When you can't live without bananas

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Nietzsche on Truth and Lies

"As a means for the preserving of the individual, the intellect unfolds its principle powers in dissimulation, which is the means by which weaker, less robust individuals preserve themselves — since they have been denied the chance to wage the battle for existence with horns or with the sharp teeth of beasts of prey. This art of dissimulation reaches its peak in man. Deception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself — in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity — is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them. They are deeply immersed in illusions and in dream images; their eyes merely glide over the surface of things and see "forms". Their senses nowhere lead to truth; on the contrary, they are content to receive stimuli and, as it were, to engage in a groping game on the backs of things...

Insofar as the individual wants to maintain himself against other individuals, he will under natural circumstances employ the intellect mainly for dissimulation. But at the same time, from boredom and necessity, man wishes to exist socially and with the herd; therefore, he needs to make peace and strives accordingly to banish from his world at least the most flagrant bellum omnium contra omnes [War of everyone against everyone —Tr]. This peace treaty brings in its wake something which appears to be the first step toward acquiring that puzzling truth drive: to wit, that which shall count as "truth" from now on is established. That is to say, a uniformly valid and binding designation is invented for things, and this legislation of language likewise establishes the first laws of truth. For the contrast between truth and lie arises here for the first time. The liar is a person who uses the valid designations, the words, in order to make something which is unreal appear to be real. He says, for example, "I am rich", when the proper designation for his condition would be "poor". He misuses fixed conventions by means of arbitrary substitutions or even reversals of names. If he does this in a selfish and moreover harmful manner, society will cease to trust him and will thereby exclude him. What men avoid by excluding the liar is not so much being defrauded as it is being harmed by means of fraud. Thus, even at this stage, what they hate is basically not deception itself, but rather the unpleasant, hated consequences of certain sorts of deception. It is in a similarly restricted sense that man now wants nothing but truth: he desires the pleasant, life-preserving consequences of truth. He is indifferent toward pure knowledge which has no consequences; toward those truths which are possibly harmful and destructive he is even hostilely inclined...

We still do not yet know where the drive for truth comes from. For so far we have heard only of the duty which society imposes in order to exist: to be truthful means to employ the usual metaphors. Thus, to express it morally, this is the duty to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie with the herd and in a manner binding upon everyone. Now man of course forgets that this is the way things stand for him"

--- On Truth and Lies in an Extra-Moral Sense / Friedrich Nietzsche

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jung on Meaning and Self-delusion

"To what end does one liberate one’s country if afterward there is no meaningful goal of life – no goal for which it is worthwhile to be free? If man no longer finds any meaning in his life, it makes no difference whether he wastes away under a communist or a capitalist regime. Only if he can use his freedom to create something meaningful is it relevant that he should be free. That is why finding the inner meaning of life is more important to the individual than anything else, and why the process of individuation must be given priority."

--- Man and His Symbols / Carl Gustav Jung

Also from the same:

"The communist world, it may be noted, has one big myth (which we call an illusion, in the vain hope that our superior judgment will make it disappear). It is the time-hallowed archetypal dream of a Golden Age (or Paradise), where everything is provided in abundance for everyone, and a great, just, and wise chief rules over a human kindergarten. This powerful archetype in its infantile form has gripped them, but it will never disappear from the world at the mere sight of our superior point of view. We even support it by our own childishness, for our Western civilization is in the grip of the same mythology. Unconsciously, we cherish the same prejudices, hopes, and expectations. We too believe in the welfare state, in universal peace, in the equality of man, in his eternal human rights, in justice, truth, and (do not say it too loudly) in the Kingdom of God on Earth...

It is significant that the psychological doctor (within my experience) is consulted more by Jews and Protestants than by Catholics. This might be expected, for the Catholic Church still feels responsible for the cura animarum (the care and welfare of souls). But in this scientific age, the psychiatrist is apt to be asked the questions that once belonged in the domain of the theologian. People feel that it makes, or would make, a great difference if only they had a positive belief in a meaningful way of life or in God and immortality. The specter of approaching death often gives a powerful incentive to such thoughts. From time immemorial, men have had ideas about a Supreme Being (one or several) and about the Land of the Hereafter. Only today do they think they can do without such ideas...

There is, however, a strong empirical reason why we should cultivate thoughts that can never be proved. It is that they are known to be useful. Man positively needs general ideas and convictions that will give a meaning to his life and enable him to find a place for himself in the universe. He can stand the most incredible hardships when he is convinced that they make sense; he is crushed when, on top of all his misfortunes, he has to admit that he is taking part in a "tale told by an idiot."

It is the role of religious symbols to give a meaning to the life of man. The Pueblo Indians believe that they are the sons of Father Sun, and this belief endows their life with a perspective (and a goal) that goes far beyond their limited existence. It gives them ample space for the unfolding of personality and permits them a full life as complete persons. Their plight is infinitely more satisfactory than that of a man in our own civilization who knows that he is (and will remain) nothing more than an underdog with no inner meaning to his life.

