When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, October 30, 2010


Am trapped behind the Great Firewall until the 10th!

Good uses for your E-Mart Credit

"We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities." - Walt Kelly


The SAF's Misuse of Credits policy is very interesting:

"The aim of credit allocation is to allow NSmen to replace their personal equipment during their active service so that they are adequately equipped for NS training. Those NSmen who misuse their allocated credits will be disciplinarily dealt with. HQ Supply Command will investigate and take action against those NSmen who are found to be guilty of the following:

a. Using their allocated credits in exchange for financial benefits.
b. Unauthorised use of another person's identification card to carry out purchases.
c. Purchasing items of opposite genders for their spouse or relatives or friends.
d. Excessive purchase of particular items without valid reasons."

As everyone knows, in Slavery rhetoric is worthless, and without the magic phrases "severely dealt with" or "disciplinarily dealt with", you can usually do anything you want. So we just need to focus on the iterated offences which will get you investigated and disciplined.

The most obvious implication is that if you use your own identification card and do not seek financial benefits, you can make non-excessive purchases of items for members of your own gender.

However, another is that you can buy items of the opposite gender (a non-excessive amount, of course!) for your own use (presumably if you are a drag queen, or transvestite, or transsexual). I might want to try the last one myself one day, to see if HQ Supply & Transport calls me up. Who knows, I might even get downgraded (some more), as an added bonus!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

On boys lagging behind girls in UK schools

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." - Carl Sagan


The smarter sex: Does it matter if girls do better than boys?

"Boys will perform just as you expect them to, it seems. If you tell them they aren't as intelligent as girls and are less likely to do well in tests, that is exactly what will happen. So says the latest salvo in the battle of the sexes that has preoccupied educationalists for decades...

Almost certainly not. After all, not all boys have been told they don't perform well in tests, yet almost universally they come in a poor second to girls...

It is nowadays the education of boys – particularly white, working-class boys – that most worries educationalists... boys were spending more time on the "three Fs" than the three Rs. The three Fs were characterised as "fighting, football and f***king"...

Facing the loss of traditional male employment... the macho lads responded to their academic failure and lack of employment prospects by celebrating the three Fs...

More action books rather than works by writers such as Jane Austen... should be used in schools, it was argued... Male role models – such as the footballers Ian Wright and Tony Adams – were drafted into schools to support reading campaigns. But by 1999, figures showed that boys were faring worse than girls in every exam...

The biggest leap in girls' performance, though, occurred in 2002 – the first year that the new syllabus for A-levels, with more emphasis on coursework, was examined. "Boys tend to do better in exams"...

Boys had at least scored one victory over girls. They were ahead on the percentage of candidates securing three straight A* grades at A-level... An alternative way, meanwhile, of dealing with the gender gap is advanced by proponents of single-sex education: teach students separately...

These arguments, though, ignore some of the social consequences of teaching boys alone. According to a study by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies at London University's Institute of Education, boys who have been to single-sex schools are more likely to end up divorced than those taught in a mixed environment (37 per cent as opposed to 28 per cent)...

Does it matter, though, that girls are now performing better than boys in exams? "I'm not sure," confesses Professor Smithers. "The issue is whether we're allowing boys and girls to develop to their full potential. In particular, that was highlighted by the old 11-plus (which determined who went to grammar schools). Girls consistently did better than boys, so boys were allowed in on lower marks – something that wasn't really made known at the time... I don't think we should want to equalise the outcomes of education, though. It doesn't bother me that girls don't appear to like physics very much but are more steeped in literature than boys."

A study by the Institute of Education concluded that the rise in exam performance over the previous decade was entirely down to the improved performance by girls; their pass rate rose at a higher rate than the national rate overall, while boys' performance remained static. This could perhaps pose an interesting question for academia: either exams have not in fact been "dumbed down" as many traditionalists have claimed, or boys are getting thicker by the year. Answers, please, on one side of an A4!"

The British seem to be more concerned about girls outperforming boys than the Americans, perhaps because they have fewer neuroses about gender discrimination (they have more neuroses about multiculturalism, though).

Outside of the UK context, this resounds with the study on why black pupils do worse than non-black ones in the US.

One is also led to wonder why girls, who by necessity have to be involved in the last of the 3 Fs, do not seem to suffer from their participation. This is probably because it is not so much about the Third F, but about the leadup to it - which consumes more resources than its performance.

Quelques extraits intéressants concernant les pipes

"The man who lets himself be bored is even more contemptible than the bore." - Samuel Butler


Plus on est jeune, plus on suce.» Cette hypothèse plutôt intuitive se vérifie en grande partie par les résultats de l’enquête...

