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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Links - 10th April 2010

"The reason there are two senators for each state is so that one can be the designated driver." - Jay Leno


PAP mass-recruiting Taiwanese PMETs by offering higher than market pay to lure them to work in Singapore - "One Taiwanese reader wrote to us expressing his disbelief that upon applying to work in Canada, he was offered a Singapore PR immediately by the migration agency under the Landed PR scheme which gives Singapore PRs to foreigners who have never stepped foot on Singapore... I rather stay put in Taiwan than to relocate to Singapore. At least it is a democracy here and we enjoy basic political freedoms. Who will be so stupid to bring up their children in a one-party dictatorship like Communist China?... Remember: if the PAP can so blatantly hire you to work in Singapore to make life miserable for native Singaporeans, it will be your turn one day too"

Conversation with Jiang Mei, a PRC freelance prostitute given Singapore PR by the PAP - "Jiang Mei: "Standard - 打飞机 ("beat aeroplane") - $50, 吹笛("blow flute") - $70, 全身服务 (whole body service) - $100″
Nick: "Hmmm....a bit ex, let me consider."
Jiang Mei: "Ahh...don't be like this, since you are here already, 来爽一爽, I will make you happy, you are my first customer of the day."
Nick: "Inclusive of massage?"
Jiang Mei: "Massage is $30 goes to the boss, I earn only through the special service. Try my whole body package, everything included, guarantee you will be extremely satisfied!" ... "Then try my blowing skills, 来啦! time is running out, "happy times" are precious, don't waste it, you are not short of money anyway right."
In typical TR fashion this is extremely misleading, because she got PR BEFORE she became a prostitute. The dialogue is hilarious though.

The Last Star Wars - "The Phantom Menace wasn't as bad you think. Buried inside its 133 minutes is a great movie dying to be born... This moment is so nimbly directed that for a moment you might suspect that it's Steven Spielberg behind the camera... Attack of the Clones had no such saving graces. A crude contraption, it reduced Star Wars to an extended action sequence... The biggest payoff comes at the film's end... After the candy-colored futuristic design of the prequels, coming aboard the solid, dark bridge of this star destroyer is comforting, like being wrapped up in a warm, old blanket; the even, menacing respiration of Darth Vader in the background might as well be our favorite childhood lullaby"

Duncan Blasts "Useless" Air Marshal Service - "More air marshals have been arrested than the number of people arrested by air marshals... we are spending approximately $200 million per arrest... 'Al Qaeda's most important accomplishment was not to hijack our planes but to hijack our political system. For a multitude of politicians, interest groups and professional associations, corporations, media organizations, universities, local and State governments and Federal agency officials, the war on terror is now a major profit center, a funding bonanza, and a set of slogans and sound bites to be inserted into budget, grant, and contract proposals'"

Lori Gottlieb: Miss Make-do seeks Mr Good Enough - "Gottlieb recounts dozens of times she dissed a man because he wasn't intellectual enough, or "cool enough", or wore a bow tie, or liked sports ("A turn-off") or had a nerdy name like Sheldon. "People get pickier and pickier about trivial things, and lose sight of the really important things that people who are long married will tell you have kept them together"... a 1986 Newsweek -article, The Marriage Crunch [,] infamously -reported that a 40-year-old single woman was "more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than get married... "younger people tend to be more appealing - they're more optimistic"... Chapter three of her book is titled How Feminism Fucked Up My Love Life... this version of feminism has hurt women by inflating their egos and giving them a false sense of what they deserve. "Part of it comes from the media and the movies. Everything we see is always women telling each other how -fabulous they are and that they deserve the best. It happens in real life, too"

Whodunnit? Twins deny DNA theft link - "Identical twins have hindered police investigations a number of times since the advent of DNA testing. In Malaysia last year, a man suspected of drug-smuggling and sentenced to death was released when the court could not prove whether it was he or his twin brother might have committed the crime"

Ramen Walker - About Ramen and Ramen Places in Singapore

Comparing Obama's address and facts - "President Obama, who once considered government spending freezes a hatchet job, told Americans on Wednesday it's now part of his solution to the exploding deficit. He didn't explain what had changed. His State of the Union speech skipped over a variety of complex realities in laying out a "common sense" call to action""
Change we can believe in.

Prostitutes sign confuses motorists - "A road sign warning of prostitutes is confusing motorists in an Italian town... Motorists and pedestrians have complained that the sign is 'confusing', saying they don't know if it means to watch out for crossing hookers or if it means prostitutes operate in the area"
This is the source of my current blog picture

Fact or Fiction?: A Cockroach Can Live without Its Head - "It is not just the body that can survive decapitation; the lonely head can thrive, too, waving its antennae back and forth for several hours until it runs out of steam, Kunkel says. If given nutrients and refrigerated, a roach head can last even longer"

Toby, Dave & Ian Explain XKCD

Cleverest women are the heaviest drinkers - "Those with degrees are almost twice as likely to drink daily, and they are also more likely to admit to having a drinking problem. A similar link between educational attainment and alcohol consumption is seen among men, but the correlation is less strong."

