When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, October 03, 2009

I am shocked. I am amazed. I am scandalized.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

For the first time that I can remember, NONE of the 10 Most Popular Stories on the Straits Times Website are about sex (it's not unusual for half of them to be involve sex).
"Acquaintance, n.: A person whom we know well enough to borrow from, but not well enough to lend to." - Ambrose Bierce


Keeping Singlish at bay
John Lui
(via q u i r k y h i l l)

Speak well but don’t feel too bad if a temporary surrender is called for

The funny thing about peer pressure is that it comes from people who would hate to think of you as one of their peers.

That is the whole point, really. The pressure is to change you so you can be allowed into the group.

As much as people mock Miss Singapore World Ris Low – the young woman who caused an online uproar with her mangled pronunciation – they are outnumbered.

People who speak like her are in our schools and workplaces and I have lived among her kind – the kind who say ‘crips’ for crisp – during the various periods of my life when I lived as an exile in the Land Of The Lost Consonant.

Delicate reader, you may gasp and tremble at the tale to follow, but verily did I walk among people for whom ‘hor’ was like a comma or full-stop for the rest of us.

I broke bread around the lunch table with those who felt the vowel in ‘there’ was plastic, meant to be stretched for pointing out items far away and shortened for things nearby.

I remember one person telling me to go look ‘over there’ for a form, to be found behind some papers at the end of the hall. The vowel in that word rattled about in her nasal cavity for so long that I swear I heard it nest and raise offspring. Oh, and there was that ever-helpful chin-point too.

Like a messiah bringing news of the wonders of grammar and diction, I arrived at one small publishing company as editor six years ago. As I entered, I tsk-tsked over the noticeboard proclaiming a ‘mixed volleyballs finals’ and that staff should not ‘disturbed the servers in the computer room’.

The sheriff just rode into town, I thought. Time to clean up. Time to send some grammar bandits to jail. Sorry, gaol.

As it turned out, my plans did not take into account my arch-nemesis, Julia. Every office has a Julia. She is the alpha female, the leader of the pack, the loudest of the loud. She is the namer and the shamer. She anoints and she condemns. She giveth and she taketh away.

She was a graphic artist, but her soft power in the lunch room far exceeded that of the vice-presidents. Julia’s speech was Singlish and she was damned proud of it. She declared that anyone who did not speak it and who did not have the excuse of being born outside Singapore was pretending to be above his station. I was, at first, accepted into her circle and I was grateful that through her, I could get access to people who mattered.

But little did I know that her operation was like that of a cult. It starts with gentle ribbing (’Wah, why must take so long to say?’) then it escalates into outright scolding (’Eh! Can talk faster or not?’). I imagine this is what Maoist re-education and self-criticism must be like. I began to doubt myself. After all, the president and all the vice-presidents of the company, presumably an outpost of an American multinational, used Cantonese among themselves when they were bonding and in high spirits, and a self-conscious, mumbled English when they were sombre and about to break bad news at town hall meetings.

Good English, or rather, the effort made to use it, was associated with bad times. Bad English was for friends.

The four years I spent there were a strange period in my life when there was pressure to dumb-down, or rather, friend-up, my speech. Like a ham radio operator, I carefully dialled in the correct diction frequency so I could communicate with the tribe and therefore belong. On Survivor Island, everyone does it to win a million bucks. I did it so Julia and her pack would not turn me into the butt of communal jokes.

Deep inside, I shrivelled up a little every time I used ‘nor’, ‘nuuu’ and ‘nah’ to assign ownership of pens and staplers to various persons. If one did not know how to use these three vocal sound effects properly, Julia’s suspicions would be aroused. Lunchtime could be awkward time.

Now that I have safely escaped Stalag Julia, I can say that I was only pretending to speak Singlish. Take that!

I am not alone in being an undercover Good English speaker. In national service, using the incorrect lingo to one’s trainers could turn you from an anonymous recruit to ‘marked man’. Using long words is not as bad as not knowing your left foot from your right on the parade square, or not being able to field-strip a rifle in under a minute, but it is unwise to flaunt one’s enunciation to someone who could make you do enough push-ups to shift the Earth from its orbit.

So kudos to the freaks who let their linguistic flags fly high. A colleague told me of a classmate at the Anglo-Chinese School who was hit on the head by a rugby player for speaking in a manner the player deemed too posh and prissy. In spite of being threatened with more beatings, he did not drop his manner of speech. That, ladies and gentlemen, is courage.

I sought the advice of Mr Goh Eck Kheng, the chairman of the Speak Good English Movement, to ask him the best way to resist the Singlish nazis. When the Ris Lows of Singapore gang up on you, what do you do?

‘Look at it in a bigger context,’ he said. Young people, for example, are pressured to go to the right clubs and wear the right clothes. It is not just a speech issue but an issue of overall conformity.

‘If you want to belong to the in-group you will succumb. But it means giving up your identity to be an anonymous digit in a larger group,’ he said.

Wise words.

So stop the race to the bottom. As the tide of slurred speech and rushed vocalisations rushes in, be the rock and stand fast, he said.