La sexualité orale est ainsi moins souvent déclarée par les personnes sans diplôme et les femmes de milieu populaire. En revanche, la fellation l’est beaucoup plus chez les femmes ayant un diplôme supérieur, les cadres et les professions intellectuelles... les personnes des milieux sociaux les plus favorisés ont une aptitude sociale à se distancier de la norme dominante, en l’occurrence celle d’une sexualité pénétrative...

Pour les soldats [romains]... elle était considérée comme étant pire que la sodomie, plus impure... il s’agissait d’une pratique mal considérée: les tarifs des prostituées de Pompéi, chez qui la fellation était très peu chère...

Nathalie Bajos explique que la banalisation de la fellation «s’inscrit dans un mouvement d’une plus grande dissociation entre la sexualité et la procréation qui a été autorisée avec la légalisation de la contraception et de l’avortement, mais aussi dans le mouvement plus général d’évolution du statut social des femmes»...

Jacques Waynberg confirme: «La représentation de la fellation comme pratique humiliante est stupide: il n’y a pas de pratique humiliante, seulement des relations consenties ou non. Si la relation est consentie, alors l’aspect “humiliant” d’une position est accepté et même recherché.»

L’image de la fellation comme plaisir ultime pour l’homme véhiculée par le porno ne semble pas non plus vérifiée dans les faits: la fellation est la pratique qui procure le plus de plaisir pour seulement un homme sur dix, loin derrière la pénétration et les caresses mutuelles...

Jacques Waynberg... rappelle que quand les femmes ont commencé à se montrer seins nus sur les plages, le sein féminin a perdu de son pouvoir érotique sur les hommes car il est devenu moins mystérieux et trop banal. Heureusement pour les amateurs, on ne voit pas encore des couples pratiquer des fellations dans les lieux publics comme on s’embrasse devant une bouche de métro."

- La fellation, banale mais toujours fascinante | Slate

Stephen Fry on English, and Pedantry

"I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown." - Woody Allen


Don’t Mind Your Language… « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry

"Those once fashionable Frenchies designated them are Langue, language as an idea, and parole, language as utterance...

Whether or not we are aware of the difference between a transitive verb and a preposition, a verb and a vowel, we are willy-nilly, heirs to Marlowe and Swift, just as that new Waitrose is a descendant (albeit a bastard one) of the Parthenon...

The structuralists: one of their number, perhaps the best known, Roland Barthes, liked to use two words jouissance and plaisir. Le plaisir du texte. The pleasure of the text. Those who think structuralism spelt or spelled death to conscious art and such bourgeois comforts as style, accomplishment and enjoyment might be surprised that the pleasure of the text, the jouissance, the juicy joy of language, was important to Roland and his followers. Only to a dullard is language a means of communication and nothing more. It would be like saying sex is a means of reproduction and no more and food a means of fuelling and no more. In life you have to explain wine. You have to explain cheese. You have to explain love. You can’t, but you have to try, or if not try you have, surely, to be aware of the astonishing fact of them...

For me, it is a cause of some upset that more Anglophones don’t enjoy language. Music is enjoyable it seems, so are dance and other, athletic forms of movement. People seem to be able to find sensual and sensuous pleasure in almost anything but words these days... Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to bother with language in public today bother with it in quite the wrong way. They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other people’s usage and in which they show off their own superior ‘knowledge’ of how language should be. I hate that, and I particularly hate the fact that so many of these pedants assume that I’m on their side... Oscar Wilde, and there have been few greater and more complete lords of language in the past thousand years, once included with a manuscript he was delivering to his publishers a compliment slip in which he had scribbled the injunction: “I’ll leave you to tidy up the woulds and shoulds, wills and shalls, thats and whiches &c.” Which gives us all encouragement to feel less guilty, don’t you think?

There are all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynne Truss and John Humphrys than to write poems, love-letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs, shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings, but do they bubble and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk to? Do they? I doubt it. They’re too farting busy sneering at a greengrocer’s less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind.

The worst of this sorry bunch of semi-educated losers are those who seem to glory in being irritated by nouns becoming verbs. How dense and deaf to language development do you have to be? If you don’t like nouns becoming verbs, then for heaven’s sake avoid Shakespeare who made a doing-word out of a thing-word every chance he got. He TABLED the motion and CHAIRED the meeting in which nouns were made verbs... It’s only ugly because it’s new and you don’t like it... Pedants will also claim, with what I am sure is eye-popping insincerity and shameless disingenuousness, that their fight is only for ‘clarity’. This is all very well, but there is no doubt what ‘Five items or less’ means, just as only a dolt can’t tell from the context and from the age and education of the speaker, whether ‘disinterested’ is used in the ‘proper’ sense of non-partisan, or in the ‘improper’ sense of uninterested. No, the claim to be defending language for the sake of clarity almost never, ever holds water. Nor does the idea that following grammatical rules in language demonstrates clarity of thought and intelligence of mind... There no right language or wrong language any more than are right or wrong clothes. Context, convention and circumstance are all...

