"The happiest place on earth"

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

"The dominant answer in religious thinking concerning God and morality is that what God commands is morally right independent of his commands and he commands them because he sees that they are morally right...

Consider God's belief that 2 + 2 = 4. Is it true that 2 + 2 = 4 because God believes it? Or does God believe that 2 + 2 = 4 because it is true that 2 + 2 = 4? If we say the latter, as it seems we should, we imply that certain mathematical statements are true independent of God's believing them. So, we already seem committed to the view that the way some things are is not ultimately a matter of God's will or commands. Perhaps the basic truths of morality have the same sort of status as the basic truth of mathematics...

The second difficulty for an exclusivistic religion arises as soon as we become serious acquainted with other religions and the lives of their founders and chief saints... That Mahatma Gandhi, for example, is destined for hell because he did not convert to Christianity or some other exclusivistic religion is bound to seem a dubious, if not absurd, idea to anyone who becomes acquainted with Hinduism and the life of Gandhi...

None of these substantive properties is knowable by us or even expressible by our human concepts. So our concepts of "good," "loving," and "divine," fail to pick out any of the substantive properties of the Real in itself. But if ultimate reality (the Real in itself) is not good, not loving, and not divine, why is it manifested in experience as good, as loving, and as divine?... Hick holds that the Real possesses neither the positive substantial property of being purposive nor the negative substantial property of not being pruposive. But many philosophers would regard such a view as simply incoherent...

If neither many gods nor a single god called by different names or titles in the different religions exists, what then is left for Hick to adopt as the proper view of the many different gods of the world's great religions? Without explicitly endorsing the view, Hick suggests that the gods are "projections of the religious imagination." They are human creations in response to encounters with what is truly ultimate reality. Thus, [no] such beings actually exist."

i.e. If all religions are right, then all religions are also wrong."

--- Philosophy of religion : an introduction / William L. Rowe
"The primary responsibility of museums is to... propagate patriotism, socialism and the revolutionary traditions among the broad masses of the people... increase the nation’s self-confidence and cohesive force, and contribute, by way of intellectual support, to the great cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics...

These difficulties and problems will surely be solved as long as we further emancipate our minds, follow the principle of "seeking truth from facts," base our work on reality, handle the difficultires and problems correctly..."

--- Museums : treasure houses of history (China)

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Many of the statements made by museologists in published articles and at international conferences need to be interpreted with some skill, and with considerable knowledge of the countries in which these experts operate... [it] makes it difficult to make a public statement in simple, straightforward language. Museologists are all too likely to produce such unhelpful sentences as: 'The affectable changes in attitude and involvement by museum visitors, as a result of integrated museum experience, is observable withinthe museum environment' The urge to grade-up one's utterances by weaving in sociological jargon is difficult to resist, and the result is often a totally misleading impression of the person or institution concerned. No museum could be less pompous or academic than the Brooklyn Children's Museum in New York, yet a member of its staff found it possible to define a museum as 'a facility devoted to the preservation and promotion of the cultural arts and sciences through the use of specific resources that generally are not maintained in the course of daily events or used within the context of daily routine', phrases which do not suggest the lively, original Brooklyn Children's Museum at all."

The way in which members of the museum profession attempt to communicate... has been serious contaminated in recent years by the terminology which is current in the pseudo-sciences [Ed: Emphasis mine] of psychology and sociology...

Exhibits are no longer exhibits, but 'series of learning stations'; a modern curator does not try to make his collections interesting and intelligible, but 'plans a sequence of learning experiences'...

This kind of language will eventually, no doubt, work its way through the museum system and be flushed away to join the linguistic absurdities of previous generations...

It should be emphasised that, although this particular glossary includes only English terms, an equally long and discouraging list could be compiled in French, German, Russian or any other of the world's major languages...

Artefact or Artifact. Literally, 'skilfully made', but often used by those members of the museum world with little or no knowledge of Latin to signify any man-made object, however crude or primitive it may be.

Catalogue raisonné... An accepted English equivalent for this rather snobbish and off-putting term is badly needed.

Fine Art(s). A fundamentally absurd phrase... It means works of art which have only their beauty to recommend them. Fine Art items are essentially useless... But the definition is not foolproof, since one can never be absolutely sure that a Ming vase would not be used for umbrellas or a Rembrandt and its frame as a tea-tray.

Heritage. A much-used, trendy, emotion-loaded word of the 1970s. One wonders how previous generations got along without it.

Historical archaeologist. This very curious profession was invented in the United States and appears, as yet, to be little found outside that country. If one meets an historical archaeologist and asks him to define himself, the most frequent reply is that he is a person who has graduated in historical archaeology in order to qualify himself to work in that field, which does not help a great deal.

Visitation. A dreadful, totally illiterate American innovation, to be absolutely barred. The Visitation of the Holy Ghost to the Virgin Mary, or the visitation of a diocese by its bishop, is correct and in order. The visitation of museums, meaning the number and kinds of people who visit museums, is a nonsensical barbarism."

--- Museums for the 1980s : a survey of world trends, Kenneth Hudson (I'm quite sure he's British. Bah.)

"It should come as little surprise that the disenfranchised, notably those who disenfranchise themselves willfully, are also the ones most receptive to tenets of postmodernist thinking. They possess no authority, so they desire to annihilate it – or fondly imagine the possibility of its annihilation. They do not possess the capability to build up organizations of power, so they would like nothing better than to see all such structures and institutions torn down. They do not perceive the necessity of conformity in some contexts, so they indiscriminately tout individuality with scant regard for exigencies of circumstances or simple good sense. Their faculties of reason and intelligent analysis are hampered by the logical incoherence of their thought processes and their wrongheaded embrace of irrationality as a guiding intellectual principle. Rather than perceive that a functioning system constitutes fertile ground from which humanity’s various schools of thought may flourish – including their own self-destructive unsustainable one – they ardently wish to see the implosion of all such systems in an anarchic orgy of violence and destruction, a lashing back against a phantom foe that exists only in their own envious imagination.

Fortunately for civilization at large, we may safely proceed along our productive ways, fulfilling our human potential for exercising our reason and intellect upon the world around us, without being unduly affected by these ineffectual provocateurs. They can problematize themselves into oblivion for all we care. They can splash around in the baby pool of semiotic fluids, they can sit around in their little hermeneutic circles knitting interstices with subversive paroxysms, and spend their days gazing within themselves in narcissistic self-indulgent reflection – except they can’t. The demands of this living, breathing external world we inhabit compel some measure of rational action from them, or will eventually do so given enough time. As puzzled as they may be by the notion that a meaningful life is a productive and pleasurable one based on rational principles and the framework of capitalism so many of them find inordinate pleasure in condemning as “de-humanizing”, they will eventually be forced to partake a little of this life, simply in order to live. Else, these death-fetishists write themselves neatly out of the gene-pool, more or less in the manner of Yukio Mishima and his ilk, and the rest of the world shrugs and moves on.

They can stand atop a skyscraper and deny the heights of capitalism’s achievement; they can eat the food grown and delivered to them by the most efficient system for such purposes and smugly decry that same system; they can enjoy the benefits of modern amenities and the safety afforded by modern public institutions and complain of being totalized by the forces of modern conformity; they can close their eyes to the advancement of science and true intellectual thought and worship the horrors of the unknown, with no intention of meaningful engagement with the unknown; they can misuse the tools of reason to preach unreason. Yet for all that they remain laughable specimens of humanity. Unable to produce value, they condemn production and value, while surviving on the productive efforts of others.

There is something gleefully satisfying in watching these thinkers exile themselves to their own Galapagos Islands, where they will simply become the evolutionary dead-end their warped forms of ideology condemn them to be. There they can languish and extemporize at length on the post-condition of their post-exile, the post-structural post-problematics of their post not getting through, on the post-inefficiency of the postman and their post-desire to post-explode the post service. In the meantime, the rest of us will be getting our mail, and on time, too.

The solution to bad science is not no-science, but good science; the solution to bad government is not no-government, but good government; the solution to flawed production is not no-production, but good production; the solution to apathy is not murder, but compassion."

Democracy is the most problematic form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Capitalism is the most problematic economic system, except for all those other systems that have been tried from time to time.

Rationality is the most problematic cognitive framework, except for all those other frameworks that have been tried from time to time.

