Are you going to quote me? [Me: Is there something to quote?] Everytime you whip out that piece of paper I freak out.

Did you say 'Screwed Up Girl'?... I completely agree with that... She thinks she is a cupcake... Before you talk about pure love I want to talk about screwed up stuff first.

Didn't you use to date her too?... What's her appeal to guys? [Student: It's not her appeal I'm questioning. It's her taste in guys] *everyone laughs*

Why didn't you tell me? [Student: I don't want to bother people.] I need these issues to channel into my work! [Me: I love these inter-female dynamics.]

[On How Girls Waste Time] Is that how guys waste time? [Me: Not all guys do that] Only screwed up guys.

[Student to someone else on my interview: Are you actually doing any reading?] No. I've been reading the same sentence for 5 minutes.

[On someone] I think every arts student who has taken a class with him before is scared of him. [Me: I've taken a class with him before.] I think every arts girl who has taken a class with him before is scared of him.

Strange. I had the impression I had more students. What happened to everyone? All doing problem set? The haze? Gastric flu? (Is everyone doing the)

[On handing up the problem set only in soft copy] NUS is not going to graduate students who are afraid of IT. So get used to it.

[On the Lucas critique] Lucas says that is naive. That was not a nice thing to say to other macroeconomists and policy makers. (said that was)

The Keynesian philosophy of childcare is that you should respond when the baby cries... New Classical philosophy is: do not respond. Wow, that's harsh... It [The Keynesian perspective] is naive because it takes the baby's propensity to cry as an exogenous parameter. Babies are smarter than we think... If you don't respond, the baby will adjust her propensity to cry and she will stop crying. That's the George Akerlof homely example. (George Akerlof's)

[On time inconsistency] A third example is exams. I want you guys to study hard, so I announce that there will be an exam. Once you have studied hard, I am tempted to cancel the exam so you guys don't feel so stressed. I'm a caring person. Actually I don't wan tot mark exam scripts.

[On underidentified model - 0 IVs, 1 endogenous variable] You are laughing at my idea. But a lot of people out there use an endogenous variable to find the causal estimator... Still people claim that attendence has [a] causal effect on grases... That is where Mark Twain accuse people of using statistics to lie (accuses)

[On the Hausman test for endogeneity] It is very simple and straightforward and an example of how you can become a famous econometrician and have your name included in the your-name test in an Econometrics textbook... He replaced the plus with minus. Being famous is so simple, so if you want to try, try. Unfortunately I haven't been able to make a contribution yet.

There was an introduction in garbage incinerator (of a)

[On the difference-in-difference estimator] Clementi and Orchard. A garbage incinerator is built suddenly in NUS.

[Instructor: These are the elements of an academic essay...] *Sotto voce* Isn't it interesting he only teaches it after it's [the essay's] due?

99% of the students and the staff I was teaching during my time in Engineering didn't know the difference between an introduction and a conclusion.

Engineers have lots of workshops on public speaking skills.

In the States they can do what they want. They haven't seen the sea. Some of them don't know who the President of the USA is... They still use pounds... I don't want to say anything bad about the US because the Minister Mentor is in the US. After he comes back I will tell you more.

[On a joke] A vulgar and male Chauvinistic episode. My apologies to the girls, and empathy with the boys but I think they are mature man enough to take it (written)

[Instructor on student going to the toilet: You're going at the wrong time because I am going to talk about the exam paper.] It's ok. It's quite urgent.

[On the test] 2 years ago I gave them a fork, a table fork, and asked them to estimate the volume and surface area of the fork. As a bonus they got to take the fork hom.

I have given you boxes. I am not going to read what is outside the boxes. If your handwriting is too large, too bad.

[Student: Civil law is where there're no criminals. Criminal law is where there're criminals... Civil law is when there's a family dispute. And criminal law is when the husband kills the wife.] This is what will happen if you don't answer properly. *brandishes hair shaving tool* I took a course in hairdressing, so I know how to use it.

[On patenting Singaporean inventions here] Actually it's a jailable offence to patent it elsewhere.

If you pay a composition fine you're not a criminal, but if you pay a normal fine you're a criminal.

