When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Quotes - 14th August 2010

"The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all." - Joan Robinson


[Me: She wants a guy smarter than her] I'm not that smart [Me: You don't have to be smart. Just smarter than her]

When someone pops the cock, you should smell the cock. [Someone: Cork. You girls want to smell the CORK?]

[On getting whipped cream and chocolate sauce as a present] Sex toy. What did I say about it. (toys, them)

She's a seductress... [Me: Did you bang her?] I'm not that kind of guy [Someone: Got Second Base?] No. Wait...

I knew it from my girlfriend. My fiancée. My wife. (know about it)

I don't gossip one. I only factually report stuff.

I just want a simple life... I want to live in Geneva [Someone: The $20,000 camera set]... [Someone else: Why don't you use a point-and-shoot?] It doesn't do what I need

Women like having periods. It makes them feel good... It lets them know they're not pregnant

Do you want to leave a tip? [Someone else on the waiter behind someone: Do you want to ask that question later?]

I am seriously considering doing a Masters so I don't have to say I'm from SMU

Heels are like foot-binding for the 21st century

I saw a plastic surgery ad in Korea... 'Small face, Pretty breasts'... [Someone: Are you sure they didn't mean 'Pretty face, Small breasts'?]

T-shirts are body hugging [Me: Girl-cut T-shirts are body hugging]

[On boyfriend shirts] What if you have a really fat boyfriend?

[On Jakarta] I haven't been there yet. Everyone keeps telling me not to go.

The dramas that we import from Australia are all sleazy. That is my conclusion from one week of watching TV at home.

There are different types of philosophy. [In] KI they argue about arguing for the point of arguing.

They were really good guard chickens, you know.

I'm getting a game for my friend [Me: Who is your friend?] It's a guy, so it doesn't work

[Me: You should download my CAP Calculator] It's well-used

This guy, no offence, with a ponytail. Pasty skin, with a weird accent... And he's not effeminate [Me: You rather he were effeminate?] Cos then I can say he's gay [Me: Gays get a free pass huh]

[On the SDU magazine] It's always ugly women. They need some busy hussies on the cover.

[On the Zoroastrian cemetery] They should just renovate it a bit and rent it out to lovers [Me: You want to make out in a cemetery?]

[On Bukit Timah Road] The Bridge of Love... I got together with my first girlfriend there... I have gotten more mature, less romantic [since then]

[Someone: I want to be rich] [Me: She has an option not open to us] ... that is the nuclear option, only when you have nothing else [Me: I'm not talking about prostitution, you know]

[On cooking Indomee] You have to let me cook it. I figured out the timing. 3 minutes 45 seconds. No more, no less... You throw away the water, you keep a little bit and put it back

I was wearing my 6 inch heels... [Me: I think 6 inches is the average length of the human penis] [Someone: I thought it eas 10]

[To me] To a lot of people, he is like your kind... Too smart

English is my second language... Anything longer than 2 syllables in Bahasa is difficult for me. [Me: Isn't Bahasa your native language?] I have no native language.

Gays are happy... I've never met a happy lesbian in my life, who didn't have a point to make

What I told my mother. You don't have to understand them. They don't even understand themselves... Hormones go here, they do this. Hormone go there, they do that.

I'm a jerk, but I'm not an ass... I'm an asshole, not a bastard

My Facebook status on 'Pregnancy cures menstrual cramps' was surprisingly popular... My next one: 'Decapitation cures headaches'

[On the Island of doom] During my time Pegasus was the zhabor company. So the P stood for something else also.

[Me: You don't always get what you deserve...] I hope I don't get what I deserve. I'll be in Somalia.

I only talk about 3 things. Women, sex and politics. And food... I don't even talk about cars

The moment you hesitate, you're lost. The Game is not for pussies... [On me] He's being a pussy for refusing to play the Game

They have their hands all over me... They're all skanks. Every one of them is a skank. Everyone who has grown up in a western country... American girls are the skankiest.

A tailored suit and a tailored shirt make a man.

[On me in Where the Hell is Matt] I thought it was a woman

[On job hazards] My dreams, I see numbers. The Excel [spreadsheet] scrolling

Goa is a vice town. You can get anything there.

Fight FIBUA in Changi Hospital... The skeleton army [will] come out

Ginseng. Ren2 Shen1. Bu3 Quan2 Shen. Red wine... Red blood cells [Me: Then what about white wine?] White blood cells

In Secondary School, those Sec 4 n, Sec 4 e girls, once it's their birthdays, okay. [Someone: I need to pay your school a visit]

[On being the only straight guys in a hotel suite] When you enter a pub as a girl, people check you out from head to toe. First time in my life, I got checked out from head to toe... 'They are straight. Please leave them alone'. They were disappointed

Egg tart got cow inside meh? [Someone: Got egg mah]

How was Snow White rescued, from the Seven Dwarves? [Someone: You from which kindergarten ah]

Singaporean men have no competitive edge [Someone: So you prefer ah tiongs and ah nehs?]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NSFW Chart

I've always been a fan of NSFW4

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jobs, long hours and personal fulfilment

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone." - Henry David Thoreau


Tribal Workers
Financial Times

Today's generation of high-earning professionals maintain that their personal fulfilment comes from their jobs and the hours they work. They should grow up, says Thomas Barlow.

