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Saturday, January 05, 2008

"A sympathetic Scot summed it all up very neatly in the remark, "You should make a point of trying every experience once, excepting incest and folk dancing."" - Sir Arnold Bax


2 Girls 1 Cup Song- "This is a love song inspired by the famous "2 Girls 1 Cup" video" (SFW)

"How do you show someone you love
That they are the one
So many ways to express love
It's hard to choose just one
How you gonna do it

Some people like to kiss, some people like to hug,
Some lesbians like eating each other's shit out of a cup
Some people say "I love you," some even shout it out
Some people puke semi-digested shit into each other's mouths

Sometimes making love's not enough,
You have to step it up
And urinating on her face
Is not enough to say "I love you"


She's covered in vomit and human feces
That how I know that she needs me
She's covered in vomit and human feces
That how I know that she needs me

Shit it my mouth
And I'll puke it all over your face"

Digg also links to "ANOTHER Kain and Lynch sell out video review. What is going on?????".


A: why 2 girls 1 cup background music???
B: Because the game is shit!
C: thanks for answering to crap

D: It has 2girls1cup music in the middle of the review. Does anyone know what that is?
E: I think they used 2g1c music to tell that Gamespot eats shit.
F: I want to play that 2 girls and a cup song in a crowded public place and see how many people respond strangely to it. It'll be like this secret club and everyone else will figure its just some department store music.

[Ed: I have found out what the music is! See this post.]

I'm not sure I've laughed this hard over an Internet meme since I first saw Wo-hen Nankan.

I'm very sad; I can't seem to get the theme music to register any plays on Last.fm (HWMNBN: "i'm not sure which is worse, that someone actually ripped the theme, or that you actually went looking for it"). Oh well.


Comment in Real poop behind 2G1C, US obscenity law, and 'net security. - Boing Boing

"I am surprised by the "big deal" made about this "movie".

In fact it isn't even the movie but the trailer that someone has repackaged as Two Girls and a Cup.

I read in reactions/reviews people thinking MFX 1209 is some kind of cryptic name in the vein of THX 1138,

The number is actually a catalog number for the series. The correct name of the film is MFX 1209: "Hungry Bitches" and and runs and 1:01. Probably more than most people could stomach.

Interesting data about MFX/Marco Fiorito. It subtracts a lot from me to learn the trade secret that the poop is fake.

I've seen a couple of his movies and there are quite a few. The cleverest one to me was MFX 1156: "I shit in your Ass"...

Ironically, in Japan scat and bukkake films are legal and yet straight intercourse films are illegal."

And someone uploaded the covers and screens to: EXTREME BOARD :: View topic - MFX-1209 - Hungry Bitches

Very NSFW pictures below:

"Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke." - Lynda Barry


Advertlets seems to have committed one of the cardinal sins of e-businesses - forgetting to renew their domain name. It now seems to be held by a cybersquatter.

As such, sites with Advertlets ads are now redirecting to "www.adbaaz.com" (very cunning, this cybersquatter); I have disabled mine (and I haven't gotten any payout before either, damn!)

Let's hope they solve this problem soon, one way or another. Since I doubt they'll be willing to pay an exorbitant rate to get the domain back, they'll be faced with the (possibly) unenviable task of setting up a new domain and asking everyone to change their ad code.

Malaysia Boleh!

(Thanks for The Fell Bat for alerting me to this problem)


"The domain issue is currently being resolved, and advertlets.com should be online shortly.
Advertlets Support | 05/01/08 - 5:53 pm"

Wah, they're fast.
One of the most well-referenced (in terms of density) Wikipedia articles I've seen:

2 Girls 1 Cup - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The video originated from a 36-year-old Brazilian man, named Marco Fiorito, who describes himself as a "compulsive fetishist". Fiorito originally produced foot fetish videos but soon moved on to coprophagia. The film was produced by MFX-Video, one of several companies owned by Fiorito. Fiorito contends his films are legal in Brazil, but authorities in the United States have branded some of his films as obscene and filed charges against Danilo Croce, a Brazilian lawyer living in Florida, listed as an officer of a company distributing Fiorito's films in the United States. Croce accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to 3 years of unsupervised probation and forfeiture of $98,000. Fiorito claimed he did not know his films were illegal in the United States and that his films often contained chocolate instead of feces to appease some his actors who were willing to appear in scat films but not actually eat fecal matter.

The first frame in the 2 Girls 1 Cup video has the text "MFX 1209" and includes an URL to mfxvideos.com, the website of Fiorito's MFX-Video, leading some in the media to believe the video is one of the many Croce had to surrender to the Department of Justice but was somehow leaked in the process...

Joe Rogan, host of NBC's Fear Factor, a show notorious for the disgusting things its contestants eat, had to turn away in a reaction video posted to his blog. A reaction video starring Kermit the Frog proved very popular on the community-based popularity website Digg...

Media recognition
Many in the media have taken the video's popularity as a sign of society's declining morals. The video was featured on VH1's Best Week Ever, where the video's existence and propagation was declared to cause "Moral Bankruptcy" to have the "Best Week Ever!""

Friday, January 04, 2008

Since you asked, by Cary Tennis, racists, racism, social attitudes, liberalism, conservatism, New England, racial stereotypes

"Our new friend is a racist -- should we dump him?
My husband and he have so much in common -- but his beliefs are pernicious and wrong!

It is difficult for those of us with all the correct beliefs to extend courtesy, love and understanding to those with mistaken beliefs. But it is an affliction of your time to believe your own beliefs -- to believe your own beliefs are the only ones that matter and are correct and represent the pinnacle of social progress. If you take an imaginative leap to the 12th century, or the 18th century, or the 1930s, you will notice how radically beliefs change. We who are now alive think we know what is right and correct, as did the Spanish in the Inquisition and the Protestants in the Reformation and the Maoists in the Cultural Revolution; it is the privilege of those on top to think they know what is right and correct. It is a nice privilege indeed. Doubting ourselves is hard.

Even if we are correct in believing that those of us with the correct beliefs represent the pinnacle of social progress, we must also recognize that... some are slow to accept cultural progress and scientific knowledge.

You can call them names if you like. You can call them racists and bigots. You can exclude them from your company even though you really like them as people...

We ought not let them rule our nation, of course. But we ought not exclude them from friendship. I just think lots of us are pretty dumb, and we're not all that virtuous either, and big deal. I'm not so impressed with our own assumed air of virtue, we liberal coastal elites. I don't think we're all that morally superior to the racists and sexists we can so easily pick out of the crowd and condemn. I think in fact that our frequent presumption of moral superiority is a deep character flaw that blinds us both to the vast virtue around us and to our vast capacity for growth. And more than that: Our air of superiority bores me. It bores me how we talk. It bores me how seriously we take the liberal taboos, how easily we are stopped at the borders of good taste.

In fact, I am rather drawn to the bad man, the racist, the reprobate, the criminal, the idiot, the one who doesn't get how he is supposed to behave. He unwittingly shines a light on the dark side -- and even that is condescending, isn't it, to assume that the only virtue we can find in those of a lower caste is one they are not even aware that they are expressing?...