A sense of a wider meaning to one's existence is what raises a man beyond mere getting and spending"

Bots are quite intelligent these days

"A good listener is usually thinking about something else." - Kin Hubbard


Me: are you a bot

claire GONZALES: uggh no i'm not are u???? lolz

Me: no

claire GONZALES: Hey sweetie...how are you ??

Me: I'd be happy if I knew you were not a bot

claire GONZALES: what's a bot??

Me: do I even know you?

claire GONZALES: nice ... wanna join me then on cam chat?? ;-)

Me: only if you let me fuck you

claire GONZALES: mhhm fuck me ;)

Me: mmm very good
I see the keyword sensors are well-calibrated

I am a nigerian prince
please send me $1,000 so I can wire you a million bucks

claire GONZALES: Its completly Free babe , plus my cam looks good cuz its in HD! ...im not even gonna get dressed im gonna stay in this towel lol ;-)

Me: that's not what I wanna hear
I need your bank account number

claire GONZALES: cc is just to verify age..you'll get in for free through my page!

Me: how can you say you're not a bot
you're just ignoring me :(

claire GONZALES: uggh no i'm not are u???? lolz

Me: lol

claire GONZALES: just accept the buddy invite babe on the left to get free access , so while youdo that im gonna get a drink...

Me: are you drinking cyanide?

[Next day]

Mia THOMPSON: helllo there sexy..

Me: weren't you called something else last night?
is this the internet equivalent of beer goggles?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Links - 28th March 2012

"When you're through changing, you're through." - Bruce Barton


Woman fined for spraying insecticide on noisy toddler - "In his mitigation plea, Kong's lawyer Tng Kim Choon said she had never been in trouble with the law before. Her arrest was a traumatic experience for her, he said. A policewoman had mishandled her and screamed at her, and she was handcuffed and taken to the police car below her block. Her brother, who lives nearby, had to intervene, telling the police to show a senior citizen some respect. He said she never expected a misunderstanding with her noisy next-door neighbour to end up in her humiliating arrest. Mr Tng said his client had been very stressed and had even contemplated suicide a few times due to the strained relationship with her neighbours, who have since moved out. She thought that spraying insecticide outside her flat would discourage the children from sitting on the steps, he said, adding that she did not intend to hurt anyone. Psychiatrists found that Kong, who is single, had been suffering from insomnia and a mood disorder for at least two years. She could have been jailed for up to six months in addition to her fine"
I'd try this mitigation plea, but I doubt it'd work.

Study: Anger motivates people to vote

Hugging and chatting with lover while naked ruled NOT adultery - YouTube - "as prosecutors said that the man did not have 'direct evidence" of his wife cheating - such as footage of the lovebirds getting jiggy with it, or tissue paper with semen on it - the wife was not prosecuted."

3:AM Magazine » Bad Faith VIII - "The intention behind such wilfully unintelligible text is, it seems, not to invite thought or reward it, but to repel and discourage it. This is done by exhausting the reader’s efforts to comprehend and reducing him to a state of demoralised dishonesty, whereby absurd and vacuous statements are repeated and endorsed, regardless of incomprehension and for fear of appearing stupid. By publicly endorsing vacuity, and making great claims in its name, the unsuspecting student has thus been painted into a corner and any subsequent rethinking entails an intolerable loss of face and credibility... Postmodern prose is perhaps best approached as an exercise in posturing and phonetics — of couching slim and trite observations in needlessly Byzantine language; or as what Sokal and Bricmont refer to as “a gradual crescendo of nonsense.” Efforts to fathom deep meaning, or meaning of any kind, are generally exhausting and rarely rewarded. More often, what you’ll find is essentially a pile of language, carefully disorganised so as to obscure a lack of content... It’s important to understand that nonsense of this kind is rarely arrived at by accident"

Concerns raised over prof’s Yale-NUS College call - "Twenty-two-year-old NUS student Estella Goh, for instance, was concerned that "some people might take it overboard". "What would people expressing their freedom of religion do to our social fabric?" she questioned... Another student, Kang Kai Xin, 24, recognised the proposed resolution "could work both ways". "Students would have a platform to voice and understand in depth of the current situation which is necessary in education point of view (but) having too much understanding may mean that they… may challenge traditional rights," she said"
Singapore: where freedom and thinking are dangerous

'Superman' expectations of S'pore men in the sack - "The average is four to five minutes for Asian men, while a 2009 survey by Haga Hospital in the Netherlands put it at six minutes. That study covered 474 men from the Netherlands, Spain, Britain, Turkey and the United States... Dr Lee said she has seen clients who have over-expectations of sex. 'Often, they have little sex education and tend to be virgins,' she added. 'I let them know that five minutes is normal and sex need not last so long.' She noted that 'if you are in an advanced relationship, it is normal to have sex once a week'. Her recommendation? 'Sex once every 10 days, so couples can build up their emotional bond.'"
White men last longer in bed. No wonder they're more popular; this is another reason why it's irresponsible to get married without having pre-marital sex
Another source: ""Couples should make the time to be intimate as it leads to a stronger more fulfilling relationship," Prof. Lim advised... 19.8 per cent believe it is up to the man to make the first move, 5.7 per cent favour the women being the initiating partner. For others, it becomes a matter of negotiation, as 4.1 per cent believe the time for sex should be negotiated in advance."