[On a random name chooser MATLAB program] *** [Student: You've already called me.] They like to hear your voice. [Student 2: Even the computer knows]

[Instructor: What does a patent achieve?] Wait ah. *flips notes*
"If you don't find it in the index, look very carefully through the entire catalogue." - Unknown, Sears, Roebuck, and Co. Consumer's Guide, 1897


NUS is sending us lots of surveys this semester. Seems they finally decided to listen to the ground and find out what students think. And even if, as some believe, they don't care what we say, well, there's always the free iPods!

"NUS Art-Vibe : call for ex-members to join back... NUS Art-Vibe(Former art-verve) has now risen to be a registered society under Office Of students Affairs(OSA). This is an appeal to previous members of Art-Vibe to join us back, we shall be more than glad to have you with us." - This is damn sad.

A poster advertising "An Inconvenient Truth" went: "Pledge to watch the film now". See, in the good old days, you pledged to do things like cut your waste production, plant a tree and stop kicking the dog. These days all you need to do is pledge to watch a show.

For one class, they had to go to Starbucks and order coffee. Wah lao.

Some people can come in to lecture at 10am with notes uploaded at 9:42am. Gah.

Someone asked me why Economics is a pseudo-science (in the sense of sort-of belonging to the Science faculty and yet not really), so I formalised my list of reasons:

Our science attributes:
- We have no or almost no readings
- We have a lot of maths
- We use textbooks and no coursepacks
- We have PRC and other Asian lecturers (the 'flavours of asia') and tons of PRC tutors
- We look like science people (ie ugly)
- We have no discussions - we just go to class and copy answers
- We have homework which we hand up and forms part of our course grade, where doing well depends on finding the right people to copy from and not actually knowing what's going on
- We think we're very smart and "practical"

On the other hand, we still retain some Arts characteristics:
- No labs
- Lectures once a week
- The Maths is not that hard
- Our Maths is not that good
- Arts canteen
- Aesthetic quality a bit above science

Someone: i've some econs girls in my gender and food classes
dey couldnt understand wats goin on at all
and at all really AT ALL

like just duno all abt it lor
and think can smoke thru
and do readings majiam never do
highlight here highlight there but came in still blank

and worse, highlight all the not important things
hahaha the worst of all IS
when do projects, den its congrats man
dey'll go: huh, y soci like tat one.. think so much

there're [SACSALs] in soci too
just wana scrap thru a BA with zero maths
tat [soci] stats module is not even compulsory anyway. and it has the lowest no. of students in any sem it's offered
like 30+?
when sexuality can easily get 100+

aiya u can do the soci ones lor. alot of ur SACSALs?
those last min still make flowery notes

Monday, October 16, 2006

"A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought." - Dorothy L. Sayers


Jascha Heifetz

"On his third tour to Israel in 1953, Heifetz included in his recitals the Violin Sonata by Richard Strauss. At the time, Strauss was considered by many to be a Nazi composer (see Strauss and the Nazis), and his works were unofficially banned in Israel along with those of Richard Wagner. Despite the fact that the Holocaust had occurred less than 10 years earlier and a last-minute plea from the Israeli Minister of Education, the defiant Heifetz argued that "The music is above these factors ... I will not change my program. I have the right to decide on my repertoire." Throughout his tour the performance of the Strauss sonata was followed by dead silence.

Heifetz was attacked after his recital in Jerusalem outside his hotel by a man who struck blows to his right arm with an iron bar. As the attacker started to flee, Heifetz alerted his companions, who were armed, "Shoot that man, he tried to kill me." The assailant escaped and was never found. The incident made headlines in the press and Heifetz defiantly announced that he would not stop playing the Strauss. Threats continued to come, however, and he omitted the Strauss from his next recital without explanation. His last concert was cancelled after his right arm began to hurt. He left Israel and did not return until 1970.

After only a partially successful operation on his right shoulder in 1972 he ceased giving concerts and making records. Although his prowess as a performer remained intact and he continued to play privately until the end, his bow arm was affected and he could never again hold the bow as high as before."

