When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question." - Albert Camus


"One example was during the period of the Sultanate of Melaka. According to its maritime law, it was possible for anybody who was fishing on a boat in the Melaka harbour to catch anything caught by his fishing hook, including the wife of a captain. So if you were to catch the wife of a captain with your fishing hook, you could have her."

"I once had a visitor in my office in NUS in the early 1970s. This man had a problem. Apparently, his problem was a lost brother. I asked him where his brother was lost. In all seriousness, he told me that his brother was lost in the Kallang River. I became curious. How can you get lost in the Kallang River where everybody can see you wherever you go? Apparently, he believed that he has a twin brother who was a crocodile. Although this is something which does not harm other people, I am sure it will harm him. He may be spending unnecessary time on the problem. I do not know whether he is sane. But then you will be very surprised that there are thousands of people who believe him. If I were to take him to Rembau, Kuala Pulai and Seremban and meet the people there, thousands would believe him."

--- The New Malay: His Role and Future / Syed Hussein Alatas (1996)

"In the early post-war years a series of articles appeared in Singapore's English-language press about the plight of poor Malay farmers and fishermen by a then little known writer. This C.H.E. Det is now better known as Mahathir Mohamad."

--- Other Malays: Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the Modern Malay World / Joel S. Kahn.

"In Singapore 98 per cent of Malays are Muslims. Malays make up 99.3 per cent of the total Muslim population in Singapore (1980 Population Census of Singapore, Department of Statistics"
I always thought the former figure was more than 99% and the latter 95% at most, but then these statistics are outdated.

"Since the PAP's inception in 1955, its democratic socialist label has always been vague... Particularly after Singapore's expulsion from Malaysia in 1965, the PAP government began to gravitate from its earlier democratic socialist platform which aimed 'to abolish the inequality of wealth' (Petir, 1958: 2)... Indicative of its ideological metamorphosis, the PAP's democratic socialist ideal of creating 'a more just and equal society' was formally discarded in the party constitution in 1982... Compared to the parsimonious social welfare expediture of the state (Ramesh, 1992), its generous spending on various elite programmes has been justified in cold instrumentalist terms."

"The [HDB] ethnic residential quotas have ensured that the Chinese remained the numerically and electorally dominant community in all constituencies. Far from establishing a multiracial environment in all public housing estates, constituencies such as Hougang, where the Chinese make up approximately 80 per cent of the total population, have been allowed to remain Chinese residential enclaves. The contradictory logic underpinning the ethnic residential quotas was noted by Tremewan (1994: 66): 'By this logic, a block which has 87 per cent Chinese residents is not a racial enclave but a block which has 26 per cent Malay residents is a racial enclave.' Whilst the emerging Malay residential enclaves have been vigilantly nipped in the bud in the name of multiracialism, the strong Chinese residential enclaves in public housing estates like Hougang have remained. Moreover, the exclusive private residential estates off Holland Road and Bukit Timah Road where Malays are negligibly represented have not been the focus of the government's concern. The policy also contradicts the PAP government's exhortations for greater family support, filial piety, and the maintenance of traditional culture as the quotas can hinder those who wish to live near their families...

Rabushka's (1971: 91-107) study found that it was common for people living in ethnically homogeneous areas to adopt favourable attitudes towards other ethnic groups. Further, people who resided in ethnically mixed areas but did not mix with other ethnic groups also were found to hold negative attitudes towards others. He postulated that physical proximity coupled with superficial interaction across ethnic lines may in fact lead to heightened contempt for other ethnic groups... physical ethnic proximity in large cities may well engender 'mutual revulsion' and a heightening of ethnocentrism."

"Given the reliance of the Malay based party PKMS on Malay electoral support, the GRC requirement has effectively prevented the party from contesting in the GRC constituencies... The GRC system has tended to discourage ethnic minority candidates in the GRC team from raising politically sensitive issues specific to the ethnic minority community in order to avoid accusations of ethnic chauvinism and weaken the GRC team's electoral support from the dominant ethnic community. Thus, under the multiethnic slating regime, ethnic minority candidates tend to be pressurized into focusing on neutral national issues that are not specific to the concerns of the ethnic minority community... during the 1991 electoral campaign in the marginal Eunos GRC, the Workers Party candidated Juffrie Mahmood was accused by the PAP leadership and the media of pandering to communal politics and ethnic chauvinism... [Goh Chok Tong and Lee Hsien Loong] have acknowledged that their allegations of communalism against Juffrie helped to clinch the critical votes required to win the marginal Eunos ward."

--- The Singapore dilemma : the political and educational marginality of the Malay community / Lily Zubaidah Rahim.

"The researcher's status as a young, white mother was unthreatening, yet curious enough to the Malay housewives that they were willing to invite her in and answer questions."

"The strongest challenge to the assumption that the household is an income-pooling unit has come from women's studies. Feminist analysis has refuted the thesis that the household is a non-exploitative, intrinsically democratic and co-operative unit operating in the interests of all its members."
Creationist analysis also shows that Evolution is false.

"There has been discrimination both for and against Malays during Singapore's history... The Malays were positively favoured as employees bythe British, particularly in the uniformed services (army, police, fire) and in some related clerical, transport, and personal services. In 1957, almost 20 per cent of Malay working men were employed in the uniformed services... Malay youth were not called up for National Service during the 1970s, and some were still not being called up in 1984. Those who were called up claimed to be placed only in menial capacities, and always excluded from the airforce, commando, and tank units which are the key units in Singapore's defence system.

There was an unfortunate side effect to the non-recruitment of Malays into National Service. Employers in Singapore are generally unwilling to recruit or train young male workers who have not completed National Service or obtained exemption papers as these youths can be called up at any time. Since Malays were not officially exempted from National Service, Malay youths were uable to obtain apprenticeships or regular jobs, and many were forced into an extended limbo period of about ten years from ages 14 to 24... [this] was in part responsible for the high percentage of Malay youths who became involved in heroin abuse during the late 1970s."

