When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

"Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live." - Mark Twain


"My honor stripped away, enraged,
          aggrieved, now I
will squeeze out all the poison in my heart
against the land for all I’ve suffered,
yes, poison now will ooze and drip
unbearably into the soil.
          And out of it pale fungus
blighting leaf and child (O justice!)
          will quicken across

the land to cover it and all the people
          in a miasmal fog of
killing illnesses. Sorrow!
What can I do? Mocked! Spit on
          by the citizens!
We suffer the insufferable,
          luckless daughters of Night
who have been wronged, stripped of our honor!...

That they would do this to me!
Force me, with all my age-old wisdom,
          under this earth
like some defiled contaminated thing!
I’m breathing rage, sheer rage.
What torture slides down over me
          and through my brain!
Hear me O mother night—the gods’
sleight of hand has snatched
my ancient rights away and made me
          less than nothing."

--- Eumenides, The Oresteia / Aeschylus

"We need to listen (psycho)analytically to its procedures of repression, to the structuration of language that shores up its representations, separating the true from the false, the meaningful from the meaningless, and so forth... What is called for instead is an examination of the operation of the “grammar” of each figure of discourse, its syntactic laws or requirements, its imaginary configurations, its metaphoric networks, and also, of course, what it does not articulate at the level of utterance: its silences.

But as we have already seen, even with the help of linguistics, psychoanalysis cannot solve the problem of the articulation... What remains to be done, then, is to work at “destroying” the discursive mechanism. Which is not a simple undertaking . . . For how can we introduce ourselves into such a tightly—woven systematicity?

There is, in an initial phase, perhaps only one “path,” the one historically assigned to the feminine: that of mimicry. One must assume the feminine role deliberately. Which means already to convert a form of subordination into an affirmation, and thus to begin to thwart it. Whereas a direct feminine challenge to this condition means demanding to speak as a (masculine) “subject,” that is, it means to postulate a relation to the intelligible that would maintain sexual indifference.

To play with mimesis is thus, for a woman, to try to recover the place of her exploitation by discourse, without allowing herself to be simply reduced to it. It means to resubmit herself—inasmuch as she is on the side of the “perceptible,” of “matter”—to “ideas,” in particular to ideas about herself, that arc elaborated in/by a masculine logic, but so as to make “visible,” by an effect of playful repetition, what was supposed to remain invisible: the cover-up of a possible operation of the feminine in language. It also means “to unveil” the fact that, if women arc such good mimics, it is because they are not simply resorbed in this function. They also remain elsewhere"

--- The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine / Luce Irigaray


Friday, October 31, 2008

"Christians... have every right to be convinced and to espouse their views onto others for the sake of promoting what they believe is true... They have every right to be intolerant because truth is intolerant"

Oh god.

This should be a case study in "begging the question". It really takes the cake.

Bail out! Bail out!

Addendum: This bit is even better:

"Dawkins uses his sharp british wit and writes that long extended sentence on God's meniacal character... you do it all the time too. Nothing but cheap shots that reveals your emotional disapproval at things in the bible that you refuse to fully understand."


Him: Twisting biblical terms and concepts in a way that the Bible does not present them and manipulating them to argue against the God of the Bible. for example, that God is loving means that he loves everything and hates nothing, including satan, rape and lies?

Me: Well, he hates month-old infants since he has slaughtered them before.

Let's not talk about the herd of pigs he caused to drown.

Indeed, I'd say it's more of a twist and gross injustice to claim infanticide and genocide are acts of love and justice.

Him: You simply don't understand and you probably never will. May your eyes by opened.

Me: You simply don't understand and probably never will that Hitler, as the Great Führer, was a good person. He wanted to do what was best for Germany and the Aryan race, the best in the world, and wanted to rid the world of filthy scum like Jews and Roma. Indeed, the world would've been a much better place without them. What a pity he failed! Those who condemn Hitler are just reverting to name-calling and sarcasm, and those who dare to call him a genocidal maniac are just revealing their emotional disapproval at things he did that they refuse to fully understand.

This is only slightly less bad than Cheryl "I Love Jesus" Lim:

"I think you should have been killed in the holocaust. Really. But I believe God wanted you alive so that you would spread your vicious and laughable lies to more of your deluded brethren, both jews and gentile converts who deserve to be in hell with you."
"The future, according to some scientists, will be exactly like the past, only far more expensive." - John Sladek


Avenue Q
30th October
Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT)

I wasn't originally intending to watch Avenue Q, having seen it almost 2.5 years ago, but My Toy asked if I wanted to see it, the early bird rates were good and I was curious how the Filipino cast would perform. Having seen it in London when it was on preview as well as a recording of the Original Broadway Cast, I have some basis for comparison.

I wasn't originally expecting very much, since Trenchcoat Chris had had a very bad experience in 2005 with Aspects of Love, which was a "lousy cheapskate production by phillipine cast", performed to a piano reduction and with only some good singers (and which still cost $100), but I am pleased to report that it was indeed a good production.

Set and props
The set was certainly more elaborate than what I recall seeing in London. Part of this might be due to my seats (Stalls at the side vs Circle) but it was more likely due to their jazzing up the set (e.g. a street light, a NY subway entrance, graffiti ('Call Lucy') and an additional screen in the form of a TV on the trash heap [probably because there was a lot more use of it - like to show that people were in their apartments]).

Many of the props were also modified. For some reason, most of the puppets got shorts and/or skirts - presumably for modesty so they didn't offend our Asian Values. Also, Nicky's hair was black and not brown, Rod had blonde hair with a tuft sticking out at the front (like those disgusting female dolls depicting pre-pubescent girls with only panties on and a weird tuft of hair [no, I can't find a name of a picture]), Christmas Eve didn't have her disgusting-yet-oddly-fascinating Christmas Lights Wedding Dress and worst of all, Gary Coleman had really awful blue overalls (making him look like some technician, which he isn't, really). One good modification was that nude Kate Monster had breasts!

