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Saturday, August 08, 2009

"Nothing is impossible. Some things are just less likely than others." - Jonathan Winters


The 10 most historically inaccurate movies - "10,000 BC, 2008: This tale of a mammoth hunter travelling across the prehistoric globe to rescue his bride, features some surprising revelations. Were sabre-tooth tigers bull-sized? Could man train Woolly Mammoths to help build pyramids? Did we invent sailing boats so early? Unfortunately the answer to all these questions is no. In fact, the filmmakers incorporated so many animals then extinct, or yet to evolve, and so many future technologies and geographical impossibilities that Archaeology magazine was compelled to review - and pan it: “Unsurprisingly, this tribe is starving, but it is hard to have sympathy for them because any culture that tries to hunt mammoths with a net gets what it deserves.”"

Study finds women directors damage profits - "Daniel Ferreira, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Renée Adams from the University of Queensland, said their research showed how “meddling” with boards could produce unexpected results. Their study, which was based on a survey of nearly 87,000 directorships at 2,000 US companies between 1996 and 2003, concluded that boards with more women were more effective at tasks such as executive supervision and monitoring... Yet while those traits often helped badly governed companies, the Ferreira and Adams study suggests that increased monitoring can have a negative effect on well-governed businesses."
I wonder what the feminists' reaction is.

Christian Leaders Pray for Nation's Welfare - "The small mix of top executives and church figures were exhorted by Dr Thio Su Mien to “contend for righteousness”... She took out a passage from the Bible telling of how God sent a plague among the Israelites because of immorality and stopped it only after a righteous man Phinehas punished the guilty couple... “If the people do not rise up and speak, it will be too late,” she warned, convicted that there are still a few more years for believers to do so."
Funny - decades of legalised prostitution have not doomed this country

Study: Religiosity of Humanities Students Most Likely to Wane - "Results from a recent study on the impact of a college student's major on their religiosity have led researchers to conclude that postmodernism, rather than science, is the greatest antagonist of religiosity... Findings show that students who entered the Humanities were highly religious but they came out of the major less religious than they started. Those who switched into the Social Sciences were on average less religious and maintained or strengthened their already low religiosity. Majoring in the Biological Sciences and the Physical Sciences did not affect students' religious attendance but the Physical Sciences negatively affected the level importance of religion in their lives. Surprisingly, majoring in education was found to increase religiosity both in terms of religious attendance and importance. Researchers also found a rise in religiosity for students in business. Other findings show that students in the Sciences and Engineering experience large decreases in their trust in God compared to business majors"

A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush - "President George W. Bush told French President Jacques Chirac in early 2003 that Iraq must be invaded to thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse. Honest. This isn’t a joke... Now out of office, Chirac recounts that the American leader appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him: “Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”"

delanceyplace: risk - "[A colleague of mine], in one of his diligent moments, had taken it upon himself to vet my carefully crafted description of one of our products for a PDS. 'What is this shit?!' He thundered. 'If I read this crap I wouldn't know what I was buying.' I took this as the highest compliment. A small army of lawyers had vetted the PDS and had passed it as legally correct. In some countries, regulators had also reviewed it and passed it fit for investor consumption, but it was unreadable gibberish... Our tax lawyer, a 50-something woman from the most expensive law firm in town, was my role model. On her wall was a framed excerpt from a judgment in a case concerning a clause that she had drafted. The judge had commented that he had found the clause to be of 'stupefying legal density beyond human comprehension'. She was pleased with her efforts. I had a long way to go."

Rap Wannabe In "Street Cred" Stickups - "Meet Steven Gilmore. The wannabe rapper tried to rob a Florida convenience store Friday night and shot an employee in the head with a BB gun in a bid to establish "street cred" for his nascent hip-hop career"

'Silver lining' in Fox Lake standoff - "Martin said an officer spotted Shurpit, who had a civil arrest warrant issued through Jefferson County for failure to support a child, mowing his lawn at 103 W. State St., in Fox Lake at 6:15 p.m. When the officer approached Shurpit to discuss the warrant, "Mr. Shurpit lunged the mower toward the officer to keep the officer away from him. The officer actually had to put his foot up against the motor of the gas lawnmower to protect himself." Martin said the officer and Shurpit scuffled in the yard before Amond joined in, and provided Shurpit with a rifle before she fled the scene in a vehicle... Police fired rounds of tear gas into Shurpit's home, which Martin said some neighbors mistook for gunfire."

Police: Beer pong + dare = homicide - "After they got into a dispute over a beer-pong game, Joseph Jimenez, 24, and Scott Riley, 25, met in a Bridgeport alleyway and Riley made a dare, investigators said. "Shoot me, shoot me," Riley said to Jimenez and a companion. "You guys ain't got the . . . " Jimenez accepted the challenge, police said, and yesterday he was being held without bail at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility on murder"

The Straight Dope: Has martial arts training ever helped anybody defeat a mugger? - "Another ten-year study of victim response in 27,595 crimes (assault, sexual assault, robbery, larceny, and burglary) showed across the board that resisting resulted in less injury than not resisting. Similarly, studies have found that resisting reduces the likelihood of an attempted crime succeeding. For example, the chance of a would-be robber pulling it off drops somewhere between 20 and 48 percent."

Police: Woman was teaching boy, 11, to drive when she was run over

A Nose for Trouble - Weird News Story Archive - "A researcher at the University of Minnesota studying the effects of cocaine apparently tried some of the drug himself. Repeatedly. Dr. Keith Kajander used grant money to buy 140 grams of cocaine over a seven-year period before dying from a cocaine overdose. The university has said it will refund $11,000 in grant money to the National Institutes of Health that Kajander used to buy the drug after admitting it didn’t know how many of the 140 grams went to research and how many went up Kajander’s nose."

YouTube - FDA Approves Depressant Drug For The Annoyingly Cheerful - "I used to think, why am I the only one trying to set up single friends with each other. And now I realize that I was sick"
"Given a choice between two theories, take the one which is funnier." - Blore's Razor


The Boys Who Cried “Racist”

"Some people on the left can’t see any excuse for opposition to collectivism except racism...