Academics should be read, not heard.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

"I am a deeply superficial person." - Andy Warhol


Me: law got people speak chinese ah

Noodles: super a lot of chinese girls
i mean chinese speakers

Me: wah
singapore is doomed
USP quality also going down

Noodles: yeah i was horrified
they sounded like the squeaky, shrill scgs girls

shrill kinda automatically reminds me of scgs... i guess it would be more appropriate to refer to your 'simple girl' o_O anw those i overheard sounded chinese-speaking and stupid

i also came across a few girls comparing their butts in the toilet the other day
i wanted to blog about it but it made me feel very depressed


i was like so fucking disgusted

Someone: i went to have a drink wiht one of my friends
stayed in KE7

and then
what happened was that
there's quite a bit of PRC staying there
and they like to have sex in the afternoon

and one of my friend's friend actually heard the guy
in midst of intercourse, saying...
(translated as 'call me the king')

it's damn disgusting yet funny

Someone else on the above: I saw that in 还珠格格 [Ed: Huan Zhu Ge Ge - "My Fair Princess"]... '叫我皇上'

Someone (2), independently: since im nice today, shall tell u a funny story...

"... so these 2 guys were walking past a room in some hostel and they heard 2 ppl getting it on inside. and so, when they heard the girl going to climax, the guy shouted "jiao4 wo3 huang2 di4!"
WTF MAN, SERIOUSLY. best part is, the 2 guys then shouted

"huang2 di4!" then they ran off.


no prizes for guessing the nationality of the ppl in the "story".

i find it so funny
it takes all those disgusting fetishes u hear abt to a different level

Me: oh but I didn't know about the girl going to climax bit
how did they know she was going to
so noisy ah hahahaha

well in US they shout "call me daddy"

Someone (2): that one i've heard of
perhaps we've been westernised too much

but the huang di one is damn funny

at least the chinese arent as perverse as the whites
i should think that royal affairs are more acceptable than incest

Someone else: i think as long as im in usp i will somehow only ever date usp guys

so there goes my alpha male

Someone: your description of mahler ["lots of drama and random notes, not enough tune"] sounds like shostakovich
shostakovich sounds like the soundtrack of an eastern european horror movie

Me: shos... not just random notes
random bad sounding notes

MFM: composers tend to get more random as they age

I think studies have consistently shown that composers get less 'melodic' and more 'thematic' as they age
"All the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway." - Harry S Truman


A Dictionary of Singlish and Singapore English - "This Dictionary contains words and phrases found in non-standard English as it is used in Singapore that do not appear in The New Shorter Oxford Dictionary, or that have meanings different from standard English words and phrases. These may be foreign words and phrases that have gained currency in Singapore English, or unique words and phrases that may or may not be based on foreign words and phrases. Mere mispronunciations of standard English words and phrases (eg., gahmen for government) are not included."

Snow Frog: Trailing This Rare Delicacy - "Hasma is variously described as frog fat, frog eggs, frog roe, or the frog’s reproductive glands. This rare food is from a particular member of the frog family, not the common frog, though it is common in Jinlin and some northern regions. It is, as this very old lady described, “A frog that they catch close to winter usually before or during the first snow because it goes into hibernation after mid-autumn. Because they do, they need lots of nutrients, especially fats, to tide them through and prepare the females to lay lots of eggs.” She went on to advise that, “These white bellied frogs mate and have their fertilized eggs ready come spring... hasma is moist, has many hormones, and a high lipid content, but really it is a combination of fat and part of the reproductive area”"

Orchid ice cream - "Ali explained that dondurma is the Turkish word for ice cream and that the essential ingredient of orchid ice cream is salep, a whitish flour milled from the dried tubers of certain wild terrestrial orchids... "Fox testicle ice cream" -- the literal translation of salepi dondurma -- didn't seem like an appropriate name for the dessert dish filled with colorful scoops of ice cream placed on the table in front of me. The cold, silky orbs held the familiar flavors of apricot, pistachio, red currant, peach and vanilla, but there was a subtle aftertaste that was entirely new -- slightly sweet with a nutty flavor similar to dried milk powder. It also had a hint of mushrooms, yak butter or goats on a rainy day -- not unpleasant, but an earthy, lanolin fragrance that added an intriguing dimension to the ice cream as it slowly melted in my mouth."

The Fifty Best Breasts in Movie History - "Did we get your attention? Good, because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we'd like to help raise awareness for the American Cancer Society by celebrating the best breasts to ever grace the cinema screen. So before we get to the ladies, please take some time to familiarize yourself with the American Cancer Society's mission to fight Breast Cancer and do what you can to stop Breast Cancer. Now on to The Fifty Best Breasts in Movie History..."

We need a real debate, not more dialogue - IHT - "The latest initiative by Muslim scholars marks an attempt to move interfaith dialogue away from debates about reason and revelation towards scriptural reading. Christian-Muslim relations, so their argument goes, are best served by engaging in textual interpretations that highlight shared commandments and common beliefs. But to suggest, as the authors of "A Common Word" do, that Muslims and Christians are united by the same two commandments which are most essential to their respective faith and practice - love of God and love of the neighbor - is theologically dubious and politically dangerous. Theologically, this glosses over elementary differences between the Christian God and the Muslim God... The problem with all textual interpretations is that they are, by definition, particular and partly subjective. Without universal concepts and objective standards such as rationality, scholars differ from extremists merely in terms of their honorable intentions... The best hope for genuine peace and tolerance between Christianity and Islam is to have a proper theological engagement about the essence of God and the nature of peace and justice. Otherwise, interfaith dialogue will amount to little more than the polite platitudes of politicians and diplomats. In the name of the shared commitment to truth and wisdom, Christians and Muslims should have robust debates that are theologically informed and politically frank."
Inter-religious Inter-Abrahamic dialogue dialogue excluding Jews and everyone else? Tsk tsk.

Knowledge: the record number of non-league teams in the FA Cup second round - ""Norway somehow reached second in the Fifa rankings in October 1993, before slipping down to 52nd by July 2006," writes Jostein Nygård. "Is this the greatest spread between a nation's highest and lowest position in the rankings?" Armenia comfortably eclipsed this mark, Jostein, when they nosedived from 79th in September 2000 to 159th in June 2004, but even they can't compete with Malaysia's fall from grace. Clocking in at a respectable 75th in August 1993, the Tigers have steadily tumbled down the rankings ever since. At the last count, Malaysia stood 166th, their lowest ever position, 91 places below their zenith."

Sweeping the Clouds Away - "Back then — as on the very first episode, which aired on PBS Nov. 10, 1969 — a pretty, lonely girl like Sally might find herself befriended by an older male stranger who held her hand and took her home. Granted, Gordon just wanted Sally to meet his wife and have some milk and cookies, but . . . well, he could have wanted anything. As it was, he fed her milk and cookies. The milk looks dangerously whole... The concept of the “inner city” — or “slums,” as The Times bluntly put it in its first review of “Sesame Street” — was therefore transformed into a kind of Xanadu on the show: a bright, no-clouds, clear-air place where people bopped around with monsters and didn’t worry too much about money, cleanliness or projecting false cheer. The Upper West Side, hardly a burned-out ghetto, was said to be the model."

Sexes perceive inflation figures very differently - "Manifestations of these innate differences aren't confined to the sexes' relationship with one another. Instead, they infuse perceptions and expectations in the outside world, even when it comes to something with no obvious male/female bias: inflation. "That men and women occasionally see things differently is not a remarkable observation," says Michael Bryan, economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. "But that the sexes could report vastly different perspectives on the rate at which prices are rising over a long period of time is astonishing.""
What would be more interesting: which sex predicts inflation more accurately.

Apple's new Leopard OS shows Windows envy - "While Apple continues to make fun of problems experienced by Windows users, the Cupertino company is just now catching up to some protective features Windows has had for a while... let me point out to you the security features that you already have as a user of Windows Vista or XP SP2... Enhanced smartcard capabilities. Windows has had good smartcard integration since at least Windows 2000."



Swedish Women Go Topless to Protest Swim Wear Rules

"STOCKHOLM, Sweden — A group of Swedish women is making waves by taking their tops off at public swimming pools in a protest against what they call gender-biased rules on swim wear.

About 40 women have joined the network and staged topless protests in at least three cities, said Sanna Ferm, 22, one of the founders of the group called Bara Brost, or Bare Breasts.

"The purpose of the campaign is to start a debate about why women's bodies are sexualized," Ferm said Wednesday.

She said the fact that men can be bare-chested in public swimming pools but not women is "a concrete example of how women have fewer rights than men."

Reactions from other swimmers have ranged from support and encouragement to anger and even indifference, she said.

