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Saturday, April 28, 2007

"A gentleman is a man who can play the accordion but doesn't." - Unknown


"If you will be good boys and girls, I shall give you as much pork barrel money as you want" - Quirino in Bohol, Philippines during the 1949 election (reported)

"The modern conception of suffrage is that voting is a function of government. The right to vote is not a natural right but it is a right created by law. It is a privilege granted by the State to such persons or classes as are most likely to exercise it for the public good. For reasons of public policy, certain classes of persons are excluded from the franchise. Among the generally excluded classes are minors, idiots, paupers, and convicts...

The authorities may compel entrance to dwelling houses against the will of the owners for sanitary purposes" - Fernando, Chances for survival of democracy in the Philippines (1950)


"At this time while Origen was conducting catechetical instruction at Alexandria, a deed was done by him which evidenced an immature and youthful mind, but at the same time gave the highest proof of faith and continence. For he took the words, “There are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake,” in too literal and extreme a sense. And in order to fulfill the Saviour’s word, and at the same time to take away from the unbelievers all opportunity for scandal,—for, although young, he met for the study of divine things with women as well as men,—he carried out in action the word of the Saviour." - Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine, Chapter VIII.—Origen’s Daring Deed.
"Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy." - Edgar Bergen


Men's Magazine's Gal Pals - "Why do women read men's magazines? According to a recent GQ poll of 30 female readers, some read them for the narrative articles; some, because their husbands subscribe; others want tips on men's fashion and health — or just to ogle fashionable men. “The articles are generally interesting to me even though they aren't specifically geared to me,” says one female reader. “I also love all the eye candy!”"

The Straight Dope: Going postal: Are employees of the United States Postal Service more likely to be violent towards coworkers?

Straight Dope Staff Report: Can a sperm donor be forced to pay child support? - "In other cases women have inseminated themselves with sperm from fellatio or from a condom (or so their male acquaintances alleged), then sought child support – and won. That's because the paramount consideration in child support cases is providing the child with support from two parents. Wisely or not, courts traditionally have defined parents as those who contributed the gametes that made the baby. In most cases, courts will overlook the adults' agreements or despicable conduct in the interest of providing for the children."

The Austrian Economists: The Paris School of Economics: Will it be Say or Walras? - "The main reason why graduate education in economics is a disaster in France is because of the state control of universities (see here an article on the subject in The Economist). Exceptions to this rule include the University of Dauphine with Pascal Salin and a few other pockets with good people (e.g., the Universities of Toulouse and Aix-en-Provence, Science Po Paris) but by and large the teaching of economics is terrible, which explains why France is the only place where economists are more to the left than the general population."

Swearsaurus Swear Words: Swearing, Cursing, Cussing and Insulting! - Wah, I almost thought I'd lost this URL. It's even longer than the last time. The French ones are the best of course, but I remember them being more stylish last time.

The Straight Dope: Can opera singers shatter glass with their high notes? - "I dunno--you ever buy whole-life insurance? Now _there_ was a hoax. Shattering glasses, on the other hand, is entirely legit. Enrico Caruso and Italian opera singer Beniamino Gigli are said to have managed it, and I seem to remember Ella Fitzgerald doing it once in a Memorex commercial."

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda wearing 666 tattoo claims to be Jesus on Earth - "A heroine addict De Jesus, 61, grew up poor in Puerto Rico and said that he learned that he was Jesus reincarnate when angels visited him in a dream."

The Straight Dope: Did a state legislature once pass a law saying pi equals 3? - "Just as people today have a hard time accepting the idea that the speed of light is the speed limit of the universe, Goodwin and Record apparently couldn't handle the fact that pi was not a rational number. "Since the rule in present use [presumably pi equals 3.14159...] fails to work ..., it should be discarded as wholly wanting and misleading in the practical applications," the bill declared."

People are getting bit by freaking rattlesnakes at Wal-Mart - "John Page never expected that a trip to the garden center of his local Brevard County, Florida Wal-Mart to shop for potted plants would end in getting attacked by a rattlesnake. But that’s exactly what happened, and a bite from a pygmy rattlesnake screwed up his pinky finger badly. Now he’s demanding that Wal-Mart protect its customers from poisonous snakes that are invading its garden centers."

