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Saturday, June 06, 2009

"The future will be better tomorrow." - Dan Quayle


Amusing spam:

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全球紧急求救   地球危机迫近   生存极受威胁



拯救地球:   十万火急   开始吃素   加入环保   一起行动"


"Our world is in peril!

Gaia, the spirit of the earth, can no longer stand the terrible destruction plaguing our planet.

She sends spam 5 million spam emails to 5 million special people, telling them to go vegetarian"
"I believe that every human has a finite number of heart-beats. I don't intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises." - Buzz Aldri


On the popular myths of "multiple" and "emotional" intelligence:

"This general hierarchical model is what we might call the “orthodox” model. But there are still psychologists who believe in “many intelligences,” and continue to argue in favour of such a Binetian notion...

More recently Howard Gardner has taken up the Binet mantle. He has asserted that there are multiple intelligences, of which he recognizes seven. These are verbal and mathematico-logical, spatial, musi cal, personal intelligence (interpersonal skills), intrapsychic capacity, and kinesthetic ability, as shown by outstanding athletes and dancers. It is a curious list; to call physical grace an “intelligence” seems somewhat odd. It remains to be seen if “intrapsychic capacity” can be measured, and means anything other than absence of neuroticism. But of course the main question is: Are there seven intelligences actually separate and independent? Oddly enough, Gardner avoids any answer to this question. He nowhere indicates how you could measure some of these “intelligences” (such as the intrapsychic ability), and he nowhere tries to discover the actual correlations between these “intelligences.” But of course we do know that verbal ability, mathematico-logical ability, and spatial ability are quite highly correlated; to pretend that they are quite separate and independent is simply untrue.

Gardner relies on anecdotal evidence entirely... It is difficult to understand what Gardner is saying that is not covered by the orthodox hierarchical model. He is attacking an imaginary foe, namely complete dependence on just one general intelligence, but that notion died many years ago, and has not had a single proponent over the last fifty years! You can always slay imaginary dragons with equally imaginary swords. Gardner never acknowledges the true orthodoxy, and never provides any empirical evidence for his esoteric and quite unrealistic notions. No wonder he gained high academic acclaim and a strongly partisan following—you only have to attack the IQ to become famous and popular; however nonsensical the attack, and however weak the alleged evidence for your own systems!

An offspring of the Gardner tradition is of particular interest because he exemplifies more clearly than most the fundamental absurdity of the tendency to class almost any type of behaviour as an “intelligence.” David Goleman published his book on Emotional Intelligence with the rather ambitious claim that it was “the ground-breaking book that redefines intelligence and success.” He also claimed that his EQ (emotional quotient) could “matter more than IQ”—although having no actual way of measuring this EQ. What he was saying, in principle, was simply that IQ is not everything, that high IQ people are not always the most successful in everyday life, and that emotional factors could be importani What then constitutes this “emotional intelligence”? There are five main “abilities” involved. The first is knowing one’s emotions: ”self-awareness is the keystone of emotional intelligence.” Managing emotions is the second: “handling feelings so that they are appropriate is an ability that builds on self-awareness.” The third is motivating oneself: “marshalling emotions in the service of a goal.” Next comes recognizing emotions in others: “empathy is the fundamental “people skill.” And finally we have handling relationships: skill in managing emotions in others. If these five “abilities” define “emotional intelligence,” we would expect some evidence that they are highly correlated; Goleman admits that they might be quite uncorrelated, and in any case if we cannot measure them, how do we know how they are related? So the whole theory is built on quicksand; there is no sound scientific basis.

