Friday, December 23, 2005

Book review: Iron Council

Back from Taiwan, obviously. More about the trip later I've been awful busy. But I kind of promised that I'd put up a review so here it is!

China Mieville's Iron Council: I found the prose hard to get used to at first. The initial chapters of the book, I found it rather jagged though, the descriptions were hard to understand, possibly because this was my first encounter with the universe the book is set in.

The plot itself is also very chaotic. Following multiple characters and jumping up and down the chronological order of the story makes for a story that unfolds itself at a pace strictly controlled by the author.. you only find out about developments when he wants you to. That would be fine, but the characters don't really interest me that much except the main character, the golem-maker. So that makes for pretty slow reading the rest of the way.

That having been said, the setting itself holds much promise.. New Crobuzon sounds kind of Orwellian and the blending of magic and technology seems pretty good.. I was also told that Perdido Street Station was a better title, so maybe I'll give him another chance and try out that title before I decide whether to read him again.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Crazy businessmen

Well, if crazy, at least admirable. I was speaking to a friend of mine who's about to leave his job to concentrate on his business. He had started up a company and it's doing well so he's going to concentrate on running it full time. That's not why I say crazy though, it's more that when he started up the business, instead of funding it through investors, bank loans, etc, he and his friends went for credit card and cashlines. The business was successful and they've paid off all the loans ( $50k worth!), but boy was it crazy! Still, I've got to admire that courage and self-belief!

Going to Taiwan!! Hahahaha...

Yup yup finally a short holiday out of country!! Going to enjoy and have fun!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Disgustingly stupid article

I first read Plausible Futures when I was reading up about Scenario Planning some time back. The articles seem pretty good, but today I came across this article by Marshall Brain, about his concept of a Vertebrane which will allow people to achieve immortality free of their bodies.

Reading it, I am totally, totally disgusted. He starts off with this spiel about the "great" sci-fi shows and names a few (Star Wars, Star Trek, 2001) and says that these shows and all the favourite sci-fi stories have one thing in common: people remain tied to their bodies despite the incredible advance of technology.

He then goes on to argue that people, and you, the reader, should abandon your body, because it will grow old, it will have disease, you don't have to pee anymore, and by simply installing a "Vertebrane" in your spine, you can discard your body and inhabit the virtual world, where you can have perfect vision, the perfect body, and virtual slaves for your every desire. (Yes, he talks about porn too... ) Oh yes, you can download your brain and store it too.

I mean like, WTF! It's not that I'm against the idea of immortality. It's just that he's so obviously a layman who's so taken with a single idea and wants to promote it.. ( Or worse, he's not a layman yet he can quote such bad examples.)

So let's first look at Sci-fi that suggests this kind of scenario. The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, Isaac Asimov's Last Question, all kinds of cyberpunk including William Gibson ( this Marshall mentions Neuromancer but fails to note, for instance, that in one of the sequels to Neuromancer, the character Finn gets himself downloaded..), Sixth Day ( well, kind of..). This guys quotes sci-fi to start, but obviously he's not any kind of a sci-fi reader. It's an insult to sci-fi, that he tries to use sci-fi to convince his readers that his idea of a vertebrane is so revolutionary that wow, it's not in the "popular" sci-fi at all..

And then let's look at his extremely one-sided portrayal of the benefits of living in a virtual world. Sounds enticing? Well, remember the theme in the Matrix itself, when the traitor ( forgot his name) was comparing life in a dull real world and the polished enjoyment of the Matrix. Yes, he's saying we should all hurry up and get into the Matrix and stay there. Why should you exercise your imperfect body when you can hide in your virtual world? In fact, he goes one better than the Matrix! You can download yourself into a hard-disk and dump your body in the incinerator. Then you can live forever!

Hmm. what happens if there's a blackout? EMP from a nuclear bomb? Never mind, let's assume you can assure an umlimited uninterrupted power supply. Have you ever watched the Thirteenth Floor? There, people have created a virtual world, and the characters inside, once they realise they're living in a limited virtual world, want out. And you want in? Or have you ever read James Kelly's Think Like a Dinosaur? Like, okay, you downloaded your brain and now you're gonna incinerate the body? So, is the body brain going to willingly die now? Oh, I forgot, the body's on anaesthetic. Just kill the body, it's not murder, is it? Then again, there's this joke sci-fi story I once read, about someone who contracted for a download of his brain and then discovered that X years down the road, he had no power to affect anything when the Service Provider decided to change the Terms and Conditions.

Pardon, my instinctive revulsion at the ridiculous one-sidedness of his arguments is affecting my ability to give a coherent, well-organised response. There's just too many things wrong with the presentation of his ideas to answer! If I had to put it in two simple paragraphs with a single illustration each:

1) Perfect Virtual Body and Life is better than Real Life? Well, if you're content with a hedonistic life with Virtual Impact rather than Real Impact. How do you change the world and make it a better place? Watch Minority Report, there's a scene in the virtual bar where there's a guy who's buying a virtual experience of everyone praising him. That's the kind of wanker who might find it good.

2) A Downloaded Brain giving immortality and convenience? Well: Immortality's good, maybe. But does the soul transport? I'm not talking about a religious kind of thing. Look at Ghost in the Shell, the movie or tv series. You can tape memories, record the neurons, maybe. But does that give life? Kurosawa says it doesn't. If it does, then downloading your brain is more like reproduction: like an amoeba, except that the new half is immortal (maybe), but you yourself, you're going to die anyway. Mr Brain, when you decide to download yourself, I want to see if you yourself, in your meat body, are really willing to commit suicide.

Urban Dead

I've been playing FUMBBL a while now, on and off. It's a game that's based on Blood Bowl by Games Workshop and is really worth a try! Anyway, if ya interested in Blood Bowl, just hop in there and take a look. My coach name is zimsg, so you can see some of my games as well.

So I used to just use the place as a place to get pick-up games, but recently started reading forums as well. There's a wealth of information there, and I got interested in a regular league there. The next season starts in January, and I'll be hoping to get involved. Time's a bit off, cos it's an Aussie geographical-based league, so when I get back after work it's plus three, or maybe 10 or 11pm for the Eastern coast people. Still, I hope to get a game try at it. Haha.. I'm watching two of the league guys get a game as I type this.

Another thing that I saw is the very weird Urban Dead game. Some of the guys linked it so I got interested, naturally. Still not sure whether it's any good, but just started trying. Anyway it's a low commitment thing.

Reading again

Started reading again! My dear baby Key bought me Robert Jordan's Knife of Dreams (11th in the Wheel of Time) after we saw it at Times at Plaza Singapura. I first started reading the Wheel of Time series when I was in NJC, and there were about 6 books out. It was in the library and I always had to wait for some mysterious other person who was very slowly reading the next book in the series.

Now, I'm aware that it follows many of the worst cliches in the fantasy genre, much the way that Eddings does. Everyone (well, except Lan.. but you'll find out who he is. And maybe Thom Merrilin) is bumbling through life as best as they can, constantly thinking that they're not very accomplished and being very surprised each time they find that the next person is just as lost as they are, even though they thought they were so composed. The three heroes all think that the other two guys know how to handle girls.. the girls are all part-time super-compassionate, super-intelligent heroines and part-time small-minded bimbos.

His prose is also so-so.. It brings you through a story but it's not at all Gibson-like or Tolkien-like. So what keeps me reading? I must confess that partly it's because I just want to see how it all ends up. A major component of the storyline is this concept of the Wheel of Time, of how the far past blends into the far present. For instance, the WoT universe could jolly well be earth. Sometime in the far future, science and magic will merge.. Gene sciences will create new races, and a new form of power will be found which can be manipulated by certain humans who have a talent for it. Some point after that, researchers will tap into a hidden power source which is actually the Dark One locked away in a cell. A war is started which ravages the world, and eventually the good guys lock the bad guys away (temporarily). Partially due to this, there is a great cataclysm and civilisation is shunted into a Dark Age, without much science. After this, civilisation crawls up. Presumably there will be another battle where they lock him up properly, then forget about him and set the stage for the start of everything... It's an interesting idea and I want to see what he has to add to the idea.

Of course, I also like reading about Mat Cauthon and the adventures of the Band of the Red Hand. So this book, I enjoyed more, since much of the focus was on him being a general ( as opposed to being stuck under a stone column, like in a certain book.)

The day after that, I went to Library@Orchard with Key, and decided to borrow a Chine Mieville book. High Browse Online, the NLB blog, had recommended him, so I borrowed Iron Council to try. Haven't finished it yet, (KoD first!) but will review when I'm done!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Tachikoma's song

We're all alive.
It's because we're all alive that we're sad.
When we raise our hands and let the sunlight filter through,
we can see our blood coursing through them a vivid red.
Even earthworms, mole crickets and water striders
are all, all alive and all our friends.

We're all alive
It's because we're all alive that we laugh.
We're all alive
It's because we're all alive that we're glad.
When we raise our hands and let the sunlight filter through,
we can see our blood coursing through them a vivid red.
Even dragonflies, frogs and honey bees
are all, all alive and all our fr...