Can you love someone who is deeply flawed? Do you have the courage to do that? Can your love be tinged with disapproval and still be love? Can you heatedly dispute on matters of social beliefs and still remain friends? I hope so. I hope you can do that. I also hope you can find persuasive materials to show that the beliefs of your friend are groundless and pernicious, for that is today's correct belief, and it is the one true belief, and it is the belief that everyone should have."
"In films murders are always very clean. I show how difficult it is and what a messy thing it is to kill a man." - Alfred Hitchcock


Cool poster from the Oregon Center for Nursing:

"Are you man enough... to be a nurse?

If you want a career that demands intelligence, courage, and skill, and offers unlimited opportunity, consider nursing.

Sang Kim RN
Cardiac Telemetry Nurse

Terry Misener RN, PhD
Dean, School of Nursing
Retired Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army

Yuri Chavez RN, CRNA
Nurse Anesthetist
2:54 LA Marathon

Roland Jomerson RN
Post Anesthesia Recovery Nurse
Decorated Vietnam Combat Medic and Retired Major, U.S. Army

Don Mucciprosso RN
Poison Specialist Nurse
Harley Rider

Walter Moore, Jr. RN
Intensive Care Unit Nurse
U.S. Navy Seal Team One

Bill Maddalena SN
Student Nurse
3rd Degree Black Belt Kenpo

L. Rey Ariola RN
Cardiology Nurse
Rugby Right Prop

Jason Scott Carrick SN
Student Nurse
Basketball Power Forward"
Hokkaido Trip
Day 6 (17/12) - Narita
(Part 3)

I wonder if melon-flavoured food in Japan is naturally flavoured. If so, maybe they blend melon skin to extract the flavour, perhaps with the help of liquor.

I'm curious about the statistics on eating disorders in Japan and how they compare to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Leaving the temple, we proceeded to lunch.

We got Green Tea at lunch. Hah.

Mother's lunch


We each had a lunch special - 1000Y only (nett). My father had Unagi; probably because it was more expensive, there was no fruit salad or udon (then again, maybe it's because it came on a larger bowl of rice). It was also the first time I'd had a candied cherry with a seed in it.

Biscuit man

Funny shop

As I walked by a cheesecake place, I noticed that it seemed to be playing what sounded like a Mozart string quartet. Then I noticed it was coming from the PA system.

Classical music in Narita. Presumably the same PA system was what was playing the carols earlier.

I also had a Milk soft serve ice cream. McDonalds soft serve (hardly milk, let alone vanilla) will never taste the same again. Though for some reason, all the ice cream cones (3?) I had in Japan were sugar cones (like in McDonalds) - thin and flavourless.

I saw a black woman in Narita!

"Jet Lag Club". Uhh.

We'd been walking from the Old Town part of Narita (probably reconstructed) to what was the equivalent of the New Town:

and the Newer Town:

(I distinguish them by the traffic lights and building heights and the Makudonarudo at the boundary)

Long list of Don'ts at the train station: "No running to board the train. No lying down or sitting on the floor no drunkenness. No soliciting donations." Looks like Flag Day is a nono.

Back at the hotel I saw another block woman, and a latina.

"Hotel Chapel Christmas" - as an Ang Moh on the shuttle bus commented, it was finally the right season for the hotel.

At the airport they had hand-held crepes, eaten with spoons. Instead, I went for Takoyaki (only Octopus was on sale, no bacon. Pity):

I also had some Dipper Dan gelato (despite the name, it's Jap). It was "Yamanashi Hakuto (Peach)", but wasn't good - it had a very weak taste. Perhaps Japanese peach does not translate to gelato well.

"Famous Nathan's" which said it was "America's most favorite hot dog" had Yakitori, Jap curry, Udon, Ramen and more - ie it was mostly Jap food. Gah.

Handea and Chitose airports were hi-tech sanitary-wise, but Narita was disappointing. Maybe it was to stop gaijin transiting through there from experiencing what they'd heard so much about, and force them to explore the country.

At the airport there were at least 2 shops well-stocked with Shiroi Koibito (one of which had a video going "Only available in Hokkaido!"; curiously they were the same price as what I'd paid despite being tax-free - maybe I got a bulk discount). Foreign visitors must be pampered, even in the face of shortages!

They had "Kamikaze", "Ninja" and "Ichiban" baseball caps, but I decided that my Kamikaze headband was more impressive than a mere cap.

They were selling Crystal Geyser water for some reason. Maybe it's because they idolise the Americans. Then again they also have Evian.

At security screening there was one Indian girl staff member who spoke English with a Jap accent. There were also quite a few PRCs working at the airport.

I saw one girl in scarf, sweater and hot shorts (with no stockings). I thought she was PRC or Taiwanese. Then I saw her Singapore passport. Gah.

"Utamaro. 'Twelve hours in the Gay Quarters'"

Wth stick - "Iyashibo" ("Iyashi-Bo Healing Log by Sega Toys"). This is a fake piece of wood that emits the sound of rushing water, birds and woodland animals. Supposedly it can help healing, relaxation (while you're on the toilet bowl), 'feeling easy' and be used to surprise people with its '3D sound'. Damn Japs.

Wth toy. "What's 'Rocobo'? 'Rocobo' is living on the desk/table. He/She is so tiny!! But, he/she is not only robot but also acting like animals, getting hungry, going to bathroom, getting illness etc. He/She like you touch their head and sing for them. However, he/she very afraid of lonliness, if you leave them alone for a while, he will feel very sad. From today, you are the owner of 'Rocobo'. Please take a great care to 'Little Rocobo'."

There were some 'I♥日本' T-shirts. I wonder if there're 'I♥Singapore' and 'I♥Bolehland' T-shirts.

In the shuttle to the Narita satellite terminal: "Do not use mobile phones". What, do they interfere with the shuttle's navigation systems?

'Fine boys' magazine had a guy on its cover, but he didn't look like a girl. Amazing. 'Popeye' did have an androgynous person on its cover, though.

Manga title: "Don't kill my volupture". Wth.

Royce' chocolate ad: "Hokkaido's land, clean air and climate are close to that of Europe, the motherland of chocolate and cookies. Royce' was born from these Nature's gifts, and since then, has been dedicated to expressing the essence of Hokkaido in its products. To pursue chocolate and confectionery enjoyment, Royce' has been carrying out exhaustive research around the world to obtain the best ingredients and authentic". I wonder what they'd say if the Europeans tried to make Jap stuff, saying that Europe's land, clean air and climate are close to that of Hokkaido.

Restaurant: "There is a smoking section in the depths"

"Chinese noodles". These look pretty Japanese to me.

Gift shop with stuff from all over the world: the USA (in general), Hawaii, Guam, Las Vegas, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Vietnam, Singapore, China and more. I've had this idea before!