These changes notwithstanding, the meat of the musical was the same, with only a few changes, chiefly the lengthening of some dramatic pauses. Another noticeable one was Christmas Eve scolding Nicky "bakero".

There were a few cuts though, like Christmas Eve not selling their wedding gifts for cash (and the cutting of her donation scene), Lucy the Slut not getting a lobotomy and Princeton not refusing to leave his apartment (maybe this is what we pay for longer dramatic pauses).

One change I didn't like was in Purpose, when the talking boxes dancing around Princeton were replaced with a black cat and 2 blue birds singing on the roof of the apartment block (the lack of interaction really detracted from the experience).

However, what really really pissed me off was the removal of at least 2 (I'm not sure how many exist) drug references from the show: I don't remember the line "or smoking grass" in "Purpose" (I think they cut the whole stanza), and they definitely didn't have "'We could sit in the park smoking pot' 'or not'" in "There's Life Outside Your Apartment".

A probable explanation for the removal of lines about drugs:

"The Singaporean government has a reputation for being conservative and in fact, all plays that will be staged in the country have to receive approval from the National Arts Council. "In Singapore, you have to submit the script to a government agency that reads the script.""

So much for "uncensored adult humour" and "Audiences here will get the completely uncut and uncensored version" (as you can tell, I'm more pissed off at censorship than cuts). They might as well have cut out "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist", since that might fan racial tensions, but that would be too noticeable and cause too much outrage (i.e. the same reason "The Da Vinci Code" was not banned - authoritarianism here is not mindless but rather calibrated).

One part that was notable *because* it was not changed was the Bad Idea Bears taking up Scientology. The moral of the story, of course, is that in Singapore some religions can be insulted, but not others.

While the London production had quite a few modifications made for local audiences, there weren't any in this one (censorship doesn't count).

For example, the part on "Pollock jokes" was not changed. At first I was thinking audiences here would appreciate the concept of Malaysian jokes, but then I realised they were not racial and anyhow, in this instance, localisation would not wise as it might cause the audience to start slaughtering each other with parangs (what, you thought the bag check at the Esplanade was for weapons? It's for recording equipment, duh!)

I'm not sure how many Singaporeans know who Gary Coleman is, or what he's famous for, but here's an interesting tidbit: the actress Aiza Seguerra was a child star too (though presumably she wasn't screwed by her parents).

Another potential localisation that was not done was in "For Now":

"George Bush!"
"Is only for now!"

I thought this might've been localised to:

"Is only for now!"

Unfortunately, they chose not to do this, so we won't be seeing another Flor Contemplacion scandal (on a side note, what will they sing next year when George Bush leaves office? Jorg Haider is dead.)

The lack of localisation didn't seem to affect the audience's enjoyment, but this is probably because the hardcore people go on the opening first night [Ed: This was the "preview" night - I was misled by the "From 30th October" advertisements. I'm curious what, if anything, they'll change]. I'd be curious at the reception of some of the more obscure bits later on in the run.

The cast
The cast was, in a word, good. I found the performance to be more emotionally involving than London (or the operas I've seen live, hurr hurr), though whether that was because:

i) I'm more familiar with it now
ii) I had a better view
iii) They were good

is not entirely clear (possibly, it's some combination of the above).

Nicky was a very expressive actor (with the notable exception of the "Fantasies Come True" sequence when he didn't sound like he was sleep-talking at all, but just reciting his lines), but Lucy the Slut was not done too well, being too husky and having too much vibrato (lucky it's a minor role).

There was a little lacking from the Muppets' voices, but probably no one can beat John Tartaglia, Stephanie D'Abruzzo and Rick Lyon, since they used to puppet for Sesame Street.

Though it was a Filipino cast, their accents weren't noticeable except for Princeton, who had a touch of it. Gary Coleman had a commendable imitation of a black accent, but Christmas Eve's wasn't very consistent [Addendum: Furthermore, it was very unclear, which made it very hard to make out what she was saying/singing, especially if you weren't already familiar with the Musical. Ann Sanders does it better in Broadway In Bryant Park].

Sneakily, they had some locals doing subsidiary puppetry, but there was no one listed in the credits as "Swing" (no, I don't know why they're called that, but they are). They only hired a couple, though, so they couldn't send them out into the audience to collect money during The Money Song (just Brian and Gary).

The main thing I didn't like about this production was the orchestration. It sounded simplified (and also seemed to have left out touches like Gary Coleman's Diff'rent Strokes twang). This might have been because there were only 6 musicians (Drums, Winds, Bass, Guitar, MD/Keyboard 1 and Keyboard 2), which meant there wasn't even an orchestra pit (they were hidden offstage), but I don't know and couldn't find out how many instrumentalists the London and/or Broadway productions use.

Miscellaneous thoughts
The audio mixing was a little bit unbalanced, with harmony parts drowning out the melody at times. This will probably be corrected on future days.

I really respected them for only having one curtain call, despite this being the opening night, and the first few days being sold out. The most shameless performances having up to 4 curtain calls, even if they suck (Singapore Lyric Opera's Turandot - I'm looking at you), this was remarkable self-discipline.

I was intending to buy the Avenue Q Broadway Cast CD, since in September it had been advertised as costing $20, but during the intermission someone came around selling it for $25 so I refused to buy it on principle (they probably jacked it up because the show was so popular). Then again, they lied about it being uncensored, so this wasn't so surprising.

The price "adjustment" aside, I really liked this production. I *might* just go and watch it again.

Bonus tidbit: Joel Trinidad (Nicky/Trekkie Monster) did a Filipino TV Show in Hungary. I can't find anything on Google.
I was wondering whether to blog first about Chris Patten's talk on "Shifting Patterns of Global Power" or the opening night of Avenue Q.

I've decided on the latter, so here's a picture of Chris Patten to whet your appetite:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"My way of joking is to tell the truth. It is the funniest joke in the world." - George Bernard Shaw


Veggie vision: who will watch the vegetarian channel? - "Even as a life-long and committed vegetarian, my first thoughts on hearing about the new vegetarian internet TV channel Veggie Vision was, what's the point?... Marsh points out that the world's coolest people are vegetarian. Pamela Anderson is her example. Case closed... Also on the channel is a nice interview with Benjamin Zephaniah in which he tells the story of how he once beat a boy up at school for calling him a vegan – he was vegan but he didn't know the word and thought it was a racist insult of some sort."
Bigotry! Culinarism!