But this is what I say: Be the you that you want to be, even if it means being an outcast. But if you see Julia coming, make a temporary surrender. Good English is nice, but lunchtime is a meal.

The Straits Times, 19 September 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

"I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way." - Carl Sandburg


Frigid Girl: the study of lit is very different from enjoying lit

it's the difference of enjoying underwater world and cutting up the squid in underwater world for calamari

Someone: is easy to be used as a girl
u just lie there and let the guy fuck u

Me: oh
I teach you a position
it's called cowgirl

Someone: haha i also know
dont need u to teach me

MFTTW on Gtalk: what is your gtalk
well i can't add you now obviously because my contact list is broken, which is the source of hte problem

Me: I add you lah

MFTTW: orh ok

Me: yay another avenue to harass you

ok if you see sexybabe adding you that's me

MFTTW: omg
i think u added me before i may have blocked you

ok i'll go check when i get my access back



Frigid Girl: i just watched the most screwed up french movie on earth
it's gonna be tested when sch reopens

this guy going off with his brother's wife
that woman going off with her childhood lover in front of her kids
(mind this all happens under one roof)

2 lesbians seducing mencos they fell out with each other
and then one of them ends up having sex before her entire extended
family cos they want to be 'liberal''

maybe you should move to france

and what if the qn is "why do they want to have sex"

what the hell
so much sex in the movie
won't be surprised

the nameofthe movie is milou en mai

MFTTW on bitching to me instead of confronting someone: i don't want tos tart a twitter flame war
and i'm non confrontational

Me: bah
more like you like to bitch behind people's backs

MFTTW: hahahahaha

well i am female

please lah
only you never bitch behind pple's backs
even most guys i know do it

anyway she has her legions of fans
later i kena lynched by psychotic lesbians

Someone: eyeliners
are damn pleasurable

trust me
if u were a girl
u'd think so


it's ok to indulge in some girly stuff
but if u indulge in all of them
u must be too free
or too rich

Me: yes. see: how girls waste time

PPBI on the story of "Agagooga" and "N!ôrlãn": you have an overactive imagination

but nvm
i like!

you should have been born a girl

Me: why

PPBI: then you can go rgs and be weird

Me: ...
I went RI and was weird

PPBI: weird girls are cute
weird guys are losers

yesyes everyone loves women, etc

Malaysian: the more i read about singaporean news/forums the more depressed i get about this country
is that normal?

Me: hahahahaha

Malaysian: no honestly

i mean policies are one thing
it's the attitude of people that irks the hell out of me

I find this country one where her people are almost devoid of empathy and it kinda reminds me everytime of this quote from a movie "But the one thing they love more than a hero is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying. In spite of everything you've done for them, eventually they will hate you. Why bother?"

so sad

Me: so why are you here

Malaysian: *shrugs*
beats me
maybe it's like the matrix

Me: no, cos malaysia is even worse

Malaysian: well
i don't even want to think about that country

Me: ^^;;
so patriotic

Malaysian: yeah
the best way to love something is to wipe it from memory

Me: hahahahahahaha
"Anyone who works is a fool. I don't work - I merely inflict myself upon the public." - Robert Morley


University of Florida E-Learning System Support Team's

Disaster Preparedness Simulation Exercise #5 (DR5

"Part 1 of this exercise will be to identify characteristics of a zombie outbreak that might precede official
notification. These might include:

a. Disappearance of isolated citizens, initially in relatively remote areas;
b. Increasing numbers of gruesome unexplained deaths and disappearances, especially at night;
c. Identification of difficult to kill, flesh-eating perpetrators;
d. Recognition that the numbers of perpetrators is rapidly increasing and that those previously identified as victims have reappeared as perpetrators;
e. Increasing isolation of survivors;
f. Breakdown of peace-keeping and medical services;
g. Documentation of lots of strange moaning.

Part 2 of the exercise will be a discussion of how the overall impact of a zombie outbreak will affect use of
and support for the course management system and will address such issues as:

a. In general, zombified users will be inarticulate and unable to clearly describe technology problems and use cases;
b. Some support staff may be infected and unable to effectively and efficiently carry out their support responsibilities;
c. The rapid breakdown of civil society and declining numbers of uninfected users may have adverse budget impacts resulting in a reduction in staffing levels;
d. The spread of ZBSD to institutional administration may complicate policy making;
e. Conversely, the spread of ZBSD to institutional administration may simplify and streamline policy making resulting in dramatic improvements in administrative responsiveness and service delivery;
f. Additional security measures will need to be implemented at service delivery points (i.e. the Hub and SSRB).