I was looking through some magazines, and in view of my nosebleed the previous night I resolved to stay far away from the sealed ones and stick to safe stuff. Imagine my shock when I flipped one open to see a bare bosom. Softcore stuff must be thought innocuous enough to be left unsealed. I thought of getting one for the 24 year old virgin, but he should wait till he learns enough Jap to understand his existing copy.

I saw a few Hispanics at the airport as well as an Indochinese girl - but she was with an Ang Moh guy.

At the gate, the information monitor provided information not only on the destination and flight number, but also the flight time, local time at destination, meals provided and the plane type. How helpful.

The JAL safety video warning about alcohol consumption is cute - it features a business man with his tie around his head as a headband and swaying down the aisle with a bottle.

Ground crew waving

Safety breach - the maintenance supervisor is wearing a cap, which is dangerous.

They like his cap a lot

They really like him

Yet they don't let him wear a helmet, unlike his lackeys. Maybe it's to give the latter a chance to fill the former position if the supervisor dies or is incapacitated in an accident.

JAL meals are 'quality and safety guaranteed'. Hah.

More interesting bits from the JAL pre-flight video: the Stewardess and maintenance staff member shake hands the moment the airplane's door is open enough for hands to pass through it.

"Guys who bet on Tuna" - name of a Jap documentary. Uhh.

Before landing they played a STB documentary in Japanese promoting Singapore with the words "food" (okay), "culture" (hah) and "tradition" (HAH). It also mostly featured Ang Mohs walking around (then again it works for the Japs, seeing their TV commercials). Many Japanese restaurants were featured, as was Meidi-Ya supermarket; why would Japs go to Singapore to eat Japanese food and shop in Japanese places - are they that parochial (maybe it's paid advertisements)? Fortunately, unlike on MAS, they didn't blare the audio track (if any) over the PA system at all (let alone loudly), and didn't screen it on the personal video monitors (and you wonder why MAS is losing money).

The flights to/from Singapore have Singaporean Chinese stewardesses doing announcements in Chinese. They should let them do the English ones too, since they're much more fluent than the Japanese stewardesses. I bet it's a racial hierarchy thing.

The automated passport clearance was closed when we returned. Gah. Maybe it's only open at certain times when there's someone available to help people use it (how ironic).

If you bring cash or the equivalent of it worth >S$30,000 into Singapore, you are required to make a report to immigration. They proclaim that this is not a currency control measure but nonetheless inform you that it's an offence if you don't make the report. Wth.
YouTube - The Real Hustle - Car Clamp Con - BBC Three - An episode of a show where people get conned, with tips on avoiding confidence scams. This would never work in Singapore - everyone (show producers, 'con artists' and con victims, even, would be put in jail.

Condoms 'too big' for Indian men - "A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men."
Funny, I thought it'd be the opposite. In related news: South Africans need bigger condoms

Will's Web Site - Programs (vbrfix) - "With VBR you can get fairly random times and as most songs start with silence you usually get the predicted song length as much more than it is. Also when you jump throught the file in VBR 50% throught the file is not 50% throught the song. A VRR Null frame is placed at the beggining of the file to tell the MP3 player information about the song length and indexing throught the song. Some poor encoders don't produce this NULL frame or do it incorrectly so this program calculates a correct Null frame and replaces it. It can also fix other problems with mp3s as it deletes all non-mp3 content(other than tags you state you want to keep). It can help when merging two VBR mp3s together with a merging tool and then needing a newly calculated bitrate."

An IM Infatuation Turned to Romance. Then the Truth Came Out. - Summary: A 48 year old pretended to be an 18 year old Marine, hooked an 18 year old girl online, got jealous and shot a 22 year old; the 18 year old turned out to be 45.

Girl commits suicide over MySpace hoax - "MySpace bulletins started circulating about her that said things like “Megan Meier is a slut. Megan Meier is fat.” It bothered her so much that Megan Meier took her own life. That’s not even the worst part. Worst Part #1: Josh never existed and this was all done by adults. Worst Part #2: No criminal charges are being filed."

English 'bitch': Insult that landed an Irishman living in Wales in court for racial harassment - "A grandfather has been given a prison sentence for racial harassment after calling a Welsh woman "English". Mick Forsythe used the term during an argument over a scratched car in his Welsh home town. He called the vehicle's owner, Lorna Steele, an "English bitch". She and her husband took great offence at the jibe and decided to take him to court. The 55-year-old former lorry driver was found guilty of racially aggravated disorderly behaviour, and received a ten-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months."

Bosses fire worker who put up 'Dilbert' comic - "A Fort Madison man who posted a "Dilbert" comic strip on an office bulletin board has lost his job for implying his bosses were a bunch of "drunken lemurs."... Shortly after the comic was posted to the bulletin board, managers at the casino reviewed surveillance tapes and determined Steward was responsible for the act. At a recent state hearing dealing with Steward's unemployment benefits claim, the casino's human resources director, Steve Morley, testified that "upper management" at the casino found the cartoon to be "very offensive" and fired Steward as a result. "Basically, he was accusing the decision-makers of being drunken lemurs," Morley testified. "We consider that misconduct when you insult your employer.""

China bans firemen from receiving sexual bribes - "China's firemen have been banned from receiving sexual favours, bribes and other kickbacks as part of a new anti-corruption drive, the police ministry has announced. Receiving sexual favours is listed as one of the "non-material gains" that have been banned for anyone in the fire services department, said the ministry notice dated Thursday."

Randy Cassingham's Blog: The Winner of the 2007 Weirdest Story of the Year Award - "Two convicted murderers are among 13 escapees from a prison in Sudbury, Derbyshire, England, in recent months. But most of the men, including the murderers, are still at large because police won't release their photos, since that could breach their human rights. "When making a decision to release any photograph, police forces must take into account numerous factors including the public interest test," lectured a police spokesman, "whether there is a strong local policing purpose and, of course, the Human Rights and Data Protection Acts." So now what? The spokesman said by escaping, the felons "abuse the trust we have placed in them," and "it's up to us to trace their whereabouts.""

Man drinks hairspray in store; busted for shoplifting - "A man was arrested for shoplifting two bottles of White Rain Hair Spray, which he drank in the Wal-Mart on Beal Parkway, according to an Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office report... When White confronted him, he noted the man appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. The man admitted drinking two bottles of spray. He also told White that he is “a hard-core alcoholic,” who drinks the spray for the alcohol in it."

W.Va. cop says woman wiped nose on him - "A woman in this Charleston suburb was charged with battery on a police officer after the officer said she wiped her nose on the back of his shirt... Battery on a police officer is defined as intentionally making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an officer."

Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep - "A nasal spray containing a naturally occurring brain hormone called orexin A reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in monkeys, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests. The discovery's first application will probably be in treatment of the severe sleep disorder narcolepsy."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

"The secret of being a bore is to tell everything." - Voltaire, Discours en vers sur l'homme, 1737


Julian Dibbell repors on 'women's viagra'

"Let us spray

Billed as libido in an atomiser, PT-141 will finally offer women the chance to turn on their sexual desire as and when they need it. Or so the science says. But there are concerns. Will sex in a spray usher in an age of 'McNookie' - quick easy couplings low on emotional nutrition?...