Franka Hummels: The sweet taste of a cigarette in a can - "It looks like an energy drink, but its inventor, Martin Hartman, stresses it's nothing of the kind. The promo leaflet puts it like this: "Liquid Smoking has a slight energising effect, followed by a euphoric sense of calming and relaxation." I fiddle with the red-and-white can, and nervously eye the stark "no warning needed" sign. Hartman promises I won't get addicted. "There is no nicotine in it, just a South African herb used by the bushmen since the 14th century."

Benefit Crashers : The Leveraged Sell-Out - "When you put 150,000 bankers out of a job, the people most significantly affected are not the bankers themselves or even the citizens of our country. No, it’s the poor children of developing nations who suffer the most—the kids... “This weekend, our entire village stayed up all night praying someone would buy the Lehman Brothers.” Candle-lit midnight vigils like these were not uncommon in rural enclaves across the globe; it was a rational thought—that God might listen to the poor just once, so the rich could stay rich. But, alas, even that didn’t work. Jose shook his head as he looked over at his youngest sibling, a 14-year old boy reading the Cliff’s Notes to 100 Years of Solitude. He pointed at him in disgust: “Now, he will be like this forever.”"

Borin' Warren - "Hate speech laws, both in the criminal code and the human rights commissions, are applied arbitrarily and don't deal with real threats to real rights... Hate laws aren't really about hate. They're about abusing and stretching the criminal code to criminalize political dissidents... Why wasn't the head of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohamed Elmasry, charged with a hate crime when he went on TV last year, stating that every adult Jew in Israel -- which would include pregnant women, old men, young folks at a pizza parlour or dance club -- are legitimate targets for Palestinian terrorism?"

Middle-Aged White Guy Sues Columbia for Discrimination - "What you have at Columbia University is, you have a Women's Studies program. Guys can take classes in it, guys can study it, but they won't benefit it. The whole program is about benefiting females and teaching that guys are evil and that guys are responsible for all the world's evils... 51-60% of students in college are women... If feminists want a quota-ocracy, then along with the 51% of the best of society, they should be getting 51% of the worst of society, too. They talk about the glass ceiling but never the tombstone basement. Did you know, of the 25 most dangerous occupations in America, 90% of them are held by guys? You never hear feminists fighting for those jobs. You never hear about them fighting to get ladies into the tombstone basement... According to the high school teachers I talk to, high schools have changed their grading systems to benefit girls instead of boys. Boys are good at competition, at cramming for tests and that sort of thing. Girls are better at doing their homework consistently, and that skews the grades... Title IX says that if Columbia University has varsity sports for men, it has to provide equal varsity sports for women... Columbia University has to provide a Men's Studies program if they want to be equal."

Kanojo Toys » Japanese sex toy foods and drinks get big - "A while back we blogged about some “novelty” green tea lotion that has an uncanny resemblance to the real thing. This is what we love about sex toys in Japan: They have more than once dimension to them! Not only are these good for getting off, but you can enjoy them as ideas as well. Am I looking into it to deeply???"
Damn Japs. I've a picture of these incidentally.

ST Forum It's time we all did the right thing - "Thankfully, there are still some remaining values and practices in society that continue to protect us from eventual moral erosion. They serve as the cornerstone of a country's continued success. Singapore as a small state must never compromise these noble truths and laws... Fines against smoking in public places... Abstinence from premarital and extramarital sex to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as Aids and herpes... Irresponsible and immoral adults hate good laws. That is why the unjust foreign media often lambastes Singapore for its honourable standards. Likewise, the pornography industry uses the term 'adult movies' to disguise its obscene shows."
HAHAHAHAHA I think this is the new title holder of the "Worst. Straits Times Forum Letter. Ever" record. To think that a few years ago one of our "noble truths and laws" would've been a ban on gambling...
Danholy has an archive of his past letters

Going Dark: China's Computer Screens - "Others had a bit of fun. Last night, drawn by media reports that black screens were imminent, hundreds crowded the discussion room in Douban.com, named “black screen countdown,” waiting for the blackout to come. “It’ll be so exciting to have a live broadcast when thousands of computers go black!” wrote a netizen from Guangzhou. Some preset the system time on their computers to view the blackout, with help from online instructions. Some even made their own blackscreen wallpaper to make fun of Microsoft’s new anti-piracy measures. One read, “absolutely pirated edition/voluntarily black screened.”"

SEX ED 601 (Unit 2): Provided in the public interest by the OLCC (Open Love Christian Community) - "Golden Nuggets = frozen urine that may be thrown as abuse. The subject may be required to suck the nuggets as a source of nourishment and debasement."
Some of this sounds dodgy. The name of the community doesn't help. But in my attempt to verify one particular tidbit I found:

Growing Up Sexually: Japan - "Western observers even today often notice that Japanese mothers masturbate their young children during the day in public and at night in the family bed-in order, they say, "to put them to sleep”. The average Japanese mother sleeps with her children until they are ten or fifteen years old, traditionally sleeping “skin-to-skin” (dakine) while embracing her child because the father-as in the traditional gynarchy-is usually absent, over two-thirds of Japanese husbands being involved in extramarital intercourse. Japanese mothers often teach their sons how to masturbate, helping them achieve first ejaculation in much the same manner as with toilet training. A “mental health hotline” in Tokyo recently reported being flooded with calls about incest, 29 percent of them with complaints such as that the mother would offer her body for sex while telling the son, “You cannot study if you cannot have sex. You may use by body”, or “I don’t want you to get into trouble with a girl. Have sex with me instead”. Wagatsuma reports “Japanese mothers often exhibit an obsession with their sons’ penises...[they are] usually brought in by their mothers who fear that their sons’ penises are abnormally small”, with the result that Japanese marriage clinics find “60 percent of their patients are afflicted with the 'no-touch syndrome”, that is, they will have no physical contact with their wives for fear that it will lead to sex...[termed] the “I love mommy' complex”"
This is cited from 7 different sources. The page cites a lot from the "Journal of Psychohistory" though.

