When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it." - Laurence J. Peter


Comments on the anti-evolution nonsense talk from Law VCF:

A: Fairly big science community came down. Man it was such a lousy presentation. Full of quote mines and non sequitor. And massively evasive to boot. Wow...

He was so evasive that those who were rooting for him will be assured that nothing happened. Heh, he was expecting a friendly crowd but oh well...

Who else [but Law people] would come down when it's raining? Some from lky school though. Not sure about that [Cock's claim that half of NUS Law is fundie] but more evangelical than fundy i think. Anyway, in the endthe presentation was the argument from design using intelligent design.

I wouldn't have been so pissed off if he weren't so deceitful. Saying darwin wasn't religious. And then when I caught him out quotemining darwin, he dismissed it as a small matter. But yeah, part of it was the vcf's fault for portraying it as why evolution is wrong while id is right.

B: oh I went to the talk today. A was apoplectic throughout
thankfully there were some nus profs who took the guy apart more calmly

there were about 3-4 rows of ang mohs from the lky sch

well in the end I didn't ask any questions, mostly out of laziness, since there were so many other people who wanted to tear him apart anyway

certainly the VCF people seemed quite fundie

K. P. Mohanan: I was present at the talk yesterday. The problem, as I see it, is that neither Geisler nor his supporters understand -- let alone practice -- the norms of academic inquiry (with regard to what constitutes reliable evidence, what constitutes good reasoning, etc.). I am not a biologist, but I have an understanding of academic inquiry in relations to other traditions of knowledge, so I have been wondering if it would be useful for me give a talk in the Christian Law Society of NUS on this topic, with specific reference to intelligent design. Would you happen to know who to contact in the society? Please send me an email.

Mohanan (ellkpmoh@nus.edu.sg)

If anyone knows anyone in the Christian Law Society of NUS, please email KP Mohanan at the above email address.
"If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time." - Edith Wharton


My brother in law's VBL - he wore boxers under cycling shorts.

Cambodia Trip
Day 5 (27/9) - Genocide Day - Cheong Ek Killing Fields
(Part 2)

Although I didn't see any McDonalds or such, I did glimpse one Marybrown in the shopping centre we'd visited the previous day. If they want to get fast food, they should at least get good fast food!

For dinner we went to a New Age cafe where half the menu was vegetarian. The Viennese Iced Coffee there was more expensive than wine, but it's the first coffee beverage that I've ever liked (probably because it had vanilla ice cream, cinammon and little coffee inside).

Someone ordered a health club smoothie, but unfortunately it tasted exactly like it sounded, so it was the only drink at our table that was unfinished.

We then went to the Cheong Ek Killing Fields.

Strange rules; "No drugs use and distribution within the premises" - presumably drug use and distribution outside the premises is alright.

This monument was built in 1988. There're 8900+ (almost 9000) skulls inside (but for some reason there're no farmers' skulls inside).

Someone: Why're you taking a photo of the roosters?
Me: I like cocks.

My group got the bad tour guide, who was slightly unbalanced. Besides recounting his tales in a distanced manner, he kept asking us "do you understand?" after recounting some particularly gruesome detail (one choice bit was when he took skulls from the monument and described how each person had been killed). He also pointed out the victims' clothing - AFTER some of us had stepped on them.

Burial pit

More clothes

43 graves by the lake are not opened.

Tree from which a loudspeaker was hung to drown out victims' cries


They took babies by the legs and smashed them against this tree.

Mass grave


Rough tree which the disturbed guide asked us to feel. If the rough parts were pressed against flesh quickly and firmly enough, they could cut.

The site was very simple and bare in presentation. All the Khmer Rouge-era buildings had been knocked down and none reconstructed; there weren't even photographs or models to show us what the place used to look like. There were also few facts in writing.

Their extremely emotive and dramatised story. "They have the human form but their hearts are demon's hearts" - they seem unwilling and/or unable to accept that humans are capable of really nasty things.

Women are categorised separately from peasants, workers, intellectuals etc. How problematic.

Skulls back at the monument


Incense and flowers

People like to ask in response to each disaster: why didn't the West do anything? One reason is that anything the West does is problematised.

The 1992 intervention in Somalia was supposedly only undertaken because there was oil there. Iraq and Bosnia? Anti-Muslim. East Timor? They didn't come quickly enough (since they went through the UN). Kosovo? Illegal under International Law (since they didn't).

Even if you want to say that no one condones genocide and thus we can agree that it's wrong, problematisers can reply that the people who order the genocide are in favour of it, so opposition to genocide is not universal (I'm not making this up, someone did actually argue this to me - this is why academics should be read, not heard).