A dose of PT-141 results, in most cases, in a stirring in the loins in as little as 15 minutes. Women, according to one set of results, feel 'genital warmth, tingling and throbbing', not to mention 'a strong desire to have sex'...

The precise mechanisms by which PT-141 does its job remain unclear, but the rough idea is this: where Viagra acts on the circulatory system, helping blood flow into the penis, PT-141 goes to the brain itself. 'It's not merely allowing a sexual response to take place more easily,' explains Michael A Perelman, co-director of the Human Sexuality Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital and a sexual-medicine adviser on the PT-141 trials. 'It may be having an effect, literally, on how we think and feel.'...

Two years earlier, and just three years past its start-up, the company had bought the rights to develop a substance called Melanotan II. Originally isolated by University of Arizona researchers looking for a way to give Caucasians a healthy, sunblocking tan without exposing them to dangerous ultraviolet rays, Melanotan II achieved that and more: it also appeared to facilitate weight loss, increase sexual appetite and act as an anti-inflammatory, too. Quickly dubbed 'the Barbie drug', Melanotan II seemed too good to be true...

Pfaus's results were powerful evidence not only of PT-141's potential as a treatment for women but of its ability to do more than just move blood around. A male rat's erection on its own doesn't say much about the rat's state of mind. A female rat's coquetry, on the other hand, says all we need to know about her intentions and desires. Rats aren't people, to be sure, and as test subjects they suffer from a frustrating inability to tell us, in words, how they experience what they're subjected to. But that has an upside, too, explains Pfaus. 'The bad thing about animals is they don't talk. The good thing is they don't lie.'...

Even assuming that PT-141 ultimately performs as well in broad use as it has in trials, even granting that it can improve sex lives as effectively as a lifetime of erotic exploration, the deeper challenge posed by the prospect of a sexual techno-fix remains: is this really the kind of fix we want? To have desire available at any time, from the nozzle of an inhaler?...

The funny thing is, it appears there's a certain humanlike subjectiveness to the sex life of lab animals as well. When Jim Pfaus tested PT-141 on his female rats, he based his experimental design partly on the work of Raul Paredes, a fellow rat sexologist testing the effects of something more elusive: personal autonomy. That's a tricky thing to measure, but it can be done. Paredes did it like this: first, he looked at rat couples living in standard, box-shaped cages and recorded the details of their sexual behaviour. Then, he altered the cages in only one particular: he divided them into two chambers with a clear wall broken only by one opening, too small for the males to get through but just right for the females. Architecturally it was a minor change, but what it did for the females was huge. It let them get away from the males whenever they chose to, and thereby made it entirely their choice whether to have sex. Paredes then observed the rats' behaviour in this altered setting. Here's what he found: the effects of giving a female rat greater personal control over her sex life are essentially the same as those of giving her PT-141. Autonomy, in other words, is as real an aphrodisiac as any substance known to science...

'What do we tell postmenopausal women who have lost their desire, despite being in a loving and caring relationship? "Sorry, there's nothing we can do," or worse, "Sorry, but you shouldn't be having sex anyway"?'

The argument is a strong one. But so is Tiefer's. Each defends a vital sort of autonomy - the power of self-knowledge on the one hand; on the other, the freedom to grasp whatever tools of self-improvement are available to us. And if, after all the trials are done and the prescriptions are filled, PT-141 diminishes the former as much as it expands the latter, who's to say which matters more? Add up all the pluses and minuses, and in the end the sum may be zero. In short, no net change one way or the other in the world's total supply of sexual happiness.

But then, no one's asking PT-141 to change the world. It's enough to hope that someday, when you need it most, it just might get you through the night."

HWMNBN: i like the concluding paragraphs of that article
this is why our writers have a long way to go

Wah, an aphrodisiac that actually works. But will doping someone with it be considered date rape?

And I'm sure people can make and have made similar arguments against the availability of coronary bypass surgery (it removes personal responsibility since smokers and people with unhealthy diets can just go for an operation), condoms (it de-sanctifies sex and promotes sexual promiscuity) and the Internet (pointing and clicking is so much easier and thus less meaningful than flipping through real books and journals) and restaurants (no longer do we eat food prepared with love and the personal touch, but outsource the whole process and thus alienate ourselves from our food)..

(I'm told the Shitty Times published this today. They're so slow - The Guardian did this 21 months ago.)
"About the time we think we can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends." - Herbert Hoover


"Women themselves are often key players in the fundamentalist game: in India, for example, women like Sadhvi Rithambara and Uma Bharati have stridently mobilised for Hindu nationalism by invoking fears of Muslim violence. In other words, women are objects as well as subjects of fundamentalist discourses, targets as well as speakers of its most virulent rhetoric...

Third world women and women of colour remain the most exploited of the world's workers today. Moreover, such women are the guinea-pigs for fertility and other medical experiments, and the recipients of drugs and contraceptives banned in the West. [Ed: Men are also participants in medical trials. In any case, we can stop them being participants in studies, then none of them will get any drugs at all and all of them will die. Hurrah!]

... To what extent did colonial power succeed in silencing the colonised? When we emphasise the destructive power of colonialism, do we necessarily position colonised people as victims, incapable of answering back? On the other hand, if we suggest that the colonial subjects can 'speak' and question colonial authority, are we romanticising such resistant subjects and underplaying colonial violence? In what voices do the colonised speak - their own, or in accents borrowed from their masters?... Can the voice of the subaltern be represented by the intellectual? Such questions... are also crucial for any scholarship concerned with recovering the histories and perspectives of marginalised people - be they women, non-whites, non-Europeans, the lower classes and oppressed castes - and for any consideration of how ideologies work and are transformed. To what extent are we the products of dominant ideologies, and to what extent can we act against them? From where does rebellion arise?...

Jean Baudrillard remarks that 'the masses' are 'the leitmotif of every discourse, they are the obsession of every social project' which claims to make the oppressed speak (1983: 48-49). Baudrillard himself believes that such projects are doomed, for the masses 'cannot be represented'...

Is objectivity possible, or are we merely ventriloquising our own concerns when we make the subaltern speak? Of course, to some extent, our investments in the past are inescapably coloured by our present-day commitments. We are interested in recovering subaltern voices because we are invested in changing contemporary power relations... it should not be the case that we begin to measure our own radicalism mechanically in terms of our ability to find 'resistance' in any given text or historical situation. If I cannot locate the voices of nineteenth-century widows it surely does not mean that I am party to the process of silencing them. Conversely, critics often lay claim to a radical politics by suggesting a radical consciousness on the part of those they study. This often leads to a reductive understanding of 'resistance', which seems to mushroom too easily everywhere. Thus, our desire to make the subaltern speak may or may not be gratified by our historical researches...

The concept of resistance is vaguely and endlessly expanded until, as Frederick Cooper puts it, 'it denies any other kind of life to the people doing the resisting. Significant as resistance might be, Resistance is a concept that may narrow our understanding of African history rather than expand it (Cooper 1994: 1532)...

