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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Archived articles mentioning/quoting me in the mainstream media:

New site promotes local blogs and views on S'pore

Naked blogger sets Net community abuzz

Whole blog of Balderdash

Singapore-made brainteaser hits cult status

blogosphere (char)

Your Insights (elitism)

Politicians Face off on internet

HE FIRST used Facebook to gauge public support for Singapore’s bid to host

Shift in mindset needed? (AIMS)

Plastic surgery storm erupts over blogger babe (Dawn Yang)
"The world is governed more by appearances than realities, so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it." - Daniel Webster



Is something rotten at Apple?

"In its ubiquitous TV ads, Apple claims that its new iPhone is twice as fast as the original version and just half the price. Neither is true. The half-price fib has been obvious for some time: When you add the price of AT&T's required two-year contract, the new phone costs slightly more than the old phone... Smith, echoing thousands of complaints logged on Apple's Web site, says that her iPhone rarely connects to AT&T's fast 3G network, instead staying fixed to the pokey EDGE service that was the bane of the first iPhone. Smith's iPhone doesn't just fail on tasks like downloading e-mail and surfing the Web, she says. It also drops many of her voice calls...

As many iPhone owners have noticed, the phone often mysteriously refuses to load these apps, rendering them useless. Smith is asking a judge to grant her lawsuit class-action status. I hope it's approved. Apple has reluctantly acknowledged flaws in the iPhone and has quietly promised to correct them, but there's no sign that it's taking the complaints very seriously. The lawsuit might be just the kick it needs to fix the world's broken iPhones.

... In a widely circulated post, Techcrunch's Michael Arrington claimed last week that Apple's PCs aren't doing so well either. Arrington, a longtime Apple fan, says he's had four new Macs break in different ways—one refused to connect to Wi-Fi networks, one suffered a keyboard flaw, and two shut down mysteriously.

Is something rotten at Apple? Is it "flailing badly at the edges," as Arrington argues? Is it possible that Steve Jobs' reality distortion field is finally weakening—that the scales have fallen from our eyes and we're now seeing that Apple's products are just as flawed and prone to failure as any other hardware?

Well, not really. As Apple fans point out, people still love Apple... "Apple has an almost Teflon-like quality. Its problems don't really seem to matter to consumers." So much for the death of the reality distortion field...

What's troubling, though, is Apple's tendency to milk this advantage—when it does screw up, it prefers secrecy over full disclosure, and it expects customers to quickly forgive any slight...

Contrast Apple's response to how other major tech firms handled recent failures. As Adam Engst, editor of the Mac newsletter TidBits, points out, when Netflix suffered shipping delays earlier this month, it issued an immediate, clear explanation and apology and automatically credited customers' accounts. Netflix customers raved about how the company handled the problem. Voilà: The company turned a tech failure into a PR win...

Apple's strategy for dealing with complaints stems from a companywide emphasis on secrecy. Tight lips work well for Apple, building suspense among loyalists and the press about upcoming products and burnishing its reputation as a company that leads rather than follows...

What's more, Apple's customer base is widening beyond longtime Mac fanatics—people who give the company a pass because they regard it as an underdog. The Mac's market share is growing rapidly, suggesting that lots of Windows users are switching... You may be willing to overlook Apple's silence about a dead battery on your MP3 player. But if the company continues to stonewall people whose phones cut off every five minutes, Steve Jobs better get ready for some marches on Cupertino."
A snippet of my latest guest post on the Singapore Biennale 2008 Blog:

The purposes of art: Edification

Roses for Stalin, Boris Vladimirski (1949)

Children swarm Stalin with flowers and their adoration. An old and accomplished statesman fully dressed in white, he is a Great Leader indeed. Yet, he still has the human touch, as he places his arm on a schoolboy in a fatherly fashion. Or so the painting tells us.
More kualiti food from Bolehland:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

"Shrimp Udang
Shrimp Shumai

No Preservative

Ingredients: Surimi (Fish Meat) [40.87%], Water [18.76%], Cuttlefish [11.15%], Pastry Skin (Wheat Flour, Water, Salt) [10.63%], Palm Oil [7.43%], Starch [5.57%], Shrimp [3.72%], Monosodium Glutamate [0.82%], Salt [0.59%], Sugar [0.37%], Monosodium Polyphosphate p0.08%], Brilliant Red - Index 16255 [0.01%]"

Addendum: They add that it's the worst siew mai they've ever tasted.

