When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

July Trip
22/7 - Reims/Bayeux

When I got on the night train at Avignon, I wondered if I'd been cheated. I'd paid for a couchette, yet what I saw in front of me was just a chair. A chair that could recline at a 45 degree angle, but a chair nonetheless. Perhaps, I thought, this was what a 2nd class couchette was, and I should've gotten a real, 1st class one. In any case, I made the best of it, not least since it was better than !@#$ Eurolines.

The golden rule of seat allocation didn't seem to have been followed - I saw one guy sleeping on all 4 seats on his row, while other rows had 3/4 seats filled. The guy beside me didn't have his phone on silent mode, and it rang more than once. Gah.

When I got off the train in the morning at Reims, I found that I'd gotten on the wrong car, which was why I hadn't gotten the couchette that I'd paid for. I must've been misled by the LCD which said which letter of the voie each car would be at, and instead of car 62 ('couchettes') I got up car 63 ('sieges inclinables'). My sleep had been alright, but I was just annoyed at myself on principle.

There weren't left luggage services, so I lugged my backpack (~9kg?) and smaller bag around the city on foot.

Fontaine Sude

Joan of Arc

Tourism office - I wonder if it's fake

On perusing the information at Tourist Information (which had no idea about left luggage), I found that there were more World Heritage Sites than I thought: the Saint-Remi abbey-museum (unfortunately only ope at 2, after the time I'd have left by), the Saint-Remi Basilica, Notre Dame (of course) and the Tau Palace. There were lots of other interesting-sounding things but I had just under half a day, no left luggage facilities and the Saint-Remi places were too far. Ah well. Anyhow, the cathedral was da bomb.

Notre Dame, where Clovis and friends were baptised

Side view


There were lots of tri-lingual information panels. Unlike in some neighboring countries.

'The annointing with the holy oil links the King of France to the Kings of Israel and especially to DAVID. He is above all the Sovereign of the New Covenant who is to lead another chosen people, the Franks.' - Perhaps there were translation issues, but maybe they have delusions of grandeur (and someone is betraying La République Française).

Stained glass over entrance (Rose Portal?)

There was a disgusting piece of modern stained glass by a Marc Chagail, the writeup to which went: "At a time when art seemed devoid of any biblical content or inspiration, this great modern artist, raised on the Holy Books from his infancy, devoted many of his works to it". Bah.


Choir stand

Stained glass at the far end of the Nave. It was hard to view properly even with the naked eye.

'Chapel of the Holy Sacrament. Please keep silent in this place. Why don't you spend a moment here to pray, to thank God...' - I love European English.

I saw a black woman with the most hideous hair. The first description which came to mind was Medusa. Nay, Medusa had better hair - this woman's hair looked like it had the texture of brain lobes (yes, there were the folds), so it looked like she was wearing her brain on her head.

More stained glass over the entrance. This should be to the right of the main portal.

This should be the Rose Window again.

Italian chuch walls were filled with chapels, frescoes and paintings, yet French ones seemed bare. Probably it was Revolutionary damage.

The difference in lighting between areas with stained glass and areas with clear glass made me wonder about the supposed airiness of the Gothic style. But I suppose it's all relative.

Reims was probably one epitome of the Gothic style.

Churches in Italy ask you to cover your shoulders. But how about other parts? How about midriff-baring and cleavage-exposing outfits?

It's always nice when they play organs in the church. It adds to the atmosphere (I think this means it was playing when I was there)

There was this girl in Italy who was wearing a top the back of which looked like a shark had taken several bites out of (perhaps while the previous owner of the outfit had been wearing it, and this one had picked it upwhen the body was washed ashore). In other words, her back was bare except for strings crossing her back and linking both sides together. If you were to expose your flesh, more power to you, but this is beyond a matter of decency - concerns of tastelessness aside, it was just downright ugly.
Aside, comments on the first sentence: "your phrasing is pompous and ineleagant"
"convoluted sentence. it's as if i'm reaidng some judgment! be gone!"
"splitting your tenses.. well."


Virgin of the Assumption above the main portal, to whom the Cathedral was dedicated. I particularly liked the carving in the Reims Notre Dame. I think Notre Dame in Paris was good too, but thanks to the Cock I have no frame of reference.

The figures to the right of the main portal are unique in having angels with open wings. Or something.

Angels to the left of the door to the left of the main portal

I'm calling this the side portal but it looks like it's been bricked up, or was never a portal.

More cathedral views

There was a shop near the cathedral where someone got me some shirts, including the doubly haram one (a less Haram version had a French flag in place of the glass of wine). There was a nice shirt with a sculptural fragment on it, but it was available in kids' sizes only.

The Tau Palace sounded like it had lots of good stuff, including the Cathedral Treasury. Ah well. Better to visit the Cathedral sans Treasury than neither.

The spirit of love was in the air in Reims, as it was in Paris, with PDA. I saw a guy kissing a girl on a street. That in itself was nothing spectacular, but he also fondled (as opposed to pinched) her butt.
At Gabriel's behest, I am providing an illustrative example of the difference between a close platonic friendship with someone of the opposite sex, and a romatic relationship, and how that difference is not mrely about sex.

Platonic friendship
a) You sleep in the same bed as your close platonic friend, but you never sleep with each other
b) Your close platonic friend pimps out her female friends for you, and you likewise bring out your male friends to pimp for her. (assuming both parties are unattached)
c) You call each other "bitch" and "asshole" repeatedly and you under no qualms about telling each other to fuck off without rancour if you are tired of their presence or if you have better things to do.
d) At clubs you dance close to each other but never with each other
e) Even when drunk you don't try to kiss each other or feel each other up

Romantic relationship
a) You sleep in the same bed as your gf, but you don't sleep with each other because she feels she's nto ready to take the next step
b) She worries about you hanging out with female friends; you worry about her hanging out with male friends
c) You call each other "darling" and "honeybunny" repeatedly and both of you take pains to hang out or see each other or do things for each other despite having better/more important things to do
d) At clubs you dance with each other
e) When drunk you both start crying melodramatically about loving each other and only wanting no one but each other and helping each other clean up vomit stains.


Gabriel: your post is not what I was looking for

so I assume the difference is merely about sex
hurr hurr

there is no sex in both scenarios
it's about expected behaviours more than sex

granted i chose stereotypes
but we've had the stereotype conversatio before

if yo udon't like it go write one yourself

Gabriel: *facepalm*
there's a reason why I asked you to write it

anyone reading this can go: "oh yes, it's just about sex"


above and beyond sex
i tell *** to fuck off all the time and i don't feel a need to constantly entertain her patter and vice-versa
whereas with *** it was pretty much a "if i want to talk to you, you have to talk to me" kidn of thing

i admit that relationships hafe many shades and nuances

Gabriel: that's because you want sex

HWMNBN: *hollow laugh* how much sex do you think i had with ***?


although i will admit that sex is a huge part of the difference
one of the large rparts

but frnakly relationships have many shades and nuances
so there's considerable overlap between the two concepts depending on your interpretation
sex is the easiest dividing line to point to, but it's nto the only difference
4 strikes.

I believe the saying is "3 strikes and you're out".

