"The happiest place on earth"

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Shanghai/Hongkong 2007 Trip - Day 1 - Singapore-Hong Kong-Shanghai

China Trip
Day 1 (23/6) - Singapore-Hong Kong-Shanghai

Ed: The pictures in this post were restored in late December 2010 after Mediafire deleted my account in 2007

Cathay Pacific's in-flight magazine is 'bilingual' (in a manner of speaking), with some articles being translated into both languages, and others remaining in one. One of them claimed that the body takes about a day to adjust per hour of time zones passed. This is ridiculous.

Usually flight attendants wear less once the plane has taken off than before (eg they take off their vests). Cathay Pacific is the first exception I've seen.

The baggage allowance for the US is crazy. What a difference crossing the water makes.

The moment the plane came to a stop somewhere before we'd reached Hong Kong airport's terminal building, the PRCs and Hong Kongers jumped to their feet. The same happened in Shanghai - only before the lights had even gone on (it was a night landing). The only time I've seen such an impatient crowd is when the plane is filled with Singaporeans.

The security personnel at Hong Kong airport are very helpful - they have a liquids counter just before security screening with ample plastic bags for your use and they help you pack your liquids.

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Shanghai Tang Orientalism! I've never seen such a short cheongsam.
Ed: I don't know why this is crooked. It displays normally before I upload it.

Stupid Hong Kong names: "Patsy" (some girl at the airport bookstore, "Relay"). This is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as "A person easily taken advantage of, cheated, blamed, or ridiculed." Also seen in the bookstore: "Why Men Marry Bitches: A Woman's Guide to Winning Her Man's Heart". The trouble is that there's omitted variable bias - men don't go for bitches per se.

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Prayer room sign in Hong Kong Airport. Since the thumbnail isn't showing: the direct link. How insensitive!

In total, I walked 4 times into 3 outlets of the bookstore, and each time they were piping Movement 2 of the Emperor Concerto. Gah. I wonder how the staff stand it.

The flight information panels at Hong Kong airport run ads where people gush effusive with praise for the place. On loop. Gah.

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"Woman's pure essence" and "Man's pure essence". Actually in Chinese, they're health supplements for men and women.

On touching down in China I reflected that it'd been a long time (a decade and a half?) since I'd been in a place more authoritarian than Singapore.

At Shanghai Airport, International arrivals were grouped together with those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Hurr hurr.

At the checkin counter at Changi, there had been a sign telling us to remove old luggage tags from our baggage. I ignored this as ridiculous, since I had not changed my address, and left my Japan Airlines tag on my backpack. On collecting my backpack in Shanghai, I noticed that the tag had been all but torn off, leaving only the elastic spring and a bit of paper attached to it. Damn, those luggage handlers must really hate the Japs. I'm lucky they didn't throw my bag into the sea!

Shanghai has bike lines in which motorbikes travel. Wth.


[On the Shanghai Maglev] Isn't that how our MRT works?

Return the complete common tard to our cabin crew (comment card)
"I tend to live in the past because most of my life is there." - Herb Caen


Some comments on iTunes I found while trying to find out how to manually refresh my library (you can't):

A: "iTunes will manage itself. You cannot place stuff in there and say "Adapt to ME!" but instead, tag your songs correctly and let iTunes sort itself out."

B: "Why can't it "Adapt to Me?" I use it, it doesn't use me."

C: "I think you'd enjoy iTunes more if you just try it the way it's intended to work and adapt your ways a bit to it. I was like you, manually managing my library, manually moving file to my iPod, etc... until I finally ripped all my CDs to iTunes and it got unwieldly. So I tried letting iTunes do it for me and haven't looked back."

Basically, I think this sums up Mac design philosophy well - things are designed to work well for a majority of users, but try to do things differently or work against the system and you'll be extremely frustrated.

Basically it's good for idiots and conformists. Since when was lack of control a good thing?!

So much for thinking different!
"Thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative." - Kurt Vonnegut


Capping off a week of stupidity, yesterday night, I wanted to go for the Louvre Chalcography exhibition since entrance to the Singapore Art Museum is free on Fridays from 6-9pm (not least since I was told it wasn't very good and having no interest in the other exhibits), so I took a bus from work at 6:15pm or so.

After a long journey, I hit a massive jam around Apollo Centre. Fed up at being stuck in traffic, I got off 2 bus stops early (just after 7:30pm), only to realise that I had to walk very far and that due to a bus lane the bus was now free to zip to its destination. Given that the museum would close at 8:30-45pm (9pm on paper), I figured there was no point and went home, deciding to try again the next day since $4 was alright.

Today, I went down again (being misled by streetdirectory.com) into taking a bus I suspect took a longer route than another one. There was a plaque outside the building noting that it used to be St Joseph's Institution, but this aside there was no information on what was after all a gazetted National Monument. I was expecting there to be plaques around the premises: "this is where students were caned when they were naughty", "this is where the Brothers sodomised the kids" etc.