A friend of mine recently met a young American woman who was studying on a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford. She already had two degrees from top US universities, had worked as a lawyer and as a social worker in the US, and somewhere along the way had acquired a black belt in kung fu. Now, however, her course at Oxford was coming to an end and she was thoroughly angst-ridden about what to do next.

Her problem was no ordinary one.

She couldn't decide whether she should make a lot of money as a corporate lawyer/management consultant, devote herself to charity work helping battered wives in disadvantaged Communities, or go to Hollywood to work as a stunt double in kung fu films. What most struck my friend was not the disparity of this woman's choices, but the earnestness and bad grace with which she ruminated on them. It was almost as though she begrudged her own talents, Opportunities and freedom - as though the world had treated her unkindly by forcing her to make such a hard choice.

Her case is symptomatic of our times. In recent years, there has grown up a culture of discontent among the highly educated young something that seems to flare up, especially, when people reach their late 20s and early 30s. It arises not from frustration caused by lack of opportunity, as may have been true in the past, but from an excess of possibilities.

Most theories of adult developmental psychology have a special category for those in their late 20s and early 30s.

Whereas the early to mid-20s are seen as a time to establish one's mode of living, the late 20s to early 30s are often considered a period of reappraisal. In a society where people marry and have children young, where financial burdens accumulate early, and where job markets are inflexible, such appraisals may not last long. But when people manage to remain free of financial or family burdens, and where the perceived opportunities for alternative careers are many, the reappraisal is likely to be strong.

Among no social group is this more true than the modern, International, professional elite: that tribe of young bankers, lawyers, consultants and managers for whom financial, familial, personal, corporate and (increasingly) national ties have become irrelevant. Often they grew up in one country, were educated in another, and are now working in a third.

They are independent, well paid, and enriched by experiences that many of their parents could only dream of. Yet, by their late 20s, many carry a sense of disappointment: that for all their opportunities, freedoms and achievements, life has not delivered quite what they had hoped. At the heart of this disillusionment lies a new attitude towards work.

The idea has grown up, in recent years, that work should not be just a means to an end a way to make money, support a family, or gain social prestige but should provide a rich and fulfilling experience in and of itself. Jobs are no longer just jobs; they are lifestyle options. Recruiters at financial companies, consultancies and law firms have promoted this conception of work. Job advertisements promise challenge, wide experiences, opportunities for travel and relentless personal development.

Michael is a 33-year-old management consultant who has bought into this vision of late-20th century work. Intelligent and well-educated - with three degrees, including a doctorate - he works in Munich, and has a "stable, long-distance relationship" with a woman living in California. He takes 140 flights a year and works an average of 80 hours a week. Some weeks he works more than 100 hours.

When asked if he likes his job, he will say: "I enjoy what I'm doing in terms of the intellectual challenges." Although he earns a lot, he doesn't spend much. He rents a small apartment, though he is rarely there, and has accumulated very few possessions. He justifies the long hours not in terms of wealth-acquisition, but solely as part of a "learning experience".

This attitude to work has several interesting implications, mostly to do with the shifting balance between work and non-work, employment and leisure. Because fulfilling and engrossing work - the sort that is thought to provide the most intense learning experience - often requires long hours or captivates the imagination for long periods of time, it is easy to slip into the idea that the converse is also true: that just by working long hours, one is also engaging in fulfilling and engrossing work. This leads to the popular fallacy that you can measure the value of your job (and, therefore, the amount you are learning from it) by the amount of time you spend on it. And, incidentally, when a premium is placed on learning rather than earning, people are particularly susceptible to this form of self-deceit.

Thus, whereas in the past, when people in their 20s or 30s spoke disparagingly about nine-to-five jobs it was invariably because they were seen as too routine, too unimaginative, or too bourgeois. Now, it is simply because they don't contain enough hours.

Young professionals have not suddenly developed a distaste for leisure, but they have solidly bought into the belief that a 45-hour week necessarily signifies an unfulfilling job. Jane, a 29-year-old corporate lawyer who works in the City of London, tells a story about working on a deal with another lawyer, a young man in his early 30s. At about 3am, he leant over the boardroom desk and said: "Isn't this great? This is when I really love my job." What most struck her about the remark was that the work was irrelevant (she says it was actually rather boring); her colleague simply liked the idea of working late. "It's as though he was validated, or making his life important by this," she says.

Unfortunately, when people can convince themselves that all they need do in order to lead fulfilled and happy lives is to work long hours, they can quickly start to lose reasons for their existence. As they start to think of their employment as a lifestyle, fulfilling and rewarding of itself - and in which the reward is proportional to hours worked - people rapidly begin to substitute work for other aspects of their lives.

Michael, the management consultant, is a good example of this phenomenon. He is prepared to trade (his word) not just goods and time for the experience afforded by his work, but also a substantial measure of commitment in his personal relationships. In a few months, he is being transferred to San Francisco, where he will move in with his girlfriend. But he's not sure that living the same house is actually going to change the amount of time he spends on his relationship. "Once I move over, my time involvement on my relationship will not change significantly. My job takes up most of my time and pretty much dominates what I do, when, where and how I do it," he says. Moreover, the reluctance to commit time to a relationship because they are learning so much, and having such an intense and fulfilling time at work is compounded, for some young professionals, by a reluctance to have a long-term relationship at all.