Friday, October 27, 2006

I didn't know Ringafling was tonight. It seems like only yesterday that I snapped that "My name is Milk" rubbish poster, which came with no date, venue or clue to what Ringafling was. In any case, Ringafling is even more ridiculous and salacious than anything I've seen so far. I wonder what new depths they have to plumb. Oh, and it's not by Science.

The buzz:

NUSSU Bizcom presents:

27th October 2006
830pm till late.

The party to remember.

What are you waiting for? Don’t. Hold. Back.

Party like you know no limits.

Tickets going at
$12 (presales)

Our models will blow you. Away.
Watch them live out your fantasies.
Sit tight for a night of mystery and burning passion as our mystery sizzling hotties reveal themselves.
Keep your phone close to your body and you might get up close and personal with them.
Be sure to leave with a memorable night.

Be a sport! Take part in our programmes and stand a chance to win ipod nanos and more than $50,000 worth of vouchers!

And girls, come in your shortest skirts and get $1 off with skirts every 1cm shorter than 25cm.

BE there!! And don’t miss out for the chance to party with the hottest people in campus.

Contact Yisi at *** for tickets
Visit the Ringafling booths at the NUS AS6 walkway from Monday(23/10) to Thursday(26/10) to get your tickets NOW!

Supplementary hilarity: "Babes come in your mini skirts ( exclusive discounts- a dollar off every cm shorter than 25 cm. and you stand to win attractive prizes as well!)"

What will they win? Longer skirts? Shorter skirts? FBT shorts to protect their modesty? Lacy underwear to show off to guys who upskirt them?

And since Ringafling is $12, if you go in with a <13cm skirt, do they pay you to come?

As L (skirt length) tends to 0, X (the amount they pay you) tends to $13

Xephyris: "come without a skirt, you are infinitely shorter than 25cm and thus win enough money you can buy the attractive prize yourself"

Someone: "i like to think of it as an economic exercise, we, em they, are simply subsidizing them for the positive externality they bring with a shorter skirt length, that of course, begs the question, does long skirts incur negative externalities? depends on who's wearing them."

The best word on the subject, I think, is this:

"I was studying in the clubroom on Tuesday night, till about 2 am, when I left to go back to hall.

While I was walking back, I realised that while I'd been holed up in the clubroom, some people had gone around sticking up posters for the StompAIDS campaign.

They were *everywhere*. Really. On *every* pillar along the AS6 and AS1 corridors; you couldn't walk five steps without seeing one.

And here's the funny thing.

NUSSU Bizcomm has a bash on the 27th of October, and in the tradition of NUS bashes, its theme has some sexual innuendo to it, although perhaps not so subtly veiled: bright posters of luscious, shiny, lipsticked lips and telephone keypads proudly declare the name of the bash-- RingAFling.

If that doesn't imply one-night stands, I don't know what does.

And then you have this flood of AIDS awareness posters with their half-naked, semi-faceless models veiled in dark purple lighting, declaring that casual sex kills.

Oh, the irony.

And look at what I snapped today with my camera phone, along the AS1 corridor.

The two posters side by side, on adjacent sides of a pillar.

This is gonna crack me up for the next week or so. LOL. :D"

(O.o --Limbo-- o.O)

Someone had tipped me off about the placement, but I never got down to tracking it down. So kudos to her!

If the bash poster had gone up after the AIDS one, someone's head is going to roll. If the AIDS poster had gone up after the bash one, someone's head is going to be decorated.

And so, my updated list of names of NUS student events is expanded:

"Indulgence, Decadence, Ecstasy, Harem, Tease, Legal-disiac, Barely Legal, Bare, Naughty by Nature, E XXX othermic, Forplay, Tryst, Compulsion, Envy: Sin or Sense?, S.T.R.I.P, Dare 21, Ringafling, Temptations (All bashes except for the last, a bazaar)"

Damn, I realise I didn't get any while I was away. Ah well. I'll get plenty of new ones in the next 3 semesters anyway.
July Trip
21/7 - Avignon

Popes' Palace frontage

This was during the festival, so there were lots of performances.

Moyen Age Japonais L'art Populaire SaSaLa (Japanese Middle Ages Performance)
This was part of the Festival - I was not sure if I was supposed to give $1. There was no money in the basket and no one gave anything, so I didn't either.

In one performance, a French man was singing out of tune through a loudhailer and 2 others tried to stop him, and then carried him off when he wouldn't stop. Another had 2 French women in black doing a wth pushup position, rolling around on the floor, getting into the wheelbarrow position (with the one on top sliding down the back of the one below) and then starting to dance around around, with their hands almost touching, then getting on a cube, writhing in slow motion, curling and uncurling. Gah, Flesh Parade is more interesting. Making it worse, irritating French music was coming out of nowhere (musically) and progressing nowhere, only raising my blood pressure. Or it would have if I wasn't smiling and trying to suppress my laughter.

I paid €2 for a 1/2 pint granita. I'd peered at the crystals, but couldn't quite tell what flavour the granita was. In the end it was alright - the texture was good, but it was too sour (you'd expect that from the French - the Italian ones were too sweet). Furthermore, I saw, felt and tasted the texture of real fruit - in Italy they were all syrup (except the Citrone one I got from this guy pushing a pushcart in Naples which came with a lemon wedge).

Avignon Bridge

At both the Bridge and Palace, although the audioguide was included in the admission price, they didn't bother to tell people this. You had to squint at the sign or ask to find out. Gah. For example at the Popes' Palace they could've told me when I deposited my bag, but they didn't!



The audioguide mentioned the 'famous refrain sung throughout the world today', in relation to the Avignon Bridge song. For some reason though, I didn't get to hear the song being sung in the audioguide. Bah. They're probably parochial enough to think the whole world knows about their song.

St Benezet's Chapel, 1184

The audioguide informed me that the bridgebuilders drew inspiration from the Pont du Gard, described as 'a few hours walk from here'. Thanks ah.

Written accounts tell us that in March 1670, 500 years after his death, they exhumed Saint Benezet's remains from the chapel and found his body in perfect condition. According to written accounts, there was no decomposition and there was a sweet smell. In 1793, during the French Revolution, rebel soldiers opened the reliquary and found that the remains had decomposed; evidently God had let the body decompose between the 17th and 18th centuries - the world was sinful even then, so they couldn't witness such miracles (perhaps God was unhappy that the Divine Right of Kings had been violated by the revolutionaries and then cursed France so the saint's body rotted). In 1984 they examined his head and found that he was 25 years old when he died.

Rhone, looking east.

Xephyris: "looks like one of the villains from some sentai gig haha"
There was a Taiwanese freak show running. One person was 'bluextraterrestrial', one was 'autumn' and one was 'dragon'. A dog was barking at the first one. Though they were Taiwanese, 'autumn''s posturing was very French.
Xephyris: "i thought it was french too hahahaha
­this must be my horribly ignorant and culturally insensitive mind working"

They were carrying a "Feydeau - Tailleur pour dames" sign

I should go to Avignon one year and make a fool of myself.

One guy was very lame. He was wearing a mortarboard and had a sign reading: "HELP! I bet that I would collect 100€ today". I wonder what the wager was.

Camel man. Usually camels are made of 2 people. Maybe he was on a budget.