YouTube - Goldfish Training Kit from ThinkGeek - "Eat and swim - that's all your goldfish knows how to do... until now!"

Manwolf's Howls & Growls: UNSOLVED HISTORY - Roswell (Partial Review) - "The show... [posits] that over time, memories could have been distorted and perhaps combined... unsuspecting witnesses [go] to a fake UFO crash site, complete with yellow tape and military guards. Each participant is equipped with a helmet camera, so the scientists can determine what each observer actually saw and when. The scientists then collect the data and, a month later, interview the witnesses. And what they discover is striking: even after just a month, the witness testimonies are highly inaccurate and seem to have been heavily influenced not only by what the other witnesses initially said they saw, but by preconceived ideas of what a UFO crash site incident should be like. Some subjects even swear to events that never happened and claim to have seen things their helmet cams show they didn't see... If witnesses are unreliable after 1 month, how reliable can they be after (now) 60 years?... the simplest explanation for the so-called Roswell Incident is the one offered by 1990s Air Force report: a classified balloon crash and subsequent tests with "witness" memories distorted by time."
It's all part of the conspiracy!!!
Keywords: This is a good reason to dismiss most conspiracy theories. whether about aliens or otherwise.

The Bewbs / Katarn's Avatar - "Where possible I've included a picture of their role in C&C as well as a non C&C one. This does not hold true for all cases, but as a general rule, its there."
Pictures of C&C 1-2 and RA 1-2 actresses in-game and out. It didn't solve the "mystery" of why Tanya in RA2 is always bending down though (hurr hurr). I wonder what it's like in RA3

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." - Pablo Picasso


Japan trip
Day 11 - 16th June - Peace Memorial Museum, Peace Memorial Hall; Hiroshima
(Part 3)

Japan already has so many public holidays, yet many places still take and end-of-year break.

"Burned out letters. The heat rays burned out the black letters, which absorbed more heat"

Shadow of a handle on a gas tank

A woman with burns

Black nail. Unfortunately he was dangling his arm outside the window so 2 fingers grew black, deformed nails (presumably not for the rest of his life).

Deformed fingernail. Since the bomb, his fingernail has grown abnormally.

Imprinted kimono pattern

A schoolgirl with burns

And then I found that this was the first museum I'd been to which asked you to touch original historical artefacts:

"Roof tiles - Feel free to touch these items". Maybe they have too many tiles.
Another sign read "they are safe".

I was reminded of my friend, who said her friend did not want to visit Hiroshima - 60 years after the bomb - because she was afraid of radiation. Say it with me now: "... women"

Some of the survivors have body pains - shards of glass were blown into them by the bomb.

There was double damage because first there was the blast of the bomb, and then a reverse blast, because of lower pressure after the initial blast.

Fused lump of small glass bottles: "The bottles were fused into a lump by the fire. When he saw it, Minoru mumbled, 'Must have been really hot'"

There was also an abalone shaped bowl with adhered dirt.

I took this plaque (sans artifact) because the story was really sad:

"Masataro Okahara (then 49) was exposed to the A-bomb in his office... One week after the bombing, [his wife] dug into the ruins of Masataro's workplace where his desk had been and found bones in the position of a person sitting in a chair. The lunch boxes and pipe lay at the end of the outstretched right arm. Stunned by this confirmation of her husband's death, Tsuneyo sank to the ground."

You think this sort of thing only happens in fiction.

Measuring radiation:
"This equipment is carefully designed to keep radiation from leaking out of the case. It is perfectly safe."

We all know about α, β and γ rays, and their penetrative power, but this was the first time I saw information on neutron rays - they are more penetrative than γ rays, and can pierce thick steel.

After one week, the radiation level was 1/1,000,000 of the original and "Today, residual radiation from the Hiroshima A-bomb has no effect on human bodies"


Small folded paper cranes (more on this in a later post). Funny, I'd have thought smaller cranes are harder to fold. People are weird.

More paper cranes

There were some paintings and drawings by Atomic bomb survivors and witnesses. They were drawn up to 57 years after the event, which sounded a note of caution, despite the gushing:

Slicing vegetables and applying them to wounds.

Another sad story:

""I went with my uncle to the charred rubble of his house, where my aunt had been. Near the back door, we halted. 'Ah! Ahh...' We couldn't speak. There before our eyes were the skeletal remains of my aunt, still standing. With large teardrops flowing down his cheeks, my uncle said, 'Oh, how hot you must have been! I'm so sorry. Please forgive me.' My uncle gently tried to clasp her skull with both hands, but it suddenly fell apart into pieces on the ground'"

This sounds dodgy, for skeletons cannot stand (there's a reason why those you see have hidden supports).

Peace Park

A-bomb Dome

Guestbook: "No War, Yes War, No War, Inhuman". Wth.


Translation: "Seeing what happened to Hiroshima after the atomic nucleus exploded, I really feel very heavy-hearted. Yet, when you think of how despicable China Japan was, shouldn't the Japanese engage in some self-reflection?"
(No, I didn't translate wrongly. 原子核 = Atomic Nucleus. 原子弹 = Atomic Bomb)

I found it amusing that this message was left in a mixture of Traditional and Simplified Chinese (helpfully ended off with "Chinese" - maybe the guy was afraid they'd try to read it as Kanji?) It's not like they'll be able to read it easily.

I found it even more amusing that the person almost wrote about how despicable China was - it must be a Freudian slip (maybe he was thinking of the Great Leap Forward)

Considering that the museum talked about what Japan did and explicitly said that Japan had to reflect upon its past, I was saddened (though not entirely surprised) by Chinese. As someone said:

"everything is over...
everything is history

my tour guide [told] me she hates to bring chinese tourists the most
they keep reiterating what happen in wwII
and just refuse to move on

remember, if anyone ask if u r chinese in Japan, Say NO
say u're Singaporean"

"The human race is fundamentally fucked up. This is a great museum. Thank you."