German police rescue 91-year-old man glued to roof - "A 91-year-old German sparked a rescue operation when he slipped mending his roof and got stuck fast in tar "like a beetle on its back", police said on Tuesday."

tgs: On Female Mediocrity - "I also know of girls who list their hobbies on Facebook on Friendster in the following fashion: "Wakeboarding, Shopping, Chillin', Sleeping, EATING (haha tho I can't do this so much these days, getting fat!), Watching TV (I heart Kwong Sang Woo!!), Tennis and Golf (juz started but quite fun!)". There is a common thread to all of this. These girls are mediocre, in every sense of the word. I will not say that they are lousy; just mediocre. They expect little from themselves"

Threat for Big Media: Guerrilla Video Sites - "The men, Sam Martinez and Billy Duran, use two low-end desktop computers to run a Web site that offers a remarkably broad menu of television shows and movies free of charge. They provide online access to 17 episodes of NBC's "Heroes" TV series, 49 installments of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," more than 70 feature films and hundreds of other videos. Within four days of Walt Disney's theatrical release of "Meet the Robinsons," the men had the movie available for viewing through their site, YouTVpc.com."

Store gets egg on its face over Christ’s Easter ‘birth’ - "A supermarket chain got itself into a huge muddle over the meaning of Easter yesterday in its attempt to sell more chocolate eggs. “Brits are set to spend a massive £520 million on Easter eggs this year — but many young people don’t even know what Easter’s all about,” said the press release from Somerfield after a survey. It then went on to claim that the tradition of giving Easter eggs was to celebrate the “birth” of Christ. An amended version changed this to the “rebirth” of Christ. Finally a third press release accepted Church teaching that Easter celebrated the resurrection of Christ."

Doctors in trouble for not giving man cervical smear - "A family doctor has been summoned to a formal hearing over his refusal to put a 34-year-old male patient on the list for screening for cervical cancer... She said her husband, who has been a GP for 30 years and who trains young doctors would be "pleased to hear from anyone, medical or otherwise, who could teach him the correct way to carry out a cervical smear on a 34-year-old male"."

Found in India: the last king of France - "This Indian father-of-three is being feted as the long-lost descendent of the Bourbon kings who ruled France from the 16th century to the French revolution. A distant cousin of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, he is alleged to be not only related to the current Bourbon king of Spain and the Bourbon descendants still in France, but to have more claim than any of them to the French crown."

Ignorance of the Good Book reaches biblical proportions - "For a country so religious, many know little about the Good Book. Ten percent of Americans believe Joan of Arc was Noah's wife -- according to Christian pollster George Barna -- and only half of American adults can name even one of the four Gospels. Many can't name the first book of the Bible, according to a Gallup poll... Does it matter if a student knows what happened on Easter? Yes, say those who support studying the Bible, considered by many the most influential book in Western civilization. They say it's important not only for a well-rounded education but to understand global events... William Shakespeare alone has more than 1,300 biblical references in his work, says Weber. Knowing what he is referring to gives students an academic advantage."
One day more!!!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Totally and utterly sodomised by Macro III (aka Applied Maths).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"Men want “babes”. That’s a code word for “gorgeous bodies without brains”. Well, no, actually, it’s more true to say that Singapore men want babes … I’ll provide an anecdote to show that I’m not alone in thinking that men here dig babes. Make that babes with boobs. No, make that babes with boobs, without brains. Last week, at a café sipping smoothies to wind down from work, I eavesdropped on four men who looked to be in their 30s … all of them had victory tales to tell.

Women seem to fall into their laps. Not just any women, but pretty ones who are below 30. And “cannot be graduate”, one of them declared. “Woah, these university women. Buay tahan! …

Pity the graduate women. It’s no wonder they form the crux of Singapore’s Great Marriage Problem. But it’s not any graduate women. It’s those who show their intellectual mettle — unabashedly and with delight — whom the men shun. A university degree is a symbol of a woman’s braininess. It is also a warning for men to not let their egos be walked over by her. So if she’s really smart, she’ll know how to keep her brains under lock and key.