Kwame Anthony Appiah pronounced that:

Postcoloniality is the condition of what we might ungenerously call a comprador intelligentsia: a relatively small, Western-style, Western-trained group of writers and thinkers, who mediate the trade in cultural commodities of world capitalism at the periphery. In the West they are known through the Africa they offer; their compatriots know them both through the West they present to Africa and
through an Africa they have invented for the world, for each other, and for Af-
rica... Despite the overwhelming reality of economic decline; despite unimaginable poverty; despite wars, malnutrition, disease, and political instability... popular literatures, oral narrative and poetry, dance, drama, music, and visual art all thrive. The contemporary cultural production of many African societies—and the many traditions whose evidences so vigorously remain—is an antidote to the dark vision of the postcolonial novelist. (1996: 62-63, 69)

... Both post-modernists and postcolonialists celebrate and mystify the workings of global capitalism. Even the 'language of postcolonialism... is the language of First World post-structuralism'. Therefore, postcolonialism, which appears to critique the universalist pretensions of Western knowledge systems... [ends] with a return to another First World language with universalist epistemological pretensions; (1994: 342)...

Is the notion of the decentred subject the latest strategy of Western colonialism? As Denis Epko puts it:

nothing stops the African from viewing the celebrated postmodern condition... as nothing but the hypocritical self-flattering cry of overfed and spoilt children of hypercapitalism. So what has hungry Africa got to do with the post-material disgust... of the bored and the overfed? (1995: 122)

... We need to distinguish between thinkers who adopt postmodernism as a philosophical creed, and others who signal the need for new tools to understand the contemporary world...

Contemporary views of cultural difference mirror past and present geo-political tensions and rivalries. Thus it is no accident that it is Muslims who are regarded as barbaric and given to acts of violence and Asians who are seen as diligent but attached to their own rules of business and family... These views not only reverberate with older colonial views about Muslims as despotic and intractable, and Asians as inscrutable and hard working, but speak to contemporary global economic and political rivalries. [Ed: Presumably it has nothing to do with how Asians top their classes. Or maybe that's a self-fulfilling prophecy brought upon by social white society's expectations.]

... The destructive histories of modern empires are being widely whitewashed... George W. Bush now claims that the United States freed Filipinos instead of colonising them. [Ed: I suppose the appointment of the First Philippine Commission in January 1899, less than a year after the US won the islands from Spain, was just a colonial facade.] Such white-washing not only obscures, distorts and ignores anti-colonial and post-colonial scholarship but also directly attacks it. Dinesh D'Souza's 'Two Cheers for Colonialism' claims that 'apologists for terrorism' such as Osama Bin Laden and other 'justifications of violence' rely on a large body of scholarship 'which goes by the names of 'anti-colonial studies,' 'postcolonial studies,' or 'subaltern studies' (2002: n.p.). Niall Ferguson claims to be disturbed by the fact that

The British Empire has had a pretty lousy press from a generation of ''postcolonial'' historians anachronistically affronted by its racism. But the reality is that the British were significantly more successful at establishing market economies, the rule of law and the transition to representative government than the majority of postcolonial governments have been. The policy ''mix'' favored by Victorian imperialists reads like something just published by the International Monetary Fund, if not the World Bank: free trade, balanced budgets, sound money, the common law, incorrupt administration and investment in infrastructure financed by international loans. These are precisely the things Iraq needs right now. (2003: 54)

[Ed: Some people need to brush up on their history instead of their literary theory.]

... The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) suggests that universities [cannot defend Civilization] because, unlike the rest of the country, large numbers of American academics and students are critical of US policies. On US campuses, 'it has become commonplace to suggest that Western civilization is the primary source of the world's ills- even though it gave us the ideals of democracy, human rights, individual liberty, and mutual tolerance'... ACTA had complained not only that Shakespeare was being dropped from required courses but that Shakespeare and Renaissance classes were being polluted by a focus on social issues such as poverty and sexuality (ACTA 1996) [Ed: GEE. I wonder why ACTA would think that?!?!?!]

... 'Said equated professors who support American foreign policy with the 19th-century European intellectuals who propped up racist colonial empires. The core premise of post-colonial theory is that it is immoral for a scholar to put his knowledge of foreign languages and cultures at the service of American power.' (Kurtz 2003)"

--- Colonialism/postcolonialism / Ania Loomba (2005)
"Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which no remedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything." - Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle


"'Postcolonial theory' has largely emerged from within English literary studies. The meaning of 'discourse' shrinks to 'text', and from there to 'literary text', and from there to texts written in English because that is the corpus most familiar to the critics... The isolation of text from context is an old and continuing problem in literary studies...

Many critics are beginning to ask whether, in the process of exposing the ideological and historical functioning of such binaries, we are in danger of reproducing them. Do we end up overemphasising cultural/racial difference and alterity, albeit from a different ideological standpoint than those of colonialist discourses? [Ed: Contrary to claims about existential bad faith, the notion that talking about (what are seen as) problems reinforces them is common in the literature.]

'The European dream, endless reiterated in the literature of exploration, is of the grossly unequal gift exchange: I give you a glass bead and you give me a pearl worth half your tribe' (1991: 110), in the Ottoman or Mughal territories, that dream turned into an endless nightmare in which the European pearls were treated as baubles by Eastern emperors... The English turned their feelings of inadequacy into an account of Oriental greed or lack of manners. Edward Terry described the Mughal Jahangir's heart as 'covetious' and 'so unsatiable, as that it never knows when it hath enough; being like a bottomless purse, that can never be fill'd' (1655: 378-379). Medieval notions of wealth, despotism, and power attaching to the East (and especially to the Islamic East) were thus reworked to create an alternative version of savagery understood not as lack of civilisation but as an excess of it, as decadence rather than primitivism. [Ed: Of course, a white man rejecting a pearl would be seen as greedy.]

... There is a wonderful anecdote about an American journalist's interview with Haiti's Papa Doc Duvalier which indicates the connections between theories of racial purity and social dominance. The journalist wanted to know what percentage of Haiti's population was white. Ninety-eight per cent, was the response. Struggling to make sense of this incredible piece of information, the American finally asked Duvalier: 'How do you define white?' Duvalier answered the question with a question: 'How do you define black in your country?' Receiving the explanation that in the United States anyone with black blood was considered black, Duvalier nodded and said, 'Well, that's the way we define white in my country' (Fields 1982: 146)...


Keywords so I can find this more easily next time:

reporter 98% "considered black" "considered white" "same here" Jamaica, white ancestor, white ancestry, everyone, cuba, one drop of blood]

Hanif Kureishi's film My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) in which a white working-class lad suggests to his Pakistani employer that as a non-white person he should not evict his Caribbean tenant. The landlord replies: 'I am a professional businessman, not a professional Pakistani'...