Paul Krugman can’t understand why people would oppose government control of health care — or skyrocketing deficits, or a federal takeover of education, energy, and finance along with health care — unless they’re driven by racism. But he’s not the only one who sees racists under every bed. Take Washington Post cultural writer Philip Kennicott yesterday, in an essay titled “Obama as the Joker: Racial Fear’s Ugly Face”...

He’s talking about a poster that depicts Obama as the Joker from last year’s Batman movie over the word SOCIALISM. It’s not a very effective poster; what does the Joker have to do with socialism? But it’s ridiculous to see racism in it...

It cannot be the case that every parody of a president who happens to be black is racist. And it is not good for democracy to try to counter every opposing argument with such a blood libel."
"Certificate of live Muslim Kenyan birth to a White Lady:

Free Image Hosting at

Name: B-rock "The Islamic Shock" Hussein Superallah Obama"
"And that's the world in a nutshell, an appropriate receptacle." - Stan Dunn


On SMS-ing destroying the English language:

All Thumbs
Geoffrey Nunberg

"[In 1848] a prominent New York attorney and editor named Conrad Swackhamer wrote an article predicting that [the telegraph] would transform the language... the telegraph required above all else that its users be brief and direct. As people got used to sending and receiving telegrams and reading the telegraphed dispatches in the newspapers, they would inevitably cast off the verbosity and complexity of the prevalent English style. The "telegraphic style," as Swackhamer called it, would be, "terse, condensed, expressive, sparing of expletives, and utterly ignorant of synonyms," and would propel the English language toward a new standard of perfection.

That was the first time anybody used the word "telegraphic" to describe a style of writing, with the implication that a new communications technology would naturally leave its mark on the language itself. It's an idea that has resurfaced with the appearance of every writing tool from the typewriter to the word-processor. And now there's a resurgence of Swackhamerism as the keypad is passed to a new generation, and commentators ponder the deeper linguistic significance of the codes and shortcuts that have evolved around instant messaging and cell-phone texting.

The topic got a lot of media play last month with the release of a study on teens and writing technology sponsored by the College Board and the Pew Research Center. According to the report, more than a half of teens say they've sometimes used texting shortcuts in their school writing. The story was a natural for journalists. It combined three themes that have been a staple of feature writing for 150 years: "the language is going to hell in a handbasket"; "you'll never get me onto one of those newfangled things"; and "kids today, I'm here to tell you."

It wasn't hard to find critics who warned of apocalyptic consequences for the language...

I've got a little prediction to make myself: a generation from now all this stuff is going to sound awfully silly. Did people really imagine that rules of written English sentence structure that go back to the Renaissance would suddenly crumble because teenagers took to texting each other over their cell phones instead of passing notes under their desks in class?

The fact is that apart from contributing some slang and jargon, new writing technologies rarely have much of an effect on the language. They can give rise to specialized codes, but those tend to flow alongside the broad channel of standard English without ever mixing with it... that telegraphic style didn't leave many traces on Victorian prose -- when you think of [Henry] James's own writing, "terse" and "condensed" are not the words that come to mind.

The linguistic features of the new media are sure to follow the same pattern... What happens in email, stays in email.

Kids catch on to this quickly. They may sometimes let texting shortcuts slip into their schoolwork, but they know there are different rules for formal writing, and that you ignore them at your peril. The people at the College Board report they almost never see students using the shortcuts in their SAT essays -- I mean, how dumb would that be?

In fact that Pew study reported that a majority of the kids who use IM and texting don't consider them to be real "writing" at all."

Friday, August 07, 2009

"The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79." - Douglas Adams


Teacher caught naked with boyfriend gets the sack - "A KINDERGARTEN teacher lost her job after she was caught naked with her boyfriend at the kindergarten for a second time"

Thief 'rescued' by police after tourists deliver beating - "The thief, from the northern region of Liguria, stole a handbag from a Korean family when they were not paying attention. He threatened the family with a knife when he was spotted and then tried to flee. Two men from the family, in their 20s, chased him for several hundred metres before they got him down with tae-kwondo moves. They disarmed the thief and continued to beat him."

The breast of times - ""I thought this year's Miss Singapore Universe (Carol Cheong) won because of her boobs," says Joshua-Uriel Leong, a banker in his 30s who admits that he is a "boob man" and is drawn to a woman's breasts ahead of her other physical attributes. And "Yes, yes, yes - size does matter", he adds. According to Doy Teo, director of the Singapore operations of lingerie brand Triumph International, the number of women going up to a bigger C cup has surged from about 10 per cent a decade ago to 18 per cent... As boob "authority" Jeffrey Chung notes: "The first things guys notice about girls are breasts. Instead of keeping them in, the media might as well capitalise on them." He ought to know - he is the model agency owner who made headlines by marketing three D-cup models as the Singapore D-Cup Show Girls... "Boobs are the reason men wake up in the morning and the source of comfort as they lie in bed with their ladies at night," says a male banker in his 30s who declined to be named. "The ideal breast size should be big enough for you to notice, but not of the size that you end up talking to them instead."... Ironically, women are the ones who are less accepting of their own body shape... it's no surprise that Triumph has sold five million push-up bras - the famous Maximizer - in Asia since its launch, and that 90 per cent of the brand's range have padded cups."