And so they chose to die so that others might live. Happy little creatures, cheerful even in their sacrifice. I cried, and I was sad, and I was glad...

Go watch 2nd Gig now!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Interesting Article on ID vs Evolution

There's a flame war going on out at Tomorrow.. Something about some forum letter writer who was saying that evolution is not proven and therefore should not be shown on TV documentaries and such.

Most of the war is pretty silly, very lopsided arguments one way or the other, which is how these things normally go. One of the more balanced guys actually had an interesting link to an Times (UK) article on some Roman Catholic statement on compatibility of Darwinism and religion. That was pretty cool, and puts a context on this whole Intelligent Design debate as being something originating from the US.

I guess as an intellectual and a nominal Christian, I've always just kind of let the two slide along. Or, as my pastor Glen Davis at XA Stanford used to tell us, there are many many scientists who study science and revere God.. like the chap who led the Human Genome Project. These guys are intellectuals and they don't have a problem with either side, so there must be something there.

Most importantly, I think that there's this very strange thing going on with the whole ID debate. See, it's not really a matter of whether evolution is proven, it's more like a work in progress. It's just that many people think that what's taught in school is really 100% true, like 1+1 = 2. When actually, a lot of it is either simplified or still a very well thought-out, but nevertheless unproven theory. For instance, the idea of atoms being these solid balls of neutrons and protons and little electron balls flying around, when actually that's just the model of it. Or my personal favourite, from Glen's collection: "Someone who thinks the world is wrong, and someone who thinks the world is round is wrong, (it's more like an ovoid I think?) but someone who thinks that both are equally wrong is the wrongest of them all!" (Well, he said it much nicer, but he's a much better speaker and thinks these things through more thoroughly than me!)

So what's being in taught in schools (at least in Science) tends to be models or theories that help us think. But because we kids can't differentiate it properly, it's taught to us as 100% truth! I know I couldn't tell the difference for a very long time, possibly until I was in late university. And without being arrogant about it, I was probably one of the brighter kids, just not very independent-minded. It's not the teachers' fault -- try teaching your 3 year old niece the real reason why they shouldn't associate their feet with their food!

Unfortunately, most people go their whole lives without distinguishing the difference. I still mix it up regularly until I stop to think about it. And here's where I think the ID people are being either duplicitous or dumb. When they make all these arguments that evolution is not proven, they're basically saying it's not proven in mostly the same way that the Big Bang is not proven ( okay ) or the way that the earth is not round ( hmmmm... ) or (the biggest stretch but the most controversial too) that the link between smoking and cancer is not proven.

Yes, you can't prove that smoking causes cancer. Even though smokers disproportionately represent lung cancer victims, there could be a hidden third factor. In fact, there's an infinite number of possible hidden factors.

And that's what makes me just a little angry with the "Evolution is not proven" people. They're generally intellectuals of some kind or the other (else they're parroting some website, or someone they admire). And there are two broad possibilities.

1) They don't realise that lots and lots of stuff is not proven or is not stated rigourously. (possibly, more forgivably, because of their own built in biases) Some of this stuff is taught in school, some of it they say all the time ( smoking causes cancer, drugs make you addicted) for the good of their own children, and some of it they accept all the time without questioning it in the same way.

2) They actually realise this, and are taking advantage of everyone else.

And (2) is what really really makes me mad. If you want to present a "whole truth" argument, you'd better present it all the way.. I'd want to hear you tell your kid the next time you want them to take their rather bitter fever medicine, "Well, it's not proven that this medicine will cure your fever. It's likely to, but there's a lot of interactions that are still not understood, and in any case, if your fever is viral .." and so on. Not planning to do it? Then why force this degree of intellectual rigour on everyone else, even when they don't want it?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mom's ill...

Mom's ill.. Going to work from home tomorrow to make sure she's okay. Thanks Wei Shyong!

(As an aside, WS talking abt golf today made me feel a little like learning. Plus I won some golf balls. Is that a sign? But I don't have any time.. sigh.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

7 Habits

Doing a 7 Habits Course now. I've never done this before! Never read the book either. Well, anyway, it's a so-so course. The mission statement thing is quite fun though, doing it now.. Maybe can share soon!

Had dinner with Junx and his gf yesterday.. damn, it was good just meeting up again. I need to spend more time catching up with friends. Heh, got to include that in my mission statement too! Friends!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gahmen Bloggers Meetup, GBM

Well, it happened!
Hmm. I actually felt super inexperienced at the gathering. Here was this whole bunch of people who were super experienced and super well read about other blogs and about blog technology.. Gone for BlogAsia and seen each other at various blog events.. hahaha.. I'm just some amateur blogger who had an evening free to go to the meeting. Still, if there's one thing that came out good it's that I got exposed to see more of the blogging world.

The interactions between the people were very interesting. The topic that generated more discussion was how government can use blogs to spread information. See, if a group, not necessarily government, could be a Madison Ave firm wants to advertise a product, wants to spread an idea through the blogosphere, what can it do?

Without going into the other models, I'll just share what I carried away from the session. This isn't what was agreed on ( don't think there was any agreement. Like any good meeting, there were techies, bureaucrats, cynics, visionaries, and facilitators present. Precisely the ingredients to end up back at square 1).

Use the democracy of the blogs. There's no need to generate alot of content yourself. Instead, find people who are already writing the content you want on their own. Link them up through a metablog, ask them to link you. As you continue to do so, more resources become available, and anyone who stumbles into one of these will also be able to find more resources through your linkage.

It's like Google actually. It ranks a site based on who it links, and who it's linked by. When a whole bunch of sites link each other, it's a sign that all these sites think each other relevant to a particular topic. And searchers who go to one of these sites can quickly navigate to a whole bunch of others. Basically, what you do with your metablog is to link up a whole set of sites around a central idea (like Uniquely Singapore or Hush Puppies) and make the whole lot more powerful at once.

Come to think of it, Google should write a filter for IE and Firefox. You google a topic, get a bunch of sites, and visit one of them. There's links there right? The filter color codes the links for their rankings under your previous Google search, so that you can see which of the links are most relevant.

Such a klutz

I was at Macs for a quick dinner today. Not very sure what to order, but the counter staff was like, "Do you want a chicken foldover meal?" With no decision in mind yet, I just agreed. Got one of those scratch and win cards. I think they must be promoting it quite hard, cos the girl seemed pretty pleased with herself. Commission sales perhaps?

Anyway, I went to a seat and munched away on my fries. Soon enough, my foldover arrived and I happily took it out to eat. Definitely rushing a little, cos I thought I was late for the gahmen bloggers' meet (which I was, just that I was not as late as most other people!) And it's only the second time I've eaten a foldover, so I opened up the colorful packet, reached in, and took out my foldover, whereupon I noticed:
1) My foldover was falling apart in my hands;
2) There's this paper wrapper inside which is supposed to hold it together.

Ditz that I am, pulled it out, and tried to stuff my foldover back in. Ended up spraying lettuce all over the floor. Anyway, after that I started eating, but soon enough one of the mac stuff came over with a whole bunch of serviettes and placed them on my table. "In case you need." And a short while after, the original lady who'd served me the chicken foldover came by and swept up the lettuce. She must have been regretting selling me the foldover! I'm such a klutz! I tried to apologise but she just ignored me...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Law school quotas?

This is really weird. Today I was talking to a colleague who said that she was rejected from law school because they had quotas for gender and minorities. As in, she got excluded because she was female and a minority. Is that strange or what?

No work and not feeling good about it..

I just completed a paper and suddenly I've got no papers coming up anymore. Should be a good thing right? But I'm worried... I'm worried that I'm not getting work because the boss doesn't trust me to do a good job of it, in some sense. I guess I subscribe to a belief in valued weapons: if a weapon is good you'll keep using it. When you don't use a sword in an RPG, it's mostly because it's lousy.. or it's a high level weapon and you're trying to level everything else, but that analogy doesn't apply to me.

Part of it is also that I don't get a chance to show my worth either, if I don't have work. Hmm.. Am I thinking far too much?

Maybe tomorrow will bring some heads to crack..

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Working.. sigh

It only just struck me today that I'm now a working adult.
Yes, it's silly considering that I've been working for almost 3 months now.
But you know, it only really hit me today. I'm working. No more skipping class, no more allowance without responsiblity. No more playing till late the next morning without having to worry: "Do I have to work tomorrow?" (Previously, even if I had classes, at most skip!)

And I'm not ready! Guess I haven't had a smooth transition to a life of responsibility. Haven't even transited yet. Am I the only one feeling this? Maybe all my working adult friends who are going out and happily spending their earnings on toys and gadgets are just like me but haven't realized it yet. Maybe they realized it and don't care. Or maybe I'm the only one who's looking at a lifetime of having to be responsible for myself and my family and freaking out..

(to chuipz: no, this not a reaction to what you said about unreflective blog posts)

Long update

Hmm.. haha. Just to tell everyone that, yes, I played ball on Friday, enjoyed it tremendously, and yes, my hand hasn't fallen off where the stitches were taken out... :>

Monday, October 17, 2005

Stitches out!