July Trip
20/7 - Pont du Gard, Nimes

16 days in Italy had drained me, so France was a chance to recharge.

HI was really not out to make money - the pork chop I had for dinner the previous day cost only €4,50 and came with a generous serving of fries.

The configuration of the bus stops was very silly. Logically concluding that taking the bus in the opposite direction would take me back to the town centre, I waited at the bus stop opposite the one I'd gotten off from the previous day. However, I noticed that the bus I wanted didn't seem to stop at that stop, and curiously it was listed opposite - where I'd gotten off the day before (both directions of one bus line were listed as stopping at that stop). In the end a bus came along on what I assumed to be the right side and I tried to flag it down. The bus driver said something in French and pointed down the road, but let me get up anyway. At the next stop (the right one, as it turned out), a Japanese girl from my hostel going to Pont du Gard too got on.

I had some lovely French pastries for breakfast. One was a cheesestick like the sort L&E bakery used to make, but much much lighter and richer. I didn't know it was possible for layers of puff pastry to be so far apart. I also didn't want to think about the amoung of butter inside. The other was a feuillete - like the sort the so-called authentic French cafe-bakery has, but with applesauce inside.

At the bus station behind the train station, there was a Eurolines berth for buses. Seeing it sent shivers up my spine.

I wondered if the Pink Panther was released in France. I still hadn't seen Eurotrip yet in my time in Europe.

At Pont du Gard there was a guided tour offering 'privileged exploration of the Pont du Gard, the channel and the remains of the aqueduct'. Not only was it €6, it was also only in French, so I passed on it. There was also a €5 audio tour, but on the upside there was no charge for admission (though that might've been because it would've been impossible to impose such a charge).

In France the heart-shape brand ice cream was called 'Miko'. Uhh. What a curiously Jap-sounding name.

River north of the aqueduct

I was looking for the owner of this

There was a woman pressing her boyfriend's pimple on the bridge below the Pont du Gard. Tsk.

The water was amazingly clear, unlike in the river which brings us life. The fishes swimming inside it alongside my legs were testament to its life-giving properties. I'd forgotten how nice it was to wade in a cool, flowing river.

It was probably less clear after the events depicted here.
The man threw a stone into the river and the dog tried to fetch it, but gave up after a while seeing how many stones there were on the river bed.

Pont du Gard
There were a group of people in a cordoned area by the riverside who were splashing, playing and yelping. I wanted to take a picture but then remembered that they were not public property (France is the only country in the world where you need permission to take someone's photo - my brother-in-law will die). So I took a picture of public property, while accidentally including them in the bottom left.

Attempted camwhoring. The look on my face is of something approximating agony, for some reason.

Proper shot I got someone to take
The only people foolhardy enough to wade up to the middle of the river were kids, but finally one mother helped me out.


Kayakers. These masochists'd paddled 5.5km downstream. Though if I'd a partner and time, I'd have done it. Later at 12:30pm I counted 18 kayaks on the river at the same time.

View from the other side

More angles

They had laid out 1.5km of so of 'Mediterranean landscape' for us to explore. I'd had 5 hours of real Mediterranean landscape in Cinque Terra where they were growing olives and grapes, so I passed. Considering that some of the paths I'd been on were near mountain goat difficulty, this was nothing and just a dumbed down version.

I tried looking for the aqueduct in the Mediterranean landscape, but it couldn't be found. A French man said I should follow the yellow signs on the trees, but following them I got to a yellow X marked out on the ground but nothing else. The place was not totally vegetated (the scrubs came usually in clumps), there was a rocky, well-trod path of sorts and there were crickets and other wildlife - it reminded me of Area D.


There was a PRC girl about 8 years old wearing a pink baseball cap with the word "ARMY". She has no idea.

Aztec Temple (top section of one side)

This was the area you could only enter with a guide. At least they were considerate - a fence blocked entry but there was space to shove a camera in.

Remains of the aqueduct - Combe Valmale (The Valmale Bridge), restored end 20th century.


They were very proud that France had 27 UNESCO World Heritage sites and there was an information panel with a map showing where in France each was. Gah.