"In his study of Malay and Chinese workers in large Singapore establishments, Deyo (1983: 223) found that there is no basis for the belief that Chinese workers are more materialistic, hard-working or ambitious than Malay workers"
Any introductory statistics student can point out that this study suffers from selection bias.

"When not making general, ethnic statements, Malays draw distinctions between different types of Chinese. Malaysian and Indonesian Chinese and the Peranakan (descended from early Chinese settlers) are often thought to be more courteous, having learned from the Malays, while Singapore Chinese... are known as 'hill Chinese' and felt to be the most coarse and 'low class'."

"[Some] Malay contractors... claim to have their bids consistently undercut by Chinese competitors, convincing them that the Chinese firm is making a loss with the intention of eliminating the Malay enterprise."
And the polio vaccine is meant to make them sterile.

"Entrepreneurs felt that all other Malays, whether traders, customers, kin, or neighbours, were jealous of their success and were engaged in schemes to cause their downfall. Malay entrepreneurs described the attitude of other Malays towards them as jealous (iri hati), angry (panas hati), dissatisfied (tidak puas hati), upset (sakit hati, susah hati), encious (sakit mata), or evil (busuk hati)... One entrepreneur with an established retail outlet stated that 'if you have two Malay shops side by side, selling the same product, but one has more customers because he is more friendly, the other will be envious and upset; so he will lower his prices to sell at a loss, until both shops are bankrupt, but he will feel satisfied'. Besides competition from other entrepreneurs, Malay businessmen or women often feel threatened by gossip or rumous the Malay public may spread about them, or by witchcraft which can harm them physically and prevent them from continuing to do business."
Maybe this is the myth of the jealous native.

"One established trader chose to site his shop far away from areas of intensive Malay settlement because 'there are too many Malays there, they get jealous and try to put a curse on you, or say you are mean and spread stories about you'. A woman involved in petty retail was equally explicit: 'I don't sell my things here in the kampong. I have a lot of friends, especially other races, and I sell to them. Round here there are too many stories.' Other traders prefer to do business with Malays, but avoid their own neighbourhood."

"The assumed social, moral, and ethnic bond that links all Malays, and that is held to characterize them as Malays, makes it impossible for any Malays to conduct pure business relations within their own community."

"The widespread and deeply held belief among Malays in Singapore is that their problems and disadvantages have been imposed on them on a racial basis by the Chinese majority... There is no doubt that some discrimination does occur, but it is also the case that the tendency to see Singapore society as divided on racial lines, and Malay disadvantages as stemming from race, has distracted Malay attention from the process of economic differentiation, which also has a great impact in shaping the conditions of their daily lives."

--- Malays in Singapore: Culture, Economy, and Ideology / Tania Li
New blog picture:

Take back the web

Friday, October 26, 2007

Russian National Chamber Orchestra
Pinchas Zukerman, director / violin
Amanda Forsyth, cello

VIVALDI : "Autumn" from the Four Seasons, RV 293
VIVALDI : Concerto for Violin and Cello in B flat, RV 547
BACH : Violin Concerto in E, BWV 1042
MOZART : Symphony No 36 in C, K425 (Linz)

Vernon and I were asked to leave our bags at the entrance checkpoint. This is the first time I've ever been asked to leave my bag outside. Vernon attributes this to our coming relatively late and the ushers needing to look like they're doing work.

The concert was not very well attended. Even at our poor people section half the seats were filled at most (maybe this is why we don't get Baroque music in Singapore). Since this was Baroque music, they carted in a harpsichord, so I've finally seen one in Singapore.

Autumm did not start off well. It was ponderous most of the way, and though it picked up a bit after the start the orchestra still lacked life and levity. Zukerman was alright, though his playing was not as flavorful as I expected and his violin was somewhat squeaky (let's blame the humidity, but then presumably the rehearsal room is air-conditioned). The second movement was alright and the third had a very warm sound, embodying the cheer of the season. He seemed to play tutti (with the violins) suka suka (anyhow), often breaking off in mid bow to wipe or adjust something.

The violin and cello concerto started off with a brighter tone, which was good, and Zukerman's violin had become less squeaky. Unfortunately, throughout the concerto the soloists' communication and chemistry wasn't quite there. Among other things, they didn't look at each other.

[Addendum: The two are married. Hurr hurr.]

The violin concerto was probably the best of the pieces. It started off with everyone sounding confident, and the movement was warm, ripe and bursting with flavour. Vernon thought it was too straightforward, but even in a world of wines there is room for grape juice. The second movement was poignant. However, in the third everyone sounded overeager; Vernon thinks it was overcompensation for evenness towards the end of the second.

After the intermission we had Linz. Throughout the movement the French Horns had trouble, with both players turning their instruments upside down and fiddling with them repeatedly and thus it was no surprise that funny sounds ("ratty") kept coming from them (perhaps it was a valve problem). Other than that, I had no comments (this is usually a good thing). MFM would probably have found it banal, but then it's a nice type of banality.

The sound was not as intimate as I expected from a Chamber orchestra, but we were far away (and once again maybe you can blame the humidity).

Forsyth wore a simple sun dress, which was quite odd given the gowns they usually wear. Perhaps Saturday will have something else in store.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Goldberg Variations by Alexey Botvinov

Overall I found the music too legato (smooth). This is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if one wishes to exploit the potential of the piano and aim for a less-antiquated style, but some parts seemed rushed and coupled with the liberal use of the sustain pedal, many notes blurred into each other which seemed messy (for this work).

Of course, I am a harpsichord fan and am sympathetic to the concept of HIP (Historically Informed Performance); using a harpsichord disciplines you and forces you to articulate each note properly, exploit the trills and ornamentations to link notes and play around with the stops.