Entering the museum, I was greeted by the guy at the ticket counter with a "Welcome to Singapore". Momentarily stunned, I averred that I was a local. Now, I have been 小姐-ed (xiao2 jie5-ed - mistaken for a girl) often enough in the past, but this is the first time I've been mistaken for a foreigner. Either he thought I was an American Indian (untied hair notwithstanding) or locals don't go to the art museum. But then if it's the former, why do people keep speaking in Chinese to me even when they only hear English coming out from my mouth?

The only reason I went was for the Chalcography of the Louvre special exhibition, though I'd heard that it was disappointing. Indeed it was - since unlimited prints can be made from plates, the exhibition was basically of prints that could be found in the Louvre gift shop, with 2 plates, a video describing the process and a projection of details of prints of heavenly spheres (shown to the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata) thrown in as sops. Ironically, the print of the Mona Lisa is bigger than the actual painting.

The permanent collection was even worse, since it was all modern 'art' (the earliest works were from the 1930s), ie mostly crap. Then again, my dislike of modern 'art' aside, it still wasn't very impressive (compared to the modern 'art' I've seen elsewhere); there was very little on display (though I'm told they've a lot more on storage), with too little put in too much space - there was more in the temporary exhibitions than the permanent galleries, which is the reverse of everywhere else.

Ironically, for the Singapore Art Museum, there wasn't much Singaporean art, with at least half the permanent collection consisting of works from the rest of Southeast Asia. A banner proclaimed that they had the world's largest public collection of works from Southeast Asia, so I conclude that Art is dead in Southeast Asia (or that corrupt officials are hording the rest).

Zeng Fanzhi's Communists version of the Last Supper was interesting though, but he should've made Jesus Chairman Mao to complete the effect. There was a 'painting' (I use the term loosely) of a wild boar by this Indonesian artist Affandi - haram!

Perhaps most damningly, the stuff sold in the gift shop not only looked better than that on display in the galleries (eg Some full-colour Louvre prints) but was also novel to me. Viz., there was only item in the gift shop which I had seen in the galleries. Now, the point of a gift shop (besides earning money for the museum) is to let visitors buy souvenirs of what they have seen in the museum, so I didn't know what they were trying to do. Then again, since what was on display sucked perhaps this was a good move on their part. The gift shop also had a female T-shirt promoting the D24 durian. Uhh.

All in all, the Singapore Art Museum sucked. The admission sticker read: "No experience is necessary" - to appreciate the exhibits, one didn't need art experience. It should've read: "No experience is desired" - one who had seen other art museums or who had knowledge of art would know just how much bad it was.

In other news, this thing which I'd seen in people's commencement pictures (IIRC) seems to previously have been at the Singapore Art Museum.

Friday, July 13, 2007

"[Long hair] is considered bohemian, which may be why I grew it, but I keep it long because I love the way it feels, part cloak, part fan, part mane, part security blanket." - Marge Piercy


Someone: i think love in singapore is far too expectant
and unsurprising
and contrived
and almost burdensome

Johnny Malkavian: eh there's actually a 'cooking with cum' video
it's one of those things you NEVER see ok

collector's item

but you HAVE to see the video
it's damn sick lor

it looked like an XXX episode of Fear Factor

Lynn on my Interminable Chain of Unmitigated Disasters: as to why it keeps happening to you... i dunno. all i learned in psych is that, if it happens to you regardless of situational diffs, it's an internal reason i.e. your fault. hahaha

Someone: why you not going for ***'s event

alex au ah!
must go see him in person

Me: I saw him in person before

Someone: oh

Me: hurr hurr

eh you know me man
you must be star struck

Someone: OH PLEASE!
i didnt even know you were famous

and now that i know you are famous i dont know how come you're famous

Me: you lousy :P

Someone else: lol you're better read than most i suppose
although of course, erudition is basically "he's read what I've read"

Me: nah I just know a lot of shit from here and there


Someone else: lol isn't that the definition

Me: heh
well I don't read whole books

Someone else: lol let you in on smth
most of us in lit, we don't either :P

Me: heh
with 7 books a module, how to?!

Someone else: persactly

mind you
some oddballs manage it
cos they read in advance during the term break

this is madness

Me: this is NUS!

Frigid Girl: this quote is quite sad

"Sometimes I pretend to choke in the cafeteria, and then when someone comes to give me the heimlech, I turn around quickly, just to get a hug."

someone's subnick

Someone: gabriel, you have to stop this non-stop, continuous quoting in your conversations
people want to talk to you, not to a wall of hackneyed phrases

quoting will make you sound intelligent, but only to a certain extent
after that it becomes very jarring for the opposing party

i quote to you:

Dakin: The more you read though, the more you'll see that literature is actually about losers.
Scripps: No.
Dakin: It's consolation. All literature is consolation.
(The History Boys, Alan Bennett)
For those who didn't notice, new blog picture:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dear Guest,

You are cordially invited to register for Confluence 2007, which will be held on 21 July 2007, at the Shangri-la Hotel in Singapore, with the theme "Globalisation - Can Singapore Endure?" Registration can be done online at www.confluence-sg.org.