Societe Generale probing 'anomalies' - "Societe Generale, famed for its former rogue trader Jerome Kerviel who racked up £4.4billion of losses, is investigating 'anomalies' found in a client account in Singapore"
This doesn't seem to have been reported in the Singaporean media

Catching a ruthless mangda — the pimp who promised the world - "Aged only 31, he lures poor Thai women to Singapore with the promise of wealth by selling their bodies. He is the head pimp, or mangda in Thai, of the infamous jungle prostitutes of Woodlands, an outer suburb of the city-state where a large number of imported foreign labourers work mostly in factories. For more than five years, he has "filled a need", as he puts it, by providing poorly paid Indian, Bengali, Thai, Malaysian and Chinese men with sex that they can afford... He never tells them that the price they pay for his services is servicing the first 160 customers for free, before they earn even one Singapore dollar for themselves. And few know they will be servicing multiple customers every night on a filthy mattress in the open air with only a thin blue tarpaulin wrapped around four posts for privacy"

Une française décrit une singapourienne

"Les cœurs des femmes sont comme ces petits meubles à secret, pleins de tiroirs emboîtés les uns dans les autres ; on se donne du mal, on se casse les ongles, et on trouve au fond quelque fleur desséchée, des brins de poussière – ou le vide." - Gustave Flaubert


Femmexpat - Ma copine singapourienne

"Chez ma copine singapourienne, tout est petit, la taille, le nez, les pieds, les seins... Des tous petits seins rikiki.... elle aimerait bien en avoir des beaux gros (comme moi...) alors elle porte des soutifs rembourés qui lui font la poitrine de Lara Croft... virtuelle !

Le dimanche midi ma copine singapourienne adore aller déjeuner dans son Club privé, avec les relations de son mari, qu’ils invitent à grands frais ! Un Brunch, très chic....

Alors là, débauche de diamants, aux oreilles, aux doigts, sur la montre, au cou, sur le téléphone portable. Elle doit montrer que son mari est riche, qu’il n’est pas un « Kiasu », le looser singapourien. Comme son mari, ma copine singapourienne rêve des cinq « C » : Condominium, Credit card, Club, Car, Cash.

Ma copine singapourienne va au temple régulièrement, dans sa BMW coupé, pour demander les faveurs de tel ou tel Dieu. A chaque problème, il existe le Dieu ad hoc...

Sur son pare-brise, ma copine singapourienne a plein de stickers, de son Club, de son Condo, de son Parking privé...

Au plus elle a de stickers, au plus elle est contente !

Ses idées sur la France

Ma copine singapourienne ne comprend pas pourquoi je ne fais pas mon ménage en Chanel ou en Vuitton, vu que je suis française, elle ne comprend pas que je puisse manger des escargots mais adore les pattes de poulet. Pour ma copine singapourienne, la France c’est dépenser beaucoup de singapore dollars....Ma copine singapourienne adore le shopping... Elle ne critique pas le gouvernement et voue une vraie dévotion à Lee Kwan Yeu qui a fait de son pays, l’un des plus riches d’Asie....

Certes, il y a beaucoup d’interdictions, no smoking, no littering, no spitting, no chewing gum , no feeding birds, no trepassing... Mais elle s’en fout car il n’est pas interdit de gagner de l’argent beaucoup d’argent pour s’acheter des sacs Vuitton, des escarpins Chanel, des carrés Hermés... Je ne la contrarie jamais, elle est mignonne ma copine singapourienne.... Elle fait marcher l’économie de Mon pays"

Friday, April 09, 2010

Lawyer jokes I haven't yet heard

"What's the point of havin' a rapier wit if I can't use it to stab people?" - Jeph Jacques


There was a loser who couldn't get a date. He went to a bar and asked this one guy how to get a date. The guy said, "It's simple. I just say, I'm a lawyer."

So the guy went up to a pretty woman and asked her out.

After she said no, he told her that it was probably a good thing because he had a case early in the morning.

She said, "Oh!!!! Your a lawyer?"
He said, "Why yes I am!"

So they went to his place and when they were in bed, screwing, he started to laugh to himself.

When she asked what was so funny, he answered, "Well, I've only been a lawyer for 15 minutes, and I'm already screwing someone!"


A guy walks into a post office one day to see a middle-aged, balding man standing at the counter methodically placing "Love" stamps on bright pink envelopes with hearts all over them. He then takes out a perfume bottle and starts spraying scent all over them.

His curiosity getting the better of him, he goes up to the balding man and asks him what he is doing.

The man says "I'm sending out 1,000 Valentine cards signed, 'Guess who?'"

"But why?" asks the man.

"I'm a divorce lawyer."


A man woke up in a hospital bed and called for his doctor.

He asked "Give it to me straight. How long have I got?" The physician replied that he doubted that his patient would survive the night. The man then said "Call for my lawyer."

When the lawyer arrived, the man asked for his physician to stand on one side of the bed, while the lawyer stood on the other. The man then laid back and closed his eyes.

When he remained silent for several minutes, the physician asked what he had in mind.

The man replied "Jesus died with a thief on either side, and I thought I'd check out the same way."


A New York Lawyer died and arrived at the pearly gates.

Saint Peter asks him "What have you done to merit entrance into Heaven?" The Lawyer thought a moment, then said, "A week ago, I gave a quarter to a homeless person on the street."

Saint Peter asked Gabriel to check this out in the record, and after a moment Gabriel affirmed that this was true.

Saint Peter said, "Well , that's fine, but it's not really quite enough to get you into Heaven." The Lawyer said, "Wait Wait! There's more! Three years ago I also gave a homeless person a quarter."

Saint Peter nodded to Gabriel, who after a moment nodded back, affirming this, too, had been verified.

Saint Peter then whispered to Gabriel, "Well, what do you suggest we do with this fellow?" Gabriel gave the Lawyer a sidelong glance, then said to Saint Peter, "Let's give him back his 50 cents and tell him to go to Hell."

(all via Tan Peng Chin LLC)

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Probably the best ST Forum letter I've ever read

"I never guess. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Diary of a reformed elitist

I AM as Rafflesian/Raffles Girls' School (RGS)/'elite' as they come. My father was a Raffles Institution boy; I went through Raffles Girls' Primary School (RGPS), RGS, then Raffles Junior College, then on to the National University of Singapore, boarding at Raffles Hall. My sisters went through much the same route. My little girls are in RGPS.

