When you can't live without bananas

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Surreptitious Machinations

Since taking a quantum leap into the Smartphone Era, I've been getting strange SMSes and calls from Italy (a +39 3 number).

SMS contents:


(Google Translate only renders the last 3 words intelligibly, as "Words. Call me")

Some have suggested that it's Hot Italian Girls looking for me, but when I picked up this morning I heard a gruff Italian man grunting at me.

I hope it's not the Mafia.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Most Singaporeans are still against homosexuality

"I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves." - August Strindberg


Here is some evidence against the claim that those who are against homosexuality in Singapore are mainly conservative/fundamentalist Christians.

From a recent presentation on Homosexuality in Singapore: Perceptions, Public Opinion, and the Media by Benjamin H. Detenber (NTU):

"Homosexuality is generally regarded as a deviation from social norms in collectivistic Asian societies

Asian societies generally tend to express greater disapproval toward homosexuality as compared with Western societies...

Gauging Public Opinion 2010:
–CATI survey with 959 Singapore citizens and permanent residents aged 18 and above
–Probability sampling (RDD) and survey conducted in 3 languages
–Response rate: 36.6%

Attitudes toward gay men and lesbians (N = 918)
Negative attitudes 65%
Neutral 10%
Positive attitudes 25%

Acceptance of homosexuals
Acceptable 45%
Neutral 15%
Unacceptable 40%

Small but significant shift in ATLG from 2005... However, after controlling for other factors (e.g., demographics, religiosity) the change was non-significant

−Muslims had the most negative attitudes towards gay men and lesbians
−Freethinkers were the most accepting of gay men and lesbians...

–Intrinsic religiosity a much better predictor of ATLG and acceptance than extrinsic religiosity
–Western orientation as significant predictor of ATLG and acceptance
->Homosexuality may be regarded as a “Western import” in Singapore

Support for censorship
Should be stricter 54%
Just about right 25%
Should be less strict 21%...

–People with higher levels of Asian orientation may be more conservative & prefer to preserve the societal status quo
–Media exposure, parasocial interaction with gay and lesbian characters, as well as attitudes toward these minority groups “are mutually reinforcing”
–Perceived effects on self better predictor of censorship support than perceived effects on others or the perceptual gap
•People seem to be more concerned about their own self-interests than the moral well-being of others
•Perhaps homosexuality is not as noxious as pornography or media violence"

Monday, February 14, 2011

On why if you jaywalk and get knocked down by someone 10-15kmph above the speed limit, it's the driver's fault

"A little more moderation would be good. Of course, my life hasn't exactly been one of moderation." - Donald Trump


Re: Fine, ban for accident killing former national sprinter

A MOTORIST who caused the death of former national sprinter Tan Eng Yoon in a road traffic accident was fined $9,000 and banned from driving for five years on Tuesday.

Mohammed Iskandar Ariffin, 33, a safety supervisor, admitted to failing to keep a proper lookout while driving and causing his car to hit the 82-year-old pedestrian along Upper Thomson Road on Jan 30 last year.

Mr Tan, president of the Singapore Olympians Association, was heading home after attending the 6.30am mass at the Church of the Holy Spirit when he was knocked down.

He had crossed the first two lanes and was on the extreme right lane when Iskandar's car collided into him.

Iskandar was then travelling at about 70 to 75kmh, above the 60kmh speed limit.

Mr Tan died about 2 1/2 hours later in hospital despite resuscitative efforts.

Someone: it's called "contributory negligence'

Me: So this is like the cases where someone breaks into a house, falls down and hurts himself and sues the owner?

Someone: no, there is another principle that covers that
illegality voids any negligence there may be

besides, in your example, the homeowner does not seem to have been negligent in any way

Me: If the homeowner didn't install railings, so the thief fell off the staircase?

Why doesn't the illegality of jaywalking void this negligence?

Someone: aiya you have to make me dig out my year1 notes
ok it's not a simple simple concept but basically there there are a few principles
1. whether the illegality is of a sufficient degree such as to void negligence. being involved in something ill...egal "in general" does not necessarily void negligence (Ooi Han Sun v Bee Hua Meng involved workers working without work permits and who were injured on the job due to employer's negligence. technically the workers were involved in an illegal act, but employer was still held liable for their injuries)
2. whether the illegality is the "source" of the claim (say, a burglar cannot claim that his stolen goods were, in turn, stolen)

one way to look at it might also be that.. well, the driver was also doing something illegal..

there is a strong line of cases involving traffic accidents where drivers are held (partially) liable despite technically having right of way (Road Traffic Rules do not exempt motorists from having to take care even if they have the right of way)


also, it may be partly a public policy thing
considering that motorists have compulsory motor insurance whereas not all pedestrians have personal injury insurance

Me: orh
Though I note that it's only a traffic offence when you're 20kmph above the speed limit