I saw a poster for 'Les Monologues du Penis' it was a matter of time.

I saw gazpacho in a tetrapak with a screw on cap. Hmm. The French take supermarket convenience food to a new level.

Jardins et Promenades

14th century walls, gate ('Porte de la Republique')

For dinner I went to Flunch, which someone had recommended, and her recommendations are rarely off (besides the worst Calamari in the world). I had a menu du jour - 1 chicken cylinder in a tomato sauce, 1 creme brulee (quite big) and a can of drink for €7,90. At the salad bar, water and ice were free, and there was a variety of starches: wedges, fries, yellow rice, shell pasta, potato cubes - not potato salad and mashed potato (The magic words '7 légumes différences par jour et à volonté'; yes I seem either to have missed one or been shortchanged). There were also sauces: brown pepper, tomato-courgette sauce and smooth tomato sauce. Olive oil, vinegar, ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard were dispensed at liberty too.

Unfortunately I think I attacked the wedges too enthusiastically. I hadn't felt so bloated since Singapore.

'Entree du cinema entre gratuite pour les couples' www.body-fashion.com cinema permanente - eng?
I think this note means this sign was displayed outside a cinema with this URL displayed there.

A group of people of all ages ('Avignon en Rollers') were rollerblading through the main street of the town centre. Those on the periphery were wearing fluorescent red and yellow jackets.

I think I know what the 2 flaps of skin are meant to be, but what about the last?

One train came early. Luckily it didn't leave early, like Eurolines buses.
Frigid Girl: apparently
latest breaking news

some couple
canadian guy, prc gal
have been having sex so loudly in hall
that everyone in the block hears
the prc was yelling in a stilted eng 'don't stop!'

sheares i think

Someone: but i heard that prcs are really horny

my fren told me
that his fren saw this prc couple making love in the tv room

i mean u wanna have sex u shld be decent enough to go back to ur room
they do it in the hall's tv room

and in ntu
they'll kiss on the benches

but ireally cannot stand prc

did i tell u that
when i was in yr1
waiting for my neighbour at the engine bridge
at ard 7pm
there's this prc guy
he walked up to me and asked me to go to his hostel

it's really wtf

i was damn freaked out ­
then i quickly walk to the library

no la [not cute]
­have u seen a cute prc?

Someone else: the girl hot or not
did anyone RECORD
the moans

it'd be funny leh
we duynno who also mah
so no harm

but well, if u get the sound clip, forward to me

As PaRaDoX commented: "PRC make love damn loud", and as someone else added: "Wo3 lai2 le4!

I'm about to get an apoplectic fit!

I walk into Chatterbox and people are sitting around a table, with one person playing a guitar and singing YOU-KNOW-WHAT songs.

This is one of my worst nightmares, though I only knew it post-hoc.


Time to blast "What if God smoked Cannabis?" and "My Little Bird - Our Thoughts are Free"

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The free screening of An Inconvenient Truth I went to today was marred only by this guy some rows in front of me who persisted in talking audibly over a long period of time (at least 30 mins, maybe up to 1 hour). Eventually I did what I should've done earlier and shouted in that general direction.

Later someone asked me why I shouted. I was wondering if I was hearing voices, but I don't think I'm that far gone (yet) and anyway the talking stopped after my outburst.

I was wondering why no one else would shout at him. Maybe it was game theory. Or everyone else was just sleeping through Al Gore's Powerpoint presentation.

To catch my bus, I jayran across the road when there was no traffic other than 2 buses at the bus stop.

A Malaysian shouted after me, 'careful!'

Maybe she's been studying here too long, heh.
I love the chair-throwing we get on YR.

If you have a short attention span, click here to go to part 2, which is both short and delicious.

A: If she's smart, the only two lessons she can draw from this debacle are:

a) Keep your mouth shut in the public domain, because people can't handle the truth
b) Who cares about public castigation? Populus me sibilat, at mihi plaudo/Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplor in arca.

If she's got what it takes to achieve the success owing to her as part of the educated/pampered elite (which is by no means a guaranteed factor as a result of inherited endowments - see ACS(B)) I say more power to her. The world has its privileged elites who have more freedom and opportunity to do what they want; boo-fucking-hoo, what are you going to do about it, ESPECIALLY SINCE MOST PEOPLE ON THIS LIST ARE IN THAT POSITION? Make whining value judgments about how the current state of economc injustice isn't a demonstrably provable a priori moral axiom or name-droppingly cite abstruse disertations on the ontological imperative to do good? This kind of intellectual masturbation does little to change the facts on the ground, and its even more sickeningly hypocritical coming from people who are already by and large on the winning side of the current social equation, benefiting the most from the status quo. It's like the aristocrat who patronishingly applies a band-aid on a leper's sore, making sure that his ermine cloak doesn't get stained with pus, while the leper is dying in the gutter.

To compare; I'm a career failure because I didn't apply myself; I went to a lousy uni where I ended up an alcholic and a bipolar depressive; all this even though I came from a middle-class, private-condo dwelling family that could afford tuition and assessment books and an overseas education for me. Do you hear me clamouring to be added on the welfare list? Should I be going to claim mental disability payments for being a victim of extenuating circumstances?

I got what I deserved for my own indolence and ineptitude and wasting my "initial endowments" - and now I live in penury supporting my family and working like a dog in a pittance-paying, no-future job - THAT'S reality, THAT's the economic truth, like the law of gravity, and I take full personal responsibility for not being capable of bettering my condition, as opposed to laying blame at the foot of "social conditions" or "privileged endowments". I'd rather you Ivy Leaguers/Oxbridge people with your six-figure salaries spat on me for being a failure - which I'd unflinchingly accept as my just due - than endure your patronising, condescending platitudes about how i'm a victim of social inequality and economic disenfranchisement and globalization's ill-effects and Gini coefficients.

I don't blame share-holder accountable MNCs for refusing to hire me instead of some workaholic CV-buffed Oxford/Columbia grad with a scholarship buyout (whether that person is certainly best for the job in the long run is another issue, but the signalling logic holds true in the short-medium term given today's economic conditions) and I certainly do not insist on pillaging by coercive redistribution the fruits of another man's labour.

Frankly, the population of this list, despite their avowed commitment to open debate, appear incapable or unwilling to face fucking facts when it goes against your liberal groupthink - it's far easier to remain discreet to avoid the mob when someone says something that raises the rabble's collective hackles. I suppose this is because most of you immature vermin have not even begun to enter the workforce (whether gov't sinecure or private sector) or have experienced anything about the real working world beyond pallid internships or career cocktails; I think time - and market forces - will demonstrate to your satisfaction that no one owes anyone else a fucking living, and that the sickening intellectual justifications for bleeding-heartism seen on this list is just a hypocritical expression of privilege and pampered elitism.