Lunch-time beauty boost to increase breast size - "FOR six years, she has had one dream: to have bigger breasts. Now, Miss Joan Guo’s dream has finally come true – albeit temporarily. Thanks to breast fillers, which let her walk into a clinic a 34B and walk out less than two hours later, a proud 34C. The cost: about $15,000... The doctor injects a gel containing hyaluronic acid – which occurs naturally in the body – into the breast. The gel gradually breaks down safely in the body over time. It lasts one to three years, depending on the individual... “Some people may say it’s stupid to spend so much money, but it depends on what each individual wants,” she said. “Having bigger breasts helps me feel more confident.” Apart from living frugally, she has to put up with sore and swollen breasts for now... [her boyfriend] added that a few of his female friends have gone for breast implants."
Strangely, nothing on whether it looks and feels more natural than implants. And perhaps that's why Singaporean women are allegedly getting bustier

Thursday, August 06, 2009

"Living hell is the best revenge." - Adrienne E. Gusoff


Someone on girls wanting men with ambition: because men without ambitions are like wimps

Me: and women without ambition?

Someone: they are great housewives

Me: ...

Someone: i think half of the male population like that
it's true

Me: so do you have ambition
and do you want someone with ambition

Someone: i have ambition
so i want someone with more ambition in a certain sense than me

i dont want to have to mother the guy

you know how females in relationships have to fit into one of these two roles
you either be the one who mothers or the one who is sort of a damsel

i hate mothering. so i'd rather be a damsel

Me: you don't have to fit those roles

Someone: i dont
but i'm saying in broad general strokes
if i have to choose between both, i'll choose that

Me: bah

Someone: at least that was what *** said

but honestly, i dont care man
all i know is that guys without ambition are not my cup of tea either
and i dont know of any girls who would claim "oh, i ADORE a guy without ambition"

Me: are there guys who adore girls without ambition?

Someone: yes
i know of quite a few
i suspect they feel that their masculinity is being threatened

Me: ah well
sg guys deserve sg girls

Someone: hahas...yeah perhaps man

Someone else: wats a brazier?

u are getting too cheem for me
but then again, u've always been too cheem for me

Someone on random shit: where do you get all these things ar?

your friends are perverts?

not all of them though. that'd be tantamount to saying i'm a pervert
assuming i'm your friend

fie, of course you're not :)

Someone else: indon chinese chicks are hot!

Me: indon chinese are how many % of the pop

anyway not that they're hot. sgp-eans are ugly

Someone else: haha!
that's true.

i think in SEA, the best girls are from PH.

Latino hotness, Spanish culture, Asian petite body and Chinese looks. :)

Me: no wonder ang mohs like girls who look like filipino maids

Someone else: and i think the PH is currently on the top of the national average boob size in SEA.

Me: har
who keeps track of that

Someone else: me. on my travels.

Me: ><

Someone on teaching: the boys keep talking about one night in paris
i didnt know what the hell the talking bout
i just googled it

Someone else: this woman was reading the bible on "helpful people"
on the train

she saw this young kid standing in front of her
didnt give up her seat

I knew I had a bad feeling about this.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

"Do you realize if it weren't for Edison we'd be watching TV by candlelight?" - Al Boliska


Women file for divorce over hubbies’ unusual sex drive - "Nazri said according to the wife, the husband had the ritual of going to the bathroom before having sex with her. “It all started when he had sex with her 17 times on their wedding night. The wife did not suspect anything then as she thought he was merely performing his duty as a husband... The wife and her family had a shock when they found “two individuals” that look alike in the bathroom. Religious leader Datuk Abu Hasan Din Al-Hafiz claimed that it was not impossible for a man to have sex many times in one night if he was “friendly with the devil”... He said that while it was normal for a man to want sex two or three times a day, anything more than the usual would most probably not be the husband but the devil."
Malaysia Boleh!

You say feminine, I say masculine, let's call the whole thing off - "Native French speakers don't agree on the genders of French nouns. They really don't agree. Fifty-six native French speakers, asked to assign the gender of 93 masculine words, uniformly agreed on only 17 of them. Asked to assign the gender of 50 feminine words, they uniformly agreed only 1 of them. Some of the words had been anecdotally identified as tricky cases, but others were plain old common nouns."

Tanning beds now listed among top cancer risks - "International cancer experts have moved tanning beds and other sources of ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category, deeming them as deadly as arsenic and mustard gas."

Are you a defensive Pessimist? Take this quiz to find out! - "Defensive pessimism is a strategy used by anxious people to help them manage their anxiety so they can work productively. Defensive pessimists lower their expectations to help prepare themselves for the worst. Then, they mentally play through all the bad things that might happen. Though it sounds as if it might be depressing, defensive pessimism actually helps anxious people focus away from their emotions so that they can plan and act effectively. "

7 Terrifying Giant Versions of Disgusting Critters

There's a group that smashes crispy food - "There seems to be a strange group of young white collars that goes around smashing crispy foods, such as instant noodles and biscuits, in Chongqing supermarkets."

How to avoid Gmail's Sponsored Links - "when sending an email to a gmail user include a sentence or two that mentions catastrophic events or tragedies... Google errs on the side of good taste and removes the ads altogether... you need 1 catastrophic event or tragedy for every 167 words in the rest of the email. I usually toss in a couple extra for good measure."

Parent upset about pole dancing planned for NDP - "I have not heard of any nation celebrating its National Day with performances by pole dancers. If skimpy attire and pole dancing are glorified on the national stage, then it negates the values that school teachers try to inculcate in their students. Teachers tell their students that their school uniforms should not be too short. Why should students listen when women can perform in skimpy outfits at the NDP?"
For once I agree with a ST Forum letter. A bigger problem, though, as one commenter puts it:
"The pole dancers looked so out of place with the whole scene, the dancers were not agile enough to do a good piece.. if one is trying to look at it from a gymnastic standpoint, the ladies really came across as struggling to get up/stay up the poles. Worst of all, it was timed with an excerpt of LKY's speech about Singapore making it to be a metropolis!"

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The best way to respond to radical skeptics (those who demand absolute certainty and reject the idea of truth as is commonly understood):

"I don't know if you exist - someone might have hacked into your email account and is impersonating you, you might be a false personality created by some bored 8 year old, you might be a zombie, you might not even exist (and be a computer program who is responding to me) - or we might all be brains in vats.

In that case, I cannot be certain that you do exist and are who you say you are and that I am who I think I am.