Confluence is an annual global students' symposium, ministerial dialogue session and corporate networking fair. The inaugural Confluence, held in 2006, saw the overseas student community make the headlines in every major newspaper in Singapore. More than 900 students from universities all over the world gathered at the Raffles City Convention Centre to engage Teo Chee Hean, Minister for Defence and the Civil Service, in a candid discussion on Singapore 's future. In addition, students also had the opportunity to interact and network with representatives from some 18 employer organisations.

The keynote speaker will be Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Defence.

Highlights of the day's programme include:

(1) Banking and Finance Careers Seminar - 10.30 am
(2) Technology Careers Seminar - 11.30 am
(3) Maritime Careers Seminar - 11.30 am
(4) Dialogue with Dr Ng Eng Hen - 2.00 pm
(5) Career Networking Fair - all day

There will also be a free dim sum lunch buffet spread for all guests.

Participants will be admitted by named invitation card only.

Please visit www.confluence-sg.org to register NOW!

Someone: wah u help confluence advertise ah

the girl who came to promote confluence to us, to ask *** for help in linking up with influential industry ppl, was so freaking irritating

she had that pseudo-American accent that those elitist crap adopt after 3mths in Boston
and she everytime she spoke, her eyes made like she was going to roll them out of their sockets


shit i'm beginning to anticipate u quoting me
that's bad
and i have a feeling u're gonna quote that too

it's one of those things...ring the bell n the doggie will salivate
u've conditioned ppl around u to be sensitive to things like that

ask ['the 24 year old virgin']
he prob feels it too
"Though I am grateful for the blessings of wealth, it hasn't changed who I am. My feet are still on the ground. I'm just wearing better shoes." - Oprah Winfrey


Jokes, some dumb:

The Love Quiz

1. What three household items are your idea for a romantic evening?

a) A roll of duct tape, a can of beans and some pliers.
b) A wig, an umbrella and some jumper cables.
c) A snow globe, a water gun and some piano wire

2. When you're whispering in your loved one's ear, how might they respond?

a) "How dare you talk about my momma!"
b) "Can you move? I can't see the television."
c) "Yes I paid the light bill."

3. Which Stooge best describes how you and your partner fool around?

a) Curly - active and full of energy
b) Moe - abusive and mean
c) Larry - you know..

4.Which of the following is your idea of a romantic meal?

a) Double Quarter Pounder with cheese Meal from McDonalds.
b) The Big Beef Burrito Supreme Meal from Taco Bell
c) An order of Buffalo Wings from Domino's pizza

5. What is your favorite part of your lover's body?

a) The part they can put behind their head.
b) The part they put in your ear.
c) The part that can fix your dinner

Total the points for the answers you gave

1) a=5

2) a=10

3) a=10

4) a=5

5) a=5

What does it all mean?

50-41: A Rose
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and you, my friend, have
dived head first in a vat of the old "Love Potion Number Nine."

40-31: A Sunflower
Your techniques are dead on target but a little refresher course from Mr. Feelgood might raise your HMO, if you know what I mean. (Actually I don't know what I mean.)

30-21: A Daffodil
Things will heat up when the pressure's on but they can disappear quickly with a quick gust of the wind. Kiss your lover before they kiss you goodbye.

20-11: A Tulip
Chances are your significant other thinks you're boring, dull and unattractive. Now here's the bad news...

10-0: Crabgrass
Your significant other thinks you're clinically dead.

Little Johnny said to Suzi, "We're going to have a GREAT time Saturday. I've gotten three tickets for the big game."

"Why do we need three?" asked Suzi.

Little Johnny gave her an evil grin and said, "They're for your Father, Mother and kid sister!"

Once upon a time, a Sultan was blessed with the birth of a son after years of hoping. The boy immediately became the apple of his father's eye.

Just before his son's sixth birthday, the Sultan said to him, "Son, I love you very much. Your birthday is coming soon. What would you like?"

His son replied, "Daddy, I would like to have my own airplane." His father bought him American Airlines.

Just before his son's seventh birthday, the Sultan said, "Son, you are my pride and joy. Ask what you want for your birthday. Whatever it is, it's yours."

His son replied, "Daddy, I would like a boat." His father bought him the Princess Cruise Line.

Just before his son's eighth birthday, the Sultan said, "Son, you bring so much happiness into my life. Anything you want, I shall get for you."

His son replied, "Daddy, I would like to be able to watch cartoons." His father bought him Disney Studios.

Just before his son's ninth birthday, the Sultan said, "Son, you are my life. Your birthday is coming soon. Ask what you wish. I will get it for you."

His son, who had grown to love Disney, replied, "Daddy, I would like a Mickey Mouse outfit and a Goofy outfit"

His father bought him the Democratic Party and CBS news.

Little Nancy was in the garden filling in a hole when her neighbor peered over the fence. Interested in what the cheeky-faced kid was up to, he asked, "What are you doing there, Nancy?"