As one very accomplished colleague, single and graduate put it: “The trick is to be so bimbo you don’t even know how to operate the washing machine or turn on the oven. I’ve been laughing at those columns recently by my female colleagues, lambasting the stupidity of the finalists in the Miss Singapore/Universe pageant. Why mock their poor English and shallow answers, their dumb silence in response to difficult social questions, their ah lian manners?

What if, just what if, they are showing off what Singapore men like? Quite likely these bimbos ah huays — if that’s how you want to view them — won’t have problems getting hitched and settling into a warm family life with three healthy kids and a loving husband. They will bask in the glow of the Great Singapore Family. Not the mocking graduate women, though, I bet. So guess who’s laughing her way to the church alter? (Leow, 2001)...

Xie Wen’s desire is to maintain the sanctity of traditional gender relations and prevent discursive intrusion which might disturb their meaning. For this reason he must try to repossess an essentialized Asian-ness and the feminine of past ages of national time when the boundaries between Singapore and the outside world, and between men and women were clear. He must also lay some blame on Western culture, and globalized feminism, which allows him to ally himself with a globalized offended masculinity. Xie Wen’s columns confirm Bhabha’s assertion that maintenance of the illusion of the political unity of the nation requires continual displacement of anxiety about its irredeemably plural modern space (Bhabha, 1994: 149). [Ed: Wth?!]"

- Peeling Prawns: Singapore Media and the Recovery of the Asian Feminine

Monday, April 23, 2007

One-Dimensional Man in The Postmodern Age: Re-Thinking The Bourgeois Subject, Toward the Sensibilities of Freedom.

"Neither traditional Marxism, nor postmodernism, grasp the dynamic nature of the cultural and economic process shaping the consciousness of the bourgeoisified subject... Postmodernism, to a large extent, seeks to evade the problem by eliminating the subject altogether...

Traditional Marxism always tried to work the other way around, to have the revolution, to produce a society capable of forging the "new humanity," and then to produce a free individual, one whose freedom is predicated upon the Vanguard, the state, and the party line. This is like wanting to have a child, and then to consummate the marriage."
As I do my Democratic ImPossibilities exam, my previous essay:

Post-65, Post-Post-65 Or Bust? Sustainable Authoritarianism In Singapore (Is it sensible to explain Singapore's liberal democratic prospects in terms of its "post-65" generation?)

As Goh noted, the post-65 generation would be materialistic and ignorant of the travails and importance of nation building. They might thus be less convinced of the need to forsake liberal democratic ideals to pursue economic ends. Yet the pre-65 generation were similarly materialistic, striking a Faustian bargain with the PAP: in return for accepting less (or little) political freedom, they were promised material rewards in the form of economic growth (Uren, 2001). Furthermore, the post-65-ers being focused on “promotions, houses and holidays” would necessarily entail a diversion of energies from pressing for the political and civil liberties liberal democracy grants to the pursuit of materialism. The problem is compounded by the fact that Singaporeans keep looking to the government to solve their problems (Elegant and Elliott, 2005). One can thus imagine the irony of Singaporeans asking the government to give them more freedom, instead of securing it for themselves.
On our take-home exam...

Student: Started yet?

Me: The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'm still at step 10.

Student: I'm going to sleep, step 1.
Since my take-home exam is on feminism:

"Men who are in prison for rape think it's the dumbest thing that ever happened... they were put in jail for something very little different from what most men do most of the time and call it sex. The only difference is they got caught. It may also be true."

"In all these situations there was not enough violence against them to take it beyond the category of 'sex.'... Maybe they were forced-fucked for years and put up with it, maybe they tried to get it over with, maybe they were coerced by something other than battery, something like economics, maybe even something like love."