But there are even more serious objections that go to the root of the matter. As I have shown in figure 5.1, social and practical intelligence is a descriptive term that refers to our success at meeting the practical challenges of everyday life. IQ plays a part, but has never been suggested, as Goleman maintains, to act as the only actor in this play. Twelve others are suggested in my figure 5.1, which dates back many years, and expresses a general consensus among psychologists working in this field; there probably are many more. Those relevant to Goleman’s misconceived “emotional intelligence” are personality, mental disorders and coping strategies; in particular, what is usually referred to as “neuroticism” in personality description almost exactly coincides with Goleman’s concept. But neuroticism is not a cognitive ability, or lack of ability; it refers to quite another side of personality, namely the emotional. There are hundreds of investigations demonstrating the fact that emotional instability can interfere in practical matters with the proper application of our cognitive abilities, although Goleman seems unaware of this large literature. But to call this “emotional intelligence” makes the term “intelligence” scientifically meaningless; it brings together two unrelated things—neuroticism and intelligence in one ugly hybrid.

To illustrate the scientific absurdity of “emotional intelligence,” consider a physicist who argued that “length” didn’t tell you everything about the universe. Consequently, he argues, I introduced the concept of “hot lengths,” this is much more useful because it explains many things that length cannot explain, such as boiling a kettle, or burning the toast. In presenting his case, the self-same physicist would conveniently forget to mention all the work that has been done on heat, and present his contribution as “ground-breaking.” Can you imagine physicists taking such a contribution seriously? Psychology, alas, is still very far from being a science, and all this talk of “multiple intelligence” illustrates this only too well.

Is it true neuroticism lies at the heart of “social” or “practical” intelligence? Epstein and Meier, like Goleman dissatisfied with IQ measures, constructed a Constructive Thinking Inventory, correlated to IQ, which they argued would predict “success in living” better than IQ tests. It did, but correlations were derisorily small (from .19 to .39), and the Inventory correlated .59 with a measure of neuroticism. We are clearly dealing with an index of emotional reactivity, not of cognitive ability.

Perhaps the most academically acceptable exponent of intelligence as to what makes us successful in real life is Robert Sternberg... The contextualist view presented here is certainly highly inclusive in the sense that it includes within the realm of intelligence characteristics that typically might be placed in the realm of personality or motivation: “For example, motivational phenomena relevant to purposive adaptive behaviour—such as motivation to perform well in one’s career—would be considered part of intelligence, broadly defined.”

This, surely is a contradiction in terms. Science seeks to analyse complex phenomena, such as “success in life,” into simpler, better defined, independent concepts, like intelligence, personality, motivation, and so on... Surely the scientific method is to classify the various components (IQ, personality, motivation, physique, etc.) all of which contribute to worldly success, study them separately, look at their interaction, specify their relation with life success, and attempt to formulate theories for each one separately why they have the success they have in mediating worldly success.

Nor is it clear what “worldly success” means. I have become a successful psychologist earning less than an averagely competent shopkeeper. I could have become a multimillionaire had I concentrated on writing popular books on psychology—several of those I wrote in the interstices of my career were best-sellers selling in the millions. Would that have indicated greater worldly success? Money is not everything, and the satisfaction of doing scientific research was far more important to me than earning lots of money. Did I make the wrong choice? How do we define worldly success? There are problems here Sternberg does not begin to consider. Motivation to succeed does not define our private definitions of success. Is a very rich hooker successful? A dead hero? A fraudulent banker not found out by the police? A martyr? A genius like Lobachevsky, who discovered n-dimensional geometry and was considered insane and sent to the outer confines of Russia? The term “success” has no obvious scientific meaning, and requires far more research than it has received.

But what is the alternative to “multiple intelligences,” and the challenge of delving into the real world? IQ is real enough in this context: figure 6.2 shows this relation between JQ and income for a sample of veterans in the U.S. Army that covers the middle ground of intelligence. There is a direct, linear relationship—higher IQ measures higher income. This takes us from the academic field right into ordinary life, the life lived by largely nonacademic people. The same group shows that it does not pay to be high on neuroticism; when income is plotted against neuroticism, the slant shows high income to go with low neuroticism. Obviously IQ and neuroticism together predict income better than either alone—but that does not justify us in talking about “emotional intelligence.”

The final verdict on recent works on “multiple intelligences” must be that they are premature crystallization of spurious orthodoxy."