Today, by the time someone reaches 30, they could easily have had three or four jobs in as many different cities - which is not, as it is often portrayed, a function of an insecure global job-market, but of choice. Robert is 30 years old. He has three degrees and has worked on three continents. He is currently working for the United Nations in Geneva. For him, the most significant deterrent when deciding whether to enter into a relationship is the likely transient nature of the rest of his life. "What is the point in investing all this emotional energy and exposing myself in a relationship, if I am leaving in two months, or if I do not know what I am doing next year?" he says.

Such is the character of the modern, international professional, at least throughout his or her 20s. Spare time, goods and relationships, these are all willingly traded for the exigencies of work. Nothing is valued so highly as accumulated experience. Nothing is neglected so much as commitment. With this work ethic - or perhaps one should call it a "professional development ethic" - becoming so powerful, the globally mobile generation now in its late 20s and early 30s has garnered considerable professional success. At what point, though, does the experience-seeking end?

Kathryn is a successful American academic, 29, who bucked the trend of her generation: she recently turned her life round for someone else. She moved to the UK, specifically, to be with a man, a decision that she says few of her contemporaries understood. "We're not meant to say: 'I made this decision for this person. Today, you're meant to do things for yourself. If you're willing to make sacrifices for others - especially if you're a woman - that's seen as a kind of weakness. I wonder, though, is doing things for yourself really empowerment, or is liberty a kind of trap?" she says.

For many, it is a trap that is difficult to break out of, not least because they are so caught up in a culture of professional development. And spoilt for choice, some like the American Rhodes Scholar no doubt become paralysed by their opportunities, unable to do much else in their lives, because they are so determined not to let a single one of their chances slip. If that means minimal personal commitments well into their 30s, so be it. "Loneliness is better than boredom" is Jane's philosophy.

And, although she knows "a lot of professional single women who would give it all up if they met a rich man to marry", she remains far more concerned herself about finding fulfillment at work. "I am constantly questioning whether I am doing the right thing here," she says. "There's an eternal search for a more challenging and satisfying option, a better lifestyle. You always feel you're not doing the right thing always feel as if you should be striving for another goal," she says.

Jane, Michael, Robert and Kathryn grew up as part of a generation with fewer social constraints determining their futures than has been true for probably any other generation in history. They were taught at school that when they grew up they could "do anything", "be anything". It was an idea that was reinforced by popular culture, in films, books and television.

The notion that one can do anything is clearly liberating. But life without constraints has also proved a recipe for endless searching, endless questioning of aspirations. It has made this generation obsessed with self-development and determined, for as long as possible, to minimise personal commitments in order to maximise the options open to them. One might see this as a sign of extended adolescence.

Eventually, they will be forced to realise that living is as much about closing possibilities as it is about creating them.

Why you should shop at Ikea

Malaysia/Singapore as Immigrant Societies

"What music is more enchanting than the voices of young people, when you can't hear what they say?" - Logan Pearsall Smith


Malaysia/Singapore as Immigrant Societies

I’d like to ask everyone, especially those characterized as ‘Malays’, to list their family histories. And see how many of us can really go back further than three generations born in this land. I know I can’t (Marina Mahathir)

... In Malaysia of course official ideology requires that 62% of the population be regarded as ‘sons of the soil’, defined in racial terms rather than place of birth. But there is also an older pre-nationalist tradition there of understanding Malaya as an immigrant society, and a tendency as in other immigrant societies for the relatively recent migrants in all communities to provide much of the innovative energy and leadership – witness Hussein Onn, Tun Razak and Dr Mahathir in Malay politics...

The populations of Malaysia, Singapore and Australia all grew at exceptionally high rates over the past two centuries, so far above the Asian average up to 1950 as to mark them as standouts. Overall, however, it is Malaysia/Singapore that had the more exceptional rates of growth, among the highest in the world for most periods before 1950...

The immigration rate (immigrants per 1,000 population) of Malaya (Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore) was the highest in the world throughout the period 1881-1939, more than ten times as high a rate as the United States or other so-called ‘immigrant societies’... In each decade until the 1930s, the number of immigrants arriving in Malaya represented between 84% and 100% of its total population...

The Malayan Peninsula... then unrelated northern Borneo, and Australia, were all relatively sparsely populated before the arrival of the British in these places in the 1780s. Although figures are highly controversial, the Peninsula and Australia appear each to have then had sparse populations below a half-million in total... The question of indigeneity, or indigeny as Geoffrey Benjamin insists on calling it, is extremely politicized in Malaysia... Wheatley (1961: 232) concludes from the silence of Arab navigators in the previous period that they found no ‘civilised human settlement and opportunity for trade’ to the south of the place they called Kalah...