"My goldfish died, and I've just buried him," replied Nancy, tearfully,
without looking up.

The neighbor was very concerned, said "That's an awfully big grave for a goldfish, isn't it?"

Nancy patted down the last heap of dirt then replied, "That's because he's inside your f*cking cat."

A Young Aussie was enjoying his first night in Rome drinking cappuccino at a pavement cafe when a pretty girl sat beside him.

"Hello," he said. "Do you understand English?"

"Only a little," she answered.

"How much?" he asked.

"Fifty dollars," she replied.

I watched an ant climb a blade of grass this morning. When he reached the top, his weight bent the blade down to the ground. Then, twisting his thorax with insectile precision, he grabbed hold of the next blade. In this manner, he traveled across the lawn, covering as much distance vertically as he did horizontally, which amused and delighted me. And then, all at once, I had what is sometimes called an "epiphany", a moment of heightened awareness in which everything becomes clear. Yes,
hunched over that ant on my hands and knees, I suddenly knew what I had to do... Quit drinking before noon.

One guy was explaining to his friend how the life often compensates for a person's natural deficiencies. "You see," he said, "If someone is a bit blind he might have a very good sense of hearing, or if his sense of taste has gone, he may have a keen sense of smell." "I agree with you," said the other. "I've always noticed that if a woman has one small breast , the other one is always just that little bit larger."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"Over the past two decades a literature big enough to fill a small airplane hangar has been produced on the causes of East Asian economic success...

To say that the Left critics got it wrong is not to say that the neoliberals got it right. The neoliberals have tended either to ignore contrary evidence or to acknowledge it without thought for its theoretical implications. This selective inattention to data that would upset the approved way of interpreting things and the use of repetition as a chief weapon of argument are two strong signs that the neoliberal paradigm is in a degenerative stage, taking on attributes of a disciplined delusional system. Like much Marxist writing of the 1970s, in fact. And like classical economics during the Great Depression, before Keynes's theoretical breakthrough...

My own evidence, illustrated above, suggests that neoliberal economists have been pioneering a whole new principle of causal inference - that to explain superior economic performance one may either simply ignore everything that is not in line with neoliberal prescriptions or assert that it hindered what would otherwise have been an even better performance. When this principle is combined with a wider professional propensity to treat "power" as a third-rank concept (the new 4,000-page Palgraue Dictionary of Economics has no entry for "power"), the result is an aversion to serious investigation of the role of the state in economic development. Assertions like "success has been achieved [in Korea] despite intervention" are put forth without a shred of evidence. In this way the circle is closed, the paradigm is protected, and minds can be set at rest...

After the Economist published an unusually enthusiastic review of Governing the Market (June 1, 1991, pp. 102-3), the reviewer received over six transatlantic phone calls from World Bank officials ringing to complain about the Economist publishing a favorable review of a book by an interventionist. Several said the journal was lowering its standards. Another said, "Don't you know he is an interventionist?" The reviewer asked each whether he had read the book or even glanced at it. Answer: No, in every case."

- EAST ASIA'S ECONOMIC SUCCESS. Conflicting Perspectives, Partial Insights, Shaky Evidence, ROBERT WADE, 1992
UCV2207: The Politics of Heritage

"The module focuses on the relationship between cultural heritage and contemporary political and social situations. It is designed to provide students with opportunities to explore a range of theoretical and intellectual issues from the fields of anthropology, geography and archaeology on cultural heritage and the roles that ‘place’ and material culture play within the enactment of social practices. It draws upon historical and contemporary case studies provide real world problems for engaging with the theoretical components of the module. There is an emphasis upon debate, discussion, and problem oriented individual and group projects. Several day trips around Singapore, as well as an extended field trip to Cambodia are offered as part of the module...

Field Trips:
Six days in Phenom Phen and Siem Reap in Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat, and several sites related to the Khmer Rouge regime’s rule; related to material covered in weeks 5 and 6."





Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"After all, all he did was string together a lot of old, well-known quotations." - H. L. Mencken, on Shakespeare


Someone: well, the "i hate men" sign keeps at least one annoying guy away, so it works for me

Me: hahahahahahahah

anyway no one is scolding you for misandry right!

Someone: yep!
i'm perfectly justified : P

Me: see, if I were to say, with much more justification "i hate women", everyone would be over me in a jiffy
this is a sexist society

Someone: really? i think you just know too many girls.