Raymond Rogliano's "cani aov/aose/nose" (2003) was very wth. It looked like a fossil embedded in the ground. Meanwhile another artwork I saw someone looked like a random layout of pebbles on the ground. Wth. This was also called art. But it still beats Yves Klein, I swear.

The Pont du Gard museum was €6 - I took it as a donation for maintenance of the thing and anyhow it was very big and good; I didn't even have time to look at everything.

There was a 3rd century suction pump at the museum. Apparently the suction pump was invented in the 3rd century BC and its design was described by Vitruvius.

They had fascimiles of a reconstituted stove (?) and a limestone funeral monument fragment. I didn't know it was possible to fscimile such things!

The Caracalla baths spanned 11 hectares. All the Imperial baths of the 2 centuries preceding it spanned <9 hectares.

They had a reproduction of a groma (a Roman surveying tool similar in principle to a plumb line).

90% of the aqueduct was underground.

There was a section of the museum with a very helpful 1:1 scale reconstruction of how the Pont du Gard was constructed. The lights illuminating this area kept dimming and brightening. In the museum as a whole, various random musical notes filled the air, moving through funny gradients (sliding up and down in pitch and volume). The sounds of the wind rushing through empty spaces, water flowing and building tools being used were also played. To crown it all, at one end of the museum a light was projected through a ripple tank mounted above the heads of the aufience, resulting in the floor being lit with ripples of light. All in all, a very eerie effect was achieved; I felt like I was watching March of the Penguins again, sans 95% of the notes in the music. Bloody French. They can't even keep this sort of surrealist rubbish out of a musuem.

Surrealism aside, at least the museumwas quadlingual, and there were no curators enforcing the no photography rule!

Oddly enough, after exiting the museum I realised it was not guarded (the ticket booth was two floors above). There were machines to scan your ticket but there was no barrier blocking entrance.

I then returned to Nimes.

Statue-fountain in Esplanade/Charles de Gaulle (according to map)

At almost 3, I had lunch at "Quick Burger", billed as a "Quality Hamburger Restaurant" (that sounds so Malaysian). It was quick and cheap compared to restaurants, and I just felt like sitting down in an air-conditioned environment since I was tired and it was hot. My bun had sesame seeds embedded in the top like in brown premium bread, heh. On the other hand, my coeur d'ananas looked big in the picture but in reality was the length of my third finger and the width of the 2nd and 3rd combined.

One restaurant had moules and frites for €8,20. Wah, so cheap.

"Our friends the dogs are not allowed" - Sign on the Roman arena

My timing was most excellent. It was closed to the public on 19th and 20th July for a rock concert, but opened on the 21st, when I would be in Avignon. I could've jiggled the dates I visited each place around, but it was very troublesome and slightly less safe (due to luggage issues, getting back to the hostel - taking a bus and walking up 500+m, and such). The day before, I'd expressed my regret to the British punk at not being able to visit, but remarked that I'd been in the Colosseum 2 weeks before, so it was alright. He asked if it was the one in Rome; I should've asked if was the one in Timbuktu.

The main things I missed about Italy were the granite and the gelati. Some shops in Nimes were selling granite, so I bought 1 petit one. It was the worst crushed ice concoction I'd ever had and likely will ever have. The ice was extremely coarse, so much so that I had to chew the ice (and as the girl in the Ding Dong Song tribute remarks, "It's a scientific fact that people who chew ice are sexually deprived.").

Maison Carree, a very well preserved Roman temple.

I wanted to enter the Maison Carree, but it turned out that the place had been converted into a movie theatre screening, at half-hour intervals, a fun-looking campy 3D movie called 'Heroes de Nimes'. On the poster outside I saw gladiators, a Roman priest, a jousting knight and a bullfight. I figured what the hell, there wasn't much else to see in the time I had left anyway, so I bought a ticket.

One woman in the queue had jury-rigged a novel cooling device. A detergent spray bottle had a battery-operated handheld fan on top (the tube-shaped ones with a fan blade on the top of the tube) - she turned on the fan and started spraying.

Unfortunately the air-conditioning inside was spoilt. There were 2 fans, but they were patently insufficient. If I'd known, I wouldn't have paid to watch the show!