Had my stitches out! Will post pics from Key's phone soon.. heh!

Bumped into Jelaine today as well.. Nice to see her after so long...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pattern Recognition / Anansi Boys

Spending the weekend catching up on reading, anime, life entertainments. I've finally finished Pattern Recognition, by William Gibson. Not that it was a difficult book to read. Au contraire, it was very.. sumptious.. reading. Normally I speed read through books, gobble up the words and I'm done ultra fast. Pattern Recognition took me about 2 weeks? Of course, I was reading in the train, on the bus, in the little interstices of life, so probably it wasn't the most conducive environment, but.. I found myself concentrating hard on enjoying the prose! I think Gibson's writing style has actually improved. Previously I just enjoyed his juxtaposition of cyberpunk, sci-fi elements with elements of myth and the feeling of larger, mystical forces moving in a technological era: Kind of like seeing how myth might have formed in the past, played out in the present. But in Pattern Recognition, it's not the formula that entrances me. If anything, he doesn't stick to formula. But the prose itself makes me savour each sentence, really, really slowly...

Just after I finished Pattern Recognition, nekki and xp gave me Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. Heh, thanks! It's a fantastic book too! It doesn't follow Gaiman's style in American Gods, that was much gloomier, while this follows a more Grimm format: that is, it's dark inside but with a childlike narrative. It's a delightful treat that I found myself reading until the early AM hours.. hahaha... couldn't put it down! Good stuff, anyway..

And then, started catching up on the Naruto filler episodes, and the new anime, Blood +. I'd watched Blood the Last Vampire and found it rather enjoyable, and thought this would be a good new series. Someone on outie compared it to Elfen Lied, which threw me off, cos I didn't like THAT anime, but Blood+ proves to be pretty nice, at least in that 1st episode.. Very nice drawing, and a nice arty feeling that isn't compromised by the blood and gore the way Elfen Lied was...

Monday, October 10, 2005

op over

well.. op is over. quite funny, had a young caucasian female anaesthetic specialist ( what's the term for it?) and an old "uncle" type nursing assistant both reassuring me in the operating theatre, one in Aussie and the other in Singlish/Chinese. Did they realise they were saying roughly the same thing?

oh.. and heh. the operating bed is heated? small things to improve the whole experience. typing one handed now, kind of slow...

Operation soon

In less than 3 hours I'll be checking in.

I received an email from FCBC about the prisons ministry that I'd signed up for about 2 months back? It's a serious commitment. Like really serious. The coordinator's email somehow manages to communicate that clearly, setting a challenge that makes me want to grit my teeth and go through with it. It seemed like an answer to a prayer when I signed up to know more.. I was looking for a different approach to serve, something different from THC, something close to the ground, no longer managing but actually caring and doing. But now I still haven't managed to hand off my THC responsiblities yet. And FCBC side seems to require a much more serious, years-long commitment than I can give.

.... What now? Argh. I'll worry about it after the op.

Session at Cecily's

Had a pot luck session at cecily's yesterday.. though I didn't bring anything! Hee.. didn't know what to get also, figured I'd join Kok Peng's suggestion to get there, see what we're short and pay for pizza for the shortfall. There was too much food though, oops... Haha.. Or like Velle said, if everyone brought food then all of us would go back bloated.

I haven't met up with everyone in a while. More and more are not doing engineering jobs, only chor ling and regina are still in relatively harder engineering industries.

Fun session in general! Played minimize, but because the group was so large we didn't keep score. A more immediate gratification form of the game with forfeit eating for the loser.. somehow less satisfaction! I guess next time for these gatherings I should supply games! Bring along taboo or another one of those classics.

I'd never been to Cilly's place, it was quite nice. Strange to be living "alone" in Singapore, as in non-family.. (she's got a housemate, Japanese). The feeling is like in Stanford, all these student homes... a feeling of austerity brought on by the lack of certain types of furnishings our parents would buy. The kind of classiness from a certain modern aesthetic in the kind of placemats, table arrangements, and so on she has. Empty space well-maintained in the home because you don't have family members adding stuff to the living room and leaving things lying around. And the kind of "bachelor pad-ness" that comes from having a fridge in the living room as well as in the kitchen. Makes me feel like I want to move out soon sometimes. But family has its own benefits.. Much as I quarrel tons with my mom, I acknowledge that she cares a lot, and really takes pains particularly to ensure we don't fall sick..

Cilly herself, I haven't seen for a longer period then the rest, generally other than the significant others, I'd seen the rest at Reg's place the last time. Hee.. Cilly's slimmed down a bit, and sounding a bit more Singaporean too!
Ah well.. till next time!

Sunday, October 09, 2005


The mentoring session on saturday went relatively well.. Ashwin, Nandini and Ka May seem to be doing okay, and the new batch of mentees looked like they had fun.. heh. Not too bad, but it's slowly draining the energy from me.

After that, went to k and pool with key's friends. Can't remember the last time I'd had time to k, and the last time I played pool... haha, but didn't perform too badly..

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Hate those spammers

who infiltrate the site and give spam comments. Sigh.

I hate the army efficiency. Monday I'm having my operation and I don't even yet know if I'm being covered for service injury. kind of pissed off and frustrated and it's bleeding into everything I do.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Oops... tied up at work

Made key angry today.. :< Was supposed to meet her family for dinner, but at 5.45pm got swept up into meeting without phone.. Ended up making her very worried.

Sorry dear! My bad! Should have made some excuse to give you a call.. But you're the best! Thank you for forgiving me! heh...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Pattern Recognition

Finally bought William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. I've been eyeing it for a while but didn't get around to it. But finally, with a Kino voucher in hand, I made the purchase. Now I'm still deferring Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys and Garder Dozois' latest Sci-fi collection. Seems like my tastes are becoming more borderline... Gaiman I only started reading this year, and I started reading Gibson only in 2003, beginning with All Tomorrow's Parties.

Anyway, started reading it, and almost from the start was introduced to CayceP's strange theory on jet lag -- it happens because your soul can't travel as fast as the airplane and has to reel itself in. Kind of like Shadowrun, maybe, when you're astral projecting, your soul has to find its way back! But in SR it moves super fast..

Well, I NEVER suffer jet lag.. what does that mean? Maybe my soul is super-para-human and can travel faster than yours? Or maybe that my default mode of life is a strange kind of soul-less existence similar to zombiehood.


Blogger's giving me strange problems. The formatting bar's gone all weird on me ever since I installed that wireless router. Both the PC and the laptop are weirded. Anyone know what's going on?


NYF meeting today. It was good to see everyone.. mostly everyone looks the same. Alex seems a bit more tired, stretched, as Bilbo would say. And Lari somehow looks more energetic than before.. hmm. Energy transfer?
They're launching a new round of NYF, looking for an Org Comm. I'm too busy. Ah well. I have ideas, but maybe I'll submit them some other way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Another op..

Work's been going okay. I've actually been a bit discouraged because over the last few days I've seen some work fall apart simply because I was going full steam ahead in the wrong direction... but in the end I've gotten some input from various of my supervisors and bosses.dunno if they're just being nice, but they said "good work!" So I'll just take the comments and don't think too much. oh, and Director's given birth to a baby Erin! Same name as my older niece. I so HAVE to find out if her first daughter is the same name as my younger niece...

Saw Dr Pho today, turns out I AM going to have the screw out. So one more wrist operation, hopefully paid for by the army, and it's going to happen 8 Oct. One moment I was saying, okay, let's have the screw out, then he says, okay, Monday! and I'm totally floored, thought it would take longer. Maybe it's a lull period or something, I did notice the place was kind of empty compared to the past?

Sharon replied to my email! So I haven't lost contact with her, was worried about that! Think she's submitting her thesis today.. Good luck, Ren!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The unnecessary necessary

I've been at a writing course the last two days. The teacher was generally good, quite understanding and not *too boring. Today I did find myself in a rather contentious mood though. He was telling us about unneccesary words. Example: "We will take all necessary measures." Or "I'll give you the relevant information." Or, "We'll take appropriate actions", "Use suitable headings", "Give a gentle reminder", "This is strictly confidential."

His reasoning: You're expected not to take unneccesary measures, give irrelevant information, take inappropriate actions, use unsuitable headings, give harsh reminders, or observe loose confidentiality. That's why all those words are useless.

But I disagree! True, it doesn't make for perfect English. But these words help you to reassure people!
Still, he probably means a general case and all that, so let's just take it that I was feeling antsy. Anyway, he went on to ask, "Anyone else have any other examples they want to add?"

I flirted very long with the idea of saying,
"Yes I do! When you ask if anyone else has any examples to add, you're obviously asking the class and not yourself. Therefore, 'anyone have any examples to add?' is enough. 'Else', 'other', and 'they want' are all unnecessary!"

Managed to control myself though. Probably half the class would just have assessed accurately that I was trying to be a smartass.

A new Gaiman book?

