When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gaiarc's secret weapon:

"There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob." - G. K. Chesterton


We don't need new national 'narrative' - ST Discussion Board

There're idiots everywhere, but Singaporean forums seem especially stupid (e.g. signal:noise ratio). Even before this thread descended into an incoherent flame war, there were such gems as:

unewokle: At the age of 17 you are so disrespectful and revolting. With almost nil experience in life you are taking on a learned, aged starwart like Prof. Mahbubani. What to say of your upbringing?

cyscasa: We Asians put ourselves down. We are bombarded by the Western media... The only Asians can stand up to the West is China [nationalism rising] We in Asia should not join the western media in running down their policies.

limboonbee: This 17 year old kid (who should be playing PSP slim) writes as if he is a doctorate holder, well nigh a professor, with many works to his credit.

ChristineChua_Ms: It is sad that kids lack moral values. They may score good marks academically. But if they lack behavior it is unfortunate. Respect of elders, humility, willingness to learn all are good aspects students should cultivate.

kjks: The author's framework of the world comes with pre-set colonial mentality. The Nobel Prize awards committee is a political organization it's managed and manupilated by a core group of insiders. Would the leader of IRA or the Basque Group, the last of the Mohawks, the Maori (the moderate ones) be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?
Krugman's books and articles then to be shallow in his capacity, he could not have contributed to international trade nor finance. Not even in the same league as Keynes, Milton Friedman or even Black Scholes or Michael Porter.

TanEaKuan: As a person who wrote the letter I must give out real facts now. Many posters are mistaking me for bad guy. In fact I did not write the letter really. It was written by my faculty professor. (I cannot name him). He said he has some dislike for Prof. Mahbubani and wanted to settle score. He only wrote the letter and asked me to send it to ST. I have respect for Prof. Mahbubani as I attended a few talks by him.

jctpp: What ? For a while there , I was really impressed that a 17 yr old wrote that well ! or is the "17 yr old" a lie too ? [Ed: *facepalm*]

Oh well.
"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." - Thomas Szasz


Baltics trip
Day 13 - 28th May - Tartu, Tallinn; Estonia
(Part 3)

Only one guy worked in the tourist information centre: clear evidence of structural inequalities and discrimination in the tourism industry.

I suspected any building older than 30 years in Estonia got a "historical monument" plaque.

My powers had clearly waned since the last time I was in Europe - I blamed atrophy and old age, and the greater weights I'd to carry over the years.

After that, we went looking for the Tartu University Student Lockup - where until 1892 students who did not return library books on time were confined (the woman at the University Art Museum we talked to didn't know what a "lockup" was, but fortunately, “我们去吧!” had the requisite Estonian word ("kartser") while “孤独地球” and “大概便览” didn't.

The University Art Museum wasn't very impressive: all their pieces were plaster casts (not even copies).

List of punishments for offences:
"arrearage - 1 to 2 days
concealment of one's name and social rank - 2 days
failure to return books to the library - 2 days
smoking in the buildings of the university - 2 to 3 days
using a horse carriage without permission - 3 days
departure from Tartu without permission - 3 to 6 days
insulting a lady - 4 days
riding horseback on Toome Hill - 5 days
insulting a cloakroom attendant - 5 days
vituperation - 6 to 8 days
deceiving a shopkeeper - 3 weeks"
Apparently the shopkeepers' lobby was very powerful. Presumably the Town vs Gown wars raged here as well (and people think Singaporeans disliking Foreign Workers is new and/or discriminatory...)

This lockup was damaged in a 1965 fire but it was restored in 1977.

Around the Lockup


Attic (leading to lockup)

Moved memorial stone. Maybe someone doesn't like him.

We then went to the Estonian National Museum (supposedly the best in Estonia). It was another no-photography museum, but there were several gems.

Uralic language chart. Some of these are dying: There are only 20 Votians left

Estonians in the world

One of the more bizarre lines on the information panels: "'What do village people think of me!' - this was a concern that formed and shaped customs and traditions during centuries." After that I decided to use my camera for the longer ones instead of my pen.