--- Intelligence: A New Look / Hans J. Eysenck
"The Internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone. If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect." - Esther Dyson


Can shoe size predict penile length? - "OBJECTIVE: To establish if the 'myth' about whether the size of a man's penis can be estimated from his shoe size has any basis, in fact. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Two urologists measured the stretched penile length of 104 men in a prospective study and related this to their shoe size. RESULTS: The median stretched penile length for the sampled population was 13 cm and the median UK shoe size was 9 (European 43). There was no statistically significant correlation between shoe size and stretched penile length. CONCLUSION: The supposed association of penile length and shoe size has no scientific basis."

Singapore Seen: 'Girl in provocative loose shorts distracts my hubby while he's driving' - ""My husband could not concentrate on his driving when we were at the junction of Tampines Street. "This young girl was dressed so scantily, and carried a fake LV bag. "As the wind blew, her shorts 'opened' and showed her butt in bright daylight, about 12 noon. "My husband felt so sick."
STOMP never ceases to amaze me.

New Twitter Research: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets - "We found that an average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman... These results are stunning given what previous research has found in the context of online social networks. On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women - men follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they know. Generally, men receive comparatively little attention from other men or from women. We wonder to what extent this pattern of results arises because men and women find the content produced by other men on Twitter more compelling than on a typical social network, and men find the content produced by women less compelling (because of a lack of photo sharing, detailed biographies, etc.)."

Armstrong's 'poetic' slip on Moon - "Riley and Olsson also concluded that Commander Armstrong and his family members do pronounce the word "a" in a discernible way...There is a rising pitch in the word "man" and a falling pitch when he says "mankind"... "When you look at the pictures, you see that he's moving as he is speaking. He says his first word 'that's' at the moment he puts his foot on the ground. When he says 'one giant leap for mankind', he moves his body," he said."
This is worse than angels dancing on the heads of pins

Breast Cancer at Age 10 - Hannah's Story - "Along with chemo came the painful realization that her hair would eventually fall out. "I might be just a little afraid 'cause I love my hair. I worked so had to grow it," she said... “I feel sad, sad,” Hannah said. “My hair is gone.”"

Bitterness touted as sanctioned mental disorder - "Bitterness should be classified an official brain illness, according to psychiatrists who say people who experience prolonged bitterness over a breakup or conflict at work are "ill" and need treatment... other possible new contenders for inclusion include Internet addiction disorder, apathy disorder, compulsive buying disorder, compulsive pathological overeating, hoarding, “premenstrual dysphoric disorder” and “partner relational problem”... As the number of diagnoses grows, so too does the chorus from critics that the book pathologizes behaviour that’s within the normal spectrum... some critics question just how doctors could distinguish between irrational and reasonable bitterness... premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD. The guidebook says a woman may be experiencing PMDD if she has five out of 11 symptoms that include anxiety, feeling “keyed up” or “on edge.” Some experts are now advocating PMDD be formally classified a mental disorder."
Meanwhile gender identity disorder is not something wrong with the person, but with society.

Princess Amerah's Blog - "Did you know that *Princess Amerah* Does *Princess Parties in Utah*? Contact me to Make Your Little Dream a BIG Dream Come True! Watch this fun-filled Video that shows pictures, and videos of Princess Amerah and All of her Princess Friends doing *Princess Parties* and *Children's Events* in *Utah!"

Police: Phoenix mom coached youthful armed robbers - "A 51-year-old woman guilted her young sons and their friends into helping her pay bills by committing at least 20 armed robberies in the Phoenix area... One 13-year-old was beaten and forced to empty his pockets - which contained only an orange lollipop."

Cleavage Control Clip® - The Perfect Solution to Bra Strap Problems - Why not just use a paperclip? US$10 for 3 6 of what are essentially paperclips is daylight robbery.

