When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hilarious song from Disney's Summer Magic (1963):


You must walk feminine
Talk feminine
Smile and beguile feminine
Utilize your femininity
That's what every girl should know, if she wants to catch a beau

Dance feminine
Glance feminine
Act shy and sigh feminine
Compliment his masculinity
That's what every girl should know, if she wants to catch a beau

Let him do the talking
Med adore good listeners
Laugh, but not too loudly (Haha)
If he should choose to tell a joke
Be radiant, but delicate
Memorize the rules of etiquette
Be demure, sweet and pure
Hide the real you

You must look feminine
Dress feminine
You're at your best feminine
Emphasize your femininity
That's what every girl should know
Femininity, femininity
That's the way to catch a beau
Nexus 2007 FAQ

"4) What does your logo stand for?

The box is supposed to stand for the Pandora box, like opening up a world of possibilities. As for inside the box, what you can see is just the tip of the ice berg. Meaning, there are unlimited possibilities in business and technology, and we are so far only witnessing a very small part of it."


I can see why the Internet is Pandora's box for Singapore. Web 2.0 gives every citizen the power to create and propagate seditious content, undoing 40 years of nation building and inciting race riots, leading to the collapse of this country.

Yet, the saving grace is that wholesome, healthy content can still be spread online. Ergo laudable initiatives such as STOMP.

For those who don't get it:

Pandora's Box-The Myth

"According to Edith Hamilton in Mythology the source of all misfortune was Pandora's curiosity. "The gods presented her with a box into which each had put something harmful, and forbade her ever to open it. Then they sent her to Epimetheus, who took her gladly although Prometheus had warned him never to accept anything from Zeus. He took her, and afterward when that dangerous thing, a woman, was his, he understood how good his brother's advice had been. For Pandora, like all women, was possessed of a lively curiosity. She had to know what was in the box. One day she lifted the lid­and out flew plagues innumerable, sorrow and mischief for mankind. In terror Pandora clapped the lid down, but too late. One good thing, however, was there­Hope. It was the only good the casket had held among the many evils, and it remains to this day mankind's sole comfort in misfortune."
"We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over." - Aneurin Bevan


Male Circumcision Reduces Female Pleasure - "A New Zealand study found that reduced female arousal and fewer female orgasms may be linked to women having sex with circumcised male partners. Women reported they were about twice as likely to experience orgasm if their male partner had a foreskin. Nine out of ten women prefer having sex with intact men, the study finds."

Gentle Swastika : Swastika Museum - "In 1925 Coca Cola made a lucky watch fob in the shape of a swastika with the slogan, "Drink Coca Cola five cents in bottles. When I phoned the Coke Archives in Atlanta, Georgia they denied even having one in their collection."

Urban Legends Reference Pages: Youngest Mother - "Regardless of our squeamishness, we have to note that the claim of a five-year-old girl giving birth is apparently true. Her name was Lina Medina, a Peruvian girl from the Andean village of Ticrapo who made medical history when she gave birth to a boy by caesarean section in May 1939 at the age of five years, seven months and 21 days. Lina's parents initially thought their daughter had a large abdominal tumor, but after they took her to a hospital in the town of Pisco physicians confirmed that her abdominal swelling was due to pregnancy. Lina was eventually transferred to a hospital in Lima, where she delivered a six-pound baby boy by Cesarean section on 14 May 1939 (coincidentally the date on which Mother's Day was celebrated that year). Lina's father was temporarily jailed on suspicion of incest, but he was released for a lack of evidence and authorities were never able to determine who fathered Lina's child."

The Perry Bible Fellowship: Nautical Awards - "'the award for most tentacles goes to... OCTOPUS!' 'it's all politics, Joel.'"

EXPOSING THE ATHEIST - "Even though computers aren't capable of rational thought and know nothing about morals, yet they have more sense than the most learned atheist. Case and point: The other day while working on a PC, I began deleting unwanted files. There was an html file that showed all of the TEN COMMANDMENTS. Since it was a duplicate file, I decided to delete it also. When I clicked "delete", the usual message came on the screen that said, "Are you sure you want to send the 'TEN COMMANDMETS' to the Recycle bin?" The question struck me very deeply because of how it was worded and for a moment I hesitated to delete the file. After clicking "yes", a message box came up on the screen that said an illegal act had been performed by a program... Atheists, who made computers have made them capable of being more correctly rational and moral than themselves."

Scientists breed malaria-resistant mosquito - This was submitted to the Tomorrow.sg moderation queue with a very stupid comment: "Scientists should be eradicated, not malaria carrying mosquitos... What if these mosquitos are strong enough to carry other diseases now that they are mutated stronger? AIDs carrying mosquitos + cancer carriers + whoknowswhat...."

YouTube - [AD] ミドリ安全 - 分煙 (MIDORI ANZEN - BUNEN) - An ad for some suction thing.

Hemlock Available in the Faculty Lounge - "Also, I believe this Republic that Prof. Socrates wants to design — as if anyone really wants to let this dreadful little man design an entire city — is nothing but a plan for a hegemonic, masculinist empire that will dominate all of Greece and enforce its own values and beliefs on the diverse communities of our multicultural society. I was warned about this man by my adviser in women's studies. I don't see that anything other than white male patriarchy can explain his omnipresence in the agora and it certainly is evident that he contributes nothing to a multicultural learning environment. In fact, his whole search for the Truth is evidence of his denial of the virtual infinitude of epistemic realities (that term wasn't from queer theory, but from French lit, but it was amazing to see how applicable it was to queer theory)."

Monkeys' stone percussion studied - "Research in Brazil has produced fresh evidence that primates may have something approaching human "culture"."

No thanks for the mammaries - "For Susan the problem has always been twofold: her confidence, which is small like her waist, and her brain, which is big like the rest of her. She used the brain to study macrobiology at university, the point at which her breasts “really started growing, they just really got away from me. I would try to smash them into a too small bra and used to pretend they didn’t exist, as if they were somebody else’s boobs. I didn’t enjoy them.” The problem was that the brain and the boobs weren’t meshing. “That’s the confusing thing about being a woman,” she says. “You want to be attractive but you don’t want to be physically attractive at the expense of your brain.”... She’s halfway through the story in which an Ivy League professor interrupts her during an interview for a science article to tell her that on account of her breasts “I assumed that you were stupid”, when it starts occurring to me how significantly different my life would have been had I had big ones. Men grow up thinking about this all the time, the comparative size of their penises, but do small-breasted women really know what they’re missing? The male facial expression that Susan calls the “Big Tit Alert” — have you ever witnessed it? T-shirts which read: “My face is up here, pal” — have you out of frustration with men ever had occasion to wear one? You’ve done yoga, right? But have you ever been partially suffocated by your own breasts during a shoulder stand?"

Facebook | Why do you need sex, when writing fucks you every night - "Do you obsess over your punctuation and grammar? Do you spend hours up to days trying to write an imitation/summary/essay? Are you getting Cs, Ds and Fs in writing class? If you are, you know this group is for you."
We need a USP chapter.

Reasons for Supporting the Minimum Wage: Asking Signatories of the “Raise the Minimum Wage” Statement - Summarised as such: "(1) US economists are not only divided over the minimum wage, but the distribution of policy opinion is U-shaped, suggesting deep-seated cleavages; (2) The average level of support for the minimum wage is somewhat higher among labor economists than among AEA members; (3) AEA members mostly, but not overwhelmingly, think that minimum wages increase unemployment of the young and unskilled, but that belief has weakened in recent decades; (4) Graduate students are less inclined to believe in young-and-unskilled disemployment; (5) Economist belief in disemployment seems to be highest in the United States and lowest in France; (6) Whereas AEA members are pretty evenly divided on the policy, the general US population shows consistent and strong majority support for raising the minimum wage; (7) Overwhelmingly, scholars in anthropology, history, philosophy, political science, and sociology support the minimum wage."

Tym Blogs Too!: My nose runneth over - "Technorati Tags: cold, sick"
Wah lao. This is pathetic.

Tilt Your Head Like an Indian - "Background: At its most graceful, there’s something Stevie Wonder-esque in the Indian head tilt—an easy rhythmic sway that, once familiar, can prove soothing and even addictive. You could devote a lifetime to learning any of the hundreds of languages that have evolved on the Indian subcontinent. But from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the metronome-like head tilt offers a universal means of communication. Interpreting and replicating this single non-verbal cue offers you more than just a way to be understood while in India—it’s a chance to employ a unique gesture familiar to one sixth of humanity."

Karaoke songs bring a lump to the throat - "Japanese doctors report a surge in the condition known as “karaoke polyp”, a growth on the vocal cords caused by excessive warbling in bars and parlours. Formerly an affliction of middle-aged businessmen, the malady has spread among housewives and young people because of the continuing popularity of karaoke."

Facebook | Can't I Just Major In How To Be a Good Housewife? - "Are there days when you just wish you could bake some cookies, clean your room, and do crafts, and never have to worry about getting an education? Then this group is for you!"

Recovery programme for email addicts - "Research by King's College London says addiction to email is doubly worrying because such technology depletes cognitive abilities more rapidly than drugs. Email users suffered a 10 per cent drop in IQ scores, more than twice the fall recorded by marijuana users."

Unhappy Meals - "The story of how the most basic questions about what to eat ever got so complicated reveals a great deal about the institutional imperatives of the food industry, nutritional science and — ahem — journalism, three parties that stand to gain much from widespread confusion surrounding what is, after all, the most elemental question an omnivore confronts. Humans deciding what to eat without expert help — something they have been doing with notable success since coming down out of the trees — is seriously unprofitable if you’re a food company, distinctly risky if you’re a nutritionist and just plain boring if you’re a newspaper editor or journalist. (Or, for that matter, an eater. Who wants to hear, yet again, “Eat more fruits and vegetables”?) And so, like a large gray fog, a great Conspiracy of Confusion has gathered around the simplest questions of nutrition — much to the advantage of everybody involved. Except perhaps the ostensible beneficiary of all this nutritional expertise and advice: us, and our health and happiness as eaters."
The way I blog is like how cartoonists do comic strips - working in small spurts every now and then, accumulating a buffer of material and pushing it out regularly (or semi-regularly) rather than doing a new strip everyday. Unfortunately this also means I don't do well on timeliness indicators (ie The time-relevance of posts).

A much-delayed followup to:

Rebrab Moor: The Community, and
A response to We Are Bloggers, Our Name Is Legion

Some time ago, I remarked to Tym that I didn't read blogs (not regularly, anyway), and she quipped: "how will you know what to blog about then?" Interestingly enough, this encapsulates a major reason why I don't read them regularly (I stopped when I went to the Land of Pot, Hookers and Euthanasia) - a lot talk about the same things, or about each other.

Whereas there is value in the network effects and the peer review (of sorts) that occurs, I suppose I grew tired of it after a while - diminishing marginal returns sets in very quickly after reading 2-3 dissections of the Budget (this also explains why I am ASAP and don't get in on the 'Let's all blog about the same thing' pseudo-memes - there isn't necessarily much to add). Also, specific issues aside, broader themes begin to repeat themselves after a while across issues - plus c'est la meme chose, plus ça change.

Perhaps one reason explaining the longevity of this site (while some other sites, eg Rebrab Moor, have gone static and others have totally disappeared) is that I don't bother to weigh in on issues unless I feel like it, and others instead feel compelled to comment and lose interest in blogging later on. Or maybe I'm just nostalgic for the good ole days of the Wild West, hurr hurr.

Someone: "the problem is that your ideas seem different from the rest
u know u can think of urself as a jew among muslims"
andy-1395 on the IMDB boards on the excellent "The History Boys":

But surely this is a science fiction movie

I think everyone has misunderstood the premise of this movie. It's classic science fiction. O.k. I admit, there are no shiny robots, laser guns or faster than light spaceships but it uses that perennial staple of the sci-fi genre, The Alternate Universe.

This movie is set in a boys school that exists in a wonderful gay universe called Alanbennettland. In this marvellous topsy-turvy world, everything is just like our world, except for one teensy little detail. Absolutely everyone and everything in it, is gay. The men are gay, the women are gay, the birds and animals are gay the trees and plants are gay. Everything. All gay. Even....(and this is the really clever bit) The heterosexuals!

Yes this appears to me to be a sci-fi movie. But how to be certain? Let's perform a little reality check shall we.

Well, for one thing, in the universe I'm from, heterosexual teenage boys, certainly ones from from gritty North England industrial towns, don't tend to go around quoting Wittgenstein at each other. They don't tend to spend a lot of time mincing about like girl scouts and cuddling each other every five minutes. In the universe I'm familiar with, heterosexual boys don't tend to spontaneously perform vignettes from romantic 1930's movies.
Heterosexual males, certainly, in my experience don't tend to ask other men to perform fellatio on them.

Also, some heterosexual boys from this universe, may have a bit of a problem with the issue of a sweaty obese old pervert attempting to fondle their testicles constantly. This lot however have no such qualms and cheerfully take in turns to go for bike rides with him.

So yes, I'm forced to conclude that this is a Sci-fi movie pure and simple.

....Hmm, then again maybe it's just an aging poof's personal wank fantasy brought to life on the big screen.
Meet the 20st Sugar Plum Fairy, ballet's new big thing - "There is a long tradition of big foreign stars treading the boards in Britain. But the latest imports are the biggest this country has ever seen. They are members of The Big Ballet, a unique Russian dance troupe (average weight 20 stone) whose month-long UK tour started last night in Hull."

Federal Court Reaffirms Immunity of Bloggers from Suits Brought Against Commenters - "Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides that "[no] provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider," and that "[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section." A recent decision of the First Circuit has reaffirmed the broad protection this statute provides to bloggers and message board administrators."

Have Researchers Found Jesus Christ's Tomb? - "With the help of statisticians, archeologists, historians, DNA experts, robot-camera technicians, epigraphers and a CSI expert from New York's Long Island, Jacobovici puts together a case in which he argues that the bones of Jesus, Mary and Mary Magdalene, along with some of their lesser-known relatives, were once entombed in this cave. James Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary consulted with Jacobovici on the project and is intrigued: "A very good claim could be made that this was Jesus' clan." Faced with the controversial theological and historical implications of what he calls his "rediscovery," Jacobovici is sanguine. "People will have to believe what they want to believe," he says."

Brown Daily Herald - Facebook 'poke' leads to awkward one-nighter - "A March 31 "poke" on Facebook.com led to an encounter over the weekend between two seniors that "can only be termed an extraordinarily awkward one-night stand," according to participant Ethan Gold '06. The chain of events that led to the uncomfortable, no-strings-attached sex in Eva Larson '06's Young Orchard dorm room began last Friday. Sitting at her Rockefeller Library carrel, Larson, a modern culture and media concentrator who stayed in Providence over spring break to finish her senior thesis on "Deconstructing the Meta-Narratives of Postmodern Celebrity Weeklies," was procrastinating on Facebook.com."

Cats compete on TV reality show - "Ten cats are competing to find their perfect owner on a reality TV programme being shown in the US... As on Big Brother, the cats will have to complete tasks, and will be graded on purring and catching toy mice."

YouTube - Singapore 新加坡宣傳片 - "TV advertisement - through which Singapore attempted to attract Hong Kong emigrants after 1989."
FLCH says it's just a travel ad.

Backward induction - Wikipedia - "The unexpected hanging paradox is a paradox which arises with backward induction. Suppose a prisoner is told that she will be executed sometime between Monday and Friday of next week. However, the exact day will be a surprise (i.e. she will not know the night before that she will be executed the next day). The prisoner, interested in outsmarting her executioner, attempts to determine which day the execution will occur. She reasons that it cannot occur on Friday, since if it had not occurred by the end of Thursday, she would know the execution would be on Friday. Therefore she can eliminate Friday as a possibility. With Friday eliminated, she decides that it cannot occur on Thursday, since if it had not occurred on Wednesday, she would know that it had to be on Thursday. Therefore she can eliminate Thursday. This reasoning proceeds until she has eliminated all possibilities. She concludes that she will not be hanged next week. To her surprise, she is hanged on Wednesday."
Ah, Game Theory!

carnal sociology - "Despite my having a zillion pressing things to do, a friend set me off on the digression of reading Erich Goode's article "Sexual Involvement and Social Research in a Fat Civil Rights Organization." (Qualitative Sociology, 2002, pp. 501-534)... "To be accepted in NAAFA, I had to prove my lust for fat women, and I had to prove it by having affairs with them. At the same time, I realized only much later, by having affairs with NAAFA women, I became entangled in the emotional complexities such affairs entailed, making my job of gathering information problematic.""

Disumbrationist School of Art - "In 1924 Paul Jordan Smith, a Los Angeles-based novelist and Latin scholar, painted a blurry picture of a South Seas islander holding a banana over her head. The picture was intended to be a spoof of abstract styles of modern art such as Cubism, and as a joke he entered it into an art exhibition, claiming that it was a work by the Russian artist Pavel Jerdanowitch (a name he had invented), who was the founder of the Disumbrationist School of Art (another invention of his)... To his chagrin, but not really to his surprise, the work was praised instead of being laughed at."

True art or a fake? - "Some of the images displayed below are True Masterpieces of Abstract Art, created by Immortal Artists. They carry profound meanings, which are, however, beyond the apprehensions of the vulgar. The rest were produced by the author of the quiz. They mean nothing."
I got 67%. A follow-up: Properly Prescribed: Scandalous Results of the True art or a fake? Quiz - "For the elite analysis I chose Ivy League schools and Oxbridge (if not for any other reason, than because I did time in both). The average elite score is 8.4/12 or 70% correct. Figure 2 shows the distribution of the scores received by 81 choice quiz-takers, and Table 1 shows their distribution by elite schools. When comparing the averages and the distributions of scores, shown in Figures 1 and 2, we see that there is no significant difference between the elite and the crowd."


[On a picture of someone in a spaghetti strap] What an interesting picture... Is she wearing clothes? [Student 2: You better hope she doesn't have a black man for a boyfriend, otherwise he'll come beat you]

hammar party (hammer) (written)

lighting party (lightning) (written)

Most of the people of his age, they have been rised (his, raised)

So there's a snow board effect (ball)

[On a hard question] Volunteer? *silence* This is the question which separates them men from the boys.

You look nervous. You're on the right track. Take your time. Looks good so far.

I asked everyone: 'Are girls weird?' Yes. [Me: Did you ask girls?] Yes. They all said yes.

Science people are very inconsiderate... Arts people - they ask you which floor you want... Science people - they just press their floor... I got hit by the [lift] door the other day.

[Me: If you didn't have fingers, would you wear gloves?] Yes. To cover up what I don't have.

Give me the crust [of your apple cobbler]. [Student 2: You haven't finished {our tiramisu}!] I ate half already. [Me: *finishes Tiramisu] [Student 3: High five! *hi-fives*]

[On the final exam] Not bad. It's my birthday. We can celebrate the end of the semester.

Today the dean wanted to talk to me. By special invitation. How can I say no? He's my boss.

[On fund-raising] They can rename all the rooms... Rename all the trees on the yard.

[Instructor: Have you walked in the footsteps of the urban poor?] We had food there [the slum] but it was brought [in] from outside.

[On entrepreneurship among the poor] They sell flowers, they sell water. For the young girls, they sell their body.

[On the pre-emption law in the US in the 19th century] The former squatters are no longer called 'squatters'. They are now called 'pioneers'.

[On moral hazard] They sell the property, they use the money to drink and have a party, then they go and squat again.

[Me: Someone accused me of committing atrocities. What the hell?!] Did you slay women and children?

[On Jstor search] Stalin's Message to Japan. How is this related to Food in Thailand?

Ooh. Let's come up with more soundbites so he can quote us.

[On jerking my head to hit people] Do it again. I like to watch. But not [when done] to us.

I am very disappointed in some of your colleagues... I make final very very severe. I give everyone A and B. It is not enough. Especially this girl... Insult teachers... This is unaccapetable... Girl. I don't know. 20 years old, behave as children. Strange... You should discipline the girl (coursemates, will make the, hard, Even though I gave, wasn't, but behaves like a child)

[On hypothetical quibbling for marks in an MCQ exam] It will be A-B-A-B. But the same person will come to me: 'I had in mind 'B'. I wrote 'C''.

Iso-experience lie (expenditure line)

If you are reasy to substitute 1 can of Coca Cola for 3 bottles of Pepsi Cola, what is the price difference of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola? [Me: A lot because 1 can - 3 bottles]

per'zh'earl (Peugeot)

mer'sair'diss (Mercedes)

I'm going to study with *** at 4. [Student 2: Study what? Study ***?]

[To an Indian student] Are you from Chinese High? Apparently not.

[On "Divide: 1 / Wisdom: 52" in 'Don't Come Knocking' not being deliberate] It's always disappointing when you find out this sort of thing.

I like Hoe Garden (Hoegaarden)

[On the OkCupid 100 Point Sexual Purity Test] What is fisting?... I want to do it too! I want to do it too!... The survey... [Student 2: Usually 'it' means sex.]

You make fun of an Indian - the government doesn't have a problem with it. You make fun of a Chinese - the government doesn't have a problem with it. You make fun of an Malay - they think they're going to riot... It's racist.

[On the Kennedy School of Governance] You know what they said? Don't turn on the camera yet... One of the things the alumni were not happy about was the school was not teaching them things about the real world... 'What we need is 1) We need to improve oral communication skills, written communication skills.'
"Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong." - George Carlin


Noodles: err i kind of assumed that everyone older than me wasnt a virgin anymore

for that you can probably blame han

he has shattered my pretty illusions

Someone: oh yeah, u are an equal opportunity fellow, u fuck everyone

MFTTW: between hitler and the hair, i can't imagine what mortified them more.


although everyone already thinks you're a misogynist so what difference might it make :D

well i don't
but your subtlety is too much for many people to grasp lah :D

hahaha when was the last time in your life someone told you that you are too subtle

Tim the Great: just threaten to feature him on your blog

mostly it's a critique of bad english, bad economists, stupid nus girls, the singapore gahmen, christians, muslims and palm oil.

Me: got muslims meh

Tim the Great: alright. halal food then.
oh malaysians, and greeks.

so he'll understand just what it means to be featured on your blog.

Someone on his holiday work: emmm, i sold facial products
don't tell anyone esel


windows vista keeps losing focus
for instance, i can see my msn windows flashing on taskbar
i can move the mouse cursor over the buttons
but when i click it won't focus

let the word go forth - VISTA SUCKS

no the interface is bad
ironically i haven't had difficulty while playing games
but the perpetually losing focus is a bad thing

it's seriously bad
i mean my pc is near unusable
not neari
it IS unusable
because of the losing focus!

for instance five minutes ago i couldn't focus on windows but i could click on taskbar items
now i can click on windows on my desktop
bu ti can't click o ntaskbar items!

ironically it's ORIGINAL
home basic

[Ed: Postscript - he disabled some shit with msconfig and it became better]

MFM: the more I see singaporeans argue, the more I become a humanities snob

thinking that people who study the humanities are somehow superior, and that that is a big factor in why s'poreans can't reason


MFM: ancient greek philo is one of the 'core' areas that philo grad schools look out for competency in

Me: it's the foundation
before the damn continental europeans messed things up. hurr hurr

MFM: the anglosphere philosophy community mostly ignores continental philosophy nowadays, so I don't think they've messed anyone up but themselves

basically, you are fine not studying continental philo at all, but a background in analytic philo is essential

Me: and of course the others complain about this

MFM: yeah
but they can't even construct a proper arugment
so who cares

Me: Me: I thought most postmodernists deny being postmodernists
hurr hurr

***: you're heavily influenced by a particular american conservative intellectual type of credo which tends to label things "post-modernist" without understanding
anglo-american i suppose


MFM: i never understand what she is sayin
maybe she should move to france

Someone: im gonna cook some thing

Me: cook what

Someone: noodles
ok im gonna cook

Me: that's not cooking haha

Someone: :(
then what do u call it

ok im going to boil some noodles

Me: =D
very good

Friday, March 23, 2007

w00t someone finally put it up!

This is an epitome of genius!!!
YouTube: the latest home of chain letters.

Someone commented that my hair felt better than it looked. This was why rebonding was a good idea. Style trumps substance. What a corrupt world!

Someone observed that SAS (Singapore American School) produces alumni with a very strong identity, whereas American schools without uniforms do not have this effect. UWC (United World College) people are also proud of their alma mater. So maybe there is something to the uniform thing after all.

I forgot to add 'poisoning the well' to the list of 'Favourite Singaporean modes of argument', which now reads: 'Ad hominem attacks, poisoning the well, non-sequiturs and reporting to authorities'. I seem to have been conflating the first 2 fallacies recently. Oops.

If authorities keep responding to frivolous complaints, expectations adapt and this just encourages more morons to go and complain. Which, besides giving the authorities more work, also disrupts society.

Promoting circumcision for cleanliness is like promoting castration to control urges.

Presumably Bus D is run during school term to shuttle students quickly from one faculty to another for their Cross-Faculty Modules. Yet, when I returned to school during the Mid-Semester Break (yes, I am very sad) it was still in operation, and naturally almost empty.

I spoke to someone who was very bad at Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Programming, but was coerced into Chemical Engineering by parental units. Hai.

During the USP open house last Saturday, my group was preparing for our Democratic ImPossibilities in Singapore project, so we were in school when the J3s (and one intrepid ACJC J2) came by to tour chatterbox. Besides shouting to them that PGP sucks, we thought of telling them: "USP also offers you the chance to come back to school and do projects on weekends, like us".

Ribena at Bukit Timah was self-service, so I filled up my cup - and was charged 70 cents since there was no ice in it (it was 50 cents with ice). Slightly annoyed, I asked the vendor how much ice would qualify me for the lower price: one cube? This is really ridiculous. On the same day, the soy sauce the Japanese stall gave me for my sushi tasted like the salty soy sauce instead of the sour soy sauce, and on questioning the woman claimed it was the right one.

A part-time Masters student told me that working and studying at the same time is a really bad idea.

I've never been in school on so many free days, weekends and holidays as this semester. Naturally, this means my vital statistic is going to plunge once more.

We're one step ahead of NUS! They provide us with many IT tools, but some of them are very cumbersome to use. So instead of using the 'Project' feature on IVLE we started a wiki. Hurr hurr.

Given that NUS has so many ECAs, maybe I should form a support group for men with long hair.

They sell Stroopwafels in the co-op, but at $8.90 for 12 mini-sized ones. Of course, this is because they're Gouda's Gilde. Another brand retails for $1 for 1 normal sized stroopwafel. The amount of exotic foodstuffs sold there is really quite amazing.

They were selling 'God's Little Devotional Book' at a bazaar. At first I saw 'God's Little Delusional Book'.

I saw a White Apple sticker on the cover of someone's Thinkpad. Wth.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West


Legal Institutions, Legal Origins, and Governance

"Napoleon set out to promulgate the codification of all codifications, the French Civil Code, which went into effect in 1804.

Napoleon took a great interest in his code. He personally chaired many of the meetings of the consul committee reviewing the work of the drafters. No doubt Napoleon, the man of action, insisted on the practicality of the code and perhaps its clarity and simplicity. He certainly was proud of his work; after the defeat at Waterloo, he proclaimed: “My true glory is not that I have won 40 battles; Waterloo will blow away the memory of those victories. What nothing can blow away, what will live eternally is my civil code.” That was perhaps why Napoleon wanted the code understandable by the common man. But it was drafted by professors and reflected their approach, rather than that of men of practical affairs, and certainly not that of merchants.

Being the product of professors, the French Civil Code was abstract, reflecting the “abstract reasoning [that] had characterized the French approach to law and to life in general” during the Age of Reason. But its generality and it emphasis on understandability meant that one had often to take into account a variety of provisions to determine the legal rules covering a given set of facts. Its very generality gave it staying power, with no important changes made until 1880 (except for the repeal of divorce in 1816 after the Catholic monarchy was restored). And indeed even today the core provisions of Napoleon’s code remain in place despite increasingly numerous statutory changes. No doubt it was its generality and clarity of language—Napoleon’s army and French imperialism aside—that made the French Civil Code so influential in much of the nineteenth century world that is spoken of today as the developing world. Alan Watson has made the point that when countries choose the law of another country, the prestige of the legal system under consideration counts. No doubt about it, the French Civil Code was prestigious...

Countries whose law derived from the common law had stronger legal systems for financial development and hence faster economic growth than civil law countries. An obvious conclusion was that the common law provided a superior legal base for a country (and this was true whether new countries received their law through conquest or colonization).

Equally striking was the finding that French law was the worst among civil law systems for the development of the financial sector and that German and Scandinavian legal systems were situated between common law and French legal systems. And in a related 1997 article, “Legal Determinants of External Finance,” (which was based on the same research involving the same countries), LLSV showed that common law origin countries had grown faster than French origin countries—4.30 percent per capita versus 3.18 percent... Indeed, an oddity of their work on the financial sector was that it concerned primarily the protection of minority shareholders under corporate law and the protection of creditors in bankruptcy law. Yet both corporate and bankruptcy law are legal areas where most countries—common law and civil law countries alike—rely on statutory law, much of it quite recent, rather than judge-made common law or nineteenth century civil law codes...

A different approach is to be found in an article by Mahoney, who rejected the notion that the prime influence of legal origin on economic growth was through financial development. He favored an explanation concerning the greater role for the state relative to the individual citizen in French law. Mahoney explicitly tested the relation of legal origin to economic growth, finding that common law countries grow at least 0.7 percent faster than civil law countries... Nearly a century later, in 1900, Germany adopted its own distinctive civil and commercial codes. Those codes became the base not just for German-speaking Austria and multilingual Switzerland but also the point of origin for the codes in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan; these countries have been growing more rapidly than most of the rest of the developing world, thereby, according to a common intuition, supporting the view that German law is superior to French law for developing countries...

Merryman wrote an astute article in 1996, before the legal origin literature appeared, advancing the thesis that French law may be fine for France but is unsatisfactory for former French colonies... Merryman, in his critique, went on to contrast French law in France with French law in former colonies, arguing that when other countries adopted French law, they were not so practical:

The attempt to depict the judicial function as something narrow, mechanical and uncreative and to portray judges as clerks … has had a self-fulfilling effect. Judges are at the bottom of the scale of prestige among the legal professions in France and in the many nations that adopted the French Revolutionary reforms, and the best people in those nations accordingly seek other legal careers. One result has been to cripple the judicial systems in a number of developing countries. In France, where everyone knows how to do what needs to be done behind the separation of powers façade, misrepresentation of the judicial function does not have severe consequences. But when the French exported their system they did not include the information that it really does not work that way, and they failed to include a blueprint of how it actually does work. That has created, and continues to create, problems in nations with limited legal infrastructures and fragile legal systems
"There's no secret about success. Did you ever know a successful man who didn't tell you about it?" - Kin Hubbard


Via MFM:

Comments on “The Calculus of Prostitution”:

"[(δU/δL) / (δU/δC) | Sp=0] ≤ w - [(δU/δr) / (δU/δC) | S = 0]

An individual will start to sell prostitution if the price for selling the first amount of prostitution, minus the costs of a worsened reputation for doing so, exceeds the shadow price of leisure evaluated at zero prostitution sold."

[Ed: A wonderful example of useless maths.]

hueoblue: I’m declared in a BSc(it’s doubtful whether there should actually be such a thing) Econ program and I wish that someone would make it clear to economists that our use of mathematics outside of statistics is almost always illegitamate. I am pretty sure that the poor use of mathematics and the subsequent hand waving is a manifestation of our latent physics envy.

Fermi-Walker Public Transport: Agreed, this does look like an illegitame use of mathematics. For a start, it is assumed that the functions can be differentiated. There is no reason for this assumption, let alone whether there may be other relevent variables, differentiable or not.

hueoblue: Actually, we do assume that it is continuosly differentiable for all positive real numbers, although we treat the numbers as ordinal. All kinds of assumptions are made to ensure differntiability as well as convexity of the function. None of these assumptions are justified by observation and are made because it makes the math manageable. A terrible reason to make an assumption.

Isaac: Economists use math differently than physicists. Physicists use it to generate quantifiable predictions; economists use it to generate qualitative predictions.

The relevant comparison of the math in economics is not with physics but with the prose in social theory: the math is often a much clearer way to communicate a complex social process than words. Additionally, it forces an internal consistency that social theorists often lack.

Economists make assumptions to make the model tractable so that others can see the core of the idea about how something in the world is supposed to work and not because these assumptions hold in all their strictness. A lot of yeoman’s work is done seeing if the resuts of a model hold when assumptions are relaxed in order to see how robust the idea is.

Sacha: This is a bit harsh on economists! I doubt that the equation is taken to be literally true, but moreso an idealisation.

It’s probably just about succintly communicating an idea.

Ike: Most economics is all idealization, zero realization.

Jyotirmoy: This seems to be a problem with a lot of economics–what are essentially parables are presented as if they were testable quantitative theories. But this does not mean that the parables themselves are worthless. For example I think this story about prostitution which takes social stigma into account [Ed: Which didn't need all that maths in the first place] is more interesting that another story (which has also been told in economic journals) of the earnings of female prostitutes being explained by their reduced chances of marriage.

Jonathan Vos Post: So, you folks are commenting what might be summarized as:

“this math sucks!”

dave tweed: If you’re going after areas where economics really has a disconnet with reality, I’d say it’s in the sentence “when a prostitute finds it worthwhile to sell (typically) her services” (which to be fair might be a quick blog phrasing rather than intentional). What that really ought to say (and economists have been slowly cottoning on to) is “when a prostitute ought to find it worthwhile to sell (typically) her services”. Economics in the past often seemed termined to figure out what “perfectly analysing” (obviously wrt a given value system) individuals would do, ignoring the fact that in large swathes of their behaviour people aren’t and are swayed by inbuilt prejudices, etc. It’d be like physicists coming up with ever more precisely stated and proved theorems in classical mechanics, completely ignoring the fact physics (appears) inherently quantum. The best mathematics can’t be useful when your modelling assumptions are wrong.

Chris Tunnell: Talk about nit-picky.

1) This is a fitted model
2) Determining a good model to fit involves understanding symmetries of the problem
3) Extrapolating predictions from the model yields something interesting

The thoroughness of a model only becomes important when faced with wrong or boring predictions from the model. Unless you’re in maths, hand-waving is fine until your wrong or boring.

Maybe I’m missing something…
"Even apart from the instability due to speculation, there is the instability due to the characteristic of human nature that a large proportion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than mathematical expectations, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits - a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities... We should not conclude from this that everything depends on waves of irrational psychology. On the contrary, the state of long-term expectation is often steady, and, even when it is not, the other factors exert their compensating effects. We are merely reminding ourselves that human decisions affecting the future, whether personal or political or economic, cannot depend on strict mathematical expectation, since the basis for making such calculations does not exist; and that it is our innate urge to activity which makes the wheels go round, our rational selves choosing between the alternatives as best we are able, calculating where we can, but often falling back for our motive on whim or sentiment or chance." - Keynes, The General Theory


REFV models(i.e. the vast majority) would be little better than curiosa if they did not carry with them additional restrictions sufficient to define a unique solution; for they would merely assert in effect ‘anything can happen provided it is expected, but what is expected is arbitrary’. Worse still, as (2.28) illustrates, these paths for events can be unstable; in fact, our model here implies that all paths for prices except that for which p0e = mbar — y* explode monotonically. Thus our particular REFV model would assert that only by accident would an equilibrium price level be established, otherwise prices would be propelled into either ever-deepening hyperdeflation or ever-accelerating hyperinflation, even though money supply is held rigid! (Output in this model is always expected to be in equilibrium.) While such an asser tion may appeal to some, it has not impressed those who have espoused RE models; they have looked instead for additional restrictions...


Previously we used the stability condition to choose the unique stable path. However, now all the paths in (2.28) are stable because we have rigged it so that |(1 + alpha)/alpha| < 1. The stability condition is incapable of selecting a unique solution, therefore. This problem was first pointed out by Taylor (1977); and so far as we know there is nothing to rule out the possibility that REFV macroeconomic models will have an infinity of stable paths.

There is no generally agreed procedure among those using REFV models for this problem, other than to avoid using the ones with this property."

--- Rational expectations and the new macroeconomics / Patrick Minford and David Peel.

Hurr hurr

Different disciplines have different mechanisms of exclusion and of creating perceived value. In Applied Maths and the harder Sciences, it's through mathematics*. The softer sciences do it through language, or even the concept of 'meaning'. And everyone loads up on theories. The danger is of creating perceived value not through real value, but obfuscation. If nobody can understand what you're talking about, then you're just engaging in academic masturbation in a vacuum.

* - In Applied Maths at least, the maths (besides being extremely extremely tedious rather than just hard) is often useless because you come to the same qualitative conclusions with the maths as without, except you have the illusion of precision because you have variables to play with. In reality though it's a lot like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin - you know pinheads exist and you 'know' angels exist, but beyond that it's just nonsense. Some models are of course tested with reality, but things like 'mutually and serially uncorrelated shocks' are implausible: they are only assumed to make the maths simpler so the model works.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"A further reason to regulate dispute resolution is that informal triad justice is vulnerable to subversion by the powerful. If one of the two disputants is economically and politically more powerful than the other, he can encourage the supposedly impartial judge to favor him, using either bribes or threats. The other side of this coin is access to justice: the less advantaged members of a society must expect justice rather than abuse from the state or powerful opponents. As the great German jurist Rudolf von Jhering exclaimed, “form is the sworn enemy of arbitrary rule, the twin sister of liberty”

For these, and possibly other reasons, most jurisdictions in the world heavily formalize legal procedures. Moreover, as legal historians clearly recognize, patterns of such regulation are intimately related to the civil versus common law origin of the country’s laws. These legal families originate in Roman and English law respectively, and were transplanted to many countries through conquest and colonization (by France, Germany and Spain in the case of civil 7 law, and England in the case of common law). Although legal systems of most countries have evolved since colonial times, key features of legal origin are often preserved through the centuries [La Porta et al. 1998, 1999].

There are different theories of how legal origin has shaped legal procedure in general, and formalism in particular. Hayek [1960] and Merryman [1985] attribute the differences to the ideas of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. In France, the revolutionaries and Napoleon did not trust the judges, and codified judicial procedures in order to control judicial discretion. According to Schlesinger et al. [1988], in civil law countries “the procedural codes are meant to be essentially all-inclusive statements of judicial powers, remedies, and procedural devices.” Consistent with von Jehring’s logic, procedural formalism was seen as a guarantee of freedom. In England and the United States, in contrast, lawyers and judges were on the “right” side of the revolutions, and hence the political process accommodated a great deal more judicial independence. In the common law tradition, “a code is supplemental to the unwritten law, and in construing its provisions and filling its gaps, resort must be had to the common law” [Schlesinger et al. 1988]. As a consequence, less formalism is required in the judicial procedure.

Dawson [1960], Berman [1983], Damaska [1986], and Glaeser and Shleifer [2002] argue that the procedural differences between common and civil law actually go back to the 12th and 13th centuries. Glaeser and Shleifer [2002] attribute greater formalism to the need to protect law enforcers from coercion by disputing parties through violence and bribes. This risk of coercion was greater in the less peaceful France than in the more peaceful England, where neighborly dispute resolution by juries (coming closer to Shapiro’s ideal) was more feasible. The different approaches to legal procedure – motivated by the different law and order environments of England and France – were then transplanted through conquest and colonization to most of the rest of the world [Watson 1974, La Porta et al. 1998, Berkowitz et al. 2002].

The fact that most countries in the world inherited significant parts of their legal procedures – often involuntarily – is important for our analysis. At the econometric level, it suggests that legal origin can be used as an instrument for the degree of formalism of the legal procedure. At the substantive level, the nature of transplantation enables us to distinguish two hypotheses. If countries select their legal procedures voluntarily, then one can argue that greater formalism is an efficient adaptation to a weaker law and order environment. If, however, legal procedures are transplanted through colonization, the efficient adaptation model does not apply. Rather, we can attribute the consequences of legal formalism to the exogenously determined features of the legal procedure, and in this way consider the efficiency of alternative rules...

Countries with higher formalism, not surprisingly, have longer expected times of using the judicial system to evict a non-paying tenant or to collect a check. This result has important implications: it suggests that legal structure, rather than the level of development, shapes this crucial dimension of judicial efficiency... The results on expected duration raise the crucial question: does procedural formalism, at the cost of longer proceedings, secure better justice? The answer suggested by Table VI is No...

At the same time, the instrumental variable procedure cannot reject the hypothesis that the adverse effect of French civil law on the efficiency and quality of dispute resolution works through a channel other than formalism. For example, suppose that the transplantation of French legal rules is conducive to general state interventionism and bureaucratic inefficiency, as argued in La Porta et al. [1999], and that this channel undermines the performance of courts as well. In this case, we cannot be sure that formalism, as opposed to general interventionism, is the culprit...

There are two broad views of this evidence. According to the first, greater formalism is efficient in some countries: it can reduce error, advance benign political goals, or protect the judicial process from subversion by powerful interests. On this view, the various regulatory steps, such as reliance on professional judges and collection of written evidence, are there to secure a fair judicial process. Put differently, while heavily formalized adjudication appears problematic on some measures, it would be even more problematic without the regulation.

According to the second view, many developing countries accepted the formalism in adjudication they now have as part of the transplantation of their legal system from their colonizers. On this view, there is no presumption that the transplanted system is efficient. Although heavy procedural formalism has theoretically plausible reasons for its existence, the reality it brings is extreme costs and delays, unwillingness by potential participants to use courts, and ultimately injustice. At least some of the burdens of formalism may therefore be unnecessary, and could be relieved through reform, especially for simple disputes.

The evidence in this paper supports the second theory. Specifically, the evidence points to extremely long expected duration of dispute resolution, suggesting that courts are not an attractive venue for resolving disputes. Furthermore, we find no offsetting benefits of formalism, even when looking at a variety of measures of the perception of fairness and justice by the users of the legal system. Moreover, legal origin itself appears to determine judicial quality, other things equal, suggesting that formalism is unlikely to be part of an efficient design."

--- Courts: The Lex Mundi Project
"Apart from hard statistics, greater transparency in the conduct of judicial business, coupled with a judge’s interest in her reputation and desire for prestige, improves judicial efficiency. This has been documented in several industrial countries. When judges have open trials, lawyers, litigants, the media, and the general public observe their conduct. A review of the impact of televising judicial proceedings in New York state found that such scrutiny raises the efficiency of judges by one-third while at the same time increasing the quality of their judgments...

The Makati Business Club established the CourtWatch project in 1992. They sent two observers, usually law students, to courtrooms over an extended period of time. The observers rated judges after each visit, based on direct observation and surveys of lawyers and prosecutors involved in the case. The ratings included the judge’s familiarity with the law, as well as the conduct of the proceedings, on such measures as promptness, efficiency, and courtesy. Soon after the program began, the media noticed that judges’ behavior had changed and that the efficiency of the court had risen significantly.

Overall resource levels are often uncorrelated with judicial efficiency, but in cases of extreme underfunding, an infusion of resources can be effective. In Uganda, for example, backlogs were caused by shortages of stationery and were solved when another court donated paper...

Duration of appointment. When judges have lifelong tenure, they are both less susceptible to direct political pressure and less likely to have been appointed by the politicians currently in office. Independence is particularly important when judges are adjudicating disputes between citizens and the state (for example, freedom of speech issues and contract disputes). Therefore, the study focuses on the tenure of two different sets of judges: those in the highest ordinary courts (the supreme courts), and those in administrative courts, which have jurisdiction over cases where the state or a government agency is a party to litigation. Countries in which judges are independent from the influence of the state also tend to be countries where the judiciary is free from interference by private parties. The tenure of judges matters in both cases. Peru is frequently rated as the country with the least judicial independence. Former President Fujimori kept more than half of judges on temporary appointments from 1992 to 2000. [Ed: One can contrast this with what the PSC Microchip claims, that the Supreme Court of the USA is not independent because they're appointed by Presidents]...

While wage increases would not eliminate high-level corruption in the judiciary, they may eradicate small-scale bribery [Ed: Emphasis mine]. Judges will have less need to supplement their income. To date, however, there has been little systematic evidence on this issue."

--- World Bank World Development Report 2001, The Judicial System
Email from the Craper (sic):

Subject: Gah!

Message: China just blocked blogspot
i've been trying to access your bloody blog (together with a few other blogs on blogspot) in vain.


In which case some solutions:

Firefox Extension gladder
Firefox Extension httProxy
"Never keep up with the Joneses. Drag them down to your level." - Quentin Crisp


Bunny's attempt at doing the "chopstick in hair" thing with me, albeit with a pen (which I later removed for use as a stabbing tool).

Chow Yun Fatt in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End trailer: "Welcome to Singapore".

Luckily we're not Malaysia, or we'd protest at being painted as a bastion of piracy. Or ban it because it glorifies and thus encourages piracy, which is still an endemic problem in the Straits of Malacca.

Interestingly enough, Noodles saw the trailer in the cinema the same time I posted that line on my Twitter. Hurr hurr.

[Addendum: For people like Eng Kheng who cannot find the link to the trailer, try re-reading this post very carefully.]

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"I'm a born-again atheist." - Gore Vidal


"Over the past ten years, I have been listening to people talking about morality and about themselves... I began to notice the recurrent problems in interpreting women’s development and to connect these problems to the repeated exclusion of women from the critical theory-building studies of psychological research... the failure of women to fit existing models of human growth may point to a problem in the representation, a limitation in the conception of human condition, an omission of certain truths about life...

The criticism that Freud makes of women’s sense of justice, seeing it as compromised in its refusal of blind impartiality; reappears not only in the work of Piaget but also in that of Kohlberg. While in Piaget’s account of the moral judgment of the child, girls are an aside, a curiosity to whom he devotes four brief entries in an index that omits ‘boys’ altogether because ‘the child’ is assumed to be male, in the research from which Kohlberg derives his theory, females simply do not exist. Kohlberg’s six stages that describe the development of moral judgment from childhood to adulthood are based empirically on a study of eighty-four boys whose development Kohlberg has followed for a period of over twenty years. Although Kohlberg claims universality for his stage sequence, those groups not included in his original sample rarely reach his higher stages. Prominent among those who thus appear to be deficient in moral development when measured by Kohlberg’s scale are women, whose judgments seem to exemplify the third stage of his six-stage sequence. At this stage morality is conceived in interpersonal terms and goodness is equated with helping and pleasing others. This conception of goodness is considered by Kohlberg and Kramer to be functional in the lives of mature women insofar as their lives take place in the home. Kohlberg and Kramer imply that only if women enter the traditional arena of male activity will they recognize the inadequacy of this moral perspective and progress like men toward higher stages where relationships are subordinated to rules (stage four) and rules to universal principles of justice (stages five and six).

Yet herein lies a paradox, for the very traits that traditionally have defined the ‘goodness’ of women, their care for and sensitivity to the needs of others, are those that mark them as deficient in moral development. In this version of moral development, however, the conception of maturity is derived from the study of men’s lives and reflects the importance of individuation in their development... Thus, a change in the definition of maturity does not simply alter the description of the highest stage but recasts the understanding of development, changing the entire account.

When one begins with the study of women and derives developmental constructs from their lives, the outline of a moral conception different from that described by Freud, Piaget, or Kohlberg begins to emerge and informs a different description of development. In this conception, the moral problem arises from conflicting responsibilities rather than from competing rights and requires for its resolution a mode of thinking that is contextual and narrative rather than formal and abstract. This conception of morality as concerned with the activity of care centers moral development around the understanding of responsibility and relationships, just as the conception of morality as fairness ties moral development to the understanding of rights and rules.

This different construction of the moral problem by women may be seen as the critical reason for their failure to develop within the constraints of Kohlberg’s system. Regarding all constructions of responsibility as evidence of a conventional moral understanding, Kohlberg defines the highest stages of moral development as deriving from a reflective understanding of human rights. That the morality of rights differs from the morality of responsibility in its emphasis on separation rather than connection, in its consideration of the individual rather than the relationship as primary...

Within this [feminine] construction, the moral dilemma changes from how to exercise one’s rights without interfering with the rights of others to how ‘to lead a moral life which includes obligations to myself and my family and people in general’. The problem then becomes one of limiting responsibilities without abandoning moral concern. When asked to describe herself, this woman says that she values ‘having other people that I am tied to, and also having people that I am responsible to. I have a very strong sense of being responsible to the world, that I can’t just live for my enjoyment, but just the fact of being in the world gives me an obligation to do what I can to make the world a better place to live in, no matter how small a scale that may be on.’ Thus while Kohlberg’s [male] subject worries about people interfering with each other’s rights, this woman worries about ‘the possibility of omission, of your not helping others when you could help them’...

Whereas the rights conception of morality that informs Kohlherg’s principled level (stages five and six) is geared to arriving at an objectively fair or just resolution to moral dilemmas upon which all rational persons could agree, the responsibility conception focuses instead on the limitations of any particular resolution and describes the conflicts that remain.

Thus it becomes clear why a morality of rights and noninterference may appear frightening to women in its potential justification of indifference and unconcern. At the same time, it becomes clear why, from a male perspective, a morality of responsibility appears inconclusive and diffuse, given its insistent contextual relativism... The psychology of women that has consistently been described as distinctive in its greater orientation toward relationships and interdependence implies a more contextual mode of judgment and a different moral understanding. Given the differences in women’s conceptions of self and morality; women bring to the life cycle a different point of view and order human experience in terms of different priorities... women perceive and construe social reality differently from men and that these differences center around experiences of attachment and separation...

Given the evidence of different perspectives in the representation of adulthood by women and men, there is a need for research that elucidates the effects of these differences in marriage, family, and work relationships. My research suggests that men and women may speak different languages that they assume are the same, using similar words to encode disparate experiences of self and social relationships. Because these languages share an over lapping moral vocabulary, they contain a propensity for systematic mistranslation, creating misunderstandings which impede communication and limit the potential for cooperation and care in relationships. At the same time, however, these languages articulate with one another in critical ways. Just as the language of responsibilities provides weblike imagery of relation ships to replace a hierarchical ordering that dissolves with the coming of equality, so the language of rights underlines the importance of including in the network of care not only the other but also the self.

As we have listened for centuries to the voices of men and the theories of development that their experience informs, so we have come more recently to notice not only the silence of women but the difficulty in hearing what they say when they speak. Yet in the different voice of women lies the truth of an ethic of care, the tie between relationship and responsibility, and the origins of aggression in the failure of connection. The failure to see the different reality of women’s lives and to hear the differences in their voices stems in part from the assumption that there is a single mode of social experience and interpretation. By positing instead two different modes, we arrive at a more complex rendition of human experience which sees the truth of separation and attachment in the lives of women and men and recognizes how these truths are carried by different modes of language and thought.

To understand how the tension between responsibilities and rights sustains the dialectic of human development is to see the integrity of two disparate modes of experience that are in the end connected, While an ethic of justice proceeds from the premise of equality—that everyone should be treated the same—an ethic of care rests on the premise of nonviolence—that no one should be hurt. In the representation of maturity; both perspectives converge in the realization that just as inequality adversely affects both parties in an unequal relationship, so too violence is destructive for everyone involved."

--- Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice

I think this extract explains a lot.

At the same time, the evaluation of moral development should not be based on a version of the naturalistic fallacy (women develop in a different way so developing an affective sense of justice must be the right way to develop for them) but on an evaluation of the veracity of said moral principles (viz., if men think rape is acceptable and women think rape is unacceptable, it's not morally okay to think rape is acceptable, even if you're a male).

Though Gilligan might argue that I am precisely missing the point here, hurr hurr.
This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

This represents Singapore's Frankenstein version of multiracialism/multiculturalism.

"You know everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects." - Will Rogers


My favourite periodical:

March 3rd:

Keeping a promise
SIR – As you say, in order to lift its boycott the Western world has set three sensible conditions on the Palestinian Authority (“A holy but puzzling alliance”, February 17th). But when will we set the same three conditions on Israel: to recognise Palestine, to renounce violence and to keep their side of previous agreements? How can we expect peace in the Middle East when we boycott the Palestinians yet reward Israel with billions of dollars of aid when both sides are ignoring the basic preconditions for peace? The conditions are simple. Apply them equally to both sides and peace will have a chance.

Kamal Hassan

Blonde bombshell
SIR – I have long considered the influential lives portrayed in your weekly obituary to comprise a deserving, exclusive club, to which I could only aspire. However, now that you have immortalised the “pneumatic” Anna Nicole Smith (Obituary, February 17th), who was unskilled, uneducated and untalented, and despite her having absolutely no impact on the global economy, world politics or the advancement of the human species, it is clear that I must set my sights higher, or engineer bigger breasts.

Donna Anton
Hayle, Cornwall

"The wife of America's ambassador to Greece does not sit idly at home: she is America's ambassador to Albania, next door."

"According to Goldman Sachs, the latest jump in the Vix (a measure of stockmarket volatility) took it eight standard deviations from its average. If conventional models are correct, such an event should not have happened in the history of the known universe. Then again, the move in energy prices that caused the collapse last year of Amaranth, the hedge fund, was a nine standard-deviation event. Perhaps modellers do not know the universe as well as they would like to think."

March 10th:

"That said, there is more to handling call-centre queries than simply understanding language and looking things up in databases. Sheryl Brahnam, a researcher at Missouri State University in Springfield, suggests that it will also be necessary to program chatbots to deal with verbal abuse. In some cases, she says, companies that have used chatbots to handle online queries have found that when confronted by verbal abuse or sexual innuendo, the chatbots were programmed to respond inappropriately in kind, with insults of their own.

Dr Brahnam has also found that the appearance of the chatbot's on-screen persona, or avatar, has a significant impact on how much abuse is levelled at it. “My study showed that you get more abuse and sexual comments with a white female compared with a white male,” she says. Black female avatars were the most abused of all."

"While shopping one day at a mall in Jeddah, Mr Wright and a few of his fellow male reporters spotted two women. Both were wearing the niqab, fully covered except for their eyes. (Saudi men call such women BMOs or “black moving objects”.) Pointing to them, his companions whispered, without any sense of irony, “Check 'em out!” Mr Wright compares Saudi Arabian culture to a hypnotised chicken. Repressed and depressed, warped by sexual apartheid, young Muslims there seem to exist in a social coma."

Monday, March 19, 2007

"Persecution is not an original feature in any religion; but it is always the strongly marked feature of all religions established by law. Take away the law-establishment, and every religion re-assumes its original benignity." - Thomas Paine


"The ECLS data show no correlation, meanwhile, between a child’s test scores and the amount of television he watches. Despite the conventional wisdom, watching television apparently does not turn a child’s brain to mush. (In Finland, whose education system has been ranked the world’s best, most children do not begin school until age seven but have often learned to read on their own by watching American television with Finnish subtitles.)" - Freakonomics

"Rational choice assumes that displacement occurs only under certain conditions. That is to say that all things considered, the criminal may not think that the benefits justify displacement. For example, in 1960 the steering columns of all cars in Germany were equipped with locks and the result was a 60 per cent reduction in car thefts. Whereas, in Great Britain only new cars were so equipped with the result being crime was displaced to the older unequipped cars. However, no evidence exists to suggest that an obscene phone caller will begin a career as a burglar... People are, without knowing it, being controlled the entire time they are in a Disney theme park. The entire environment is designed to encourage adherence to a set of rules and policies deemed desirable by Disney. The measures are invisible until one violates the policy. This system of facilitating compliance mirrors one of the opportunity-reducing techniques cited by Clarke as a component in situational crime prevention." - RONALD V. CLARKE

[One book on the ultimatum game] One of her African subjects jovially remarked: ''I will be spending years tryong to figure out what this all meant.''

"Milton Friedman and George Solow didn't really like each other. One time, at a conference, while Friedman was giving a presentation, George Solow got up and said, 'You know what your problem is, Milton? You're obsessed with the money supply. Now, I'm obsessed with sex, but you don't see me writing papers about it.'"

Maskin: Put it this way. I don't see much reason why being a good poker player would make you a good game theorist or vice versa.

Parlor games like poker or chess are actually immensely complicated. In fact, they are so complicated that, except in highly simplified versions, they really can't be analyzed very well using game theoretic methods. The best chess players, for example, would probably learn little by studying game theory. They practice an art rather than a science...

With some exceptions such as auctions, Nash equilibrium has been a tool more for theoretical work, that is, for making theoretical predictions (whether in economics, political science, or biology) than for highly practical applications. And economic theorists don't make much use of computers even now. As a theorist, my principal use of the computer is for word processing.

Hurr hurr
"All the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway." - Harry S Truman, Letter to his sister, Nov. 14, 1947


Me: I said I was going to do the reasons why Singaporean women marry foreign men, but I'm a bit dry right now.

Off the top of my head:

- richer
- don't live with parents
- more charming
- more romantic
- less boring
- more spontaneous

What else ah.

Singaporean men say Singaporean women are not demure, too aggressive etc (in addition to reasons previously stated). Applying feminist theory, I will say that whether these are better reasons than those above is a value judgment.

A: ???? That looked more like an application of the English language than an application of feminist theory.

Me: Feminist theory says that societal valuations are based on a male way of looking at the world, and we should take into account women's worldview. For example, males believe in more abstract concepts of justice and females prefer more affective/particular concepts. To privilege the former over the latter is thus sexist and wrong, since it ignores the valuations of half the world's population.

Similarly, that looking for aesthetic appeal in a mate is 'shallow' is a value judgment women impose on men, because men and women look for different things in mates, and saying that men who look for pretty girls are 'shallow' is to privilege female valuations over male ones, and is thus sexist and wrong, since it ignores the valuations of half the world's population.

A: OK, I'm not sure at all that that post clarified much as I still have some difficulty understanding how "Saying that X is better or more acceptable than Y involves a value judgment" requires an application of feminist theory rather than just the common definitions of words as we generally use them, but in any case, which feminist theorists are we talking about here? My exposure to feminist theorists is limited (Greer, de Beauvoir, Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill arguably, I suppose Sontag, plus rather hazily McKinnon and Dworkin) but this all sounds completely unfamiliar and not at all representative of (my understanding of) their views.

Me: Which was why I said I was applying feminist theory, not feminism or feminists' theory :P

Feminists would never conclude such things, since in their view it's women who are subjugated by men and not vice versa (men can be subjugated by men/patriarchy but that's a separate issue); in short: 'Men are evil'.
NUS advised me to be more diplomatic, but didn't prescribe or proscribe anything. Let's hope that's the end of it.

"They'll tell you to be a realist. We say follow your dreams. That's the difference between them N'US"

(in case you didn't get it, the subtext is a good one)
"Music is essentially useless, as life is." - George Santayana



[On Radical Feminists] Amazonian community... Separate and parallel lives... They're self-sufficient also in the erotic sense. Only women know how to pleasure each other.

[On Radical Feminists] They don't care what men do. They probably imagine men are just masturbating all day.

Post-moderns, especially the more radical, critical ones... They're critiquing the very basis of their critique. Post-modernism is very hard to pi ndown. They're accused of hypocrisy.

In Singapore, the anti-PAP thing, the anti-authoritarianism, we sometimes imagine the more critical we are, the more free we are. That's not true. The more critical with the PAP we are, the more obsessed with the PAP we are... If you look at a lot of the arts scene here, they're still obsessed. Samd with feminism. The father can die, but he will rise from the grave.

As a feminist, what she wants to do is promote this 'nonsense'. Writing that is not bound by male logic... Return to the pre-semiotic.

[Student: Is it 'Return of Pontianak'?] No, it's 'Return to Pontianak' [Student: Is it a really bad Malaysian production?] It's a Singaporean production... Here you have the Singapore mindset occupying the realm of the father... Southeast Asia is the mother... womb-like quality of the jungle... The pontianak kills them all... Our civilization is a return of that which has been repressed.

[Student: Some women like being weaker, the protected.] The abused [Student: Some women like men to hold doors open for them] We think violence is bad... How do we deal with rape fantasies? How do we deal with abused wives who say: 'He beats me because he loves me.'... Post-feminists are the closest to dealing with this... Sado-masochists... Let's not imagine we are all straight. We all have our own perversions. We're not all straight, in this room. Are we? Maybe it's just me.

[On rape and rape fantasies] The male model: Woman is just incoherent in her thoughts. At first she says yes. Later she says no.

[On Hoelling's Lemma] When you prepare for exams, when I prepare for exams - the things which have names - better to know... Hotelling. He was a great guy.

[On Hoelling's Lemma] If you ask any economist what profit depends on, you will get [a] wrong answer.

You just derivate with respect to this. (differentiate)

[On checking second order conditions] Big cross. *draws cross in air* I found a minimum, not a maximum... So everything was destroyed in one day.

[On grading] Sometimes I marked - nothing. But I added one point to the following exercise.

Your grade may change - 2 plus, 2 minus. so if you get 35, you may get 37, you may get 33... Marking of exam is a subjecive exercise... If one exercise is done brilliantly, [even if] you put 7 [marks only], you have good attitude. (mood as a marker)

You can come to my office only if your grade is less than 25 [upon 40]. If you get above 25, there is no problem... In some case if you come with me with 35 you come out with 33... [Student: He's doing the CJ thing. You come to me you get {an} increased penalty] (cases, to)

If you score below than 30, you are welcome. Otherwise... You study for the final exam... What do you need more? A 2 plus? (below, What more do you need)

We assume that each individual lives for 2 periods. Just before the end of his life, he eats a $2 plate of chicken rice. Then he dies.

[On a 2-period model with uncertainty] He wakes up in Period 1 and says: 'My God, I'm alive'... If he didn't save very much he's going to be in trouble.

Try and derive this for yourself. It's not that difficult. And it's not that simple either.

[On CPF vs an annuity] If you live beyond 72, there's no more money for you. So you're supposed to die at 72.

Family as an incomplete annuity market... If the father lives too long the son is in trouble. *laughs from audience*... This may seem very funny but there's articles in the literature. JPE...

[On her thesis] I was thinking of doing a book review.

Whenever you talk about the economic rationale, you must look at the mathematics. It's not just guessing.

You're not gay. You don't have the gay aura... The first time I saw you I thought you were a Red Indian.

[On leading one seminar] 'Play games'. Why don't you play the tudung game? Make everyone wear tudungs... The guys can wear a tudung.

[Student: My friend and I made fun of each other. My friend is Indian [, and I am Chinese]. Last time when I was in secondary school we made fun of ourselves. I made fun of the Chinese, the Malay made fun of the Malays, the Indian made fun of the Indians. Then we all laugh. That are the days. (laughed. Those were)

My hall lost about 5000 bucks for my hall production. [Me: Was it that bad?] It was that bad. [Student 2: This kind of thing is only viable if it's done in - LT13] (our)

[Me: Why did you change your shoes?] I don't know, I just felt like it. [Student 2: Never ask a girl about shoes.]

I want to be a housewife. I'll use my university degree - there's a pool of guys who're gonna be rich in the future... I can go for manicures, spas.

[On the term 'minah'] It's not racist, unless he says it.

I can so see you coopted into the PAP... Please remember us when you get coopted.

Indian men are huge, huge. Not [from] experience. [Me: I thought your boyfriend is in Sri Lanka] They can rival African men. Not [from] personal experience.

[On feminism, mate preferences and black wife-beating] Obama is half white. He's rich, he went to Harvard. If he beats me I don't mind.

Imagine if America has a black president: the country will die of a cocaine overdose.

[Student: What's with you and black people?] Come on. I got stalked by 2 black people... 'China doll'... [Me: China Dog or China Doll?] China doll lah. *slaps me* [Me: 'You're my bitch']

They say oysters are an aprhodisiac. It's not true. I ate 2 dozen. I only wanted to sleep. I was so full.

[Student on camp OGLs: You don't need Gabriel.] If you have Gabriel, you'll have a lot of little Gabriels next year. [Me: *Wth?!*]

[Student on me turning around: Shit.] See? This is why you shouldn't wear female footwear. You can't sneak up on people.

[On a camwhoring celebrity] She's had plastic surgery. She can't do more than one expression on her face.

[On my hair] I can imagine it being used as a seduction tool. But as a weapon? That only happens in Moral Kombat!

[Me: I don't like perk point. The chairs make me fall asleep.] I'll pull your hair if you fall asleep. [Student 2: I'll kick you in the balls.]

[On footwear] I think Arts girls like to show their toes... Science girls like to cover their toes.

[On racial harmony] You must have [a] Curry Puff with Char Siew inside.

I wasn't listening to you. I was combing my hair. [Me: I thought gils can multi-task.] I'm multi-tasking. I'm brushing my hair while ignoring you. (brushing)
"Blasphemy? No, it is not blasphemy. If God is as vast as that, he is above blasphemy; if He is as little as that, He is beneath it." - Samuel Langhorne Clemens


u r wt u wr:

- 'Not only cute but also smart'
- 'It's hard being this cute'
- 'My other boyfriend rocks'
- 'Have you hugged a runner today?'
- 'Guys' soda' (the words were above her breasts)
- 'I am what I wear'
- 'Why not love me?'
- 'Look at me' (Bazaar)

What's worse than leggings under a skirt/dress? Black and white striped leggings under one!

What took the cake, though, was this PRC:

- Black leggings, with lace at the bottom
- A denim pinafore on top
- On top of that pinafore, a black and white striped layer, puffy and with frills
- A black top with a square neckline (Aside: Wth, I didn't know there were so many types of necklines: polo, jewel, scoop, boat, off-the-shoulder, one-shoulder, halter, V, square, sweetheart and keyhole)
- An elbow length cardigan

Seen on a Cleo cover:

"My plan to:

*get powerful
*get gorgeous
*get laid*"

Just get plastic surgery and put out for a powerful guy and you get all three.

"Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac." - Henry A. Kissinger

I saw a girl wearing a shirt which said 'Be like Jesus'. My first thought was: 'What, piss people off and get crucified?' Maybe I can wear that shirt too, hurr hurr.

Someone: anyway got some girls dont wear those t-shirts. so apparently there're 2 broad camps

those who don't wear, according to a girl friend of mine, say that its 'cheapo', 'pasar malam' and the messages are 'corny'

and those who wear, i duno
"Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats." - Howard Aiken


A: Same way I don't comprehend why some people love harry potter. Do you think someone could do their Phd in English on harry potter today? Incomprehensible what the majority love.

B: Well, as a major Harry Potter fan, I can say that a lot of us love it for all sorts of reasons. I'll actually be running my fifth consecutive Harry Potter game at a convention this Easter.

As an expert on children's literature, somebody could easily do their PhD in English on Harry Potter - it's very high quality children's literature drawing upon a very large literary tradition dating back to the mid nineteenth century and is probably the clearest modern incarnation directly in two of the English speaking worlds most dominant children's literature streams.

There's nothing lightweight about Harry Potter - that is what sets it apart from over 99% of children's literature of the post 1970s era, and once reason it is so popular - because it doesn't treat children like ignorant consumers of pop culture, who have to be spoon fed everything.

Frankly, Harry Potter is one of the few things around for kids that is likely to create intelligent, traditionally literate, thinking adults with an appreciation for literature, rather than mindless TV watching zombies who do what the advertising tells them to do.

You're aiming your barbs at the wrong target.

C: Replace "Harry Potter" with "Terry Pratchett", and this statement suddenly rings true.

Certainly my own kids aren't at all interested in Harry Potter, but they voraciously devour anything Discworld I bring near them. Hopefully that will encourage them, when they're older, to eschew the likes of Dan Brown in favour of Umberto Eco.

B: It rings true, anyway.

Most of Pratchett's work is not aimed at children, though certainly it's accessible to many kids. I love Pratchett's work, but it's also of a very particular style which limits how widely it will appeal. It's comedy and humour, and that's great, but there's a great many people who aren't looking for that - especially kids. Too many kids books are funny and nothing else and that creates a situation where many kids are turned off humourous writing unfortunately, because the first stuff they encounter is garbage. 95% or more of kids literature is unfortunately, very low quality.

I've just spent much of the last four years formally studying these areas and looking at what kids read and what they don't read and what creates kids who are interested in literature and what doesn't. I have had to read about 3200 kids books, and I
think I can fairly judge what is and isn't high quality.

I am actually somebody who is working on a higher level thesis based on Harry Potter and it's not because I am stupid or illiterate - it's becauise I am extremly interested in children's literature and the Harry Potter books are a new phenomenon in children's literature - nearly thousand page novels being read by millions of children. And what is more, these are novels that contain far more cultural references - to ancient languages, areas of history that most children have never studied, areas of mythology that are likewise connected to modern education, religious allegory, astronomical references, etc - than virtually any other children's books. Including incidentally, Pratchett's books specifically written for children - his Discworld books are very culture laden, but he really does dumb that down in the Tiffany Aching books.

The fact that your own kids aren't interested in Harry Potter, simply says that it doesn't match their personal reading preferences. That's fine - personal reading preferences are pretty complicated, especially for kids. We don't judge books based on whether a few individual children like them. We base them on a lot more than that..

The thing is - what I am interested in developing is children who read Umberto Eco *AND* Dan Brown. Eco is certainly the vastly superior author, and his works are genuine literature, as opposed to sensational racing pulp, but highly literate adolescents and young adults who read literally hundreds of novels a year, run out of Eco pretty quickly. For that matter they run out of Pratchett in about a month.

A narrow literacy focus on the great canon of literature is probably better than a narrow literacy focus on pulp, but a broad focus that includes far more than just the great canon is better still.

The Harry Potter books first became highly popular among the 'gifted community' - among children with IQs of above 130. That's not to say all smart kids like them, because there's more involved that just intellectual functioning, but they were popular with this group well before they went mainstream. And it was because these were among the first children's books in years that didn't insult their intelligence.

These are the kids who typically become the most literate adults - that's a generalisation, but it is a strong relationship, and the broadest readers among adults.
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