Seen: "Happy Beer Singapore". Funny, I'd never seen it in Singapore. Also seen in Phnom Penh: "Players Club". Uhh.

Banner: "Tourism: a leading agency for job creation and environmental protection". I get the former, but the latter?!

There was a "Visit Malaysia" billboard in Phnom Penh. Wth.

They had a "Ministry of Cult and Religions". Wth.

In Siem Reap I'd seen only 2 ang moh men with local 'girlfriends', but by this day I'd seen 5.

Various royal buildings

Sexy, sunburnt legs

More playing with the doggie

More sexy legs

We went to a NGO community project restaurant ("Romdeng") for dinner. It was one of the places valuing frills over practicality, with the lighting being so dim and the menu so hard to read that we were given torchlights, but the food was good. There, we experienced the highlight of our trip:

Tarantulas. They tasted like soft shell crab. Now that I've had them I want to try other strange foods too!

Tarantulas' description (US$2.50 for 3). I'm skeptical of Cambodian pork being renowned for its taste and quality though.

"Stir Fried Frogs Legs with Holy Basil. A dish that is known even in Europe."
And I'm a monkey's uncle.

Cambodia's most famous Muslim dish?! Wth.

Definitely not Cambodia's most famous Muslim dish. This was well cooked and the best dish I had in Cambodia. At $2.50 for this plate (supposedly 3 pieces) it wasn't a bad deal (but then again we didn't pay, so).

Someone had 3.5 shots of honey-flavoured rice wine for US$1. I was told that it tasted like crap, but for US$1 you couldn't argue.

Geckos on ceiling - Cambodia is gecko land. At least that beats being cockroach land like bolehland (oddly enough I don't recall seeing any roaches in Cambodia).

Someone said I should braid my hair so when I hit people with it it's like a rope, instead of a broom when I just use a simple hairtie. Unfortunately braiding's too troublesome, so.

Free condoms in the toilet. One person almost used one as a facewipe.

Contestations, negotiations and renegotiations over whether it's acceptable to expect your food to come within 2 hours. Supposedly in some countries, if you asked the chef where your food was after 2 hours, he'd say "wait 2 more", but I found this very unlikely.

Flashy altar
There're a lot of establishments with Chinese altars and/or Chinese words in Cambodia, especially in Phnom Penh.

For some reason, most Cambodian toilets had sanitary water jets (bidets only refer to getups with the bowls). Must be a cultural thing.


I heard you are a famous blogger. [Me: Evidently not famous enough for you to have heard {of me}, so no.]

Why're you taking a photo of the roosters? [Me: I like cocks.]

[Me on the Amazon Penis Fish and women: I've never seen a woman pee, so I can't say.] Oh my gosh, you've never seen a woman pee? [Me: Should I have?... I see you pee lah.] No, then I'll be Psychotic Girl 5 and sue you for sexual harassment.

[On how a guy invited her to smoke] 'Do it with me'

[On a pool game] It's Whites vs Asians.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"There's a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause." - P. J. O'Rourke


Someone: you could always cut bangs

they make you look younger
with that long hair

that's what girly magazines say

Me: haha
research where you need to deal with people sucks

lit review lit review lit review!

Someone else: i know
that's why i avoid research involving ppl

Someone: literature is so ideologically-uncritical

i hate relativism
like the idea that everything goes

but NOT everything goes
there exist power relations in our laiiiiivvvess

lit is like cda [Ed: Critical Discourse Analysis]
so i dont like cda

in cda everything goes u know
like this intepretation goes and that too etc
such a waste of time

Someone else: ***'s prettier than the average indian girl in singapore.
most of them have bad skin frm the curry

Frigid Girl: i don't think you angst much
that's the problem

you angst so little, people like PG4 think you're just callous

Someone: i realised that the chioer the girl is
the less she will work

but of coz
in some cases
the girl is not chio
and she work very less also

trust me.. i had such encounters before

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead." - Charles Bukowski


From Frigid Girl:

Wife’s Diary
Sunday night.
I thought he was acting weird.
We had made plans to meet at a cafe to have coffee.
I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset that I was a bit late, but he made no comment.
I asked him what was wrong.
He said, “Nothing.”
On the way home I told him that I loved him. He simply smiled and kept driving.
When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore.
He just sat there and watched TV; he seemed distant, absent.
Finally, I went to bed.
I cried until I fell asleep.
I don’t know what to do.
I’m almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else.
My life is a disaster.