Someone else: if he would read some in-depth philosophy
and get some logic into his statements
and not argue for the sake of arguing

he'd be a pretty good writer

[On someone else] *** is very very smart
actually.. i think ***'s absolutely ridiculous
very sharp

Me: haha
bad combi huh

Someone else: oh well...
doesn't matter

you don't need to say anything for *** to accuse you of it
*** merely well.. re-frames your words

Me: hah
slanders me

Someone: i think sometimes i really believe like a small girl hahahaa

Me: haha
girls will be girls

Someone: haha u rather have a mature girl?
bet guys also dun wan

Me: haha
here we come to an interesting paradox

Someone: thats why

guys dont want mature women..they feel stifled and their ego is deflated...they want the girl to prance in front of them and amuse them


Me: haha
one of the reasons for the misery of the human condition
what we want and what we need aren't the same

girls don't want nice guys... they want jerks to emotionally manipulate them

Someone: haha

i want nice guys
but nice guys are boring see
at least the jerks are interesting

Me: haha
I'm glad you recognise that

Someone: its plain what

Me: most women lie to themselves and others

Someone: thats not true
most pple lie to themselves and others

Me: haha
men are less dishonest lah

Someone: thats cause they dunno what they want
so they want to be honest, but they dont know what to say

Me: women know what they want meh

Someone: they know better

guys cant move on
something wrong there..emotionally retarded
at least women know what they dont want after a while
guys NEVER know

they dont want alread
they will...regret, think, ponder, etc
women, say no means no

Me: well
we must look at revealed preferences =D

Someone: Haha difficult to generalise also wad

why do guys prefer bitches to nice girls
is the same thing wad
nice girls = boring, predictable, too easy to get

Me: I didn't say it's not the same =D

anyway guys want pretty girls, not bitches
but pretty girls tend to be bitches. because they can get what they want

Someone: haha yar thats true

damnit man
i wish i was prettier so i can be a bitch

if guys dont give in to the bitches, they wouldnt be bitches

Me: haha

Someone: but guys all superficial shit
jus like girls


Me: this is why my favourite misanthrope hates people

jb: but I'm so conceited, I don't like discussing philo with people in my class
because it's never a discussion; it's always some sort of education on the concept first. (:

Me: ...
so snobbish

jb: yeah I am!
I like being a philo smartass
since I can't be one at anything else. except maybe SS
which I have you to thank for

if I'd never met you, I'd never have joined YR. YR was totally my SS crash course
it makes me look smart when I talk about all the stuff the government has done

Tim The Great on Singapore: i was going around looking at people's eyes. there doesn't seem to be very much life, or soul, or whatever you call it. they look like the pre-renaissance section in the louvre.
"The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." - George F. Will



I can't forsee myself doing a 9-5 job. [Me: This is a 8:30-6 job.] Oops.

Do you have any normal stuff on your body?... Everytime you show me something it's something abnormal.

[On my name card] Someone else already gave it to me.

[Me: The primary female gender defects are irrationality, gullibility, risk averseness and paranoia.] [Incoming freshman with an elbow suddenly on me: Say that again?] Don't worry. He's going on to his final year so you only have one more year of this to go.

[To incoming freshman] USP is full of people who are weird in their own way. So what's your... eccentricity?

You are Bishan Gay-briel.

If you were a girl - you are a girl. What am I talking about? [Someone: Do you want me to check?]

[Me on some esoteric, intellectual conversation: Are you zoning out yet?] Yes. [Me: See, it's hard to find women like your sister.] Thank god.

My sex education consisted of 'Don't go to dark places with boys' and 'Masturbation is bad for health'.

[On How Girls Waste Time] Tell me the most controversial one. [Me: Err. Locked in the bedroom for hours performing unspeakable acts?] You mean guys don't do that? [Me: They'e not mutually exclusive. Guys got recovery period.] You guys are disgusting. (have a)

[Someone on City Harvest: Tell me about the rituals.] First they slaughtered the lamb. Then they painted its blood over the Expo.

[On Shafy] Have you seen her hair?

[On a nymphomaniac] I know a female friend... 'If I don't have it, I can't function.' It's like her daily fix.

It's better doing it with a man than getting off on your own.

[Me: You should get to know Chinese girls. Then you can have cross-racial perspectives on sexuality.] I know some Chinese girls. They don't go for Chinese guys.

I think all girls have a fantasy about black guys.

I think it's quite sad. Liking a guy and then discovering he's small... Of course you'll end it, but you feel bad.

[On learning Mandarin] The biggest issue in my class was tones. 'Do you know what you just said?... You called your mom a horse.'

Dessert? It's on us. [Intern: We should order the whole store.] Moral hazard. That's why we only tell you at the end.

One of my friends had never interacted with an Indian before... The first time she saw me, she asked 'Does your whole family make prata?'... One day all of my friends put on singlet and sarong and made prata.

I used to find oral sex disgusting... Up until JC... After that I met somebody.

This is another thing. Every woman wants to be a whore... Small sample size - the girls I know.

I wouldn't eat shit. [Me: Would you drink urine?] Yeah.

[Me: Over the years I've learnt you can't trust anything women say.] Over the years I've learnt you can't trust anything men say. [Me: *Laughs* So what people say can't be trusted.]

I have people who give me mixed signals. And you know what, only Chinese guys do that.

Hey, do you want to have a baby? [Me: *stare*] Err, do you want to have children?... Don't you want someone to dote on? [Me: That's what a dog is for.] Don't you want someone who can talk back? [Me: That's what a significant other is for.]