In which case all conversation and action becomes meaningless.

I think I shall go and kill myself now."
"I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying." - Woody Allen


Eastern Philosophy is full of meaningless mumbo jumbo. Which is probably why motivational bullshit sounds so much like it:

A: It is synchronistic that I have just completed this weeks reflecting on my revisioning of Buddhism, entitled, "Buddhism is Beyond God and Religion"

Hopw this can contribute to a better understanding between Humanism and spirituality.

Humanism, to me, is not just a "study of man" by man, for man, but an examination and assertion of our potential to understand life itself as a whole.

B: Glad to see such openness. May be i see this way...
"Buddhism is Beyond God and Religion," and
"Hinduism is Beyond God and Religion," and
"Christianity is Beyond God and Religion," and
"Islam is Beyond God and Religion," and
"Any religion is Beyond God and Religion," (Little contradictory! :) ).

And may be, may be Humanist can overide with a common under current of Compassion.

Then i quote A:
Humanism, to me, is not just a "study of man" by man, for man, but an examination and assertion of our potential to understand life itself as a whole. (inner self and outer world).

A: The possibility for openness is as many as there are individual, even more so as there are moments of joyful openness.

We need to use words with understanding, and we need to try to understand how other use words. The point is neither speaker nor words are fixed, and keeping up with them is called tolerance, listening to them is called patience, allowing them to speakis compassion, understanding them is wisdom.

Me: The possibility for openness is as many as there are individual, even more so as there are moments of joyful openness.

I hope I am not the only one who finds this problematic.

Presumably what you're trying to say is that each individual can be open, and the more individuals there are the more chances each has to be joyfully open to each other.

If this is the meaning of what you said, I really had to read your sentence many times before I understood what it was trying to say.

Yet, openness is not an unconditional good.

As the saying goes, "I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out."

We need to use words with understanding, and we need to try to understand how other use words. The point is neither speaker nor words are fixed, and keeping up with them is called tolerance, listening to them is called patience, allowing them to speakis compassion, understanding them is wisdom.

While it is important to understand other people, it does not mean that speakers and words are not fixed (perhaps you are a post-modernist at heart), as this would imply that we are stuck in a meaningless and fruitless wild goose chase.

In that case,
Keeping up with them is called sisyphean
Listening to them is called a waste of time
Allowing them to speak is called futility
Understanding them is impossible

"Buddhism is Beyond God and Religion," and
"Hinduism is Beyond God and Religion," and
"Christianity is Beyond God and Religion," and
"Islam is Beyond God and Religion," and
"Any religion is Beyond God and Religion," (Little
contradictory! :) ).

Ditto on problematic statements.

How can religions which involve gods be beyond both gods and themselves?

These statements are incoherent unless one redefines "God" and "Religion" to mean something different from what normal people understand them to mean.

In which case it's a bait-and-switch.

And may be, may be Humanist can overide with a common under current of Compassion.

Override what? What does it mean to override a religion? To replace it totally?

Humanism, to me, is not just a "study of man" by man, for man, but an examination and assertion of our potential to understand life itself as a whole. (inner self and outer world).

Given that the "inner self" sounds like it could be what people refer to as a "soul", I'm not sure what the point here is.

Humanism is about humans - by definition.

I don't see why it must emcompass understanding "life itself as a whole" (you're referring to animals? plants? rocks? the fabric of the cosmos?)

Monday, August 03, 2009

"I think Superman should go on the Larry King show and announce that he would come back to life if people in all 50 states wanted him to." - Dave Barry


Part 2 of an exchange on the Humanism Meetup Mailing List on Science Education (Part 1):

Me: I had no idea what was paleontology, quantum mechanics, astronomy and such.

-> Err. As it is most students find it difficult to learn what they already have.

There seem to be 2 issues here:

1) Trying to run before you can walk
How do you want people to learn Quantum Mechanics before Newtonian Mechanics? Even in JC Physics, they only touched briefly upon Quantum Mechanics

2) Depth
Time is limited. If you want schools to do more than briefly skim through those topics (if at all), something has got to give: either you remove other stuff from the syllabus, or you spend twice as long in school, or some such.

[Besides getting you interested,] another aim of Combined Science is to give you exposure to broad areas of Science and its main disciplines: Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

[I specialised in] physics and chemisty.. and both are not my interest. There were rumors that Biology was extremely difficult to pass and that scared me. If there was paleontology or evolutionary biology I would've chosen it.

-> Even though there's a move to more variety in offerings, do you think it's practical for secondary schools to offer courses in paleontology or evolutionary biology?

Besides, if you don't already know basic biology, how will you do paleontology or evolutionary biology?

the topics for debates i had were chosen by teachers and were mainly on world affairs -.- of course i didn't participate

-> Well, school is about having a broad based education, not about having a science education.

Furthermore, at the secondary school level I'd imagine debating is more to develop argumentative and speaking skills than content knowledge.

Suppose there was a debate topic on evolution. What if half the class (conservatively) was not interested/did not participate?

-> Any proposals [for encouraging students to learn]?

Teaching in neighborhood schools is often an exercise in zookeeping, since most of the kids don't want to learn. Someone who taught in both neighborhood and more "branded" schools said this was the difference between them - in the latter the students actually *want* to study.

[Malay is] a waste of valuable students time

-> You do realise that our two nearest neighbors use Malay right? Besides which, teaching Malay is not meant to displace English and Mandarin teaching.

Though seeing what a mess we make of teaching only 2 languages, I can only imagine what will happen when we teach 3.

Many teachers treat students as empty vassals that need to be filled up, instead of a pile of wood that needs fire to be ignited and burning with passion.

-> if you have a clump of wet soil it is better to throw dry wood on top of it ("filling it up") than trying in vain to light it.

C: Gabriel, I think u missed my point. I've been repeating this alot of times liao. the main purpose of me saying all these is to say that the school has not helped in in getting interested in the sciences, in fact it bored me out and took away that interest in science my mum instilled into me when i was young. I'm so glad to have it back now.