I think I also detected some rubato (jiggling note durations around) which contributed to the more Romantic feel. If nothing, it stopped me from falling asleep (hurr hurr).

I really don't like most of the slow and/or melancholy variations.

At a few points in the performance, one member of the audience was channeling Glenn Gould, which was very annoying.
"All romantics meet the same fate someday. Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe." - Joni Mitchell


On Thio Li-Ann:

Cock: Actually, Thio Li Ann made a valid point about the debate over 377a:


However, I have noted a disturbing phenomenon over the 377A debate– the argument by insult. Instead of reasoning, some have resorted to name-calling to intimidate and silence their opponents. People with principled moral objections to the homosexual agenda are tarred and feathered 'homophobes', 'bigots', to shut them up. This strategy is unoriginally imported from foreign gay activists, which stifles creative thinking and intellectual enquiry.

When you shout, full of sound and fury, and call your opponents nasty names, this terminates public debate. No one wants to be called a bigot. But think about it – if I oppose incest, am I an incestophobe? If I oppose alcoholism, am I a winophobe? If having an opinion means you are bigoted, then we are all bigots! What is your phobia?

Where certain liberals accuse their opponents of being intolerant, they demonstrate their own intolerance towards their opponents! They are hoist on their own petard, guilty of everything they accuse their detractors of!

One of my colleagues, a young professor, suffered these vicious tactics when the Straits Times published an article this May where Yvonne Lee argued against repealing 377A. This well-researched, cogent article so incensed homosexual activists that they flooded her with a torrent of abusive, lewd emails and wrote to her head of department calling for her to be removed from her job. This appeared to be a co-ordinated campaign.

We academics are used to disagreement, but why write to her employer and threaten her livelihood? Why vilify someone and seek to assassinate their personal and professional reputation? I hope the House joins me in deploring these malicious attacks which also assault academic freedom. She is owed an apology. I would be ashamed to belong to any academic institution that cravenly bowed down to such disgraceful bully-boy tactics.

This August, I had my own experience with this sort of hysterical attack. I received an email from someone I never met, full of vile and obscene invective which I shall not repeat, accusing me of hatemongering. It cursed me and expressed the wish to defile my grave on the day 377A was repealed.

I believe in free debate but this oversteps the line. I was distressed, disgusted, upset enough to file a police report. Does a normal person go up to a stranger to express such irrational hatred?

Smear tactics indicate the poor quality of debate and also, of character. Let us have rational debate, not diatribe, free from abusive rhetoric and tantrum-throwing. As Singapore approaches her Jubilee, My hope for the post-65 generation is that we will not become an uncivil civil society borne from an immature culture of vulgarity which celebrates the base, not the noble.

I speak, at the risk of being burned at the stake by militant activists. But if we don't stand for something, we will fall for anything. I was raised to believe in speaking out for what is right, good and true, no matter the cost. It is important in life not only to have a Brain, but a Spine.


Given what we do know about the tone of some commentators on this mailing list....*AHEM*.

A: Can anyone tell me how to access Singapore Hansard? I want a softcopy in print of Thio Li Ann's shameful comments on 377A in Parliament, which I intend to write an article on in the student press.

Cock: Like a lot of good it would do, telling all of Oxford that Thio's a homophobe all over the Oxford Student and Cherwell. What's that supposed to achieve? Make her ex-college embarrassed enough not to give her an honorary degree?

B: The opponents of sexual freedom are just as likely to call gays and/or queer-friendly people "immoral", "unnatural", "sinful" and "diseased", as they are to be called "homophobes" and "bigots". I don't object to phenomenon of such labelling; but I would wish to counter the reasoning and reject the sensibilities that lay behind them, i.e. I would address the substance of what is being said, not the fact that it is said with strong negative overtones.

I found it bizarre at the time that Yvonne Lee could regard being VERBALLY LABELLED a "homophobe" and a "bigot" as "chilling" of her free speech, while apparently thinking that THREATENING STATE VIOLENCE (in the form of a criminal statute) against gay sex is not intimidating, so long as there are all kinds of unreliable (because wholly non-binding) assurances re non-prosecution. Thio's analogous position is similarly bafflingly small-minded.

No, there isn't much instrumental value in directing swearfestes at bigots. But that's a separate question from calling them "homophobes", which they are, and "bigots", which they are. And even where profanities are concerned, notice that these are people in privileged positions trying to take the language of anger away from people who are disenfranchised. That is, unfortunately, a common theme of conversations about "civility". The fact is when people have the power to crap all over your life, swearing back at them is small change. All it would take for her to stop being "vilified" by WORDS would be for her to stop supporting HURTING other people through ACTION. Fair's fair?

Me: Actually I agree with the extract from Thio's speech, except for the "homophobe" and "bigot" thing.

Would she be against the terms "racist" and "bigot" if they were used to describe those we consider racist and bigoted?

As for the threats of state violence, I observe again that from 1988 to 2003 (and AFAIK and most probably from 2003 till today), consenting, homosexual sex between adults has not been punished.

I might point out that this year is the 20th anniversary of Operation Spectrum (aka the "'Marxist' 'Conspiracy'"). Today, Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2 - formerly The Working Committee 2) does pretty much the same thing that 20 years ago got many social workers and professionals detained, and that anyone claiming that there is a THREAT OF STATE VIOLENCE (in the form of a criminal statute) against civil society work will be dismissed as paranoid and hysterical.

A: Jiekai, you have once again demonstrated your stupidity. If you had bothered to read the shit posted on keep377A.com you will note that large amounts of it qualify as hate speech. Saying 'fuck' and 'shit' may be profane, but it isn't hateful. Saying 'they are a disease and they should not go near my children' is hate speech.

AND YVONNE LEE's article was NOT WELL RESEACHED. It was a piece of moralistic AND ignorant propaganda.