Husband’s Diary
Today, Man U lost the match. DAMN IT!

Not from Frigid Girl:

At the retreat, Jill and John were told to individually write a sentence using the words 'sex' and 'love.'

Jill wrote: 'When two mature people are passionately and deeply in love with one another to a high degree and that they respect each other very much, just like John and I, it is spiritually and morally acceptable for them to engage in the act physical sex with one another.'

And John wrote: 'I love sex.'

[My Little Bird: uhh...is this a real story?

after finding out that a girl is actually madly in love with jiekai, i am willing to believe almost everything.]

At a party a guy cornered a girl and whispered something in her ear.

"You filthy pervert!" she shrieked. "What makes you think I'd let you do a thing like that to me?"

Then her eyes narrowed and she said, "Unless you're the s.o.b. that stole my diary..."

A mother and her very young son were flying Southwest Airlines from Kansas City to Chicago. The little boy (who had been looking out the window) turned to his mother and asked, "If big dogs have baby dogs, and big cats have baby cats, why don't big airplanes have baby airplanes?"

The mother (who couldn't think of an answer) told her son to ask the flight attendant, so the boy went down the aisle and asked the flight attendant.

The flight attendant, who was very busy at the time, smiled and said, "Did your Mom tell you to ask me?"

The boy said, "Yes she did."

"Well, then, you go and tell your mother that there are no baby airplanes because Southwest always pulls out on time. Have your Mom explain that to you."
Cambodia Trip
Day 5 (27/9) - Genocide Day - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
(Part 1)

My roommate had bought some fruit chips, and looking at the label to find out what fruits were in the packet, I reassuringly found that the the main ingredient was "Some kinds of fruits"

I didn't buy any snacks back because the packaged food (except Amok Fish) was all Vietnamese or Thai.

The previous day, in my search for pretentious T-shirts (ie those not saying "Cambodia" in English) at the market I'd found one design with a bulldog wearing a blue beret and the word "UNTAC". Unfortunately they didn't have it in my size.

At first I was quite disappointed that we didn't get a room with a river view, but not only did the corridors open out onto balconies, the river also looked like this:

So it wasn't much of a loss

Another river scene while I was being ASAP when the others were breakfasting where we had lunch the previous day. It had been opened by the Singapore ambassador - no wonder we went there to dine.

For breakfast there was this interesting yogurt with corn and what the packet said was lotus nuts but seemed more like large red beans to me. It wasn't very popular with the girls, who were culinarily conservative (even if not in other aspects).

Street outside hotel and along river

Cavorting in the bus

Entrance to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Museum rules. I liked "Please sit in an appropriate manner" (presumably for the ladies) and "Please be concentrated (sic) spiritually and physically in order to pay respect to the souls of victims who died unjust (sic) at the place"

No laughing

Graves of the last 13 victims of the place. In the last days of the regime, the Khmer Rouge were killing each other.

Most people at the facility died of starvation.

Original bed of one of the last 13 victims. When the Vietnamese soldiers came in a week after the person's death, 2 birds and a pig were eating his body. The flower on the bedframe is a frangipani - it would seem that it has the same meaning here as in Malaysia (which makes that Frangipani massage parlour even weirder). The box you see on the bedframe was the prisoner's toilet. My notes also read "pour alcohol in" so I assume that's how the box has been sanitised for display.

Liberation photo

Camp rules. You will notice they're longest in French.

Another bed, and the corresponding photo. The guy was killed with the shovel blade which was found embedded in his head when the Viets came.
The doors and windows were closed so that people outside wouldn't hear the noise. Considering that this was in the tropics, you can see how that would make the suffering even worse.

Another bed and photos

The Gallows

8-14 year old Khmer Rouge interrogators who were brainwashed.

Many Khmer Rouge people executed people because if not, they themselves would be executed and indeed some were.

Victims who were meticulously given serial numbers. Those with the same serial numbers were arrested at the same time. Fortunately they weren't as efficient as the Nazis.

Victims' clothes

Kid victims

Victims and their many ways of dying

Foreigners who lost their passports were also brought here and killed.

In all, the detention centre had 7 survivors, but they survived only because they escaped when they were brought out to the Killing Fields.

Our guide said that as a young girl she had escaped to Vietnam with her mother and sister. Living near there, they'd walked over over a week.

You can see that some skulls are still blindfolded.

The death smirks are morbid.

Barbed wire outside building to prevent suicide.

Moving to another building

Cells. They had no doors because prisoners were chained to them. They were also not allowed to talk to each other.

I found this morbid and bizarre.