Uncle's in town from beijing and he met whole family for dinner at crystal jade... Too bad that I can't enjoy myself because of the ulcer at the back of my jaw.. :<

Anyway, beforehand I was at the shopping centre looking for something for dear key. There were a few promising ones but nothing panned out in the end. There was a Ty siberian but after comparing with Diggs, which was also on the shelf, realised that it's nowhere near as cute as Diggs and Junior, the two previous Ty I bought... also, some games at Zed and Zee! PopCap games well represented, including Zuma and Bejeweled 2 from MSN Zone, and the price was not too awful. So I was thinking of getting her a game, but... she'll probably kill me, I should get it AFTER her exams. Then, remembered she wanted a clock, but, cannot buy clock for her lah! Her mom would freak! So the shopping's a waste. Except that maybe I saw this Gaiman book, the Anansi Boys, which is kind of an offshoot of American Gods, which I loved. So I figure I'll go Kino with some vouchers and a discount card and pick it up.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hee.. was at key's place and she was going through the hong kong pics. Then she showed me this shot that I took.. hee.. Pretty, I think.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Zim & Key @ Bintan

hee.. Just uploaded the pictures for my Bintan trip with Keying. It's been a long while but I tend to procarastinate. Plus the camera isn't mine! Hee.. The first pic is at the restaurant in the tourist village. And the second pic is ah ping! We were playing monopoly, all four of us, and he kept getting the beauty queen card.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Super dinner @ Tavern

Wow... I had a fantastic dinner at this wonderful place.. My sis was treating, to celebrate her finishing her confinement month. Now she can eat all she wants!

Anyway, this place is just behind UE Square, think it's on the streets toward Mohd Sultan. There are signs all over advertising the weekday lunch and dinner deals, so it probably isn't hard to find. It's called Tavern, and the setup is kind of tavern-like, dark, traditional woods, dim orange lights like wood fires, lots of staff hanging around.

The price totally floored me. "Wagyu beef" is $40 for 100gm, the most expensive of the lot. And a more normal meal of the other ingredients, like ribeye, or salmon, or fish, costs $22-32. So, not a cheap place.. But the food is sooooooooooooo good. I was very hesitant about the beef, but my sister said if no-one else ordered the wagyu she wouldn't either. Apparently you need to order at least 300gm of Wagyu to get a nice chunk that's thick enough to have texture or something. But I took the excuse and ordered that as well. So we had 200gm each...

It was seriously the best beef I've ever eaten. Medium rare, juicy, chewy and soft at the same time, perfect texture! It felt like it was melting in my mouth! And the outside was just a little crispy, with the taste of the grill, some hints of wood smoke... And the fat layer carried a hint of sweetness from the sauce seasoning. Wow.

One of these days I'll go try out the lunch set. $15, they advertise.. It won't be wagyu, but it should be good too!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Splashes of red ink

Just got back a paper with tons of red ink all over it.. Sigh. Well, it's computer red ink, but it still hurts to think that my writing is that bad.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Strange accident

Friend of mine had the following accident, concisely summed up like this:

1. Her fault.
2. Other guy wanted to get $A.
3. She said, I'll use insurance, we report, you claim.
4. He said, Can! You arrange my car towed. (?!)
5. She said, Nonsense! Your insurance can arrange your own tow.
6. He said, I don't know how to call tow. I don't care how things are done by right, you better arrange for me.
7. She said, I'm not going to arrange for you.
8. He said, Then I don't let you go.
In the end, some friends of hers came along and negotiate with the guy, who..
1. Can't produce driver's license
2. Can't produce insurance documents
3. Not registered with the insurance company he claimed he was contracted with

and managed to knock him down to $A/2.5.


Cards that bend and don't break

Today I learnt that one of the "security features" (among many others) of Work Permit cards is that they flex without losing their straightness. Even managed to try it out, and then I realised that it's about the same material as our ICs.. and that that also bends to an amazing degree.

Come to think of it, our ICs are remarkably tough. They sit in our wallets year after year, even follow some of us to NS life, get bent, stomped on, squashed, crushed.. they outlast our wallets!

And you know what? Credit/ATM cards are always breaking, roughly at the same line. I'm not sure if it's because they are getting swiped and that's wearing them away, or if the wallet doesn't support them at that line and so they get weakened until they break. But!

Why not have tougher credit cards? Our governments can issue us, FOC (unless you lose one), cards that don't break for twenty, thirty years maybe, but the bank cards maybe last two years before they break...

Sunday, September 04, 2005

New areas?

A bit tired after shuttling around the whole day in car...

On thursday I told daniel and joanna that I think I may need a change of scope for a while.. Some long-term, regular exposure to a field other than youth work. At the time, I was still thinking in terms of impact projects with elderly or maybe deaf and dumb people.

Today, at FCBC a new avenue opened up.. prisons. The yellow ribbon project that key loves so much. I don't know. It's scary, but.. it might be much better than anything I had planned myself.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Seems like I'm getting busier..
Anyway yesterday I was shopping for laser printers. Brian had recently bought a monochrome Brother printer (HL-2040 I think) for the low low price of $218, and Key was telling me about it. It was really quite amazing to me, that laser printers have fallen so much in price. My mom's first reaction when I told her was, "I only trust HP!" Talk about brand loyalty! Brother this, brother that, you my brother issit?

But later I managed to convince her to consider: anyway I'm paying! Whereupon she's like, okay, but get a multi-function centre.

Owww... Anyway, multifunction, might as well get flatbed photocopy, fax, color scan, and monochrome laser print. Brother: $589. HP: $1140.
Sigh.. it'll take me a few months to save up man... :<

Over the weekend I went dragonboating with the Truehearts people and I'm aching even now! But while I was doing it I found myself thinking that I should do this more often.. hahaha.. stupid, you know? Now I'm just hurting. I'll stick to basketball... After that I went to Daniel's surprise party for Lisa. That was very cool in a lot of ways! Met a lot of old friends/acquaintances, including Billy and Weylin, Naomi, Esther and Weixiong.. And Daniel and Lisa telling the story from their respective sides of how Daniel proposed: that was just hilarious! I loved the part when Lisa was saying something like, "He put these earrings in the cushion beds to make it look like he was just giving me the ring, but they looked like confetti so I just shoved them out of the way and went straight for the ring."

And the whole thing about surprise parties is just cool..

Naomi was saying something about ORTV, which organizes concerts by christian chinese pop artistes around CNY.. sounds interesting. Apparently lasy year was Tao Ze, and this year is a particular famous local singer! Key was very interested when I told her.. :>

Munchie Monkey Anticipation

I love...
being on the train to vista, coming closer to you...
sitting with you at meetings, catching your eyes and your quick smiles...
always ordering calamari and an italian soda on the form first..
watching you order at the counter...
you rolling your eyes when you see me watching
playing with the kung fu men as they run around...
dodging their kicks and watching them dance...
watching you fork up your carbonara, twisting the strands so carelessly into your fork..

Hee.. can't wait for tonight!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Recipe for bittergourd

Yesterday nigth I was talking to my mom about the Taiwanese "God of Cooking" competition and how Singapore won with a non-bitter bittergourd dish. So I wanted to go find how they did it, which was reported in a article and was blogged (and later tomorrowed) at Unfortunately that particular news item has closed and is in archives! The most that other news articles mention is that they used another kind of "si gua" and "she shu", but I remembered the UND article had more details.. ah well. :<
Best part was, my initial searches in English kept turning up articles about the competition kicking off and about Southern Taiwan beating Beijing in the semi-final.. but virtually nothing about the final or Singapore winning. It's like, nobody's reporting it! Did the article even make it into ST? Isn't anybody celebrating the chefs?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Why tolerate the hate?

That's the title for an op-ed in the New York Times, talking about how the British are about to expel a hate-preaching cleric.

It's an old debate, and we're still working out the answers. In a multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-racial world, the watchwords are harmony, tolerance, mutual respect. But as the author of the article Irshad Manji says, "Why tolerate violent bigotry? Where's the "mutual" in that version of mutual respect?"

Or to quote Thomas Jefferson, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." We need to be vigilant against the spreaders of hate and lies in all areas of society...
But let's not draw the line at terrorism. Why not bring it to racism as well?

And before you give a yes and amen to that, think about what it means. It means that when your friend makes a racist joke, you've got to scold him. And when your mom asks you if your Indian housemate at university stinks, you've got to scold her too!

Wait a minute, you say. I'm not going to condemn them for a thought, only for discriminatory action. Or you say, well, that's not that serious, and they probably didn't mean it anyway. They're really nice to Ahmad and Sanko, so they can't really be racist!

So where do you draw the line? I know I'm still working out my personal line, so don't expect me to help you there. But I do know that one of the big mistakes you can make is to assume that there's one single correct line for every person to obey, and expect to take action only when you can find that line. And the other mistake, in the other extreme, is to take no action at all, because well, you've got to respect that maybe that guy's line is in a different spot.

My position: You know where your line is, so act on it. If someone can prove you wrong, can show that your line's out of position, apologise, repent, make up for it, and then move the line to where it should be!