It's LAUGHABLE that Thio compares her experience to being 'burned at the stake' just because people have pointed out that she is a homophobe, a bigot, and an ignorant and moralistic bitch.

I have the profoundest respect for those, Alibgensians, Lollards, Catholics, Protestants, etc, who endured the flames in centuries past for their beliefs. To compare herself to their brave example would be ragingly funny, were it not so ludicrous.

Anyway, allow me to share with you one of my favourite passages from Mill's 'On Liberty', which I think is most apropos here:


'Before quitting the subject of freedom of opinion, it is fit to take some notice of those who say, that the free expression of all opinions should be permitted, on condition that the manner be temperate, and do not pass the bounds of fair discussion. Much might be said on the impossibility of fixing where hte supposed bounds are to be placed; for if the test be offence to those whose opinion is attacked, I think experience testifies that this offence is given whenever the attack is telling and powerful, and that every opponent who pushes them hard, and whom they find it difficult to answer, appears to them, if he shows any strong feeling on the subject, an intemperate opponent.'

Damn right.

Me: Perhaps this is true for the circles you move in, but I know many people who are able to disagree civilly.

Cock: I think that calling her a bitch is extremely unfair. I am very sure she is acting in good faith ( pun fully intended). It isn't her fault that she should have been brainwashed by her religion to believe that homosexuals are sub-human. Most people are born with a tendency to do that.

Derogatory terms are best reserved for people who do know better but sit on the fence and aren't willing to stand for anything. Like the whole bunch of vote-retaining politicians in parliament who just want to avoid the issue because they know their own popularity has been shaken by their forcing through unpopular CPF changes.

C: I usually do not post on this forum and am quite happy to just read the comments of others. however, since this touches on Thio Li-Ann, who incidentally, was my public law tutor last academic year, I think a few fair comments are in order. I assure you that Thio's comments in Parliament do not stem from a personal prejudice against homosexuality. She is essentially trying to make 2 points. First, that any call for repeal of S377A must be premised upon sound legal reasoning which she feels the abolitionist camp lacks. *snip* Thio's comments are made from, I believe, a purely objective assessment of the situation as it stands in Singapore today. She is in no way a gay bashing homophobe as some would like to believe. That being said, I am not however, saying that I agree with her arguments or POV. I'm merely trying to dispel the fact that she is a "disgrace to her profession". If anything, I have always had great respect for the intellectual rigour that Thio encourages and imposes on her classes.

Thio's intentions are probably masked by the strong language that she uses. But then, again, that's very characteristic of her, both in the way she writes and speaks. In any case, for a commentary with less fire and that most would find more palatable, read Hri Kumar's comments on the same topic.

D: i would just like to attest to C's observation about Prof Thio Li-Ann, because I was in her class too. she's an extraordinary teacher who constantly reminded her students, amongst other things, that we should value freedom of speech and exercise it responsibly. she is currently sitting in Parliament as an NMP and i believe she has the right to share her views on why s 377a should be retained, much as how Siew Kum Hong has the right to speak for repealing s 377a. it's extremely unfair to say that she's a disgrace to her profession by virtue of the views she has.

i must also add that i have not been "brain-washed" by Prof Thio in any way - in fact i support the repeal, but at the same time i believe we should agree to disagree and she's entitled to her views.

on another note, there has been too much name-calling by both camps in this debate, and it certainly does not develop the arguments by using terms such as "bigot" and "faggot". we might all be missing the real point of the argument in the midst of this name-calling exercise.

E: Eye for an eye what.

Since the establishment regularly loves to fire activists lose their job (e.g. teaching), it's only the activists' right to retaliate and make them lose their job

After all, do labels really threaten freedom of speech? What hypocrisy especially given the labelling tactics the establishment has been using?

>I think that calling her a bitch is extremely unfair.

I am sure losing your job on the basis of your sexuality is pretty fair too, hein?



"To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is cruelty." - Maximilien Robespierre

A: [Thio] has degrees from Oxford, Harvard and Cambridge. Just because she is able to put an intellectual gloss on her homophobia, doesn't mean she isn't homophobic.

Thio Li Ann is a bitch because she uses her position and her credentials to suggest that [the criminalisation of homosexuality is] a matter of controversy and debate, whereas it is only so IN HER MIND. The rest of the thinking world, praise be to God, has moved on.

> I'm merely trying to dispel the fact that she is a "disgrace to her profession". If
> anything, I have always had great respect for the intellectual rigour that Thio
> encourages and imposes on her classes.

I renew my accusation that she is a disgrace to her profession. She is intellectually dishonest: as I said, she implies that there is a debate about this issue, when in fact there isn't one. She is no better than David Irving or historians who argue that the holocaust did not happen. There is no debate on that issue, just as there is no debate on this one.

If you don't believe this, I challenge you to find even ONE article, written by a law professor in an OECD country, in which the criminalisation of homosexuality is defended.

(I agree that Scalia seems to have defended a similar position in his dissent to Lawrence v. Texas, but in fact his dissent was based on an originalist reading of state's rights. Scalia may or may not have been right to argue that there is no constitutional right to sodomy in the US constitution, but that is completely separate from the *legislative* question of whether such a law should exist in the first place.)

B: What does her "entitlement" to her views entail? Surely not immunity from criticism if they are wrongheaded and harmful. Surely not silence as to how disingenuous her arguments are. Of course she has the "right" to her views: nobody is suggesting for an instant that she be forced to shut up or coerced to change her mind. But that doesn't stop them from being disgraceful.

Me: So do you support the letter-writing campaign to make her lose her job?

If so, is that not forcing her to shut up or coercing her to change her mind?

If not, good for you!

B: Depends on the grounds for the call. If the letter writers bona fide believe and the university administrators are bona fide persuaded that she is unfit for the job (i.e. actually unable to do what the job is required to do, which may or may not include reflecting a particular ethos and creating a particular environment in the institution), that seems OK to me. I have to say Yvonne Lee's legal abilities at least in that one article don't seem too hot.

