When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, December 09, 2011

The Power of Petitions

twitition - We Demand Apology from Adeline Chia (A STRAITS TIMES Reporter)

"If 5000 Fans Sign this Petition , Adeline Chia will have to Apologize to us"

twitition - Adeline Chia (STRAITS TIMES Reporter) Should Not Apologize!

"If 5001 People Sign this Petition, Adeline Chia should not apologize to anyone! Journalists, bloggers and YOU have an opinion! Why should one apologize for having an honest opinion about something?! ps: This is in response to this petition: http://twitition.com/b6gmf"

Sick of K-pop Cult

"In David Mitchell's 2004 novel Cloud Atlas, there is a futuristic segment set in Korea where a corpocracy rules the land. Advances in bioengineering have allowed human creatures called fabricants to be bred as workers. Physically, they are perfect specimens - with identical, beautiful faces but without any higher consciousness. When they run out the course of their productive lives, they are destroyed.

I found this section of the book particularly disturbing. It is a chilling study of how a capitalist totalitarian society exploits the weak and turns humans into robots for money. Everything looks happy on the surface but beneath, it's maggots and rotten meat.

Recently, I got a taste of Mitchell's dystopian view - at a K-pop fan meet of super-band TVXQ."

Adeline Chia's K-Pop column is actually the best of her Culture Vulture ones.

The Secret to Happiness

Happiness is freedom to choose for herself

"Ms Lee Wei Fen, 24, recent graduate

'I don't think money has to get in the way of happiness. Unfortunately, it often does because it confuses people about their priorities in life.'

How she found happiness:

While others her age headed straight for the corporate world after graduating, Ms Lee took the path less travelled. She went on the road to pursue her interests in South Asian culture and literature.

She has visited India, Bangladesh and Nepal, among other countries. She is learning Tamil to prepare for her master's degree course in South Asian studies at the National University of Singapore next year.

For her, happiness is the freedom to make choices for herself, instead of simply doing what is expected or instructed.

She says: 'We learn more about ourselves when we take time to decide what we actually enjoy doing and why we are doing what we're doing.'

She is also a founder and editor of literary journal Ceriph, which publishes short stories, poems and photographs by local writers and photographers every quarter.

While the technical and administrative parts of putting Ceriph together 'are not much fun', she finds joy in discovering new writers and their work.

The people she meets overseas tend to be encouraging about her taking a gap year. But when she comes home, she feels she is 'judged for not embarking directly on my career'.

She remains sure that 'travelling and learning will never be a setback in life'.

She adds: 'If I want to pursue academia, I want to be able to take my time and learn as much as I can about my field both through an academic institute as well as outside of it.'"

In short, Happiness is having someone to fund your travels and studies

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Malaysian Delights

"Hard to find pretty girls in Kuala Lumpur? Poor KL! You should look to Ipoh, where everywhere you turned your head, you'd find pretty girls. The abundanc eof pretty girls in Ipoh had begun to be noticed, and comented upon, by people ever since the arrival of the peaches in the coffee shops. A favourite preoccupation of aficionados of beauty was to theorise how the girls of Ipoh got to be so pretty. Was it the soft water they drank? Or the tofu they ate, that made their skins as white as snow? Or perhaps the famous fat and crunchy Ipoh bean sprouts that thrived on the crystal clear water? Whatever it was, Ipoh had begun to acquire another epithet, the "Town of Pretty Girls.""

--- Ipoh: when tin was king / Ho Tak Ming

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Links - 6th December 2011

"The price of being a wolf is loneliness. The price of being a sheep is boredom. Choose carefully what you will be." - Hugh MacLeod


To Be Young (Like 9, on Average?) and Homeless - NYTimes.com - "Is the average age of a homeless person 9 years old? Such a statement is made in a new video from the Coalition for the Homeless, which describes itself as the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children... we reached out to the city’s Department of Homeless Services. Heather Janik, a spokeswoman, said that the department data showed that the average age across the whole system was 24; the average age of single adults was 45, and the average age of people in families, with children and without, was 19. All would lead to an average much higher than 9... Patrick Markee, senior policy analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless, said that the statistic was from the NYC Homes for the Homeless Institute for Children and Policy, and that it has been used and cited by dozens of other organizations (which, while it will be noted, doesn’t make it accurate, just often repeated)"

Fliers Still Must Turn Off Devices, but It's Not Clear Why - NYTimes.com - "Surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which has a consuming fear of 3.5 ounces of hand lotion and gel shoe inserts, wouldn’t allow passengers to board a plane with aniPad or Kindle, for fear that they would be used by terrorists... The government might be causing more unnecessary interference on planes by asking people to shut their devices down for take-off and landing and then giving them permission to restart all at the same time"