I recognise the syndrome Ms Sandra Leong talks about ('Scoring high in grades but not in values', last Saturday). I live it, breathe it. Most of my friends are like me, graduates. Most of us live in landed property, condominiums or minimally, executive condos or five-room flats. None of us talks about making ends meet, or how we must turn down medical treatment for our aged parents because we cannot find the money.

But I will add to her essay: that those traits, that aura is not unique to RGS girls. It resonates within a social group, and its aspirants, the well educated or well endowed. I hang out with so many, I have stories by the barrel.

- My doctor friend, non-RGS and one would even say anti-RGS, was shocked when she found out how many As I got in my A levels, since I opted to do an arts degree. In her words, 'I thought all arts people were dumb, that is why they go to arts'. Her own family boasts only doctors and lawyers - she said they would never contemplate any other profession - and by implication, all other professions are below those two.

- A church-mate who lived in a landed property in District 10 - definitely not an RGS girl, and I venture to guess, not even a graduate - once, in all sincerity and innocence, prayed for all those who had to take public transport and live in HDB flats, for God to give them strength to bear these trials.

- Another friend, also non-RGS and a non-graduate, shudders when she recounts the few months she lived in an HDB flat. And that was a five-room flat. Imagine the culture shock if she had lived in a three-room flat.

I continue to meet people who never visit hawker centres, who wonder why the poor people do not work harder to help themselves, who fret if their children do not get into the Gifted Education Programme (reserved for the top 1 per cent of nine-year-olds).

The pattern repeats itself in the next generation. When my 11-year-old had to go on a 'race' around Singapore, using only public transport, the teacher asked for a show of hands on how many had never taken public transport (bus and MRT) before. In a class of 30, five raised their hands. I think if the teacher had asked for those who had taken public transport fewer than 10 times in their young lives, the number would have more than doubled or tripled.

Many of us live in ivory towers. I know I did. I used to think Singapore was pretty much 'it' all - a fantastic meritocracy that allowed an 'HDB child' from a non-graduate family to make it. I boasted about our efficiency - 'you can emerge from your plane and be out in 10 minutes' - and so on.

It was not that I thought little of the rest of the world or other people; it was that I was so ensconced in my cocoon, I just thought little of anything outside my own zone. 'Snow? Yes, nice.' 'Starvation in Ethiopia? Donate $50.' The wonders of the world we lived in, the sufferings and joys of those who shared this earth were just academic knowledge to me, voraciously devoured for my essays or to hold intelligent conversations at dinner parties.

Then I lived in China for seven years. I looked on in amazement as the skinny tree trunk in front of my yard blossomed and bore pomegranates when spring thawed the ground. And marvelled at the lands that spread east, west, north and south of me as we drove and drove and drove, and never ended. I became friends and fans of colleagues and other Chinese nationals, whom so many Singapore friends had warned me to be wary of.

I realised it was not the world and other people who were limited in their intellect, in their determination, in their resourcefulness; it was me and my world views which were limited. I also know full well that if I had stayed in Singapore, in my cushy job, comfortable in my Bukit Timah home, I would have remained the same - self-sufficient. I had always believed that if I put my mind to it, I could achieve anything. For example, I used to look at sick people and root: 'Fight with all your willpower, and you will recover.' And when they did not, I'd think they had failed themselves. I, like Ms Leong, believed 'mental dexterity equated strength of character and virtue'.

But those years in China taught me terrible lessons on loneliness. I learnt that money (an expatriate pay package) and brains (suitcases of books) did not make me happier than my maid who cycled home to her family every night in minus 20 deg C on icy roads to a dinner of rice and vegetables. The past few years, I have known devastating loss and grief so deep I woke up in the morning and wondered how the sun could still shine and people could go on with their lives.

And so perhaps I have learnt the humility I lacked. Humility about how small I am in the whole schema of things. About how helpless I truly stand, with my intellect in my hands, with my million-dollar roof over my head. To remember, in the darkest valleys of my journey, it was not Ayn Rand or other Booker list authors who lifted me, but the phone calls, the kindness of strangers, that made each day a little less bleak.

And perhaps finally, to really see other people, and understand - not deflect, nor reflect their anger and viewpoints, but see their shyness, pain, struggles, joys. Just because I was 'fortunate enough' to have trawled the bottom levels. And perhaps that is the antidote to the oft unwitting elitism so many of us carry with us.

Sim Soek Tien (Ms)

This is definitely better than the article it is responding to.

"I continue to meet people who never visit hawker centres, who wonder why the poor people do not work harder to help themselves" - Maybe she knows some scholars/Ministers

Comment in the thread: "Charles ****ens could well had been thinking of Singapore when he wrote "A Tale of 2 Cities" ......"


[NB: If you noticed the EPIC FAIL, ST Online calls Charles Dickens "Charles ****ens"]


""**** Cheney" would've been a bit difficult to explain hehe"

"There was another filter on a forum that called her Emily Thingyinson."

À tort ou à raison

<< On ne sait jamais qui a raison ou qui a tort. C'est difficile de juger. Moi, j'ai longtemps donné raison à tout le monde. Jusqu'au jour où je me suis aperçu que la plupart des gens à qui je donnais raison avaient tort ! Donc j'avais raison ! Par conséquent, j'avais tort ! Tort de donner raison à des gens qui avaient le tort de croire qu'ils avaient raison. C'est-à-dire que moi qui n'avais pas tort, je n'avais aucune raison de ne pas donner tort à des gens qui prétendaient avoir raison, alors qu'ils avaient tort. J'ai raison, non ? Puisqu'ils avaient tort ! Et sans raison, encore ! Là, j'insiste, parce que... moi aussi, il arrive que j'aie tort. Mais quand j'ai tort, j'ai mes raisons, que je ne donne pas. Ce serait reconnaître mes torts ! ! ! J'ai raison, non ? Remarquez... il m'arrive aussi de donner raison à des gens qui ont raison aussi. Mais, là encore, c'est un tort. C'est comme si je donnais tort à des gens qui ont tort. Il n'y a pas de raison ! En résumé, je crois qu'on a toujours tort d'essayer d'avoir raison devant des gens qui ont toutes les bonnes raisons de croire qu'ils n'ont pas tort ! >>

--- Sens dessus dessous. (sketches) / Raymond Devos


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

No mode of epistemology is supreme / The value of modesty

"The best way to compile inaccurate information that no one wants is to make it up." - Scott Adams


A good counterpoint to those who value [Personal] Experience above all else (and might even go to the point of pooh-pooh-ing modes of epistemology other than Experience):

Marc Pachter: The art of the interview

"One of the great American biographers... Dumas Malone.