Friday, August 29, 2008

"If man does find the solution for world peace it will be the most revolutionary reversal of his record we have ever known." - George C. Marshall


Pride and shame displays "universal" - "Blind ath­letes who have nev­er seen a vic­to­ry celebra­t­ion raise their arms in tri­umph when they win and slump their shoul­ders when they lose, much like sight­ed ath­letes, re­search­ers have found. The dis­cov­ery, they add, sug­gests both pride and shame and their ex­pres­sions are bi­o­log­ic­ally hard-wired “u­ni­ver­sals.” “Both are as­so­ci­at­ed with dis­tinct, cross-cul­tur­ally rec­og­nized non­ver­bal ex­pres­sions, which re­sem­ble the dom­i­nance and sub­mis­sion dis­plays shown by non­hu­man pri­mates,” the sci­en­tists wrote in re­port­ing their find­ings."
I'm sure they were somehow subconsciously socialised. 'Oh look, that athlete who just won the Gold raised his arms in triumph! Remember to do that if you ever win a medal too, dear!'

YouTube - Chemical Party - "Very funny clip explaining why noble gases do not bond ;-) and why Potassium and Water lead to explosive reactions."
The best part is the it's an ad by the European Commission. I want to go and work for them already (but have no science degree, boo)

[Dining] Tips and Pitfalls - ""Please Pass the Salt". The proper response to this very simple sounding request is to pick up both the salt and the pepper and to place them on the table within reach of the person next to you, who will do the same, and so on, until they reach the person who asked for them. They are not passed hand-to-hand, nor should anyone other than the original requester sprinkle her food
when she has the shakers in her possession. The reason for this, as Judith Martin points out more than once, is that American etiquette is not about efficiency. Often, the most refined action is that which requires the greatest number of steps to carry it out"

Jim Webb: Women Can't Fight - "It was harsh and cruel. It was designed to produce a man who would be able to be an effective leader in combat, to endure prisoner-of-war camps, to fight this country's wars with skill and tenacity. And it is all but gone. "I like women at the Academy,'' one of my classmates who is still on active duty told me recently. "They've brought a measure of . . . refinement to the place." If there was one thing that was irrelevant to preparation for combat it was refinement... When I watched 51 of my men become casualties over seven weeks in Vietnam, and when I sat down next to number 51and cried like a baby, I'd been there before. It was a lot easier to pick up and keep going... The men are essentially the same; it is the institution that has changed. It has changed primarily because of female midshipmen, for the same reasons women would adulterate the performance of combat units themselves. Externally looking in, the system has been objectified and neutered to the point it can no longer develop or measure leadership. Internally, sexual attractions and simple differences in treatment based on sex have created resentments and taken away much of the institution's sense of mission... Burlingham is aware of the many inequities that relate to a double standard discipline. "A male and female were convicted of the same honor offense at the same time. The man was thrown out. The woman was put on probation. That sort of thing has happened several times. It's almost impossible for a woman to be thrown out of here."

YouTube - Extras: Ricky Gervais "Racist" (HBO) - "'What if I am, and I don't know it?... Subconsciously am a little bit racist.' 'Well, there's that test I can give you... Question 2. It's about racial awareness. Cos often you can catch out a real racist because they don't know or care about any black issues. Erm. Who's the Prime Minister of Great Britain?... Who's the Prime Minister of Namibia?... Who is the Queen of England?... Who is the President of Djibouti?... Who would you rather have waiting for you when you got home tonight: Johnny Depp or OJ Simpson?... Mr OJ Simpson was acquitted. But in your eyes, because he's black he's still guilty... You have a hate rating of 9.8. One more than Hitler'"

Burning incense linked to respiratory cancers

Hong Kong abortion rate highest in the developed world, 29% of all pregnancies - And abortion is illegal there. Hah.

hopei: wah lan eh, this kind of thing also do - "In addition to the rather scathing evaluation of Wong's musical, Mr Lui also made the error that "Botak Boys" was essentially a "romantic musical about the loneliness of a boy kept far away from his girl". If Mr Lui had been a little more scrupulous about getting his facts right, he would have been obviously aware that the protagonist of the musical had been pining for his boyfriend, while simultaneously struggling with masked mechanisms of homophobia. When the Straits Times was queried about these inconsistencies, it became clear that Mr Lui had left the show ten minutes into the musical."
Time for another redesign to distract people from the Shitty Times' Shitty Content!

YouTube - Japanese Infomercial Gets Out of Hand - "A Japanese infomercial for an erotic massager gets out of hand - with sexy results."
As one helpful commenter noted, this is from "SDDM-442". Hurr hurr.
Another: "It has to be a late night show. The products name is "Dekamara-kun" Mr. Big Dick" (HAH! He's wrong!)
Also, it's amusing how much Jap porn there is on YouTube (see related videos). HAH.

Hilarious Signs

How Big of a Deal Is Income Inequality? - "If individuals cannot keep enough of what they earn then they will not produce. If, on the other hand, the most productive do keep what they earn, significant inequalities inevitably result... Extreme income and wealth inequality alone may hinder growth. After all “respect for property rights” is really, in most cases, shorthand for “respect by the have-nots for the property rights of the haves.” If those on the bottom rungs do not feel that they are getting a fair shake, the very bedrock of our prosperity crumbles into social and economic apartheid as millions of Americans flee to gated communities, millions more are required to staff the burgeoning private security industry, and yet more millions fill our prisons. This is likely the reason why supply-side economics fails in the real world. Cross national comparisons in developed nations, for example, show no correlation between tax rates and economic growth. Further, the “golden period” of growth in the years before 1973 occurred in an environment of higher tax rates than in the lower-growth 1980’s and 1990’s."