The network was formed after two women who were swimming topless in a public swimming pool in Uppsala, north of Stockholm, were asked to cover up or leave.

Women can sunbathe topless in the summertime at beaches around Sweden, which is known for its relaxed attitude toward nudity, but they are required to wear tops at public swimming pools.

Inger Groteblad, a manager at the swimming facility in Uppsala, said it was a matter of security.

"We want to make sure that girls don't get subjected to sexual harassment," she was quoted as saying by tabloid Aftonbladet.

The women have filed a complaint against the facility to Sweden's Equal Opportunities Ombudsman."

(I found this because someone did a Google Image Search for it)

Person: This document says a backup server is overkill.

Dilbert: Um, no, it says the opposite of that. I know because I wrote it this morning.

Person: No, I think you're misinterpreting it.

Dilbert: I WROTE IT!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sing along to the MDA Senior Management Rap: http://www.mda.gov.sg/wms.www/video.htm

Oh gods. My eyes. And ears.

It's so bad, it's not even good.

A car on fire is a very appropriate metaphor for this video.

If this is what "Singapore-made content to be number one" means, I'll rather survive on Malaysian imports.

(From Tym)

Selected Full lyrics:

Yes, yes y'all
We don't stop
Get creative, can do, rock on!

Yes, yes y'all
We don't stop
Get connected worldwide, rock on!

(Repeat above 2 stanzas)

Dr Christopher Chia
Chief Exective Officer

They call me CEO, hear me out everyone
My aim, a vibrant media hub for the city
Singapore-made content to be number one
Media choice and jobs for everybody

Michael Yap
Deputy Chief Exective Officer

I'm the man for this IDM R&D
Experimentation is my cup of tea
Flagship 2B for the world's stage
I.Jam, I.Rock and Futurescape

Amy Chua
Media Content

We classify media to give you a choice
We consult the community to give you a voice
And the industry has a part to play
To make our media city as bright as day

[Ed: This is probably the least-bad part of the video. The enunciation is clear, the lines are not *too* packed (and even flow somewhat) and delivery is lyrical even if not rap-like, in contradistinction to the other bits. Strikethroughs comes from a non-congruence of the subtitles and rapped lyrics.]

Heng Li Lang
Acting Director
Strategic Planning Group

Market trends, that's like my very best friend
My eyes on KPIs every now and then
Keepings programs tracked, for your best referral
Signing off, the numbers girl


Pam Hu
Community & International Relations

MediAction, is one of my directions
Community and International relations
Be aware, appreciate, adopt, advocate
The media for work, learning and play

Lim Chin Siang
IT & Technology

We'll be consolidating data and building
A service oriented architecture
To add value to the economy, for a bright future
Like an LCD screen, you'll get a crystal clear picture

Ling Pek Ling
Media Policy

Keep your channels open, HD's the new TV
Right here, anywhere through mobility
My job's to review the MMCC (Media Market Conduct Code)
My very big 'yes' to industry growth

Man Shu Sum
Broadcast & Film Development

Hold up please, they call me 'The Man'
I know good directors at (sic) the back of my hand
Film and TV, so tell me what's next
Singapore content, on an international stage


Musical interlude

Seto Lok Yin
Assistant Chief Executive
Industry Development

The time has come to build our talents
These are the strength (sic) for the new challenge
Global market for local growth
With the right schemes and support

Cassandra Tay

Communications is key to grow our media city
Hand in hand with the press for publicity
Singapore Media Fusion, it's everywhere
"I Made it in Singapore"
China, Cannes, here we come

Tham Wai Kin
Customer & Licensing Services

Nothing but the best service for our customers
Fees and fines, we make it all the easier
This for the industry & public licensees
You can holler at us 24/7

Tow Joon Lai
Corporate Services

People and money, that's my spot
I stay focused on the dot, strategically support
Next I'll beautify our Fusionopolis
Singapore Quality Class, please take notice

Yeo Chun Cheng
Chief Information Officer

They call me the HDTV guy
My tasks include internal systems integration
HRFIS, PMP to iTrax
Please stay tuned, next up Channel X!

[Ed: Isn't Channel X that robotic voice anti-PAP YouTube channel?]

Chorus till your brain explodes

Check out Da Bling. Not.

I want my tax money back!

Update: The video has been mirrored on YouTube:

There's only 1 redeeming feature of the video. And even Power Rangers has better CGI than this. I'd rather watch 2girls1cup (NSFW) than this.

At least they told us that we can holler at them 24/7, so what are you waiting for?! Go film reaction videos like this one (SFW) for 2girls1finger!

Dictatorship of virtue : how the battle over multiculturalism is reshaping our schools, our country, and our lives

"Finance is the art of passing money from hand to hand until it finally disappears." - Robert W. Sarnoff


The last batch of extracts:

"All fantasies are fantasies of omnipotence. But then you ask yourself: what happens when one fantasy meets another? There’s a duel to the death.

"Why do they teach us that white people suck?
—Elementary school student from Brookline, Massachusetts"

""What we found was a conscious perversion, a deliberate sabotage," David Stiliman said. The Stilimans and their allies found that the [high] school was guided by New Age “edubabble,” as David called it, theories that stressed social conscience and something called moral education, along with peace studies, as much as academic pursuits, and that presented the world through a 1960s prism, whose key concepts were Western racism and Western colonialism... The statement of philosophy, for example, blithely affirmed: “Knowledge and reasoning without commitment to action are useless.” Mao Zedong could not have put it better.

"The key word is ‘diversity,’", Ronni Stiliman told me. “That’s all heard since we came here, diversity. But what they mean by diversity is not diversity of opinion. Diversity means skin color. Diversity in Brookline means different colored people who have been trained to think alike. They treat different opinions with contempt.”"

"The most popular text of the first half of the twentieth century, David Saville Muzzey’s An American History, was first published in 1911...

Muzzey, for example, chronicled the protests of women at the denial of rights and opportunities that went automatically to men. He provided a powerful description of the treatment of the Indians, who, he said, “were cheated by rascally government officials, fed on rotten rations, debauched of whiskey, and robbed of their lands.” Muzzey, however, portrayed the Indians as primitives and savages. In his 1941 revision, he talked of the treatment of the Indians as “a chapter of dishonor” for the white men, but the Indians themselves, he said, "nowhere advanced beyond the stage of barbarism... They had some noble qualities, such as dignity, courage and endurance, but at bottom they were a treacherous, cruel people who inflicted terrible tortures upon their captured enemies.”

Even the great revisionist historian and liberal hero Charles Beard, writing in the prologue to his History of the American People, published in 1918, had to explain why he gave so little space to the North American Indians. “They are interesting and picturesque, but they made no impression upon the civilization of the United States,” he said, showing a tough-mindedness that would be excoriated now. Anybody who has even flipped casually through a social studies or history textbook today would see immediately how thoroughly any such sentiment has been expunged."

"The message of the [history] texts of the 1970s, FitzGerald concludes, "would be that Americans have no common history, no common culture and no common values, and that membership in a racial or cultural group constitutes the most fundamental experience of each individual."...

In 1983, Glazer and Ueda examined six of the most widely used high school texts. They concluded that, in fact, the central story was still present, that the feared “Balkanization” had not become reality. At the same time, they found that a vast transformation of the focus of the major texts had taken place since the 1920s, when progressive and liberal historians like Beard and Muzzey dominated the field. In every one of the six texts, the total number of pages devoted to blacks and other minorities far exceeded the number of pages given over to ethnic Europeans. Indeed, European immigrants groups got about one-quarter or less of the attention given to blacks, Hispanics, Indians, and others."

"The multiculturalist dilemma is to justify multiculturalism while accommodating these awkward facts [that curriculum reform has not helped poor American children who continue to fail, drop out and despair, and that some ethnic groups {chiefly, Asians} do very well in the school system despite their not being accommodated]. One thing that the cult of the New Consciousness cannot allow is the notion that certain cultures, certain values, certain ways of behaving, are better than other ways and can help to explain why some groups of children do better in than others, with or without multiculturalism. Ideological multiculturalism requires that all cultures be equal in value. And since there is inequality of performance, that inequality must be blamed on the system, the oppressiveness of the dominant culture, on identity eradication, on the failure of the system to impart self-esteem. In short, the establishment must still be at fault. It hasn’t changed enough. It must be changed even more, which means, in practice, that the very philosophy that has failed to produce results for the children that most need help must be pursued with ever greater vigor."