F: Isn't there something like tenure in NUS, which would protect professors from getting sacked over such things?

I would absolutely not join a campaign to sack a professor on the basis of his/her opinions, because I don't think a university should attempt to reflect an ethos of any sort apart from the ethos of free intellectual inquiry. So unless Thio Li Ann is suggesting that we erase all pro-homosexual writings from the face of the earth or something like that, I don't think the university should sack her. Of course, it is not *morally wrong* for university administrators to want their institution to reflect a certain ethos, but I certainly think it is *inadvisable* to have such policies if one has any intention of making a university great.

A: But that is my point: do you honestly believe that someone who argued strongly in favour of gay rights -- gay marriage, gay adoption, the whole shebang -- would find a class by Thio Li Ann to be a haven of free intellectual inquiry?

Are you kidding me?

Me: Would someone who argued strong against gay rights find a class by a pro-gay Professor to be a haven of free intellectual inquiry?

F: A class, any class, is not a 'haven of free intellectual inquiry'. Classes are not meant to be such things. Every instructor has an idea of what they want their students to learn and will attempt to 'influence' their students' thoughts to that extent. The point of having tenure is to ensure that there is freedom of intellectual inquiry for university *scholars* (and I mean that in the general, non-Singaporean sense of 'scholar'), so that they are not pressured to take up intellectual positions for non-intellectual reasons. Students, I'm afraid, are irrelevant to the concept of tenure, which is meant to protect intellectual exploration and not teaching standards or whatever. I don't see how it matters whether someone in favour of gay rights finds Thio's class worthwhile, and in any case a couple of law students have spoken up here for the quality of her teaching in topics other than homosexuality. It is a necessary cost of having freedom of inquiry that some people will exploit it to promote an utterly wrong worldview. Once you start legislating which worldviews your researchers are supposed to hold, you lose sight of the whole point of research, which involves questioning those worldviews themselves. Whether those worldviews are justified is an issue to be settled by such questioning and not by university administrators, except for the worldview that intellectual inquiry should be suppressed, since *that* would be contrary to the purpose of the university.

Essentially, I'm saying that we should never, ever sack professors on the basis of their opinions (assuming their scholarly work meets the standards required to attain tenure, and I assume Thio's work on constitutional law did), no matter how repugnant they are, for the simple reason that university administrators and 'the public' cannot be trusted to take the 'correct' ideological stances (other than that of freedom of intellectual inquiry). Furthermore, any such action, no matter how apparently justifiable for a particular case, would deter people with radical ideas from speaking out in fear that they would face similar consequences. And the suppression of radical ideas is simply counter to the nature of intellectual inquiry itself. Radical ideas should be tested in the intellectual battlefield, not in the political battlefield.

I am not saying that I think it possible that Thio's radical stance is actually correct. Instead, I am saying that the rule that intellectual inquiry must be kept sacrosanct, otherwise it will be abused too easily, if not now, then in the future when perhaps less 'wise' university administrators see fit to discriminate against people they find repugnant. If putting up with Holocaust deniers and homophobes is a consequence of this protection, well I consider it a small price to pay for keeping a rule that ensures freedom of intellectual inquiry.

E: But why should we spare her when they have not spared us?

Me: "This great purity of the French revolution's basis, the very sublimity of its objective, is precisely what causes both our strength and our weakness. Our strength, because it gives to us truth's ascendancy over imposture, and the rights of the public interest over private interests; our weakness, because it rallies all vicious men against us, all those who in their hearts contemplated despoiling the people and all those who intend to let it be despoiled with impunity, both those who have rejected freedom as a personal calamity and those who have embraced the revolution as a career and the Republic as prey. Hence the defection of so many ambitious or greedy men who since the point of departure have abandoned us along the way because they did not begin the journey with the same destination in view. The two opposing spirits that have been represented in a struggle to rule nature might be said to be fighting in this great period of human history to fix irrevocably the world's destinies, and France is the scene of this fearful combat. Without, all the tyrants encircle you; within, all tyranny's friends conspire; they will conspire until hope is wrested from crime. We must smother the internal and external enemies of the Republic or perish with it; now in this situation, the first maxim of your policy ought to be to lead the people by reason and the people's enemies by terror.

If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs.

It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed. Let the despot govern by terror his brutalized subjects; he is right, as a despot. Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of the revolution is liberty's despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime? And is the thunderbolt not destined to strike the heads of the proud?

. . .

. . . Indulgence for the royalists, cry certain men, mercy for the villains! No! mercy for the innocent, mercy for the weak, mercy for the unfortunate, mercy for humanity.

Society owes protection only to peaceable citizens; the only citizens in the Republic are the republicans. For it, the royalists, the conspirators are only strangers or, rather, enemies. This terrible war waged by liberty against tyranny- is it not indivisible? Are the enemies within not the allies of the enemies without? The assassins who tear our country apart, the intriguers who buy the consciences that hold the people's mandate; the traitors who sell them; the mercenary pamphleteers hired to dishonor the people's cause, to kill public virtue, to stir up the fire of civil discord, and to prepare political counterrevolution by moral counterrevolution-are all those men less guilty or less dangerous than the tyrants whom they serve?"

- Maximilien Robespierre: On the Moral and Political Principles of Domestic Policy

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"We owe to the Middle Ages the two worst inventions of humanity - gunpowder and romantic love." - Andre Maurois



What does belief mean? *Student walks into room* *Points at student* What does belief mean?

Is *** flat?... I don't notice. [Me: What makes you so sure I notice?] You're a guy.

The last time I can recall being picked up was [by] this ang moh guy. He turned out to be an exchange student in PGP. He asked me to go back to his room and I freaked out and ran away.

Any questions? If there aren't - this is sorta a threat - I'm gonna move on.