Many students i know have no dreams, no ambitions. They just want to finish their study path, get into a decent paying job regardless of whether they like it or not. Even students at my poly are like this. Why so? because the previous schools they attended did not cultivate their interest in any subject. Do you disagree with this sentence?

Education is about cultivating interest.

Another aim is [of combined science] to give you exposure to broad areas of Science

Exposure of something to a person whose not interested is as good as non-exposure.

[It's] probably not [practical for secondary schools to offer courses in paleontology or evolutionary biology], but i know secondary school students do possess the ability to understand polytechnic courses' syllabuses. We can at least provide a number of subjects equal to what polytechnics are offering.

if you don't already know basic biology, how will you do paleontology or evolutionary biology?

I think what I am suggesting is a restructure of secondary sch education to make it polytechnic-like. Year 1, basic biology, Year 2 specialize etc etc.

[For debates, students] will [be interested] if the school is able to impress upon them the magnificence and elegance of natural selection, which is also part of cultivating interest.

But you need to know something before you can debate it.

Interested students will be able to source information by their own.

Any proposals [for encouraging learning instead of spoonfeeding]?

Not that i can think of.

Teaching in neighborhood schools is often an exercise in zookeeping, since most of the kids don't want to learn.

I was from an autonomous school, and have friends from the top classes (i was in one in sec1) and their *want* to study isn't because they are interested. its because of the expectations of parents, because they can think long term and realize going to JC and uni will get them a better paying job.

teaching Malay is not meant to displace English and Mandarin teaching. Though seeing what a mess we make of teaching only 2 languages, I can only imagine what will happen when we teach 3.

yup, thats wad im saying. wasting time and effort. and to me, i think china and the english speaking countries are larger gold mines than our neighbours.

Me: the school has not helped in in getting interested in the sciences

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

I do not think that testing people on something is a good way to cultivate their interest in it.

Many students i know have no dreams, no ambitions. They just want to finish their study path, get into a decent paying job regardless of whether they like it or not. Even students at my poly are like this. Why so? because the previous schools they attended did not cultivate their interest in any subject. Do you disagree with this sentence?

Actually, yes.

How will cultivating students' interests in an academic subject give them dreams or ambition?

Granted, some people's dreams or ambitions are to make discoveries in (a) certain field(s), but the vast majority of people do not share them.

Unless you're referring to people reflecting upon their lives and what they really want - in which case cultivating their interest in (a) subject(s) is not the best thing to do.

Education is about cultivating interest.

That's one purpose of education, but not the only or even the most important one.

Other important purposes of education (most of which I see as more important than cultivating interest in an academic subject):

- Equipping students with the skills to survive in the real world (most importantly, getting a job, but also others including inter-personal skills)
- Giving students an appreciation of the state of humanity's knowledge (not necessarily the same as cultivating interest)
- Developing critical thinking skills
- Endowing students with a body of knowledge, some of which is necessary/useful to know
- Providing students with a base of knowledge and skills they can build upon to pursue their interests and imperatives
- Serving as a signalling device for prospective employers

Exposure of something to a person whose not interested is as good as non-exposure.

Not true. It plants the seeds which may later germinate (Christian evangelism does this as well)

I think what I am suggesting is a restructure of secondary sch education to make it polytechnic-like. Year 1, basic biology, Year 2 specialize etc etc./

I don't think your suggestions are possible administratively

Polytechnics and universities can offer broad course offerings because of scale - even a small institution of 5,000 students can offer 100 courses with 50 people each. In contrast a secondary school has, what, 1,500 students?

And polytechnics and universities have relatively little contact time because students do more independent and self-study.

Having enrichment activities is a more feasible way of encouraging interest.

Interested students will be able to source information by their own.

Good luck with that. Even at university level this is not possible.

There's a strong sentiment of anti-intellectualism in Singapore - even among the university-educated.

D: I used to give tuition for primary/secondary school students as many of my peers did, and when we talked about our students the same things cropped up again and again: they're only interested in passing exams. When I look back to my own Sec/JC days, it was also the same. It's all rote learning, regurgitating what you read during examinations and "returning it to the teacher" after exams.

I still think a broad-based education is necessary - mostly from the practical point of view. A public education system needs to cater for most of the school-going population. People, including school kids, have a wide range of interests, as we all know. Evolutionary processes may be your cup of tea, but it may put another student to sleep. Likewise, if you try to explain computer algorithms to me. Some students may not even be interested in school subjects at all, but able to expound at length re soccer, music or photography. Where does one draw the line? Should the young be allowed the freedom (and responsibility) to demarcate their own learning beyond the basic reading and math skills?

Nonetheless, recalling those combined science texts, well let's just say those can be improved. I don't know how, but there must be a way to strike a balance between trying to make things interesting and not too dumbed down and yet keep it accessible for the slower students. The weakest link is probably the teachers - quality varies between extremes, and if anyone reads the recent editorial by Janadas Devan in ST, being an inspiring teacher is never easy.

The examination system and the paper chase mentality also have to be discarded, surely. They're not compatible with learning for learning's sake. At present, the only common denominator among students, parents and teachers is the dreaded E word. How do you expect teachers to spare the time to make lessons exciting while they're under pressure to finish the syllabi and assessments? How do you expect students to appreciate the finer points of the material they're learning if their mind is constantly on what's coming up for exams?

Should schools be blamed for students' lack of dream or ambition? I guess it boils down to how much capacity schools have to actually engineer any change in the system.

Re. debating skills, I'd argue that it's not solely based on knowledge of the subjects involved. I've known very knowledgeable people who will make poor debators and some very persuasive speakers/debators who don't really know what they're talking about.

C: So the problem is that students aren't interested in their studies, and probably the school is not to blame, but i can't seem to find the root of the problem. To me, it seems like its school because once I sort of change my study attitude to half-assed and spent more time on the internet, i got interested in game design and subsequently religion when i got a girlfriend as she was into Christianity, then evolution.