There was a gallery featuring celebrities who'd visited the museum before:

"Having experienced the fearful accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the people of Ukraine understand Hiroshima's experience better than anyone else." (presumably he didn't run this through with anyone from Nagasaki)
Yushchenko - who wrote everything in Japanese (!)

"It is also the greatest warning about the danger of the horrible use of nuclear bomb. We pray it will never happen again."
Shimon Peres. Notice how it doesn't say "we should get rid of nuclear weapons", hurr hurr.

The "President of the Oriental Republic of Uruguay" signed the guestbook in 1989. Yes, that is actually the official name of the country: República Oriental del Uruguay! (it's east of the Uruguay river)

"Now is the time for an effort like never before to achieve peace" - Well, look how that turned out 11 years later.
FW de Klerk, 1997

Pengiran Yusof (Former PM of Brunei - and an Atomic bomb survivor; he was studying in Hiroshima university)

"Never again Oswiencim (Auschwits), Never again Hiroshima!"
Director of the Auschwitz museum. This was when Poland was still Communist, which is why he didn't write: "Never again Gulag Archipelago! Never again Holodomor!"
In any case, we can add to the chorus of cries: "Never again Cambodia! Never again Bosnia! Never again Rwanda! Never again Darfur! Never again North Korea! Never again Never Agains!"

Another sad story: passing water from mouth to mouth

Badge given to people engaged in the Manhattan Project

There was mention of 2 honorary citizens of the city: Floyd Schmae and Mary McMillan. Interestingly, the former was a stretcher-bearer during World War I because he was a conscientious objector.

Cenotaph for the A-bombs victims

The tomb contains the victim register


Next was the National Peace Memorial Hall.

Less a museum than a memorial and documentation centre. One lesson of history: no more "incidents"

Bizarrely, they called the victims' deaths a "sacred sacrifice". Maybe that means they died with honour.

The museum said that "at one point in the 20th century, Japan walked the path of war" and acknowledged "the many lives sacrificed to mistaken national policy".

High tech archive: you place a book on the sensor and it will display related information

The monument outside depicts "8:15", the time the bomb was dropped and around it are artefacts. Presumably no one steals them.

After going down a winding path, I found myself in a mystical hall:

Water Hall, Remembrance

After the bomb

Victims pleading for water

[Addendum: "the first 3 bubbles refer to the same thing - water, in kanji, hiragana and katakana respectively"]

"Besides this notebook, we would like to accept your comments by letters and facsimile. There are no restrictions regarding format. Please send us your comments."
I was tempted to send in an interpretive dance video.
I can't believe the following isn't already online (or at least Google-able).

As a public service I shall post it verbatim (not least since I had to play with DOSBox to get it):

"Centuries later, archaeologists discover the remains of your ancient civilization. Evidence of thriving towns, Pottery, roads, and a centralized government amaze the startled scientists. Finally, they come upon a stone tablet, which contains but one mysterious phrase! 'XXX WILL RETURN!'
"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves." - Dorothy Parker


With our claustrophobic little homes it's no wonder people get drunk and stab each other on the streets - "Even little, overcrowded countries such as Belgium and Holland allow people on average about 40 more square metres of living space in new housing than Britain does. It is not surprising that a survey by the housing charity Shelter has found that 86% of families living in cramped conditions report cases of depression or anxiety in their midst. Why do you think we spend so much time in the streets getting drunk and stabbing each other?"

Nice Work If You Can Get It - "There are always opposition parties -- the full title is "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition". As the title implies, their job is to oppose the government in anything they do, and their loyalty to the country is never in question. (I've heard that in some countries, questioning the President or the government can bring your loyalty or patriotism into question! What a quirky notion!)"

Black Like Me - Weird News Story Archive - "The reason President Clinton is continuously in trouble, claims novelist Toni Morrison, is bigotry. That’s because, she says, he’s black, not white. How does she figure? “Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness,” says Morrison, who is black: “Single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.” Washington Post writer Peter Carlson was incredulous over the claim. “What about the black folks who were born middle-class, play the cello and eat salad?” he asked. “Are they white?”"

YouTube - The blue screen of death (banned commercial??) - "some video about a windows nt handbook, a dead scuba diver and the deep blue sea "

Last Suppers - Seditious site cataloguing representations of the Last Supper. Some available ones include: Obama, Lego Mish Mash, Scientology, Anime, Battlestar Galactica and Sesame Street.

Pssst, want Singapore citizenship? Its disposable. - "Isn’t it ironic that this government screams and shouts when Singaporeans break their bonds but remains so blasé when new citizens throw their passports back in its face? We demonise young Singaporeans born and bred who decide not to work in the civil service and yet we grin stupidly when these foreign talents give us the old heave ho! Something is very wrong with our values and priorities. Rejecting the opportunity to work in government is seen to be more offensive than rejecting our nation. How can this be right?"

The Playhouse - "On this day of love, Valentine's Day, February 14th 2009, we will set the wise owls free. Radio Extacy has printed 10,000 owl postcards. Each owl carries the messsage: "stART the pARTy" and a space for your very own message of peace too! The 10,000 owls have been pre-addressed to Angelina Jolie. Imagine Angelina Jolie coming home to find 10,000 owls in her letterbox, from all around the world! With your help this surreal experience will be, oh so real! The hope is that Angelina Jolie will mention "THE OWL" in the media providing Radio Extacy with a very powerful voice."

