When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Black Balzams is the vilest thing I've ever tasted.

It tastes much worse than even Ouzo.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

(This is a scheduled post)

Malaysia Pretty Girls at ExaGirl.com - Why are they all Chinese?!

Al-Azhar Lecturer Suspended after Issuing Controversial Fatwa Recommending Breastfeeding of Men by Women in the Workplace - "The head of the Hadith Department in Al-AzharUniversity, Dr. Izzat Atiyya, recently issued a controversial fatwa dealing with breastfeeding of adults. The fatwa stated that a woman who is required to work in private with a man not of her immediate family - a situation that is forbidden by Islamic law - can resolve the problem by breastfeeding the man, which, according to shari'a, turns him into a member of her immediate family. The fatwa sparked a storm of protest in the Egyptian public arena, especially within the religious establishment. It was harshly criticized by Muslim Brotherhood MPs, who even brought it up for discussion in parliament, as well as by Egyptian intellectuals and columnists."

Myanmar junta hands out aid boxes with generals' names - "Myanmar's military regime distributed international aid Saturday but plastered the boxes with the names of top generals in an apparent effort to turn the relief effort for last week's devastating cyclone into a propaganda exercise."
We must respect their sovereignty, even if they want to kill their own people.

Love on the Female Side of the Divide - "A girl’s suitor, when he comes to ask her father for her hand in marriage, has the right to see her dressed without her abaya. In some families, he may have a supervised conversation with her. Ideally, many Saudis say, her showfa will be the only time in a girl’s life that she is seen this way by a man outside her family... the men’s world is so remote from them that some Saudi girls resort to disguise in order to venture into it... There are reports of a recent spate of ugly confrontations between youths and the religious police, and of a supposed increase in same-sex love affairs among young people frustrated at the strict division between the genders... Al Arabiya television reported that some young Saudis have started buying special “electronic belts,” which use Bluetooth technology to discreetly beam the wearer’s cellphone number and e-mail address at passing members of the opposite sex... “If your family found out you were talking to a man online, that’s not quite as bad as talking to him on the phone,” Ms. Tukhaifi explained. “With the phone, everyone can agree that is forbidden, because Islam forbids a stranger to hear your voice. Online he only sees your writing, so that’s slightly more open to interpretation... I asked him once, ‘You do everything right and yet you’re listening to music?’ He said, ‘I know music is haram, and inshallah, with time I will be able to stop listening to music too.’ ” Haram means forbidden, and inshallah means “God willing.”... “My sister and I sometimes ask my mom, ‘Why didn’t you breast-feed our boy cousins, too?’ ” Shaden continued. She was referring to a practice called milk kinship that predates Islam and is still common in the Persian Gulf countries. A woman does not have to veil herself in front of a man she nursed as an infant, and neither do her biological children."

The Connection Has Been Reset - "Think again of the real importance of the Great Firewall. Does the Chinese government really care if a citizen can look up the Tiananmen Square entry on Wikipedia? Of course not... What the government cares about is making the quest for information just enough of a nuisance that people generally won’t bother. Most Chinese people, like most Americans, are interested mainly in their own country. All around them is more information about China and things Chinese than they could possibly take in... When this much is available inside the Great Firewall, why go to the expense and bother, or incur the possible risk, of trying to look outside?... By making the search for external information a nuisance, they drive Chinese people back to an environment in which familiar tools of social control come into play... Being inside China means operating under the sweeping rules that govern all forms of media here: guidance from the authorities; the threat of financial ruin or time in jail; the unavoidable self-censorship as the cost of defiance sinks in... “Whether or not Americans supported George W. Bush, they could not avoid learning about Abu Ghraib,” Rebecca Mac­Kinnon says. In China, “the controls mean that whole topics inconvenient for the regime simply don’t exist in public discussion.” Most Chinese people remain wholly unaware of internationally noticed issues like, for instance, the controversy over the Three Gorges Dam... How long can the regime control what people are allowed to know, without the people caring enough to object? On current evidence, for quite a while."

Space scientist says texting is four times more expensive than receiving scientific data from space - "Dr Bannister estimated the cost of the data from Hubble could vary between £8.85 and £85 per MB- much cheaper than the £374.49 per MB cost of transmitting one MB of text. He concludes: “Hubble is by no means a cheap mission – but the mobile phone text costs were pretty astronomical!”"

A Nasty Business - An Open Letter From A Back Office Professional - "I was stupid enough to think, however, that because I worked hard and didn't cost that much, I'd be spared the job axe when it came calling. The opposite, of course, is true. It's the more able and reliable staff, known for their loyalty, who can be sacrificed when the markets turn in the certain knowledge that we will go without making a fuss. And I did... I will pass on this piece of advice to anyone who cares to listen: 'Nice Guys Do Finish Last!'. In our industry it just doesn't pay to think that you can get by without throwing your weight around, or causing a fuss. The fact is, if you simply go about your job in a quiet and competent fashion, you'll be treated like a carpet, and walked all over!... The fact is, from top to bottom, the financial markets industry is a nasty old business. And you should treat it like one. To survive and thrive (at whatever level), you have to go to work each and every day and ask: 'What's in it for me ?'. It doesn't pay to be a nice guy."
Hot jobs burn your ass.