In language, there’s no right or wrong, only usage. Convention exists, of course it does, but convention is no more a register of rightness or wrongness than etiquette is, it’s just another way of saying usage... Conventions alter too, like life. Things that are kept to purity of line, in the Kennel Club manner, develop all the ghastly illnesses and deformations of inbreeding and lack of vital variation. Imagine if we all spoke the same language, fabulous as it is, as Dickens? Imagine if the structure, meaning and usage of language was always the same as when Swift and Pope were alive. Superficially appealing as an idea for about five seconds, but horrifying the more you think about it.

If you are the kind of person who insists on this and that ‘correct use’ I hope I can convince you to abandon your pedantry. Dive into the open flowing waters and leave the stagnant canals be.

But above all let there be pleasure. Let there be textural delight, let there be silken words and flinty words and sodden speeches and soaking speeches and crackling utterance and utterance that quivers and wobbles like rennet...

Orwell famously suggested that language preceded thought... I saw a graffito which took up a whole gable end wall in London the other day. It proclaimed, in great big strokes of white paint: “One nation under CCTV”. A good angry point – the American dictum ‘one nation under god’ sardonically replaced with a comment about Britain’s unenviable position as the Closed Circuit Television capital of the world. But … the satirical shout all but fails for one simple reason: CCTV is such a bland, clumsy, rhythmically null and phonically forgettable word, if you can call it a word, that the swipe lacks real punch. If one believed in conspiracy theories, you could almost call it genius that there is no more powerful word for the complex and frightening system of electronic surveillance that we lump into that weedy bundle of initials. For if CCTV was called … I don’t know …. something like SCUNT (Surveillance Camera Universal NeTwork, or whatever) then the acronyms might have passed into our language and its simple denotation would have taken on all the dark connotations which would allow “One nation under scunt” to have much more impact as a resistance slogan than “One nation under CCTV”. “Damn, I was scunted as I walked home,” “they’ve just erected a series of scunts in the street outside,” “Britain is the most scunted country in the world”"

What is considered "correct" language works very much like how Scientific theories get in vogue. When there's a Kuhnian paradigm shift - voilà, what was once wrong becomes right, and vice versa.

That said, outside of the usual hunting grounds of pedants (who Fry is decrying), grammar has functions outside of being correct for the sake of being correct.

For example, I was recently called a Grammar Nazi for correcting the caption:

"The budget airline war on words continues in the papers"

(It's a War of Words, not a War on Words, and the two mean very different things)

My response was "Sieg Heil!" (which would get me arrested in Germany and Austria).

Another example of where being particular is important: "Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your Uncle jack off a horse."

While I'm on this subject, common use of the term "Grammar Nazi" is also problematic, for 2 reasons:

1) Equating language pedantry with the Holocaust is of questionable propriety (not just in the realm of offence but also in proportionality, unless one is being ironic - and one usually does not seem to be)
2) People who are called "Grammar Nazis" need to have a certain level of fanaticism (e.g. "five items or fewer" vs "five items or less"), and usually few of those so-labelled do.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"way better than beiber!!! =D"

"I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them." - Ian Fleming


"I miss the 90's."

Second Jakarta trip with my Secret Indonesian Lover

"It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it." - Mark Twain


Second Jakarta trip with my Secret Indonesian Lover

As per the previous time, in the past year I had to make a trip to Jakarta again.

Some SIA stewardesses have so much eyeshadow they look like pandas.

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Honouring ASEAN on the immigration form

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"Welcome to Indonesia. Death Penalty for Drug Traffickers!"
I felt very welcome

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"Storms make Oaks take deeper root"
Their being majority owned by Rabobank didn't hurt, presumably

In this land of crooks, the attempt at swindling me started at the airport taxi tried to cheat me. I was told the fare would be 100-150,000 rupiah, but was quoted 200,000 at the counter. I looked shocked and they lowered the quotation to 180,000. I went to the adjacent booth and they quoted me 170,000 (all the quotes were on paper, of course, to prevent open competition). I was annoyed and just took it - and later asked my lover to pick up the tab. I was then ushered into an unmarked taxi. If I disappeared, at least I had written my name on the receipt (for what it was worth); the driver was very chatty, so at the end I tipped him 10,000 for not kidnapping me.

Along the way I saw a promotion for a book: "Single, Sex and Survival". Unfortunately the title seems to be the only thing about it in English (available online, at any rate).