Gentlemen, Rate Yourselves: Cucumber or Banana? - "Singapore's Society for Men's Health and a pharmaceutical firm are proposing a four-point scale for erectile dysfunction, allowing men to rate their own hardness with four categories: cucumber, unpeeled banana, peeled banana and tofu (bean curd)."

Minister signs MoU blindly - "The Indonesia-Singapore bilateral meeting on Tuesday included the signing of agreements at the ministerial level, but one of the Indonesian ministers said he did not know the substance of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) he and his counterpart just signed... “The point is that Singapore has much better public servants, and the country is not far from here”"

LA VIE DES FEMMES VUE PAR LES HOMMES : 4) LA FORCE | GQ Magazine - "Souvent, sur Internet alias la source de toute vertu, je tombe sur des commentaires de jeunes mecs de douze ans qui ont sincèrement l’air de penser que femme = incapable de faire quoi que ce soit. Alors que personnellement je trouve que femme = flemmasse qu’on encourage dans sa flemmasserie"

Life After Tenure (in the US, anyway) - "In the AT study, tenured men were more likely to be married than were tenured women. Tenured women are more likely than men to be divorced or widowed, or never to have been married"

Commuters thank minister Lui Tuck Yew for resuming train services - "While most attributed the quick resumption of services to hardworking engineers, many others thanked transport minister Lui Tuck Yew for standing around to making sure things got done. “I’m amazed he found the time to ensure that the crowd walked in an orderly fashion,” said Wan Too Pi, 35, as he walked stridently out of Dhoby Gaut station to the free shuttle buses provided. He was also impressed at how the minister chose to observe how commuters reacted to the breakdown, instead of looking at whether the repair work within the tunnel was done properly."

Crackdown On Homeopathic Medicine - "He said homeopaths had used crushed-up pieces of the Berlin Wall to treat depression. And in the latest edition of the journal Spectrum of Homeopathy, the authors detailed the use of wolf's milk for eczema and bulimia, cheetah's blood for multiple sclerosis and tiger's blood for depression"

Missing From Asia’s Boardrooms: Women - "Ms. Yi, who was the key researcher behind the survey, said that boardrooms in Asia were not just lacking women, but rather diversity of any kind — with directors generally coming from “homogenous groups” or family owners, resulting all too often in groups of people with similar backgrounds and nationalities... some female executives argue that forcing companies to be diverse is not necessarily a good solution. “It is not just about the quotas, but the diversity within those quotas — it isn’t just about having three women, but women from different backgrounds who can contribute different things”"

Andy Capp - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "Early on, the Andy Capp strip was accused of perpetuating stereotypes about Britain's Northerners, who are seen in other parts of England as chronically unemployed, dividing their time between the living room couch and the neighbourhood pub, with a few hours set aside for fistfights at football games... But Smythe, himself a native of that region, had nothing but affection for his good-for-nothing protagonist, a fact which showed in his work. Since the very beginning, Andy has been immensely popular among the people he supposedly skewers."
Ditto for Speedy Gonzales - taking offence on others' behalf can harm the very people whose interests you claim to be protecting

Geotagging poses security risks | Article | The United States Army - ""Is a badge on Foursquare worth your life?"... Warren cited a real-world example from 2007. When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches"

Rightsholders Group to Charge Libraries for Reading Books to Kids - "The library rep calculates that it could cost them roughly 250 euros (which is about $328) per year to pay SABAM for the right to – again – READ BOOKS TO KIDS"

I killed the Internet - "When­ever the web missed a fea­ture, I didn’t look at a way to fix it to pro­vide sim­i­lar capa­bil­i­ties to what devices offered but I looked away and said let’s aban­don the web and move to apps instead. I didn’t push for some more dia­logue to fig­ure out issues around latency, camera/accelerometer/microphone/WiFi/GPS/Bluetooth access. Instead, I did the easy thing and focused on devel­op­ing for only one plat­form (or a lim­ited set of platform) . When­ever I bumped into a silo like Face­book, I may have grum­bled but I didn’t leave. In fact, I pushed more con­tent into it, not ask­ing that it push con­tent back out. I did that because that’s where the read­ers were, where I could get more users, etc…I may have killed the inter­net… but so did you"

Happy Birthday To The Only "Modern Shakespeare", Dr. Seuss! | Shakespeare Geek - "Last year for Seuss Day we had a grand old time mashing up our beloved poetic heroes over on Twitter with the #SeussSpeare tag... Did you hide him here, or there? I hid Polonius under the stairs.
I lay there with Julie. We lay there, we two, and I said, "How I wish I had poison to drink.""