Aime Cesaire angrily quotes Ernest Renan on [races being suited to particular jobs]:

Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of honour; govern them with justice, levying from them, in return for the blessing of such a government, an ample allowance for the conquering race, and they will be satisfied

... Fanon announced at the beginning of Black Skin, White Masks: 'At the risk of arousing the resentment of my coloured brothers, I will say that the black man is not a man' (1967: 8). The colonial experience annihilates the colonised's sense of self, 'seals' him into 'a crushing objecthood', which is why he is 'not a man'... It is colonialism that is now seen as psychopathological, a disease that distorts human relations and renders everyone within it 'sick'. Conversely, traits that had been characterised within ethnopsychiatry as forms of native hysteria and evidence of atavistic brain structures are interpreted by Fanon as signs of resistance; laziness, for example, is 'the conscious sabotage of the colonial machine' on the part of the colonised: 'The Algerian's criminality, his impulsivity, and the violence of his murders are therefore not the consequences of the organization of his nervous sytem or the characterial originality, but the direct product of the colonial situation' [Ed: Maybe someone can write about the myth of the criminal native]

... Fanon reworks the Lacanian schema of the 'mirror stage'... According to Lacan, when the infant first contemplates itself in a mirror... [it] constructs itself in the imitation of as well as opposition to this image. Fanon writes:

When one has grasped the mechanism described by Lacan, one can have no further doubt that the real Other for the white man is and will continue to be the black man. And conversely. Only for the white man the Other is perceived on the level of the body image, absolutely as the not-self - that is, the unidentifiable, the unassimilable...(1967: 161)

[Ed: Hoho. Linking postcolonialism and psychoanalysis. Bullshit + bullshit = total rubbish. This is so racist, since it ignores yellows, reds, browns etc and flattens whiteness - what about Pollacks?]

... Fanon's split subject cannot be read as the paradigmatic colonised subject: the psychic dislocations Fanon discusses are more likely to be felt by native elites or those colonised individuals who were educated within, and to some extent invited to be mobile within, the colonial system than by those who existed on its margins... his subject is resolutely male, and reinforces existing gender hierarchies even as it challenges racial ones...

Female bodies symbolise the conquered land. This metaphoric use of the female body varies in accordance with the exigencies and histories of particular colonial situations... These discursive divisions also spill over to depictions of ordinary women - in Cesare Vecellio's well-known sixteenth-century costume book, for example, women from India, Turkey and Persia are heavily draped in comparison with their naked African or American sisters. [Ed: Maybe that's because African and American women wore little, and Indian, Turkish and Persian women wore comparatively much more.]

... During the Renaissance, Europeans were often supplicants in front of powerful rulers in Asia and could hardly encode themselves as the male deflowerers of a feminised land. Alternative discursive strategies thus came into play. The Oriental male was effeminised, portrayed as homosexual, or else depicted as a lusty villain from whom the virile but courteous European could rescue the native (or the European) woman... The veiled Asian woman becomes a recurrent colonial fantasy, as does the recurrent figure of the Eastern Queen, whose wealth testifies to the riches of 'the Orient' and whose story of Sheba arriving laden with gold at Solomon's court and willingly surrendering her enormous wealth for sexual gratification initiated a long tradition of stories in which the desire of the native woman for the European man coded for the submission of the colonised people...

In seventeenth-century English drama, for example, sexual liaisons between aggressive black African women and white men never culminate in marriage and evoke far more horror than those between the same men and the more 'subtle' and 'wily women' from the East... non-Europeans, especially women, are repeatedly constructed as libidinally excessive, and sexually uncontrolled... Non-European peoples were imagined as more easily given to same-sex relationships. Harem stories fanned fantasies of lesbianism... Renaissance writings on Islam always emphasise that it encourages licentiousness because it promises 'marvelous beautiful women, with their Breastes wantonly swelling' as well as 'fair Boyes' in paradise (Warmistry 1658: 145)

... the figure of the sati [Ed: suttee] is seen both as an example of Oriental barbarism and an awesome sign of wifely devotion, worthy of emulation by English women...

There is an obvious nativism at work here: [Kancha] Ilaiah defends Dalit cultures as intrinsically more creative, democratic and humanitarian (and even feminist) than Hindu society, just as Cesaire had argued that all non-Western societies were superior to European ones... another Dalit writer, Chandra Bhan Prasad, [argued] that for the lower castes in Indian, British colonialism represented a progressive force because it challenged some of the orthodoxies of the upper castes; most specifically, it challenged the Brahmin stranglehold over education and created some space for the education of Dalits. Thus the British Empire played a 'liberating role' in India (Prasad 2004: 130)...

If this “third world” is constituted by the singular “experience of colonialism and imperialism,” and if the only possible response is a nationalist one, then what else is there that is more urgent to narrate than this “experience”; [in fact, there is nothing else to narrate.] For, if societies here are defined not by relations of production but by relations of intra-national domination; if they are forever suspended outside the sphere of conflict between capitalism (first world) and socialism (second world); if the motivating force for history here is neither class formation and class struggle nor the multiplicities of intersecting conflicts based upon class, gender, nation, race, region and so on, but the unitary “experience” of national oppression, ... then what else can one narrate but that national oppression? Politically, we are Calibans, all.

... It is a matter of some alarm that not just in Western academic circles but also beyond, writing in non-European languages is excluded or marginalised - the latest instance being Salman Rushdie's wild assertion in the pages of The New Yorker that in India, writing in English is 'a stronger and more important body of work than most of what has been produced in the eighteen 'recognized' languages' of the country (1997: 50)! [Ed: I wonder what they make of the wild assertion that the AIDS problem in South Africa is caused by a silly government. Clearly, it must be the fault of apartheid and/or British colonialism in some way.]

... For [Leopold] Senghor, Africans 'belong to the mystical civilizations of the senses'... Cesaire thus claims that these [African] communal societies were fundamentally democratic, anti-capitalist, 'courteous' and therefore civilised (1972: 23). It is Europe which is barbaric... Senghor charts a dichotomy between Africa and Europe in terms that celebrate the former: whereas the 'traditional philosophy of Europe... is essentially static, objective, dichotomic' and 'founded on separation and opposition: on analysis and conflict', '[t]he African, on the other hand, conceives the world, beyond the diversity of its forms, as a fundamentally mobile, yet unique, reality that seeks synthesis (1994: 30)...

Anti-colonial or nationalist movements have used the image of the Nation-as-Mother to create their own lineage, and also to limit and control the activity of women within the imagined community. They have also literally exhorted women to produce sons who may live and die for the nation. Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement makes this point rather blatantly: 'In the resistance, the role of the Muslim woman is equal to the man's. She is a factory to produce men, and she has a great role in raising and educating the generations' (Jad 1995: 241)...

Nelson Mandela describes how the South African prison system enforced racial discrimination by not allowing African prisoners to wear long trousers in prison. Unlike their white or coloured counterparts, they had to wear shorts 'for only African men are deemed 'boys' by the authorities' (1994: 396) [Ed: If they have to cite this as an example of racial discrimination, life must be quite good.]"