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Indonesia Boleh!

It seems Singapore is one of the few places without "100% Halal" signs.

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One of the few good things about Indonesia is A&W. This cost me 47,700 Rupiah. The soup (5,000 RP - listed on the menu as "5", the zeros being taken for granted) was, err, corn, tomato and chicken soup, which was very strange. The onion rings were also free with "paket kentang" (to compensate for the exorbitant price, one wagers).
The chicken was dry and too salty. Given that I'd had Popeye's the same day, the contrast was especially pronounced.

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Ayam Sensasi, which looked supicious

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"Get the Good News today"
At first I thought this was a Christian thing, but it was more literally "news" (I saw what was displayed before they removed it)

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Due to the... activities I was partaking in, I was still hungry after A&W. I didn't have enough for satay (because I got fleeced off for the taxi) so I settled for 9k RP worth of Nasi Goreng (cheap street food: another of the few good things about Indonesia). It came with free keropok, whose kualit was... okay.

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There was also 2.5k RP pisang goreng, which works out to about 7 Singapore cents per piece.

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My Teh Botol float didn't quite work. Jasmine tea doesn't work so well with ice cream.

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Smoke-free Jakarta. Yeah right.

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"Pasaraya: The Pride of Indonesia"
NTUC should brand itself "The Pride of Singapore"

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This Jollibee had closed down (the sign was all that was left). Which was a pity, given that I've heard good things about it.

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"Advance. Miracle doctor. Antioxidant Water Maker"
Indonesian snake oil.

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"Pretty Branded Underwear" - o_0

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"Produk Import". I was tempted by the Ma Ling.

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Apparently Swiss Miss Marshmallows are Mengandung Babi ("Contains Pork", I assume). That's disgusting.

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2 whole aisles of Instant Noodles in Carrefour. They really like their instant noodles.

I had been tasked to look for Nonya Siok Keropok, but even Carrefour did not have it - probably beause it was too expensive. In the end, all I bought was Mie Goreng Sedap (since someone had been raving about it; Indomie is better)

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Dodgy weight loss ad

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Even dodgier massage parlour with "Romantic Massage" (okay, actually I'm cheating - there was an A before the R, which was hidden by the angle of this picture)

Walking around the shopping centre, I did find the keropok. The previous time it had been an exorbitant 63,000 RP per packet. Here it was a spine-chilling 70,000. I knew I was being fleeced, but just bought it anyway (it helped that it wasn't for me)

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You will notice it has Dutch on it - in addition to Bahasa, English and Mandarin. How International.

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Very long and very cheap (for a shopping centre) menu

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Toilet sign, for a toilet for kids

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Their idea of Chinese food, with "Nasi Goreng Modern", "Hotplate Sapi Lada Hitam", "Beef Canton" etc. I had no idea what the difference between Mee Goreng Spesial Mee Goreng Istimewa was. Perhaps "Spesial" was more special since it was in pseudo-English.

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Their idea of an amusement park (okay, this was more like a public park, but it still looked miserable)

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Street with some pirated DVD stalls. I was thinking of asking for Miyabi DVDs, but I didn't want the Vice Squad to come at me!

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Notice the Nipple Sticker FAIL. Haram!

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These were 3 for 2,000. They didn't cheat me!

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"Kejaksaan Agung RI"
Information on this online is only in Bahasa.

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Road crossing to nowhere (see where the zebra lines end)

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Airport shower: "45 minutes. Just 150,000 Nett"

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A Root Beer Float a day... Mmm. It's All American Food, plentiful Nasi notwithstanding.

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A&W Emblazoned Napkin

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This was very miserable, with 1 piece of chicken strip only. I had to wait for my curly fries, but they were fresh! I conclude that the only [potentially] good dishes in A&W Indonesia are the Float and the Curly Fries.

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"Stealth Fries", whatever they are.

I saw a sign "Kaya Vitamin C". I realised "Kaya" meant "rich". What an interesting name for a spread.

Wild Story from Macau

"There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it." - Bertrand Russell


As mentioned in the last post of my Macau travelogue, a man in the street passed me the following.

Being hand-written, in Chinese and in traditional characters, it is too tedious for me to read, decipher and translate, but I post them here in case others are interested:

Again, the keywords (in English) are:

Equal Opportunity
New Labour
Psycology Torture
County Council Election
Hi-Tech 'Pin'
New Labor
Labor Party
Conservative Party
David Cameroon
Party Leader
Gordon Brown
Global Precision System
Poverty Trap
Sex Trap
Fitch Phone Lines
Robotic Control
Fitching Technique
GPS System
For Evil to triumph, the only necessary is all Good men to do nothing
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