Judaism 101: The Role of Women - "Because women are not obligated to perform certain commandments, their observance of those commandments does not "count" for group purposes. Thus, a woman's voluntary attendance at daily worship services does not count toward a minyan (the 10 people necessary to recite certain prayers), a woman's voluntary recitation of certain prayers does not count on behalf of the group (thus women cannot lead services), and a woman's voluntary reading from the Torah does not count towards the community's obligation to read from the Torah. In addition, because women are not obligated to perform as many commandments as men are, women are regarded as less privileged. It is in this light that one must understand the man's prayer thanking G-d for "not making me a woman." The prayer does not indicate that it is bad to be a woman, but only that men are fortunate to be privileged to have more obligations. The corresponding women's prayer, thanking G-d for making me "according to his will," is not a statement of resignation to a lower status (hardly an appropriate sentiment for prayer!) On the contrary, this prayer should be understood as thanking G-d for giving women greater binah, for making women closer to G-d's idea of spiritual perfection, and for all the joys of being a woman generally."
Karen Armstrong would be proud of them.

Book review: What The Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge to Fundamentalists by Keith Ward - "Fundamentalism often accuses non-fundamentalist Christianity (not only those evil liberals) of being selective with the Bible and picking and choosing the bits of scripture from which they develop their doctrine, and ‘watering down’ the Gospel in so doing. Ward points out at great length throughout the rest of the book that this ‘picking and choosing’ is precisely what the fundamentalists themselves are guilty of with regards to scripture. The fundamentalist reading of scripture not only contradicts the Bible in many places, but it is very new on the scene in the history of the church and often pays no attention to more ancient and more widely-held Christian interpretations of the Bible. In short, Ward argues, fundamentalism has just the Bible plain wrong... How many fundamentalists really believe that when Jesus said ‘I am the door’, that he meant he was a large plank of wood with hinges for example? Or that when the Psalms speak of God hiding the Psalmist in the ‘feathers of his wings’ we are suppose to believe that God is literally some kind of giant bird?"

Who says men need to get married to be happy? - "“Stay single and see her at the weekends. Man is not meant to be caged,” wrote Lucas from London. “It’s a great lifestyle choice,” wrote Rob D, also from London. “As for married men living longer, well, the indoor cat lives longer too. But it’s a fur ball with a broken spirit looking out on a world that it will never enjoy.”... I’ve been in a couple of long-termers and I’ve seen what marriage can do to my friends... For a start, bachelors are different now. Traditionally they can be one of two things: a toxic bachelor who spends his evenings with a bucket of KFC and a can of lager, or a career bachelor who is too busy to socialise because he is working until 3am. Over the past five years, however, a third type... In short, they lead interesting and fulfilling lives... “I genuinely pity most of my married friends, who feel trapped, bored and frustrated,” wrote Mike from Hong Kong. “The only men I know who are happily married are the laid-back guys who need a woman for direction. Marriage is not a smart idea for the alpha male.”... Incidentally, dating younger girls draws a curiously bitter response from single women my own age. I remind them that there is nice symmetry in this: every schoolboy remembers the moment at 15 when all the best-looking girls in his year decided they didn’t fancy their spotty-faced contemporaries and began dating the sixth-former with a Vauxhall Astra. It’s not revenge, exactly, but they started it... It’s true: bachelors die younger than their married counterparts. When I dug deeper, though, I discovered this has a lot to do with smoking, drinking and diet. And if you can keep these things under control, you can hang out in Guyland, well, indefinitely."

Singapore Biennale sees display of maggot sculptures at City Hall - "These maggots are part of a sculptural installation by Vietnamese artist Pham Ngoc Duong and were first shown in Hanoi in 2004. Since maggots signal rot and decay, the work is a metaphorical reference for corruption"
HURR HURR SO SEDITIOUS. And how come he wasn't sent to a re-education camp?!

S'pore lauded as slum-free city - "Singapore is the only city in the world without slums, a new report by the United Nations Habitat has found... These were defined as areas where there was overcrowding, a lack of safe drinking water, sanitation, durable housing materials and rights over tenure."

Does ideology trump facts? Studies say it often does - "Saying that correcting misinformation does little more than reinforce a false belief is a pretty controversial proposal, but the claim is based on a number of studies that examine the effect of political or ideological bias on fact correction. In the studies, volunteers were shown news items or political adverts that contained misinformation, followed by a correction. For example, a study by John Bullock of Yale showed volunteers a political ad created by NARAL that linked Justice John Roberts to a violent anti-abortion group, followed by news that the ad had been withdrawn. Interestingly, Democratic participants had a worse opinion of Roberts after being shown the ad, even after they were told it was false."

Takumi Tokyo - "Dining at Takumi Tokyo in Keppel Marina is the next best thing to flying to Japan to eat the real thing"
This place gets the Ultra-Bagus.

Suillus grevillei - "They are one of the most popular mushrooms in Japan, especially in Nagano Prefecture where people call them "Rikobou"... In my hometown, however, people do not know them and disregard them. You see, Japan is very much mountainous and isolated each other like Caucasus mountain area. People's taste toward mushroom changes quite differently once you go over one mountain. I do not exaggerate things at all."

Gundam Condom... - "We've seen a ton of Gundam related goodies including razors and lighters but I wonder how many of us have seen these Gundam condoms?"

YouTube - funny japanese commercial - This reminds me of Raffles Guys school.
"I despise the pleasure of pleasing people that I despise." - Lady Mary Wortley Montagu


"If people do not believe in permanent marriage, it is perhaps better that they should live together unmarried than that they should make vows they do not mean to keep. It is true that by living together without marriage they will be guilty (in Christian eyes) of fornication. But one fault is not mended by adding another: unchastity is not improved by adding perjury.

The idea that `being in love' is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion's own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.

And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry. But what, it may be asked, is the use of keeping two people together if they are no longer in love? There are several sound, social reasons; to provide a home for their children, to protect the woman (who has probably sacrificed or damaged her own career by getting married) from being dropped whenever the man is tired of her...

Ceasing to be 'in love' need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense-love as distinct from 'being in love'-is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit...

People get from books the idea that if you have married the right person you may expect to go on `being in love' for ever. As a result, when they find they are not, they think this proves they have made a mistake and are entitled to a change -not realising that, when they have changed, the glamour will presently go out of the new love just as it went out of the old one. In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. The sort of thrill a boy has at the first idea of flying will not go on when he has joined the R.A.F. and is really learning to fly. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there. Does this mean it would be better not to learn to fly and not to live in the beautiful place? By no means. In both cases, if you go through with it, the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction. The man who has learned to fly and become a good pilot will suddenly discover music; the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening...