Single Parenting: What is it like to be a single father? - Quora - "Being a single man with a small child raises many more flags than being a single woman. More than once was I pulled over by cops because I carried a 2 year old throwing a temper tantrum into a car. While I appreciate the diligence of cops and callers, it became very annoying after a while... I always carry my son's passport with me when we go to the playground. A random single man sitting on a park bench watching kids play will get the cops called. After the first time I started carrying the passport. I have used it quite a bit since... Leaving the country with my son was an ordeal. "Where is the mother or the mother's consent form?" "I am a single father" "Wait here" "Sorry you missed your flight, pass on through"."

Sun Xu vs Lai Shimun: not all lynch mobs are created equal; On Indians smelling

"Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary


Mr Brown asked:

"Is the Sun Xu lynch mob going to go after Lai Shimun too?"

I observed that they aready had, and also that nationalism is not a sacred cow here like race and religion are.

This quote came to mind:

"So before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel"

-- Leon Uris, 'The Haj' (available in the National Library, so it must be kosher)

This is a similar principle to the one by which it was alright for Saddam Hussein to kill 180,000 Kurds, but Bush and Blair are war criminals, why it's okay for the Taliban to deliberately kill children, but lone US soldiers' actions are the responsibility of the US as a whole, or why the Opium War is so much of a bigger deal than the Great Leap Forward, even though the latter did a lot more harm to China.

Me, I asked a Malay friend to find some racist anti-Chinese remarks and make a police report to expose the double standards in Singapore. In turn, he helped me over the linguistic barrier:

"in campus I walk past those ultra orthodox student tchrs who go "bodoh seh orang kafir". Which translates to "these infidels are so stupid""

Addendum: I'd heard one theory trying to explain why some people complain that Indians smell, that it's because they eat a lot of curry.

I didn't put much stock in this but I've found several sources which affirm it:

Food Detectives - Garlic & Curry Body Odor

"All things being equal, it's your diet that effects your body's smell most, both positively and negatively. A fishy smell, for instance, may be caused by too much of the B vitamin choline in your diet. Curry, cumin, fish, garlic and onion in the diet are notorious for giving people who eat a lot of these foods and spices a particular smell as they stay in your body's secretions for hours after eating them. Butyric acid in butter and other dairy foods makes Westerners stink to Asians who eat no milk products." - Ask Dr. Weil - Q&A: Bothered by Body Odor?

"Eating foods like cumin, curry, garlic, fish, onion and dairy could also cause body secretions to smell" --- Better Nutrition Magazine, July 2000

"Racial Smells

Studies have shown that different races have different characteristic smells. Some of these differences are due to variations in diet: People in India, for example, eat a lot of curry and spices, a diet that is reflected in their body odor. Racial differences also depend on hereditary traits. Asians tend to have very little body hair and few sweat glands to produce odor chemicals. Koreans, for instance, have litle body odor even if they do not wash regularly; underarm odor is so rare among Japanese that they consider it an illness. Caucasians, on the other hand, have more body hair and plenty of sweat glands. Africans have even more sweat glands. People's unconscious reactions to others who 'smell different' can contribute to distrust and intolerance.

Understanding what causes these emotional reactions can help us to behave more reasonably."

--- Senses and sensors: Smelling and Tasting / Authors Alvin Silverstein, Virginia B. Silverstein, Laura Silverstein Nunn

Addendum: I went to India for 9 days and for every meal except 2, I had Indian food. Towards the end of my trip, I started to get the Indian smell too. So it's quite clearly the food.

Dealing with Telemarketers

One of my hobbies is coming up with things to say to telemarketers.

Nowadays my standard reply to those offering savings plans is "I prefer higher yielding investments", and those offering loans, "I have enough money", but the next time I get someone offering me a loan I'm going to talk about my problems with loansharks and how I need to pay them off.

Some of my favourite more generic replies:

"I'm calling from XXX. Is it a convenient time to speak to you?"
"It's never a convenient time to speak to you, thanks"

"Hi, I'm calling from Prudential. How are you today?"
"Now that you called, very bad"

"May I know who I'm talking to?"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not so much a curate's egg

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein


"This disc is not so much a curate's egg as an archdeacon's: the parts that are good are simply irresistible, the rest quite the opposite. Petibon is known in this country mostly for her fine performances in Baroque opera, but here she tackles the mainstream French repertoire. Her soprano is traditionally French in timbre - bright, lsightly edgy - and not large. The microphone frequently catches her breathing, and perhaps fuller tone is ideally needed for a number like Juliette's waltz song. She is especially successful with Messager. The little aria from Fortunio is a gem, and she sings it most sensitively, and then catches just the right touch of brazenness for a saucy number from L Amour masque about the advantages of having two lovers rather than just one. The Dome duet (with Deshayes, who also joins her in the Hoffman Barcarolle) and the Bell Song from Lakmé go very nicely. Both here and elsewhere she, together with Abel and the excellent Lyon chorus and orchestra, pay proper attention to expression and dynamic shading. This disc has not just been thrown together.

Manon should suit her well, but Abel's unconscionably slow tempo for 'Adieu, notre petite table' (his only lapse, far slower than Massenet's crotchet=63) makes the number and the character sound lugubrious, which neither are. Maybe his speed for the Gavotte is a touch leisurely, too, but Petibon sings it with appropriate panache.

Then the problems start. As the disc's zany cover warns us, Petibon sees herself as a great comic. After a charming account of the Romance from L'Etoile, she wildly overdoes the sneezing noises in Lazouli's 'Enfin je me sens mieux', but this is nothing compared to an account of Olympia's aria full of miaowing noises, squeals of laughter and a defiantly uncanonical cadenza in the middle with references to the Queen of Night. She sings the 'Couplets de Lady Eversharp' from Hahn's Brummel in a 'funny' voice and out of tune: the result is about as funny as an open grave. The comic number by Aboulker that ends the disc long outstays its welcome.

I repeat, there are lovely things here; but tread with caution


--- Review of Patricia Petibon's French Touch, Opera, Volume 55, Issues 1-6 (2004)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Links - 26th March 2012

"Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on." - Samuel Butler


Inequality may lead to rage against the machines - FT.com - "We are in the midst of a technological upheaval; and financial rewards are flowing to the elites who create and control the new machines. Almost everybody else is threatened – including sophisticated bank executives at Citi and WellPoint’s healthcare analysts... Even if displaced workers do find jobs, will these jobs be dignified? A society divided between master-programmers and servants may not appeal to the servants, who will be the majority. But neo-Marxist visions of burger flippers on the barricades seem a touch too paranoid. In the 19th century, the shift from farm to factory was decried as dehumanising. But the supposedly alienated proletariat soon morphed into proud welders and machinists and today it is the decline of factories that is perceived as a problem. The lesson is that attitudes adjust and job status is elastic. There may be real unhappiness during the adjustment phase, but eventually the nannies of yesterday will be the respected childcare professionals of tomorrow. Cooks will turn into executive chefs. And so, in the last analysis, Watson’s most enduring impact will be to accentuate the trade-off between equity and growth"

Best Chinese style nasi lemak? - "There really are two schools of thought when it comes to nasi lemak: those who think that nasi lemak is a Malay dish and they like it that way, while there are others who like the Chinese style because they can order luncheon meat with it. Traditionally, the Malay style nasi lemak is cooked in a steamer. It is also known as nasi lemak kukus and in general, they would use the local Malaysian grown rice instead of the Thai Hom Mali (Jasmine) rice. The Chinese style, on the other hand, uses Thai rice as we are so used to eating it."

5K Obstacle Course Zombie Race - Run For Your Lives - "Protect your brain and run for your life. This is one race where your legs giving out are the least of your problems. Run For Your Lives is a first-of-its-kind event, one part 5K, one part obstacle course, one part escaping the clutches of zombies — and all parts awesome."

Stop This Absurd War on the Color Pink - "The world is full of electromagnetic radiation, and the only intrinsic properties that this radiation possesses are physical ones such as wavelength and intensity. Color, on the other hand, is all in your head"

z4ds6.jpg (JPEG Image, 2669 × 3559 pixels) - "Draw your best friend!"

Some Bangladeshi boys are toy boys for S'pore women - "Several of the 10 Bangladeshi foreign workers whom TNP spoke to yesterday said they could not afford to have girlfriends here as they have families to support back home. Many also labelled the Filipino and Indonesian maids who try to befriend them as "gold diggers". Mr Makbul, who has worked in the construction industry here for 10 years, said: "Some Bangladeshi men in Singapore often go to Lucky Plaza to get lucky with Filipino maids on Sundays. "If they prefer Indonesians, they will go to City Plaza in Paya Lebar"... this reporter asked him how he knew so much about these women. Mr Makbul, who has a wife of three years in Bangladesh, looked a bit uncomfortable and pondered for a while before replying: "My friends told me about them. I'm a married man. I don't fool around""

Maids say Bangladeshi workers are the ones who hit on them - "the charm of male foreign workers sends 46-year-old Gena into a fit of giggles. The Filipina admitted that she found them attractive, but turned coy when asked what she liked about them."

Hougang by-election to be called, date undecided - "Mr Lee said that the Constitution reflects a political philosophy that emphasises stable government, and the view that in elections, voters are primarily choosing between political parties to be given the mandate to govern the country, rather than between individual candidates to become MPs... "if we are in this situation today, it is because the Workers' Party has caused this situation to happen knowing the consequences""
In that case, the merits (or lack thereof) of individual candidates don't matter...; if the situation had not been caused to happen, even more hay would've been made

Invisible Children founders posing with guns: an interview with the photographer - "I can’t bring myself to watch the video. I found all of their previous efforts to be emotionally manipulative, and all the things I try as a journalist not to be. After the peace talks in 2008, they put out another video, and I saw the footage used in these videos blending archival footage with LRA and SPLA and videos of them goofing off. It was the most irresponsible act of image-making that I’d seen in a long time. They conflated the SPLA with the LRA. The SPLA is a government army, holding weapons given by the government, and yet they did not create any division between them and LRA. That’s terrible... People who have lived [in Uganda] for years, bona fide aid workers who have studied foreign policy and other relevant fields like public health, who are really there because they are trying to solve problems — they see Invisible Children as trying to promote themselves and a version of the narrative. Most Ugandans also think they are ridiculous. They say “Invisible Children! They seem pretty visible to me.” Even the name is so loaded... The LRA isn’t even active in Uganda anymore, so we’re getting the issue to the spotlight with so much misinformation"

Faced with Kony 2012 media storm, Invisible Children hits back at critics - "“Daring Kony in a mocking way like this ... could either make Kony weaker or stronger - the later is more likely to happen,” Ugandan blogger and media consultant Javie Ssozi wrote in an email Thursday. “I wonder whether [the filmmaker] thought through the consequences of using such words before he used them! I want Kony captured but not through use of provocative statements which could cause more harm than good!” Detractors say that the charity over-simplifies the situation and relegates to the sidelines Africans who will be “saved” by foreigners. They question the group’s finances and criticize their willingness to work with the Ugandan military, which Human Rights Watch blames for torture and repression. Supporters counter that the awareness being raised by the video is too important to be lost to controversy... The group acknowledges that barely one-third of its budget goes to on-the-ground programs"
"Awareness" - the solution to all the world's problems!

Entire nation of Kiribati to be relocated over rising sea level threat - "

'Sexist trousers' spark Twitter row - "Madhouse, a nationwide chain of discount men’s clothing stores, was branded “shameful” and “outrageous” by hundreds of Twitter users yesterday, because of the label’s washing instructions to ‘Give it to your woman’"
How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Last Suppers Recreated - "The results range from the understandably ambitious (John Wayne Gacy's shrimp, fried chicken, fries and strawberries feast) to the chilling (Victor Feguer's single olive)."

CAMERA: Exposing False Zionist Quotes (Quote Busters) - "Did Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vow to burn Palestinian children and rape Arabic girls? Did former Israeli leader Menachem Begin refer to Palestinians as “two-legged beasts,” and did another Israeli leader declare that all Arabs must be killed unless they are willing to live as slaves? No, but given the number of Web sites repeating these allegations, it is easy to see how this nonsense has gained credence. Indeed, the attribution of invidious statements to Israel’s leaders has become a popular stratagem among Israel’s enemies. Many are fabricated, taken out of context or otherwise manipulated to present a distorted, negative view of Zionist intentions and actions. Propagated on the internet, some of these misquotes eventually make their way into opinion columns in campus newspapers and even, on occasion, the mainstream press."

News Keeps Getting Worse for Vitamins - NYTimes.com - "many people gobble down large doses of vitamins believing that they boost the body’s ability to mop up damaging free radicals that lead to cancer and heart disease. In addition to the more recent research, several reports in recent years have challenged the notion that megadoses of vitamins are good for you. A Johns Hopkins School of Medicine review of 19 vitamin E clinical trials of more than 135,000 people showed high doses of vitamin E (greater than 400 IUs) increased a person’s risk for dying during the study period by 4 percent. Taking vitamin E with other vitamins and minerals resulted in a 6 percent higher risk of dying. Another study of daily vitamin E showed vitamin E takers had a 13 percent higher risk for heart failure... Despite a lack of evidence that vitamins actually work, consumers appear largely unwilling to give them up"

the visible problem with invisible children - "Imagine that today you heard about what happened in NYC and Washington DC on September 11, 2001 for the first time. You were shown a video of footage from that day. You saw the planes hit the towers, you heard President Bush’s address, you saw the Pentagon wreckage, you watch in horror as you see people plunge to their death, jumping from the burning towers. Now imagine that you are inspired by this disaster. You want to something to help. What if you went to NYC today, expecting to see piles of rubble to clean up? What if you went, expecting that there would be thousands of people in the streets crying, looking for loved ones? But what would happen when you arrived and discovered that there was none of this, but a whole host of other problems?... Self centered American kids are flying around the world to change it. The catch is they don’t know what they are doing or where they are going. They are blindly making a problem worse by throwing thousands of dollars at something they don’t understand"

Happy Words Trump Negativity in the English Language

Women Happier in Relationships When Men Feel Their Pain - "Believing your partner is trying to be empathetic more important to relationship than actual empathy"
Lies and illusions - what relationships are based on

Another WP MP Pritam Singh accused of ‘copying’ the works of others in his parliamentary speech - "Another Workers Party MP Pritam Singh has been accused by netizens for ‘copying’ the works of others after fellow party colleague Chen Show Mao was slammed for reproducing an article written by a ex-civil servant on his Facebook page without giving due credit."

Observations - 26th March 2012

"Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering." - R. Buckminster Fuller


"People used to think illnesses were caused by devils or evil spirits. We now know they're caused by poor circulation of Qi"

[On dismissing pseudoscience without examining it] "Once we think we know in advance which effects are real and which are illusory, true scientific objectivity flies out of the window"

NTU censors their internet access, while NUS doesn't. Maybe this is why NUS is ranked higher.

Someone: "kids, never make a job out of your passion. mine is almost dead."

Love the euphemism "large scale armed immigration" for invasion.

A non-vegan who talks about animal cruelty is probably like a Confederate slaveholder talking about human rights.

I didn't know humanity had managed to make rinderpest extinct. What a tragedy for species diversity!

A lawyer pointed out to me that in Singapore, you don't need to have intent to commit rape. The specific clause is: "Any man who penetrates the vagina of a woman with his penis without her consent... shall be guilty of an offence". Actually in general the crimes involving sexual activity (excluding outrage of modesty) don't specify intention, which is interesting. Perhaps this all ties in to Victorian ideas about presumed consent which are no longer extant. I haven't yet heard of cases where the nebulous and contested concept of consent has given someone legal problems here, though.

The Cock has a book called "三个A Cup的女人". Even after finding a page listing the book I can't figure out where the Cups come in.

Interesting question: Which of the following has the biggest influence on your behavior?
Reason, Observation, Empiricism, Trial-And-Error.
Tradition, Faith, Upbringing, Heritage.
Emotion, Intuition, Instinct.

From my full-time traveller friend: "Kosovo - why would you go there? There is nothing there to see expect for the policemen everywhere. The pollution is terrible. And people smile on the surface but are truly guarded within. These are the aftereffects of war. People are tired."

"Don't mess with us Indians. We wrote the kama sutra. We can fuck you in more ways than you can count"

RT: @jaykayell_: #SignsYourSonMightBeGay He keeps bringing attractive women home and having sex with them because he is deeply in denial. [NB: This is good logic to justify anything you want]

RT: @puddiemel: It's true. Gay guys in denial are the biggest bitches.

RT @THEDAILYFUCK: Life is a lot like math. If it goes too easily, you know something is wrong.

RT: @spoonrabbit: "I passed the breast exam!" "The passing mark must be really low." D'::

RT @Glinner The Catholic Church, indifferent and lethargic in its response to the sexual abuse of children, is now energised by gay marriage. Amazing

"Aujourd'hui, mon fils m'a dit qu'il fallait que je fasse plus souvent l'amour à ma femme "parce que tu comprends, j'en ai marre de ses sautes d'humeur". VDM"

"Aujourd'hui, je travaille sur une plateforme téléphonique et je tombe sur un client mécontent : "Puisque j'ai attendu sept minutes avec cette musique ridicule, à vous d'en faire autant ! Lalalala lala la..." VDM"

RT: @Flootoutcourt: Quand je mourrai, je voudrais que quelqu'un se connecte sur mon Twitter pour faire peur aux gens :"Hey,vous saviez qu'ils ont le Wi-Fi ici?"

RT @justinbiebiere: La meilleure grève contre le chômage, c'est le travail...

RT @Joan_Larroumec Seuls les vrais hommes savent apprécier les femmes à moustache.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Australia 2011 - Day 8, Part 1 - Kakadu

"There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there's only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there's no reason why you shouldn't have a fairly good time." - Edith Wharton


Australia 2011
Day 8 - 5th August - Kakadu
(Part 1)

In the morning we collected the next car and drove to Kakadu National Park.

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We went to get supplies: "It is an offence to handle food with your fingers"

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From a Hyundai Getz we were now in a Ford Focus. We were asked if we preferred a stick-shift, and when we said we'd rather have auto they gave us a car with a manual option anyway (with a choice of 4 gears). It also told us how many KM worth of fuel we had left, which was nifty.

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Pauls Orange Juice: not only was it "proudly produced by Parmalat Australia" from imported fruit juice, it was also horribly vile like all Australian orange juice (Australians cannot make sweet orange juice).

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Cheese and bacon pastry. Mmm.

We passed by a "Sexyland. Adult Department Store". Later there was "Australia's biggest collection of country music. Country music shack". Uhh.

We went down the Stuart Highway (yes, it was the same road - we'd considered driving up from Alice Springs but it'd have taken 18 hours from Alice Springs to Darwin, really expensive - it was cheaper to rent a new car and there'd be little to see on the way). Past a certain point, a sign proclaimed that no pedestrials, animals, bicycles and horse-drawn vehicles were allowed.

At one point there were 60kmph and 100kmph speed limit signs - 50m apart.

"We like our lizards fried not grilled" - sign about bushfires

There was a stupid bird on the road. We slowed as we approached it but it didn't move. It only flew away when we were going to hit it.

There were signs along the highway offering free coffee for drivers, but when I went into those establishments there didn't seem to be coffee counters. Apparently I would have to ask, but anyway I don't like coffee.

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"Last chance for alcohol before Kakadu". Hurr, blame the aborigines for Kakadu being dry.

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Fishing is a pain. Maybe this is due to lobbying by the fisheries industry, to boost fish sales.

The roads were narrower than at the Alice Springs part of the Northern Territory. I'm guessing this had something to do with blasting a way through the jungle.

I was intending to visit the Ranger Uranium Mine in Kakadu. Usually there are tours in the dry season (the time I was there) but not this year, possibly due to Fukushima.

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Entrance to Kakadu National Park

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Behind the main sign they also mentioned that they were aboriginal lands

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On the place

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"A Special World Heritage Place"
I thought all World Heritage Sites were special.