Phase 3 of the exercise will cover important operational topics such as:

  • Situational work practices such as covering windows, barricading doors, and distinguishing between zombie moans and other moaning encountered in the workplace"
"No tyranny is so irksome as petty tyranny: the officious demands of policemen, government clerks, and electromechanical gadgets." - Edward Abbey


How I Became A Keynesian - "Second Thoughts in the Middle of a Crisis"

The Butterfly Tales... - The One About The iPhone - "The iPhone sucks – or at least mine does. The phone keeps restarting so often that I’m sometimes convinced it is on an eco-friendly sleep mode. It hangs more frequently than inmates on death row and the damn ‘Home’ button is faulty. If you are an iPhone user, you deserve an award for patience, a plague for putting up with this crap or you deserve a hug at least However, a peculiar scene started unraveling before me. There were actually more people sending in their iPhones for repair than there were actually people buying it"

Barack Obama's Smile Never Changes
Must be Botox

Spanking lowers a child's IQ, researcher says - "Straus suggests that the chronic stress created by regular spanking creates post-traumatic stress symptoms in children. PTSD is linked to lower IQ. Economic status also underlies both spanking practices and IQ"
Again, Science Reporting Headline FAIL

What REALLY makes a woman want to sleep with a man? - "Women whose partners had similar genes reported wanting to have sex less often. They had less motivation to please their partner sexually compared to the women going out with men with dissimilar genes. Women with MHC-similar partners also reported more frequent sexual fantasies about other men, particularly at the most fertile phase of their ovulation cycle. And their sexual fantasies about other men did not just remain in their heads. They also reported higher rates of sexual infidelity... Men with a high shoulder-to-hip ratio begin having sexual intercourse at an early age - 16 or younger... But be warned: they have more affairs while in a relationship... In our studies, we found that some women had sex with men simply because they'd been impressed by their dancing"
Addendum: Another article on this book: Why women have sex - ""We never ever expected [the reasons women sleep with men] to be so diverse," she says. "From the altruistic to the borderline evil." Evil? "Wanting to give someone a sexually transmitted infection," she explains... 73% of Russian women are in love, and 63% of Japanese women are in love... Only 61% of Russian men are in love and only 41% of Japanese men are in love. Which means that 12% of Russian women and 22% of Japanese women are totally wasting their time."

Some of the very unromantic reasons why women sleep with men - "We [have] been fed a Utopian myth that men and women have sex purely because they're crazed with lust for each other - or, in a long-term partnership, because they still adore each other. Any woman past the age of 16 knows what idealistic nonsense this is... 1,000 women were interviewed about their real reasons for saying 'Yes' when they could have said 'No'. Boredom, winning favours and to get rid of a headache were high up the list... In this light, feminism's eagerness to persuade women to have sex only when we experience knee-trembling desire seems naive... The book claims 84 pc of women have sex simply to keep their partners quiet or to get help with the chores. You may feel shocked at the hint of prostitution - the bartering of our bodies for a bit of DIY - but within a committed relationship is it truly so different from any other trade- off which ultimately nets both participants what they want?... '[He] started to sing to me in French... When he got to the third verse, I thought: 'I can't stand any more of this.' So I locked my fingers in his, to stop him strumming, and dragged him upstairs - just to shut him up."

Kiss the Girl... Continued - "Surely it won't hurt
If you go for the shirt
Now that you kissed the girl
(Sing with me now)
Shalalalalala forget the face
It's on to second base
Go on and feel the boobs
Shalalalalala unhook her bra
It's just like Mardi Gras
In New Orleans with the dudes"

HDB's version of subsidy, affordability and fair prices - "The HDB sells flats base on market price instead of cost as this is the fairest way of pricing new flats. A market base pricing approach ensures that all groups of buyers enjoy similar discounts to the market and would be fair to those who are buying other HDB flats today"
This is curiously reminiscent of SAF notions of "fairness" - basically making everyone suffer (not to mention exactly the same as the old NKF's "subsidy"). But there's at least one group of people this is fair for: the flat builders.

Blood Lamp: Lamp Powered By Blood For A Cause - "As excessive blood loss is dangerous to one’s life, similarly overexploitation of natural resources, to produce extra energy, effects the environment and our quality of life."

Playing second fiddle to foreigners despite having a birthright - "AN ELECTRONICS firm that advertised last week for a “preferably non-Singaporean” engineer has added fuel to a worsening controversy in this migrant city... A similar storm broke some years ago when another company told a fresh Singaporean graduate during a job interview that his chances were slim if he had to report for annual reservist duty. “We prefer a foreigner who has no such obligations,” the executive had added. Besides, they are much less costly to hire... The foreigners, hungrier and without family responsibility here, generally work longer hours for less pay – something that married Singaporeans with a home mortgage to pay cannot possibly match. A small industry has risen to recruit them in large numbers – as indicated by a recruitment agency, with this advertisement: “Do you find it difficult and expensive to hire local staff? Why not consider hiring foreign talents?”"
Singapore: the only country in the world which treats foreigners better than its people

YouTube - Jizz In My Pants - In light of recent events this is quite sad.
[Addendum: A response - "Puke In My Mouth" -MsTaken.com]

Unhygienic German men voted the worst in bed while lazy English come second in the battle between the sheets - "The survey, carried out by global research website OnePoll.com, asked women from 20 countries to rate nations on their talent in the bedroom and give reasons for their answers."
Why is there no ranking of female lovers? Do they just need to lie back and think of [their respective countries]? It is better to be the Object than the Subject - you have less work to do.

Household Hints With Sex Toys - "Use a Rabbit Vibe to mix up a single serving smoothie right in your glass. The rotating motion of the shaft blends the ingredients. Also works great mixing hot chocolate or pureeing cream soups... To keep an opened bottle of wine from going bad, stick a buttplug in the neck. A slender beginner’s model works best."

Tainted love: Are we wrong to treat incest as a taboo? - "The bizarre case of Patrick Stuebing and Susan Karolewski has captivated the world since the couple crashed into the headlines in 2001 with the birth of their first incestuous son (two of their four children are disabled). Not just because their self-proclaimed love seems to break one of the modern world's last taboos. But also because last week the couple's lawyer, Dr Endrich Wilhelm, lodged a plea with the country's highest judicial body, the Constitutional Court, in a bid to attempt to overturn Germany's ban on incest. According to Dr Wilhelm, there is simply "no moral or legal basis" for incest to be a criminal offence today... [this] is a clear example of Genetic Sexual Attraction"
Happily, it is legal in progressive France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, Turkey, Brazil and Japan
"It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid." - George Bernard Shaw


Steven Weinberg on Physics Imperialism (claiming all other branches of Science are subordinate to Physics):

"So far, I have been speaking in a style that is sometimes called physics imperialism. That is, the physicist provides a set of laws of nature that explain everything else and all the other sciences appear to be offshoots of physics. I want, at least in part, to disavow this. I do believe there is a sense in which everything is explained by the laws of nature and the laws of nature are what physicists are trying to discover. But the explanation is an explanation in principle of a sort that doesnt in any way threaten the autonomy of the other sciences. We see this even within physics itself. The study of statistical mechanics, the behavior of large numbers of particles, and its applications in studying matter in general, like condensed matter, crystals, and liquids, is a separate science because when you deal with very large numbers of particles, new phenomena emerge. To take an example I have used elsewhere, even if you tried the reductionist approach and plotted out the motion of each molecule in a glass of water using equations of molecular physics to follow how each molecule went, nowhere in the mountain of computer tape you produced would you find the things that interested you about the water, things like turbulence, or temperature, or entropy. Each science deals with nature on its own terms because each science finds something else in nature that is interesting. Nevertheless, there is a sense that the principles of statistical mechanics are what they are because of the properties of the particles out of which bodies are composed. Statistical mechanics does not have principles that stand alone and cannot be deduced from a deeper level.

As it happens, that deeper level has usually been a more microscopic level. If we ask any question about nature—why the sky is blue or the grass is green—and keep asking why, why, why, we will get a series o answers that generally takes us down to the level of the very small.

There is a sense in which the kind of thing that elementary particle physicists study is especially fundamental, hut in no way does it threaten the separate existence or the special importance of other sciences. Because we physicists think we are moving toward the final answer, the work we are doing is not necessarily more worthy of support than the work of other scientists."
"After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood." - Fred Thompson


Economic growth and social progress did not serve human beings. On the contrary, the primary function of citizens was to fuel economic growth - a weird reversal of values. The reign of Moloch had begun

Focus on needs of residents, not profit

I REFER to last Thursday's report, 'Town councils to be assessed individually'.

I am 52 years old, and have been unemployed for the past 18 months. Before that, my earnings were fitful, especially after my business collapsed and I lost part of a leg to diabetes.

So, I fell behind in my service and conservancy (S&C) charges. The first time it happened, my town council, the Jalan Besar Town Council, took me to court.

The result: the arrears of $432 I owed for not paying a year's worth of S&C charges for my three-room flat ballooned to more than $1,000.

My new debt included court penalties and late payment charges.

When I tried to settle subsequent S&C charges to avoid a fresh spiral of hefty penalties for non-payment, I was rejected. The town council ruled that I had to settle the old debt before I could pay the new charges.

Naturally, this led to more penalties as my fresh S&C arrears spiked. So, I am now some $3,000 in debt to my town council.

I have appealed to my Member of Parliament for help many times but the final reply invariably remained unchanged: pay up.

The spiral of debt a resident accumulates can be daunting because of the unremitting add-ons of penalties by which an unforgiving system of collection turns monthly arrears into substantial debt.

Town councils shouldn't be surprised if residents like myself, who face tough times, wonder why we aren't being helped via the excess revenue collected; revenue which is instead ploughed into loss-making investments.

Shouldn't any excess revenue be refunded to residents via rebates?

If town councils are keen to invest, set up a fund offering soft loans to residents to tide them over tough times and pay service and conservancy charges.

In fact, what's wrong with providing soft loans for subsidiary concerns of families, like private tuition, renovation or even a family holiday? So what if some of the loans go bad? Better to lose money by lending to residents than to banks whose only motive is profit.

Town councils should focus single-mindedly on helping residents, and not on making profit or squaring the bottom line.

Lim Beo Thiam

I wonder if one of their KPIs is fees collected and profits made.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

"Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives." - William Dement


The Dead Sea Scroll and the Ancient World (Part 1)
Part 2

1.5 weeks after it closed, 3 weeks after I went and long after everyone else has put up their photos and comments, here's my review of the "The Dead Sea Scroll and the Ancient World" exhibition, which I went to despite Paul's damning indictment (I wanted to see the lies and half-truths):

Crowd queuing up. I managed to get a group ticket off one group which offered a spare to me.

Before we were allowed to look at the exhibition, we were herded into a room where we watched a video with bad sound, where a "Biblical Archaeologist" droned on. A "Biblical Archaeologist" is like a "Christian Scientist" (i.e. a practitioner of "Christian Science") or a "Marxist Economist".

We were also given a handout - a printout of the Wikipedia article for the scrolls. How cheapskate.

The exhibition was divided into 3 rooms, and in each a talk was given at random intervals, so I went for all 3. As some have pointed out, the name was misleading as it was mostly an exhibition of Bibles and a glorification of the Bible, so they had lots of rubbish to say; indeed, the only bits of the "Ancient World" (which I define as before the Fall of Rome) in the exhibition were the scroll fragments and some clay products, and almost everything else dated from the Renaissance and later.

The first talk was by a "Dr David Byrd". Casual digging did not let me uncover the source of his Ph.D, but the church he presumably belongs to (Folsom Point church of Christ) had an article called "Darwinists Squirm Under Spotlight" in one newsletter, so you know it's not in Biology (or maybe it's in "Christian Biology").

"Dr David Byrd"

He also claimed that Luther had told Tyndale to "create the language" because Middle English had no rules. He also claimed that "everything about Modern English" had been created by Tyndale in translating the New Testament from Greek to English. In reality, while Tyndale did make some contributions*, numerous books on the history of the English Language do not seem to mention him, and Volume 3 of The Cambridge history of the English language mentions him seven times (versus 100 for Shakespeare).

* - "Tyndale is credited with coining such words as 'Jehovah', 'Passover', and 'scapegoat', and such phrases as 'let there be light', 'the powers that be', 'my brother's keeper' and 'the salt of the earth'" --- The History of English / Scott Shay

Certainly, he is not the "Architect of the English Language", despite the attempt of this website (run by the father [Craig Lampe] of one of the exhibition's curators [Joel Lampe]) to spam the web with such references.

Byrd also claimed that 4,000 translations of the King James Bible (KJV) exist, and 1,000 languages exist in written form only as KJV translations. Knowing the fetish that many fundamentalists have with the King James Bible, this was surprising only in scale. Given that the Bible exists in some form in only 2,479 languages (and in totality in only 451), even a charitable interpretation of his claim is untenable (more detailed but older statistics).

After his talk I wandered around a bit. There were quite a few quotes from Luther pinned up. I was disappointed that his classic quote,

Whoever wishes to be a Christian, let him pluck out the eyes of his reason

was not there (I can't find a source for this, but he did also say: "Reason, that pretty whore, comes in and thinks she's wise, and what she says, what she thinks, is from the Holy Spirit, who can help us, then? Not judges, not doctors, no king or emperor, because [reason] is the Devil's greatest whore", which means more or less the same thing).

However, there was this gem on education:

"I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth."

The Geneva Bible was also glorified a lot. However, in this case it *did* have the significance accorded to it.

After the talk was over, I wandered into the chamber where the Dead Sea Scroll fragments were, where I found another talk beginning.

The video playing in the room was subtitled in Malay. HURR HURR

The speaker in this room called the Dead Sea Scrolls "the find of the 20th century". This was debatable (what about King Tut?) but not outrageous, like many of the other claims, but for what it's worth, this was the least contentious of the three talks (which explains why I have nothing else to say about it).

"The Closure of the NT Canon"

This claimed that in 1 Timothy 5:18 (dated to AD 62) "Paul refers to Luke's gospel as Scripture". The latter is dated to AD 57-59.

The passage in question:

"For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."

The first line refers to Deuteronomy, but the latter appears in


"Many contemporary scholars regard Mark as a source used by Luke (see Markan Priority)... This view also believes that Luke's prediction of the destruction of the temple could not be a result of Jesus miraculously predicting the future but must have been written with knowledge of these events after the fact... These scholars have suggested dates for Luke from 75 to 100. Support for a later date comes from a number of reasons. The universalization of the message of Luke is believed to reflect a theology that took time to develop. Differences of chronology, "style", and theology suggest that the author of Luke-Acts was not familiar with Paul's distinctive theology but instead was writing a decade or more after his death, by which point significant harmonization between different traditions within Early Christianity had occurred. Furthermore, Luke-Acts has views on christology, eschatology, and soteriology that are similar to the those found in Pastoral epistles, which are often seen as pseudonymous and of a later date than the undisputed Pauline Epistles"

This seems a stronger argument than the one arguing for earlier dating (further down in the same entry).

In any event, references to paying the laborer his wage can be paraphrased from the Old Testament: "He that defaudeth the laborer of his hire is a blood-shedder" comes from Ecclesiastes, "Woe unto him... that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work" is from Jeremiah and Proverbs reads "The recompense of a man's hands shall be rendered unto him"; this recurring theme appears elsewhere in the Old Testament as well.

Even if you accept the early dating of Luke, it is presumptuous to claim that this is a recognition by Paul of Luke as Scripture (alternatively, it was presumptuous of Paul to make that claim), since there were many gospels and other apocrypha floating around in the first few centuries of Christianity.

Indeed, if you have even some doubt about the early dating of Luke, it is reasonable to postulate that causation runs in the other direction - Luke talks about the labourer and his reward because that is how Paul phrases it.

"Small changes and variations in manuscripts affect no central Christian doctrines, nor do they change the message" Again, the claim of Bible accuracy was trotted out, anticipating any objections people might raise based on inaccurate copying. Indeed, small changes and variations are not an issue - the big problems go much deeper.

"Very rarely are any fragments shown outside Israel, and even rarer are ones presented in the context of the overall history of the English Bible" They don't have to talk about where -they- got their scroll fragments from, because they're loaned from the Bible Museum in Phoenix but it's a sure-win bet that at least one of them was acquired through less than honourable means. More to the point, why would you need to present Dead Sea Scroll fragments "in the context of the overall history of the English Bible", given that the Dead Sea Scrolls are not in anything resembling English and don't even have half of the modern Bible (i.e. the New Testament)?

Microform Bible flown on Apollo 13 and 14

Dead Sea Scroll Non-Biblical Fragment: 4Q418. 4QInstruction Sapiential work "A"

Dead Sea Scroll Biblical Fragment: Bible:Exodus 17:6

Dead Sea Scroll Biblical Fragment: Bible:Leviticus 23
You will notice that now the Dead Sea Scrolls have become... "the greatest archaeological discovery of all time". Wow.

Dead Sea Scroll Biblical Fragment: Bible:Psalm 11:1-4 (sic)

~250 year old Torah scroll

Cuneiform and pottery, from 3200-3100 B.C. and 2000-1700 B.C.

The ancient pottery seemed thrown in as an afterthought, since it has no link at all to the rest of the exhibition. I was half-expecting some nonsensical claim that the Sumerian cuneiform character for "boat" meant "8 people in a vessel".

(To be continued...)
"The only way to be truly misogynistic is to be a woman." - Randy K. Milholland


Nick Hornby on why you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't:

"It took time before he gained the confidence to portray women, he says. In High Fidelity, for example, the female characters were adult in temperament and impatient with Rob, the owner of the failing record shop.

He likens his approach back then to how film director Judd Apatow portrays women in his comedies, including The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) and Knocked Up (2007). The men in his movies are selfish, aimless and irresponsible, while the women tend to be noble, mature and self-sacrificing.

'Apatow is criticised because the men in his films are funny and the woman are not,' Hornby says. He explains that men like himself, who went to university in the 1970s and 1980s, are steeped in feminist ideology. This is the root of their reluctance to betray feminist ideals.

He says he outgrew the fear of being tarred with the male chauvinist brush because it was hampering his ability to write, and over time, he began to populate his novels with women who were as fallible as men."

(Life, The Straits Times [30th September 2009])
"It is also often called the King James Bible. And please do not refer to it as the “St. James Bible.” King James was a remarkable person in many ways: he was a poet. he was a literary critic, he was a diplomat, he was an anti-tobacco pamphleteer, he was strongly homosexual, he was in all probability a bastard, but he was not a saint."

--- Biblical and classical myths: the mythological framework of western culture / Northrop Frye, Jay Macpherson

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The rape of reason (on disagreeing with the British government giving drunk rape victims the same state-sponsored compensation as sober ones)

"Many of the people who write to me, and many who comment on this site, are would-be censors who would silence me if they had the power to do so. Their mails, phone calls, letters and comments are based on the belief that it was wicked of me to express a view that the writer does not like.

They do not wish to disagree with what I say. They object to my saying it at all.

Such letters contain no actual facts or arguments, only denunciation. Try as I may, I find it difficult to learn anything from most of them except that free speech and thought have seldom been so endangered...

I would guess that many of my ultra-feminist critics, being conventional leftists, would tend to blame the victim and sympathise with the attacker in the case of crimes other than rape. Their militant punitive views are reserved for crimes against ultra-feminism...

But the issue here was never whether rape should be punished, or by how much. That wasn't in doubt. I made my position on this completely clear in the original article - so clear that a large number of correspondents simply ignored what I said, so here it is again: "Men who take advantage of women by raping them, drunk or sober, should be severely punished for this wicked, treacherous action, however stupid the victim may have been." As the ultra-feminists themselves like to ask "What part of this don't you understand?"

The issue was whether the state should pay the same compensation to a sober rape victim as it should pay to a drunk one. In this, the question of 'culpability', that is to say not responsibility for the crime against them, but responsibility for needlessly putting themselves in a position of danger, arises. "Culpability", the thing which Bridget Prentice maintains does not apply to drunk women who get raped, refers to a responsibility in civil law for taking care of yourself. It is not the same as "guilt' which refers to criminal responsibility for a criminal action. Try it another way. The rapist is not culpable for the rape. He is guilty of it. The victim may or may not be partly culpable for creating the conditions in which the rapist could strike...

'Rachael' seems to assume that my motives for taking this view are selfish, pro-rapist and anti-woman. She insisted "Whatever language you choose to use, it is blatantly obvious that you are placing a degree of responsibility with the victim of rape who is drunk."

In other words, "Even though you say quite clearly and unequivocally that rapists are entirely responsible for their actions, whether their victims are drunk or sober, I will nonetheless conclude that you mean the opposite of what you say, and too bad". Well, how can civilised people argue if one side assumes that the other side is lying, presumably because it has already dismissed the other side as wrong and evil? No free society can last long if disagreement is based on this level of contempt for opponents. This is how opponents become enemies, and argument is replaced by force...

"JW" enquired:"Would Mr Hitchens's views have been the same if it was a drunken man who was raped?" Well, of course they would. Why on earth shouldn't they be? What would be the difference? The mind staggers and reels that anyone could imagine otherwise. Once again, we here meet the conviction that I am evil in myself, and concealing secret unspoken views behind the ones I actually express, and quite different from them. I am not allowed to think what I actually think. because I am not orthodox, I must therefore be the embodiment of evil. This is just a way of closing your mind to thought. A conservative who wants rapists punished? Why, that's like a conservative who's against the Iraq war. It doesn't make sense. So he must be lying...

A victim who suffers bad consequences which were made more likely by his or her stupid behaviour deserves less sympathy than a victim who behaved wisely and still suffered bad consequences. Anyone disagree with that?...

People who get drunk, and then rape, murder, steal or drive dangerously are not excused their crimes because they got drunk, and nor should they be. The law says that they knew the risks when they decided to get drunk in the first place. Wouldn't it be inconsistent to say that tis applied to civil culpability just as much as it applies to criminal guilt?...

This brings to mind one fascinating attempt to codify the new relations between men and women, made since the early 1990s at the campus of Antioch College in Ohio. Here's an extract from what is now the Antioch "Sexual Offence Prevention Policy":

Consent is defined as the act of willingly and verbally agreeing to engage in specific sexual conduct. The following are clarifying points:

-Consent is required each and every time there is sexual activity.
-All parties must have a clear and accurate understanding of the sexual activity.
-The person(s) who initiate(s) the sexual activity is responsible for asking for consent.
-The person(s) who are asked are responsible for verbally responding.
-Each new level of sexual activity requires consent.
-Use of agreed upon forms of communication such as gestures or safe words is acceptable, but must be discussed and verbally agreed to by all parties before sexual activity occurs.
-Consent is required regardless of the parties’ relationship, prior sexual history, or current activity (e.g. grinding on the dance floor is not consent for further sexual activity).
-At any and all times when consent is withdrawn or not verbally agreed to, the sexual activity must stop immediately.
-Silence is not consent.
-Body movements and non-verbal responses such as moans are not consent.
-A person can not give consent while sleeping.
-All parties must have unimpaired judgement (examples that may cause impairment include but are not limited to alcohol, drugs, mental health conditions, physical health conditions).

-All parties must use safer sex practices.
-All parties must disclose personal risk factors and any known STIs. Individuals are responsible for maintaining awareness of their sexual health. These requirements for consent do not restrict with whom the sexual activity may occur, the type of sexual activity that occurs, the props/toys/tools that are used, the number of persons involved, the gender(s) or gender expressions of persons involved"

Please note that it insists that all parties (including the woman) must have "unimpaired judgement"... The trouble is that an attempt to codify sex in this way is immensely difficult, because it assumes an almost total absence of trust and mutual support. In the end, you could draw up a document on the rules of sex which was as long as the EU Constitution and it still wouldn't have the same force as the Church of England's 1662 marriage service - which is founded precisely upon trust and mutual support, and on permanence - its most crucial and binding clause being "till death us do part"...

It was heartening to read the comment from Shan Morgain. It is easy for men to agree with my position. But for a woman it's much, much harder. It will get you into trouble with the sisterhood if they even suspect you of thinking this sort of thing. What she says is a sad summary of the unhappy position women find themselves in . But its a realistic and an honest one."

The comment from Shan Morgain:

"I am a woman and I am also a fire breathing radical feminist. Have been one for over 30 years. I agree with the article on rape wholeheartedly.

As I understand it, it's saying that a rapist is no less responsible for rape if his victim is drunk. I might add he should be penalised more as he has not taken due care. But that is controversial.

It's not that "she asked for it" so the rapist is punished less. It USED to be like that but the law changed. He certainly gets punished the same as if she were sober. If the evidence allows it. But yes she gets less sympathy, and less money. Because she hasn't shown common sense.

To me the foundation of my pride in being a woman is that I expect myself and other women to be strong and sensible.

That doesn't mean we can't be vulnerable when it's safe, or when with someone we can really trust. But we have to live with our female vulnerability - as well as our immense female strengths.