Another notion we get from novels and plays is that 'falling in love' is something quite irresistible; something that just happens to one, like measles. And because they believe this, some married people throw up the sponge and give in when they find themselves attracted by a new acquaintance. But I am inclined to think that these irresistible passions are much rarer in real life than in books, at any rate when one is grown up. When we meet someone beautiful and clever and sympathetic, of course we ought, in one sense, to admire and love these good qualities. But is it not very largely in our own choice whether this love shall, or shall not, turn into what we call `being in love'? No doubt, if our minds are full of novels and plays and sentimental songs, and our bodies full of alcohol, we shall turn any love we feel into that kind of love: just as if you have a rut in your path all the rainwater will run into that rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blue. But that will be our own fault.

Before leaving the question of divorce, I should like to distinguish two things which are very often confused. The Christian conception of marriage is one: the other is the quite different question-how far Christians, if they are voters or Members of Parliament, ought to try to force their views of marriage on the rest of the community by embodying them in the divorce laws. A great many people seem to think that if you are a Christian yourself you should try to make divorce difficult for every one. I do not think that. At least I know I should be very angry if the Mahommedans tried to prevent the rest of us from drinking wine. My own view is that the Churches should frankly recognise that the majority of the British people are not Christians and, therefore, cannot be expected to live Christian lives. There ought to be two distinct kinds of marriage: one governed by the State with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the Church with rules enforced by her on her own members. The distinction ought to be quite sharp, so that a man knows which couples are married in a Christian sense and which are not...

If there must be a head [of the family], why the man? Well, firstly, is there any very serious wish that it should be the woman? As I have said, I am not married myself, but as far as I can see, even a woman who wants to be the head of her own house does not usually admire the same state of things when she finds it going on next door. She is much more likely to say 'Poor Mr X! Why he allows that appalling woman to boss him about the way she does is more than I can imagine.' I do not think she is even very flattered if anyone mentions the fact of her own 'headship'. There must be something unnatural about the rule of wives over husbands, because the wives themselves are half ashamed of it and despise the husbands whom they rule. But there is also another reason; and here I speak quite frankly as a bachelor, because it is a reason you can see from outside even better than from inside. The relations of the family to the outer world -what might be called its foreign policy -must depend, in the last resort, upon the man, because he always ought to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders. A woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband against the rest of the world. Naturally, almost, in a sense, rightly, their claims override, for her, all other claims. She is the special trustee of their interests. The function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head. He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife. If anyone doubts this, let me ask a simple question. If your dog has bitten the child next door, or if your child has hurt the dog next door, which would you sooner have to deal with, the master of that house or the mistress? Or, if you are a married woman, let me ask you this question. Much as you admire your husband, would you not say that his chief failing is his tendency not to stick up for his rights and yours against the neighbours as vigorously as you would like? A bit of an Appeaser?"

--- Mere Christianity, Chapter 16: Christian Marriage / C.S. Lewis

Notice how CS Lewis would presumably be against the banning of civil gay marriage.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." - Marlo Thomas


“That is the way the world is. I have explained this. I think I lost votes after I explained the awful truth. Nobody believed it, but slowly it dawned on them – especially the graduates – that yes, you marry a non-graduate, then you worry about whether or not your son or daughter is going to make it to the university!” - Minister Menthor Lee Kwan Yew

Naturally, there is an uproar about his remarks on "assortative mating", and he's dismissed as silly, a racist, a eugenicist, offensive and distasteful, compared to Hitler and all the usual.

Of course, what he should have said was:

"A very large proportion of what we call 'intelligence' (i.e. the conventional concept, rather than the bastardised concept of 'multiple intelligences' or 'emotional intelligence' rubbish) is inherited, though environmental and random factors affect it also.

However, education is a good proxy for intelligence because it's easy to find out someone's educational level (as opposed to his IQ or even 'intelligence' - which is unmeasurable), and education is relatively accessible for poor people in Singapore so even poor people can go to university.

So if you want your children to go to university, it is a good idea to marry a graduate, all things being equal.

However, if you don't treat children as a natural resource like I do, this probably won't matter very much to you"

However, he would've had to prepare this instead of ad-libbing it, everyone would have fallen asleep, no one would've understood what he was saying and he would have overrun his time.

(See also: Mainstream Science on Intelligence)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"I think that one possible definition of our modern culture is that it is one in which nine-tenths of our intellectuals can't read any poetry." - Randall Jarrell


Someone: uae model sounds good

immigrant workers toil
locals enjoy windfall and get fat

Me: whereas here... HAHAHAHAHAH

Someone else: i put on maeup in e bus
in e first mth
then subsequently didnt bother. now i sleep in e bus

Me: congrats
maybe I should form a club of "girls who don't put on makeup at work"

Someone else: you form a club?
you president ar?

Me: haha
honorary general secretary

Someone else: wah

Me: eh
makeup in the bus?
that's quite weird

Someone else: when u are desperate and deprived of time anything is possible

Me: ...

Someone else: what bout club of girls who wear flats to work?
and specs?

Me: specs is not that uncommon

I wonder which is more
flats or no makeup

Someone else: hey my flats are nice OK!

Me: what
I didn't say not nice

Someone else: not nice flats not nice makeup
worse than nice flats and no make up

Me: ><

clothes maketh the man
shoes maketh the woman

Someone else: no definitely not
its e other way ard

Me: ok
so your makeup not nice lah

Someone else: hey my make up skill was validated by u
remember my concealer?
tsk tsk

Me: I'm inferring from what you say mah

maybe it's just good concealer

Someone else: ...

Me: =D

you ask for it one

Someone else: wah lah... ***!!!
where ARE YOU!!!