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All the ways you can die in Kakadu
Chris Christensen of the Amateur Traeler on Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country: "The thing that stands out for me about Australia after reading his book is how many things there can kill you"

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Park map

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Short and long sarongs, depending on the sort of SPG you want to be

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Bamboo clothing. I have a bamboo fibre shirt from the US.

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"Regrettably Management & Staff of Aurora Kakadu have no control of:
The Weather
Cane Toads
And all other Bugs and Insects"

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Another cheerful sign warning you you could die

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These signs marked every bridge

Our first real stop in the park was the Mamukala Wetlands.

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Mamukala Wetlands sign
"Today Bininj have decided not to hunt in this area so the wetland and its wealth of bird life can be enjoyed by park visitors"
I'm quite sure the real reason is that it's easier to go to Coles Supermarket.

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Free ranger talk - once a week. Thanks ah.
The previous night we'd met a French couple who were doing in 9 days what we'd allocated 3.5 for. But he was a PhD student and she was on a 6 month working holiday, so. They said they'd first seen the strange toilet up the East Coast from Sydney, and it also had retro (démodée) music. No wonder they were taking 9 days, with this sort of talk schedule.

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More ways to die in Kakadu

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Whoever came up with the term "Wetlands" was a genius in PR. Technically "wetlands" is a superset of the terms "marsh", "swamp" and "bog", among which there are some differences, but I'm quite sure this nomenclature is more PR than anything. That said this being the dry season they were more like drylands. In this case it was bad, but there were a reason the dry season was the high season.

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On these wetlands

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Six seasons of Mamukala

Mamukala Wetlands Panorama

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On the hot and dry season

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We then took a walk

A parang to cut the tree branches in our way would've been useful.

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There is a penalty for going off the trail

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Tree and possible termite mound

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Following an unofficial but well-trodden path almost to the edge of the water, I tried looking for crocodiles but couldn't find any

It was very hot so I nuaed with a pink umbrella. Unfortunately my umbrella broke very fast despite the wind not being very strong. Sensodyne: giving out cheap umbrellas as a publicity tool backfires and makes your brand look cheap. I should've brought my ME2 cap, but it would've gotten soiled.

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Bare expanse

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We then went to the visitors centre.

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"Taking photos of art in this shop is a copyright infringement"
And witnessed a massive misunderstanding (whether deliberate or accidental I couldn't tell) of copyright law.

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My notes ask if one can add the "guk" modifier at the end, but I'm not sure where I got this idea from.

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"Children under 16 years and Northern Territory residents are free"

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World Heritage sign

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Cruise prices. Why anyone would take two cruises is beyond me, even if the second is only $20. Well, if you're staying there for 9 days, you need to pass the time somehow I guess.

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Aboriginal language"
At first I thought "Aboriginal language" was a language the pamphlets were available in.

Almost 80% of Kakadu is savannah.

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Aboriginal rock by Bluey Iikgirr and his grandson Wilfred Nawirrid

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Yay for photography!

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"The 25 World Heritage sites declared for their natural and cultural values" (it was 28 when this photo was taken)
The perils of putting a number on your World Heritage sign - it gets out of date.

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We love locusts. Notice also the cross-promotion: "You can learn more of their story at Nourlangie Rock"

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On the forest roof

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"Look up! You too are part of the food web."

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On the biodiversity in Kakadu

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Some men just want to watch the world burn

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Drink up
Maybe because I didn't drink enough, I got a nosebleed. Or maybe there were too many French people around.

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Small dingo on road

At Jabiru (a small town in Kakadu) there was an industrial area and an airport. I'm not sure if they owed more to tourism or to the Ranger Uranium Mine.

For lunch we went to Kakadu Bakery.

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Large menu

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Pizza Pull-apart (?!)

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Exotic pies

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Very expensive bread. It'd be cheaper to import than to bake it here.

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Veggie pizza slice. A bit less ugly than the Pizza Pull-apart. But it had sundried tomatoes so it was okay (I didn't try it).

The guidebook said it had the Northern Territory's best Fish and Chips. In the middle of crocodiles. The famous half chicken took 1/2 and hour so I opted for the 10 min Fish & Chips.

They also had crumbed chicken - just the middle of the wing. For A$2. Australia is bloody expensive.

The fish & chips were excellent - the second-best I'd had (the best was in Tasmania). The fish was very well crumbed and there were 2 generous pieces. Inside the flesh was delicate and sweet.

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The chips were crispy and fluffy, with a hint of non-salt seasoning. The paper cup apparently had something to do with it.

Addendum: Note the anti-immigrant sentiment, with talk of "real Aussies".

Both the fish and the chips were slightly too salty. More annoyingly, eating in a moving car sucked - when the car moved sharply, my chips landed on the floor (so I threw them out of the window - it was alright as they were biodegradable).

I had one of the huge éclairs for dessert. It was a bit disappointing - the cream and body were a bit heavy. Ironic, given that it was a bakery.

Fuel was $1.467/l in Darwin. Ahh, Civilization! At the BP in Aurora Resort in Kakadu it was $1.65/l. Branded fuel seemed cheaper than non-branded fuel, ironically.
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