We live in a dangerous world so we must protect ourselves. That means EITHER stay home, only go out in a group or with a big tough bloke who has been thoroughly checked over time. Like a trustworthy dad or older brother. OR go out, it's your world too: but take care, be sensible, and accept you may have to pay the price if you get unlucky. With ferocious anger. But recognise that there may be a price.

Because we don't live in a safe society for women. Girls must be taught only to drink with company they have known and seen to be trustworthy a long time. Or else stay in public in a group, in well-lit places. Never so far from help you can yell for.

Our daughters MUST be taught that if they go somewhere alone with any man they have known less than a year for real friendship (as a rough guide) it's a risk. It's a far greater risk if drunk.

Stay comparatively safe, don't do these things. You might still get raped but it's much less likely. Live free, take lovers you don't know well, go to a man's home or take him to yours so you are alone before you have known him over a long time, and you're much more likely to suffer. Do it drunk, and the probability gets very high indeed. Your judgement is sloppy, your body will send out more sex signals whether you know it or not. He is more likely to misunderstand or be drunk himself and blindingly insensitive. You may feel you want it, it's all a laugh, till suddenly you realise you don't and it's too late to stop. Booze destroys control for both of you.

I am not prudish. I wish we could all enjoy free love safely. We can't. You have to choose between freedom or safety. Being drunk pushes you away from safety. That's part of its delight and its hell."

Interestingly, since he argues that

People who get drunk, and then rape, murder, steal or drive dangerously are not excused their crimes because they got drunk, and nor should they be. The law says that they knew the risks when they decided to get drunk in the first place

By extension, it would also be the case that,

People who get drunk, and then later claim they did not consent to sex, do not have their claims taken seriously, and nor should they be. The law says that they knew the risks when they decided to get drunk in the first place

(of course, this applies to cases of date rape, rather than the more conventional forced consent variety)
Bloody men are like bloody buses -
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.

You look at them flashing their indicators,
Offering you a ride.
You're trying to read the destinations,
You haven't much time to decide.

If you make a mistake, there is no turning back.
Jump off, and you'll stand there and gaze
While the cars and the taxis and lorries go by
And the minutes, the hours, the days.

--- Bloody Men / Wendy Cope

Addendum: My take on it: If no buses are coming, you should call a cab

RT @jemauvais: "Bloody women are like bloody taxis. They keep appearing but are always taken, the available ones don't stop and when you finally do get one, it takes you for an idiot, brings you on a wild goose chase, and cheats your money in the process."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"1. Never tell everything at once." - Ken Venturi, Ken Venturi's Two Great Rules of Life


Following up on a euphemism I just learnt ("没有人愿意吃我的豆腐 :("):


那天她夹给我 一块豆腐,说:『来,吃我的豆腐』,
我看一看我的餐盘,只有香肠一 样肉类(切成片的),于是我夹一片香肠给她,
说:『来,吃我的香肠』 一秒钟后我还没想到是甚么事她就开始狂笑起来"

Unfortunately my research uncovered a lot of instances of this line, but no way to infer what it referred to.

Apparently it's very general and can refer to two sets of dual protrusions.

How sad - a good euphemism cannot be too general!
"Nothing can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own." - Sidney J. Harris


M. JACKAL.: Que dis-je toujours, monsieur Salvator? « Cherchez la femme ! » Cette fois, la femme est trouvée.

MADAME DESMAREST.: Comment, la femme est trouvée? vous croyez qu'il y a une femme dans cette aifaire?

M. JACKAL.: Il y a une femme dans toutes les affaires; aussitôt qu'on me fait un rapport, je dis : « Cherchez la femme ! » On cherche la femme, et, quand la femme est trouvée...


M. JACKAL.: On ne tarde pas à trouver l'homme. Un jour, un couvreur tombe d'un toit, et se casse les deux jambes; on me fait le rapport, je dis : « Cherchez la femme ! » On se met à rire. J'interroge le blessé; l'imbécile s'était amusé à regarder une grisette qui se déshabillait dans sa mansarde, le pied lui avait manqué, et il était tombé !... Cherchons la femme, monsieur Salvator, cherchons la femme!

--- Les Mohicans de Paris / Alexandre Dumas

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." - Andy Warhol


Terrible Arraignment of this Evil by an Authority:

"It is man's sin of sins, and vice of vices...

Neither Christendom nor heathendom suffers any evil at all to compare with this; because of its universality, and its terribly fatal ravages on body and mind; and because it attacks the young idols of our hearts, and hopes of our future years.

Pile all other evils together--drunkenness upon all cheateries, swindlings, robberies and murders; and tobacco upon both, for it is the greatest scourge; and all sickness, diseases and pestilences upon all; and war as the cap sheaf of them all--and all combined cause not a tithe as much human deterioration and misery as does this secret sin"

--- Prof. O.S. Fowler on masturbation

"Il a faim; il veut apaiser sa faim; les aliments ne peuvent séjourner dans son estomac...

Sa poitrine s’affaisse... il vomit le sang...

Tout son corps se couvre de pustule... il est horrible à voir!"

--- Le livre sans titre
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