On MPs' expenses, Iranian dissidents, Chrysler, Nordic countries, genetic information, the Supreme Court - "The World Economic Forum ranks the Nordics at the top for economic competitiveness; Transparency International ranks them towards the bottom on corruption; and the World Bank places them ahead of other countries when measuring the “knowledge factor”. On almost all measures of social trust and social capital, the Nordic countries come out ahead. Moreover, they have outperformed most of their neoliberal Anglo-Saxon counterparts as well as France and Germany in economic growth during the past 15 years. Simply put, and contrary to what most economists take for granted, the Nordic countries have shown that social solidarity, high levels of taxation and economic competitiveness are not mutually exclusive. Public investment in human capital creates a sense of equality in opportunity among large segments of the population, which in turn has a positive effect on social capital. Together these factors increase economic prosperity."

FriendOrFollow.com - Who's not following you back? Who aren't you following? (on Twitter)
"You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance." - Ray Bradbury, advice to writers


On politeness and graciousness:

A: You walk into the bus and head straight for the back. You remain standing for the rest of the journey. You pass by two bus stops uneventfully, until an elderly woman, carrying a bag of something get on the bus. She wants to sit down, but a lady who is close to you is sitting on the outer part of a double-seat. The elderly woman tries hard to get her attention, during which the lady, who was apparently dozing, briefly opens her eyes and seemingly feigns deafness. You hope fervently to yourself no tourists are on board. The elderly woman tries for a little bit more to get the attention of the woman who refuses to budge. She now her eyes stubbornly closed. The elderly woman gives up, but gets a seat anyway owing to a decent human being who happens to be close by, a mother with a small children. She lets her child sit on her lap and the lady slips in gratefully on the seat.

"My feet really hurt," She says somewhat awkwardly. Her eyes dart back to the apparently dozing woman again, as though she was not quite sure the atrocity really happened.

"No manners at all." She declared.

Me: Politeness is given, not demanded. I actually think the elderly woman was not exactly in the right either.

I hope someone does the same to me, then I will go: "So do mine" (I have extra bones in my feet so it hurts to stand for too long)

A: I agree that politeness is not something that should be automatically expected of others. It's a bonus, but it's also only right.

Especially since the elderly lady wasn't being rude about it - she wasn't asking the lady to give up her seat, but to shift a little so she could sit down next to her, inside.


B: to every man his own; i refuse to take the high moral stand.
no matter what 'humanity' tells you, that old woman had no right whatsoever to disturb a fellow citizen who has done no wrong, much less demand a seat.
if the old woman was constitutionally unable to withstand standing through the bus ride, and there were no seats available, and none ... Read Morewillingly offered, what i would suggest is that she simple find a nice corner in the bus and SIT ON THE FLOOR.
i have done that too many times when weak from surgery or illness. if someone asks me to get up because i ain't supposed to be sitting on the floor, i either vomit the blood i've been holding back for the past hour, or show them the bag of 200 pills that i'm still on, and i get my seat on the floor. i have done that more than once before, to staff members as well, and it often gets me a seat.

C: we all pay fare, and some old people think we owe them a living for their being old. I've had 2 old people wedge themselves beside me when there was only one seat beside me, i was forced to give it up with a tight smile. i've had taitais in their 50s armed with shopping bags (a tell-tale sign that they're able-bodied enough to go on sprees) glare ... Read Moreat my mother (also in her 50s, but looking a fair bit younger than her age) & me just because we were seated first. I would definitely give up my seat, not out of courtesy, but the fact that i'm not petty enough to calculate the next puny 5 mins that i will spend standing & not magnanimous enough to let others think i am unkind.

B: i'm worse off i guess... there are no seats 'reserved' for me as i am neither old, nor pregnant nor visibly injured -.-

C: i bet there were people on board who've had a rough day, who are old, whose feet hurt too... would she have thought about that if she had been seated? what is so different?
and all that supposedly subtle hassling, is a harassment.

did she say 'no manners at all'? well yes, she doesn't have manners at all...

A: I don't know, of course, if the lady would have been thoughtful to the other people had she been in a more fortunate position in the start and met someone who needed a seat. :)

C: well darling, what do you think? ;)

D: if its an old elderly or some preg woman who looks like he/she is gonna faint or fall or drop dead any second soon, even if im tired, i will give my seat to him/her. but it like a 40+ yr old person, forget it man. you may be older than me, but i've worked like effing 10hrs straight man. HAHAHAHAH i dont owe u that seat so quit staring at me you wrinkly saggy old worm.