He did a five-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson, spent virtually his whole life with Thomas Jefferson, and by the way, at one point I asked him,

"Would you like to have met him?"

And he said, "Well, of course, but actually, I know him better than anyone who ever met him, because I got to read all of his letters."

So, he was very satisfied with the kind of relationship they had over 50 years."

And on the value of modesty:

"You want energy, you want the life force, but you really want them also to think that they have a story worth sharing.

The worst interviews that you can ever have are with people who are modest.

Never ever get up on a stage with somebody who's modest, because all of these people have been assembled to listen to them, and they sit there and they say,

"Aw, shucks, it was an accident."

There's nothing that ever happens that justifies people taking good hours of the day to be with them.

The worst interview I ever did: William L. Shirer. The journalist who did "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." This guy had met Hitler and Gandhi within six months, and every time I'd ask him about it, he'd say,

"Oh, I just happened to be there. Didn't matter."

Whatever. Awful.

I never would ever agree to interview a modest person. They have to think that they did something and that they want to share it with you."

Echo sucks - here's how to leave comments easily before I switch to Disqus

"The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps." - Benjamin Disraeli


Frigid Girl: your [comments box] is damn irritating and takes ten years to load
i ain't gonna comment anymore

Ever since JS-Kit forcibly migrated us ex-Haloscan users to Echo, I've not been happy with the new commenting system, because of various issues. Chief among them:

i) Speed (or rather lack thereof - if you click on the "Comments" link you will get a popup box that takes forever to load)
ii) Forcing us to pay US$9.95 a year to "upgrade", or lose our accounts
iii) The e-mail address of commenters is not captured so we can reply to them
iv) JS-Kit has a horrible attitude towards their customers

(You can read complaints by other bloggers)

I intend to move to Disqus (an alternative comments system) soon, but in the meantime you leave comments quickly by going to the post pages and using the forms at the bottom (for example, the post page for this page is)

There're 2 ways to go to access a post page:

1) Click on the post title (the orange line at the start of this post)
ii) Click on the timestamp (the blue text after "Posted by Agagooga", for example the timestamp of this post reads "12:03 AM")
[iii) If you're using an RSS reader, there is probably a function to visit the URL of the post you're reading]

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

On comparative grocery shopping options in Singapore

A: Ntuc retails lurpak butter for $5.95, versus cold storage at $5.70! Fairprice my ass.

Me: Yes Indomee is cheaper at Cold Storage Gourmet than Fairprice

A: from what i can observe, ntuc sells things cheaper because they are lower quality (like vegetables that are not as fresh etc). i always try to shop at cold storage / jasons / isetan.

B: I only buy stuff I can't get from Cold Storage at NTUC.

Their vegetables are from China, their apples are shriveled and full of bruises. Even my downstairs 24-hour MCP supermarket sells better things (and cheaper) than NTUC.

C: Usually the grades of fresh produce are A grade from Cold storage, B for NTUC/Giant/Shop n save whilst C for SS. Try buying on thursday for NTUC.. the stuff comes in then.

On the fatuous romantic idea obsession with absolutes

"It takes too much energy to be against something unless it's really important." - Madeleine L'Engle


The Absolutists

"An absolutist might miss that a person can be rational in some areas of thought and irrational in other areas. An absolutist divides people into those who are evil and those who are not, failing to recognize the ease with which otherwise good people can fall into evil deeds. An absolutist might sound like a Zoroastrian and reduce an issue to what he calls a war between good and evil or between light and darkness.

In 2007 an absolutist might see William Jefferson Clinton as totally without morals or political merit because of his womanizing more than a decade ago. An absolutist looks at some narrow part of a person and condemns the whole person...

A few people in this political season are absolutist about political choice. They cannot have everything in an available candidate so they claim there is no significant difference between this candidate and others. In 2003, before the war in Iraq, a few were arguing that if you do not attack everybody doing bad things you should attack no one -- not one of the better arguments against going to war...

In other words, someone is an absolutist when he or she confuses a part with the whole. Put another way, they oversimplify. Analyzing the origins of a war, someone might reduce it all to oil when a variety of issues are involved...

In conversations, absolutists are rigid and tight in their responses to people who point out contradictions in the point of view... These are people with whom one does not have a dialogue. One merely lets them explain.

Presenting the latest, hottest indie movie

"Traffic signals in New York are just rough guidelines." - David Letterman


"WINNER - Pretentious Festival
WINNER - Indie Circlejerk
WINNER - Stupid Shit No One Cares About...

'Breathtaking soundtrack by overrated artists' - Other City Newspaper
'What is this shit?' - Codger Eggbert

indie as fuck


Monday, April 05, 2010

On moral deficiency

"Calixto Bieito's Don Giovanni lives in a perpetual stupor brought on by drink, sex and drugs, oblivious of any ethical barrier that could prevent him from sacrificing his own safety, and that of others, to this frenzy of the senses. These two themes -the protagonist's amorality and the self-destruction towards which his conduct drives him- are pivotal to Mozart's Don Giovanni. By shifting the action from 18th century Seville to present-day Barcelona and turning the aristocratic Don Giovanni into a man on the fringes of society, Bieito seeks to conjure up images that will cause an impact on his audience by revealing the full stark horror of his lifestyle, without the mitigating or distancing effect of 18th century costumes and gallantries.