What do you think?

Good governance and national pride

I like what Fidel Ramos said in a Time interview published in the most recent issue.

In the global economy, anything that a country lacks, it can import and
outsource -- except for two items: good governance and national pride, which
must be homegrown.

Do we have those? I'd like to think so! And that's my fundamental opposition to the groups of weird people calling themselves the opposition in Singapore: that fundamentally, they don't seem to be able to produce good governance. When I read all the policy commentary, I find myself frequently outsmarted by all the pundits: they raise points which make me think, "Oh wow, I never thought of that!"So obviously I'm no brilliant policy analyst. But then, these clowns make policy statements that make me think "That's stupid!" So they are either sublimely intelligent, or extremely stupid. And so far I've yet to see any evidence for the formal. No one I've read or met, in print, online, or in person, can quite tell me with a straight face that their policies are worth more than the paper/electrons they are printed on.

When I was at Stanford, there were always people who were willing to discuss policy and politics. Republicans and Democrats, yes, but there were republicans who were arguing that certain Republican policies which were dumb, and democrats who.. you get the idea. And of course, there were a couple of libertarians running around saying that Big Government is all wrong.

So let me skip all the credible reasoning and propose a solution. Have kids (like Secondary school and up) discuss policies with civil servants. Let them ask the the silly questions and find out why the decision makers decided a certain way. And, when they've absorbed it, they'll have tons more questions like, "Why? Why not this way? Why not that way? You sure or not?" that will drive the civil servants insane and take years off their lives.

Why bother? Because we need kids to grow up with an interest in how this country is run! All the important things about having a civil society and transparent government, lie on having an intelligent, opinionated, and most of all interested electorate to ask the tough questions and reward the governments that have the best plan for the country.

Let me draw a soccer comparison for you. If you were a Man United fan, what would you have done when Malcolm Glazer bought the club? (1) Worry that his financing would drive the club under? (2) Wonder why the stupid English are making such a big fuss? (3) Rub your hands in anticipation that next season the odds for Man U wins might be just a little better for you to gamble?

stressed out

Argh. not by work though. Just feel like I've dropped the ball on the OSY program. It's totally screwing my mindset up for the day. Got. To. Get. Out. Of. This. Funk!

Welcome to the family

Yesterday at 3.50pm, we had a new addition to the family.. My sister gave birth to a little girl, Emily Seah, on the same day as my brother's birthday! Heh..really looking forward to next year, when he'll celebrate his 21st and she'll celebrate her first!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Santa Monica...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sometime last week the American President said something about teaching "intelligent design" in classes or something. So now there's a big uproar between people who think "intelligent design" is a way of sneaking God into classrooms as a "scientifically proven" theory and people who think "intelligent design" should belong up there beside evolution. I can't give an unbiased account of this because of my own beliefs, but I think a section from CS Lewis' Mere Christianity is helpful..

Ever since men were able to think they have been wondering what this universe really is and how it came to be there. And, very roughly, two views have been held. First, there is what is called the materialist view... (explanation follows)... The other view is the religious view... (explanation follows)... Please do not think that one of these views was held a long time ago and that the other has gradually taken its place. Wherever there have been thinking men both views turn up. And note this too. You cannot find out which view is the right one by science in the ordinary sense. Science works by experiments. It watches how things behave. Every scientific statement in the long run, however complicated it looks, really means something like, "I pointed
the telescope to such and such a part of the sky at 2.20 a.m on January 15th and saw so-and-so," or, "I put some of this stuff in a pot and heated it to such-and-such a temperature and it did so-and-so." Do not think I am saying anything against science: I am only saying what its job is. And the more scientific a man is, the more (I believe) he would agree with me that this is the jobof science -- and a very useful and necessary job it is too. But why anything comes to be there at all, and whether there is anything behind the things science observes -- something of a different kind -- this is not a scientific question....

Or if I were to vastly simplify, the simple question "Why?" defeats, has always defeated, and will always defeat learned men of all kinds, scientific, religious, or otherwise.

Monday, August 01, 2005

At 5pm, I thought today's post was going to be about my first day of work, and nearly falling asleep in front of the big boss at meeting, and meeting old sec school friends and their wives.

Well. In the end..

Today I died
a little death.

Straight from the sunshine
through the rotten foundation
plunged into the hollow dark
with ants and dirt to fill my mouth

pain for her on the inside
pain from her on the outside
Inside leading to outside leading back to inside.

Today I died.
Just a little
Just a bit.

Friday, July 29, 2005

more unit mess-ups.

And of course, today, I went down to camp. In addition to the usual screw-up involving my lost injury report, today added two new lows to my ORD problems. First, I discovered that my Certificate of Service is not ready. And Second, I discovered that my ORD date was off by 5 days. I was supposed to finish on 16, apparently. But they still let me take leave 17, 18, 19, 20 and supposedly come back on 21 to get my IC. Well done. Well done!

Well, I finally upped and wrote that complaint letter to MINDEF Feedback Unit.

Back from Bintan

So anyway I just came back from Bintan. Had a nice trip there with Key. It was FANTASTIC! Well, I haven't quite started work yet so we were penny pinching, but it was fun! We stayed at the Angsana, which is a nice four-star hotel there. It has really good service, the best hotel service I've ever had, I can honestly say. We did jet-skiing and snorkeling and tons of lazing by the beach, and generally had fun. We were rather hungry often because the prices were in USD, which really made the food quite painful on the wallet. But other than that, it was a fantastic trip.

I came back with this buzzing in my ear, thought it was water in my ear, but it just refuses to come out. Mom's going on and on about ear infection, and how her friend went deaf because he left it untreated, so just to find out I went to google it. Got an emedicine hit. Best part is, under treatment, it says,

Rest; avoid further scuba dives, coughing, sneezing, bending, and attempts
to equalize the ears.

Right. I'll try not to sneeze. Or cough. Even though I have the beginning of flu.

Anyway, next morning I went to see the Doc. He says I've got fluid in my middle ear, can see the membrane swelling, and most likely it came up through my nose and went in. Best to take some medicine to make the water go away, and in five days if still not okay he'll get the ENT guy to let the water out manually. Not sthg I'm keen on. But it's now two days and my ear is still ringing. It's pretty awful. Driving is kind of weird, feels off balance, and when I picked up the phone to call Key today and her mom picked up, the phone was on the off ear and the sound transformation deepened her mom's voice into an unrecognizable bass. Made me think I'd called the wrong number... :< And of course sometimes when people say things to me I can't hear them properly..
Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

just wanted to add some pictures up. This is the pic that chun keat submitted for that competition in NUS... heh.. we took it in Quebec, at this really cute full size wall painting. Chris is waving to the girl inside, and Chun Keat's just admiring the scenery..

Saturday, July 23, 2005

ST published an interview with Khaled Abou El-Fadl today. It's quite an interesting article, especially for someone like me who has very little understanding of what Islam means to Muslims. In particular, I refer to his comments on cutting off of hands.. This was something I probably first read about in Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel, about some punishment that was inflicted on thieves in Turkey somewhere pre-WWII days.

I give a very practical example. In traditional Islamic law, there is a whole
set of rules on theft. If a person commits a thet because he is hungry, you
cannot sever his hands. If a person commits a theft because he believes it's his
property, you cannot sever his hands. There are about 30 such exceptions..
Extremists show no such reserve.

He also says,

Extremists give themselves the power not just to decide what is modest or
immodest behaviour for women, but also to enforce their notions, because they
believe that they act as God's agents. I argue that this type of thinking arises
from extremist assumptions. A moderate might form an opinion as to how women ought to dress, but doesn't believe that he or she has the power to force that code of dress, because looking at the (Quranic) text they cannot assume an absolute understanding of the divine will.

Hmmm. For some reason I find myself thinking about grace and law. Maybe, to one way of thinking, the thing between law and grace is that law, assumes that I understand what God's will is or isn't, whereas the idea of grace is that God's will is something that is beyond our understanding, and so we always have to seek His guidance and His will in our lives?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Old friends blogging too?

Well.. was just surfing the tomorrowed sites when I came across someone's cute story of being posted to the same school as their dad. Read the site, decided to surf the d00d's flickr pictures, and discovered! Hey this guy did the Wacky Walk in June 2003. Singaporean too! Looked at his name, and suddenly realized i knew who it was.. heh.. Left him a message too...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Stressed out

I really shouldn't be blogging at this time.. I'm so behind that I just want to scream for help. But too bad la. I just want to RELAX!

Eh.. Okay la. Just realised haha, the blogger convention is this Saturday, and Josh/Addy's wedding this saturday, so too bad for me, no convention. Super ultra busy.. Maybe I'm stressing out too much, cos rushing things out for the wedding, and for the website launch on saturday, and the AC attendance, and..

Just feel like I'm running so hard yet still falling behind. It's like the burn rate on my time is >24hrs, you know?