Is the time you spend online ruining your marriage? - "The more frequently an individual uses the Internet the happier they are in their marriage. This news comes with one caveat, however, that independent of frequency of use people who are compulsive Internet users are less happy with their spouse... The authors test to see if the unhappily married were more inclined to be compulsive Internet users, as opposed to compulsive users being more likely to be unhappily married and found no evidence to suggest that the causality runs in that direction. Here is the most interesting result, though: the compulsive Internet users are only making themselves unhappy. They perceive that their marriages are less satisfying and behave toward their partners in an increasingly negative way over time as a result. This could be related to the fact that 42% of compulsive internet users admit to engaging in affairs online and that 50% use the Internet to engage in sexual activities"

Cadence: i've misjudged your character. - "BEST COSTUME had to go to this young dude who came around smiling benignly and shook everyone's hands. omg he was so in character, i knew what he was immediately - with all the General Elections that just took place this year it's not hard to guess - HE'S ACTING AS A YOUNG PAP MEMBER. he even gathered his friends to behave as his minders, WOW. WOW WOW WOW...
them: er, i think he was a real MP or a member of the GRC.
me: WHAT!! wai, you stay here. do you know him?! ... OH GOD WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME?!?!??!?! i hate you all.
them: we don't know who he is!!!!
me: wah lau eh! who goes around and shakes hands on Halloween, what the heck?!"

J.Ko » The Straits Times and Copyright - "It is a shame that while The Straits Times is suing Yahoo! News for copyright infringement, it does not conduct proper citation or image attribution in its very own backyard."

Boys’ brains, girls’ brains: How to think about sex differences in psychology. - "His colleagues are so afraid of being called “neurosexists” that they’ve refused to study or acknowledge differences... two female scientists in the audience... called the aversion to studying innate differences anti-scientific and an impediment to understanding mental illness in women. The exchange, in which one panelist repeatedly portrayed sex-difference research as a waste of time, confirmed the problem: Fear of sexism has produced a bias against conceding sex differences, which gets in the way of frank discussion and investigation... anyone who dismisses boy-girl differences as cultural artifacts (the panelists criticized Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender in particular) isn’t accounting for similar patterns in animals, such as research showing that male monkeys prefer to play more with cars and less with dolls than female monkeys do. Hines also mentioned a male-female gap in “maze performance” among rodents. You can’t blame that on society... sex differences in math performance had largely evaporated over the past 20 years. But not all differences: A stubborn gap remains in mental rotation, which requires the imaginary realignment of three-dimensional shapes... We need more of that humility, and less glib generalization... 78 percent of effect sizes in studies of psychological sex difference were small or near zero. But that aggregate figure obscures the fine print: Half the effect sizes were between .11 and .35. In aggression, they averaged around .50, and in mental rotation, they were even higher... boys and girls differ more in toy preference than in height... While Eliot and Hyde characterized the effect sizes in sex-difference studies as small or near zero, Cahill argued that these effect sizes were no smaller than those typically found in other neuroscience research. (Indeed, I heard no complaints from the panel about small effect size when Wraga cited a 6-percent effect on math scores as evidence of stereotype threat.)"

Is there a First Amendment right to beat your MMA opponent senseless?

Thai crackdown on Facebook remarks on king - "Thailand has warned users of Facebook that they could face prosecution under harsh lese-majeste laws if they press ''share'' or ''like'' on images or articles considered unflattering to the Thai monarchy"

Atheists can not be trusted: Religious people rank non-believers alongside rapists, study

Why women can be their own worst enemies: Tracy Grimshaw - "If you get a bunch of blokes together in a pub, they are more collegiate, whereas women will be checking out the size of each other's butts or whether they're wearing the right shoes, or what sort of clothes or whether they've got dark roots ... "

Female labour markets: The cashier and the carpenter | The Economist - "It may be unfair, but by working shorter paid hours, women are managing to achieve a reasonable balance in their lives. In a regular survey produced by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, only 16-18% of women (depending on whether they have young children) across Europe report dissatisfaction with their work-life balance, against 20-27% for men... Hours and conditions [in the public sector] are usually more congenial and maternity arrangements more generous. So with better pay, conditions and promotion prospects, it is no wonder that the public sector is the employer of choice for so many women."
This survey is full of more reasons besides discrimination for gender gaps in labour markets. Among other gems, "in all the Nordic countries working women are heavily concentrated in the public sector", "women can be their own worst enemies. They tend to be less self-confident than men and do not put their hands up, so they do not get the plum assignments or promotions or pay rises", "asked to advise a consultancy on the reasons for high turnover among its women, it found that the firm’s projects were often badly managed, making for long hours. The men, it discovered, were not happy either, but they quietly rearranged things to make life easier for themselves. The women went part-time or quit"

Power Rangers run Standard Chartered Marathon.