"She felt that the exams themselves showed the leftist bias of the school. There was, for example, this sly multiple-choice question: "A characteristic of the 13 English colonies was (a) complete religious freedom, (b) free high school education, (c) class distinctions, or (d) universal voting." Of course, class distinctions is the correct answer. The question seems designed to demonstrate that something negative was the sole feature all the colonies had in common. She noted the test item that asked students to identify the “Hellenic epic which established egotistical individualism as heroic.” The correct answer: The Illiad. The subtext: individualism is egotistical and egoism is a prime characteristic of Western culture, as opposed, apparently, to more communitarian, less selfish, more rhythmic others. Stotsky found this question: “What would you do if you were drafted at 18 to fight in Central America?” An Asian studies question: "What would you do if you were in the military and you were in a situation similar to My Lai? How would you decide what orders to follow?" Stotsky suspected that Asian studies did not include the study of Chinese imperial totalitarianism or the rape of Nanking by Japan. It seemed to have more to do with America than Asia, with a stress on American atrocities, as though they were the whole picture."

"There seems to be precious little diversity at Andersen Contemporary. Everything is multicultural ideology, ethnic association, and victimization at the hands of Christians and white people. There is no alternative, no debate, no differing points of view. This is not a school; it is a cult, and it is a cult whose benefits have yet to be proven in practice. There is no proof at all, for example, that there is any educational benefit in choosing books to read or individuals to study because they represent an ethnic group... Moreover, one question that is never even asked by the multiculturalist ideologues concerns those Asian children, so far culturally from the American mainstream, yet doing so well in school.

Second, it seems that the ideology underlying the MCGFDA program is more likely to nurture a sense of injustice and entitlement than it is to lead to the elusive grail of self-esteem.

Third, nice as it is to be respectful of different ways of doing things and of the many American traditions, the plain fact is that not all "cultures" provide for equal success in the postindustrial, high-tech, bourgeois-capitalist democracy in which we happen to live. This is not a matter of good or bad. It is a matter of preparation for the world as it exists, not as the teachers of Andersen Contemporary might dream it. For children to hear stories about the Ojibwa medicine man is certainly unobjectionable, just as they might read about Bahar or Winnie-the-Pooh. It is when the medicine man and modern science get put on the same plateau that confusion sets in.

Fourth, and most important perhaps, the radical form of multiculturalism practiced in these schools and others paradoxically diverts from the deepest lessons that need to be learned about the principles and values that lead to a respect for difference in the first place. The journalist Jonathan Rosen has written about a conversation he had with Lucy Dawidowicz, the late historian of the Holocaust. He asked her whether she thought the Holocaust should he taught to public students. “I’d feel a lot safer if they learned the meaning of the Constitution instead,” Dawidowicz replied.

That is why it is more important for children to know about George Washington than Crispus Attucks or Sacajawea, why one should be primary in American education and the others secondary. Washington was a central figure in the long and painful development of the idea of liberal democracy, which includes within it the concept of the inviolability of the individual, the respect for equal rights under the law, the concepts of equal opportunity and of government as the protector of human rights, not the opponent of them."

"One characteristic essay in the book is “Racist Stereotypes in the English Language,” by Robert B. Moore, which starts out with this premise: “If one accepts that our dominant white culture is racist, then one would expect our language—an indispensable transmitter of culture—to be racist as well.” Moore goes on to give examples of “racist terminology,” particularly in the connotations attached to the word “black,” as in “blackguard,” “blackball,” “blackmail,” and others whose origin, the author suggests, is in the negative view the dominant white society has of black people.

The article goes on in this vein and is certainly interesting, but it fails even to consider the possibility that there is an explanation of the phenomenon described other than the one based on racism. It does not deal with what would seem to be a crucial historical fact: that most of the words given as examples to prove the existence of contemporary American racism predate the existence of contemporary American culture. It does not raise the possibility that the symbolism of “black” versus “white” could be naturalistic in origin, having to do with the dark of night and the light of day, rather than with the existence of racial difference. The Chinese language, for example, which evolved in a society with only one race, has similar connotations as English for the words “black” and ‘white”—black in particular appearing in Chinese expressions as “black market,” “black hand” (a metaphor for an evil person), and “black society” (a literal translation of the Chinese expression for criminal gang).

"The scene was a panel discussion at the enormous convention of the Modern Language Association in San Francisco at the end of 1991... As the conversation wore on, however, a striking absence became (to borrow a rhetorical device quite trendy in the academy) present. While there was much said about combating racism, sexism, and homophobia, one thing that almost never came up during the entire panel discussion was student writing and how to make it better... The conversation at the MLA panel never touched on such matters as the poor writing of many college freshmen or ways to impart to students some sense of the beauty and power of language, of how to turn to advantage that remarkable instrument called English, enriched and refined over the course of centuries. All of the talk centered on politics—on how to combat the evils of society in writing classes...

Whereas in the good old days of freshman composition you learned classical form, organization, the hazards of dangling clauses, of mixed metaphors and malapropisms, of hackneyed phrases, of clichés, and of the need to use words like “compel” and "focus" correctly, now you would learn how writing itself is implicated in the struggle for power.

The operative term, “critical literacy”... is a part of critical theory in general, that word “critical” another of the many code words adopted by the multiculturalist movement. Actually, “critical” means heavily influenced by the economic determinism of Karl Marx."

"Language is a creation of society that serves the holders of power, enabling them to maintain that power by controlling very way in which thought and ideas are expressed—even while, of course, giving the impression that the way things are, the status is entirely rational, inevitable. Thus, for example, the rules and regulations in writing that have traditionally been taught mirror the rules and regulations of a society dominated by white men. The grammar of language mirrors the grammar of political hierarchy. As Ruszkiewicz summed it up: “Traditional writing instruction can only reproduce the status quo.” It inhibits change, keeps women and minorities in their inferior places, favors that "linear, patriarchal logic," which is really only the logic of the dominant class, race, and gender.

The idea seems ridiculous on the face of it, since the great historic challenges to power and authority have been based on the same mastery of language and rhetoric that, the critical theorists hold, perpetrates the power of the dominant culture. One of the reasons for the triumph of Martin Luther King, Jr., is that he was a better rhetorician than his opponents. Still, all you have to do is leaf through the pages of the journals in the field of writing and you will see the critical literacy argument everywhere. Open, for example, to the first article in the first College English of 1990, and you will see "The Sublime and the Vulgar," by Karen Swann, identified in the article as an assistant professor of English at Williams College. Swann has clearly mastered the standard MLA prose style, whose purpose, in my somewhat-jaundiced view, is to show the writer’s profundity by the use of a very complex and elusive jargon, sentences like: "But the discourse on the sublime promotes an anti-critical, affective mode of engagement with power which turns a perception of the arbitrariness of things to the advantage of at least certain representational forms, as the subject becomes oriented to the shape or figure for its own sake, in the register of aesthetics.” Swann, I think, is saying that the ruling class uses the idea of standards as a way of maintaining their power against what they see as the vulgar masses—the mass these days being, says Swann, "the feminists, minorities and Marxists."

In the next volume of the journal, a piece on black women writers reminds us of an article of faith: even if black women writers sometimes portray black men as violent, as rapists, as criminals, we all remember that “the ultimate source of black women’s oppression is white racism, which also victimizes black men.” That may be true, but what is it doing in College English?"

"The important thing in this work of transformation is “To see to it that cultural literacy is not equated with lists of facts". No, “liberation pedagogy,” she says, means “reading the world and reading the word.” It means that literacy must be united with a “consciousness of consciousness,” meaning, it would seem, an awareness of oppression and the need to do something about it...

A lot of this, both the speeches and the scholarly articles, involves a kind of applied Marxism, the creation of a connection between what Marx called the structure and the superstructure. The structure in this case is the power of the white race and the male sex; the super structure is the language, the grammar, the rhetorical methods used to maintain that power. This is true. The analysis of the use of language as an instrument of social order is not far-fetched; nor is it original. Incorrect grammar excludes people just as bad manners do. It was not an accident (as the Marxists, including current Marxists, love to say) that slaves were prevented from learning to read and write...