Well. To cap it off, stupid injury report thing is going haywire. Chief Clerk insists she sent it to PMC already, PMC says they haven't got it, no records of it arriving. CC insinuating maybe I should freaking redo the bloody report.

I think? It's just her way of avoiding an investigation into why the report was done last August and still not submitted. Report's probrably shredded already. PoS...

Bloody %$#@! rubberneckers

Singaporeans.. sigh. In the morning I was heading to camp to pick up some last minute work (I'm going to ORD! why am I still working?) from my boss, and I heard a comment from the Class 95 hosts about Singaporeans slowing at accidents to get 4D numbers. Haha, Singaporean humor.. little did I know!

A few hours later I'm heading back and the PIE near Paya Lebar area is clogged.. Start/stop traffic, then later abt 10km/h. Can't see why, there's a flyover coming up, and the congestion looks like it's over the crest. Should be accident right?

Right! As I'm driving by, I realise, there's no accident. Not on this side of the road at least. Just across the road divider was some accident involving at least three vehicles. And on this side? Clear as a sunny day..

Repeat: Bloody %$#@! rubberneckers!!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


Was in for physio today, carrying my new copy of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. On the way out, I was struck by the feel of the hospital corridors. NUH, not quite sterile and blue-flourescent kind of look/feel/scent. In fact, the scent of the place, while mildly antispetic, has a distinctly floral undertone, nothing like SAF medical centres. A full day there leaves you with a aromaticallyaudible scent you can detect at 10 metres. And the lighting is homely, a composite of authentic sunlight and orange-yellow walls that turn the flourescent light into something like the warm feel of tungsten-light-bulbs. Nevertheless, there's a kind of lifelessness about the place, a feeling, not of people recovering into the full bliss of life, but of people waiting to die.

Then again, what I read in Gods, resonates. It's some quote of an old quote, but it rings..

"Every hour wounds. The last one kills."

Saturday, July 02, 2005

RI year of 95 gathering?

Sigh.. Junx was telling me about the gathering. But I just didn't feel like going! A lot of reasons, but I guess the main thing is my insecurity.. Because of the one extra year of masters, I'm probably one of the last to not be working yet. What would the discussions be like? I dunno. What I do know is that I'm shying away from it.. :<

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

met up with pastor loke

Well.. met up with pastor loke from fcbc. He's a nice kind of guy I guess, seems approachable. I guess I'll slowly see about getting myself integrated, and slowly ask the questions I want to ask. How do I say though? I'm not entirely sure I'm here at this church to stay, is it a bad idea to start visiting with their cell groups?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A series of unfortunate events

Caught the show today with Key and her friend Chunhui. Heh, I loved it! It had such a cute side-ways look at things, very Tim-Burton (Big Fish!) and the siblings were soooo cute. Sunny, the biting baby, especially. And I liked Jim Carrey's role in the show. After Mask, I found that I didn't like most of his shows.. whether they were things like Bruce Almighty, or Ace Ventura. Somehow, his straight out comedy hasn't been fantastic. But this.. now this was very good! heh..

A new kind of game...

It's not a coincidence, right? This interest of mine in these online puzzles. Starting with that silly nonsense show "Nemesis Game", then that website with Escape from Crimson Room that Key introduced, and then that notpron site where I'm currently at level 19 (of 135), and today, while I was surfing for more free e-books for my Axim, I come across "The Beast" due to a link to Sean Stewart's e-book.

What's the Beast? A reality computer game.. they left pieces of dialogue and stuff all over the net and all over real life and the community at large tried to make sense of it. It seemed to be based on the AI movie so it's a long while now.. old hat maybe, but I'm going to try to figure it out. Seems like an informational site at, and one of the founders wrote a perfect introduction here.

This seems to be the kind of game I'm really looking for.. something challenging and difficult, involves real life, I can pause anytime I want. And most importantly, a good storyline to work out, some kind of conspiracy that I have to discover, or a picture or series of perspectives that makes things clear. That's what I liked about Viridian room over Crimson room, which was the sense of completion in the ending, when you go like, "ohhhh..." And it helps when the individual stories are good stuff too, like this part of the Beast storyline. (Note to self: remember, truth is about internal and external consistency. With these, who knows?)

Anyway, while I go searching for more of these, it seems like there's one to investigate now. Avant games seems to have come up with a game "I love bees", headquartered at a blog and puppetmastered by Jane McGonigal. It happened during the US presidential election I think, so I'm way behind, but at least Jane offered a way to jump into the game. Heh. Well. Off into the rabbithole, and who knows? At least this seems more like what Neo should have done to escape the matrix, rather than being approached..

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Escape from Crimson Room. and Viridian Room. and Blue Room.

Got this from, recommended by darling Key! It's quite cool, a puzzle to solve, like maybe one of those old Gabriel Knight games but in a really compressed one-room package. Did Crimson Room first, that was quite easy except for two silly non-intuitive things. Then Viridian Room, which was tough, and really had a good ending to finish off the Crimson storyline. Blue Room was a letdown, it seemed like a chicken-feat early version of Crimson Room..

Anyway, try it! I'm still looking for more puzzle pages like this, it's quite cool to play. I was watching Nemesis Game at Key's place and wondering if there was a website with riddles all around, and wondering if I could do such a site..and now this pops up. Looks like it's all been done!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

"Where are we going?"

Hee.. sister, bro in law and mom were all overseas on separate trips (wow!) so I was supposed to fetch Erin to and from school for two days. Today, when I was taking Erin up to the place, I blur blur walk past the entrance to the school, cos not very familiar with the place. End up, as we're walking past, she say, "Jiu jiu, where are we going?"

Sooooo cute!! hahahaha...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Care for Children

Was at FCBC for the first time with Key.. heh. The speaker for the day was someone from "Care for Children" (info here), which is a group working to bring kids out of orphanages and into adoptive foster homes. It's apparently a very successful program, driven in particular by the weird demographic of one child per family. That basically means that many many families have raised one child, and sent him or her to school, and now the parents have a child-shaped void in their lives. I think that makes for a fantastic environment for the kids who have grown up in the orphanages deprived of parental love.. :>

strawberry cheesecake... mmmm....

My sis bought the new strawberry cheesecake flavor of Ben & Jerry's. I can't remember the exact name, but it rocks! The sweetness of strawberry, but mixed nicely with the creaminess of cheese, in a delicious ice-cream blend.. Wow!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Alpha course?

Key mentioned to me that she's interested in attending an Alpha course, and was asking me about it. I'm quite happy.. heh, even though the attachment has made it more difficult for us to spend time together, but her time with Joanne is really good for her.

When I first started contemplating chasing Key, I resolved not to try to be the influence that is bringing her to church, until she feels compelled to be Christian just because of me. Coupled with my own questions and problems with faith, I haven't been really able to be much of any kind of positive influence.. But Joanne has really been a blessing in her life (and by extension mine!) I guess Joanne's much better able to explain her faith to Key then I am.. and I'm glad for it!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

sgblogconspiracy: It's cool, d00d!

Right.. just following mrbrown's idea.

1)'s WHOIS is registered to an IDA bigwig (from some blog )
2) Woodlands Library is hosting the Singapore Blogger's Convention
3) Shine! is paying for refreshments there.
4) Straits Times is putting out news on blogs like there's no tomorrow.

General conclusion
Govt is going to link your blog to your NRIC Rank and Name you, and if you make the wrong comment it's going to nerf you!

My version

(somewhere in some gahmen office)
List of cool things to make Singapore cooler
Skateboarding and Rollerblading (check)
HipHop (check)
Amazing Races around Singapore (check)

"Hey, what's this 'blocking' thing ah?"
"Can we get in on this? You know, so we can be cool too!"
"Yah, we should organize it, and sub-committee it. No no, must decentralize, get non-govt people to do it! Get the community leaders to take charge!"
"Must have conference! Visible reports, and lots of news coverage. Let the whole world see that we're cool and happening! Also that we have lots of free speech! Don't let that AcidFlask get us down!"
"Hey, I think your key board must be spoilt. What does d00d mean?"

Hmm. Dunno whether to go for the convention or not...

Hell is the Absence of God

hmm. ruminating in the shower about my life and God.

Thing is, it's hard to read sci-fi the way I do and not recall some book or story that has its own interpretations on the issue.. One of the topics sci-fi writers like to touch on is the issue of God, more specifically, how does God fit into any kind of technological future? Especially since most sci-fi assumes we'll eventually get off earth, or that there's alien intelligence, both topics on which the bible appears to be silent.

And, I like those that deal with this issue particularly much. Three particular stories.. Isaac Asimov's "The Final Question", Jim Cowan's "The Spade of Reason", and Ted Chiang's "Hell is the Absence of God."

The Spade of Reason is my favorite story, ever.. I'm not sure if it's about God, about mathematics, about God in mathematics, or just about insanity.. but I found myself thinking about Hell is the Absence of God.

I first read the story in a bookstore, browsing through Ted Chiang's collected series "Stories of Your Life and Others", mostly because I'd loved "Story of Your Life". But Hell is the Absence of God was the first story and so I read that..

In the story, Neil Fisk is living in a strange world where the God of Abraham has manifested himself. 'Angels' manifest themselves, (and these angels are proven in the sotry to be Uriel, and Gabriel, and so on..) and people who die are seen to go to heaven, and more importantly, people who die are also seen to go to hell. Hell isn't fire and brimstone though.. It IS down. People can see into hell, right beneath their feet, and basically, it's just mundane life, just like the normal world, except that there is no God.. or Hell is the Absence of God. And since hell is for people who don't love God, and heaven is for people who don't, it seems a perfect arrangement all around.

The problem for Neil Fisk is that he loves his wife, and she loves God, but he doesn't. So when she dies, she goes to heaven. And he finds himself confronting the thought of eternity without his wife. Desperate, he tries to love God, but can't. And in the end, his one hope is this -- all the people who have been caught in the instant when an angel returns to heaven after manifesting, are burnt out, eyes blinded by the glory of God, hopelessly in love with God, and inevitably go to heaven when they die. So he starts chasing the angels, which is basically like chasing a hurricane. But when he finally catches one at the leaving point, he happens to get in an accident, and dies on the spot, and promptly finds himself in hell -- but with that hopeless love and longing for God. In a place which is fundamentally defined by His absence.

Thing is, I think I'm kind of like Fisk at the moment.. I want to love God, but I don't, not really. more like, in the mode where "even the demons believe, and tremble!"


Forgotten birthday? Faux pas...

Hmmm.. was hanging out with the basketball club for dinner today. I haven't seen them in a while, but managed to make time today. Seemed quite a good thing, that I did... Weijie's birthday celebration today. I was sitting next to Yuka.. funny thing is, I guess I try to make him comfortable, so I try to talk to him more -- it's not easy to be the only Caucasian in the club, and that he's here only for exchange doesn't help -- and after we broke out the cake, he was like, "Oh, it was my birthday two weeks back!" To which, I could only offer a stunned oops and "Happy belated birthday!"

Still, as Key reminds me, I should just have told everyone as well, but isn't it kind of embarassing? Ah, stupid me with my low EQ...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Do movies imitate life?

Was watching Infernal Affairs II on tv, and suddenly found myself wondering: Was life really ever like this in HK? the gang wars, killings, police moles in crime gangs and crime moles in police gangs, etc?

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Finally started adding to my portfolio again.. I've stopped really shooting since I entered army, though now that I'm finally going to ORD, maybe things will change. Anyway, enjoy! This was taken May 26 2003, in a garden home in California..

I've been reading for about a week now.. I don't know if I like all the content that's been posted, but just bumping around the sites there are quite a few that I'd go back to read (and one even has a nice jazz soundtrack in the bg!)

So to me it seems good. Haven't signed up with the site yet. It gives me mucho stress -- I think these guys write really good blogs and mine is frankly of little interest to anyone other than key.. hahaha.. Mom used to read it when I was overseas but now I'm in collaring distance so why would she want to?

Haiz.. I'm whatcha might call a bland personality.. you know, the kind of "he's a nice guy" types who don't have much of an edge, just boring and safe. Even today, now, at this very moment I'm very surprised, bemused, just pure stunned that i'm with my darling key...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Honey Milk Tea!

Key got me a honey milk tea for dinner drink!

Hee... I love honey milk tea!! My favorite drink of all the bubble teas, and actually it seems better than ice Milo too... hmmm... got to figure out the mix for it, then can make for myself!

Fire somewhere in Singapore?

Key was sending me back to camp, heading onto TPE off Old Tampines, when we saw the weirdest glow in the horizon, roughly north north west.. maybe Sembawang or Sengkang? Red glow, with white clouds heading upwards. Made me think fire, but no report in the papers.. was I the only one who saw it? Or did I miss the report?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Star Wars III

Caught Star Wars with Junx today.. heh, Key wouldn't touch it with a stick! It seemed quite a bit better than the previous two. Still, I thought the cutting at the start was awful!

See, you have Anakin and Leia talking on a balcony.. "Oh, you're so pretty" "You're blinded by love" yada yada time 4 lines each. Then, cheesy scene change, not a straight cut but some powerpoint-ish transition that is so eighties, and you see Anakin's dream, then them in bed, and so on and so forth. They keep doing those powerpoint transitions every thirty seconds! George Lucas is just trying to cram all this information into the first half of the movie so he can justify everything that happens later, and it makes for a really broken up movie.

It does get better once Obiwan goes after Grevious on his own.. from there on, the movie rolls very smoothly..

I thought it was really poignant, how we saw the Jedi dying one by one, being betrayed by the Clones... it's too bad that it seems most of the Jedi, other than Windu, Yoda and Obiwan, are just a bunch of general wusses who get owned by the clones, but still.. very poignant.. Nevertheless, I think Star Wars 1 through 3 aren't really good movies on their own, they can be considered good only when you watch them with the significance of the events in episodes 4 through 6 in mind.. Kind of like how only Infernal Affairs I is really good, and the other two are only really enjoyable once you know the storyline in I.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bottom of the Well

I'm down at the bottom of the well.
It's night, and the rain is coming down.
The sides are falling in,
and there's no rope to climb.
I'm down at the bottom of the well.

That's how I felt just a few short weeks ago. Was reading Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time again and one of Mat Cauthon's songs struck a chord in me. Ah well. I can't say the situation has changed, but at least I don't feel so bad anymore..

Band of Brothers

Was reading Jimmy's blog. He's blogged twice since Nov 2004, so when I read about his watching Band of Brothers last year, I sudden;y felt like watching it.. so now I am! It's not fantastic as I thought it might be but maybe that's cos I'm distracted half the time. Still, watching it now..

Liverpool won!!! hahaha... I've slept most of the morning away now. It was just pure amazing.. After Maldini's goal I was already down, and when Crespo added two more? I didn't think the referee screwed us over at all, and it didn't make things better when Key's bro was like, "The game's over, I can go sleep now!" He was cheerful! Guess it's easier when you just support good football, you can always support the better side. For me, I just couldn't go to sleep even though watching an avalance was torture. I was thinking, what if? What if Liverpool actually came back and I missed the rest of the match? That would have been AWFUL! So I hung on, and as the second half ticked away I was like, "Wow, they're doing better, but it's not enough!" Then Shevchenko almost scored, and then Riise's cross bounced off the defender, and then he came back at it for a second try, Gerrard was there, and I was thinking "That's not possible!" And I was just off the sofa! Couldn't shout and scream, but boy did I want to! And after the replays, when they switched back to the game, Liverpool had the ball again, and I was feeling good, and Smicer scored! Fabulous, fabulous goal, and before my disbelief could end, replay was over, Liverpool had the ball again, and suddenly Gerrard was true, and down, and the penalty!

I had a bad feeling about the penalty, but Alonso managed to tap in his rebound even after the save.. Haha.. at that point in my heart I was cheering and screaming and dancing around and feeling ashamed that I'd ever doubted them... And when 3 minutes before penalties Shevchenko broke through my heart was in my mouth, but somehow, somehow, Dudek saved! And when it came to penalties... omg! It's just retribution for my glee during FA Cup Final's penalty shootout, but I'm glad we won!! HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!!!! Now, if only, if only, we would be allowed to defend that title!

Gerrard, you rock!!!!

A big Liverpool night part I

It's 2am now in Singapore and half the TV sets in Singapore must be on.. The Champion's League Final for Liverpool! I've been a Liverpool fan since I was ten and first started readong the newspapers. Perhaps it's fate that the first article I remember reading is our 9-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace, a match so well remembered that when I visited Anfield in 2001, the article was framed up in the stadium tour. Still, over the years since Souness and the beginning of our sunset years, we've disappointed terribly.. There was Houllier's five-trophy year, and the horrible disappointment of the 4-3 loss to Leverkusen in the Champion's League semi-final the following year ( That match was awesome, worth watching all on it's own even though we got knocked out) and even this year the EPL was a terrible disappointment and we won't be in Champion's League next year unless we win tonight..

I don't know what to expect. Shevchenko's scary! But I'll be watching and hoping, and maybe a blog at the end!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Shifting around...

The day's been pretty tiring. Sis was having a new bed brought in for Erin, and required Zeal and me to do quite a bit of shifting. Tear a table down, rebuild it somewhere else, tear a bed down, etc, and so on. But Erin was very pleased with her bed once it arrived...

Erin: I like the new bed. Better than old bed.
Sis: Erin, since you like the new bed, then the old bed can give mei-mei right?
(Sis is expecting her 2nd child in August)
Erin: Okay!

Well, anyway, I'm expecting to do some shifting at home too. Sis is going to give us a spare wireless router, and so I've got to configure to take advantage. 3 PCs and 1 notebook lying around at home, got to have a connection for everyone! Wireless is the new convenience everyone should have.. But I've also got to check out all the necessary security setups too. Wonder if there's a dummy guide out there?

Telemarketeers' profit..