There was an Estonian Oracle (?) with prophecies:

My fortune: "In August the sea is void of fish as they have gone to make hay. Johvi"

Tim the Great's: "After the Assumption Day - yesterday - flies are said to start hanging themselves - it means that they disappear-. Rakvere"

More cross-cultural evidence for the saying: "... women":

"The bride who arrives at her new home steps out of the sledge onto the blanket that her mother—in—law has laid on the snow. It was forbidden for the bride to touch the ground with her. Stepping over the blanket or a wrap was supposed to free her from everything bad that she had encountered in her life or on the wedding road. The mother-in-law bows deeply to the bride — she is going to be the mistress of the house, who inherits the keys to the granary and chests, will give birth to children. This is a gesture creating a bridge between the two competing women."

On marriage: "Marriage granted you some rights and brought about countless obligations"

When visiting women in their childbed you had to bring a gift: "If you don't have anything else, you can bring even a stone from the sauna stove"

They used to add marsh rosemary to make Estonian beer more intoxicating.

Tankards from the Islands of West Estonia. They had 3,000 tankards there. Whee.

They also had a lot of propaganda which was hilarious yet tinged with a healthy dose of self-reflexivity (something we don't seem to have achieved over here):

"To be an Estonian
"Dear Estonian people..." J. V. Jannsen wrote ozn the opening page of the first issue of the newspaper ‘Perno Postimees’, which started to he published in 1857. Symbolically this can be considered as the birth of the Estonian nation... National history and myths were created"

"To Be An Estonian Feels Proud and Good...
We fought ourselves free from the grasp of a superpower - this time 'by force of song', as a modern myth tells us... The past is like an anchor. It helps us to survive in storms, but it can also impede quick progress"

"It was inherent in Estonians to love simplicity and clarity, they quickly and easily took to modernity"

"There is a transition area between your own and the alien world. You would like to go step by step from the secure to the unfamiliar in order to communicate with the different. The home yard was your own, the village lane led to the village green, the well, to the village where the parish church was situated, to the forest or the sea. There was a gate between your own and the alien world. We are used to thinking that the Estonian frame of mind needs being alone. Perhaps this was why the farm buildings were positioned so that the things you were doing in the yard were hidden from the eyes of the other village people."
This was probably written by a Literature major

There was a special exhibtion on Estonian Industry.

The products of Economic Nationalism

My guestbook entry for the special exhibtion

It was a good museum, but focused mainly on culture (which, while still interesting me, isn't my passion).

Estonian Naturalists' Society

Fountain with foam in it - probably the jailbait foam party

We then visited the McDonalds because we were hungry and it was >2 hours to Tallinn.

They shrunk the pies but didn't shrink the boxes. Very smart.

I took a picture of the inside of this pie but forgot to write down what filling it was. *facepalm* My guess is cherry or something

The bus driver for the way back to Tallinn was unbelievably niao - he insisted on seeing our ISICs (one of the two people in the Baltics - both in Estonia - who did so), and made us pay a surcharge. The bus was also full of university students, and when he said something everyone put on their seatbelts. Wth.

Arriving back in Tallinn, we decided to look for the face that launched a million packets - Pronkssõdur (the Bronze Soldier). It was in quite a remote location, and it was getting late (8+ - though it was still bright), so I wouldn't have done it without the other 2 (we were formulating contingency plans in case roughs preyed on us).

Military Graveyards: tombstones

Bigger memorials


Largest pothole I've ever seen (yes, this pwns Bolehland, even). I don't know who had the bright idea of throwing rubbish inside.

Korean restaurant menu. It doesn't sound very Korean.

Tired of walking, we took a taxi back to the Old City.

"Ask the taxi driver for a printout from the taxi meter at the end of the trip
In case the taxi meter and printer are broken, the passenger has the right to refuse to pay"
Malaysia needs this.