My overall comment:

Politeness is given, not demanded.

The moment you demand it you become rude.

I remember this time I was on a bus in San Francisco and happened to be sitting in the priority seat on the bus. An old lady (or some old ladies) boarded the bus and said quite loudly, "Seniors! Seniors!" (or the same word without the s; a reference to the sign saying one should give up one's seat to seniors), and gestured wildly at me

A lot of people around me (mostly old) then shouted "Seniors! Seniors!" very loudly and I quickly evacuated the seat.

I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd just been hustled out of my seat by a mob.
"Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy." - Isaac Newton


From a promo in the print edition for an interview in the online edition:

"A Martian turning up on Earth for the first time might be surprised by the central roles that works plays in most people's loves, according to Alain de Botton. A glance at the reams of new fiction published every year would give the impression that humans fall in love, occasionally murder people and squabble with their families but do not spend time in the factory or office. He puts this down to the 'romantic rejection of labour': work is regarded as an economic drama not a human one. Real life is equated to private life, upon which work is an intrusion". He also reckons there is a prejudice against urban life and the city - real life is assumed to take place only in the countryside where nature and the individual are sharply defined.

This has two regrettable effects: people's lives are not reflected accurately in fiction and plenty of fascinating material for writers goes to waste. But Mr de Botton is enthralled with the details of where people work and what they do. And these details, from obscure barcodes to complex manufacturing techniques, provide a fascinating window on modern life."

Thursday, June 04, 2009


(Tips to Bunny Boy for introducing me to this Musical)


"'Whom are you?' he asked, for he had attended business college." - George Ade


This is hilarious:

Petros the Pelican

"Petros the pelican was a White Pelican, who was the official mascot of the Greek island of Mykonos.

In 1958 a wounded pelican was found off the coast of Paranga shore by a local fisherman. The pelican was nursed to health and remained on the island supported by locals. It soon adopted the name "Petros" after the Greek word petras or "semen" resulting from a crude joke by local fishermen. To great disappointment by locals and tourists alike, Petros was hit by a car on 2 December 1985 and failed to recover.

Subsequently, three new pelicans reside around the main town of Mykonos. One, honorifically, was given the name Petros."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"You cannot slander human nature; it is worse than words can paint it." - Charles Haddon Spurgeon


On the Street and On Facebook: The Homeless Stay Wired - "Mr. Pitts Lacks a Mailing Address But He's Got a Computer and a Web Forum"

DailyLit: Read books online by daily email and RSS feed - "DailyLit brings books right into your inbox in convenient small messages that take less than 5 minutes to read. This works incredibly well not just on your computer but also on a Treo, Blackberry, Sidekick or whatever the PDA of your choice. In the words of Dr. Seuss: Try it, you might like it! (Oops -- it would appear that the actual quote from Green Eggs and Ham is "You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may.") "
I'm finally starting on War and Peace. At the rate of one block a day, I'm going to take... 1 year 10 months to finish it.

Watch The Most Talked-About Moment: Bruno Dropping In On Eminem - "Suspended high above the audience, Brüno flew towards the stage, only to get tangled in wires and dropped squarely in the lap of Marshall Mathers himself, Eminem."

Figures of Speech - Teach a Kid to Argue - "I’ve worked hard at making my kids good at arguing. Absolutely... Our culture has lost the ability to usefully disagree. Most Americans seem to avoid argument. But this has produced passive aggression and groupthink in the office, red and blue states, and families unable to discuss things as simple as what to watch on television. Rhetoric doesn’t turn kids into back-sassers; it makes them think about other points of view. I had long equated arguing with fighting, but in rhetoric they are very different things. An argument is good; a fight is not."