What is actually kind of funny is the failure of the critical theorists to see the extent to which they are the ones now captured by a thought-channeling jargon, how their corrugated-iron constructions imprison them in petrified dogma, utterly unattached to any actual experience of the world. Still, it is not difficult to see the simplistic appeal of the theories of critical literacy in contemporary America. They provide an explanation, a startling vision of the world for those who feel that they have been excluded from the full benefits of American life, or who feel that they have suffered from prejudice. The problem with the theory of critical literacy is not that it is wrong and useless. The problem is that, like so much of the multiculturalist thrust, far too much is made of a few useful insights. They are stretched too thin, stated with exaggeration, immoderation, proclaimed to explain everything, and brought into the service of an eccentric, certainly disputable, vision of the nature of American life whose main premise, only modestly caricatured here, is that there is little to distinguish late-twentieth century America from eleventh-century theocracy.

... [Students with bad writing] also, frankly, need to know why it is more helpful, especially when time is limited and choices have to be made, to know King Lear than Native American chants. To assure them that their nonstandard English is just as good asstandard English is to doom them to a cruel fate, because once they get out of college, they will find that it is not as good - even if the tenured, salaried, retirement-pensioned and medically insured teachers who inculcated them with that nonsense still have their positions at the university"

"The newspapers carried a report of “cultural diversity” training at the Federal Aviation Administration during which male air-traffic controllers were required to run a gauntlet of women who fondled them and made comments about their sexual parts. I don’t know if some men might have enjoyed this fondling, though, certainly, it would have been fatal to admit it if they had. The point of the session was to enable men to understand what it is like to be a woman and to be sexually harassed by a man."

"Across the country in Pennsylvania, according to R. Randy Lee, writing in the Wall Street Journal, the state Human Relations Commission, the Realtors’ Association, and the Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association agreed on a list of “unacceptable” words in real estate advertisements. Numerous words were banned, the idea being that phrases like “ocean view” could be offensive to the blind or “master bedroom” to women (the implication here was that the word “master” stood for the male and his dominance over the female). Mr. Lee reported that the Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia filed lawsuits against landlords and three newspapers demanding damages in excess of $1 million. An ad for a “rare find” in Chester was pulled after it was called “racist.” The argument here as that the house was located in a largely black area, so the "rare find" phrase suggested that blacks rarely live in nice houses."

--- Dictatorship of virtue : how the battle over multiculturalism is reshaping our schools, our country, and our lives / Richard Bernstein (1995)
My Essay: There is nothing wrong with examining culture, but we should be wary of dismissing seemingly problematic aspects of it too quickly for that, in of itself, is problematic.

Instructor's remarks (after underlining): 'You are too young to be using this word!'
Table of Contents of "Reforming museums for the 21st century : report on the Stockholm Asia-Europe Conference on Museums 2000" (edited by Karl Magnusson):

"INTRODUCTION: ‘The Challenges for Museums in Asia and Europe’


‘The Experience of the National Heritage Board, Singapore’
Lim Siam Kim
Chief Executive Officer, National Heritage Board, Singapore

‘A Cultural Project within the Strategy of Urban Renewal, Social
Revitalisation and Economic Development’
Juan Ignacio Vidarte
Director General, The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain

‘Information Systems at the National Museum of Ethnology:
their Present and Future’
Masatoshi Kubo
Director of Information and Documentation Centre,
National Museum of Ethnology, Japan

‘Le Musée du quai Branly: un nouveau regard pour un nouveau
Stéphane Martin
President, Musée d quai Branly, Paris, France

‘Renewing Museum Activities at the Dawn of the 21st Century:
Experiences of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology’
Nguyen Van Huy
Director, Vietnam Ethnology Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam

‘Museums Should Seize their Chances!’
Hem Reedijk
Director, Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, The Netherlands

‘Sweden’s Project on Museums of World Culture’
Thommy Svensson
National Museums of World Culture, Gothenburg, Sweden

‘Museums, Globalisation and Sustainable Partnerships’
Amareswar Galla
Chairperson, Asia Pacific Executive Board
International Council of Museums


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"This volume was originally conceived in mid-1998, at a supper party given by Jane and Chris Gosden and attended by a number of the contributers, where sufficient alcohol was on offer to make one of the editors forget his vow never again to edit a collection."

--- Hunting the gatherers : ethnographic collectors, agents and agency in Melanesia, 1870s-1930s / edited by Michael O'Hanlon and Robert L. Welsch.

I was talking to an Indian artist... "When you talk about orgins you refer to archaeology and the Bering Straits, and 'origin myths,', 'legends,' and 'prehistory.' We don't know anything about the Bering Straits or about myths and legends. We know who we are and where we come from. Our eleders tell us that. They speak in truths, not in myths.'

His people, he continued, always had their history, which anthropologists would occasionally try to record and to describe as 'mythology,' 'legends,' or 'folklore.'... First Nation communities in North America have become increasingly disenchanged with anthropology, in fact, and some have gone so far as to ban anthropological research...

[Ed: I know that lightning is due to Zeus hurling thunderbolts from Mount Olympus.]

Student: Sometimes they tell us, 'You go to the library and you look up this book, and you read this.' And sometimes we ask the lecturers, 'Can we do it from our own background knowledge?' And they say, 'Oh no, you have to read the books in the library.' And that's why we get very upset. Why should I read a book that is written by somebody from outside, when I can tell it from my own knowledge, my own society?

[Ed: Ah, academia!]

... There is an 'irony,' noted First Nations writer Kerrie Charnley (1990:16), 'about people who claim to want to get to know who we are through the stereotypes they themselves have created about us rather than being receptive to who we are in the way that we express ourselves today.' Once scholars begin to debate their own social constructions of other people's lives, as they are prone to do, the people themselves are gradually dropped from sight. They become the 'disappeared' of the scholarly world."

--- Cannibal tours and glass boxes : the anthropology of museums / Michael M. Ames.
Keynote Speech by His Excellency Wen Jiabao
Premier of the State Council, People's Republic of China
Official Launch of Business China

Special Guest: Business China Patron
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew

The attendance for this event was segregated into 3 segments - Old Suited Men (industry officials, academics and the like) on the Ground Floor, Tertiary Students on the Second and Ginna (Secondary School and JC kids) on the Third. Given the nature of the speaker and the fact that the event was held during Reading Week, it was no surprise that the bulk of the attendees from the Premier Institution of Social Engineering (NUS) were PRCs (which probably explains why there was no Halal sign on the catering materials).

Rich Men's Corner

Poor Men's Corner
But hey, we got a reception.

Someone suggested to me that, given the disparity between the ground floor and the 2nd floor, the top floor probably got KFC. I tried to find a way of sneaking my way upstairs (to see the composition of the attendees and the food), theorising that those from below could go up but those from above could not go below (a sort of reversal of the pyramid of hierarchy) but didn't bother to contend with the ushers and, thinking out of the box, I went to stand at the side so I could look up (no photos, since that would've been misconstrued as voyeuring due to the gender standing by the railing) and asked the catering staff if what was served upstairs was the same (it was).

Luckily for the linguistically impaired, simultaneous translation headsets were available, since with the exception of half of MM Lee's speech, everything (including Q&A) was in Chinese (though Q&A wasn't translated, sadly and they cheated with Wen's speech, reading from a script).

The event was also graced by the Old Man, and it was very appropriate having he and His Excellency sitting side by side. Yet, although you don't put your life at risk in calling one a despot (your livelihood is another matter), calling the other that is surely perilous, at least in his country.

As part of opening Business China, the MM talked in his speech about Oriental Values (maybe you only hear about "Asian Values" in Chinese these days, since I doubt Chinese-language academics dissect them). There were also the usual platitudes about how China needs internal peace and stability (euphemisms for totalitarianism) in its development. He said that to succeed in China, you need to learn the language, know the culture and know the history. I would venture to suggest that he missed the most important bit: to be willing to play by their rules, and not ours; to succeed in China you must lack manners, be complicit in corruption and vigorously push them back when they push you.

Wen's speech followed. Clearly cognizant of his relative power position, he talked immodestly about how Singapore must learn from a country with a long history and having 1.3 billion people. Naturally, this country was not named. Perhaps he meant India in a few years time. Perhaps to provoke us even more, he talked about how the Suzhou Industrial Park was an example of successful Singapore-China collaboration.

He rambled on and on about China's "opening up", but virtually all of the benefits of "opening up" mentioned were economic. Great stress was placed on the economic needs of the people, with their cultural needs talked about once or twice, thrown in as a sop. Dimensions of "opening up" were mentioned - economic, technological, scientific, cultural and a few others, but a most important one was conspicuous by its omission.

Wen boasted about their huge foreign exchange reserves, at which the audience clapped. While he then went on about the political pressure the country faced due to their size, he said nothing about the arguably more pressing point of the uselessness of having massive unused reserves. Betraying his technocratic background, he started talking and giving numbers about boring things like safety and food standards, making the RMB convertible and intellectual property rights.