[In Malaysia] Pockets of rice-cultivators may already have settled the river-mouth areas of Kedah, Kelantan and Pahang before 1400, presumably through interactions of Indian traders, aboriginal populations, and other mobile Southeast Asians from Sumatra and elsewhere. We cannot label them ethnically before the category ‘Malay’ began to be created by the hybridizing genius of fifteenth century Melaka. In such a crossroads of trade routes, the migrants were also more diverse than Australia’s. The major waves of migrants before 1870 were:

[Malay kings, Minangkabau pioneers, Bugis, the European/Chinese/Indian/SEAsians in what became the Straits Settlements, Chinese mining & agricultural pioneers, Organised contract labourers {mostly Cantonese and Tamil}, others]...

There developed a more artificial racial construct of ‘whiteness’ (in Australia) or ‘Malayness’ (in Malaysia), which could be all the more shrill because it had no basis in a shared past...

A fierce competition between generations and types of migrants, about the identity of the state and the types of new migrants. Racism has been a marked feature of migrant societies, because of the way the dominant migrant community seeks to cohere against both the aboriginal population and other more recent and hungry migrant groups who threaten their control. The unnaturalness of these exclusions was part of the reason why racism reached such shrill heights at times in the 20th Century...

We might hope that migrants would be highly tolerant of other migrants, sympathetic to their needs and to their legitimacy. In this regard the Malay rulers and gate-keepers get the highest marks for tolerance and absorption of a diversity of migrants. Malay identity proved wonderfully absorptive in the 15th Century as a creative creole, turning Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Javanese and Filipinos into loyal subjects of the sultan, bilingual in their own language and Malay. Although the line between Muslim insiders and non-Muslim outsiders became gradually more firm from the 16th century, right up to the 20th migrants constantly joined the main game through accepting Islam (masuk Melayu). In this the Malay record long-term is far more generous and accommodating than that of the British in places such as Australia...

[Mahathir] argued that every country has a ‘definitive people’ who were the first immigrants to set up states in the territory in question. Since the aborigines in both Malaysia and Australia were stateless peoples who did not do this, it was the Malays in Malaya, like the English-speaking Christians in Australia, who defined the core culture and set the conditions by which subsequent migrants were admitted. [He interpreted] Australia somewhat idiosyncratically to suit his argument for permanent Malay supremacy in Malaysia"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Links - 10th August 2010

"We need anything politically important rationed out like Pez: small, sweet, and coming out of a funny, plastic head." - Dennis Miller


iPad(lock) – Why you should think twice about buying an iPad - "First I jailbroke my iPhone. Then I installed a firewall application on it from an unofficial "app store" called Cydia. Only then did I notice that many applications I had purchased through Apple's App Store were trying to contact PinchMedia. Now I have the freedom to block these outbound connections. But do you? Because I jailbroke my iPhone I can make Skype calls through 3G. Can you? I can now also change, not only the background image of the home screen, but completely theme the operating system. Can you? It' 2010. Why do I have to jump over hurdles and obstacles and break the law. Just in order to be able to use a gadget I bought in the manner I choose to? By buying an iPad you are sending out powerful messages. Not only are you declaring to the world how cool and stylish you are, you are also stating that you don't care about your privacy and that you are prepared to give up certain freedoms."

iPad's lack of Flash/USB/Bluetooth is all about lock-in (updated) - "That’s why Apple uses an expensive proprietary 30-pin “dock connector” instead of USB. They get to sell expensive cables (there’s no OTA syncing of content, natch) and they get to license the connectors to legions of third parties clamoring to make peripherals for the device. More importantly though, Apple wants to sell millions of $69 keyboard docks and maintain control over what is passed across the dock connector port. The same goes for expandable memory…"
One comment: "I have been using Apple products almost since the beginning and one of the biggest complaints that us Mac users would was that PC makers (MS) wanted to rule the world. It seemed everything was for the PC. Nothing seemed to work with the Mac line. So Apple became more proprietary, more expensive and highly arrogant"

The pettiness of the race - "With the pathetic and banal predictability that is fast becoming the hallmark of Indian politics, history has repeated itself. Our next President will probably be Mrs Pratibha Patil, the archetypal last-minute candidate whose name was accepted because nobody could find anything objectionable about her... I find this whole “Look, we’ve found a woman President! Hooray!” routine obscene and offensive... Why is Mrs Patil a better candidate than Mr Patil? Both are steady, mainstream Maharashtra politicians who will toe the Congress line. But she’s a woman and, therefore, difficult for a politically correct commissar to oppose. So, the conclusion of this leg of the presidential race was not a victory for woman’s empowerment at all. Rather, gender was used as a weapon to win a petty political fight that was about something entirely different. I’m a little tired also of seeing women politicians on TV telling us smugly (the ones from the Congress) or hysterically (the ones from the Left) how the election of Mrs Patil will actually help Indian women. If history has taught us anything it is that the caste, gender and religion of the occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan make no difference to those whose aspirations they are supposed to symbolise. It is hard to think how Muslims have benefited from having Kalam in the top job. Nor did Dalits gain from Naryanan’s stature. And Sikhs actually suffered because of Zail Singh’s machinations. And when it comes to gender in particular, there is no evidence that women benefit significantly when other women are in power"

Swift Kick Central: Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech
This is why NUS vets valedictorian speeches; the only thing worse than standardised testing is having no standardised testing