[On a cheap Christian trick to deal with diversity] Moral faculties weren't the only thing affected by the Fall... Cognitive faculties were affected by the Fall. So if not for the Fall, everybody would believe that Christianity is true with the same amount of certainty that they believe my hair is red [Ed: It's not]... [Anyone who is redeemed can think properly and realise Christianity is true.] Something similar could be working in any religious tradition that has given it some thought. Even pluralism.

Here's what I wanna see in tutorial. When I walk in I want to see 3 hands shaking in the air waiting to ask me questions, and I haven't seen that for a while.

There's this weird notion, I don't know where it came from, that you can alter your beliefs at will... If I sa to you, 'Form the belief that ***'s shirt is orange'. Nah. Nyah... It seems green. How can it be orange?... You don't become convinced at will... I will damn you to hell if you don't believe that ***'s shirt is orange.

[On only teaching the Right Hand Rule] I don't teach them because most of them are useless, and you just end up memorising more and more rules.

[Student: Professor, are we going to be assessed on the working of these motors?] I haven't even finished the explanation and you're worried about the exam... I will tell you the answer 1 day before the exam... Otherwise this will degenerate into your schoolwork where you only do the minimum.

[On macaroons] Those of you in your group projects [groups] can chew on it and bond.

[On fundraising] Our prof is very nice and always buys stuff to support us. But this doesn't mean you cannot support us also.

[On the welfare survey] Why don't you just write, like, 'change the whole committee'

All of you have seen this TV show called Survivor right... [To a PRC] The latest is Survivor China. You should watch.

Thank you for filling up our in-class survey... We'd like to reward you by [presenting stuff]

[On kebayas] Because of modern ideas, more and more Nonyas don't wear the silk shirts [inside] anymore and just wear their undergarments... Over the years it becomes more and more revealing.

Why is the tree always fellating the Care Bear?... [Me: It's not fellating it. The head is in its mouth.] Yeah, the head. Precisely. [Me: Not that head!]

For the youngs, the Chinese New Year is a joyous occasion (young)

[On calling someone 'Bobbie Jack'] This is just to make the length of our names equal

[On sources for a presentation] We researched on other people's research

[On Thais] They actually gather food from the forest and go fishing. This happens in Woodlands and Boon Lay... It's kinda cute. Sorry, city girl here.

[On Golden Mile complex] The housewife we interviewed recommended that we try the food... But we couldn't go in, because we had no idea what the signboards was talking about (were)

[On a karaoke bar in Golden Mile] This photo was taken by ***. Apparently this was the closest she could go before her eardrums explodes (exploded)

This is different from the dominant form of Buddhism in Singapore, Mahayana Buddhism, which originated in Singapore. [Group mates: China.] *Jiggles body* Smart.

There's generally this conception that Thai monks are more powerful than Singaporean monks.

[On an abbot] He complimented Singapore because he thought we had a very good government - half democracy, half dictatorship... He encouraged us to get married for the good of our nation.

[On Funkygrad's 'Personality' section] It's all girls lah. And the worst thing is we don't even see these girls around.

[Student quoting Funkygrad: 'We found out that abstinence from sex is almost non-existent at the National University of Singapore (NUS).'] Hey, I abstain from sex. I feel the need to declare that. I feel so misrepresented.

[On Arab Street] He saw a need to start cafes selling sheesha and playing very loud Arab music... There were complaints, but they didn't care. They continued playing Arab music so loud everyone along the street could hear.

This gah'r'ih'sh looking shophouse (garish)

They actually opened a pub 20m from the Sultan Mosque, which I find very disturbing... Beer and 'Divine Pleasures'.

In 1994, National Day Parade... They had this float depicting the origins of the races in Singapore. Malays migrated from Java... And the Middle East.

The community is very small and close-knit. When you go for a family function you find you are looking at the whole Arab community.

[On Streetdirectory.com] I'm supposed to take a bus from this place called 'Building is now unoccupied'

Monday, October 22, 2007

3 concerts in 1 week!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007, 8pm
Goldberg Variations by Alexey Botvinov (Piano)
University Cultural Centre Hall

Thursday, 25 October 7.30 p.m.
Russian National Chamber Orchestra
Pinchas Zukerman, director / violin
Amanda Forsyth, cello

VIVALDI : "Autumn" from the Four Seasons, RV 293
VIVALDI : Concerto for Violin and Cello in B flat, RV 547
BACH : Violin Concerto in E, BWV 1042
MOZART : Symphony No 36 in C, K425 (Linz)

(Quite a popular program, but we don't get Baroque here often and I choose popular over horrible anyday)

Saturday, 27 October 8.00 p.m.
Russian National Orchestra
Mikhail Pletnev, conductor
Pinchas Zukerman, violin
Amanda Forsyth, cello

BEETHOVEN : Coriolan Overture, Op 62
BRAHMS : Concerto for Violin & Cello in A minor, Op 102
BEETHOVEN : Symphony No 7 in A, Op 92
"When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained." - Mark Twain


Someone: ya i know they are together
they are like plaster and that plastic thingy on it before you peel it open

Someone else: when u say profound things people do think about it

and you do crazy things with a sound reasoning behind them
there's a specific reason to them
and its not just random, thoughtless rubbish

like say running down singapore naked with an american flag
which i guess CAN be symbolic

but u get my drift

its better than the idiots i meet who give stupid comments like " the geisha here has a very painted face, illustrating a focus on make up"

pple are so stupid these days esp in the gem classes
u get pple frm like engineering

pple dont know the word 'dichotony'

HWMNBN: if you believe in the right to abortion, is it okay to abort if your child has a genetic tendnecy to homosexuality?

please post that on YR
see how the liberals react

HWMNBN: i know. particularly since the liberals tend to argue for the genetic basis for homosexuality as well

Me: I find it ironic how, though they are so keen on genes being responsible for little and socialization accounting for so much, that homosexuality is seen as 100% genetic