When it came to the Questions and Answers, Wong Kan Seng moderated and very astutely, he took 3 questions from the ground floor. He then tried to shoo Wen out by saying he had a busy schedule, no doubt knowing that students always ask the troublesome questions and aware of the venue's historic significance as a site of resistance at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum 2 1/2 years back, but to his credit Wen said he should field questions from students.

Although I had bounded to the mic early, I was unfortunately not called upon and in the end 2 PRCs asked their own Premier questions. That in and of itself was only a minor annoyance, despite my well-crafted question (if I do say so myself), but what really pissed me off was how one PRC girl first asked me if I had a question (no, I was standing behind the microphone because I wanted to show off my hair to better advantage) and then asked if I was a student (no, I'm the toilet cleaner). She started waving to Wen while someone else was asking a question. She then had the gall to cut me and tapped and even tried to talk into the mic when Wen was speaking. Demonstrating my inability to succeed in China, I did not push her away or snatch the mic away from her, bt luckily, she was not allowed to speak.

After the 2 questions from other PRCs, Wen remarked that no Singaporean students had asked any questions, and Wong said we needed to “加油” ("jia1 you2" - redouble our efforts). Nonetheless, no effort was made to field a question from a Singaporean and the session was ended. I was tempted to shout into the mic if a Singaporean student could ask a question, but I was not a PRC and thus not that rude.

Finally, my question: China looks at Singapore as a model for how to open up while maintaining political stability. Yet, do you think Singapore has any lessons to learn from China in maintaining political stability? For example, to protect the people from malicious foreign influences and incorrect thoughts you censor the Internet. Would Singapore benefit from more Internet censorship?

News articles about the visit:

Wen Jiabao: China to unswervingly follow opening up policy_English_Xinhua
Chinese premier expounds on China's opening up policy_English_Xinhua
'Massive' foreign reserves put China under pressure: Wen - The China Post

Dictatorship of virtue : how the battle over multiculturalism is reshaping our schools, our country, and our lives

The next-to-last batch of quotes from the book (which I am returning, freeing up one slot to borrow more pressing shit):

"Thirty years ago, something shifted in the national mind. The Vietnam War and the attitudes engendered during that period, the vast disillusionment with the American nature that characterized the elite members of an entire generation, led us to a fault line. For the first time in our history, many of us, especially those headed for the professions, for graduate school, for journalism, the professoriat, the ministry, came to see the United States, its role in the world and its record in history, as more tainted by iniquity than infused with good."

"Before the Vietnam War and the transformations of the 1960s, the space creature was typified by the beings portrayed in Body Snatchers. In the 1950S and early 1960s the movies showed us here on earth fighting off a wide variety of intergalactic Others, most of whom came in nonhuman form. [Examples of The Blob, The Children of the Damned, I Married a Monster from Outer Space, This Island Earth and War of the Worlds]...

Playing roles in both of these last two movies is a dramatic character who is open-minded and charitably inclined toward the space creatures, who wants to assume a certain good-heartedness on their part, even believing that they may embody some wisdom in short supply among the earthlings. These characters were ahead of their time in the 19505 in their openheartedness toward Otherness, so it is worth noting that they are treated as irritating fools in these movies. In War of the Worlds, the type is represented by a man of the cloth who approaches the spaceship of the invaders, his hand outstretched in a gesture of conciliation, forgetting that the goal of the Martias, which is to seize the earth for themselves, makes them unconciliable. The pastor says, “They are living creatures out there; if they are more advanced than us, they should be closer to the Creator.” The good man recites “The Lord Is My Shepherd” as he walks toward the beastly high-tech thing from another planet and is then vaporized by the creatures’ matter-destroying weaponry. In The Thing, the pro-Otherness character is a scientist who believes we have something to learn from what is, evidently, an intellectually higher form of life. He tries to dissuade the other scientists from their view that the only recourse is to set a trap for the monster and kill it. He makes his approach to the thing, which, uninterested in dialogue or mutual understanding, smashes him to the floor...

It is when E. T. The Extra-Terrestrial comes along in 1982 to be the biggest-grossing movie in the history of Hollywood that the space invader as a symbol of good reaches its highest point. E. T. is a clarion call to the antiracist ethos, a cinematic lesson in tolerance and it pluralism. He is gnomelike, dwarfish, dark-skinned, semireptilian, ungainly, innocuous, sentimental, bug-eyed, scaly. He combines the qualities of Mahatma Gandhi and a lizard. More to the point, he is a twenty-first-century Christ.

Like Jesus, E.T. is mightily unappreciated by the holders of power on earth, who, imbued with the suspicious mentality of the pre—baby boom generation, think that he is of the older genre of the body snatchers, perhaps a carrier of some deadly virus. So the scientists and technicians march around in airtight space suits, making them look far more monstrous than E.T. himself. E.T. spends his last night on earth in a forested glade—a clear reference to the Garden of Gethsemane-striving to communicate with his folks back home. The next day, the scientists and technicians—who play the role that the Pharisees and the Roman centurions play in the biblical version of this story—capture him and stick him behind a prophylactic shield where he dies, temporarily. Only the children, the disciples, the innocents who have no knowledge of intergalactic bacteria and are unprejudiced toward reptilian beings from other solar systems, understand E.T. for what he is: a foil for our own moral blindness, our deep prejudice and racism, our failure to see the evil that lurks in us, or to perceive the good within the different. E.T. is resurrected by the love of the children. A spaceship arrives and he ascends to heaven...

Even if the period genres are not entirely consistent, it is not hard to see the general drift in the movies’ representations of ourselves and of the Other, a change that stemmed from the great intetllectual revolution effected by the war in Vietnam. The space invader, the symbol of something that is not us, changes from the devil incarnate to a new Jesus. The earthlings, the beleaguered innocents of the 1950s, are the imperial Romans of the next era...

If the space invader has become hero and the earthling the villain, similar inversions have taken place in at least one other cinematic prototype—the cowboy-and-Indian adventure, the classic in this case being Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves of 1990. Never mind thatCostner uses a historical event that never happened (the defection of a Civil War cavalry officer to the Indians) and transforms the warlike, scalp-taking, torturing, predatory, patriarchal, male-chauvinistic Sioux Indians into a group that might have founded the Ethical Culture Society. Dances With Wolves replaces one myth, that of the brave settler and the savage Indian, with another—the morally advanced friend-of-the-earth Indian... and the malodorous, foulmouthed, bellicose white man.

The desire to put the Indian on the pedestal of superior moral awareness defeats even simple truth. In 1991 two American Indians [Chief Seattle and Forrest Carter] were the subjects of best-selling books. They became icons of the New Consciousness, and they continued to be so even after it was discovered that in both cases that their most admirable qualities had been invented for them by white men."

"Who could have thought, [Margo Culley] said, that at the Modern Language Association, which is the largest scholarly group in the world, with more than thirty thousand members, "the subjects of gender and race have overwhelmed the field?” Who could have imagined that "race and gender issues would be the hottest game in town, or that at times it would seem the only game?”

It might seem odd that someone interested in diversity would so happily proclaim that one perspective has become "the only game" in town, but Professor Culley in fact assumes that within that single game there is fabulous variety, many “perspectives”. “Diverse feminisms have extended the boundary of our knowledge,” she told her audience in New Jersey. “In the taxonomy of feminisms we find, among others, liberal, cultural, radical, socialist, Third-world, post-colonial, and post-structuralist feminists,” she said. Among the others in this diverse phylum are, presumably, Marxist, lesbian, deconstructionist, posthistoricist, and other feminisms. Certainly, there was no point in mentioning Christian or Jewish or Muslim feminists, and Republican or conservative feminists would be oxymoronish.

Professor Culley had other things to say, many of them marinated in the half dozen or so concepts that have become conventional wisdom since the explosion she described began. She spoke of "the importance of subject positions," the "privileging of theory," of the “site of the collision of post-structuralism and feminist politics.” She mentioned “gender as a social construct” and “the politics of representation,” the "emergent voices of women from the Third World," and how, after she read American Indian autobiographies, white women's autobiography became for her “very specific historically and culturally constructed representations of the white female self.”