Official – Vatican does compare child abuse with ordaining women - "Apologists for the Vatican have recently claimed that the Catholic Church does not compare sexually abusing a child with attempting to ordain a woman, but that it merely included both crimes in the same document as a procedural matter... the direction of the comparison is not that they consider these theological crimes to be as serious as sexually abusing a child, but that they consider sexually abusing a child to be as serious as these theological crimes... sexually abusing a child is listed not as a crime against the child, but as a crime against the Biblical commandment forbidding adultery. And attempting to ordain a woman attracts a more serious punishment than sexually abusing a child. This is the type of morality that results when people put theology ahead of reality"

Smashing The Clock - "No schedules. No mandatory meetings. Inside Best Buy's radical reshaping of the workplace"

Language Log » The Opacity and Difficulty of the Chinese Script - "My class on the Chinese script has around 36 students in it. About half of them are native speakers from Taiwan, the Mainland, Singapore, and Hong Kong... Today, I made the students close their computers, electronic dictionaries, and all their books and papers, then asked them to write down on a piece of paper the simplified and traditional characters for Taiwan...
* only 2 students could write both forms correctly
* only 4 students could write both forms partially correctly
* only 10 students could write one form correctly
* about 10 students could write one form partially correctly
* the remainder of the students could not write either form correctly, including a couple of the native speakers
* most students who had taken up to 6 years of Chinese couldn't write either form correctly"
Addendum: More evidence that Chinese is freaking difficult, even for "native speakers"; "汉字不灭,中国必亡".

DNA Boosts Herodotus’ Account of Etruscans as Migrants to Italy - "“Sharing wives is an established Etruscan custom,” wrote the Greek historian Theopompos of Chios in the fourth century B.C. “Etruscan women take particular care of their bodies and exercise often. It is not a disgrace for them to be seen naked. Further, they dine not with their own husbands, but with any men who happen to be present.” He added that Etruscan women “are also expert drinkers and are very good looking”... Because Italians take pride in the Roman empire and the Etruscan state that preceded it, asserting a foreign origin for the Etruscans has long been politically controversial in Italy. Massimo Pallottino, the dean of modern Etruscan studies in Italy who died in 1995, held that because no one questioned that the French, say, developed in France, the same assumption should be made about the Etruscans. “Someone who had a different position didn’t get a job in archaeology,” said Antonio Torroni, a geneticist at the University of Pavia."

Ovulation hormones make women 'choose clingy clothes' - "These hormonal shopping habits were triggered by the proximity of attractive women... "Our findings suggest marketers for many types of female products are well served to strategically time their mailings, coupons, electronic solicitations, and direct requests to the specific window when women are ovulating"... "Women do the choosing [of mates] but in order to enable them to choose, they need a good number of suitors to select from""

Templeton prayer study meets expectations - "Subjects were recruited from a self-selected population of rural Africans who were attending a charismatic/evangelical revival…that is, people who knew they would be rewarded with acclaim if they publicly demonstrated dramatic improvements in their health under the influence of a priest. This experiment did not use single-blind trials — in fact, the subjects were hammered repeatedly with the protocol until they reported that it worked for them, subjectively... Most damning of all, there were no controls. I repeat, no controls anywhere in the experiment... I'm also not surprised that this garbage was funded by the Templeton Foundation. It could only have been supported by an organization that places scientific rigor a distant second to making excuses for faith"

Apple Hater Seeks Roommate in the Big Apple via Craigslist
"I refuse to live with anyone that has sold their immortal soul to Steve Jobs. I don't care about your app that tells you when you need to water your plants. I don't care that your phone can function as a Speak N Spell. I don't care that your phone has a million "exciting" features that exist elsewhere... Upon meeting, you must show me your phone (no scammers! I will be calling it in person to confirm that it is indeed your phone)"

Young men affected by romance drama more than women - "A possible explanation for the findings could be that for young men, their romantic partners are often their primary source of intimacy, whereas young women are more likely to have close relationships with family and friends... while young men are more affected emotionally by the quality of their current relationships, young women are more emotionally affected by whether they are in a relationship or not"

Why Evolution May Favor Irrationality - "We fall short of Cartesian logic in so many other ways... these lapses have a purpose: they help us “devise and evaluate arguments that are intended to persuade other people,” says psychologist Hugo Mercier of the University of Pennsylvania. Failures of logic, he and cognitive scientist Dan Sperber of the Institut Jean Nicod in Paris propose, are in fact effective ploys to win arguments. That puts poor reasoning in a completely different light. Arguing, after all, is less about seeking truth than about overcoming opposing views"

Untidy beds may keep us healthy - "Research suggests that while an unmade bed may look scruffy it is also unappealing to house dust mites thought to cause asthma and other allergies. A Kingston University study discovered the bugs cannot survive in the warm, dry conditions found in an unmade bed"

Eva Mendes Sex Tape

Funniest Commercial
Thai ads are good

Lufthansa Searches for Savor in the Sky - "Seasonings like cardamom, lemon grass and curry survived better than salt and sugar"... Lufthansa's sommelier, is using the analysis to help select wines like Italian Amarone, with a strong 15% alcohol content. "On the ground, it's a very opulent and powerful wine, but in the air, it tastes light—it's the ideal airline wine""

Making the case for the Death penalty - "Obviously there are some people who still think differently. That is their mindset and I have no business trying to change theirs as long as they don’t change mine."
Great Singaporean logic (as with the rest of the article), which is self-defeating to boot.