- Catharine MacKinnon

"Sometimes I wonder if MacKinnon has simply been driven mad by all the sick things people do to one another. I, too, recoil in pain and incomprehension whenever I hear about the latest psychopath who has shot his mother, machine-gunned his coworkers, raped his daughter, or slashed a prostitute. I notice that such men are more likely to have read the bible than pornography, but I do not hold either script responsible for their actions." - The Prime of Miss Kitty MacKinnon, Susie Bright
"How can governments find out what the extralegal property arrangements are? That was precisely the question put to me by five members of the Indonesian cabinet. I was in Indonesia and they took that opportunity to invite me to talk about how they could find out who owns what among the 90 percent of Indonesians who live in the extralegal sector. Fearing that I would lose my audience if I went into a drawn-out technical explanation on how to structure a bridge between the extralegal and legal sectors, I came up with another way, an Indonesian way, to answer their question. During my book tour, I had taken a few days off to visit Bali, one of the most beautiful places on earth. As I strolled through rice fields, I had no idea where the property boundaries were. But the dogs knew. Every time I crossed from one farm to another, a different dog barked. Those Indonesian dogs may have been ignorant of formal law, but they were positive about which assets their masters controlled.

I told the ministers that Indonesian dogs had the basic information they needed to set up a formal property system. By traveling their city streets and countryside and listening to the barking dogs, they could gradually work upward, through the vine of extralegal representations dispersed throughout their country, until they made contact with the ruling social contract. "Ah", responded one of the ministers, "jukum adat" (the people's law)!"

- Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital

But dogs are haram... Hurr hurr.
Aha! I have now in front of me the infamous article which everyone talks about but no one has ever read (or quoted from):

Ellen Kleist, Harald Moi - Transmission of Gonorrhea Through an Inflatable Doll, Genitourinary Medicine, Vol. 69, Nr. 4, p. 322 ff. August 1993

A photo from Filbie's trip to Status Civitatis Vaticanae

My comment: Shit, they didn't let me talk to them. Maybe they only talk to girls. And I see leggings are fashionable in Europe too (at least they've a reason to wear em)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Stupid email I got:

"I started reading "Questions for Christians" and when I got to the first one (about two creation accounts in the Bible) I found these questions embarrassing for you, unless that is, you are a Christian who would like to start a dialogue with whoever comes along (like I came along) or you are quite uneducated regarding the Bible. In the latter case I find your Questions useless. In the former case some fun could be had exercizing our mutual Bible knowledge.

In conclusion, your being 23 or 24 years old, one cannot expect a lot of maturity. I encourage you to always use your questions in larger part to increase your knowledge rather than someone elses. No harm intended."

Uncharacteristically, I don't feel like responding.

Maybe I'm really growing old.
Facebook | Arguing on Facebook is the Only Way to Solve the Israel/Palestine Problem

Description: "Feel like doing something about the middle east, but not willing to actually work for it?
Facebook has the solution for you. Join any one of dozens of Israel/Palestine related facebook groups.

Don't like Israel? Join a group with a picture of the Israeli flag burning on it.
Don't like Palestine? Join a group with a picture of Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river.

Not only are you benefitting the people of Israel and Palestine, but you're providing a windfall to flag makers and map-makers.

Even better, join the groups the people who you don't support, and call them names on the message boards.

This group is dedicated to all those hardworking individuals who do so much to solve all of the middle east's problems by arguing on facebook. The grassroots efforts by these individuals is underappreciated, and we're here to appreciate them."

Recent news: "These people are heroes.

Some different type of Heros:

The De-List Them off of Facebook-ers

The 'who needs this discussion if I don't even recognize the other sides' existence' crowd

The Advocates of People Transfer (my personal favorite)


Then, of course, theres the very select "Anti Anti"s, for those of you who are into meta-advocacy and double negatives

And then, theres the special "I care so much about this issue that I don't bother spelling the damn country's name correctly!" (At least 50 'Isreal' groups)

Anti-Isreal http://mcgill.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2215517831

The greatest of all, a group that mispells both Palistine, Palastinian, and Isreal (made by someone from Halifax, no less)

So many heroes, so little space to recognize the great contributions their online flame-wars have brought about for those Israelis and Palestinians.