Notes On The PhD Degree - "Last week at the department colloquium coffee hour, several students engaged the faculty in a discussion about our Ph.D. program. It became clear that many of the students did not understand the basics; they were surprised at some of the questions and confused by some of the answers. These notes provide basic information about the purpose of a Ph.D. program in an attempt to help students decide whether to pursue a Ph.D. degree."

'Disneyland' comes to Baghdad with multi-million pound entertainment park - "Mr Werner, chairman of C3, a Los Angeles-based holding company for private equity firms, is pouring millions of dollars into developing the Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, a massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland. “The people need this kind of positive influence. It’s going to have a huge psychological impact,” Mr Werner said."

Rough Equivalents - "Many moons ago, upset about a policy change at CafePress, I wrote a blog post about how many hours of labor it might cost across their pool of shopkeepers. I came up with 25,000 hours. To make this figure more accessible, I came up with a list of things 25,000 hours was roughly equal to. A few favorites... 25,000 hours at two maximum strength Tylenols every 4 hours for pain is a 3 month old baby made entirely of Tylenol... Now I'm a foodie, but not enough to do a blog dedicated to food, plus I figured that there'd be less competition in the silly mathematics niche than in the food blog niche"

Sound science is quackers - "The old saying that a duck's quack produces no echo is... well, just plain quackers. Acoustics expert Professor Trevor Cox has deployed the most powerful techniques his science can muster to prove the bird's calls will bounce off hard surfaces in just the same way as all sounds. But the researcher has discovered there is a kernel of truth in the myth which may explain how it arose in the first place. He says the way a duck quacks, with a long "aaaacckkk" on the end of the call, tends to mask any echoes that are produced. "

Dembski, Descent and discrimination - "We all harbor ideas that, when viewed from distance (time or space) may fairly be considered unworthy. I, for instance, live in southern California where there is ever-bubbling sentiment against illegal immigrants. These arguments are intertwined with perspectives on Mexicans as a people and bigotry inevitably plays a role in the arguments. I try very hard to separate these notions but I have noticed, as I drive the streets or watch the news, that sometimes my darker instincts have been kindled... Malice, or "evil" if you will, enters the equation when we attempt to act on our bigotry. It is one thing to hold a prejudiced view of a people (indigent, Mexican, homosexual) but it is quite another to turn that prejudice into active intolerance. To the degree I support legislation against immigration based upon ethnicity (I don't) I would be advancing a malicious position."
A followup to something from almost 2 weeks ago:

Original post: Exam tip.

"Wait! I think I hear the sound of papers flipping. Oh, that must have been the helpsheets. No. I looked to my right (I was at the first column). This girl sitting just next to me was flipping through her exam booklet. And there were no instructions to check our papers or to open the exam booklet. Then the one in front of her was also doing the same thing. The one behind her as well. I stared in disbelief. And this guy a few seats away was flipping the pages too. And yes, they are the PRCs. The Powerful Rapid Cheaters."

Stupid comments on the blog:

"do you honestly think 5-10 mins will make THAT much of a difference in your paper?... you my girl, is hopelessly mad at people who are smarter than you... don’t try to talk your way out of this, because it is pronounced all over your blog that you are indeed on jealous ghurl pren."

"My question to you is: why are you complaining on your blog when you didn’t raise your hand and point out the “injustice” to the invigilators?... you’re just whining here despite having done nothing."
Luckily, all Marx and Engels did was whine

Stupid comments on Tomorrow.sg:

"More xenophobia!"

"Gain a few minutes! Wow! That few minutes must be so crucial to your grades. Kiasu Singaporean on display here."

"What a racist."

"its allowed you Fcuking douchebag. My prof, a respectable singaporean Prof, even encourages it you fcuking frog in well cum douchebag"

"this has got nothing to do with them being PRCs you piece of shit! God save NUS if there are others like you there. You reek of xenophobia..."

"Dear diary,

Today I had an exam. They told us only pencils allowed. But this PRC brought pencils, pens and a water bottle! I am so angry! And its not an isolated case! I stared at him but he didn't stop drinking. Surely it should be constituted as cheating. I mean the rest of us have no water. By having water to drink, he could easily have an edge over us.

Next time I'm going to report. Scared his grades better than me."

"March in lockstep! Listen to your teachers! "They neber say, means cannot do wat!!!!" So much for initiative from a kiasu."
My comment: As my CSM said: "My briefing, never say cannot touch air stewardess - doesn't mean you can go and touch"

I decided to find out the official rules. The response I got"

"Thank you for your email. With regards to your query, I would like to emphasize that students are not allowed to read their questions papers except to check that there are no missing pages in the question paper before the start of the examination. This is announced very clearly by the Chief Invigilator. Students who breach examination rules and regulations are liable to disciplinary actions to be taken against him/her.

We would remind the invigilators to be vigilant so that they are able to respond quickly should they encounter it when they are on duty."

Personally, though, I can't recall whether this is always announced.
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