... Anti-colonial movements have a complex, ambiguous and shifting relationship with the question of women's rights (see Jayawardena 1986). They have to work through a basic contradiction: on the one hand, the principle of universal equaity from which they are launched demands certain concessions to women's rights. This explains why many newly liberated nations conceded certain rights to women (such as the right to vote) well before their European counterparts.

--- Colonialism/postcolonialism / Ania Loomba (2005)

The A funny thing with postcolonialism is that postcolonialists use texts written by elites (that the hoi polloi don't read, and probably don't sympathise with) to say something about the larger postcolonial society or country.

In that case, I too can write some crap and use it to 'prove' rubbish about the world.

Actually this applies to literature in general, but in postcolonial countries fewer people are literate/educated/middle-class and above, and so are even less likely to read/sympathise with the texts.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

"If you cannot convince them, confuse them." - Harry S Truman


I surfed on to the MDA website to try to find out what the "Not Recommended" classification decision for films means: "Not Recommended" films are not Banned, but neither are they Passed (with cuts or otherwise) or Exempted (for those who don't know, you can check whether films in Singapore are Banned, Cut or Passed Clean using the Film Classification Database; this can be very useful if you're looking for gay artistic films; you must click the arrow though - pressing enter won't work, bizzarely).

I searched their site but find nothing. So I went to "1001 Questions: Frequently asked questions answered".

On the Top 10 Questions list, many important questions are answered, but the Top question of them all is:

"Is accessing pornography on the Internet illegal?

The MDA does not monitor or track users' access to any sites on the Internet and does not interfere with what individuals access in the privacy of their homes. We are primarily concerned with the purveyors and distributors of pornography. Unless you engage in such activities, the mere act of visiting such sites is not an offence."

Points to ponder: Is seeding a torrent considered distribution? Is uploading in the course of downloading a torrent considered distribution? (This law is updated for the late 20th century, but it needs to be updated for the early 21st century)

Someone: users posting torrent links included as distributors or not

However, further digging reveals that their schizophrenic and incoherent policy has not changed. Under the "Public Education - Students" section:

"Would I be arrested if I accidentally enter a pornographic website?

No, as there is no restriction on the websites you can visit. However, do note that it is an offence to download and store pornographic materials."

I'd heard about this, but I thought they'd updated their policy. Apparently they haven't. Yes, yes y'all, we don't stop. Get connected worldwide, rock on!

Oddly enough, this same bit is not included under the "Internet Policy" FAQ.

Also, another hilarious one (from the Students section):

"I found a friend reading a pornographic magazine. What should I do?

Talk to your friend and tell him that pornography gives a wrong impression of sex and often demeans people. It could have a psychologically disturbing and addictive impact on any person. If need be, ask him to have a talk with his parents or school counsellor. It is advisable that he destroys the magazine as it is an offence to possess it."

Maybe they think it's okay for adults to do the same, since their psychological makeups are robust enough to withstand the corruption. A pity they aren't considered strong enough to watch Banned films like "1993 SWIMSUIT VIDEO, THE: SPORTS ILLUSTRATED", "BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE", "SALO' O LE 120 GIORNATE DI SODOMA" (The 120 Days of Sodom), "WITCHCRAFT XI: SISTERS IN BLOOD", "LOVES OF A FRENCH PUSSYCAT" and "LIFE OF BRIAN" (Yes, Monty Python's Life of Brian is BANNED in Singapore. Excellent.)
"There are many who dare not kill themselves for fear of what the neighbors will say." - Cyril Connolly


Someone on reading my blog more often last time: "Then I got simply too busy, I still do pop by once in a while. Read it way before you started appearing in the media. Back when blogging was still innocent, people were still talking about which school's uniforms is the hottest, before blogs became the next land that the gah'men has to conquer next..."

[On the writer of a mythology compilation] "Thomas Bulfinch, in his day job, was a clerk in the Merchant's Bank of Boston, an undemanding position that afforded him ample leisure time in which to pursue his other interests."
Meh. I want to be a bank clerk too.

Another Blue Bear-related message: "Hi, I know this will seem strange, but can you tell me what the brand name of your blue teddy bear is? I think I had one VERY similar when I was a baby up until almost 10 years ago and I've been trying to locate another. I think they might be from the same company, which would really help my search. Thank you so much for your time!". Must be a very popular design. Pity I can't help.

Apparently the profession best represented in the ranks of IMH patients is teaching.

In the supermarket I saw packets of baking ingredients made by the same company. One was cocoa flavoured chips and the other was chocolate chips. One was made in Indonesia and the other Malaysia. No prizes for guessing which was which.

Wedding dinners should just start later officially. If you say one is going to start at 7:30, people may come at 8:30, but if you say it starts at 8:30, they can't come at 9:30. Someone pointed out to me that wedding dinners starting late was a tradition, but I pointed out that so was footbinding.

It is fashionable to claim that one is spiritual and not religious, but when you scratch these people a bit you find that they are indeed religious. This is just as well, as without the mantle of religious respectability they would otherwise be labelled as delusional.

The next time someone blares the tired old line about how race and religion are sensitive and non-negotiable issues in Singapore, and discussing them could bring on riots, I will respond that Malay racial privileges are a sensitive and non-negotiable issue in Malaysia, and that bringing in meritocracy and racial equality could cause the country to implode (or someone to use the Kris), and see what happens when 2 national mythologies collide.

If 2 people who know each other totally hide their Facebook profiles from the world (ie you can't even message or add them as friends), you have a problem (like what you get when 2 people hide offline in MSN - but at least they can still message each other). Gah.

Do underwire bras ever set off metal detectors?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory." - Georges Clemenceau


OPPOSITE-SEX TWINS AND ADOLESCENT SAME-SEX ATTRACTION - "We consider social, genetic, evolutionary, and hormonal transfer hypotheses for same-sex romantic preferences of adolescent (N=5,552) sibling pairs drawn from a nationally representative sample. We show that male but not female opposite-sex twins disproportionately report same-sex attraction; and that the pattern of concordance of same-sex preference among siblings is inconsistent with a simple genetic influence model. Our results provide substantial support for the role of social influences, reject the hormone transfer model, reject a speculative evolutionary theory, and are consistent with a general model that allows for genetic expression of same-sex attraction under specific, highly circumscribed, social conditions... Our findings reject simple genetic influence models. They are entirely consistent with a more general model that identifies the specific social structural contexts in which one would expect to observe genetic influence, for this, and an array of other outcome variables."

Malaysian row over word for 'God' - "A church and Christian newspaper in Malaysia are suing the government after it decreed that the word "Allah" can only be used by Muslims. In the Malay language "Allah" is used to mean any god, and Christians say they have used the term for centuries. Opponents of the ban say it is unconstitutional and unreasonable."