The Rise of the Caring Industry - "By focusing on a person’s problem, short-term therapy mimics the experience of real friendship... Today’s caring professionals offer the same service to lonely, unhappy people that friends and relatives once did. They do so because so many Americans are lonely and unhappy... An estimated 95 percent of Americans have low self-esteem. Consistent with these trends, at least 15 percent of Americans are now on a psychoactive drug at any given moment... In the 1940s, the top three discipline problems in schools were talking, chewing gum, and making noise; in the 1980s, they were drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, and suicide... the caring industry continues the trend toward speech codes that curtail speech on the grounds that some of it is “hurtful” and can injure another person’s self-esteem"
I suspect most of the rhetoric is unjustified

You wouldn't download a car

Why I don't watch French films

"Almost all absurdity of conduct arises from the imitation of those whom we cannot resemble." - Samuel Johnson


"Aural jouissance has been associated with the feminine in Christian cultures since the Annunciation, when the angel’s words penetrated the Virgin Mary’s ear. (This sexualization of the recessed and largely invisible organ of hearing was supposedly the reason why in the Middle Ages it was customary for respectable women at least to wear wimples)...

Thai drive is most clearly expressed when the narrator says: ‘J’étais très excite quand je faisais ça, mais je ne suis pas sûr que je bandais par exemple. Je devrais plutôt dire, comme une femme, que je mouillais’. He does, of course, ‘get wet’ in a literal and uncomplicatedly abject way, kneeling down on a urine-soaked floor in pursuit of his goal, which may even stimulate fantasies of wetness of another kind, unattainable to the male. But the intransitive use of ‘mouiller’ suggests an envious usurpation of female sexual arousal, and thus a refusal of male sexual possession analogous to that diagnosed by Amengual. The abjection here is multiple: in the activity described, in the manner and context of its description and most strikingly in its dephallicized quality. The public toilet or rest-room has traditionally, as a result of legal repression, been regarded as a sexual space almost exclusively by male homosexuals (the French ‘tasse,’ corresponding to the English ‘cottage’), so to find it sexualized in what turns out to be a doubly female manner, via the feminization of the voyeur, suggests a disconcerting rejection of the penis/phallus and all its works...

When they rush into a service station in order to use the (non-segregated) toilets, Carmen pisses in the urinal, not standing up (which would have been as close as she could come to a performative denial of difference and/or to an admission of penis envy) but squatting, as though to suggest that while sexual difference undoubtedly exists she is capable of transcending it — of becoming, in other words, the ‘real male’ in their inexorably doomed couple. The scene is watched by a bystander, played by the chubby Jacques Villeret who is best known for his comic roles for more popular directors such as Claude Lelouch and Jean Becker. Villeret shows no sign of sexual arousal, but continues, in childlike pre-sexual fashion, to wolf down jam from a jar with his fingers...

Here Joseph, still in agony after Carmen has rejected him, masturbates in the shower — clearly what Boujut is referring to when he writes ‘on s’y branle.’ However, perhaps like the Roland Amstutz character in Sauve qui petit, Joseph does not get an erection. His at once frenzied and distracted tugging at his own unresponsive flesh, worthy of a Houellebecquian hero, signais the calamitous collapse of the desire that a few minutes before had him all but crucified across the television...

Bataille's well-deserved reputation for debauchery and excess might make him appear an unlikely candidate for such an approach, but we have seen that in his work vomiting and erotic exhaustion are commonplace and that penetrative sex tends to be the exception rather than the rule. It is in Bataille too that we come across the most explicit eroticization of the mother’ s body, more shocking perhaps in Tropmann’ s masturbation beside her dead body in Le Bleu du ciel than in the more ‘conventionally’ incestuous denouement of Ma mère"

--- The abject object: avatars of the phallus in contemporary French theory, literature and film / Keith Reader

On the upside, I now know that mouiller is the equivalent of bander!

Monday, August 09, 2010

Winston Churchill on Democracy, Constitutional Safeguards and the Separation of Powers

"A healthy male adult bore consumes each year one and a half times his own weight in other people's patience." - John Updike


"The spirit of the Parliament Act, and the purpose of that Act, were to secure the intimate, effective and continuous influence of the will of the people upon the conduct and progress of their affairs. That was the purpose—not the will of the governors or the governesses of the people, but the will of the people...

Democracy, I must explain to the Lord President, does not mean, "We have got our majority, never mind how, and we have our lease of office for five years, so what are you going to do about it?" That is not democracy, that is only small party patter, which will not go down with the mass of the people of this country...