Bieito's Don Giovanni is a man whose physical magnetism enables him to enlist the complicity of his gang of cronies; a man who breaks the rules, not in order to conquer his chosen sexual victims, but out of the sheer pleasure of destructive transgression; a man who burns out his life almost without realizing it, whose awareness is numbed by a state of stupor he cannot control, who seeks new sensations in order to escape, not to assert himself.."

(Gran Teatre de Liceu - Barcelona [down] via www.simonkeenlyside.info [down])

New blog picture - 5th April

New blog picture:

One of the many dangers of Italy

Links - 5th April 2010

"Last year I went fishing with Salvador Dali. He was using a dotted line. He caught every other fish." - Steven Wright


The Male Brain: More Complex Than You Think - "What happens when a guy is becoming a father?
The hormone testosterone is going down and the hormone prolactin is going up in the male brain, because he is smelling the pheromones of his pregnant wife. Prolactin is the hormone in females that makes breast milk. We don't know what it's doing in males yet. We assume it has something to do with making the daddy brain circuits. By the time the baby is born, he's able to hear infant cries much better. So something about his auditory-perceptual system has actually changed. His sex drive has gone down along with his testosterone. Therefore his brain is being primed to be a caretaker. If he doesn't get some alone time [after birth] with the baby, however, the daddy brain won't develop fully."

Great-grandmother given an electronic tag and curfew for selling a goldfish to a 14 year-old - "Joan Higgins, a pet shop owner, was caught selling the fish to the teenager in a 'sting' operation by council officials. She was then prosecuted in an eight month court process estimated to have cost the taxpayer more than £20,000. Under new animal welfare laws, passed in 2006, it is it illegal to sell goldfish to under 16s. Offenders can be punished with up to 12 months in prison"

Summary of The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions, by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz - "After establishing that pill diffusion among young and unmarried women was at least partially caused by legal changes, K&G show the relationship between pill use and age at first marriage and career investment by analyzing cohorts of women born 1921-1960. Alternative explanations, such as anti-discrimination laws, liberalization of abortion policy, and feminist influence on culture are also considered."

Cleavage can harm your career, study shows - "Elisabeth Squires, author of Boobs: A Guide to Your Girls says woman have stopped power dressing in favour of tight low-cut tops and short skirts. But it could be putting off colleagues and hampering changes of promotion... 'Women understand the power of breasts in general, but they don't understand the power of their own'... A study commissioned by Squires found that displaying too much flesh in the office can be distracting and damage a woman's career. Men who took part in the study where shown photographs of women in a generic workplace in various outfits and with different bra sizes. When asked which of the women looked the most professional and personable, most men picked out women who were discreetly dressed and women with medium-sized breasts"

The Hidden Meaning of Lady Gaga's "Telephone" - "When I first heard Telephone on the radio, I thought the song was about Lady Gaga receiving phone calls from an annoying dude while she’s out in a club... the “telephone” is a metaphor for Gaga’s brain and the fact that she is not answering that phone (her brain) means that she has “dissociated” from reality. Dissociation is the ultimate goal of Monarch mind control. It is induced by traumatizing events, such as electroshock therapy or torture, to force the victim to dissociate from reality. This enables the handlers to create in the victim an alter personality that can be programmed to perform various tasks, such as carrying out an assassination... Gaga and Beyoncé engage into a highly dissociative conversation. It basically sounds like dialogue between two mind-controlled slaves. The phrase “Trust is like a mirror. You can fix it if it’s broke but you can still see the crack in the motherfucker’s reflection” can refer to a cheating boyfriend and can also refer to the permanent damage caused by the fragmenting of one’s personality in mind control"
Wild literary readings have a lot in common with conspiracy theories

The origins of selflessness: Fair play | The Economist - "People living in communities that lack market integration display relatively little concern with fairness or with punishing unfairness in transactions. Notions of fairness increase steadily as societies achieve greater market integration... As societies have become more complex, those that have developed systems of sanitation, transport, energy and so on have been more successful than those which have not. It may be that the notion of fair play is an intangible equivalent of these systems... Participation in [a world] religion led to offers in the dictator game that were up to 10 percentage points higher than those of non-participants. World religions such as Christianity, with their moral codes, their omniscient, judgmental gods and their beliefs in heaven and hell, might indeed be expected to enforce notions of fairness on their participants, so this observation makes sense. From an economic point of view, therefore, such judgmental religions are actually a progressive force. That might explain why many societies that have embraced them have been so successful, and thus why such beliefs become world religions in the first place"

The battle of the sexes: Face off | The Economist - "In a man, the craggy physical characteristics associated with masculinity often indicate a strong immune system and thus a likelihood of his producing healthier offspring than his softer-featured confrères will. But such men are also more promiscuous and do not care as much about long-term relationships, leaving women to raise their kids alone... In environments where disease is rampant and the child-mortality rate is high, women prefer masculine men. In places like America and Britain, where knowing how to analyse health-care plans is more important than fighting off infection, effeminate men are just as competitive... polygamy is more common in societies that have more disease. In those societies, a modern Hercules can have his way because women prefer to share him rather than have a wimp to themselves"

Some Yahoo email accounts hacked in China, Taiwan - ""A lot of people I used to contact in Lanzhou, Xi'an and elsewhere have not been reachable by phone for the past few weeks"... "China is going back rather than going forward in terms of information and control. That reflects the lack of confidence in the (current) Chinese leaders... China's Internet has become a controlled Internet, an internal Internet rather than linked internationally. It defeats the whole purpose""

Art of the Steal: On the Trail of World’s Most Ingenious Thief - "“Cunning, clever, conniving, and creative,” as one prosecutor would call him, Blanchard eluded the police for years. But eventually he made a mistake. And that mistake would take two officers from the modest police force of Winnipeg, Canada, on a wild ride of high tech capers across Africa, Canada, and Europe. Says Mitch McCormick, one of those Winnipeg investigators, “We had never seen anything like it”"

Former TV actor Mark Chow fined S$6,000 for molesting woman - channelnewsasia.com - "Chow molested the 27-year-old former pub operations manager while she was asleep in her office in the wee hours of the morning. The 30-year-old had touched various parts of her body, including her buttocks and left thigh... Chow's defence was that he was merely trying to wake her up."
Moral of the story: guys should only wake girls up with ten foot poles. And/or find a better excuse.

The Stats Behind Prostitution (link removed ) - "$1 - the median price for many prostitutes in South Africa... 1 out of 2 of them have HIV 1 in 10 men in the world have purchased a prostitute. The rate in China is 1 in 4. And 1 in 5 Korean men pay for sex more than 4 times a month... In America, 80,000 citizens are arrested a year for soliciting sex, costing tax payers $200 million a year... 2 out of 5 men paid for services they never receive 1 out of 5 were robbed by the prostitute The Top 3 Reasons men paid for Sex: 1) Satisfy an immediate urge for sex 2) Experience a specific physical, racial or sexual fetish 3) Unsatisfied in their current relationship"

State of the Art - David Pogue’s Review of the iPad - "The haters tend to be techies; the fans tend to be regular people. Therefore, no single write-up can serve both readerships adequately. There’s but one solution: Write separate reviews for these two audiences"

High Court Judge overturns John Ng's decision (update 1) - "High Court Judge Choo Han Teck has overturned District Judge John Ng's decision to acquit five activists for conducting a procession in 2007. Mr Choo ordered that the matter return to DJ Ng for conviction and sentencing... A simple act of conducting a walk that, even according to the court, posed no public disorder or nuisance is not allowed in Singapore. Yet Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong insists that Singapore is a democracy based on the rule of law"
Who is surprised by this?

How bureaucrats decided not to save the bluefin tuna - ""This is just to test the system," the chairman said. "Here's a simple question to make sure the buttons are working properly: Is Doha the capital of Qatar? To record Yes, please press button number two." Thirty seconds later, once the 150 delegates had reached forward to prod the relevant button and the votes were recorded, two nations, Croatia and Cameroon, had voted No and - perhaps from force of habit long-established in security councils and global gatherings - China abstained. The Cameroon and Croatian delegations could not or maybe did not want to explain why they appeared to have learnt little about the city in which they had spent the past week. The Chinese delegation remained inscrutable and said nothing. Perhaps they thought it might be giving too much away if they stated unequivocally that Doha was the capital of Qatar. What this identified, I think, is a level of cynicism and mistrust that is new to the convention... Maybe it is naive to be surprised that that CITES' lofty ideals have become sullied and tarnished by geo-politics, but it is impossible to apply anything other than a very cynical interpretation to the bluefin tuna vote"

Louis Vuitton's Ponytails - "Marc Jacobs and New York beauty editors are on the same page, apparently... To complement Jacobs's ladylike, vintage-inspired collection, Redken creative consultant Guido gave the models high, bouncy ponytails with perfect 50s curls at the ends"

Bardo Bizarre Foods Dinner #2 - "Flatbread pizza with meal worms, crickets, roasted red pepper, feta cheese and red onion. One of the diners said “You could put feta on anything and roast it and it would taste good.” The big globule in the photo is roasted garlic. I tried the mealworms and they were tasteless. I tried the crickets and they were crunchy (obviously) and tasted good, just like grasshoppers and locusts. Once you put them on the pizza and added garlic and feta, you couldn’t taste them"

Doctors baffled by huge moobs - "A CHINESE farmer has the world's biggest set of MAN BOOBS, say doctors. Busty Guo Feng, 53, is desperately seeking a solution to his massive moobs as they get in the way of his manual work. And fascinated locals queue up at his dairy farm to point and laugh — forcing him to wear a heavy coat at all times, even in hot weather."

Online sex shop a hit with Muslims - "All ingredients are halal, or "permissible under Islam", said Mr Aouragh, and conspicuously absent is any type of pornography... Muslim clerics like Dutch Imam Abdul Jabbar see no harm in Mr Aouragh's site. "As long as he doesn't sell sex toys or those sorts of things there is no problem," he said, adding: the Prophet Mohammad gave lots of advice about sex in marriage and "there need not be any shame""

OpenRPG: Online Virtual Tabletop - "OpenRPG is an Internet application that allows people to play Role Playing Games in real-time over the Internet. OpenRPG is free, open source, software, distributed under GNU/GPL license"

The Public Editor - Censored in Singapore - "The notion that it could be defamatory to call a political family a dynasty seems ludicrous in the United States, where The Times has routinely applied the label to the Kennedys, the Bushes and the Clintons. But Singapore is a different story... Safire told The American Journalism Review in 1995 that the world’s free press should unite and pull out of Singapore in the face of any new libel action. I think that is what should happen too, but it never has... I think Google set an example for everyone who believes in the free flow of information"

The Race Card

"Race Card

When the Race Card comes into play, all arguments are destroyed
New arguments cannot be created until the Race Card leaves play"

(from: I may be conservative… but I’m still Black « The Truth in Black and Right, run by "theblackcommenter")

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Macau - Day 2, Part 2

"Look wise, say nothing, and grunt. Speech was given to conceal thought." - Sir William Osler


Day 2 - 27th February - Historic Sights of Macau by Morning (Part 2)

Exiting the Museum of Sacred Art, I explored the rest of the Ruins of St Paul's.

Apparently the rest of the ruins are still consecrated. I guess fire doesn't unconsecrate (or desecrate) a place.

Bones of the Martyrs of Japan and Vietnam

Information about the Crypt

"Please don't throw coins or garbage" (as you can see from the first picture, this sign does not work). Maybe notes are okay since they will contribute to upkeep.

List of those who disrupted the Religious Harmony of Japan and Vietnam Martyrs

They looped a recording of chanting. It was certainly cheaper than hiring monks to do the same.

Floor plans of original buildings

Looking down from the walkway behind the facade

I then exited the ruins and looked at other places of interest.

The small Na Tcha temple (1888). This honours Na Tcha - according to Strolling in Macau this is the Monkey God, but it is actually Nezha.

The proximity of this Chinese temple to the Christian church (or former Christian church, at any rate). I am reminded of a claim I heard recently: "Wow. Only in Singapore you see congregations of both mosques and churches going about doing their worships peacefully. Harmony"


Ah Ma at altar

Company of Jesus Square (Square below St Paul's Ruins)

Beside the ruins, I was very amused to see some evangelists:

Jesus loves you

The guy is chanting:

"耶穌愛你, 免費禮物送給你, 免費[?]物送給你。 耶穌的禮物是免費, [聖經?] 也是免費的。 耶穌是全[?]"
{"Jesus loves you, here's a free gift for you, a free [something] for you. Jesus' gift is free, [the Bible?] is also free. Jesus is the whole [something]"}

Some of them had jackets with "BJ" on them, supporting my observation that all the good things are abbreviated "BJ". I didn't understand what it stood for, though.

"God is Love". And free gifts too, apparently.

Next, I headed for the 17th century Mount Fortress.

Bird and Dog Toilet point

Fortress Exterior

As fortresses went, this was one of the less impressive ones I'd seen. Nonetheless, it had done its job in 1622 when it helped repel a Dutch invasion.

Portal to Fortress Proper - Porta d'Armas da Fortaleza

Nice alcove

Path up

Cannon. I declined to do the touristy thing and mount them, but it'd have been nice to use them to demolish the large ugly building you see in the background.

The Incredibly Ugly Skyline of Macau. It's no Florence, that's for sure. At least Singapore and Hong Kong have clean, modern buildings.

Bell with Coat of Arms

Cannon to shoot PRCs with

Overlooking St Paul's Ruins

I had intended to do the Protestant Cemetery before lunch, but I was slowed and fatigued by the weather, and so headed to lunch instead.

I saw one guy with a tattoo of the Virgin Mary on his shoulder.

Temple (I didn't go in)

I went to try my luck at Robuchon a Galera, set up at Hotel Lisboa by a Three Starred Michelin Chef.

I happened to go there through the underpass from the Grand Lisboa (to maximise the aircon and minimise walking through or across traffic). Fortunately or otherwise, this meant I emerged into the Hotel Lisboa in the East Wing Shopping Arcade - the location of the Shark Pit.

Even at this time, 3-4 tarts were walking about, but they still quoted me 800 patacas. So much for market differentiation.

Unfortunately not only was it full (well, Saturday lunch...) but I needed a collared shirt to get in (though jeans were alright). Perhaps if I ever go again; lunch is quite affordable at 398 patacas (~S$80) but dinner sets started at 1,588 patacas - ugh.

Walking around, I found a cafe serving Macanese food.

Boneless Hainanese Chicken Rice.
I am told by multiple sources that Hainanese Chicken Rice done Hainan Island style is greatly inferior to Singapore Hainanese Chicken Rice. This is why I prize taste above authenticity where food is concerned.

Macanese Fried Rice. They told me it was Guangdong style, though I asked for local food (apparently they conflate Cantonese and Macanese cuisines).

The basic taste of the fried rice was Cantonese, but it wasn't entirely so. There was pork belly (sio bak), olives and European style sausage which looked like guan qiang and tasted like smoked sausage inside. Happily, the olives were not salty so I ate them. The rice also tasted like it was fried with some spices.

Most of the desserts in the place were variations on birds' nest, so I passed on dessert.

"Hemp flowers" - I suspect this is a translation error.

They only served warm water so I ordered this Tangerine Soda. It was literally Soda (Water) - I have no idea why (heat exhaustion?), but I was thinking of the US meaning of Soda. I should've ordered another option with 7-11. Luckily there was sufficient syrup at the bottom.

If you take out the Ruins of St Paul's and the Cross-Cultural factor, Macau is actually quite a mediocre tourism destination.

Mandarin seemed more spoken and understood than in Hong Kong (at least Hong Kong to 2.5 years ago), lots of places accepted RMB at par (I didn't recall any in Hong Kong which did), and I also saw/heard more PRCs around than in Hong Kong. The three were doubtless linked; Macau has 500,000 people to Hong Kong's 7 million, and Zhuhai is a lot nearer to Macau than Shenzhen is to Hong Kong, so they have to be more accommodating.

Macau was unseasonably hot when I was there - the temperature was supposed to be 18-23, but I got temperatures in the mid-20s. I have no idea how the school kids in sweaters and the women in boots stood it - after lunch I was still sweating, and it was only after my drink that I stopped.

This blog now comes with post titles

"A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way." - John Tudor


In a bid to mitigate the effects of Blogger's Auto Pagination (which means you can no longer see my last 4 days of posts if I have posted too much), I have inserted a "Latest Posts" widgit above.

(That said, Blogger has happily may have become less anal about Auto Pagination - at one point [IIRC] only one [admittedly long] post was visible on the main page of my blog [or under the travelogue label], but now when I set Blogger to return a maximum of 999 days' posts I see the same post together with many others. Then again, it might've been this other post, which refuses to be displayed with any others) [Ed: I checked, and they still seem as anal as ever]

To get it to work, I had to (finally) think of titles for each post. Besides achieving my intended purpose, it will also delight the 100-150 of you on the RSS feed who will no longer have to see 10 new posts on this blog, each titled "(no subject)", when you open your RSS readers.