Modern Tallinn (no, it's not all medieval buildings!)

We split up with YC; while nw.t and I were walking past the entrance to a building, I heard a familiar tune. I was inclined to dismiss it as a figment of my imagination, but something in me held me back, and I was vindicated:

"Up there in Heaven on the throne
And when the Saints go marching home
Maybe he sits and smokes a bowl"
Bob Rivers in Tallinn, "Vana major" restaurant

"The dark-electro event of the year. Hocico... Deathfuck"
Wth music poster, outside same restaurant

Wth music poster, outside same restaurant


Someone wasn't happy with this Men's Club. We saw this in Riga also.

Soprus. We thought it was a casino, but it's a cinema (one of four).

For dinner nw.t and I went to a Russian restaurant (Troika), since we wanted variations on potatoes, dill and sour cream.

Pretzel napkin ring


Pelmeni village style dumplings

Restaurant wall

Entertainer in Russian Restaurant. She sounded like a man. She was also very annoying - I wanted to throw a lemon slice at her.

Performer giving personalised entertainment

Borsh (as spelled on menu)

Pouring vodka from on high

Pot roast under pie crust. Don't ask me where the roast bit comes in

Beef steak

Steak sauce



Bear on chair

nw.t got a bottle of Russian beer - it had grooves as handlegrips.

Alley exit to Russian restaurant

Town hall at night

Club with lots of services: "oriental hall... bizarre show, water show... Probably the most beautiful nightclub in Tallinn!"
I really wanted to find out what the last 2 are. Wth.

From the website, the watershow involves a pool. Bizarre show looks like a dungeon, which is nothing by today's standards.

We then went to Club Hollywood, since both nw.t and YC wanted to check out the clubbing scene. The bouncers patted us down for weapons, hurr hurr.

When we arrived, there were only girls on the dance floor, and then everything unfolded like some bizarre courting ritual.

One intrepid guy entered the fray, but other guys were not emboldened or felt challenged and entered too. So this guy got to grope with impunity, and enjoyed a threesome (dance) with 2 girls.

Meanwhile, one old guy with a cap was dancing in front of the DJ table with a phantom partner (look at the right of the next video).

Then, the FFM group waltzed off the dance floor, leaving it once again to gyrating girls surrounded by predatory males.

A trio of guys entered and awkwardly danced with each other.

One girl's steps became increasingly frantic with her failure to attract a male companion. The idiot by the DJ table's was still dancing the identical dance regardless of what song was playing.

After that it was a bit boring, since all clubs are the same. It was exactly like the last time I consented to have sensory overload inflicted upon myself except that:

i) The girls were prettier and hotter
ii) There were much more girls than guys
iii) There was no cigarette smoke (hurrah!)
iv) The dancing was better

No wonder the nightlife in Tallinn is so wild.

By 12:30 there was less groping but nw.t said it was still too early since they opened at 11pm.

Aside: the poorly endowed carry themselves with a lot more dignity than in Singapore: with less aid and more daring.

Witness the process of marker clearing. From a state of there being no guys, it transitioned to one of guys dancing with each other and now you witness guys dancing with girls.

(This follows from the previous one)

The next stage was the guys groping the girls, but I had no patience for that and anyway you didn't need Nostradamus to predict that.

nw.t commented that this was a Dance club and not a Picking Up club, so there wasn't that much picking up and groping.

At this stage my clothes were throbbing, so I needed to leave before the resonant frequencies tore them apart; after less than an hour I already felt like kicking something (normal people must work off the tension by dancing and groping). By this time the market had cleared and the gender ratio was even (no wonder there're so many fights).

Orphaned platform in hostel - they forgot about it when doing the renovations


[On "fetish estonian aunties textile factory video"] I wonder if anyone is turned on by this... [Me: Someone will be turned on by this somewhere]

I thought I had a wet dream last night. Turns out it was the sun shining on my groin.
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