The show itself was disappointing. A Roman priest asked the gods who was the bravest of the people of Nimes. He then saw visions of gladiatorial fights, a Gothic Dark Age rebellion (when the rebel had barricaded the amphitheatre), medieval jousting (in a curiously empty field - apart from the jousters and their horses there were only 2 tents, 2 squires and the jousting rail), 18th century swordplay (some rebel against Louis XIV) and 20th century bullfighting. The lame conclusion was that "As long as the amphitheater stands, the heart of Nimes will live on. Of all the peoples of the empire, the people of Nimes are the bravest". Great, I spent €3,60 on watching a propaganda film about Nimes.

In the show, bullfighting looked so easy, not least since the bull charged for an extremely short distance (maybe the real bullfighters are all in Spain). There was also a man on a horse standing by, doubtless to attack the bull if the situation got out of hand. A test of courage my foot, and especially laughable when compared to the fighting gladiators.

The show had no blood or gore either (a red splotch on one guy's arm after he got injured in a swordfight doesn't count). They should've spent the money used for 3D on some fake blood, but then there's the European aversion to violence. In that case, they could've found some way to include sex, heh.

On the up side, they had the priest and gladiators speak in Latin, though I'd expected French!

Jets along Quai de la Fontaine

Jardin de la Fontaine. Not bad, but nothing can match les jardins inégalés, pour un idiot inégalé (which must've been wonderful at that time of year).

Swans in Jardin

Pond in Jardin

I tried to look for the ‘Temple de Diane’ which was marked on the map but couldn’t find it. Maybe it was like the ‘Roman Ruins’ in Schloss Schonnbrunn (check).

Tower magne
Despite appearances, this was available for mounting.

Nimes from the top

The telegraph was so important that in the first half of the 20th century – ‘telegraphic language’ was taught in a number of primary schools in the area.

Castellum – distribution point at the end of the 49km aqueduct.

At 7+ I was walking along the restaurants in the centre of Nimes. They were all extremely crowded. I considered having paella/moules et frites but didn’t feel like it. Apparently my appetite was out of whack, though I hadn’t had a lot at lunch. It didn’t help that all the menus were in French, the place not being non-French speaking tourist friendly.

I paid €1,60 for water with lemon juice - ‘Volvic Zest’ from a vending machine at the station. At least now I knew what ‘peu sucre’ meant (it had 0.5% sugar). Damn French.

I considered having pho for dinner, but one ‘vietnamiennes, thailandaises’ place didn’t have it, though it had ‘crab clow’ and ‘boisson exotique’ (wth); at least it had an English menu. I ended up at another Vietnamese restaurant in the end, one run by Cantonese-speaking people (and with some English words on the menu). So I had my pho (it was listed under “soup” as pork pho on the menu, which I thought very odd, and they gave me what I was 99% sure was beef, damnit) and cold crab and chicken salad (mostly bean sprouts, some shredded carrot and other vegetables, with chopped peanuts sprinkled on top but dressed with no chili, yay [this is France]). It came up to €8,50 – less than paella (Hah! Maybe I’d have it in Avignon). (I don’t understand why I got keropok – is it Vietnamese?) The guy wasn’t very good with English, but I got my tap water in the end (yay) though I think he was trying to coerce me into buying a drink. I gave them a small tip in the end so I don’t think they had anything to complain about.

At a sandwich place: ‘Pan Baguet vegetarias’ had ‘jambon thon, poulet, surimi, jambon crii (??)’ Wth.

I missed the last bus by half an hour, so I had to walk all the way back. I should’ve da baoed a sandwich instead of sitting down for dinner. Unfortunately, I was feeling quite listless. Climbing rocks at the Pont du Gard had taken more out of me than I’d realized.

Perhaps Thursday was market day. There were little stalls in most squares I walked past. I saw a lot of couples cuddling in parks. Must’ve been the French connection.

I left the bus stop at the train station at 9:12, reached the bus stop at the foot of the hill the hostel was on at 9:49 and reached the gate of the hostel at 9:59, and wanted to die by then, especially when I imagined what it’d be like to do it with my killer backpack on my back.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes