When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

"The political media are important because, as Anthony Sampson puts it, a mature democracy depends on having an educated electorate, informed and connected through parliament’ (1996, p. 47), and it is principally through the media that such an electorate can be formed. That the actions of government and the state, and the efforts of competing parties and interests to exercise political power, should be underpinned and legitimised by critical scrutiny and informed debate facilitated by the institutions of the media is a normative assumption uniting the political spectrum from left to right. Analysts and critics may dispute the extent to which Britain has a properly functioning public sphere’ — a Jurgen Habermas called
that communal communicative space in which private people come together as a public’ (1989, p. 27)— but all agree that such a space should exist, and that the media are at its core. Thus in debates about the state of the democratic polity journalists figure large...

The ‘crisis of public communication’ identified by Jay Elumler and Michael Gurevitch in their book of the same name (1995) refers principally to two phenomena: firstly, a decline in the quality of political journalism... Nick Cohen typifies the argument when he writes of broadcast journalism in the New Statesman that ‘liberal, news — by which I mean impartial coverage of issues of public importance — is in crisis. Its practitioners are nervous and unloved. Its self-confidence has been undermined by the preposterous but dominant intellectual fashion of postmodernism.’"

--- Brian McNair, Journalism and Democracy: An Evaluation of the Political Public Sphere
"The most profound thinkers of the twentieth century have directly attacked the idea that history is a coherent or intelligible process; indeed, they have denied the possibility that any aspect of human life is philosophically intelligible. We in the West have become thoroughly pessimistic with regard to the possibility of overall progress in democratic institutions. This profound pessimism is not accidental, but born of the truly terrible political events of the first half of the twentieth century—two destructive world wars, the rise of totalitarian ideologies, and the turning of science against man in the form of nuclear weapons and environmental damage. The life experiences of the victims of this past century’s political violence—from the survivors of Hitlerism and Stalinism to the victims of Pol Pot—would deny that there has been such a thing as historical progress. Tricked, we have become so accustomed by now to expect that the future will contain bad news with respect to the health and security of decent, liberal, democratic political practices that we have problems recognizing good news when it comes.

And yet, good news has come. The most remarkable development of the last quarter of the twentieth century has been the revelation of enormous weaknesses at the core of the world’s seemingly strong dictatorships, whether they be of the military-authoritarian Right, or the communist-totalitarian Left. From Latin America to Eastern Europe, from the Soviet Union to the Middle East and Asia, strong governments have been failing over the last two decades. And while they have not given way in all cases to stable liberal democracies, liberal democracy remains the only coherent political aspiration that spans different regions and cultures around the globe. In addition, liberal principles in economics—the "free market"—have spread, and have succeeded in producing unprecedented levels of material prosperity, both in industrially developed countries and in countries that had been, at the close of World War II, part of the impoverished Third World."

--- Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man
"Our national flower is the concrete cloverleaf." - Lewis Mumford


Someone: *question*

Me: *a whole collection of answers*

Someone: why didnt u just answer my question???
instead of making me plough thru all of that when my brain refuses to work

Someone else: one thing i find annoying about sg university girls: they're all so repressed


what exactly is being frigid actually? it's not like a biological condition is it?

Someone on Oz: i noticed that its a lot worse in singapore than it is like here. the [sexual] harrassing.
i get it ocassionally when i go back

like banglas on the back of a truck shouting at me when they drive past
like u wont get that sort of thing here unless theyre drunk

just a general lack of respect for women and their rights?

someone has to put their foot down about it !!!
­and squash them ignorant women harrassing idiots into a pulp

Noodles: i wouldn't eat cockroaches but if someone put a knife to my throat i would wholeheartedly eat it

inhibition removed but personality remains the same

Me: tada
same for alcohol

Noodles: yah

so inhibitions not part of personality lor
at least not a subset.. maybe overlapping set

i guess i see inhibitions as a manifestation of personality?

actually i'm getting damn confused now

Me: uhh


this is why I refuse to be drawn in

Noodles: i suspect that i'm arguing against myself

you smart lah
then you watch as i try to confuse myself

wow, it's like 见死不救 lor

Me: rescue you for what
then you pull me in

Non-Chinese Muslim friend: gong xi fa cai

Me: allahu akbar
yay racial-religious harmony
Some time ago, Lynn started blogging for money, and recently she got money to blog about blogging for money (well done).

I considered whether to follow in her footsteps, but checking the site out I found most of the opportunities didn't really appeal to me. For example there're many offers to blog about mortgage, debt and equities.

I don't need the money since the only things I really spend on are food and travel (and anyway I get a small income from Google Ads), so the only reason I'd take part is for the heck of it, or if something really interesting comes up. If I really wanted I could have 5 paid posts a day, but they'd probably fire me from the program for spoiling the market, hehe.
"In a given year, some forty million Americans swap intimate truths about themselves with complete strangers... what kind of information in personal ads is considered the most (and least) desirable?...

Getting a date is hard enough as it is. Fifty-seven percent of the men who post ads don’t receive even one e-mail; 23 percent of the women don’t get a single response. The traits that do draw a big response, meanwhile, will not be a big surprise to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the sexes. In fact, the preferences expressed by online daters fit snugly with the most common stereotypes about men and women.

For instance, men who say they want a long-term relationship do much better than men looking for an occasional lover. But women looking for an occasional lover do great. For men, a woman’s looks are of paramount importance. For women, a man’s income is terribly important. The richer a man is, the more e-mails he receives. But a woman’s income appeal is a bell-shaped curve: men do not want to date low-earning women, but once a woman starts earning too much, they seem to be scared off. Men want to date students, artists, musicians, veterinarians, and celebrities (while avoiding secretaries, retirees, and women in the military and law enforcement). Women do want to date military men, policemen, and firemen (possibly the result of a 9/11 Effect, like the higher payments to Paul Feldman’s bagel business), along with lawyers and financial executives. Women avoid laborers, actors, students, and men who work in food services or hospitality. For men, being short is a big disadvantage (which is probably why so many lie about it), but weight doesn’t much matter. For women, being overweight is deadly (which is probably why they lie). For a man, having red hair or curly hair is a downer, as is baldness—but a shaved head is okay. For a woman, salt-and-pepper hair is bad, while blond hair is very good. In the world of online dating, a headful of blond hair on a woman is worth about the same as having a college degree—and, with a $100 dye job versus a $100,000 tuition bill, an awful lot cheaper.

In addition to all the information about income, education, and looks, men and women on the dating site listed their race. They were also asked to indicate a preference regarding the race of their potential dates. The two preferences were “the same as mine” or “it doesn’t matter.” Like the Weakest Link contestants, the website users were now publicly declaring how they felt about people who didn’t look like them. They would act on their actual preferences later, in confidential e-mails to the people they wanted to date.

Roughly half of the white women on the site and 80 percent of the white men declared that race didn’t matter to them. But the response data tell a different story. The white men who said that race didn’t matter sent 90 percent of their e-mail queries to white women. The white women who said race didn’t matter sent about 97 percent of their e-mail queries to white men.

Is it possible that race really didn’t matter for these white women and men and that they simply never happened to browse a nonwhite date that interested them? Or, more likely, did they say that race didn’t matter because they wanted to come across—especially to potential mates of their own race—as open-minded?"

--- Freakonomics

"The moralistic fallacy is the opposite of the naturalistic fallacy. The naturalistic fallacy moves from descriptions of how things are to statements of how things ought to be, the moralistic fallacy does the reverse. The moralistic fallacy moves from statements about how things ought to be to statements about how things are; it assumes that the world is as it should be. This, sadly, is a fallacy; sometimes things aren’t as they ought to be."
NUSSU was conducting a canteen survey, and I encountered their 2 roving respondents in Law (wth happened to having a permanent booth?!). On the feedback form I asked if the reason they did it when Arts was closed was so they wouldn't know the winner in advance. Bambino's was also in the running for top International stall. Hurr hurr. I know what they should do - hold a contest like this every year but include an ostraka ostrakon, and the canteen stall voted the worst will be kicked out!

I saw people playing frisbee in the quad at 12+. Weren't they afraid of heatstroke. Maybe next week I can sit in the quad and think: 'Oh my god, I am totally gonna die'.

The Bukit Timah campus has a lot of CCTVs and emergency call points. Maybe the people working at the Botanic Gardens are very dangerous.

The BTC shuttle bus drivers have this pole which they use to flip the sign on the side of their buses showing the direction they're going. Hurr hurr.

I was trying to use an auto-feeder attached to a Xerox in the library, but it was spoilt - it sucked in new pieces of paper without shooting others out. As such my zapping was screwed. I called the servicing staff, and one of them came down and gave a lame excuse about copyright. Wth (there's nothing in the library that can be easily copied, if copied at all, using an auto-feeder, since only crisp sheets of paper work well with it). I then suggested they remove the feeder, or at least put a sign there saying it was spoilt.

I saw an advertisement for University-level tuition for the first time - $70/hr of programming training. That's cheaper than some secondary-level tuition.

Someone said the USP Year 1s are less cheena than the Year 2s. She also claimed that talent skips generations - the Year 4s CMI, the Year 3s are not bad, the Year 2s CMI also and the Year 1s are promising.

NUS library external members don't get eJournals access. Damn. They also have an access-only membership. But who would want it? You can just walk in anyday and no one will stop you. Unless you want to use special libraries like Law.

My library card got checked on Sunday. I think the staff member was too free, since the people who joined me later weren't checked.

Chris Lingle's "Singapore's authoritarian capitalism : Asian values, free market illusions and political dependency" is in the library, in RBR (time-limited borrowing by students only) and the Singapore-Malaysia Collection. No wonder you can't borrow SMC books, or bring them out of the room. I swear, that place is like a Secret Police library.

The most subversive books date from 1995 and before. I suggested to someone that this meant things had gotten better, but he responded that maybe nothing had changed.

There's a book of "Singapore Erotica" in the SMC. I suspect some of the stories supposedly written by girls were written by guys.

There is little point in giving participation marks in Applied Maths, or any other disciplines where there is a fixed answer. The raison d'etre for giving participation marks is to encourage participation, in the form of students thinking up and sharing their own ideas or perspectives. This is good for the genuine Arts and Social Sciences. In Applied Maths though, there is no sharing of answers. You just write your solutions on the board, solutions which everyone has (or should have, at least) already.

This is especially so when participation is recorded mechanistically and very visibly each tutorial, and constitutes an unprecedented portion of the course grade. What happens is a race to the bottom as the same people scramble to 'present' each week, spoiling the market by crowding out other people. Then again, whoever said education didn't teach you about the real world?

If you're good at Maths you do Maths, (real) Applied Maths or Engineering.
If you're not so good at Maths you do Applied Maths (ie Economics)
If you're very bad at Maths you do Literature. Or Law.
If you want something else to do your Maths for you you do Computing.

Someone who's graduated: my maths deteriorated a great deal since i started doing economics

Friday, February 16, 2007

As part of a film series titled "Masculinity, Savagery and Civilisation", I watched Robert De Niro's Taxi Driver (1972).

What I have learned about masculinity: Men are very screwed up (but I already knew that from watching Fight Club, which is up next).

Clarification: "women" is my general purpose tag for posts on women, feminism, gender issues etc.

Tagging isn't an exact science anyway. Sometimes I wonder why I do it.
"Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm." - John F. Kennedy



Goh Chok Tong said: 'Look, woman. If you want to talk about politics, join a political party'. That was the most absurd expression I've ever heard.

[Student: There was this guy who snipped his pubic hair.]... That's the thing. We only think of it as snipping pubic hair... The whole press spectacularised the moment. Hardly anyone saw it.

[Instructor on the Necessary Stage: They were accused of being Marxist. Front page.] But the guy who runs it, isn't he Marxist?

[On consultative exercises] They file away everything that has been discussed... The next time we can talk about the exact same things. The illusion of democratic space... If you think they mean it, they smack you.

[Me: Where're you going?]... Maybe to the library. Somewhere where there's more girls.

Ronald Coase and Doug North never did maths. They said: Either you use maths or you do history or you explain things in a simple way.

What about when there's no haze? Singapore doesn't pay us for the clean air from our forests... If Professor Coase would solve this problem he would say this: Indonesia will pay Singapore the cost of the haze... In return Singapore will pay Indonesia the cost of clean air. Or at least the cost of not burning... then Indonesia can continue to smoke.

Labelling is very bad in Asia. In the US it's labelled down to the last milligram of sodium. That is why a lot of bad companies come here from the US... You buy a pack of Maggi from Malaysia, it says 'less sodium'. But when you eat it it's 50% sodium.

It's the kettle calling the pot black.

They have high environmental standards in the US... [So] Union Carbide went to India. Bhopal. The rest is history.

A true lawyer or a kwok lawyer (quack)

or'tor'nor'moos (autonomous)

If you think about it, all problems of society boil down to the principle-agent problem.

You think the United States is a Capitalist economy? Education in the US is socialist. School - free bus, high school and elementary school is free. Free school lunchs... You think China is a Socialist country? Education: everyone pays at cost.

I say to you before, if you do not come to the lecture I will shoot you. You all will come. Nash Equilibrium. (I've said)

I used to be Christian. [Student 2: I used to be Christian too. Their brainwashing machine breaks down.]

I'm in Year 4. I just want to pass. Just give me a B.

What usually happens at this point in the Semester is I'll get some food and annoy you with some semblance of meritocracy (?)

One political party offering something good, like giveouts (handouts)

[Student on Slavery: Like what you wrote in your article. They become more mature.] Was I so flattering about the army?... I believe it was something about brutalising.

He said he'd send in the army if they brought in other people [into government]. The army is made up of guys. What will the girls do? [Me: Have you heard of 'Lysistrata'?] No. [Instructor: You withdraw your sexual favours] You can try. [Student 2: You're not a guy!]

[On the illusion of political change through consultative exercises] Give them a carnival. They will act and jump up and down... At the end, it's Lent again. You go back into the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights.

[On youth apathy] Who among us is willing to be a Francis Seow? [Student 2: *raises hand*]

[On self-centredness in Singapore] Liberals are very self-centred. They are not willing to give up [anything for the greater good]... If that's the case we have already achieved it [liberal democracy]

[On the tutorial] Some of you should redo it. It's really inacceptable. (unacceptable)

It's difficult even for graduate student, so I probably won't give it for [the] exam. You should formulate beliefs based on your expectation of my actions... Sometimes beliefs are wrong. (students)
Last semester, someone criticised me for doing Logic because she said it was a cop out for me since I knew a lot about it already. I dispute this. Indeed, one of the reasons I took it was, as someone said about the 'Philosophy' component in 1st year PPE, "You can do 'logic' which is, strangely enough, quite illogical". And indeed it is to varying degrees. Argh.

For example:
- The statements "all ravens are black" and "all non-black objects are non-ravens" are logically equivalent.
- If the statement "all men are mortal" is true, it does not mean that men exist
- 'If a nuclear bomb hit us, I would be the King of France.' is actually true in a true-false conditional. As a corollary, if a proposition is true, any proposition can be said to precede it in a true-false conditional, eg "If Ikea sucks, it is from Sweden" is true.
- Similarly, 'If I am a monkey's uncle, Elvis is dead' is true whether or not I am a monkey's uncle. It is only false if I am a monkey's uncle and Elvis is alive.
- If "All men are stupid", you cannot conclude that "Some men are stupid", but you can claim that "John is stupid", since the statement "John is stupid" does not mean that John exists

In any case, formal/predicate logic is useless because in real life, no serious people make arguments using the quantifiers "All", "No" or "Some" (ie At least one). Rather we argue using the quantifiers "Most" and "Some" (ie A non-negligible proportion).
Subject: Help needed for Final Year Project


Hello Gabriel!

Pearly here (I owe you an article)!

For my final year project, we are conducting an academic study of online practices and perceptions of Singaporeans and would like to invite you to take part in this project. We also hope you can help us publicise this and get your friends to participate as well :)

As a token of appreciation, we will be conducting 3 draws of S$100 each.

The online questionnaire will take no more than 20 minutes I promise. Do click on the link below to start:


Thank you very much for your support and participation!


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kermit: But first, meet the Vikings, those cruel heartless Scandinavian marauders whose savage brutality earned them the reputation 'worst human beings in history'.

Swedish Chef: Hyungdes skorn de jundorp doot! *thwacks Kermit with saucepan*

Kermit: Ooh! Err, I'm sorry about that! Erm, err, Ladies and Gentlemen, err, err, those gentle quite fun-loving old charmers.

I can't wait for someone to upload their "Macho Macho Man".
"Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth" - Franklin D. Roosevelt,

"If you don't sue, repetition of the lie [makes it credible]. It will be believed"


I attended a performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto on Friday. It was a very popular programme, which might've explained why so many personages (including the [NUS] President and his wife) were there. I'm not complaining though - at least there was no horrible 20th century music.

The Suppé was alright, though the brass was a bit squeaky (I rarely hear pure notes from live brass performers).

In the Elgar, the soulfulness of the soloist's playing varied directly with how much he was closing his eyes and not looking at the conductor. The distance the soloist's hand had to roam to reach the range of notes was quite extreme. At one point the brass stumbled again, but the moment was quickly gone.

For an encore the soloist alternately played the cello like a guitar and bowed it normally. I don't know what the piece was.

I've no comment about the Brahms, but the encore was Hungarian Dance 5, hurr hurr. The fast part was rushed, and the slow part was too legato.

The orchestra didn't look very happy at the end of the concert. At the very least, they should've looked happy that it was over (as at all the others I've been to), but most of them had very sullen looks. Maybe they played badly and got a bad grade. Or maybe PRCs have no sense of humour.


Beside the Conservatory there's this restaurant called 'KR-50', which offered a $15 nett concert menu, with a free flow of salad, a main course and coffee or tea. Although the salad was excellent - well tossed with red wine vinaigrette and with many types of vegetables, the main course was ridiculously small, and the buttered rice on the plate had hardly any butter (SAF buttered rice is better). To add insult to injury, the coffee/tea came in paper cups smaller than those the Arts canteen drinks stall used to have for takeaway, with a plastic stirrer inside.

On the upside, the restaurant there sold Dutch food products - I saw Calve peanut butter and mayonnaise, 5 types of hagelslag and similar sprinkles (like vruchtenhagel), poffertjes mix, katjes drops and fritesaus ($12.50 for 850ml of Gouda's Glorie)! All this was imported by "Gourmet Cellar Singapore - 64637604"
Dear students,

Diversitec Distributors Pte Ltd, NUS Computer Centre, and MacNUS present:

"Welcome to the Mac"

Do you think your experience with computer can only be as good as you can get with Windows, and that having frequent computer problems is something you have to put up with? Are you frustrated as you need to deal with system crashes and virus attacks on Windows?

Are you thinking of making the switch to the Mac but are holding back due to the “myths” you’ve heard from friends about the Mac? Get your questions answered, your doubts cleared, and be prepared to be captivated by what the Mac can do for you.

This seminar, to be conducted by Mr. Junior Tan (Systems Engineer, Apple Southeast Asia), will touch on topics like “Why the Mac is better for me”, Mac OS X features, and iLife ’06.

Date/Time: 6 pm – 8 pm, Tuesday, 27 Feb 2007
Venue: CIT Auditorium, Level 2, Computer Centre

Admission is free. Please register by sending an email to ***@***.*** with the following information:

• Name, Faculty/Dept/Year, Contact No, Currently using Mac? (Y/N), MacNUS member? (Y/N)

P/S: MacNUS is an NUS interest group dedicated to all things Mac, more info is available at http://***.***

Senior Systems Analyst
Computer Centre
Think about IT. Imagine IT.

An event broadcast by OSA


"Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television." - David Letterman


Someone: there is the CAAS one [internship]
fuck the civil service or GLCs
they work u to death and the monetary comensuration is no where reasonable

Me: isn't CAAS GLC

Someone: but caas is a bit different for me
i always dreamt of being the airport announcer

Me: go and die lah!

Someone else: seductionsingapore is blocked in China
bloody hell

Someone: but preferably i wish to do something wiht u on relationships
we have so much to complain about

or hopefully we do a module
that lalows us to examine if girls are weird
or come up with an index of how irrational girls are

u should write as ur nick that if girls want surprises, they shouldn't get economists as their bfs because their bfs don't like exogenous shocks

Me: yeah
US girls > Spore girls

Noodles: bah

Me: you disagree.

Noodles: i agree
that's why i said, bah

Someone: the funny thing is, even if you transplant asians, they somehow turn out looking better just by living in america.
­makes me wonder how shitty i'd look if i hadn't lived there.

Someone else: sorry ^^ paper writing
about STB, which is half bullshit.

Me: heh
the paper or STB

Someone else: the paper.
STB is total bullshit.


Someone: i only have 2 super basic criteria.
2. more intelligent than i am

Me: o_0
2. why do women like to marry up. dumb men die lah. no wonder men are smarter than women :) if not both sexes would die out

Someone else: i dunno... i actually think both sexes are gradually dying out
coz more women are getting smarter than men

Me: yah humanity is doomed

Someone: i like women who r pretty stupid
fulflling stupid is easy but not pretty

its meant to be intentionally ambigous
playing wif e words

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

"I do not have a psychiatrist and I do not want one, for the simple reason that if he listened to me long enough, he might become disturbed." - James Thurber


"That which may perhaps make such equality incredible, is but a vain conceit of one's own wisdom, which almost all men think they have in a greater degree, than the vulgar; that is, than all men but themselves, and a few others, whom by fame, or for concurring with themselves, they approve. For such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves; for they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal, than unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of any thing, than that every man is contented with his share." - Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as concerning their Felicity and Misery

"The interest of the community is one of the most general expressions that can occur in the phraseology of morals: no wonder that the meaning of it is often lost. When it has a meaning, it is this. The community is a fictitious body, composed of the individual persons who are considered as constituting as it were its members. The interest of the community then is, what is it?—the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it. It is in vain to talk of the interest of the community, without understanding what is the interest of the individual." - Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

"Either our actions are determined, in which case we are not responsible for them, or they are the result of random events, in which case we are not responsible for them" - David Hume

"Unfortunately it has proved very hard to reconcile this [Keynesian] view of the world with the neoclassical assumption of rational, optimizing economic agents, assumed to be free of any sort of money illusion... Within the neoclassical tradition it is a very short step from asserting that something is less than optimal to maintaining that it cannot exist at all...

An alternative view of unemployment was developed, based on strict neoclassical principles... One is left with a theory that maintains that large numbers of workers spent an entire decade during the great depression searching for the right opportunity, or alternatively, that they misjudged the true state of the labor market for the same period of time, and as a result refused to work at lower wages...

What determines the size of the probabilities pi1 and pi2? The neoclassical tradition assumes that these subjective probabilities are the same as the true objective probabilities implied by the model itself. This view of the world treats macroeconomic events as the umpteenth realization of a controlled, unchanging random experiment. As a result, agents are able to infer the true values of the parameters of the model and the moments of all relevant probability distributions. The only remaining uncertainty (or risk) concerns the actual magnitude of various random shocks.

The Keynesian view of uncertainty is very different. Major macroeconomic events are viewed as unique historical occurences. In consequence there is not much in the way of informaton or precedent to guide the formation of subjective probabilities concerning the likely behavior of the economy. For example, there has been one major monetary contraction in the western world in the past sixty years."

- Howard Naish, Labor Market Externalities and the Downward Inflexibility of
Nominal Wages
"Want him to be more of a man? Try being more of a woman!" - Coty Perfume Ad


"1972: Cliff [Richard] was refused admittance into Singapore because his hair was too long" - Gah.

Fudan has compulsory physical training for students. (Un)Fortunately, it's not for foreign students (I didn't manage to clarify if it applied to full-time students originating from overseas).

Someone's friend was in SMU's double degree program for Business and Social Science and said it felt like 2 Business degrees.

A joke a (female) friend sent me:
Q. Why do women get periods?
A. Because they deserve them!

Someone was telling me about one of the problems minorities have in Singapore, in addition to the one of people chattering on in broken Chinese, oblivious to those around who cannot understand them. An Indian was trying to get a part time job after the As. The job description said they wanted someone who could speak Chinese. Although she could, she was still rejected. Apparently they wanted someone who looked Chinese too.

I was relating of how I saw 2 Caucasian guys and 2 Chinese girls on the bus together, and someone said the former wanted the latter to pay for them, as usual. I didn't know that this was a usual practice. Doubtless this is because local men are such losers that the Chinese girls are happy to pay for the foreign ones.

A footnote in Shapiro and Stiglitz (1984) - "Equilibrium Unemployment as a Worker Discipline Device" reads: "Including effort as a continuous variable would not change the qualitative results". Removing the mathematics from the model would not change the qualitative results either. Parsimony in terms of mathematics is unfortunately something that is not adhered to; I haven't yet found a model where the qualitative results cannot be found without using maths.
"The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young." - Willa Cather


Excepting Mrs. Pentherby by Saki - "A woman will endure discomforts, and make sacrifices, and go without things to an heroic extent, but the one luxury she will not go without is her quarrels. No matter where she may be, or how transient her appearance on a scene, she will instal her feminine feuds as assuredly as a Frenchman would concoct soup in the waste of the Arctic regions. At the commencement of a sea voyage, before the male traveller knows half a dozen of his fellow passengers by sight, the average woman will have started a couple of enmities, and laid in material for one or two more -- provided, of course, that there are sufficient women aboard to permit quarrelling in the plural. If there's no one else she will quarrel with the stewardess."

The New York Review of Books: 'THE SINGAPORE WAY' - "Crucially, the claim of differential cultural identities also enables Asian establishments to reject the democratic ethos already present in modern Asian history—from the May Fourth movement in China to the nationalist, anti-colonial struggles in India, Indonesia, and elsewhere—as an aberrant foreign importation. Such erasures of recent Asian history are especially useful in Singapore because the state there is itself the agent of a democratizing process—involving social and economic enfranchisement as well as the ballot box—that it also wishes to contain. The very success of Singapore's modernity has led the state to formulate a sanitized cultural inheritance to restrain its citizens from demanding rights and responsibilities beyond those already granted to achieve modernity. By misrepresenting, thus, political possibilities within Asian modernity as a choice between Eastern and Western cultural identities, the state can contain the threats to its power that its own success has generated."

Straight Dope Staff Report: How do gun silencers work?

Wanted: for crimes against common sense - "A Chief constable was accused of 'madness' last night after refusing to release pictures of two escaped murderers amid fears it might breach their human rights."

Blogger Gets 'Un-Cease-and-Desist' Note - ""Linden Lab objects to any implication that it would employ lawyers incapable of distinguishing such obvious parody," wrote Ginsu Yoon, a lawyer for Second Life. "Linden Lab is well-known for having strict hiring standards, including a requirement for having a sense of humor, from which our lawyers receive no exception."... A lawyer for the virtual world "Second Life" has responded to a parody with something that's quite different from the usual corporate cease-and-desist letter. Vancouver-based blogger Darren Barefoot had put up a one-page site, GetAFirstLife.com, that imitates the look of SecondLife.com but promotes a real-life existence where you can work, reproduce and perish -- all for free... With a link, Barefoot invited cease-and-desist letters, the type lawyers often send threatening lawsuits if a site doesn't pull down objectionable material."

Man gives finger to sheriff, crashes car - "Police said they arrested a South Charleston man for driving under the influence after he flipped his middle finger at Kanawha County Sheriff Mike Rutherford and then crashed his car... "He was looking directly at me, giving me the finger and just ran into the guardrail,""

Woman hospitalized after Trivial Pursuit game - "A 21-year-old woman was hospitalized for intoxication over the weekend after "continually providing wrong answers" during a game of Trivial Pursuit where participants drank alcohol and did drugs when they answered incorrectly."

Popagandhi » Dear SMU - "So when you stick me in this stupid conference room threatening not to recognize my internship until you’ve put me through a thorough brainwashing session full of business school jargon; like: pedagogy and elevator speech and being different and value-added. Like profit-maximizing and corporate innovation, your corporate spiel takes us nowhere. Fuck you for all the days you stuck me in a suit and heels (every presentation, and sometimes every other day), fuck you for all the times you tell me I’m going to be stuck in a low-end job because I’m studying something that “won’t make very much money”."

The PC vs Mac ads return - now from the PC’s perspective! - "We’ve all seen the PC vs Mac ads by Apple, there are plenty of them. But now it’s time for the PC to counterattack, with the help of director Laurie McGuinness, who created four small hilarious clips, with the same character personalities (the PC being older, “boring”, and the Mac being younger and cooler), but this time the Mac doesn’t get the spotlight. What I liked about the clips is that they’re not made in order to harm the Mac, and they don’t deny the qualities portraied in the Mac ads, but they observe the PC’s own qualities, without denying the Mac’s."

Believing Scripture but Playing by Science’s Rules - "In a telephone interview, Dr. Ross said his goal in studying at secular institutions “was to acquire the training that would make me a good paleontologist, regardless of which paradigm I was using.”... But he has also written and spoken on scientific subjects, and with a creationist bent. While still a graduate student, he appeared on a DVD arguing that intelligent design, an ideological cousin of creationism, is a better explanation than evolution for the Cambrian explosion, a rapid diversification of animal life that occurred about 500 million years ago. Online information about the DVD identifies Dr. Ross as “pursuing a Ph.D. in geosciences” at the University of Rhode Island. It is this use of a secular credential to support creationist views that worries many scientists."
Maybe I should pursue a degree in a seminary.
"The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness, can be trained to do most things." - Jilly Cooper


A short review of Fight Night! (Eusoff Pageant Preview Bash), which I went to on invitation and on the understanding that someone else was too - see 6)

1) Quality >> Dare 21 (Science bash, early 2006)

2) There were a lot of jeans, more than you see in Arts normally. It must be a hall inmate thing.

3) Indian guys look better than other Singaporean males, which is why there were 2 of them among the 5 pageant contestants (noted by one emcee: "this year pageant got a lot of indians"). This ties into my theory of relativity (Frigid Girl claims that she notices aesthetics, and she noticed more girls in the UK than here, but for guys it was about the same. This confirms my theory of relativity - on a global scale Singaporean men fare better relatively than their opposite-gender counterparts).

4) One pageant contestant brought her mother

5) All the female pageant contestants looked the same, having a SACSAL look. It was unlikely that they were all SACSALs, since one was from Medicine. The skankiness was probably due to the makeup, hair and clothes ("too much makeup and the combo of red and black can do that to anyone. hard to look classy if you're dressed like a hooker" - Someone who was there).

And, yes, people (pageant contestants at least) do have the freaky look you see at the bash promotions you see in school.

Me: Do they all look freaky {at bashes, like how people promoting bashes look?}

Friend: It's okay to look freaky, but you must look freaky in a good way. They look freaky in a bad way. Like they just fell into a dumpster and came out blue-black.

Also, I think many of the attendees looked better than the pageant contestants, so possible corollaries:

1) I have weird tastes. Or people like the skanky look
2) No one wanted to join the pageant
3) Too much makeup and weird hair does that to you

6) I got pang seh-ed by Johnny Malkavian. Bah.

7) There is a picture of me looking very suspicious on Whosgoing.sg

8) I only saw groping among people who already seemed intimately familiar with each other. This is because they could go back and grope in hall, and because everyone already knew everyone - normally the point of clubbing is to hook up with people you don't know, which is why we have Gay and Lesbian nightspots, viz., nightspots revolve around clients' sexual orientations
"The advantage of a classical education is that it enables you to despise the wealth that it prevents you from achieving." - Russell Green



[On hall] If you see a very very quiet guy, it's very likely he's slept with someone already.

[Instructor: Unions are very traditionally part of Civil Society.] So things like NTUC...

At one time, this was before Tony Blair became more like the PAP, at one time the party had to obey the unions.

[On the Nature Society] They come together and appreciate whatever's left of nature in Singapore... you might say they consume the environment in a very bourgeois way, except it's in the conviviality of a group.

[On AWARE] They lobby the government: 'Women should do National Service'

Rich tai tais. Come together, drink coffee, play mahjong and talk about the poor.

You're the *** government. You have a lot of resources. Why don't you want to spend it on the poor? Why? [Student: They want to use it for themselves?] *rolls eyes* I didn't say that... [The reason is] they don't want people to become a drain on the state.

They will say, 'Our hands are tied'... 'The community is conservative'. That's when it doesn't want to change. When it does, society doesn't matter. They go ahead with the Casino, Crazy Horse Adventure... 'The society is divided', 'pragmatism'

The media will actually, if you like, define certain OB markers for the state... If you do certain things the people will know and will vote. Or 'revolution'.

Politicians are told to part their hair to the left or the right. Apparently it makes a difference... Tony Blair wears a blue tie... To show he's not too far from the tories... Sometimes he wears a pink tie.

Mine cannot ask for extention. If I ask for extension she'll probably go into labour. (For my term paper, I, for an)

You know I was a student. My coursemate always was late. 25 minutes. And she lived just [in the] next building... Next time when she was late he said: 'You wasted 10 minutes of my time. Now I will waste 10 minutes of yours'. He stopped talking for 10 minutes. She was never late again.

impoot (imput)

What is the relay'tive price? (relative)

high price sensidivity (sensitivity) (written)

[On the Arts-Science divide] It's quite funny actually. Every monday and thursday me and my friend look at people entering the lecture hall for 'Perfumes and Cosmetics'. We will label them 'Arts', 'Science', 'Others'.

Banesian (Bayesian)

Bah'yes'ian equilibrium (Bayesian)

con'tin'gernt (contingent)

My opinion of soci majors has plummeted. I'm taking a soci module, and in the tutorial, half the girls' ambition is to be a SIA stewardess. It's the most vapid class I've had in 3 years of [university] education... Before the class they were going: 'You have a mole, you can't be a SIA stewardess'

[On the Shapiro-Stiglitz model] e equals e bar. Which means he's a hardworking guy, like me.

This problem can be solved in a shortcut way, but later on there's no escape. You have to use optimal control. Very enjoyable, this course.

[On the term paper] You can do it 2 nights before and still get an A... [Me: People have this inaccurate impression of me] You look smart. This is your curse.

Instead of relying on the state for welfare, because welfare is never enough.

Because one party is in power all the time, you can rely on the continued exploi- Whoops, did I say exploitation? To hold down the wages of workers.

[On NKF] The stars. Well, Singapore celebrities. Singapore celebrities bracket stars bracket... When you watch the thing: 'Oh my god, she [Cassandra See] can't smell anymore'. Or 'Look at Zoe Tay's sweat'... You pick up the phone and save Zoe Tay.

[On NKF] In the 1990s, *** said: 'Pay our *** high salaries so they will not be corrupt.' What happened here? Pay him a high salary, and he becomes even more corrupt.

You have people like *** saying: 'I'm a great man, of course people give me discounts'

[On the Shitty Times] Reams and reams of repackaged government press releases... Terribly boring... Or stories about how terrible it is in Bangkok or Philippines because they are democratic, or how terrible Scandinavia is because they have welfare, or how terrible America is... [Student: Straits Times paints a very bad picture of the rest of the world]

[Student: I think the 'Thinking schools, Learning nation' thing has backfired.] They 'naively' take them at their word. 'You want us to teach them critical thinking? We will'... '*To students* I'm not supposed to be showing you this but'... The politics in this country is a lot more sophisticated than the politics that goes on elsewhere... You need a magnifying glass to see these complexities.

[On New Media] At one point they didn't care... Young people stringing sentences together. The grammar will kill them before the PAP will.

[Student: An octopus. The arms are falling off.] For every arm that falls off, 2grow in its place... ***'s head on an octopus's body. That's scary.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"The Government's approach sets the tone of the market reaction. How it responds will depend on the spirit of the competition. The Government will not view all competitors as adversaries. If it is a sincere contribution to improve the workings of the market, but one which we do not agree with, then our response will be dispassionate and market-based, pointing out where we think the competition is mistaken but encouraging the competitor to continue to stay engaged or even come up with a new strategy.

But competition that scores economic points and undermines the government's standing, whether or not this is intended, is another matter altogether. Not everyone joins the market merely to help the government to manage the economy better. For example, when our competitors undercut our prices, the purpose is usually to show that the government is not providing good products or making cheap goods. They are fully entitled to do so, but the Government has to rebut or even demolish them, or lose its economic authority. Anyone entering the arena should understand that these are the rules of the game of economics everywhere.

The best example is the ritual of price competition in areas where Walmart has set up shop in the USA, when the smaller hypermarkets and corner grocers compete with Walmart. Their aim is not to improve their customers' lives, but to trip up Walmart, make it look foolish, and establish that they will make a better market leader than the incumbent. Walmart responds in like spirit. It is a gladiatorial contest for market dominance."

--- Speech by Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz at the University of Havana Club of Cuba's 35th Anniversary Dinner--Building Market Socialism

By Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba
Surprisingly vehement comments I got in my Lenovo post:

Steve Jahmeister: Your comments about Lenovo's are just as your site is labeled "Balderdash".

I've been in the I.T servicing game more than 20 years, and we repair everything, all brands. To date I.B.M & Lenovo's globally have the lowest RMA and break downs under warranty. The uptime or run time before we see these for service on average is very very very long, unlike your crappy Dell computers.

Look even the letter D in Dell is defective, it’s fallen over!

However, I should be very thankful to Dell and their customers, because they make us LOTS OF MONEY! If you think I'm harping on, I suggest you do some Googling. Because these industry statistics are independent, and are reviewed by independent bodies for the industry and financial markets.

If your friend had a bad unit, this does happen from time to time. But more than often happens as a result of shipping, not poor components like Dells.
Dells break down like clock work and always have the same faults, because of cheap substitute components.

I think this is a cheap propaganda stunt to vilify a brand, because it’s changed financial hands on paper.
Its still pretty much the same company, and if you bothered to do your home work before you opened your mouth, you'd realize that the creative design innovator that brought the very first notebooks on to the market and coined the term THINKPAD, is still more 20 years latter the head of that same dept based in JAPAN [Manufacturing in China].

All key personnel have not changed, but financial arrangements have.
But telling the truth is never as controversial as dishing up bullshit, because your Asian knob friend was too cheap and probably brought his from a disreputable dealer in some back street hole.

Moral of the story, you get what you pay for!

Time will prove that nothing has changed; they will still make a very durable product that has QA Standards well above the industry norm, only paralleled by the German design innovators.

If they do bring out colored notebooks, which I know they intend to, it’s because customers whine about wanting to have funky designs, and that’s market share.

Unfortunately, they listen to whiners like you saying OH YOU'VE CHANGED.
Truth is no matter what they do, there will always be detractors.
So they'll continue to make a better product, and ignore the uneducated masses.
Then wait for your Dell to die, whilst your Lenovo will still be working 8 years latter.

Till then, I'll quote Forrest Forrest Gump………. “That’s all I got to say about that"

For the record I don't own an IBM or Lenovo. SG

Perhaps the personal accounts you hear of Lenovos breaking down are part of a worldwide plot to discredit Chinese brands. And I've no idea why he thinks I use a Dell (I use an IBM T42).

Frigid Girl's 8 month old T60 is mysteriously turning on and off spontaneously, as if it's possessed. Then again, I recently had to send in my unit for servicing because there was a fan error (the CD drive also couldn't burn CDs, on the upside I got it back in 4 days, but maybe that's because servicing in Singapore's still done by IBM). Around the same time, my friend's T42 also had the fan break down (apparently our batch of T42s was really messed up - other units had other problems). So maybe the decline preceded the takeover. (OTOH: I am told: "There used to be a rumour going around that the subsidised fujitsu laptops supplied to tetiary institutions were made from 2nd hand parts.")

As they say, "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action." And this isn't even counting at least two people who also have reports of friend's Lenovos breaking down. Just because Dells suck more does not mean Lenovos don't suck, especially compared to IBMs. At least they cost much less.

One is also curious as to why you don't own any of the products you so glorify.

And 8 years? Give me a break. (Hard disks probably die after 5, and the motherboard's backup battery will be gone in about the same time)

[Addendum: On chrisloup's suggestion, I found this:

Technology Company Report Card | Greenpeace USA

"Lenovo - The lowest score of all companies. (1.3/10)"

Lenovo report

[Addendum: Frigid Girl's 6 month old Lenovo laptop now refuses to turn on. Yay.]
A Symphony by Russian Composer Vladimir Martynov

"Inspired by Singapore, and by a composer from one of the greatest musical civilisations, SINGAPORE is a powerful and evocative work that reflects the composer's vision of the nation.

I saw Singapore as an ideal state, a utopia for humanity, which I know has never existed and will never, ever exist. And the fragrant memories of what I saw filled me with happiness. – Vladimir Martynov

Vladimir Martynov, a musical icon in Russia, hailed by many to be Russia's premier contemporary composer.

BIG COUNTRY BOWED TO A SMALL COUNTRY... Vladimir Martynov, having united in his composition depictions of the actual country and descriptions of Utopia from the TaoDeJing, expressed his own thoughts about Singapore being an ideal state... With the help of the great Russian and European cultural heritage, he showed how a big country could bow to a small one, saing that it is better to "let your community be small, with only a few people". – Grigory Durnovo, Gazeta Daily (Russia)

After its astounding and successful world premiere in Moscow's famous Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, Martynov's symphony will have its Singapore premiere 5 March 2007 at the Esplanade, launching the 2nd Russia-Singapore Business Forum."

This must be someone's idea of an elaborate joke. Maybe it's an elaborate satire, since this utopia "has never existed and will never, ever exist".

Monday, February 12, 2007

Inexplicably, accessing certain types of streaming media (example) causes my Linksys BEFW11S4 router to boot me off.


And this is in addition to being kicked off randomly every now and then, necessitating a reset.

No wonder Starhub gave them out for free.

I'd update the firmware, but the latest version dates from early 2005 so I assume it's been abandoned.
Finally finished 4 bloody pages of references.

I have a hunch the reason for anal citation formats is so the people who peer-review your article won't need to read that many other things (and to stop you from citing flagrantly).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

"There is a very significant distinction between a government that either dispenses with elections or rigs them to ensure a favourable outcome and one which conducts free and clean elections at regular intervals. Even if the two governments should evince apparently similar authoritarian management strategies, their political relations with their respective citizens are dissimilar. In the former case, the authoritarian regime will have little legitimacy with the people, the surface calm that repressive measures are able to maintain is merely waiting to explode. In the latter instance, state administrative interventions may be tolerated with a very substantial degree of voluntarism on the part of the electorate because of the covenant of having the leadership to govern."

- Chua Beng Huat, Communitarian ideology and democracy in Singapore 1995

I notice he didn't say "fair".
Machiavelli in the South

"In an open society – that is, in a liberal democracy – other types of public goods beyond those described above are generated. These are goods of coordination: freedom to express oneself, to create a party, a business, or an association. Webs of non-governmental, private, and third-sector organizations are responsible for the dynamism and vigor of civil society. In the public sector, the autonomy of certain institutions and the division of powers necessitates dialogue, compromise, debate, and collaboration. In an established democracy, the flipside to protest and popular support is a network of organizations – governmental and non-governmental – that are independent from the central power. These organizations function as a fountain of initiatives and a counterweight. They correct the course of governmental policy and guarantee an orderly succession of leaders.

Owing to his desire to concentrate power, the Prince is threatened by this second type of public good. Here, Machiavelli offered blunt advice. Just as he recommended generosity in the context of basic goods, with goods of coordination he advocated brutality: repress, bribe, co-opt. Means of political discipline are varied and changing. Yet, there is a single, constant objective: the destruction of goods of coordination. This kind of sabotage enables a post-democratic condition to be brought about through democratic means – a situation some authors have not hesitated to classify as “sustainable authoritarianism.”"
Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don't they know it's the end of the world?
I don't want to do this essay any more!

(with apologies to MFTTW)

Someone: hey you gonna quote frm ur blog?

i just thought itd be funny :P
like lecturers who promote their own books for class

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