You May Want to Save Your Pocket Change Next Time You See a Jingle Dude - "The Salvation Army has a wide and noticeable history of financing and supporting anti-LGBT legislation, such as opposing marriage equality. Is that where you want your pocket money going… to defense of marriage lobbyists?"

Inequality and taxes: Equality doesn't always mean redistribution | The Economist - "While income taxes in the Netherlands are highly progressive, all the other taxes (VAT, social insurance, excise taxes and so forth) are so regressive that the total burden of taxation is almost flat across income groups. Everybody pays about 40%... the main reason the Netherlands has low levels of inequality is that incomes in the Netherlands just aren't very unequal, even before taxes or transfers... After taxes and transfers, the Netherlands has about the same level of inequality as Germany and somewhat less than France or Italy. But before taxes and transfers, Germany, France and Italy are far more unequal; in fact gross income in Germany and Italy is more unequal than in America. You can't really say "in Europe, they have higher taxes and more transfers, which is why inequality is lower." That's true in parts of Europe. In other parts, inequality is lower because people just tend to earn relatively equal amounts of money."

Ron Paul vs. the New World Order - "Ron Paul has made a career out of transmitting extremist beliefs, particularly far-right conspiracy theories about a looming "New World Order," into the mainstream of public discourse by reframing and repackaging them for wider consumption, mostly by studiously avoiding the more noxious and often racist elements of those beliefs. Along the way, he has built a long record of appearing before and lending the credibility of his office to a whole array of truly noxious organizations, and has a loyal following built in no small part on members of those groups."

36% of 16-19-Year-Old Boys “Sexless” - "The results of the latest governmental survey of Japanese attitudes to sex and marriage, undertaken every 5 years, reveal a society in which men and women are apparently increasingly alienated from one and other. The survey found 61% of unmarried men aged 18-34 have no girlfriend, a 9.2% increase from 2005. For women, 50% had no boyfriend (suggesting they are tending to date older men)... A quarter of unmarried men and women in their late thirties also reported having had no sexual experiences at all... A related survey of young people aged 16-19 found extraordinarily low levels of interest in sex amongst youngsters – 36% of boys reported having “no interest” in or “dislike” of sex, up 19% in only 3 years, and amongst girls it was up 12% to 59%... It has also been frequently suggested that [Japanese women] tend to have unrealistic expectations as to the income and status of their desired husband"

Nude Lady Gaga reveals all on bad romance - "She added that sometimes she feels she is destined to be lonely. “I had a man say to me, ‘You will die alone in a house bigger than you know, with all your money and hit records, and you will die alone’”"

Philosophy Bro: The Full List - "Philosophy is hard - I read and summarize, so you don't have to, man"
"All it would take is one sneaky little motherfucker near the foundations of my beliefs to blow everything else I believe up, and not only is that fucking terrifying, it's completely possible. Shit."

Monday, December 05, 2011

Caught out for Gobbledy-Gook

A: I am not sure how many people would respond, but does anyone here think that it is never right to describe a suicide as a selfish act? If yes, why?

B: A, I think any response to your question will be inadequate in light of its decontextualisation from the possible circumstances surrounding a case of suicide. At most, we can say that sometimes it isn't right to attribute an act of suicide as being selfish. In the case of the suicide of the Singaporean teenager, we are completely capable of making overarching statements regards the circumstances surrounding her death, but at the same time, we are also able to realise that whatever rationalisations we can concieve of, they always have a tendency to inadvertendly trivialise the situation; that the methods we somehow employ in making sense of her situation can never quite fully comprehend the pain and suffering she had to go through. I think this sense of impotence when dealing with any kind of experience which might be called subjective can be attributed to the tangential lives we are condemned to be living. Just like numbers on a number line, '2' can never really get to '3'; the chasm between them is infinity; '2' gets closer to '3' but never any closer. And so when faced with the absurdity which Life can sometimes throw at us, we can either take it heroically like Camus's Sisyphus or we can choose to abdicate our responsibilities and discard the boulder. Ever so often, from our vantage point from where we roll our boulders inexorably uphill, we see our friends giving up, throwing in the towel. We would like very much to lend a hand, but our hands can never quite reach them from our isolated vertices, and so the most we can do is to cheer them on and hope they somehow receive our messages and pick themselves up again.

C: i marked B's comment as spam

B: It's regrettable that you will regard my comment as spam-but no matter, i merely wanted to give an opinion. Cheers =).