Spiderwomen serve up Cambodia's creepy caviar - "At around 300 riel (eight US cents) a spider, the eight-legged snack industry provides a tidy income in a country where around one third of people live below a poverty line of $1 per day... The dish's genesis is also a poignant reminder of Cambodia's bloody past, particularly under the Khmer Rouge... For the millions forced at gunpoint into the fields, grubs and insects such as spiders, crickets, wasps and "konteh long" - the giant water beetles found in lakes near the Vietnamese border - were what kept them alive... Conservationists and vegetarians might blanche at the relentless pursuit of so many spiders for the sake of a snack, but locals are confident the arachnid population will hold up. Indeed, the only time a crisis threatened was around the Millennium when an extra-large number of spider-eaters passed through Skuon on their way to celebrate the New Year at Angkor, the stunning 1000-year-old temple complex in the northwest... "It's particularly good for back ache and children with breathing problems," she said, dipping a glass into a jar of murky brown liquid, at the bottom of which sits a rotting mass of hairy black legs and bloated spider bellies. "People could not afford medicine under the Khmer Rouge so they had to use traditional medicines. "They drank it and it made them feel stronger. "With the wine, it's very important they still have their fangs or the medicine loses its power," she said. "
Gah, we got conned. US$2.50 for 3 is more than 10 times as much!; Nice video on the same topic.

A Patience to Listen, Alive and Well - "Classical music invites listeners to focus, to take in, to follow what is almost a narrative that unfolds over a relatively long period of time. Length itself is one of the genre’s defining elements. I do not contend that classical music is weightier than other types of music. Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony is no more profound than “Eleanor Rigby.” But it’s a whole lot longer... if your mind wanders during “La Mer,” by Debussy, and you start focusing on the kinetic playing style of an attractive young violinist in the orchestra, then, as Professor Kramer suggests, just go with it... Beethoven was a master musical architect... [Eroica was made to] seem organic and whole. Most listeners may discern this only subliminally. But they do... For the most part, though, rock and pop songs are relatively short lyrical statements. The classical genre that has most in common with the pop concert is the song recital. It makes no difference that the revered classical song repertory, from Schubert to Mahler, is rich with musically complex, often dark works. Because songs tend to be short, we perceive them as more approachable."
Some of the quotes probably explains part of Opera arias' popularity.

Oral Sex: A Theme in Donne and Some Cavalier Poets - "Three journals have rejected the following essay, invariably on the grounds that its main contention -- that lines 63-78 of Thomas Carew's A Rapture and the entirety of John Donne's Love's Progress are about cunnilingus -- is common knowledge... maintain that the poem advises the lover not to study the foot, but to kiss it, and then the ankle, then the calf and so upwards till he reaches his mistress's vulva. Herschel Baker, in a note to line 64 of A Rapture, glosses the word knots as "clusters," presumably meaning of flowers, leaving it unexplained to what part of the female anatomy this floral metaphor alludes; but I deny that the word is metaphoric, and affirm that it literally means labia minora."

Priests brawl at Jesus' birthplace - "Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests attacked each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning on Thursday."

Bach Webern Ricercar [KM] - "I confess to not only being unfamiliar with Webern's music, but also to not truly considering it music, at least in an absolute sense. While I can respect Webern as a composer forged by his time, I cannot find much in his music that makes me want to listen to it. The arrangement of his string quartet for chamber orchestra... is less grating than the Five Movements for String Quartet, also arranged for string orchestra, which sound resolutely random. Yet one is hard-pressed to find any influence from Bach in this work. Webern's orchestration of Bach's Ricercar, from the Musical Offering, is also interesting, but attempts to drain the music of its vital energy and fit it into the mold of the early 20th century. Others have done worse things to Bach's music; this arrangement is curious, in its use of a wide range of instruments. Webern doesn't seem to want the listener to follow the individual voices of the fugues... The final track on this disc is a reprise of the Bach/Webern Ricercar, which, according to the liner notes, "will be heard differently now, after everything that has come before it". Um, right. It certainly is a bit different: 10 seconds longer than the first track - but other than that I don't get it. I guess it's a modern thing. I'm too old-fashioned to appreciate the subtle implications of having the same work twice on a disc. I apologize for dismissing the Webern works on this disc so curtly, and perhaps offending believers in another type of music."

Dr Wong Wee Nam: Fear Factor Revisited, The S’pore Edition - Politicophobia (The Fear of Politics) - "In the morning after the 1997 General Elections, I received a call from a person who identified himself as a first time young voter. He was a successful young professional with his own business. With a distraught voice, he told me that he and his wife had entered the polling station with the intention of voting for me. However, when they saw the serial number on the ballot paper, they panicked and changed their minds. He asked me to get the government to remove the serial numbers on the ballot papers. I told him the serial numbers were meant to prevent cheating. He was not convinced and stuck to his belief that it could be used to trace voters. I asked him why a government would want to retaliate against the thousands of ordinary voters when they could just take action against me. He was still not convinced. This is really sad and ironic. An intelligent, well-educated person, already trained in the army to face bullets was being driven by fear to think irrationally and to be afraid of serial numbers... 国家兴亡,匹夫有责"
Hokkaido Trip
Day 6 (17/12) - Narita Temple (Narita-san)
(Part 2)

Kaizan-do Hall (1938)

Sanja Shrine

Holy (?) Water


Pagoda sign

Interior of one temple

Next, I went to the garden through the back door.


The Japanese garden in San Francisco was prettier, possibly because it was more compact, but I shan't bother discussing notions of authenticity here, and anyway I really liked this one as well.

Closed shops

Garden entrance

Novel donation box

Spy shots from what was presumably the main temple hall (certainly it was the only I saw with a 'No Photography' sign)

Jap lucky charms. These are priceless.

"Safe driving charm: This charm protects your car from traffic accidents. You keep this charm in your car.
Migawari-Mamori: This charm protects you from accidents. You keep this in your pocket or bag. If you have some accident, this wooden charm splits instead of you.
Yakuyoke-mamori: In Japan YAKUDOSHI is ages which are unlucky and bad things happen. If you are this age, you had better keep this charm.
Nissan-mamori: This charm is of the painted FUDOU MYOUOU's figure. If you can't come to NARITASAN daily to pray DUDOU MYOUOU, you had better enshrine this charm in your room and pray every day."

"Fujyou-mamori: This charm avoids uncleanness. You enshrine this uncleanness place such as the lavatory.
Mushifuuju-mamori: This charm calms your child's hysterics. You enshrine it in your child's room."

"Pass the exam votive tablet: This votive tablet is for success of an examination. Please write your name and your wish or the purpose on back side of the tablet, and pray to FUDOU MYOUOU for your wish from the bottom of your heart.
Lucky charm: This lucky charm is a necklace with 24K gold foil. [Ed: 24K gold seems to be the only attraction of this charm.]"

I advise against laughing at these, though, since that might count as inciting religious hatred against the Shinto religion and/or wounding Shinto religious feelings.

The black belt you see is a conveyor belt and it was moving. Uhh.

Close-up of the altar. Maybe the conveyor belt brings offerings to the statues of the gods.

I saw a bunch of Latinos in Narita-san.

[Addendum: Some pictures reuploaded due to a down Imageshack server.]
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