Links - 14th February 2011

"It is always the best policy to speak the truth--unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar." - Jerome K. Jerome


STOMP - Singapore Seen - So stupid! Guys destroy iPad to build skateboard - "STOMPer iMad thought that it was stupid of these guys to wreck an expensive iPad just to use it as a skateboard."
Comments: "apple product sucks thats why you can find so many ipads, iphones being smashed and destroyed on youtube"
"Ppl got money they can do whatever they wan also can with their own things lik that also wan comment go home sleep la"
"They do this just to screw Steve Jobs, I remember another video of a iPad and a iPhone 4 during it's release date last year, where those American dudes used a .50 (12.7x99mm) Caliber Rifle to shoot the appliance."
"its called being creative u dumb f u c k"

How smartphone users see each other, Android vs. BlackBerry vs. iPhone [COMIC]

Apple says NO! to iPad Cutting Board - "A few months back we received a call from Apple lawyers and we were told to stop selling them. The reason given was based on “likeness” issues. A Wood cutting board. Lord have mercy on my soul."
"We didn't call it anything like that with name iPad in it."

What Is Academic Work? - "The [good] paper does not say to its audience, “Go out and change the world,” but “Here is my take on these issues and what do you think?”... The kind of questions asked also marked the occasion as an academic one. Not “Won’t the economy implode if we do this?” or “Wouldn’t free expression rights be eroded if we went down that path?”, but “Would you be willing to follow your argument to its logical conclusion?” or “Doesn’t that amount to just making up the law as you go along?”"
This is why scholarship and activism are inimical (at least when practised simultaneously)

The last Japanese man remaining in Kazakhstan: A Kafkian tale of the plight of a Japanese POW in the Soviet Union

Plans to help older low-wage workers - "One proposal is for Individual Unemployment Credits to support workers during their involuntary unemployment period. Workers who are involuntarily unemployed should be allowed to take a loan from their CPF account based on a percentage of their last-drawn salary, with a cap for three months... The loan has to be paid back upon employment"
Even when you're above 65 you have to pay back money borrowed from yourself? CPF is such a scam

What is the name of the extinct plant that may have inspired the symbol for heart-shaped Valentines? - "Ancient coins from Cyrene, a city-state where Libya is now, show an impression of a silphium seed, and it’s a shape that you know very well... Silphium only grew in the wild and could not be cultivated. Much like the heart it symbolizes, attempts at domesticating the plant may have been the cause of its demise"

What I want from a restaurant website - The Oatmeal - "What I get instead... Can't copy/paste anything because it's in flash"

Average female face: The Face of Tomorrow Mike Mike project - "Describing someone as average-looking is rarely seen as a compliment. But most of us would be quite happy to look like a computer-generated depiction of the 'average' English woman, Welsh woman, or even the average Burmese. More than 100 women of 41 different nationalities and ethnicities were photographed in cities all over the world in an effort to find common regional features"

White blood cells pitted against each other in ‘Blood Wars’

Vietnam rings in Year of the Cat - "Exactly why and when Vietnam dumped the rabbit and adopted the cat for its version of the 12 signs of the horoscope taken from China is up for debate and may have been partly the result of a complex translation error... “It’s appropriate that the Vietnamese swapped the cat into the calendar in place of the rabbit. Rabbits are a kind of rodent and the rat is also a rodent. The animals should be different... This expresses a balance of yin and yang in the cosmos that is more complete, that better unifies the contradictions, and so it is richer and better to have the cat”... In Vietnam, rabbits are considered food. Cats also appear on the occasional menu as “little tigers,” although the practice of eating them is technically banned"
They should pit a Chinese and a Vietnamese and let them argue over their mumbo-jumbo, post-hoc rationalisations

What effect has the internet had on our sex lives? - ""Older media are dominated by a view of sex as scandalous and dangerous, and its whole depiction of sex has been pretty predictable"... Our exposure to a seemingly bottomless pit of debasement doesn't mean we're becoming more adventurous, however. Dr Petra Boynton, a sex educator and online relationship agony aunt, says that people still come to her with exactly the same questions and concerns that they always have – men about their anatomies and women about their relationships – it's just that the language they use now is more explicit. And there's no evidence that people who meet online are more likely to hook up quicker than people who meet offline... Boynton believes [online sexual content] is far more intimate than what you can get from the pages of a magazine and reflects more closely the entirety of the sexual experience. This is potentially transformative... in a culture that ridicules, vilifies and commercialises sex, this is laden with politics"

Sociologist Harry Collins poses as a physicist. - "The judges couldn't tell the impostor from one of their own. Collins argues that he is therefore as qualified as anyone to discuss this field, even though he can't conduct experiments in it... if a sociologist can understand physics, then anyone can understand anything... "You can be a great physicist and not know any mathematics," he said. To take an extreme example, you needn't have solved gravitational equations to know that you shouldn't jump out a window... [Sokal] is famous for an experiment a decade ago that seemed to demonstrate the futility of laymen discussing science"
Sokal's hoax did not demonstrate the futility of laymen discussing science, but of people talking rubbish (in particular, of using literary techniques to shoot off and make wild claims)

