When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man." - Bertrand Russell


"Traditional moral theology distinguished between synderesis and syneidesis, claiming that these two terms and ideas were to be found in Scripture itself. By synderesis they understood the habit of conscience, the basic sense of responsibility that characterizes the human person. And by syneidesis they understood the act of conscience, the judgment by which we evaluate a particular action. .. . The term syneidesis is clearly present in Scripture. But what of synderesis? The simple and embarrassing fact is that this term does not appear in Scripture. Indeed, there is no such word in the Greek language. Rather, it appears that this entire theological tradition is the result of a massive error.

As nearly as we can tell, it was St. Jerome who first alleged the existence of these two different words for conscience. In preparing the first Latin text of the Bible, Jerome was apparently working from a Greek manuscript that was not altogether legible. He had to deal with sections where the topic was clearly conscience but the word did not appear to be “syneidesis” but rather “synderesis.” Jerome studied the text and thought he detected differing nuances when one or the other word was used. Thus he concluded that the latter must simply be a Greek word with which he was unfamiliar, a word being used to make a veiy specific point. But recent scholarship has made clear that Jerome was wrong. There are not two words in Greek for conscience, but only one."

--- An Understanding of Conscience / Timothy E. O'Connell
"If nobody spoke unless he had something to say, the human race would very soon lose the use of speech." - W. Somerset Maugham


German government to tighten laws against Jews
Posted: 17 January 1936 1618 hrs

Special Commissioner Hans Hinkel (file pic)

BERLIN: Germany's Special Commissioner for "cultural particulars" at the Reich Ministry for the People's Enlightenment and Propaganda said the country, which is hosting the 1936 Summer Olympics this year, may further tighten laws against Jews, according to reports.

Hans Hinkel, who is also Reich Organization Leader of the Fighting Society for German Culture, said the Reich is reviewing the Nuremberg Laws and may pass legislation to deal more effectively with Jews and Mischlings.

The legislation is expected to be passed in time for the Summer Olympics in August which could attract both local and overseas Jews, he said.

US president Franklin Roosevelt is among the 49 leaders scheduled to attend the games.

Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour laws are already tight in Germany, where marriages and extramarital sex between Jews and citizens of German or kindred blood are forbidden and Jews are forbidden to display the national flag.

Nevertheless, Herr Hinkel said fresh legislation is needed to deal more effectively with Jews, while relaxing regulations on people of German Blood.

He said the Gestapo could be granted power to take action before Jews could pollute the German bloodline, and cited births of children of mixed blood, and couplings of foreign Jews with German nationals.

"They make a show of breaking the law," Hinkel said of the couplers.

"The Gestapo watch and do nothing and can only follow up with investigation after the show is over when they clean up. This cannot go on," he said."

Making a show of breaking the law

Law abiding citizens


Singapore government to tighten laws against protests
Posted: 17 January 2009 1618 hrs

DPM Wong Kan Seng (file pic)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's deputy prime minister said the island state, which is hosting a summit of Asia Pacific leaders this year, may further tighten laws against public protests, according to reports.

Wong Kan Seng, who is also Home Affairs Minister, said the government is reviewing public order laws and may pass legislation to deal more effectively with illegal protests and other acts of civil disobedience.

The legislation is expected to be passed in time for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in November which could attract both local and overseas protesters, he said.

US president-elect Barack Obama, due to take office next week, is among the 21 leaders scheduled to attend the summit.

Public order laws are already tight in Singapore, where protests require a police permit if held outside a designated free-speech zone and gatherings of five or more people are illegal.

Nevertheless, Mr Wong said fresh legislation is needed to deal more effectively with political activities, while relaxing regulations on people gathering for social and recreational purposes.

He said police could be granted power to take action before protesters could gather at specific areas such as Parliament, and cited protests by the political opposition, and by Myanmar nationals against their country's ruling military government.

"They make a show of breaking the law," Wong said of the protesters.

"The police watch and do nothing and can only follow up with investigation after the show is over when they pack up and leave. This cannot go on," he said."

Making a show of breaking the law

Law abiding citizens

It's called a 'job.'

Pointy-Haired Boss: We don't have enough money to fund your project, but I don't want to downsize you and shrink my empire. I hired an acting coach to teach you how to hang around the office pretending to be useful.
Acting Coach: Are you dead or just non-expressive?
Dilbert: It's called a 'job.'