The right hon. Gentleman has an obvious, unconcealable, well-known relish for petty dictatorship. He has many good qualities, but he should always be on guard against his propensity and love to "cat and mouse" people from morning until night. Look at all the power he is enjoying today. No Government in time of peace has ever had such arbitrary power over the lives and actions of the British people, and no Government has ever failed more completely to meet their daily practical needs. Yet the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues are avid for more power. No Government has ever combined so passionate a lust for power with such incurable impotence in its exercise. The whole history of this country shows a British instinct—and, I think I may say, a genius—for the division of power. The American Constitution, with its checks and counterchecks, combined with its frequent appeals to the people, embodied much of the ancient wisdom of this island. Of course, there must be proper executive power to any Government, but our British, our English idea, in a special sense, has always been a system of balanced rights and divided authority, with many other persons and organised bodies having to be considered besides the Government of the day and the officials they employ. This essential British wisdom is expressed in many foreign Constitutions which followed our Parliamentary system, outside the totalitarian zone, but never was it so necessary as in a country which has no written Constitution...

It is not Parliament that should rule; it is the people who should rule through Parliament... We accept in the fullest sense of the word the settled and persistent will of the people. All this idea of a group of super men and super-planners, such as we see before us, "playing the angel," as the French call it, and making the masses of the people do what they think is good for them, without any check or correction, is a violation of democracy. Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape, guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants and not their masters...

Both progress and stability are needed to make a happy country. But the right hon. Gentleman complains that the present Second Chamber has, from its composition, an undue bias in favour of stability...

No free country of which I have heard up to the present... which is enjoying democratic institutions has adopted single-Chamber Government. The United States, the Swiss, the Dutch, the Belgians, the French even in their latest constitution have a Second Chamber. Eire has created its own Senate... All feel that between the chance vote of an election on universal sufferage and the permanent alteration of the whole slowly built structure of the State and nation there ought to be some modifying process...

Look around at what is happening every day. The idea of a mandate is only a convention. A band of men who have got hold of the machine and have a Parliamentary majority undoubtedly have the power to propose anything they choose without the slightest regard to whether the people like it or not, or the slightest reference to whether or not it was included in their election literature"

PARLIAMENT BILL (Hansard, 11 November 1947): HC Deb 11 November 1947 vol 444 cc203-321)

NDP Pledge Time

The bells of St Teresa's Church started ringing, which they are not wont to often do.

Perhaps this was to remind people that no Man may serve two Masters.

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

(presumably they do not quote this very often in City Harvest and other Propserity Gospel churches)

Differential outrage

"Advice to writers: Sometimes you just have to stop writing. Even before you begin." - Stanislaw J. Lec


The reaction to Everybody Draw Mohammed Day is to label it a "thinly veiled excercises in xenophobia and racism", and to claim that:

By violating objects and ideas that are held sacred by marginalized populations with an eye to upholding your own privileged hegemony you are doing harm. You are doing harm by normalizing and celebrating violence (for the violation of the sacred is a form of violence) against an entire population of people. You are doing harm by courting a negative reaction from this population that will then add to the fire that caricatures Muslims as reactive and unreasonable. You are doing harm by using your position of privilege to publicly deride an already marginalized population.

Since this issue is framed not as being about blasphemy or free speech, but "about privilege, racism and xenophobia", it is no wonder there is a reaction totally blown out of proportion to the imaginary harm caused.

Meanwhile, real examples of real harm (where lives are ruined, or threatened to be ruined) get bland "I'm sorry"-s and "we [should] agree to disagree". Reactions that, if applied to cases where "privilege, racism and xenophobia" are seen to apply (in lieu of the usual frothy tirades), would get a reaction equally (if not more) scathing as the original article cited.

It is indeed appropriate to see this coming from the Barnyard Chorus. Truly, all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

(Going back to the original issue, the irony, as one commenter pointed out?

for an article which disparages the act of perpetuating sterotypes, it is itself also guilty of characterizing Muslims as disenfranchised minorities, and not only that, miniorities who will necessarily react violently in response... criticising the act as a form of western imperialism meant to incite violence from minorities is like saying that women who wear skimpy clothing and are sexually molested are in the wrong for being "incendiary")

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Divine Ecstasy

Sex is a religious experience for some. And some religious rituals involve sex:

"I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it, even a large one. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying."

--- Of Visions. The Graces Our Lord Bestowed on the Saint. The Answers Our Lord Gave Her for Those Who Tried Her: Life of St. Teresa of Jesus, of The Order of Our Lady of Carmel

Obscurantism in Philosophy

philosophy bites: Mary Warnock on Sartre's Existentialism

"[On Sartre being on Speed when writing his later works] It was appalling. It was absolutely ghastly. I mean, I didn't like the style of Being and Nothingness, though I enjoyed the anecdotal part of it. And I enjoyed the sort of huge metaphysical structure that it was all built around.

But it appalled me when I first read it. But it was nothing... the incomprehensible and really shoddy way that the critique was written

But when that book came out, we hadn't yet had the benefit of yet more incomprehensible and deliberately incomprehensible French philosophers like Derrida... who really are unreadable, and meant to be so...

They wanted to be profound. And I think they were unduly influenced by Heidegger, who thought that philosophy had to have a whole special vocabulary and way of going about things, that nobody could possibly understand.