It also ensures I no longer see useless statistics like:

"Aggregate Item Use:
(no title) - 31 views, 2 clicks
(no title) - 28 views, 3 clicks
(no title) - 25 views, 2 clicks

(you can tell I never really used this part of Feedburner's services)

In the process, I have also discovered that Feedburner is still screwed up - I thought I had FINALLY enabled AdSense for Feeds, but my feed keeps reverting from the jazzed-up version (which includes the ads):

To a vanilla one:

Having already spent some time on the issues mentioned above, and having tried fruitlessly to solve Feedburner (and Google) issues in the past, though, I am not inclined to tackle this problem today.

As someone commented about Google (in response to an inexplicable YouTube ban that came out of the blue):

"One of the things I can’t stand about Google (who I rely heavily on and like their services for the most part) is how difficult it is to get in touch with anyone there. Finding an email is nearly impossible."

Another part of my Auto Pagination mitigation plan involves experimenting with switching from monthly to weekly archives (I haven't used the latter in ages); a recent halving in traffic from 500-600+ visitors a day to 250-300+ visitors a day seems to be connected to Auto Pagination screwing up my monthly archives.


A reader emailed me:

"Haha, SALUTE! You must have like a billion pages. Good luck with the renaming."

My response:

"I'm not going to add titles to ALL my blog posts - only the latest ones on the feed and new ones.

Hell, I haven't even finished labeling everything (stuck at August 2005), or restoring all my Slavery posts (stuck at November 2002)."


I tried posting a message about my Feed problem in the FeedBurner Help Group Google Group.

I got an error message reading:

"We were unable to post your message

If you believe this is an error, please contact Google Support."

Meanwhile, Google Support refused to provide email support, and directed me to...

The Google Groups Help Forum Google Group

I tried to post about the error above and... got the same error.

Woo hoo! How Kafka-esque.

Bad student project... Or real NTU promo vid?

This looks like a bad student project, but there's a chance it might be real:

(Notice that the local is the lackey with the net, and who does the narration)

Addendum: It's real, alright.

See it and more bad ads on NTU's Choose NTU campaign portal.

It is perhaps revealing that all of the YouTube comments before mine were deleted.

At least the NUS Business School Jeans Ad was professionally made.

Macau - Day 2, Part 1

"Those who speak most of progress measure it by quantity and not by quality." - George Santayana


Day 2 - 27th February - Historic Sights of Macau by Morning (Part 1)

As per my usual holiday practice, I set out early for the Heritage Trail.

"Café e Nata"
This cafe around the corner from the hostel, according to the hostel owner, was run by the estranged wife of Lord Stow (or something like that)

Naturally I had egg tarts. They were not bad.

The extent of the fog. And with fog came humidity.

Puzzling sign on preventing Bird Flu: "Do not blow the vent of the chickens". I have no idea why peple would blow chicken asses.
Also note that this sign is in Chinese, Portuguese and English, despite the last not being an official language of the city.

"Patrimonio do Estado". This was presumably the old governor's house.

Strange fish-animal-topped pillar

Monument to Jorge Álvares - the guy the Macanese have to thank for their privileges

Banco Nacional Ultramarino building

Post Office

"Be a Lady. Do the Wrong Thing."
Advertisement featuring Maria Cordero (of mixed ancestry, whose Chinese name is amusingly "肥媽" ["Fat Mama"])

Municipal Hall (Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau. c. 1784) by day. It's colonial architecture but it's not terribly impressive.

Santa Casa Da Misericordia (Holy House of Mercy, a Catholic charity)

Edificio Ritz (Tourist Office)

I realise I did not take any pictures of Senate Square in the day. Doubtless this was because it was so ugly, with all the Chinese New Year decorations. So here are 2 pictures of it when it isn't so ugly:

The wavy mosaics (the tiles for which were imported from Portugal) are supposed to symbolise "the sea and Macau's maritime heritage". Apparently this is the part of Macau which most resembles Portugal.

The 19th Century Pharmacy Building

Travessa da Misericordia

St Dominic's Church, early 1600s

Rua de S. Paulo

"Pastelaria Koi Kei - The Popular Choice"

The Original SPG by day

Ruins of St Paul's. Notice the girl in the left of the picture who is raising her arms. Maybe she wants to emulate the Japanese Martyrs, since Jack's not here to hold her.

Self-upskirting girl and dog

St Paul's by day - symbolising Macau since 1835

Information about the Ruins of St Paul's - the Church of Mater Dei, the College of St Paul's and the Residence of the Jesuits, as well as the Museum

After climbing the steps to the ruins, the humidity finally got to me. The weather would only have been tolerable if I had not been moving, and I made the mistake of wearing jeans, to boot. So I had to take pauses to allow my sweat to, if not dry, then at least lessen.

St Paul's through the ages

Edifice from the rear

I then entered the Museum of Sacred Art in the basement of the ruins.

Sino-Portuguese Crucifix, 17th century

Holy Wafer Box (Pyx), Portugal. 17th century.

St Anne teaching the Virgin Mary how to read, Indo-Portuguese. 18th century.
The halos are scary

The Martyrs of Japan, 1640 (1996 Replica).
They were crucified for disrupting religious harmony in Japan; one man's martyr is another man's heretic/infidel.

The Archangel Michael. 17th century.

The Archangel Michael. 17th century, Portuguese.

Religious bier for Our Lady. Early 19th century, Asian-Portuguese.

All in all, I found the Museum of Sacred Art very educational. It taught me that there's a reason why Portuguese works are very rare in art museums, and Asian-Portuguese works are non-existent.
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