For those not familiar with this jargon, it might seem to embody something new, when, in fact, it is the standard boilerplate, the prefabricated lingo of academic life. Indeed, it is one of the major conceits of the New Consciousness that a brilliantly "transgressive" (another commonly used word) way of scrutinizing the world is being developed by what is called the new scholarship. And, indeed, there is a great deal that is eye-opening and compelling in literary criticism, history, sociology, and other fields where many scholars are taking a radically skeptical approach to conventional attitudes. Contrary to some critics of the newer academic trends, I find much that is both enjoyable and edifying in deconstruction, in the new historicism, in black studies, and in feminism, where a previously unmapped terrain is being explored by lively minds. The problem is that so much of what is claimed under the banner of the new is actually a stale, simpleminded, Manichaean, and imitative reformulation of that discredited nineteenth-century concept called Marxism, its creases of great age tasked by the lipstick and rouge of a new terminology. It would be hard to hear a speech at the annual conference of the New Jersey Project, or at many an academic convention, that did not have a heavy sprinkling of the phrases and terms of this new language.

There is “dominant discourse,” "marginal subjects," the "victimized subaltern"; there are “overdetermined structures of meaning” and "hegemonic arrangements of power." Open up almost any contemporary academic journal, and you will find phrases like "colonized bodies," the “vantage points of the subjugated,” the “great underground terrain of subjugated knowledge,” the “marginalized other,” which are in contradistinction to the “totalizing metanarratives” and the "socially produced meaning" of the dominant white-male culture, represented in the “hegemonic curriculum.” Inspired by the ideas of French philosopher Michel Foucault, the jargon represents the reformulation of basic nineteenth-century Marxist ideas that have been borrowed by generations of intellectuals bent on showing that the world as it exists is the creation (the “social construction”) of the groups that hold power, their ideology (the “dominant discourse”) used to maintain sway over everybody else (the "victimized subaltern"). Substitute the new jargon for such older terms as "substructure" and “superstructure,” and you have just about the entire
addition of ideological multiculturalism to already existing Marxist social theory.

Here, for example, is Rothenberg answering a question about what she calls “the opponents of a multicultural, gender-balanced curriculum,” namely: “How does the traditional curriculum serve their interests and perpetuate their power?” Rothenberg’s answer is right out of the sophomore’s guide to nineteenth-century dialectical materialism. “The traditional curriculum teaches all of us to see the world through the eyes of privileged, white, European males and to adopt their interests and perspectives as our own,” she writes. Rothenberg is advancing her insight as if it were something new, when, in fact, all she is doing is replacing the word “bourgeois” or "capitalist" with the words “white, European males.” This tradition, she conntinues, “calls books by middle-class, white male writers 'literature' and honors them as timeless and universal, while treating the literature produced by everyone else as idiosyncratic and transitory... It teaches the art produced by privileged white men in the West and calls it ‘art history.’" Rothenberg continues to say that the traditional curriculum "values the work of killing and conquest over the production and re-production of life.""

"Culley did not explain how, if the climate is so repressive, the number of women’s studies programs went from nothing in the late 1960s to being “the hottest game in town” - at times, indeed, “the only game” - twenty years later."

"Nobody wants to be complacent about injustice, especially when that injustice involves racial and other discriminations. But the postsixties, E.T.-ish sensibility did more than create a generation willing to see the fault within itself. It robbed us of our defenses at the same time. It made us prone to dérapage. It is responsible in this sense for more than just a bit of noxious but probably not-very-harmful academic silliness ala Culley, Rothenberg, and the New Jersey Project. Bereft of any strong sense of ourselves as embodiments of a great culture and system of values, riven with guilt about the worth of our own tradition, we have become defenseless against the extremist claims of multicultural ideology in general. We have become ridden with guilt. We have lost the will to have a common identity, since we no longer have faith that the common identity is morally worthy. We are unwilling to defend complicated truths, whether about Christopher Columbus or the extent to which racism and sexism explain the total experience and status of minority group members and women. We foster an exaggerated sense of aggrievement rather than insist on a degree of responsibility. We are uncomfortable with the notion of standards, because we are prone to the argument that standards and “metanarratives” are one and the same thing - merely ways of seeing the world “through the eyes of privileged, white, European males.” And it is all because we are afraid, as Margo Culley might put it, to be found complicitous in the hegemonic arrangements of power. We are subject to the tyranny of political correctness, the dictatorship of virtue, because we have granted the forces of the New Consciousness the right to determine what virtue is."

"Of course, Reagan won two elections by landslides, and George Bush won one of them. The conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh sells far more books and has more listeners than Margo Culley or any other professors at any university. So how could it be that the New Consciousness has come to power? Limbaugh is a clue to this. His success is the product of a grassroots feeling among many Americans that their values and their self-conception are being assaulted by the liberal elites, and, moreover, that to express their discontent with this would be to expose them as benighted and racist. And they are correct in this. The victory of ideological multiculturalism is not in the numbers or in the polls, because there it would always lose. It is in the penetration of the sensibility into the elite institutions, in the universities, the press, the liberal churches, the foundations, the schools, and show business, on PBS and “Murphy Brown,” at Harvard and Dallas Baptist University, on editorial boards and op-ed pages, at the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the National Education Association, the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the National Council of Churches, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. In all of them, the sensibility that has fomented the challenge to the American places of memory provides overall guidance. What were once small enclaves of dissent replicated themselves and became so numerous that they became the establishment."
He should've set out his thesis earlier! This comes on 230/357!

--- Dictatorship of virtue : how the battle over multiculturalism is reshaping our schools, our country, and our lives / Richard Bernstein (1995)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Photos from the Creation Museum

Some particularly notable ones:

BIBLICAL HISTORY is the KEY to UNDERSTANDING DINOSAURS - The guy puts it best: 'Best picture ever.' I would only change it to: 'Best. Picture. Ever.' Christian Mythology doesn't get any better than this.

Hall of Torment (?). For some reason there's a photo of a woman on a bed whose face is wraught with expression. At first I thought it was pleasure and she was having sex, and I was puzzled. Then I realised she was giving birth.

Adam and Eve get freaky while the serpent looks on. - Isn't the serpent meant to have legs? Tsk.

That's the wrecking-ball-of-Science knocking down a Church. - Yes. Acknowledging that the world is Millions of Years old destroys faith. Been there, done that with the geocentric universe. This sort of thing is just self-fulfilling expectations.

Perhaps the only upside is they don't (seem to) misrepresent Evolution.
Keisuke Hirano: Econometrics Haiku

"Supply and demand:
without a good instrument,
not identified.

Panel data hint--
for OVB use FE,
or use CRE.

T-stat looks too good.
Use robust standard errors--
significance gone.

Emptiness of mind,
Like a blank sheet of paper.
General exams.

Method of moments:
replace population mean
with sample version.

Complete class theorem:
admissible rules are Bayes;
the converse also.

Testing restrictions:
Wald, Lagrange Multiplier,
Likelihood Ratio.

From negation comes
growth, progress; not unlike a
referee report.

Consumption Smoothing (after L. Peter Deutsch)
Use value functions:
to iterate is human;
to recurse, divine.

Note: these were written as a sort of thank-you to my dissertation committee in 1998, as evidence that I had learned some things in graduate school. . ."
New blog picture:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

[On sunglasses] Prevent squinting... that's what I read. [Student 2: Prevent wrinkles.]

[On being Indian] You have melanin, I have melanin, but a lot of people don't have [it]

The first time I got sunburnt... Someone said: 'You better put on sunscreen'. I said: no, I'm naturally protected. I have all this [melanin].

Shit, I need some classical music. Keep myself awake, because classical music doesn't make sense.

Where would you bring your girlfriend for dinner on Friday night?... He said 'Arts Canteen'... [Student 2: 'Arts Canteen' is leading 'Home' by 3 to 2. And in last place is 'It's an academic question'.]... [Student 3: If there's a movie screening with free food then {the} movie screening.]

You know this swamp where the turtles hang out? [Instructor: This pub where the turtles hang out?]

Who's that celloist? (cellist)

[On the Sofa Room] I know for a fact that someone has done it in there before. [Me: Was it you?]

[On my legacy to my grand-juniors] Do you know because of you my friend went to take down all the quotes from the tutors?

[On the Llama] I thought it was from Tibet... The Dalai Llama.

You know what's the worst thing about precum? You get lousy sperm, so you get a really screwed up kid. [Student 2: Is that where you came from?]... [Student 3: There's something in your hair.] [Student 2: Eugh.]

[Me to Frigid Girl: Are you the type that drinks with a straw?] I drink from the can. What do you think I am? A girl?

[On why he wants to try to switch from Philosophy to Law] Because next time I want to own a BMW... [You can't] Unless you're the CEO of Thai Express.