I know this boy, 16, who slept with this woman, 25. She got pregnant. They're getting married. They're Malay. I had to say that... [Me: Does the Indian Muslim community have that problem?] No. Our main problem is our girls run off with Indian boys... Hindu boys.

[On clubbing] If you know what you can get, then you can get something... There'll always be somebody who finds you very attractive. Don't you feel that way, even though you might not feel the same way about them?

I see you, like, you know, getting it on with some woman who plays the cello or something... in a very classical setting... [On Hob VIIb:2 - 1] She's playing this piece, but she's white. Oh, and she's older than you... I'm trying to think where I got this image. Do you watch Sex and the City?

I think there needs to be radical reintepretation of the Koran. [Me: ie Make it say what you want it to say.]

[Me: Are you going to wear your tudung in Hungary?] Yeah... It's an interesting conversation starter.
How cute. Haloscan inserts a comments box into each post page.


u r wt u wr:

- 'Little Miss Naughty'
- 'Little Miss Bad'
- 'Let's have some cake' (No innuendo, but ???)
- 'Friends don't let friends talk to ugly boys' (Variant on a previous one. Shouldn't it read "poor" or "nice" boys?)
- 'I'm almost single'
- 'God made mud. God made dirt. God made guys. So girls should flirt' (Complete version of a previously spotted entry)
- 'I ♥ country boys'
- 'Please ask me for more details'
- 'Never judge a girl by her T-shirt' (contributed)
"We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." - H L Mencken

(Quote and article from ATHEIST HAVEN)


The Problem with Religious Moderates by Sam Harris

"Two myths now keep faith beyond the fray of rational criticism, and they seem to foster religious extremism and religious moderation equally: (i) most of us believe that there are good things that people get from religious faith (e.g., strong communities, ethical behavior, spiritual experience) that cannot be had elsewhere; (2) many of us also believe that the terrible things that are sometimes done in the name of religion are the products not of faith per se but of our baser natures-forces like greed, hatred, and fear-for which religious beliefs are themselves the best (or even the only) remedy. Taken together, these myths seem to have granted us perfect immunity to outbreaks of reasonableness in our public discourse.

Many religious moderates have taken the apparent high road of pluralism, asserting the equal validity of all faiths, but in doing so they neglect to notice the irredeemably sectarian truth claims of each. As long as a Christian believes that only his baptized brethren will be saved on the Day of judgment, he cannot possibly "respect" the beliefs of others, for he knows that the flames of hell have been stoked by these very ideas and await their adherents even now...

While moderation in religion may seem a reasonable position to stake out, in light of all that we have (and have not) learned about the universe, it offers no bulwark against religious extremism and religious violence. The problem that religious moderation poses for all of us is that it does not permit anything very critical to be said about religious literalism. We cannot say that fundamentalists are crazy, because they are merely practicing their freedom of belief; we cannot even say that they are mistaken in religious terms, because their knowledge of scripture is generally unrivaled. All we can say, as religious moderates, is that we don't like the personal and social costs that a full embrace of scripture imposes on us. This is not a new form of faith, or even a new species of scriptural exegesis; it is simply a capitulation to a variety of all-too-human interests that have nothing, in principle, to do with God.

Unless the core dogmas of faith are called into question-i.e., that we know there is a God, and that we know what he wants from us-religious moderation will do nothing to lead us out of the wilderness...

Religious moderation, insofar as it represents an attempt to hold on to what is still serviceable in orthodox religion, closes the door to more sophisticated approaches to spirituality, ethics, and the building of strong communities.

Religious moderates seem to believe that what we need is not radical insight and innovation in these areas but a mere dilution of Iron Age philosophy. Rather than bring the full force of our creativity and rationality to bear on the problems of ethics, social cohesion, and even spiritual experience, moderates merely ask that we relax our standards of adherence to ancient superstitions and taboos, while otherwise maintaining a belief system that was passed down to us from men and women whose lives were simply ravaged by their basic ignorance about the world. In what other sphere of life is such subservience to tradition acceptable? Medicine? Engineering? Not even politics suffers the anachronism that still dominates our thinking about ethical values and spiritual experience."
Template migration to do list:

- Migrate template (with some judicious removals)
- Migrate Haloscan (Haloscan seems to work within the Blogger comments code. Since I haven't been using the Blogger comments system, and there isn't a way to do this automatically, this means I am faced with the prospect of manually enabling comments for 3912 posts - everything before this?! I will look for a way to hack this)
(I nixed the '<b:if cond='data:post.allowComments'>' and corresponding '</b:if>' tags so even if comments are disabled I can use Haloscan comments)

- Verbiage trimming
- Add recent comments widget
- Blend Google AdSense and Search colours (Half done. I'll use a colour picker later

(I moved the Search box so it would blend, since I have a feeling we can't modify the colour of the box)
- Adjust layer widths (This may be a bit tricky. I'll need to edit the frame border graphics to make them wider) (fixed thanks to ashke CSS and photoshop help)

- Add YACCS legacy link (forget it)
- Final tidying up


- Move comments into a better spot (I gave up. Maybe some time in the future)

Template migration is essentially DONE as of 1:11AM, August 30th (finally!).