Cakeshop in Serangoon North fined for drying noodles in the sun - You can't dry food in the sun? No wonder Singaporean food sucks

Regarding My Recent Trip To Kuala Lumpur - "Krispy Kreme has opened an outlet at Berjaya Times Square (another nightmare parking area). It’s RM19.90 for a dozen doughnuts. They don’t taste the same as the Hong Kong Krispy Kreme (ie. they don’t taste good at all) and there are crazy people eating doughnuts with forks and knives inside - I shite you not!"
Malaysia Boleh!

The Lord Justice Hath Ruled: Pringles Are Potato Chips - "Conservatives like to insist that their judges are strict constructionists, giving the Constitution and statutes their precise meaning and no more, while judges like Ms. Sotomayor are activists. But there is no magic right way to interpret terms like “free speech” or “due process” — or potato chip. Nor is either ideological camp wholly strict or wholly activist. Liberal judges tend to be expansive about things like equal protection, while conservatives read more into ones like “the right to bear arms.” In the end, as Lord Justice Jacob noted, a judge can only look at the relevant factors and draw an overall impression. His common-sense approach was a rebuke not only to Procter & Gamble, but to everyone out there who insists that the only way to read laws correctly is to read them strictly."

The last word on anger - "Anger, bitter and implacable when the only response it gets is anger returned, feeds on its reflection until it becomes insanity... For the Stoics it was an emotion of weakness, to be quelled as part of building self-mastery and detachment. In a sequence of three carefully considered "Moral Essays", Seneca analysed anger, "the most hideous and frenzied of all the emotions", and urged the classic Stoic remedy: the restraint of the heroic mind... Rabidly angry men want only to fight; they want to inflict anguish on their enemies, and then obliterate them. It is hard to imagine, even if great-souled people stood up on both sides and agreed peace and a modus vivendi, how such hurt could be assuaged."

China’s Forgotten Revolution - "Two facts have become more apparent. The first is that the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests amounted to a one-time release of the Chinese people’s political passions, later replaced by a zeal for making money. The second is that after the summer of 1989 the incident vanished from the Chinese news media. As a result, few young Chinese know anything about it. But most important of all, I realize now that the spring of 1989 was the only time I fully understood the words “the people.” Those words have little meaning in China today... In 1989, my 30th year, those words were not just an empty phrase... [In 1989, the students'] audience — whether wizened old men or mothers with babies in their arms — nodded repeatedly and applauded warmly, however immature the students’ faces or naïve their views."

Exclusive: 50cm eel removed from man's rectum - ""On further questioning," says the paper, "the patient admitted an eel was inserted into the rectum in an attempt to relieve constipation. "Emergency laparotomy found a 50cm eel biting the splenic flexure of the colon, and a 3cm perforation was found over the anterior wall of the rectum. "Insertion of a live animal into the rectum causing rectal perforation has never been previously reported. "This may be related to a bizarre healthcare belief, inadvertent sexual behaviour, or criminal assault. However, the true reason may never be known.""

Monday, June 01, 2009

Alignments Made Easy

LAWFUL GOOD: "We're gonna bust this thing wide open, and then do the necessary paperwork" (Nicholas Angel & Danny Butterman from Hot Fuzz)
NEUTRAL GOOD: "It's easy to forget what a sin is in the middle of a battle field" (Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid)
CHAOTIC GOOD: "Governments should be afraid of their people" (V from V for Vendetta)

LAWFUL NEUTRAL: "I used to study people... but I think I got bored." (Gil Grissom from CSI)
TRUE NEUTRAL: "Whatever works." (Machiavelli from The Prince)
CHAOTIC NEUTRAL: "Might save your life, might steal your car." (Matt from Death Note)

LAWFUL EVIL: "Bringing order to the universe...even if we have to choke the shit out of it." (Darth Vader from Star Wars)
NEUTRAL EVIL: "I will cease to exist as I am now...only to be reborn as a god to rule over every soul." (Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII)
CHAOTIC EVIL: "Real horrorshow." (Alex from A Clockwork Orange)

[Addendum: Missing descriptions courtesy of HWMNBN]
This is quite bizarre.

What do you write on the Facebook wall of someone who's committed suicide?