[Male student:] I rather be passive. That's why I rather be raped than rape.

[Me: I have ideological objections to the institution of marriage.] [Student 2: Is there anything you don't have ideological objections to?]... Do you have ideological objections to sex? [Me: No.] See?

[Female student on my balloon] Can I draw on the condom?... I don't want to touch it. It's disgusting. I'm Catholic, I can't use contraception... It feels nice.

[On an instructor] We were discussing yesterday: he's like a woman. What he wants is the opposite of what he says.

I thought Rwanda is in Uganda. (was)

[II on Little India] This is one of the dirtiest places in Singapore.

It's a very crowdy place (crowded)

[During the presentation] For those who don't know me, I'm ***. I'm also in this class.

The see'z'air'shern of Bangladesh (secession)

race coase road (course)

Next week - is that our last lecture? [Students: Yeah.] *whispers* Yes!

Have a very good Deepavali. What do people do for Deepavali? Light lights.

[On presentation attire] We know, Gabriel, that you don't do anything accidentally. Everything is calculated. [Student 2: Everything is on purpose.]

[Female student on a girl revealing her cleavage] Oh my god. I can't stop staring at her boobs.

developing countries' winter woos (woes)

[On presentations] Any other questions for them? Come on, give them a hard time.

[Female student on my tying up my hair] I thought you cut your hair. [Me: I'm so disappointed in you.]

the duh'more'g'rer'fee (demography)

I would say today's presentations are not too - not that bad... I am not unhappy.

It keeps breaking down. As far as I know it's been lying there for the last 10, 15 years. Broken down, rubbish... The red light is always on... It's a complete failure and an embarrassment but in Singapore nothing fails. It's either made to look like a success or buried somewhere... You can send them an email and say 'I want to see your synchrotron'. I'll be very surprised if they let you see it. They'll tell you it's under maintenance. You ask: 'For how many years?'

I'm gonna call your name and after I call your name you tell me if you're present or not present.

[On the exam] Mostly straightforward questions but I can't resist asking some bizarre questions.

[Me on Superpoke Physics: Oh wait. She can't teabag him... It's physically impossible.] Can. She can teabag him on Superpoke. [Student 2: Like 'do' is 'done an impression of']

radiation frog (fog)

[On Inner Mongolia] There are also people growing there (crops there)

[On Quantum Tunneling] You keep banging your head on the wall... After billions of years your head suddenly goes through without damaging the wall.

[Student on laser cutting: How about ice?]... In Japan or Finland they have this ice festival periodically. So you can go with your laser pointer and try.

All lasers are dangerous. [Student: Har?] What har? [Student: I use a laser printer]... The laser is dangerous, not the whole product.

[Student on the uses of fibre optic cables: Car sensors] What car sensors? I don't understand. [Student: I don't understand also.] You seem to provide a lot of answers which are mysterious which neither you nor anyone understands.

An inherently problematic issue. *I smile* Your favourite word.

[On the Speak Mandarin Campaign] It appears the younger generation has a different surname with the older generation (than)

Hainan'niss (Hainanese)

[On a photo of LKY shaking hands] This is Lee Kuan Yew. He is intimately behaving with a clan member in public... At the same time he has the policies... responsible for the dares'miss of dialects. This is suspicious. (behaving intimately, demise)

Chinese Clans associations (Clan)

[On dialect groups' music] The Cantonese have their goh'ng and drum. (gong)

[On what Chineseness is defined in distinction to] In Singapore, we have the Malays, the Indians, the Other - the Others.

[On interviewing Chinese Clan associations] They don't want to talk to us, we are just students. They want to talk to people who can highlight them - the press, newspapers. They tell us to read the newspapers - everything is in there. They just ignore us.

A citizen of the whirl (world)

[On idolatry prohibitions and the value of tangible symbols in Abrahmic religions] We don't worship Golden Cows, but we go to war over pieces of the Cross

[On the Wailing Wall] Stuffing little pieces of paper with prayers and maybe curses written on them... A couple of years ago there was a photo op of Pope John Paul... To remind them that the Vatican II council had forgiven them for killing Christ. (with)

You have the Armenians, who are the scariest of them visually, aesthetically. It's almost Harry Potter-esque. You do not laugh at an Armenian service. This bearded old man with a tall hat with stars on it.

[On the Al-Aqsa Mosque] This tranquil area with lots of trees. It's a very quiet area when there's no riots there.

[On rebuilding the Jersualem Temple again on the Dome of the Rock] Some people look forward to the end of the world. Some people think it's a bad idea.

[On stone throwing in Hebron] It became almost a rite of passage, a duty... For young men of both sides with too much free time and testosterone.

[On Abrahmaic religions, Hebron and the agreed meaning of the Tomb of the Patriarchs] It's very rare for these 3 groups to agree on anything.

[On Joseph] He worked as a clairvoyent... What's the word for the guy who interprets dreams? [Students: Seer.] [Me: Fraud.] He worked as a charlatan for the Pharaoh.

To a lot of people the absence of evidence is not seen as a problem, since faith itself is a kind of evidence, in a weird sort of way... This is the weird thing about religious heritage... The idea of faith itself as supporting evidence.

[On Muslims destroying Joseph's tomb in Nablus in 2000] No one had a good answer... This is an important Muslim site. Why did you destroy it? 'Because the Jews are here'. The argument stopped there.

[On settlers praying at Joseph's tomb without an escort] I've always been fascinated by this site, because I could never figure out why it was so important... Joseph. Pretty minor guy. Would you go to war over him?... An act of aggression... Going there to pray at midnight, it wasn't an act of faith. It was an act of aggression.

Building a ramp at the Dome of the Rock... It was a Jewish idea, so it was a bad idea, even though it was to get disabled Muslims up there... Conspiracy theories. I didn't know what was real anymore.

[On my explaining MOE's financial aid policy] Is this for work?... Sometimes it's hard to tell what you're doing for work and what you're doing for fun.

[On LED lighting in Third World Countries] For women, the birth rate will decrease, because now they have more things to do at night. *Laughs from audience* Yah, you all understand.

Electricity is only 10% of your electricity bill (Lighting)

110 lumens per watt. [Instructor: What is a lumen?] The lumen is a unit of brightness. Yes. Prof is asking me a question I asked him several weeks ago. [Instructor: I didn't give you the answer, so you tell me.]

You claim that this system is environmental friendly (claim, environmentally)

My friend's boyfriend got caught for play'ger'rising a lab report (plagiarising)

[On SEP] I remember in ***, XXX had his IPPT, so everyday he went to the treadmill. But actually he was looking at the Caucasian girls.

[On Applied Maths] Our expression isn't going to be so bad. There's always one bad term in there, but we haven't hit it yet.

[On the Envelope Theorem] We also have to use a theorem you don't know... Just believe me... In some ways life is very simple.

[On a big mess of algebra] It's not hard... You're thinking you have to remember this. Don't worry about that yet... I'm here to teach you but you keep thinking I'm here to test you... Until the moment you have to memorise it. That's when the [shock] sets in. But we're not at that moment yet.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other." - Jack Handy


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"I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde


u r wt u wr:

- 'Waiting for you *picture of dog from the back with a prominent anus*'
- 'Girls is sign of nature *picture of snail*' (???)
- 'Beauty versus brains. In anyways, I've got both'
- 'Be the prom queen'
- 'Shining seduction'
- 'Absofuckinglutely single!'
- 'So many boys. So little time.'
- 'Love means nothing to a tennis player' (Someone explained this to me)
- 'Who's him? He's just a friend'
- 'Dirty weekend'
- 'Sweet as maple syrup'
- 'You caught me at a bad time. [Back:] I'm awake.'
- 'I only fall in love with the best. Fox company.'
- 'Can you make my ♥ skip a beat?'
- 'I can't get dressed without my thumb drive'
- 'BOOB JOB' (Contributed)
- 'Sensibly stroke. The sooner the better' (Contributed, worn by a mum)
- 'Lovely clothes girls' (Contributed)

I realise that besides being deceptive, another reason no one should wear bras with firmly defined cups if they are unable to fill them is that it is very easy to zaogeng, since there will be space in between the cloth and the flesh.

NUS Alumna friend (in Week 12): "What happened to sluts of arts? Seemingly non existent now. [No more miniskirts] and no tubes no club dresser le. You guys lugi la"

I've been seeing fewer of these in the last 2 weeks in school, but outside the flow is as steady as ever. People are either conservative around this time or the people who wear such things aren't in school.
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