Monday, July 09, 2007

Courtesy of Liquid Nitrogen:

Man Arrested After Telling Women They Were 'Extremely Beautiful'

"A man who told two women they were extremely beautiful was arrested on charges of harassment last week, Denver police said.

Police said 32-year-old Jeff John Hergert approached the women and "expressed interest in them." He told each woman in two separate incidents that they were extremely beautiful and that they should consider modeling.

Hergert was arrested and is being held on two counts of harassment. He is being held on a $10,000 bond."
"In the past quarter century, we exposed biases against other races and called it racism, and we exposed biases against women and called it sexism. Biases against men we call humor." - Warren Farrell

Nicole: shdnt it be feminism?


Pierre, a brave French fighter pilot, takes his girlfriend, Marie, out for a pleasant little picnic by the River Seine. It’s a beautiful day and love is in the air. Marie leans over to Pierre and says, "Pierre, kiss me!" Our hero grabs a bottle of Merlot and splashes it on Marie’s lips.

"What are you doing, Pierre?" says the startled Marie. "I am Pierre, the famous French fighter pilot! When I have red meat, I like to have red wine!" She smiles and they start kissing. When things began to heat up a little, Marie says, "Pierre, kiss me lower."

Our hero tears her blouse open, grabs a bottle of Chardonnay and starts pouring it all over her breasts. "Pierre! What are you doing?", asks the bewildered Marie. "I am Pierre the famous French fighter pilot! When I have white meat, I like to have white wine!" They resume their passionate interlude and things really steam up.

Marie leans close to his ear and whispers, "Pierre, kiss me lower!" Our hero, grabs a bottle of Cognac and pours it in her lap. He then strikes a match and lights it on fire. Marie shrieks and dives into the river.

Standing waist deep, Marie throws her arms upwards and screams furiously, "PIERRE, what in the hell do you think you’re doing?"

Our hero stands up, defiantly, and says, "I am Pierre the famous French fighter pilot! When I go down, I go down in flames!"

Sunday, July 08, 2007

I am currently attempting to migrate to a new template with the advanced Blogger features.

The dust will not settle for a while.
"It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf." - H. L. Mencken


Someone: see my nick? ("Is there such a thing as "when u meet the one... u will know?"")
wad do u think

Me: no I don't think so
there's no "the one"

partner finding can be thought of as an optimal control problem

Someone: i think so man

my fren just had the experience
and she's gg to marry him

Me: wah lao. he must either be very good, she must be very ineligible or she must be irrational (re: optimal control)

Someone else: wanna watch transformers?

nobody to watch with :(

i need more friends with the RIGHT kind of benefits

Me: hurr hurr
ask [Fuck Buddy 1] or [Fuck Buddy 2] lor

Someone else: fear of rejection lah

you fear being rejected for a movie?!?!

Someone else: nolah
the movie represents dating which represents interest

Me: !@#$%^&*()

MFM on Psycho Girls 1-3: Are all these psycho girls Christian?

Me: Actually they all are. Hmm. Maybe there's something to the good fruit theory after all...

Someone: hahaha
i dont really like traveling
but i like to see the world!

Me: wth?!

Someone: haha
no i mean
i dont really like plane rides

Me: gah

My Little Bird: women? why is a rational person like you doing trying to discuss a subject so irrational?

MFTTW: i have to say though, *** is very good at spewing out paragraphs ful of circular arguments
that's a sign of a well-trained singapore lit student!

Me: hahahahahaha

I don't know
they're so circular even I get confused
why don't you dissect them =D

MFTTW: i can't. they're circular. my brain doesn't work that way

honestly by the time i get to the end of a particular sentence i've forgotten what the beginning was about.
and i'm not even exaggerating

Me: hehe
me too!

one *** trick
overwhelm people

MFTTW: i'm certain it's not a lawyerly thing

oh phew. i'm glad it's not just me. i thought i was just stupid or something.

MFTTW: hurr yo uare sure that *** is not a bimbo?

maybe she's on crack
she sounds very spacey

Me: yeah well women
hurr hurr

see, where to find someone like you?!

MFTTW: science fac
or engin fac

but not hot

HWMNBN: women are like CIA black ops agents - it's all about plausible deniability

seriously women are masters of the reverse stroke... they always want to lure you into overreaching and then jujitsu you emotionally onto your face

at least women in our part of the world/culture
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a rich widow." - Evan Esar


One of the POCM updated Watchthatpage somehow missed (or maybe he just updated the site but not the updates page):

"How come scholars disagree; 200 years of Christian Scholarship in 455 words

All the way into the early 1800s thinking people generally believed the stories in the gospels were based on real events. The details weren't certain—maybe Jesus was divine maybe He wasn't, but he was a real person; maybe the "miracles" were supernatural, maybe they were natural events misunderstood by naive ancients, but at the core of each miracle was a real event in Jesus' life. Jesus was a real person. The gospels, however ham-handedly, record actual events. That's what pastors believed. And laymen. And professors. No careful, reasoned analysis convinced people otherwise.