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Golf and sex are about the only things you can enjoy without being good at." - Jimmy Demaret


Jogjakarta trip
Day 3 - 30th April - Solo, Jogjakarta
(Part 2)

The locals didn't seem to sweat much. Probably a combination of their being used to it and their ancestors having been here for millennia.

There was a place called Ayam Goreng called Kentucky. Gah.

The sheep here all look pathetic. It must be too hot.

I saw a place with a sign reading "fotocopy" which was weird - shouldn't it be "fotokopi"?

I just missed my train, so I had 2 hours to kill. I decided to have lunch:

Nasi Rames (with chicken). Fried Chicken, tempeh, ikan bilis and crumbs (?). The old woman serving me used her hand to take the food but I didn't really care, since I'd already done what I came to Jogja to do. In any case, that would build up my system so even Indian Rojak would not be able to kill me.

Stall. Spot the huge lizard in the first picture.

I tried a few lines of Dutch on her, but either I was very bad or she was even worse or she was too young or she hadn't learnt any last time.

How you can see sugar is free here - there was a lot of undissolved sugar at the bottom of my Es Teh. I ordered a second serving which had no sugar, though - maybe the makcik ran out. Or thought I was pre-diabetic.

Though this was only 1 hour by train from Jogja, the signs in the train station were different - the toilet was "kamar mundi" ("kamar kecil" in Jogja) and the mosque "mushola" ("masjid" in Jogja).

At the station, I was intrigued by Intip Goreng - rice formed into the shape of a bowl and deep fried. The makcik at the stall tried to palm one off on me (drizzled with black syrup) for the unbelievable sum of 75,000 Rp (about S$11). I was so scandalised, I gasped and stormed off. Immediately, she offered it to me at 5,000 Rp, which was still overpriced, but I said alright. This incident only confirmed my observation that everybody in Indonesia was a cheat when it came to money - I wouldn't be surprised if I was ripped off at 75% of non-signboarded places, but usually I had no energy or saliva to bargain.

Es Soda Gembira - carbonated bandung. Which, as expected, was very sweet.

When my train pulled up to Solo station early, I rushed for it like everyone else and left the Intip Goreng behind in the process. After it pulled out 15 minutes early, I discovered that it was making a loop, and after stopping at another station it soon returned to Solo (I didn't get my Intip Goreng for fear of missing the train, and anyway it had probably been stolen already). Perhaps everyone else was kiasu and wanted a seat. The fact that the lights were turned off for a while (possibly to save power) didn't seem to deter them.

Weird music to announce the train's departure - they used the Big Ben music. Het Wilhelmus would've been more appropriate.

I was surprised that the trains ran on time. Thank god Indonesia had not been an Italian colony. I would investigate further, but I don't think Abyssinia is a particularly fun place to visit and anyway camels might be more reliable there than trains.

Train on the way back. "Business class" had all hard seats, and one woman was sitting on (and crushing) her vegetables. At least they didn't have anemic rotating fans like in the morning but vents in the ceiling.

Train tickets were tied to the train, which was stupid, since reserving seats was not possible.

I was wondering why there were no garbage bins on Javanese trains - until I saw 2 guys throwing their drink cups out of the window.

The Indonesians I talked to thought I was a student - perhaps because I was frugal.

At one station a sign translated "musholla" into English as "mushalla". Great.

Some jokers (even women in tudungs) were wearing jackets which were zipped up. Maybe it's the modern equivalent of wearing a hair shirt.

Back in Jogja:

You've heard of nipple slips - this is a loincloth slip.

I was a bit hungry so I inspected the street food again. The brown satay was something starting with "bar" but I was not adventurous enough to try mystery meat. Nor did I want chicken intestines so I settled for pisang goreng and a fried bread ball. I asked how much it was and thought I heard "12", but it was "dua" so I was lucky.

Bun with what is probably Gula Jawa (Gula Melaka) in it.

The Last Supper

I also stopped in a convenience store:

Dutch Lady is around after all.