Chair used to photograph the victims

Any attempt to divine the feelings of the Cambodian people on this matter is problematic; if you speak to people you will get an unrepresentative sample and a referendum can be manipulated (the framing of the questions, a skewed campaign to influence the elctorate and preventing some people from voting and the like), so we can't say anything about it.

The Green Revolution

This photographer proclaimed that by taking photos of photos, he would present them in a new light. Bah.

All in all, I'm glad the Cambodian genocide happened. God would be less than perfectly good if he had restricted human free will, preventing us from being autonomous moral agents with moral responsibility for our fellows, and prevented the Khmer Rouge from doing all these horrible things. Furthermore, the sympathy, compassion and moral condemnation generated in people not just in the past and now but also in future generations more than outweighs the suffering of the victims.

Torture implements

Plucking out someone's fingernails and pouring alcohol on the raw flesh

Plucking out a woman's nipples. If no one had told me, I'd have thought it was a man but extreme skinniness probably accounts for this.

I shall segue slightly at this point to note that since Cambodian women were generally dressed conservatively, I was unable to confirm some suspicions I had. I could've looked at the local equivalents of SPGs, but here I would run into the problem of selection bias.

Creation of a Communist Paradise - Phnom Penh

Theodicies could be adapted to justify the extents the Khmer Rouge went to in their attempt to create a Communist Paradise, with their being substituted for God. Indeed, in many ways theodicy becomes easier since Communism is neither perfect nor omnibenevolent (and doesn't claim to be), and no humans can be omnipotent or omniscient. Also, since most of the deaths were not deliberate but rather the result of starvation or hardship, and that in pursuit of an ultimate good (the radical transformation of the country into a Communist Paradise) the Khmer Rouge weren't actually that bad.

Indeed, one could say that genocide is none of our business and that it is an ethnocentric act of neo-Imperialism and an unacceptable breach of sovereignty to condemn (yet alone to intervene in) the country's internal affairs (I was trying to look for a quote from China I remember about wishing a country going through some political turmoil happiness, but can't find it).


Skull pit

Killing fields

Map of Cambodia made from skulls. Apparently it used to hang here, but no more. Oh well.

Map showing detention centres and killing fields. There were 343 killing sites (red) and 167 prisons (yellow - but this was the largest). There're 77 stupas and genocide memorials.

Politicised casualty figures - They arrived at a figure for the number of deaths (3 million - the highest estimate among the lot) during the period after a petition from one million survivors. Maybe every survivor knew 3 people who died, so they multiplied the number of survivors by 3 to get this figure.

Anthropomorphising and mystifying bones

Notice the missing language. Damn French. This given how many exhibits were not bilingual (let alone trilingual) but only in English.

Another back shot. I was curious why there was no VPL since these pants were being raved about as being extremely thin, but apparently they weren't tight enough.

I liked this shirt, though I disagreed with the last version of "missionary" (supposedly - spreading Democracy with a gun; common Iraqis have taken pretty enthusiastically to it, and sectarian killings aside I'm sure everyone prefers it to dictatorship)

There wasn't as much moralising or politicising of the tragedy as in Dachau - the good and bad guys weren't identified or even mentioned; there was some accusation of the Khmer Rouge leaders, but this was in small print on the wall in interviews with victims, rather than presented as part of the museum's narrative (through the guides and the scarce information panels). In some ways, this made the exposition more effective.

Yet, the museum also did not give a clear narrative - who were the Khmer Rouge and why did they do all of this? This would've confused many visitors who did not know much about this period of Cambodian history even if the visual impact remained. One reason for the lack of a narrative might be that they were wary of critics problematising any narratives they came up with, and decided to save themselves the effort. Another might be difficulties in coming to terms with their recent past, especially given how many ex-Khmer Rouge have been rehabilitated (if they tried everyone including accomplices, maybe 10% of the country would be behind bars).

Interestingly, while there was almost no information on the ground floor (very few photographs were captioned, and even then it was just a few words in Khmer) the upper floor had slightly more information (eg the politicised casualty figures. See also the next 2 photos). Maybe they were done by different people.

Defaced Khmer Rouge leader, Son Sen. (our tour had ended on the floor below, which explains the implied license given to vandalise)

For some reason Pol Pot's portrait is gone. Either it got defaced they had to remove it or someone carted it away as a souvenir.

Someone was telling me that Slavery had deadened his emotions. It would be interesting to compare the emotional reactions to traumatic stimuli of males and females before slavery and after, and see if there was a significant difference in the difference.


My friends and I always like to talk about our shit.
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