MFM on someone: he's a girl really
can't bloody refute an argument w/o blethering emotional bollocks

Me: so who else is guilty of that

MFM: girls

Someone: http://www.amazon.com/God-Not-Great-Religion-Everything/dp/0446579807 (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Hardcover) by Christopher Hitchens)

saw this at Kinokuniya ytd

Me: hoho sedition
"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read "President Can't Swim"." - Lyndon B. Johnson


Euro NCAP - For safer cars | Proton Impian

Proton claims that the Impian is the first of a new generation of cars that are designed to Euro NCAP standards. Its performance in the frontal impact was flawed, however, while the protection it offered to pedestrians also proved inadequate. This was a disappointing performance but Proton says it intends to improve future designs. The car's body was damaged so badly by the impact that it became unstable. The driver and front passenger risked serious injury. The child restraints performed poorly and it became apparent that, in development, too little thought had been given to their use. The Impian is made only in right-hand drive so in Europe it is sold only in the UK.

Front impact
The body suffered severe damage and both front passengers suffered chest loads that could cause injuries. The restraints needed to cushion their upper bodies better than it did. There were also hard points in fascia that could cause harm if struck. The driver's footwell was pushed back, posing a risk of leg injury. The centre rear seat had a three-point belt. This gave superior protection to that of a lap belt.

Side impact
The side impact protection worked reasonably well. However the chest loading could lead to an increased chance of injury, whilst the abdomen and pelvis were reasonably protected.

The 18-month-old was in a rear- facing restraint and the 3-year-old in a forward-facing one. Both were as recommended by Proton. Neither protected its occupant's head in the frontal or side impacts. Warnings of the dangers of death or serious injury for a child placed in a rear-facing restraint in the front passenger's seat were inadequate. There was a sticker on the passenger's sun visor, visible in the stowed position, and a pictogram (which, because of its design, could easily confuse) on the passenger's end of the fascia.

Pedestrian protection
The pedestrian protection can best be described as dire. Proton admitted to Euro NCAP that its designs weren't pedestrian friendly, but promised improvements."

More graphically:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Damn, I need the budget to do this sort of shit.
"Only the shallow know themselves." - Oscar Wilde


From Bunny Boy:

Dear All

My thanks to all those who have sent me emails this past year........

I must send my thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat shit in the glue on envelopes because I now have to use a wet towel with every envelope that needs sealing.

Also,I now have to scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

I no longer have any savings because I gave it to a sick girl (Penny Brown); who is about to die in the hospital for the 1,387,258th time.

I no longer have any money at all, but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Bill Gates/Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special e-mail program .

Or from the senior bank clerk in Nigeria who wants to split $7 million with me for pretending to be a long lost relative of a customer who died intestate.

I no longer worry about my soul because I have 363,214 angels looking out for me. I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

Thanks to you, I have learned that my prayers only get answered if I forward e-mail to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes. Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca-Cola because it can remove toilet stains.

I no longer can buy petrol without taking a man along to watch the car so a serial killer won't crawl in my back seat when I'm filling up.

I no longer go to shopping malls because someone will drug me witha perfume sample and rob me.

I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls toJamaica, Uganda, Singapore and Uzbekistan.

Thanks to you, I can't use anyone's toilet but mine because a big brown African spider is lurking under the seat to cause me instant death when it bites my bum.

And thanks to your great advice,

I can't even pick up the $5.00 I found dropped in the car park because it probably was placed there by a sex molester waiting underneath my car to grab my leg.

If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next 70 minutes, a large dove with diarrhoea will land on your head at 5:00pm this afternoon and the fleas from 12 camels will infest your back, causing you to grow a hairy hump.

I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbour's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician.

By the way....a South American scientist after a lengthy study has discovered that people with low IQ who have infrequent sexual activity always read their e-mails with their hand on the mouse.

Don't bother taking it off now, it's too late.
"Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money." - Arthur Miller



We looked at an 'A' essay from last year. There was no argument. It was just presenting facts. [Me: So if you provide an argument maybe you get {an} A+] Maybe he'll fail you.

The thing about feminism is once you pick it up, you see it everywhere. Everything becomes a feminist text.

[On anticipation of reading midterm submissions] I gotta say, I'm pretty excited.

[On a fundie] He's a crackpot... He's in my tutorial. Every week I have to try very hard not to bang my head against the wall.

That's what he says. All the major religious traditions... are 'culturally mitigated phenomenal reproductions of a single, noumenal, transcendental reality' *makes extravagant gesture* So you'll have to read up on your Kant to find out what he means. I'm serious.

Everyone is right. The relativist view... Is God a Unity? Yes. Is God a Trinity? YES. That sort of view seems incoherent, but people do defend it.

[On 'noumenal reality'] This is the briefest introduction to Kant you will ever get... He says it exists. Which is a weird thing to say since we can't say anything about it, but forget about that.

[On papers on Evil and Hell] I'll take a really slow stroll back to my office after class. If you haven't handed in your paper for some purpose... I'll take this indirect route back to my office. Any papers that land in my mailbox after that - I'll have to come up with a punishment that's appropriate to my just - not exactly loving - nature. (reason)

Being arrogant, egotistical, elitist, arbitrary, insensitive or oppressive. Let's call this being a 'jerk'.

[On a non-jerk exclusivist] You don't shove it in people's faces, you don't go 'nyeh nyeh nyeh. I've got the right religion and you don't'.

[On those who change their beliefs immediately] I wouldn't call people like this a jerk. Maybe a bit milktoasty... This is nice... Maybe they're a bit [of a] doxastic weenie, but they're not jerks.

You know right, I can get revision by reading your blog.