I think really, from Hegel onwards, one branch of philosophy did delight in obscurity. And I think that is a totally mistaken view of what philosophy should be about."

iPhone4 vs HTC Evo

"Fools rush in where fools have been before." - Unknown


""Is it an iPhone?"...
"It's similar to an iPhone, but has a bigger screen"
"I don't care"
"The internet speeds are around 3 times faster"
"I don't care"
"It has a higher resolution camera on both the front and the back"
"I don't care"
"And it doesn't require you to be on Wi-Fi to use video chat"
"I don't care"
"Its battery is replaceable, as is the memory card"
"I don't care"
"It is highly customisable. Everything from the widgets to the icons, the fonts and even has video wallpaper"
"I don't care"
"The monthly bill is cheaper"
"I don't care"
"It fucking prints money"
"It can grant up to 3 wishes, even if one of those wishes is for an iPhone"
"I don't care"...

"Not only are you so batshit stupid that you still want this device, you are also so retarded that you think you can just fucking waltz into any store and purchase one on launch day without a pre-order?

I think I need to go chop off my own dick now. Yes. I think I will. I don't need my children growing up in a world populated by dipshits like you""

A suggestion on reducing the wastage of cookhouse food

"When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.'" - Theodore Roosevelt


"To Whom It May Concern,

1. Recently, I have read about wastages in public funds amounting to $22,000 due to excess meal orders being covered up. I would like to propose a USMS suggestion to deal with this issue.

2. I believe this has been happening at many camps, and not just a few out of many. In fact, this has happened during the time I served my NS, and I wrote a small USMS suggestion regarding what to do with excess food, but it was rejected. I have modified what I have written, and added in new improvements.

3. The system I believe, is this. Every week, the CQMS or RQ or QM, or a specialist arrowed by either of them, compiles a list of people who will be in camp. This list is then submitted to the cookhouse personnel so they can prepare the exact amount of food. From what I recall, there is no opt-out system. This will not be so bad, except there are a numerous amount of canteens in camp, serving food at far cheaper prices. Here, I use the estimate from what I recall in my NSF days - lunch and dinner cost about $5.00 each. If I am not mistaken, canteen food is cheaper.

4. What I propose is this:
a. The allowance for NSFs per month will increase by the amount of current breakfast/lunch/dinner prices. This should pose no financial burden on MINDEF, since that sum is already deducted, albeit invisibly.

b. i) Any NSF (or regular) of rank CPL and above can choose to indent food for the upcoming month, and submit the time period where he will be in camp (to consume food) to the respective personnel. This is subject to unit constraints, or
ii) Any NSF (or regular) who is primarily in Service, and not in Combat, can also choose to indent food for the upcoming month regardless of rank, and submit the time period where he will be in camp (to consume food) to the respective personnel.

with the understanding that the cost of the food consumed at the cookhouse will be deducted from his allowance. If this NSF (or regular) wants to consume food solely from the cookhouse for the entire month, then after deduction from his allowance, his allowance should be what an NSF (or regular) of similar rank gets currently.

5. If an NSF (or regular) prefers to eat at the canteen everyday in this case, let him. He is saving the SAF money, because he is not indenting food which will be wasted.

6. There may be worries that this may spike a trend of all NSFs (or regulars) going to eat at the canteen instead. But then that means canteen food is preferable to cookhouse food, and SFI should either lower the cost (now visible) of its food, or make the food more palatable. This is what I have learnt from Economics studied in JC.

7. There may also be fewer cases of over-indenting occuring. Seeing the true cost reflected in one's allowance will give one pause to think. To give an example, the cost of water in India in different provinces is either free to farmers, or supplied at below its true price. This leads to many farmers overabusing this supply of water, and not using it efficiently. Of course, India also suffers from a water crisis now. Similarly, if an NSF (or regular) does not know the true price of SFI food, and thinks it comes free, you cannot expect them to eat at the cookhouse each day. It is interesting to note that the cost of food is not reflected to servicemen (at least not during my time) - I only found out by asking people. I do not believe many NSFs will be like me and actively try to find out more while serving the nation. Ignorance, after all, is bliss, and it is easier to pretend the cost of food is negligible and continue to waste it, instead of actively doing something.

8. 4b i) will also encourage combat personnel to pass their IPPT (to get CPL promotion), so they can decide whether they want to eat at the cookhouse.

9. Since there will still be excess food, though perhaps not as much, I also suggest giving these foods to the following groups of people: a) Hungry NSFs who want to eat more, b) Construction workers, Maintenance personnel, or Domestic Cleaners working on any projects within the unit or camp. There can be a centralized area with the understanding: If there is any excess food, come to this area at a set time to eat. There can also be a form to sign, similar to those given by the civil service / other private organizations which disclaims all liability like food poisoning, etc from the food. This can help spread goodwill about the SAF as well.

10. Lastly, if this solution seems too complicated, a variant would be to increase the NSF (or regular)'s allowance to include the food cost, but then it will be deducted anyway. While this seems like a waste of time - it is what is happening now, just that it is not explicitly shown in the allowance, knowing the true cost of food may let some servicemen reconsider their actions of not eating. Point 7 comes to play.

11. I hope this suggestion is of help.

Best Regards,


This is a good suggestion (not from me, of course).

Which is why the SAF will never adopt it.

As we all know, the SAF's Core Values are Stupidity, Sadism and Senselessness.
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