You're right that paper chase mentality has to be discarded, it will be a huge step forward for our education level in Singapore.

A: I agree with Gabriel that these are some of the most important functions of education.

The question is, does the current system achieve this, and if not why?

School teaches us to shut up, listen, do as you are told, speak up only when asked to.
Granted there are jobs that require this particular skill, but I think the kind of jobs that most of us strive for requires us to do the exact opposite.

School teaches us that for every question, there is a correct answer, a standard answer, and the answer sheet is at the back of the book or in the hands of the teacher.
In life, you have to know what is the most useful question to ask, know that there are no answers and no one knows the answers but everyone pretends to, and you need to know how to go about finding the answers you want.

School teaches us --- verbally --- that we should be creative, and then proceeds to tell us exactly how they want us to be creative.

I could go on forever, but I think people get my meaning.
A worrying revelation:

God sneaks into our classrooms

"Michelle is learning biology this year. Recently, her biology teacher acknowledged aloud the perfection of God in the story of the Creation of Man. This occurred during a lesson on the human digestive system.

Since proselytising-educating is prohibited in most schools, some Creationists have attempted to make Creationism respectable enough for the classroom.

It's right there in the Mini Science Encyclopedia (MSE). At least 10 Primary schools offer the "optional" reference book to their students.  Creation-material dates back eight years to the 3rd edition. (It is likely that a number of school libraries hold the title; the Lee Kong Chien Reference Library does, under "Science Encyclopedias, Juvenile.")

"Your child's natural curiosity is reinforced," markets the online catalogue "and at the same time, he or she learns more about science and the world we live in."

A depiction of what appears to be Adam and Eve heralds the chapter on Evolution."

'Keep slim friends' to stay trim - "The study authors from the University of Hawaii say they cannot tell from their work whether overweight teens influence their friends to become overweight or whether obese adolescents simply choose to flock together... Tam Fry, of the UK's National Obesity Forum, said mounting evidence suggested the link was causative."

YouTube - JK Wedding Entrance Dance - They should have more entrances like this rather than the usual boring ones.

Italian archaeologists find lost Roman city of Altinum near Venice - "The bustling harbour of Altinum near Venice was one of the richest cities of the Roman empire. But terrified by the impending invasion of the fearsome Germanic Emperor Attila the Hun, its inhabitants cut their losses and fled in AD452, leaving behind a ghost town of theatres, temples and basilicas. Altinum was never reoccupied and gradually sunk into the ground. The city lived on in Venetian folk tales and historical artefacts but its exact position, size and wealth gradually faded into obscurity."
The Germans must be feeling insulted

Be grateful, Spore - "After living and working in six countries, I have known for a long time that no country takes care of its people the way Singapore does."
The comments are also great: "if we give the keys of govt to someone like Chee SJ, every thing that we have worked for over the past 45 years. all our billions and trillions or reserve funds will be gone in 10 years. schemes like - social welfare will promote people being lazy cos there is an easy way out."

Cell Phone Video: Horrific Diving Accident **GRAPHIC** - "A young man gets brought in to the ER after a diving attempt goes horribly wrong and gets his face Split open on a walkway below. Poor kid, it's amazing that he's still alive!"

Sony gives blessing to viral wedding video, rings up sales - "Sony, which owns the rights to “Forever,” seems to have had an epiphany. Instead of blocking the video, the company had YouTube add a Click-to-Buy overlay to it... The year-old song suddenly surged back up the charts, reaching as high as No. 4 on the iTunes singles chart and No. 3 on Amazon’s best selling MP3 list. And over on the original video for the tune, the Click-to-Buy click-through rate more than doubled. Imagine that — instead of using copyright as a club to clobber creative user content, Sony sensibly recognized an opportunity to ride the viral wave. And instead of generating ill will, it generated money for itself, Chris Brown and YouTube. What’s more, the underlying goal of copyright law — to promote creativity — is being served"

New Zealand votes on smacking ban - "New Zealanders are voting on whether parental smacking of children should remain a criminal offence. The so-called anti-smacking law introduced in 2007 has divided the country, prompting the country's first citizen-initiated postal referendum... The aim of New Zealand's law change was to stop people using "parental discipline" as a defence against assault changes. The move was viewed by many as an important step in combating New Zealand's high rates of child abuse and murder."

Apple Claims New iPhone Only Visible To Most Loyal Of Customers | The Onion - ""See how thin that is? It's like it's not even there." "Those who really understand what we do here at Apple are going to love this new product," Schiller continued. "Unless, you know, they happen to be totally lame." Retailing for $599, the iPhone 3GI offers only the most special Apple consumers—the ones who believe in the company more than anything else in the world, and who would never, ever dream of questioning it"

Oath of vengeance - Wikipedia - "In Mormonism, the oath of vengeance (or law of vengeance) was an oath that was made by participants in the Endowment ritual of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints between about 1845 and the 1920s, in which participants vowed to pray that God would avenge the blood of the prophets Joseph Smith, Jr. and Hyrum Smith, who were assassinated in 1844 by a mob... "You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation"... "This nation" referred to the United States"
This is damn cool.

The Ethics of Being a Theologian - "Research suggests that most religious participants either do not know or do not care about the theologian's ideas concerning the ritual's significance. They are content to construct their own ideas about ritual, which reveals an irony many theologians fail to comprehend: Not only are the theologian's ideas about ritual irrelevant to the religion researcher, they are irrelevant to most religious people... Regardless of one's opinion of him, Dawkins has done academe a great service by providing a quick way to identify a theologian in our midst. If you are uncertain with whom you are speaking, just inject the name of Richard Dawkins into the conversation. The theologian will be dismissive of him; the religion researcher will not... Academic theologians' pronouncements give the public a false sense that theology represents an advance in human knowledge"
One comment: "I often liken reading high-quality theological writing to watching a skilled trampolinist. The latter begins at rest at the center of the trampoline. Then, before one's eyes, she goes through an increasingly complex set of manoeuvers, rising to the spectacular and leaving one filled with wonder that a fellow human can do such wonderful things. And then, at the end, she comes to rest on the trampoline, exactly where she started."
Another: "Empiricism... is one of the most racist, sexist, classist forms of imperialism - that is domination" - Yes, let's talk cock instead!