Local Root Beer. Maybe A&W was being paranoid, or locals don't give foreign brands the benefit of the doubt. This 'The Groovy Taste' Rasa Root Beer was awful - before the root beer taste hits you, the bitter taste of tonic water does.

"Silikon Kondom HP"

"Hotel Pantes". CWN also thought it was something else at first.

I don't know why I took this

We then went to the shopping centre again and looked in the bookstore.

Probably the first time I've seen a price tag marked up

Female Delusion: "The definitive guide to deciphering 'manspeak': What Men Say, What Women Hear." I think the fact that women get so confused says more about women than men. Indeed, this is hinted at by one line in the blurb: "Why do we ever ask 'Does my bum look big in this?' when no answer on the face of this planet is ever correct?"

I was very surprised to find a copy of "God is not Great" on sale, as monotheism is one essential component of Pancasila. It's probably banned in Malaysia.

"Sufi: Solutions to World's Problems"
Another haram book: sufi is banned in Malaysia!

The blurb of the book above is very cunning - what seems to be praise for the book are actually words about the author, and they aren't even genuine praise:

""Your presence, and that of Maya and Liny (author's two colleagues accompanying him for the conference), made all the difference. Everyone seems to be happy with the outcome." - H.E. Ambassador Kesavapany, Director (sic) Institute of South East Asian Studies, Singapore

"We really enjoyed your participation." - Dr. Farid Alatas. Associate Prof. and Head, Dept. of Malay Studies National University of Singapore"

Evidence of the unpadded bras on sale in Jogja

We then went for dinner by the road side again.

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Es Tape (tapioca). This was disgusting and tasted like diluted juice gone bad. The green bits at the bottom were like styrofoam.

Satay cost 17,000 Rp, which worked out to more than 50 cents a stick. This must be the night market premium, but it's still ridiculous. Almost everyone eating by the roadside was local - where do they get the money?! Incidentally we didn't see any ang mohs eating street food - maybe they don't trust push cart or fly-by-night places. Then again, they can afford restaurants.

Sate Kambing. Even at >50 cents a stick, half of it was offal!

Sate Udang

Nasi Goreng Istimewa. This was really bagus.
CWN: "The tastiest thing I've had in Indonesia so far, on the trip. Of course, nothing beats babi panggang... but we're on the wrong island"

Bebek Bakar. As with other local style meat, this was ridiculously tough. In fact, the only meat I'd eaten that wasn't tough was Ayam Goreng Kentucky (i.e. breaded).

Dinner at the road side

Band. I was surprised because they went beyond the usual guitars (see the violin, double bass and drum set). Too bad there was no collection box or I'd have given 1,000 Rp - I was really impressed.

I liked the design of this frontage.

After dinner, we went to Angkringan, this road where local bloggers apparently hang out (and side by the road side). Presumably there's wi-fi there, but I didn't see any laptops.

Truck with lots of water bottles.

Angkringan street scene

There were enough people at Angkringan for there to be people directing traffic.

CWN had kopi joss - coffee with a piece of charcoal inside. Local superstition has it that this reduces the caffeine level. CWN said it tasted the same.

Street kid. Just seconds before she picked up a squashed cockroach and flung it away. Ugh.

Flower. I liked this.


"Friendly Atmosphere". I love places which have to advertise these things.

"Areal Becak" (their rest area, presumably)

Dodgy-looking drink.

Guava is called Jambu here.

Borobodur and Prambanan bread. Wth.

"Sutra. 12 Kondom impor". Uhh... And it's licensed from a company in North Carolina.

"Bear Brand. Ready to Drink Milk"


Fiddling with the hot water in my room shower brought me back to my titration days - outside of a very fine range the water was either extremely hot or super cold. The toilet also leaked through the day, but Indonesia has lots of water so it's okay.


[Me: Ooh, you use your left hand {to eat}. How sneaky] I wipe my ass with my right hand.

[On Angkringan] Why do bloggers meet here? There's no wi-fi right

I've learnt from my days in green that cigarettes are very good for driving away most things. Including horny guys.
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