Me: For one to give an opinion it is first necessary for one to have content to communicate

B: Indeed Gabriel, i do agree with you. i had initially thought of messaging you privately but i suppose it be better to not rely on the veil of anonymity and reply here directly. i was wondering if you can put it across to me starkly, am i right to say that the opinion i managed was 'all form no substance'? i think i'll need to know, it'll help me. Thanks in advance Gabriel. ;)

D: Your comment is spam regardless of our attitude towards it. If I see a pile of shit, it is a pile of shit no matter how hard I imagine it as something else.

Your ability to confuse people with your words is astounding. If they had a competition for this kind of thing in the Olympics, you would definitely do our country proud by winning the gold medal. I have, to my misfortune, come across showers of shite, streams of drivel, and all manner of incomprehensible things, and I have to say, what you customarily produce is simply in a league of its own.

You express your ideas in 1,000 words when 100 will do. You enjoy using obscure references to illustrate your points. It is impossible to read your writing without suffering pounding headaches and waves of nausea.

Your vocabulary is atrocious. You seem to be on a mission to misuse as many words as possible within the shortest amount of time it takes for you to force out your linguistic excrement and form it into sentences.

Your spelling is unimpressive. All the time and effort you waste on browsing the thesaurus for big words can be better put to use on checking the dictionary for correct spellings. Of course, we all make mistakes - nobody is perfect - but you give the impression of trying too hard to impress.

Long, flowing, and beautiful scripts are beyond your ability to produce. Do not waste your time creating dismal failures. When in doubt, stick to simple English. It makes proofreading easier. Your readers will be less inclined to dismiss your comments as nonsense and mark them as spam.

If I were your English teacher and you served me your usual fare, I would order you to rewrite the whole thing. If you are thinking of pursuing a degree in Philosophy, Political Science, or some other course requiring a strong command of English, I urge you to reconsider your choice. Any lecturer or professor marking your assignment would definitely contemplate drowning his sorrows in the Bedok Reservoir. Let us try to save a few lives.

To summarise, your writing is as long-winded as a nagging old hag, as uninspiring as a woman imitating a dead fish during sex, as meaningless as the ejaculations a fundie makes when he speaks in tongues, and as pretentious as a drooling popinjay who wears an expensive suit and fancies himself an urbane gentleman.

I suggest you purchase a copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style and read it. Give yourself this Xmas present. It will change your life. Maybe you can even get a date!

Me: In short, "no form, no substance"

Sunday, December 04, 2011

On Historical Perspective and the Decadence of the Modern Age

"Conspiracy theory is the sophistication of the ignorant." - Richard Grenier


"Without some historical perspective, we wouldn't fully understand what the real problems of today are.

And one of the ways in which I think that is true is that much of the discussion about history teaching in schools today thinks that there has been a catastrophic decline from some sort of Golden Age of History in an earlier time, an earlier time interestingly never actually specified. And that on that basis, draconian measures are needed to try to retrieve what appears to be a catastrophic situation.

One of the things, of course, that we were able to check out as we looked into the history of the teaching of history in English State School classrooms from the 1900s on, in terms of the nature of the teaching, in terms of the number of people studying History, in terms of the exams, in terms of the textbooks. One of the things we were able to check out, was whether there was in fact a Golden Age when everybody knew the reigns of all the Kings and Queens, or whatever it might be.

And it turns out that has never been, as far as we can tell, such a Golden Age. There has always been criticism of the teaching of History in schools as long as History has been taught in schools. And much, I think, of that criticism been valid. But it's also worth saying, in fairness, that there has also been praise for the teaching of History in schools all the way through that period.

None of that, I think, is to say that there was ever a Golden Age. I think we may indeed have a set of problems about teaching History in schools at the moment, but I don't think what that problem is, or what those problems are, is to be understood in terms of a catastrophic declension from a once-great Golden Age."

"And yet that view is always trotted out. People are always saying 'It was better in my day'. And as you say the time period isn't normally established. So why is that? Why do people always think it was better in the past? And is that just people looking through rose-tinted spectacles?"

"It's a standard explanatory paradigm for much of the media that things are terrible now, and they must've been better earlier. And that in a sense absolves you from having to dig deeper into the subject to find out what the truth of things might be. But it's certainly true that from the 1900s on, people have been complaining that History is less well-taught than it was before. Well, that can't be true for the whole 100 years, since if it were then presumably no History would be being taught at all at the moment. But it's always a strong temptation, I think, to say that things were better in the past, and part, of course, of the point of studying History... is to suggest that that's very often a lazy way of thinking about things, and it's very often wrong."

--- 1st December 2011 | BBC History Magazine
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