Keywords: i hired an actor, downsize my empire, it's called having a job

Thursday, January 15, 2009

"If you can find something everyone agrees on, it's wrong." - Mo Udall


"What goes through your mind when someone says "Let's go for a drink"?‏"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Again, from my report from interviewing poor households in Singapore:

There were also problems in asking about the children’s grades. There was self-selection, where I got the sense that the children who were doing poorly in school were less likely to be at home*

* - Perhaps they were roaming with friends

Editor's comment:

"Purpose of footnote? Seems unnecessary"

"Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence." - H. L. Mencken


Pregnant 6 times by lover - "Pleading for leniency, lawyer P.O. Ram said his client, who came to know Mr Ng when she was 18 in 1996, paid for his car loans, petrol and other expenses including travel overseas. She also bought him expensive clothing, watches and his collections of gemstones, crystals and Chinese tea pots. Counsel said Mr Ng informed Leong he was married in 2007 but she continued to sacrifice herself for his love. Over a period of time, she became pregnant on six occasions and had terminated each of them. After her arrest, the lawyer said Mr Ng abandoned her. The lawyer said after serving her prison term, Leong hopes to 'impart her experience to other errant souls''."

What Will Happen When You Move to Dubai - "You’ll quickly wisen up to the idea that money doesn’t talk, it shouts. And it’s not a nice sound. Wow. How do I even begin to convey the true extent of this? Capitalism on steroids is one way. Unreserved passion for money is another. Money really is everything here, is all I can say. Even if you like the sound and smell of money, you should really come live here for a while and see if it doesn’t sicken you just a little bit."

YouTube - Microsoft Songsmith Ad - ""Everyone Has A Song Inside" Yes it actually is real!"

Build your own Penrose triangle | The Brothers Brick | LEGO Blog - "It’s not impossible, because Jarek has shown that it can be done! There’s no photo-editing involved either. The whole process took him only five minute (four to find the camera batteries)!"

Who Would Jesus Smack Down? - Mark Driscoll, a Pastor with a Macho Conception of Christ - "what is new about Driscoll is that he has resurrected a particular strain of fire and brimstone, one that most Americans assume died out with the Puritans: Calvinism, a theology that makes Pat Robertson seem warm and fuzzy... What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into “a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,” a “neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.”... Reducing God to a projection of our own wishes trivializes divine sovereignty and fails to explain how both good and evil have a place in the divine plan. “There are plenty of comfortable people who can say, ‘God’s on my side,’ ” Harris says. “But they couldn’t turn around and say, ‘God gave me cancer.’ ”... the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents."
Caedite eos! Novit enim dominus qui sunt eius

Destroyed in Seconds: Freeway Carnage - "A disabled car sets off a chain reaction that turns a Los Angeles highway into automobile carnage... 'The city of Los Angeles is known for its fast freeway system... Which makes breaking down in the carpool lane all the more dangerous.'"
American driving FAIL

American Liberals Are Idiots. - "The much larger counter-protest devolved into surrounding the conservatives and shouting insults at them. Many called for the University to silence them. The liberals never saw the irony. Free speech means ALL speech. Those students had every right to protest that play, as the players had every right to put it on. Liberals have got to stop censoring opinions they do not agree with. It represents complete cowardice and self-righteousness. In this light, campus speech codes must be abolished outright... Ladies, pull your heads out of your asses. Stop the self-victimization escape of blaming men for all your problems. Take some responsibility for how you treat other women. Negative body image is not caused by a patriarchal society. Most men prefer women with curves. The fashion industry is controlled by gay men and other women, so stop blaming straight guys because you hate how you look... And congratulations ladies, you have successfully Oprah-ized the American male. The gender war is over, you won. Are you happy now? There are no real men any more because you have made masculinity a dirty word... You attacked men with emotion and not intellect, and as a result men have responded with emotion and not intellect. You have made us the weakest specimen of man to ever walk the planet. Is that really what you want?... I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to go to war protests and see huge parties of people marching to “Free the Cuban Five.” In our efforts to care as much as possible, we have developed ADD."

Rent-a-friend in Japan - "There is a service for women who are about to wed too. Apparently, they can practise for married life with a hired husband, although whether this involves seduction or sock washing is not exactly clear. And if things are not working out with a real husband, a woman considering a divorce may choose to hire a "mother" in order to discuss her marital anxieties."

'Carbon cost' of Google revealed - "US physicist Alex Wissner-Gross claims that a typical Google search on a desktop computer produces about 7g CO2. "

Ameobi's affairs in even worse mess than Magpies - "It was revealed this week that [Shola] Ameobi called the police because his house had been burgled -- only to discover that it had not actually been broken into at all. It turns out that he had left his pad in such a state of upheaval that when he unlocked the door and saw the mess he assumed the worst. Not being able to find his cheque book and other important items, Ameobi called 999. However, as he began sifting through the debris he realised his mistake and called the police again to tell them what had happened."