[Instructor on missing faces in class: A number of people are going to the zoo today]... Oh, the zoo... I thought 'Zouk'

There was this photographer who went to interview a lot of the perpetuators (perpetrators)

It's in'air'vee'ter'berl (inevitable)

[On Angkor Wat] I don't want to pick on her. *** was saying someone told her there there was an easier way down. She thought there was a lift.

You see the glossy areas on the breasts of the Apsara dancers. For hundreds of years people have been groping their breasts.

My friend wants to do marketing because she says that's where you meet all the guys... I asked XXX and she said she knows 2 people who have gotten attached through Marketing... The engin guys... They're very nice, but they're not very -

[On Asian Prince] My grandparents pray to him.

Some air'm'pie'rical data (empirical)

high yee tee (Haiti)

[On relative claims] You could be mean and say they're just nonsense. You could be nice and say they're like poetry. But if you think poetry is nonsense that's not such a [nice thing to say]

[On John Hick's New Age religion] What he noticed of all these religious traditions was that they had a genuine transformational effect on individuals... Soteriological effect... Does it make them nicer people. It's supposed to be evidence that they're getting in touch with the real.

Isn't religion itself a very subjective things? (thing)

[On Tertullian] The absurdity of it is not something that counts in its favor... Like Santa Claus. I know that there was a time when I believed that Santa Claus existed. I don't remember reasoning my way out of the belief. I just found it absurd after a while.

Does anyone have more information? Anyone read the lecture notes?... Such wonderful lecture notes. You don't have to go to the web. This proves that nobody is reading the lecture notes.

You're very bo liao, always go around quoting people... I'm not really an avid fan of your blog, so I don't really care. [Me: Maybe one day you'll see your words there.] [Student 2: Maybe tonight.]... You're so gonna get it from me, Gabriel.

[On an anmeter] When I put it on my fingers, it doesn't move. When I put it on my lips, it moves a bit. Later during the break if you want to play with this, you can. You can try sticking it in various parts of your body.

[On electricity flowing through the fingers, bypassing the body past the palm] Any of you have taken ***'s class?... *** claims he had a friend who used to demonstrate in class by sticking his 2 fingers in [the electric socket]... He did it in China. What's the voltage? 220. He's still here. But we don't know whether it did something to his brain, or what.

[On sticking your fingers into a power socket] Last time I stuck 2 pieces of wire in... The whole thing exploded, in less than 1 second... [Student 2: *disagrees*] That was not your finger. Don't try to mislead the Arts students.

Guys look so good in shirts. [Me: What do girls look good in?] Nothing.

I'll marry the person who buys me a Steinway.

Hello. We're the Bugis group so we're gonna present on Bugis.

[On technical problems during a presentation] This is where the other partner distracts us.

Gin talked about more micro issues (Jeanne)

*** and I have take you through (taken)

We managed to survive 45, survey 45 foreigners.

[On challenging the stereotype of maids] There're a lot of Filipino activities that go on behind closed doors. Okay that sounds wrong.

[Exchange student: Do people dress up here?] It's like selling pumpkins in a supermarket. Small ones.

I'd never seen handbells before... I wanted to tell you because it was unique. Then you laughed at me. [Student 2: That's coz you're weird...] First you say I'm bad tempered. Then you say I'm weird.

Just now I was with *** and the lift door opened and there was a couple inside in a passionate embrace. [Student 2: Kiss or embrace?] Both. [Student 2: Now you know how I feel when *** starts poking you]
Someone: How come I never encountered these things before I graduated??
I took the lift quite often.

[To a female student drinking Pepsi: I'm surprised. I thought you'd be drinking Diet Coke.] I don't diet.

I ran out of clothes. Now I'm wearing this metrosexual top... Just now during Econs lecture this guy came up to me and said - 'I like what I see'. Shit.

[To a female student threatening him with a watergun] You dare ah? You're wearing white ah, and I'm kind of wondering what do you wear under. (what you're wearing underneath)

What is Airbus?... Is this your thesis? [Me: No, my thesis is not a Powerpoint presentation.]

[Me giving directions: Do you know what Science looks like?] [Student: No] It's where all the weird people are.

[On buying us cookies] I went to get the cookies... I went to ask them if they were transfar-free. I asked *** but she could not guarantee it... It doesn't matter. I won't be eating it, you will. *tosses cookies* (them)

Hertz is actually a unit. Not just a car rental company.

[On a forum question] I had actually posted the answer but people didn't notice and were still debating here and there.

The easy option, maybe it's not the politically correct thing to say... Is to take the Life Science modules to satisfy your Science requirement. The Life Sciences are young sciences... They're very descriptive. When Physics started it was also like this... Kepler's Law. He summarised the facts... That's why in Junior College the Biology textbooks are so thick. The Physics textbooks are much thinner... Everything is a separate fact [in Biology]. In Physics there are some laws... In Biology there's Evolution and Natural Selection [only, but it's still mostly facts]... In my estimate it will take a century for the Life Sciences to reach the level... You build the complexity from the simplicity. I'm advertising my other 2 modules... We have come a long way in building up our knowledge into a few natural principles... The Physical Sciences are not the best. The Physical Sciences are the oldest. People have been doing these things for centuries. Chemistry is a bit behind. The Life Sciences are going there... The next thing will be the Social Sciences. I'm saying things that will make some people unhappy... That'll take another 200 years [for the Social Sciences].

I listen to Class 95 in the morning. 2 dumb guys. Flying Dutchman and that other guy. But compared to all the other junk out there, it's no worse.

[Female student:] I don't make friends with lesbians. [Me: Why?] Because they might like me.

[Me: Are you auditioning?] Yeah. Gosh. I've never played a girl before... I played all the guy parts... I was from ***. [Me: And then...?] My hair grew out.

[On NUS CCTVs] It's like TV mobile. It's everywhere.

They're Catholic. They don't hump. They just have children by binary fission.

She's so innocent. I can't imagine her having a boyfriend. [Me: She does.] I can't imagine her having sex.
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