Candid Girls Pics CandidLook.Com - "Welcome! If candid photography is what you are looking for you have found the right place. I have some nice candid shots to show. Real candid photos of real russian girls. You won't find nude, topless, upskirts or anything like that here. So don't waste your time. Just usual girls like i see them on streets. Comments are always welcome. And please, you can say whatever you want about my style or technique as a photographer, just don't touch the girls. I mean, good or nothing. Feel free, now..."
I'm sure people do this for other nationalities too

Sunday, August 02, 2009

"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be." - William


On the Humanism Meetup Mailing List on Science Education (this is Part 1: Part 2 will come tomorrow):

A: In secondary sch biology, i was taught
- evolution is a gradual process : i want to put a question mark on that
- mutation is spontaneous/ random : i want to put a question mark on that
- selection based on fitness is the reason why some survive and some don't : i want to put a question mark on that

and my question marks are based on subsequent scientific observations , that have nothing to do with Creationism at all

i feel very uncomfortable telling any secondary school student, yeh, you should take as truth all that your textbook says about evolution
yet at the same time, by saying that, i don't mean they need to start considering Creationism.

Me: Just what do we teach kids?

In any case, I would say that those generalisations are mostly true, especially at a secondary school level.

It is the same reason you don't teach Quantum Mechanics to secondary school kids.

It is untrue to say that light is a wave, but we teach it at a secondary school level because it is true enough.
Bohr's model of the atom is also inaccurate, but we also teach it at a secondary school level because it approximates the truth well enough for that level.

Well, another reason is that the truth is too complicated, and sometimes not well enough understood to teach.

A: Do we teach half truths as a compromise? That feels like my mom saying "when you grow up you'll understand" ......

I don't know what's the best method.

If it were up to me, I tell my 16 year olds, 'This is your text book, just one point of view. Now, everyone pick a different theory of origin/speciation/gravity/how people fall in love. Next week, present to the whole class within 10 min and submit a 1000 word essay'

What point am I teaching?
I'm teaching them that

1. there are many views
2. you need to decide what's a good criteria for you to determine what makes sense
3. information changes with time
4. people don't have time to listen to you, you have 10min only
5. don't let anyone spoonfeed you, you gotta go out there to get what you want etc

I don't really care if they know how evolution / gravity really happens at all -- makes no difference to their lives, and even experts are confused.

But that's just my method. Not good for passing O and A levels.

B: I think science education in general fails because it teaches merely the “facts” without how the facts were derived in the first place. How many of us can actually spell out the evidence for the heliocentric theory (retrograde motion of mars, position of venus, parallex of distant stars etc)? [Imagine a boy goes to school and is simply told by an ‘authority figure’ that living things evolve, he goes to church on weekends and is told by another authority figure that “Jesus rose from the dead.’ How does he differentiate one being a scientifically determined fact while the other is the result of a harmful fantasy perpetrated by many who prefers living in a fairy tale world?

In the case of evolution – I think it’s not at all difficult to draw up a secondary school curriculum. Just present the evidence showing how organic evolution has occurred and then discuss the various theories stating that natural selection seems to be the dominant mechanism but also introducing other mechanism such as genetic drift etc.

A: What would you , and other students, think if the teacher walks into the classroom and says ' The text is just one point of view -- the authors. I want you the do your research, find out what other points of views are, and select the one that makes the most sense to you. There's no examination at the end of the year. What you have to do is to present to the whole class, why you selected that particular view point, and defend your choice in a half an hour Q & A. Your grade will be based on the average of what each classmate thinks you ought to get after your presentation and defense'

I think something like that prepares students better for the real world. And nobody decides for you what is right and wrong.

Me: I think this is too complex to do at the secondary school level. You need skills and a body of knowledge before you can think critically - it can't be done tabula rasa.

Also, Evolution isn't the only thing they'll learn. This method of learning takes too long at this level and leaves no time to learn other things.

There're also issues with honesty in grading (you need a way to ensure people grade fairly) and after 5 presentations you'll start to zone out, since they'll all sound the same (assuming no one collaborated/took stuff from online sources)

A: I think school teaches far too many facts that we don’t need to know , and too little skills/principles/values etc that we need to survive

Me: School is not about learning skills/principles/values etc that you need to survive.

This is taken to its ultimate conclusion in a Liberal Arts Education where, as someone told me, the point is to learn nothing of any practical value.

C: Your proposed model for secondary school would not work for several reasons.

1) It's very easy to sabotage a fellow classmate whom everyone dislikes.
2) Unless the virtues of honest skepticism and critical analysis are instilled into the students beforehand, many useless debates would occur.
3) "Education...has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading." - G. M. Trevelyan.
4) Furthermore, I the majority secondary school students, including myself at that time do not have the capacity to handle too complicated literature.

However, during my secondary school years, I've already begun to feel that what I was learning was uninteresting. I was rebellious and didn't study, not even for my "O"s.

After I graduated, I gave my secondary school years some thought, thinking whether they were wasted. I realized it was that most of the knowledge is impractical in the working world, and we were also presented with an overabundance "facts" which were not debated on nor proven beyond reasonable doubt. It was more of memorizing and regurgitating facts and not much of debate and critical thinking.

Even before reading this discussion, I already realized something is wrong with our curriculum. I even had this thought that business or entrepreneurship would be much more practical and should be taught at secondary school levels.

Interest must be cultivated early, and education should be about cultivating interest, not filling students with information. Interested students would know where to source for information. I say this because my secondary school education has failed to instill interest in any subject into me, and my current interest in games design and philosophy was cultivated by my rebellion against school and spending time on the net.

A: Just wondering, do you then mean you like the way science is taught currently? Do we have the ideal sort of teaching methodology ? Or what do you think is the best way you would like to learn science?

C: I don't like the way science is taught currently. I think children should be more exposed to nature through field trips and such during primary school, and the teacher should cultivate student's interests in as many areas as possible.

In secondary school, we should have less subjects, students should get a choice of which science to specialize in, and must have a minimum of maybe one or two?

Debates should be held regularly as students of that age like to make themselves heard. It will also deepen the interest they have in w/e subj they are debating on. The basics of opposing views should be taught and students should be encouraged to do more research on it (it will help in debates). Creationism and other sorts of psuedoscience should not even be mentioned not to say taught. Creationists should not be allowed to be biology teachers in the same sense that a bomoh would not be allowed to apply as a general practitioner.

Practical subjects like business or finance should be taught, so that those who complete secondary school but fail to get in tertiary schools possess practical skills which may enable them to work in higher paying jobs.

Me (paraphrased): Children are already exposed to nature through field trips and such during primary school.

Students get exposure to quite a few areas of science, in the aim of cultivating interests in many areas.

In lower secondary you do combined science, so there're fewer subjects.

Students get to "specialize" in certain sciences in upper secondary, with a minimum of 2 (at least in the better schools).

Some schools have debates for students to make themselves heard and deepen their interests. I think I had some. But you need to know something before you can debate it.

In the less academic streams you learn 'practical subjects' like business, as well as in the neighborhood schools. But things like Commerce only let them be accounts assistants.

C: My personal experience in primary school wasn't [of fieldtrips]. If it has changed then I'm unaware of it.

I wasn't [exposed to many areas of science]. I had no idea what was paleontology, quantum mechanics, astronomy and such. Topics like these were only briefly skimmed through as far as i can remember and most people wouldn't remember them.

Combined science bored me instead of getting me interested in the available choices for the pure sciences. This happened to a number of my friends and acquaintances. If it's main aim is to get us interested, it's clearly not working for many people.

[My "specialisation"] was physics and chemisty.. and both are not my interest. There were rumors that Biology was extremely difficult to pass and that scared me. If there was paleontology or evolutionary biology I would've chosen it.

I did not [have debates]. the topics for debates i had were chosen by teachers and were mainly on world affairs -.- of course i didn't participate

But you need to know something before you can debate it.

True, thats why students must be encouraged to learn instead of forcing information into them. Students who are motivated to learn would in return be more motivated to debate and debates would be much more meaningful.

Adding on, I've heard from a friend that all primary school students are to learn malay. If its true.. i find that a waste of valuable students time.. not to discriminate, but malay just isn't a language that would be useful in the working world when compared to english and chinese (china is rising).

This is from a quote I read somewhere, but seems very true in my situation. Many teachers treat students as empty vassals that need to be filled up, instead of a pile of wood that needs fire to be ignited and burning with passion.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair


It is a talent to be able to explain difficult things simply. But some people explain simple things in impenetrable ways (and sometimes, better yet, get them wrong to boot).

The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is to kill yourself.

The Israelis have a fighter-bomber called "Kfir". Must be to flaunt their being Kafirs in the face of their neighbors.

"Mac doesn't have Blue Screen of Death. Only Rotating Beachball of Doom."

Bust enhancement is passé. I want to start a penis enhancement company. It will offer enhancing massages using special oils (this differs from happy endings aka manhood massage aka 抓根 [zhua1 gen1] in that the aim is to enhance, not to satiate).

When confronted with evidence that markets are not always efficient (e.g. the Financial Crisis), libertarians like to claim that government intervention was what prevented the market from clearing. Yet, if the market were really so efficient, it would have taken government intervention into account and priced it in (or otherwise taken account of it).

On why it doesn't pay to speak up in Singapore: "My best friend reads it and says she doesn’t understand why I can’t just be normal and watch TV at home, and why I’m making it a point to offend half of Singapore and put my career and future in danger."

Popular self-descriptions of Singaporean Chinese girls: "oxymoron", "walking contradiction". This seems even more prevalent than saying you hate Liars, Bitches, Hypocrite, Bootlickers, Backstabbers, Arrogant people and the like. But perhaps less common than describing "sleeping" as a hobby.

New theory: women like to visit the toilet because it is the only place they are safe from other women's exacting gazes (since women go there to touchup, so they're not 'ready' for judgment yet). At least till they leave. Another reason someone suggested is that when you go to the toilet, you focus on yourself and not others.

Wearing a wig because you think hair dye will give you cancer - ... women

Girls dumping guys entering Obedience School can be explained by the same factors behind guys dumping girls on ORD - options.

I saw a group of army women having lunch, and they looked like female reservists.

"Success is just like being pregnant. Everybody congratulates you but nobody knows how many times you were fucked"

RT @struthious I could not find a single biscuit product in the 7-11 downstairs that did not contain palm oil.

RT @HumanStupidity This may be the only time you have a chance to block human stupidity from following you in life. You're welcome.

RT @ThisIsTrue Spammer: "Cunnilingus - Guipde To Send Hyer To Orgasms Heaven". He can spell "cunnilingus" but not "guide"? (or "her"?!)
The minister, all fired up because of recent obvious problems of infidelity, shouted out, "I want everyone who has been he-ing and she-ing to stand up!"

Half of his congregation stood up.

He then shouted out, "I want everyone who has been he-ing and he-ing to stand up!"

A couple of men stood up.

He then shouted out, "I want everyone who has been she-ing and she-ing to stand up!"

Several women stood up.

The minister looked over his congregation and noticed that everyone was standing except Little Johnnie. The minister shouted out, "Brothers and Sisters, look at Little Johnny, can he be the only one without sin?

"Little Johnny, stand up. I guess you are the only one here who isn't preoccupied with sex and committing sins. What do you have to say!"

Little Johnny replied, "Reverend, you ain't said nothing about me-ing and me-ing!"
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