Global rush for 'best job in world' crashes Australian website - "Huge global interest in "the best job in the world" -- earning good money for lazing on a paradise island -- has crashed the Australian website where it is advertised, according to officials. "We've been inundated, with around 300,000 people visiting the site yesterday," said a spokeswoman for the Queensland state government, which is offering the six-month post of "island caretaker"... The job pays 150,000 Australian dollars (about 100,000 US dollars) and includes free airfares from the successful candidate's home country to tropical Hamilton Island on the famed Great Barrier Reef. In return, the winner will be expected to have as much fun as he or she can -- soaking up the sun, swimming, snorkelling, sailing -- and report to a global audience via weekly blogs, photo diaries and video updates. The successful candidate -- who will stay rent-free in a multi-million-dollar three-bedroom beach home -- must be over 18, a "fantastic and charismatic" communicator, and able to speak and write English."

Shafts of Sunlight - "The unfamiliar and beautiful play made things bearable that day... So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is."
Most people with tough lives don't spend them writing poetry. If you have the time/energy/brain power to write poetry, your life probably isn't that tough after all
"I can't understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars." - Fred Allen


Baltics trip
Day 14 - 29th May - Tallinn; Estonia
; Selected pictures/videos from HWMNBN and YC

Lutheran Cathedral

Some weapons in Kiek in De Kok

Pigeon, Kiek in De Kok

Cannon and accompanying artefacts, Kiek in De Kok

Memoirs of Communism

IIRC, these were suitcases of refugees from the regime

Communism = Fascism

Portal on exterior of Nigulste Museum (?; art museum housed in the former church)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not is a slave." - Sir William Drummond


Human reason is beautiful and invincible.
No bars, no barbed wire, no pulping of books,
No sentence of banishment can prevail against it.
It establishes the universal ideas in language,
And guides our hand so we write Truth and Justice
With capital letters, lie and oppression with small.
It puts what should be above things as they are,
Is an enemy of despair and a friend of hope.
It does not know Jew from Greek or slave from master,
Giving us the estate of the world to manage.
It saves austere and transparent phrases
From the filthy discord of tortured words.
It says that everything is new under the sun,
Opens the congealed fist of the past.
Beautiful and very young are Philo-Sophia
And poetry, her ally in the service of the good.
As late as yesterday Nature celebrated their birth,
The news was brought to the mountains by a unicorn and an echo.
Their friendship will be glorious, their time has no limit.
Their enemies have delivered themselves to destruction.

--- Incantation / Czeslaw Milosz (trans. Robert Pinsky)
"God is not dead but alive and well and working on a much less ambitious project." - Anonymous, Graffito


Japan trip
Day 16 - 21st June - Matsushima Bay
(Part 2)

The previous day there had been some herb festival in Kawaguchiko but it was on the other side of the lake, so I didn't bother.

One of the many islands



More views through the pine trees

While admiring the view, I suddenly heard a strange noise:

Edelweiss playing for no reason. Damn Japs.

Even this was a National Treasure. Maybe anything more than 50 years old is a National Treasure (perhaps after the war, all the buildings that survived got gazetted)

Dirty harbour


When I got back to the mainland I had an onigiri:

The first one I'd had with plum inside. The miso coating was very nice (though it didn't permeate the ball quite as far as would've been good, so it was a bit plain), and completed the Japanese holy trinity of rice, pickles and miso (okay, not in soup form, but still). If it looks weird it's because it's street food either from the stall previously photographed or its neighbor.


Nihon Sankei sign - this was not like the others

"July 21st is Nihon-sankei Day" - maybe you get a prize if you visit all 3 in 1 day.

Old Skool brooms at visitors' centre. In an umbrella rack. Erm.

There were a variety of overpriced cruises available. A description:

I was intrigued by the "Long Around Cruise" which would let me see "feminine islands" and "masculine Saga-Kei", but I'd missed the boat (literally), so I opted for the "Short Around Cruise".


The people running the cruise were very smart and practised price discrimination - a normal ticket got you a seat downstairs in the enclosed area of the ship - to get to the second level with a sundeck you needed to pay more (which I did).

Seagulls on the water


As the boat set off, the seagulls got excited. The reason for this soon became apparent:

For the passengers on the open deck, feeding the Seagulls seemed more appealing than enjoying the scenery (indeed, one woman kept being upskirted by the wind, but she didn't seem to mind):


Excited gulls

The PA system on board actually announced: "Now, please buy snacks to feed the seagulls". !@#$%^&*()

In the wake

Photographing seagulls

2 islands

Offering their hands to the birds


More gulls

Me with gulls. None shat on me.

Gull on railing

Navigation posts?

Gull overload
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