Unshielded Colliders: Faraday, Feynman, and Philosophy - "As late as the middle of the nineteenth century, Faraday thinks we should aspire to be philosophers. By the middle of the twentieth century, Feynman is happy to ridicule philosophers... I find this change in attitude very puzzling. All the more so, since Feynman routinely complained that physics students were learning computation without having any real understanding because they weren't asking why the calculations went the way they do, which is basically the philosophical spirit that Faraday wanted to encourage!"
One comment: "Perhaps part of what happened was that scientists co-opted the parts of philosophy that they found interesting and tractable and left to the philosophers the parts that never really interested them anyway."

What Is Your Organization’s Productivity (how many man-days per month do you work)? - "Projects are immediately 25% behind schedule when they start. As a result, project teams need to work 25% over time every day in order to catch up. Which means, instead of leaving the office at 5:30pm, they need to leave at 7:30pm at the earliest. OT should only be used to handle unexpected problems and unforeseen work that lands on one’s lap, and to handle these promptly, project staff end up leaving for home at 8:30 or 9pm. If they were to take a quick rest or meal break in the evening, their knock-off time would be pushed back to 9 or 9:30pm"

In Malaysia, Youth Group to Educate Against Valentine's Day - "Valentine’s Day “promotes sinful activities,” says Mr. Nasrudin. Indeed, it’s the only day that does so... In recent years, the government has drawn widespread criticism for allowing Islamic religious officials to sentence a woman to caning for drinking beer (the caning sentence was commuted by the Sultan of Pahang to a stint at a children’s home)... Government officials last February said they had caned three women for having sexual intercourse outside of wedlock"
Nothing short of Talibanisation will stop people proclaiming that a country is a moderately Muslim country
Addendum: Malaysia Arrests 100 Muslim Couples for Celebrating Lovers' Day

Dear Straight Dude: My Girlfriend Is Pissed At Me « Thought Catalog - "I understand your need for logical, reasonable discussion of emotions but the first thing you need to know about emotions is that they follow a very sort of convoluted, not-immediately-apparent logic... if you try to force your logic and “facts” on your girlfriend – the two of you are likely to quickly become estranged"

Bacon jam recipe: make it at home

How to render lard - "People think that cooking with lard will make everything taste of pork, but this is not true; its flavor is neutral. What it does, however, is create incredible texture and structure. With lard, you’ll fry chicken that is both moist and crisp. With lard, you’ll make a tender pie crust that flakes. With lard, you’ll make airy French fries that crunch. With lard, you’ll cook refried beans that caress your mouth like velvet. With lard, you’ll steam tamales that are soft and fluffy. And with lard, you’ll bake ginger cookies that snap. But the best thing about lard is that it’s not bad for you. It has less saturated fat (the bad fat) than butter, while it also has more than twice as much monosaturated fat (the good fat) than butter. And it has none of those pesky trans fats—that is, if it hasn’t been hydrogenated to prolong its shelf life"

Stereotype Accuracy: Toward Appreciating Group Differences - "Understanding stereotype accuracy is crucial to both social psychology and to its applications (e.g., to improving intergroup relations). The goals of this volume are to reduce commonplace errors in modern social science by challenging the off-hand and undocumented claims appearing in the scholarly literature that stereotypes are "typically" inaccurate, resistant to change, overgeneralized, exaggerated, and generally destructive"

Accessing WikiLeaks Violates Espionage Act, USAF Says - "“That has to be one of the worst policy/legal interpretations I have seen in my entire career,” said William J. Bosanko, director of the Information Security Oversight Office"
To their credit, they quickly retracted it, unlike what might happen in some other countries

Salaries top out at age 40 - "People eventually start to realize that they are not going to get to the very top. They see that only one out of 100 web designers is the director, and only one out of 50 directors is a VP. Al calls this the funnel effect, and he says many people recognize this and start to trade time for money; people see that chasing the increasingly smaller raises is not as fulfilling as doing a wide range of other things with their time... One of the most common but least-talked about career moves is to get to a relatively high spot and then see how much you can cut back in terms of effort and still maintain that level of salary and/or prestige"

Giraffes are heartless creatures‏

Sunday, February 13, 2011

RI/RJC alumni particulars harvesting

A message I got on FB:

"If you know of RI/RJC alumni who are interested in receiving updates on RI and alumni news, kindly direct them to the following RI Announcement page: http://www.ri.edu.sg/main/announcementdetail/?id=81, where they can access a link to update their contact information and particulars."

More directly, the link is to a Google Spreadsheet here.
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