Then, in 1835, this German kid (at 27 already a university lecturer, fluent in ancient languages and expert in NT scholarship) genamened David Strauss came out with a book he called The Life of Jesus Critically Examined—"the most pestilential book ever vomited out of the jaws of hell." Professor Strauss lost not just his job but his career. Angry believers never allowed him to teach again.

Dr. Strauss' buch went through the gospels miracle by miracle, analyzing the best rationalist explanations of each of them. What his book shows, over and over, is that the rationalist explanations were so contrived and self contradictory and far fetched, they couldn't be believed. That was a very big deal, because everybody now saw that the "history" in the gospels could not be real history. The unavoidable implication of David Friedrich Strauss' the Life of Jesus Critically Examined was that—is that—the gospel writers got their "history" by making it up. The gospel stories are not history, they are myth. Oops.

Here's where the relevance to modern scholarship comes in. Not everyone was willing to accept Dr. Strauss' results. Stubborn believing scholars couldn't out reason David Strauss, but they could refuse to think about his ideas. They simply put their fingers in their ears and insisted the bible is history, Jesus did the things described there. La, la, la, la la la la. Rational scholarship and (some of) believing scholarship split.

Even rationalist scholars who accepted Strauss' reasoning disagreed with each other.

Some focused on the myth part of non-historical myth. A school of late 19th and early 20th century scholars worked out theories of the pagan origins of the Christ myth. The bible is myth. The New Testament has no meaningful history. Jesus is a myth explained by His parallels with other ancient myths.

Because myth means "untrue," and untrue means "no meaning," and even non-literalist believing scholars were anxious to preserve the meaning of Christianity, most rationalist scholars fudged myth and focused on the non-historical part of non-historical myth. The NT is not direct history but it is, they imagined, history filtered through the beliefs and circumstances of the early church. Jesus was a real person. He can be rooted out by picking through the gospel stories for the historical kernel. Thus the Jesus Seminar and much of 20th century academic New Testament scholarship.

Non-literalist believers focused not on myth or historical rigor but the meaning of belief. The NT is, vaguely, allegorically, somehow-historically an image of the reflected echo of the eternal Godhead. Jesus too. Kumbaya.

Christian scholarship splintered. Scholars who understand the NT as myth write articles about...the NT as myth. Scholars who imagine the bible is literally true are unimpressed, and uninterested. Ditto the Jesus Seminar historical rationalists. Etc. Scholarship about Christianity's origins is busted into little pieces, everyone with their own wildly different theory about what the most basic facts are. Other than occasional long range sniping, scholars in the various camps don't even talk to each other. They can't. The other guy insists on gibbering nonsense.

Splitsville leads to...
"There is more historical evidence for Jesus than there is for George Washington"
I get this email from time to time, from nice, ernest people repeating what they heard in church. It's from a group of silly claims that do the rounds among bible literalist Christians. You can do it yourself. Just fill in the famous person blank. There is more evidence for Jesus than there is for:   Plato / Alexander the Great / Caesar / Washington / your_famous_person_here.

My answer to these emails runs, "Please list exactly the evidence you have in mind. List the evidence for Washington (Plato / Caesar / etc.). List the evidence for Jesus." They can't, of course. Checking the facts has honestly never occurred to them. And that's the point. That's what Splitsville does to "scholarship." It splits the thinking up into little camps of like minded people, camps where fundamental-axiom-wise everyone agrees with everyone else, and no one checks the facts. Or challenges the basic reasons.

The scholarship of Christian believers isn't about whether the Jesus stories are true, it's about how the Jesus stories are true. It's the same for the other side. Fashionable academic scholarship isn't about whether the Jesus People theory is true, it's about how the Jesus People theory is true.

Does this mean Ronald Nash, and Arthur Darby Nock are bad people? Are the Jesus Seminar professors out to cheat and lie? No it doesn't. No they're not. The Christian origins question is a tough one. Honest people disagree, honestly.

What it does mean is that fundamentally none of the scholarship is rigorous, and you can't depend on this scholar, or that one, to tell you what to think."

There's also a good page refuting the claim that Christianity seems to have been borrowed from the pagans because it borrowed from Judaism (ignoring the fact that one small, unimportant kingdom could not have had so much borrowed from it):

"Here's the set up:

1. We read about ancient Canaanite religion in Canaanite clay tablets dug up at Ras Shamara in Syria. (In ancient times the sign said Ugarit.)

2.We read about ancient Jewish religion from the Old Testament.

3. Ugarit fell centuries before Israel existed; so if there was borrowing, it had to be from Canaanite to Israelite.

What Dr. Smith points out is that a number of technical religious words are the same in Ugaritic as they are in Biblical Hebrew. He gives a list, and he gives citations so you can go look them up if that will make you happy..

His point is: "This incidence of highly specialized sacrificial terms suggests a common West Semitic heritage.""
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