Land Diving Bungee Jumping With Vines - "Land Divers of Pentecost Island dive from towers with a vine attached to an ankle. When done correctly, the divers head will just touch the freshly dug ground below."
After this, bungee jumping (inspired by this, in fact) is nothing!

Daiso Boobs + Swan (NOTCOT) - "ended up wandering around the Daiso (like a japanese 99 cent store) and found some really weird stuff… amongst that stuff were these bizarre squeeze and inflate stick on boob balloons and a swan phallus?"

Supermart staff made me delete my photos and called me a troublemaker - "I was at Sheng Shion supermarket... the frozen foodstuffs sold there were packed over the storage line in the freezers, and as a result, the food at the top had already started to thaw, and some of the burger patties already had signs of being squashed by consumers. I took a picture secretly... When I went to the biscuits section, I came across this Skyflakes biscuits which were sold in white tubs marked with big words 'For sales in Phillipines only'... a worker in Sheng Shiong uniform... came up to me and talked at the top of his voice saying that he had seen me taking photos at the frozen goods section. He labelled me a 'trouble maker' very loudly, and warned me to delete all the pictures I had taken earlier, if not he would all in the security and the police."
See why photography is banned in so many places? Depressingly but expectedly, most of the idiots on STOMP slammed him. Duh.
The Supermarket's lame reply: "For sale in Philippines only' does not mean this is not allowed for sale in Singapore"

Something I've been looking for for a while:

Yet more evidence of the misery of the human condition; from CNBC:

"Poll: Does An Annual Income of $250K Make You Rich?
* 5470 responses

Yes: 38%
No: 58%
Not sure: 3.7%"

Together with poverty lines in much of the developed world defined as a certain percentage of the median income, it is no surprise that the poor, like the discriminated against, will always be with us.

Those of a more ascetic bent claim that the quest for neverending economic growth is unsustainable and that we cannot afford to continue down this road, but the evidence from human nature is that we cannot afford *not* to pursue economic growth.

It is impossible for everybody to be the richest person in town (positional goods), but it is possible for everybody to have, at least, an improving quality of life.

(This is the same reason why seniority-based pay makes everyone happy in the long run - everybody likes a rising income profile)
"They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse." - Emily Dickinson


Baltics trip
Day 7 - 22nd May - Dome Cathedral: Riga, Latvia
(Part 3)

As you might have realised, in both the Baltics and Japan travelogues, very often pictures of artefacts and/or buildings are presented without explanation. Most of the time, this is not from lack of trying on my part, but due to lack of signposting (usually at all, let alone in English). In Western Europe, because the languages are related to English I could transcribe captions more easily, or make an educated guess as to their meaning, but not so in these 2 trips.

Dome Cathedral, the largest house of worship in the Baltics. It was founded by a missionary from Germany.

Art exhibition in the square

Flag hotel. My theory is that the more flags a hotel flies, the more expensive and atas it is. This has 6 visible flags (and maybe 1 or 2 more hidden by the other building)

Memorial to some guy with a German name (you see the German influence and all that)

We went into the Cathedral's cloisters.


Grave steles

Various bells

Bishop Albert, founder of Riga.

Cathedral inner wall.

Romanesque Cloisters

Coat of Arms of Riga

Huge Cock (Weathervane of the Dom spire)

Castle of Riga reliefs with images of the Virgin Mary and Master of the Livonian Order

Cannon and cannonballs

Riga. Craftsman Reynken from Lubeck. 1522. Doorside stone from House of the Blackheads.

Tower from Cloisters

Random sculptures

Stone head from Salaspils, buried in the cathedral yard for some reason

Monument to Peter I of Russia, plaster of Paris model



The we re-entered the cathedral-proper.

Awakening of Lazarus, mid-18th century.
"Sad to say, Baltic art is always substandard" - nw.t


As surely as every sperm is precious, this is some nonsense about abortion.

More memorials. Note the pseudo-caduceus in the second - a snake twirled around a cross on top of a skull.

19th century stained glass. You can tell it's not medieval with one look - it's too clean, there's too little lead and it's too well-executed artistically. With the same look, you can tell it's not 20th century - it looks too good, the figures are too realistic and something is actually happening.


Altar. Very underwhelming compared to the rest of the cathedral.


Simple Vaulting. The beams were discomfiting - perhaps without them the roof would collapse. Maybe the instability was due to a missing keystone - notice the gaping hole where (perhaps) an all-seeing eye would be

Unfortunately the organ was under repair so I didn't take a picture.

All in all, visiting the Dome Cathedral was a reminder that Eastern Europe was not always part of the Third World.
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