HWMNBN: that's why i like working women, they have a much more mature outlook

Me: eh what does this have to do with being mature
don't be stupid

HWMNBN: mature women accept realistic standards of male behaviour
ie. the male will cheat, but he better be smart enough nto to get caught
otherwise he has to deal with it


i'm sure most immature women will agree that it's not right ofr a guy to cheat even if he doesn't get caught

what this friend is saying: "it's fair game if he doesn't get caught."

Me: ...

that's like saying immature men refuse to pay for their women
or refuse to carry their handbags
or play their games, suffer their tantrums etc

HWMNBN: no. mature men accept that these are stupid, unrealistic, unreasonable expectations women have of men

a mature woman accepts that realistically, a man will be tempted to stray, and that it oculd happen
and that she won't fuss about it, but he better be prepared to accept the consequences of getting caught

as opposed to an immature woman who will unrelaistically expect her man to be a paragon of virtue
AND carry her handbag,s, play her games, suffer her tantrums

Me: ...

HWMNBN: well equality of treatment cuts both ways

if the man expects to be allowed to behave like a man (ie. cheat and sleep with other women)
he should expect the consequences of getting caught

and there's also something to be said for it being self-selecting

ie. a bf smart enough to not get caught and juggle his cheating responsibly
is probably a good bf in the long run

Me: I guess this is why women turn lesbian

Me: your uni sounds like a really hostile place

Someone: it's a busienss school

Someone: i ate mcpork at osaka airport

tried the McRib too
and Ebi fillet. wah the mac's in japan is nice!
and McPork is small but satisfying. definitely tasty haha

Me: woo hoo

Someone: ebi fillet very nice. is actual prawns in a patty

man. why must macs here be halal
it just ruins everything

Me: yeah man
another reason to get out :P

Someone: you're right, hokkaido is beautiful! and the food awesome. i want to go back

Me: hmm autumn is weird time

food.. pfft tour food sucks
the food I had on my tour was mediocre
though it looked good

Someone: you must go with Prime tours

each meal est 3000-5000 yen
dinner at least

eat until can die

the restaurants we ended up in had hardly any tourists

there was on night of fine dining... siao. another night we had free flow beef shabu shabu. siao

Me: prime tours website has no chinese version

they specialise in japan ah
[Ed: They are in Hong Leong building too]

Someone: yeah, they cater to english speaking crowd.


Someone: yeah, the person who sold me the tour is japanese. ahaha

Me: but you probably pay more right

Someone: yeah, for that 7 days the package is 3.5k
but srsly. pay more, service awesome, group is tiny, food is good.

group was only 14 people

*** went to japan with them [Prime] once
she raved about them then. later went her second time with chan brothers and hated it
then did her research for this trip.

actually when you add tips and shit taxes to the other tours from other agencies, it is almost as expensive, maybe shy of 1 or 2 hundred

not to mention really good service..

they are quite frank about their packages la. i spoke to the leader in private, and she said quite clearly their target group is a certain type. and they always want the english speaking group. dont ask me why this seems so important
but that really did make it more pleasant. at least everyone got along well.

*** was saying when she went with chan brothers, there were many people who were like "yeee raw fish again"
then proceed to cook their sashimi.


HWMNBN: wah lao i need to pick up chicks as eaisly as daniel craig does
(at the scene where the girl he calls for the first time tells him to meet at a hotel in 1 hr)

and at the same time i need to run a highly illegal but profitable drug wholesale bsiness. *pauses* without the complication of being forced into doing impossible favours and running afoul of serbian hitmen

Me: it's a MOVIE

I'll hire a chio girl as an actress and shoot a scene where I pick her up

then you can say
"wah lao i need to pick up chicks as eaisly as gabriel does"

HWMNBN: *scowls* clearly you don't understand the power of dreams.
(and yes, i know only idiots chase them)

HAHAHAHHAHA seriously?
it might be worth bankrolling for a laugh

Me: if you bankroll I'll act

HWMNBN: well. i get entertained, zishuang's ppl get to shoot an entertaining short, you get to have some (fictional) action with someone chio. this might be a win-win-win situation
let me make some calls

Me: how much would it cost

Putative director: assuming we don't have to pay the actress?

probably close to nothing actually
maybe whatever drinks we have at a bar or something

Me: you want to get the girl drunk?

Putative director: can't go to a bar without buying anything
we could do it at a coffee shop as well

can u get a chick ?

Me: how chio

Putative director: would sienna miller level chio be too much of a task ?

Me: err
I need someone with good makeup skills

HWMNBN: what are we going to do once we have the clip of you picking up a chick?

Me: put it online? :)

HWMNBN: let's all laugh evilly together


Me: hic
"Failure is not the only punishment for laziness; there is also the success of others." - Jules Renard


Baltics trip
Day 11 - 26th May - Tallinn, Estonia
(Part 2)

We continued walking around Toompea.

Drivers in the Baltics like to turn on their headlights in the day.

Very battered piece of souvenir armour

Tall Hermann's Tower

Voldemar Panso, a famous Estonian playwright. Notice the audioguide key - Tallinn has very good tourist infrastructure.

A woman walked up to us and gave us a free map/guide. This city was so nice to tourists. No wonder so many had come.

The only 14th century building to survive a 19th century fire

Me mounting bird


Cathedral of St Mary the Virgin

Strange holes in cathedral wall

"Gourmet Monk" - selling glazed almonds

The Orthodox cathedral looks like the Kremlin from here



Stair down from Toompea

Town walls and two towers

Playing Bollywood with a pipe

We then went to another lookout spot.

Latvia was the country of cocks. There weren't many in the other 2 countries, but here's one huge cock from Tallinn.

Earlier this girl and another had tried to sell us UNICEF postcards. She now seemed to be looking for change in the binoculars - confirming our suspicions that she was scamming tourists (she probably bought some Gourmet Monk glazed almonds with her ill-gotten proceeds)

Who would pay for binoculars for this shit view?

Gate to some random house. Every other building here was a cultural monument (see the badge at the top left).

Memorial to Baltic regiment

We then returned to Yonder Fair Maiden and mounted the walls.

Murder hole

On walls

Wall and railing

What we had to climb to get up the walls




Staircase down

Manhole cover

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