You can only look down your noses in pity at the injustices of the world and postulate elaborate models of social egalitarianism with the luxury of scholarship/education/lapidary middle-class prosperity - and most of you will end up working for hedge funds, investment banks, law firms or high-paying civil service jobs serving the same kind of systematic social oppression that you're castigating now. (Of course the females - and you know who you are - can always end up sleeping with high-achieving alpha males as a proxy for achievement; that way with self-sustainability out of the way you have the luxury for guilt-free philanthropy, teaching, or social work)

People like us out in the real world who have real jobs, real concerns, families, bills, dying parents, hospital costs, inflation, spiralling property prices, etc etc simply don't have the luxury you spoiled, pampered pack of scions do to feel your detached, nauseating, debate-society, mouth-clucking pity for our fellow human beings. We're too busy paying the taxes and bills that bankroll your scholarships (FMS-ers of course excluded).

People who are whining about the world as they think it should be when they will end up perpetuating the world as it is shouldn't have the fucking gall to PREACH about it. To the few of you on the list deserving of an iota of respect (mad propz to tha P-Dawg); excuse the frothily hysterical and repetitively rabid quality of the above poorly-little rant, but I simply haven't got the sangfroid to avoid venting B-class bitchy outrage at the attitude of some people here.

B: This is the most ridiculous post I've read on the list in a long time. My name is bandied around, so I suppose that I shall reply to this particular piece of dross.

1) Bitter much? The vehemence with which you speak of 'hypocrisy' is certainly vituperative and vicious. Just because someone accepts a scholarship does not mean that he or she is buying into the system, or going to perpetuate the shittiness that is inherent in the current system. I believe that XXX has already clarified that this girl's stance breaks her heart, and that is why she would like to join the education service - to dispel such idiotic notions. Many of us take scholarships for various other personal reasons. To say that we benefit from the system but are not blind to its weaknesses and excesses therefore we are hypocritical does not make sense. Like most of your post.

2) Lovely to know that most of us are ivory-towered scholars. Where were you, for example, when I asked for assistance with Mission Angkor? I have a friend called Smriti. Both her parents are doctors, her sister is an Oxford medic, she's training to be a lawyer at Durham. Last year she raised $300,000 to renovate the operating theatre of a hospital in Cambodia. I am sure that I have bored you by regaling you with such tales. But surely this is proof to the contrary that "bleeding-heartism" is expression of some form of deep-seated hypocrisy.

3) At any rate, Miss Wee's comments are an example of how the "elite" has so totally divorced itself from the "underclass". Surely the answer to this is not less debate, but more. The reason why we post on this list, surely, is that we actually care about the issues at hand. Why else would we waste our time on this?

4) I am sure that I am a posterboy/girl for such divorced-from-reality bleeding-heart noblesse-oblige pampered-elitist hypocrisy. Not that this has anything to do with the debate at hand, but my family is painfully middle class at most. Most of my uncles and aunties remind me of the Derek person at whom Ms Wee so verbosely hurled abuse. Therefore I took offence. And I take offence now, especially. Loved your sob story though.

the point of this, in response to A's dumbass rant about how the more intelligent/haves/fortunate side of the normal curve/etc etc are all secretly hypocritical when they benefit from the system and at the same time complain about it blah blahblahiamsoincoherentpropztoP-dawg is that some who have benefited from the system actually use their brains to help. i could go on about responsible charity but this is irrelevant to the point at hand, which is whether debate is hypocritical (firstly, it is not. secondly, it is irrelevant). but it is suffice to say that those who have benefitted from the system do not subconsciously buy into it and support it. i realise i have used the term 'the system' as one would say 'the matrix' or 'the great outdoors' and i will try to stop.

C: I'm not even sure what kind of altruism would satisfy your non-hypocrisy criterion? Perhaps you think that egalitarians should give away their money to the point that their wealth reaches a marginal equilibrium with that of the poorest person in the world? Or until they reach working class status? Or? Really I'd like to know what kind of action would entitle someone to 'preach' egalitarianism?

D: That was some WMD barrage. For all that, I personally find it amusing because a real pittance-paying no-future job definitely does not exist in the technical finance specialist line that you're in.

The argument you put forward for your own life situation is therefore ... rich. Even if you (as in yourself personally) wanted to be added on welfare there is this little thing called means testing. And there isn't really a link between means testing and extenuating social inequality circumstances except in a fuzzy-wuzzy armchair-theoretical way. The link in means testing is direct - if one is poor, one needs money to buy food, and if money is available due to redistribution of the fruits of another man's labour, then so be it man, joy to all.

If you really hate coercive redistribution that much, don't pay taxes. No one owes anyone else a fucking living after all. Walk your talk too.

But I am curious: where are "the sickening intellectual justifications for bleeding-heartism seen on this list"?

> People who are whining about the world as they think it should be
> when they will end up perpetuating the world as it is shouldn't
> have
> the fucking gall to PREACH about it.

Certainly they can - illustrative example, if I have joy or something in giving away $100 in my billion-USD fortune to someone who desperately needs the $100 to fulfil some immediate essential life-or-death need, this is a win-win situation. Though I could be considered a Cock(TM) for being happy at giving away a mere pittance of my fortune for good thereby perpetuating my billion-USD-wealth world as it still is, it's still a win-win situation. Mutually beneficial situations are highly desirable, and thus worth crowing about from the Highest Rooftops. Where my views differ from yours and the P-Dawg's is that "elaborate models of social egalitarianism" are built to better identify and serve these mutually beneficial situations in efficient double-quick time. What is social policy if not these elaborate models?

But I really have no idea what you're trying to say. :)

E: You can't have your cake and eat it, A -- is it OK to wallow uncaringly in the luxury of one's privilege or is it not? If it's OK, what's the material difference between condemning the underprivileged as failures without helping them, and cooing patronisingly at them without helping them? If it's not OK, surely both are problems. Is hypocrisy the only sin one can commit? Or is it just the easiest to score points on in a mailing list debate-society kind of way?

Me: A's argument has several basic points:

1) If you are fortunate and you care for others who are less fortunate than you without doing anything, you are a hypocrite. It's not the thought that counts.

2) A is a sad failure and it's his fault. He doesn't complain or ask for anything, so neither should anyone else.

3) People in the real world do not have the luxury of having a heart.

4) Talk alone is useless.

In response:

1) Opinions stand on their own merits, regardless of who holds them.

Playing the hypocrisy card is a cheap trick. Instead of seeking to build yourself up so you dominate the other side, you tear the other side down.

It's like mutually assured destruction. Technically you may win, but it's a pyrrhic victory. It's like Lawrence Ellison overtaking Bill Gates as the richest man in the world by, say, blowing up his house and sending a suicide bomber to bomb his car so Microsoft stocks plunge in value.

Or, as A might sympathise more with, like how Raistlin "conquered" the world, but found that there was nothing worth ruling over.

Besides which, is it really hypocrisy? The supposed analogy is an aristocrat patronishingly applying a band-aid on a leper's sore, making sure that his ermine cloak doesn't get stained with pus, while the leper is dying in the gutter. But surely that is better than not applying a band-aid at all. And much better than what wt would do, which would be to kick the leper, spit on him and walk off laughing.

And what about the other things us as "elites" would do?

- Taking time out to care for less fortunate (Helping the leper to the roadside and binding his wounds)
- Donating money to charity (Giving the leper money for anti-leprosy medication)
- Using your career (or at least 6 years of your bond) trying to make a difference (Dedicating your life to caring for the leper)
- Not being contemptuous towards the less fortunate (Smiling at the leper instead of freaking out and running away)
- Buying dolphin-friendly tuna (buying Leper(TM) brand tissue paper)
- Picking up starfish by the seashore (Cleaning one of the leper's sores)

You just have to wonder, wth is A smoking?!

2) wt is not a sad failure (see below).

If someone were a sad failure, it were his fault and they complained or asked for anything, we'd all justly bitchslap him. But the concern expressed is not for these people, but for those for whom it's not their fault. For example:

- Locals who work more and yet earn less and have less prestige than expatriates
- Ugly girls
- Kids born with nipples on their foreheads

Derek Wee is not complaining or asking for anything (at least nothing explicit explicitly), and it's not his fault companies don't want to hire old, yet talented people. What do you expect him and his friends to do? Drink from David Copperfield's Fountain of Youth?!

Furthermore, just because A does something does not mean we should all do it.

"I tell you to eat shit, then you go eat shit ah?"

Just because priests don't use condoms when they have affairs with nuns doesn't mean we should all go bareback!

Once again, wth is A smoking?!

3) People in the real world do have a heart. How else do charities survive? Or progressive tax systems?

4) Words have power. 2 words: "Communist Manifesto". Or maybe a sentence: "I did not have sex with that woman".

Next, one or two points to make:

>I certainly do not insist on pillaging by coercive redistribution the
>fruits of another man's labour.

If the progressive tax system did not exist, the masses would rise up and violently redistribute wealth. Would you deny them the fruits of their revolution?

Also, as the saying goes: "Better a bleeding heart than none at all"

Finally, some factual matters:

>I'm a career failure because I didn't apply myself;

Debatable, but not all those who study medicine become top-class surgeons. If you study medicine and end up running a private-GP practice instead of specialising, are you a failure?

>I went to a lousy uni

>I came from a middle-class, private-condo dwelling family

"There are three social classes in America: upper middle class, middle class, and lower middle class." - Judith Martin

This is like how the Economist described someone with a private yacht as being middle class.

>now I live in penury supporting my family and working like a dog in a
>pittance-paying, no-future job

This is about as true as my saying that I'm anorexic and need to gain weight.

In conclusion, A is spouting a pack of lies and verging on being Lying and Psychotic, and possibly Deluded too. I have this advice for him:

"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."

F: To be fair there will be a slight lag-time before the wastrel sons squander their inheritances and drive their towkay grandfather's trishaw manufacturing empire into the ground after paying for all the mckinsey
fees to robustify their strong-form learnings... and the creditors come banging on the door to LBO their pound of flesh carve it up auction off the pieces to the highest bidder and suddenly there will be no more 'tea partays' at the american club in their preppy closest-to-oxford-they'll-ever-get shirts anymore. Market justice is slow but inevitable, like Edmond Dantes's revenge in the Count of Monte Cristo, and will bring them to the mediocrity they celebrate so much.

E: Not sure this analogy is the greatest advertisement ever for the market fundamentalist cause, a large part of the point of the story of Edmond Dantes' revenge being to illustrate the emptiness of the dispensations of so-called justice from Providence or its self-appointed human agents, and to suggest that we should pursue forgiveness and forward-looking happiness. Y'know, the small matter of, oh, only the entire denouement -- Villefort's unnecessarily murdered (though highly irritating) son, Dantes running off with Haydee, and all that. And personally I feel Mercedes gets a bit of a rubbish lot as well -- I mean, she couldn't possibly pine for her dead chappie forever.

C: I find it interesting that your definition of mediocrity = not top 1% in wealth. And I note no actual refutation of the egalitarian arguments have been put forward. I wonder why that is.

Me: Ooh, touche. I'd just like to add that this (Monte Cristo) is what happens when you follow the "altar man" philosophy.

"Altar man" philosophy: "It ultimately comes down to one question: Are you kneeling at the altar, or are you on the altar watching the others kneel to you?"

Those who adopt the "altar man" philosophy find that either they're kneeling at the altar when there's no need to do so and other people are doing better things with their lives, or they're on the altar and finding that no one gives a shit.

Either way they die bitter and empty.

"No matter how hard you hug your money, it never hugs back." - Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

King's Singers - Marry a Woman Uglier Than You

If you want to be happy and live a king life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
If you want to be happy and live a king life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
All you’ve got to do is just what I say
Then you'll be happy, merry and gay
So from a logical point of view
Marry a woman uglier than you
So from a logical point of view
Marry a woman uglier than you

A pretty woman make her husband look small
And very often cause he downfall
As soon as she’s married, an affair she start
To do all those things that will break your heart
Just when you think she’s belonging to you
She's calling somebody else to do
So from a logical point of view
Marry a woman uglier than you

If you want to live a long and happy life
Avoiding consternation and marital strive
For a logical man this is easy to do
When you marry a woman uglier than you

But if you make an ugly woman your wife
You will be so happy all of your life
She wouldn’t do things in a funny way
Just to give the neighbours something to say
She wouldn't disregard her husband at all
By exhibiting herself to Peter and Paul
So, from a logical point of view
Marry a woman uglier than you

If you want to live a long and happy life
Avoiding consternation and marital strive
For a logical man this is easy to do
Just marry a woman
Marry a woman
Uglier than you

Ugly woman
Ugly woman
Ugly woman
I marry you!
"The point of living and of being an optimist, is to be foolish enough to believe the best is yet to come." - Peter Ustinov


Trojan Installs Anti-Virus, Removes Other Malware - "At start-up, the Trojan requests and loads a DLL from the author's command-and-control server. This then downloads a pirated copy of Kaspersky AntiVirus for WinGate into a concealed directory on the infected system."

Bad boys big birds - All birds all the time!!! - SFW.

Prosecutor: Suicidal, text-messaging teen kills woman - "A lovesick teenage girl drove into an oncoming car in a suicide attempt that she counted down "8, 7, 6..." in a text message to the female classmate who spurned her, authorities said. The teenager survived but a woman in the other car -- a mother of three -- died."

Folktale Types - The Gold Scales - "Folktales are arranged in international folktale cataloges by (1) numbers, (2) titles and (3) summaries of the content (descriptions). Antti Aarne and Stith Thompson worked out the numbers that refer to folktale types. An AT-number may cover a whole folktale, or a sequence (an episode) of a folktale."
They have 2499 types of fairy tales. Wth.

College facebook-style Student Game - "Students from all colleges vote on pictures submitted by girls who voluntarily choose to be on the site. It’s meant as a fun, entertaining take on the Facebook.com college groups such as “The Absolute Hottest People on Facebook.” We figured we could democratize this process by letting students from all over vote instead of just a few Facebook.com group administrators."

ACCEPT JESUS, FOREVER FORGIVEN! - I haven't yet figured out if this is a joke.

What Can We Do to Prevent Suicide? - "If the majority of Micronesians really believe that suicide is an honorable option, then this paper is thoroughly useless and all of us had better resign ourselves to continuing high rates of suicide in the future. Young people, after all, are very quick in sensing the basic values of their elders. If they get the impression that we ourselves honor suicide, then they will be only too happy to oblige by hanging themselves."

gladder :: Mozilla Add-ons - "Get over Great Firewall with Great Ladder! This extension eases the pain of Internet censorship in mainland China. It automatically converts a binned URL to a good one. e.g. http://wikipedia.org to https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/. And all the URL replacement methods are being updated from the Internet every hour."

Putfile - Guinness World Records Highest vocal note by a male - This is amazingly high - off the piano. And yes, no more ban, it seems.

Nevada to vote on legalizing marijuana - "Gambling, prostitution, and now pot? Organizers of a Nevada ballot measure hope voters in a state where almost everything goes will go one better and legalize marijuana. If it passes Nov. 7, Nevada will be the first state to allow adults to possess up to an ounce of pot that they could buy at government-regulated marijuana shops... Proponents of the measure also argue that the legal system wastes time and money on low-level marijuana offenses, and that taxing and regulating pot would put drug dealers out of business while freeing law enforcement to focus on violent crime and more dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine... A 2002 study by researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas estimated taxing and regulating marijuana would generate $28.6 million in revenue."

Stonehenge makes list in new seven wonders vote - "The 5,000-year-old stones on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, will be up against sites including the Acropolis in Athens; the Statue of Liberty in New York; and the last remaining original wonder, the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo. An original list of nearly 200 sites nominated by the public was narrowed to 21 by the organizers and experts, including the former director general of Unesco Professor Federico Mayor."
7/21 isn't bad.

2007 GCE A-Level Examination - Exam Syllabus For School Candidates - So funky.

Justice, Institutions, And Multiple Equilibria (PDF) - "To focus attention with no higher appeal, it would be best to consult the highest possible authority. If the players share a cultural understanding that certain unpredictable processes may be used by the fundamental Spirit of the universe to answer questions, and that this Spirit will not allow itself to be bothered about the same question more than once, then a recommendation that is based on such a sacred randomization can serve as a focal coordination device that cannot be appealed to any higher arbitrator. The oracle's recommendations can be self-enforcing without any further intervention by the Spirit, provided that the recommendations to the players form an equilibrium. Thus our model can admit an important role of oracles and divination as an effective foundation for social coordination. (For example, see Evans-Pritchard, 1937. Moore, 1957, also offers game-theoretic perspective on divination.)"

Human species 'may split in two' - "The descendants of the genetic upper class would be tall, slim, healthy, attractive, intelligent, and creative and a far cry from the "underclass" humans who would have evolved into dim-witted, ugly, squat goblin-like creatures."

Parents given red card over snapshots - "A referee has been reprimanded by the FA for stopping a match and threatening to seize cameras. Families were banned from taking photographs of their teenage sons playing football after a referee said that they were breaking child protection rules."

Mother Says Daughter's Class Picture Was Doctored - "A local family is outraged by a school photo. When the pictures came back from the studio, a seven-year-old girl’s image appeared to have been doctored to give her cleavage."

Once Upon A Dreamer: Baba Yetu - "Great music from PC games is more rare than an honest politician. It is simply not worth the effort. The intended gamer audience usually doesn't care much for the subtlety good music provides. Besides, most of the music gets lost in the sound of explosives, special moves, and sound affects. It is very unlikely people buy a PC game for the music; therefore it is usually not cost effective to provide good music with games. That is why the opening song of Civilization 4 totally blew me away. It is like seeing a girl smile for the first time. Before her smile you have no ideal how pretty she can be. That is what the music did for Civilization 4, it made a pretty game into a beautiful game all by itself."

What Matters - "In 1962, poet-critic Randall Jarrell published his essay "The Schools of Yesteryear." In it, he examines the Appleton Readers, once the most popular school readers used in American public schools, and he found that in 1880, the fifth-grade reader contained works by Byron, Coleridge, Cervantes, Dickens, Emerson, Jefferson, Shakespeare , Shelley, Thoreau, Mark Twain and "simpler writers such as Scott, Burns, Longfellow, Cooper, Audubon, Poe, Benjamin Franklin and Washington Irving." Fourth-graders were reading Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" and poems by Wordsworth. If you're thinking to yourself, "How could that be? I didn't encounter anything like this until college," well, that's exactly Jarrell's point. A decision was made about how to teach reading that, by the 1950's, ensured Americans would not know their own (or any other) culture. We're all consequences of that decision... We were taught to recognize words but not to enjoy reading, and we weren't given anything of value to read. So we learned not to read, but to respond to a reading technology."

Singapore's sexual evolution - "Others believe the younger Singapore ladies are too manly while the middle-aged ones are too sexually unexciting because they were brought up in a strict fashion. I have met local women in their 50s who still giggle when someone mentions the word “penis”. Many had stopped having sex with their husbands, while the men, virile or not, still hanker for it. This deprivation has shown up in many ways among some grandfathers. I notice that whenever there is an art (not photo) exhibition on nudes, many of the visitors are elderly “heartlander” men. At screenings of “X-rated” movies, one will likely find an audience made up predominantly of senior male citizens: many of them may never have seen a naked woman other than his wife."
"The only thing that sustains one through life is the consciousness of the immense inferiority of everybody else, and this is a feeling that I have always cultivated." - Oscar Wilde


Watching a concert on 4 hours of sleep isn't a very good idea - I was zoning out through half of the 21st Piano Concerto. At least it was free (I love free concerts!)

It was an all-Mozart program, so I shouldn't have been surprised that the encore piece was Ave Verum Corpus. Ah well, I was hoping for something like Exsultate, Jubilate instead. The first is a great piece, but gets boring after a while.

At the Raffles City carpark I hit the kerb and somehow got a flat tyre. Maybe the gods are trying to tell me something.

'Yes, firefox is indeed greater than women. Can women block pops up for you? No. Can Firefox show you naked women? Yes.'

I wonder if those who argue that one must obey grossly unjust or immoral laws would also argue that a lawyer who knows his client is guilty of heinous crimes must pretend that he isn't (as opposed to merely making a mitigating plea). The same principle might be extended, a little more tenuously, to obeying military orders (eg massacring civilians). [Tym: someone: or any number of civil service jobs]

Email feedback: "That guy is in serious need of a film studies course...". I have no idea what this is referring to. Hopefully not Royston Tan's Cut.

Since for the first sex six weeks of life we develop as females, the Creation account of Woman being created from Man is obviously rubbish. I wonder how the Church wiggles its way out of this. Or better yet, the literalists.

Phishing is growing more and more sophisticated. The latest attempt I got reads:

"Do you really think you can get away with this ?? you stupid fag . I have allready alerted ebay and you account will be suspended !!!!!



Someone: oh but here's a delicious snippet from my emotions reading: "...bodily resources to prepare for action, including what have been known as the three Fs: fight, flight and sexual behaviour."

Me: wth
where's the F in that


Someone else: when i was in jc there was an urban legend about how an entire class of acjc boys had contracted a sexually transmitted ailment from the same girl

Me: you better make sure there're no RI boys having chalet nearby haha

Someone: haha why not. not like they can do anything right. xD

Me: :P
ACS worse haha

Someone: yeah AC half the people class people going will run over and go gaga. :P

Me: lol
got things to gaga at ah

Someone: some of them go gaga at anything.

Me: hehe
they'd screw anything in a skirt

Someone: haha im talking about my classmates actually. hmm. heh but yeah you're right too.

Someone else: i had a weird dreakm
there used to be this ACJ boy..very cute...water polo player...nevertheless, himbo
never actually spoke to him in JC tho i thought he was really cute n he was in the track team too
his mother was heavily involved in christianity-related work, specifically preaching

So anyway, I dreamt that i was in a courtroom watching a hearing where he was accused of killing a man

and somehow, he came over and told me "I didn't do it. My mum and dad did. They're just pinning this on me so that God will come and save me from this, and they can prove to the people around them that God does save His people"

that was FREAKY leh

Me: erm
I can imagine that happening actually

Someone else: u know what, despite its freakiness, i CAN imagine that happening
because of the woman his mother was, and the image that she portrayed to us!
and when i woke up, the first thing i thought of was - i gotta tell gabriel
and then i forgot about it till today =x

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot." - Steven Wright


The Straight Dope: Why does the alarm clock snooze button give you nine extra minutes, not ten?

Uncertainty, humility, and adaptation in the tropical forest: the agricultural augury of the Kantu' - "Moore's (1957) pioneering analysis of scapulimancy (bone divination) among the Naskapi Indians of Labrador. He concluded that divination helped to randomize Naskapi hunting strategies, which maximized their chances of success against nonterritorial herbivores whose location on any given day was also random. Lawless (1975) studied divination in a context of ecological change in Northern Luzon, and describes how such a system evolves as resources become scarce. In a related vein, Rappaport (1968) shows how ritual cycles regulate the relations among people, pig herds, and the natural environment in highland New Guinea. The linkage between ritual and ecology in all of these cases is instrumental: ritual practice has consequences that in turn have direct economic or ecological implications. The Kantu' augural system links ritual to ecology not just instrumentally, but also symbolically and pedagogically."

Seduced by Snacks? No, Not You - "People almost always think they are too smart for Prof. Brian Wansinks quirky experiments in the psychology of overindulgence... Dr. Wansink is particularly proud of his bottomless soup bowl, which he and some undergraduates devised with insulated tubing, plastic dinnerware and a pot of hot tomato soup rigged to keep the bowl about half full. The idea was to test which would make people stop eating: visual cues, or a feeling of fullness... He prefers to experiment on graduate students or office workers, whom he sometimes lures with the promise of a drawing for an iPod. Its easy to find undergraduates to participate, but with the guys nothing makes sense because they all eat like animals, he said."

The Malay Male: Mighty Morphin' Racist Rangers - "Malaysia is in peril. No longer able to withstand the terrible idiocy plaguing our country, Dr M - the spirit of Malaysia - sent four magic rings to four special young people."
He mixed up the Power Rangers and Captain Planet. Duh.

Man rams car into women's clinic in Davenport - "A man accused of ramming his car into a women's clinic and then setting his car on fire thought it was an abortion clinic, police said Tuesday... The center does not perform abortions and does not provide abortion referrals"

Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq - "To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration. O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade."

Nun tried to kill priest after finding him in bed with another woman - "A jealous nun appeared in court charged with threats to kill and an arson attack on a priest's house - after she caught him in bed with a married woman... "We had been together four years and I had even had two abortions because of him.""

YouTube - NTU Student survey - FUnny comments - Somehow I doubt that like NUS, NTU will now restrict access to webcasts. Bah.

Ubisoft's Softer and Sluttier Side - "I was sort of amazed, I mean -- sure I'm not oblivious! Sex sells, but what was Ubisoft hoping to sell by paying girls to come party with videogame nerds?"

Dutch mayor for prostitutes with army abroad - "A Dutch mayor backed the idea of sending prostitutes to accompany their troops on foreign missions.(e.g. Dutch soldiers in Afghanistan as part of a NATO peacekeeping force.) Annemarie Jorritsma, mayor of the town of Almere in Holland and a member of the ruling VVD liberals, told Dutch television: "The army must consider ways its soldiers can let off steam.""
Gotta love these Europeans.

'Paris Syndrome' leaves Japanese tourists in shock - "Already this year, Japan's embassy in Paris has had to repatriate at least four visitors -- including two women who believed their hotel room was being bugged and there was a plot against them. Previous cases include a man convinced he was the French "Sun King", Louis XIV, and a woman who believed she was being attacked with microwaves, the paper cited Japanese embassy official Yoshikatsu Aoyagi as saying."

department of crappy engineering: lecture paparazzi - "Today I was taking a short nap during the 5 minutes break in LT7, when I opened my eyes I saw a girl aiming her camera phone at me! I stared at her with that "what-are-you-doing" look on my face and she turned away giggling with her friend..."

Confident students do worse in math; bad news for U.S. - "The nations with the best scores have the least happy, least confident math students, says a study by the Brookings Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy."

One for the ladies: How to date a geek guy? - "#2: Be direct. Geek guys tend to be in a shell. They are generally defensive and aloof. They aren't cold in the least; they're just extremely polite. Geeks tend to live by "do unto others". A geek guy who doesn't kiss you is worried about forcing himself. Grab him and plant one. Let him stagger and shake it off, but if he shows signs of recovering too quickly, grab him and plant one again. Subtlety and coyness completely fails with geeks; they'll be confused and expect that you're not on Pon Farr or are a nun or something. Where other guys need no provocation, a geek guy has to be brained on the noggin a couple of times, then he'll get the idea."

Christian soldiers take a beating over battle with Moors - "The fiestas — some dating back hundreds of years — celebrate the final “reconquest” of Spain by Christian armies from the Moors in 1492 after 781 years of Muslim rule. Villagers divide into rival “armies” of Moors and Christians to re-enact the conquest of their towns... “There are many Muslims living in all of these towns and none of them has any problem with the party,” Señor Pascual says. “There are no victors or vanquished. Moors and Christians always end up having dinner together.” The organiser of one fiesta, in Jávea, is a Palestinian-born Muslim. He said: “My family and I have participated for more than 20 years without the slightest religious or political problem,” Khader Ibeid wrote in a letter to El País newspaper. Calls for fiestas to be scrapped were a barbarity that would stoke resentment."

Dungeons Deep - Freeware Fantasy Dungeon Game Classics - "Castle of the Winds by Rick Saada is a fantasy rpg (with basic gfx) in which you explore dungeons, kill monsters, collect all manner of items and treasures and so forth. Typical dungeon crawl material but this one is nicely done and it has a story (steeped in Norse legend) that is very well written."
YuCheng, Lim and I have recently rediscovered this.

Oslo gay animal show draws crowds - "The exhibition - entitled Against Nature? - includes photographs of one male giraffe mounting another, of apes stimulating others of the same sex, and two aroused male right whales rubbing against each other. "Homosexuality is a common and widespread phenomenon in the animal world," says an exhibition statement."
Animals are fallen! And they are products of extensive socialization too!
July Trip
21/7 - Avignon

I had a wonderfully flaky pecan and some-sweet-filling-I-can't-identify pastry for breakfast, and one other. A mere train station bakery could produce such delicious food (I'd gotten breakfast from there the other day too) - who knows what the top joints could churn out?! If the so-called authentic French cafe bakery can make pastries like these, even I would gladly eat there! But then, who knows? Maybe the secret to such delectable pastries is... lard!!!

Me on SEP: But why do you want to go to France?
Someone: Because, oh my god, have you tried the pastries?

The bus driver who piloted the bus to the station was in shorts and some of the staff on the train track were in T-shirts.

Even the French train tickets which are not for specific seats have train times on them. Wth. So if you miss the train you presumably have to get a new ticket, even though the seats aren't linked to the ticket. Ridiculous. At least it's not as bad as Italy - you're unlikely to miss the trains due to their inefficiency.

Even the cheap French regional trains are air-conditioned. Yay.

Ironically, in Italy there were signs in English. In France there were none, even though the level of proficiency was generally higher.

In Avignon there was the 'Avignon Passion' pass, which you'd get stamped at the first attraction you went to and get discounts at others. This pass was free. Though the deal wasn't worth anything to me, since the discounted price equaled the student price at places where the latter was offered. The only must-sees there were the Popes' palace and the bridge; there were lots of museums, but I knew better than to visit them. Happily, the Popes' palace closed at 9pm and the last ticket was sold at 8 (an advantage of traveling in July). So I decided to go to see the stuff in Villeneuve, a village to the north, first.

Maybe the reason why France is the only country in the world where human photography is disallowed without the subjects' permission is that they look the best, at least in Europe. Supposedly Scandinavia is better, but I haven't been there, so.

I think I got cheated of €1 on the bus there (I gave €2,10 for a €1,10 ticket and the woman refused to give me change). Maybe the policy was not to give change for tickets bought on buses, but I had no way of knowing since I didn't speak French and no energy due to travel fatigue to gesture and yell frantically. I should just visit England more next time, then I won't have to lie back and think of England so much.

On French buses the sign which lights up when you press the button reads "Arret demande". How long winded. What's wrong with a simple "Stop"?

Villeneuve slope. Alright to walk up once, but not everyday.

View from the top of the slope

I visited this old French fort, which had an abbey within it.

Fort Saint André gatehouse ('Les tours jumelles'), Fort Saint André

Abbey gardens, pond

Chapel Sainte-Casamie (?), 11th century

Another part of the Abbey

I then visited the fort itself.

View inside

View of the town below. In the second, the Popes' palace is on the left.

Unfortunately I couldn't keep up my Paris pace in this weather, but I tried. Next I went to the Chartreuse of Val de Bénédiction (Carthusian monastery).

Monumental gateway

Monumental gateway from inside the monastery

Lilian Bougent, On/Off, 2001. I don't know wth this stupid light bulb above a switch was doing in the monastery. A sign read: "Please don't jump on the workart"

The monastery was very bare. I pitied the church - the decor did not survive the ravages of time.

Innocent VI's tomb

Small cloister

Flowers in green area beside La Bugade (Bugude?).

Private property in doorway adjoining cemetary cloister, fort walls in the background. Oddly there was no grass.

Chapel of the Dead. Monks' bodies would be put here for a night before they were burried. I don't know what the Morse code stones on the floor were. There were also pieces of paper on the wall with lines in French and an MP3 player for you to listen to mood music as you looked around the chapel, but it was spoilt. Bloody French.

Chapel with Giovanetti Frescoes, presumably what was referred to elsewhere as the only decorated place in the monastery.

Water reservoir in Cloister of St Jean

The monastery was opened for playwrights so they could get at it in restored monks' cells. Uhh.

Villeneuve alley, with fort walls in the background

I then took the bus back to Avignon (I don't think I got cheated this time).

Musee Lapidaire

I had a Coke with Lemon. I hadn't (and haven't) seen Coke with lemon anywhere else, only Coke Light with Lemon, which was a big shame.

Palais des Pepes

Due to the Avignon festival the Palace was open from 9am-9pm. However, in the big courtyard of the Palace (the Courtyard of Honour) there was a stage set upcovering the pre-Papacy remains: the John XXII audience building in the middle.

Even when the French know I don't speak French, they can transition to French in their next sentence. !@#$

Tresur bas
It used to hold treasure. Now it holds €0,01 and €0,02 cent coins.

The inside of the palace was very bare due to a 1413 fire devastating the decor, the French revolution and its being used as a barracks. So the inclusion of the audioguide in the price was welcome (not least because, surprise surprise, there was no information in English). Then again, I wonder how much it'd have been if it was separate. Bundling is such a smart strategy.

It was strange to see an almost totally bare palace. Why did they bother having a separate museum? To furnish the palace they should've put the artefacts in it, especially since they would be so much more meaningful in situ. Furthermore, this was not an open archaeological site where they'd be exposed to the elements. It was an intact building. I think they just wanted to squeeze more money out of visitors.

Cloisters of Benedict XII

Utter bullshit to justify their no photography policy. They claimed that the heat and number of visitors meant that, among other things, non-flash photography was not to be allowed anymore.
I had 2 suggestions for them: open the windows, especially during the summer months, or air-condition the building (or even install de-humidifiers, like all the other museums around Europe). The whole place was essentially sealed, with all the windows I could see being closed. The only way rooms were being ventilated was by doors opening to a passages overlooking courtyards. Probably they were too stingy to deploy enough manpower to open the windows.

There was a Chapelle Saint-Martial which had cost €400,000 to restore. The restoration had finished in April 2005 after 24 months, but for some reason it was closed to the public. This considering that it looks like the most beautiful room of the complex. Wth.

Kitchen tower, with the top tapering to a hole in the tower.

The Pope's chamber were probably the most complete in the complex, with an original 14th century floor. Unfortunately attendants kept hovering here.

A copy of Portement de Croix, 1478 (a large relief) was in the palace, for some reason. This sort of scene is usually a painting. This was a relief carved very deeply, almost a sculptural group.
SPQR peancot? (?)

Chapel. Costumes used in the Avignon festival were exhibited here, so I maneuvred so one exhibit blocked the attendant's view. Heh.

Roof of palace, near their cafe terrasse. The building at the back is Notre dame des dons.

Their cafe terrasse only served beer with lunch. Maybe they didn't want tourists to get drunk on an empty stomach.

Sculpture in front of Notre dame des dons

Magna Porta. Entrance to the chapel, decorated with scenes of the last judgment. The only intact doorway in the palace.

Exiting the palace brought me through a wine tasting room where wine was to be had for €5 a taste. I hope that got you more than a tasting portion. They also sold a pack of 54 bottles of wine, all in aromatherapy sizes (25ml) for €275. They claimed it was the same price as if you'd gotten it in the cellar (€5,80 for 3x5cl) but I didn't believe them.

The souvenir shop sold wooden crossbows which really worked: you could wind the string back and pull the trigger. Though they came sans bolts, so maybe they wouldn't have worked if you tried to fire one.

There was a guestbook at the exit of the palace, so I spent 3x the space allocated for 1 person letting them know in no uncertain terms how I felt and telling them exactly how to solve their conservation problems instead of trying to boost postcard sales. I even left my email address, but maybe their English wasn't good enough, since I haven't gotten a reply yet.

I wonder how a Croque Madame is different from a Croque Monsieur.

Travel tips:

- Ask around for advice, especially from previous travelers. That there was a night train from Avignon to Reims was told to me by someone, and someone suggested I not go to Orleans but instead Reims.
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