If you truly love whichever side you claim to love, you will step up to the challenge, make it your personal struggle, to piss people off and look like a dumb twat."

A message from the creator:

Message: heroism in our midst

"Dear Fellow Heroes,

Many of you may have joined this ingathering of the heroes at its genesis. If so, you might have missed the ongoing heroism on this very group's wall, where every day, average facebookers are doing their part in solving the Israel/Palestine problem. Its truly a marvel of bravery and strength, and we should be honored to host such heroics on our wall.

Please take a moment to appreciate their resolve. Their courage will not pass unnoticed. Though I do recommend they examine the concept of 'irony'."
Some people are very free to come to Chatterbox during Reading Week and on Sunday and play the guitar the whole day. And I don't think I've ever seen them before.
"To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable." - Oscar Wilde


Currently in <3 love with: Beethoven - Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 73 ('Emperor')

I'm a lot more enthusiastic about this piece than the first time I heard it. Like a good stew, it improves on reheating; I was probably slightly put off at first by the overly long first movement.

After seeing a disastrous performance of it on Immortal Beloved (which turns out to have been fiction, like much else of the show), I've gone back to it. Appreciation has been helped by listening to its episode on the BBC's Discovering Music program, since this is one of the few areas of my life where theory lags behind practice:

"The real first chord of this piece, oddly, misses out the B-flat... It's not called the dominant for nothing. It's one of the most important notes in classical harmony. By leaving it out here, the composer is making a statement...

A standard composer, I nearly said hack, but I don't mean to descend to that level, a standard composer would've scored that chord with all the notes of the E-flat triad, dominant and all. This ineffably great one doesn't. Why? When you hear that chord, the ear says 'Okay, that's E-flat major. I know where I am.' But if your ear thinks that, there's been an aural illusion. It actually has no right to think that at all... Beethoven has defined a dramatic space: a point of tension where things might start to happen...

It suits his expressive purposes. This is not a concerto about conflict. This music tends to muse rather than argue. It may be in E-flat but it's no heroic struggle like the Eroica symphony. It sounds grand, but it has a relaxed, expansive grandeur. If this is an Emperor... it's an Emperor having a day off at home, relaxing in his luxurious surroundings...

It may sound as if I've spent far too long talking about just the first section of Beethoven's first movement, but that's what he does. When we finally reach the dominant, it feels like a huge achievement...

The second movement is one of his most miraculously beautiful inventions, and like so many, it sounds naively simple. A hymn-like Adagio is announced on the strings, muted, with the unearthly paced measured out in steady beats. It does sound as if it comes from a distant planet... When the piano comes in, it ruminates for bars at a time over just one or two chords... Here that expansiveness is stretched even further into a wonderfully poised space, a moment where time almost seems to stop...

It's preparing us for a moment of real genius... It's a moment of high drama. A semi-tonal drop by the horns from B to B-flat and we're on the dominant of E-flat major, the key of the concerto. B-flat was the note that was so singularly missing from the first chord of the first movement, and B-flat was the key so constantly avoided all through that movement. And maybe that's why its effect here is so strong. It's not the missing note now but the only one. At the cardinal point between the second and third movements. The whole concerto has been moving towards this one crutch point."


Frankly, the missing note in the chord doesn't do anything for me, and MFM, whose ear and theory far surpass mine, couldn't detect it either. I wonder if this is like literature.

MFM: otoh beethoven clearly left it out intentionally

he was deaf at that time
maybe he didn't realise it couldn't be heard

seriously, some musicologists have suggested that his last works were so dissonant because he was deaf. could be the same thing with the emperor.

in any case, it's not like literature, because for lit it's harder to tell if something is intentional
it doesn't have the strictures of music theory

that crutch point between teh 2nd and 3rd movements is as strong as the bbc makes it out to be, but I think it's only because it's the dominant, really. there are tonnes of complete tonic chords in the first movement that should have wiped out any 'memory' of the incomplete chord

for one, it definitely ends with a complete chord.
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