Today's Home section had an interesting front cover. The focus was on some telemarketing groups that have been running donation drives for some charities. Basically, they cold call households and convince them to pay $10 for lunch packets consisting for curry puffs or nasi briyani or other similar foods, and told that this is for charity. The food is bought from various food stores in the Geylang area. Apparently there's a hullabaloo because the donaters are suprised that only 25% or less of the money goes to the charity. The rest goes to the food itself, or the rental and phone bills, and of course the telemarketer's cut. One company was surveyed which collects about $1000 daily, and about $300 goes to the charity, while the company takes about $100 profit.

Of course, there are also complaints about bad food, and also pushiness of the telemarketers. And some of these complaints caused charities to stop engaging the fund-raisers. But I think the article was not worded well, or if it was, then Singaporeans are focused wrongly. I think it's inevitable that only a certain percentage of any donation reaches charities. When I was at Stanford, Glen Davis, my pastor there, once advised a friend who was about to set off on a cross-US cycle trip and wanted to raise money for charity. His advice was to set and disclose targets for amount raised and percentage that would go to charity ( as opposed to his food for the trip, for instance). Ideally, he could get one organisation to sponsor his expenses on the trip so that he could present to other sponsors a 100% donation rate -- Every cent of each dollar would go to charity. Glen also mentioned that most donations only have a 10% donation rate -- the rest goes to various administration costs. I'm not entirely surprised.. When NUSSU Volunteer Action Committee (NVAC) did a donation drive in conjunction with Duracell (Gillette), we sold batteries in 5-battery packs for $5, and we had to pay Gillette a small amount for each battery sold. They covered the cost of packaging, and took back every unsold battery, and office and van rental costs were covered by NUSSU itself, and if not for that the donation rate would have been much lower than the 70% or so we had. And of course we were non-profit and volunteers ( so no pay issues) but I think 10 cents on each dollar went to NVAC itself, which went to wards maintaining our own volunteer operations with MINDS, Boys' Town and other groups, so the donation rate was a bit lower even than that.

And when you consider that full-time operations, even non-profits, have to pay their staff and pay rental and all kinds of costs all the time, then the donation rate is bound to drop to even lower levels. One of the biggest complaints against NKF is that their top level staff get paid so much, and how their top executives fly business class and so forth, but if accountants would just get at their books and everybody else's and show us their donation % rates, then it would all become clearer. I for one would not mind paying those executives to take business class if they really are able to administer NKF so much better that their donation % rate is significantly higehr than average.

No, I think the real issue is that the telemarketeers are taking a good cut, and not overtly telling the canvassees about it. If they're not asked about the donation rate, they won't tell -- they said as much in the article. And Singaporeans still associate philanthophy, donation, non-profit and so forth, that the concept of someone professionally raising funds for charity in order to make a living for self is a weird concept. We pretty much assume that if someone is raising funds for charity, that they're not getting a cut. For instance, organisations doing flag days could conceivably take a 50% cut for themselves and still be legal in the eyes of the police. But nobody ever thinks that. And anyone who is making a profit on these things inevitably attracts suspicion. I myself feel these companies are not doing right, in some emotional way. Yet, even if Singaporeans are naive in this way, can we really expect these companies to call people and say "Yes, we're asking for your donation, oh, and of each $10 you donate, 10% goes to us as profit, 60% covers costs, and 30% goes to the charity" ? On the one hand, this is disclosure, but on the other..
1) Charities don't do this, even though they should.. The numbers may be in a prospectus but they certainly don't tell you this when they're asking for donations..
2) We don't expect car salesmen to tell us every last thing also.. Buyer beware right? If these companies are out for profit they should not be handicapped by a mandatory conscience either.

Personally I think Singaporeans need to grow up, be less naive. If we can be so cynical towards religious and governmental institutions and MLMs, why not towards these? And we should with our own behavior reward responsible institutions the way we reward those that don't do animal testing or are environmentally friendly...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sea Code

Check this out!
I read an article in a Forbes magazine, about this company that brings a new take to offshoring. So they're going to buy a cruise ship, maybe 800 berths, and they're going to park it in international waters and bring in all these programmers as "seamen". Some international maritime law thing makes these people all non-taxable, and so they can do outsourced programming quite cheaply.. Supposedly it's more convenient for US CEOs because the ship is just off California, no more trips to faraway countries!

Friday, May 13, 2005


Big fight with Key yesterday.. we made up before the night was over, but still, want to say:

Sorry dear.. I would never say anything to hurt you, so don't doubt me anymore?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Abortions delayed by finances?

Key was telling me about something she learnt at work which was really shocking. Teens coming in for abortions often do come in very early in their pregnancies, when the risks are very low. But because there are no subsidies for abortions, they end up delaying the procedures while they gather funds for the operation, and during that time, the risks of complications, after-effects and so on increase...

Is that silly? Or a concession to the pro-life lobby? Eh.. if subsidizing abortions was seen as a nod to pre-marital and teen sex, then why do we allow condoms?

Or to put it the other way, I think most organisations and the government would like everyone to have sex only with a single partner and within the sanctity of marriage. But nevertheless, condoms are sold and their use is promoted! (At least within the SAF it is.. ) So why should abortions not be subsidised? Argh.. think I may get to find out the answer soon enough once I'm actually in civil service.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Key started work

Yes, she's started her attachment at last. So though I'm clearing leave, we may not get so much time together, cos she has to work.. and after work she'll be quite tired and drained, and I also don't want her to spend so much energy going out and stuff and make her zzz at work the next day.

Guess work is another test of a couple's resolve to stay together.. when we may not have the energy to party together, and being tired makes us irritable... Still, I'm going to keep at it and make sure that this only makes us stronger!

I was planning to go to church this weekend but the plans just dissolved into nothing.. On friday instead of going, I met Key for dinner and then the 2F people (CZ, Pierre, HJ, Ivy, Noelle) to catch up. Had a lift home from Pierre, he's decorated up his van nicely, even the back is nicely done up...

Talking to them really brings back old days... They're a bunch I could always talk to forever in a group. In fact, when we're in Bristol staying together, Pierre, Ivy, Noelle and me basically managed to spend 6 months chatting without getting cabin fever.. We could just talk on and on.. and nowadays we always spend so much fun time reminiscing about past events and jokes. Retelling the old jokes, savouring the flavor of the same things, like good wine that never sickens us with its taste.

But change is also happening. Like Pierre, for instance, he used to tell stories of his army life, his sniper life, his SOF life, his semi-pro basketballer life, his bartender life, and so on, until Ivy and Noelle ask me how I can sit down there and so patiently listen to his stories, wondering how true they are. And now he talks about travelling every weekend for work, about how as senior engineer he doesn't ever look at grades when hiring engineers -- he's really rising, manager level already, and so much more mature then when first we met.

At least, despite all this change, we can still come together and spend some time together recapturing the old friendship, building the continuing relationships.. :>

Saturday, we had the first session for the OSY mentors/mentees. It went well, the mentees were very receptive, and even asked if there would be a session next week. That's a good start, now we got to keep up the momentum. Following, went to support Key's cousin at the Superstar contest. There was one blind singer just in front of her cousin who was really good, had a fantastic voice.. will he get though the third stage? Who knows.. he doesn't have much image, but that can change easily.

Sunday morning, was thinking of going to chc as well, but just decided to sleep in. I'd planned to cook for mothers' day dinner, but ended up deferred one week cos sis recommended Mushroom Pot. That's a really nice place, I'd first gone with Velle and bunch maybe three years ago when the first store opened at Stadiumfront. It's still open now, so it's doing well. Even has a second branch in Orchard, near Somerset station. And the taste was quite good. Recommended for a good dinner, mushrooms and steamboat, at about 25pax I think.

Monday, May 02, 2005

made key angry

I made Key angry.. we were at compasspoint food court with her friends Qian Ray and Qiwei when some idiot cleaner, without any prior warning, just scolded her and said "Auntie, don't block the way". She was of course pissed.. and I just sat there. Needless to say, she was angry at me.

So why did I just sit there and not react? probably cos the first reaction would end with a newspaper article about a scholar beating up some poor cleaner. But still.. I need to react more aggressively I guess, just that I've spent so many years trying to clamp down on that hot temper that people tend to think of me as a very mild person.. and I just can't unleash it all that easily.

But: my promise to you, Key.. Never again! I'll defend your honor like the knight in shining armor that I want to be for you, an angel to enfold you in my wings and protect you!

The long Mayyyy holiday..

So most of you had a long weekend this week, I'm sure you had fun! I did, and I'm going to tell you about it! :> Well, mostly it was cheerful because of Key.. First, I had a wonderful anticipatory run-up to it. Key planned a surprise for me but couldn't hang on to it:

While I was in camp I played a game of Risk: Lord of the Rings Trilogy edition, and I enjoyed it so much I was blabbing over the phone to her about it, and then she went and bought me the game! haha, because we'd just spent a saturday at Settlers'.. So her exams ended on Thursday and I took Thursday and Friday off and went to Paradigm Infinity to pick the set up on Friday. We were supposed to spend saturday at my place watching dvd and cooking dinner, (mom was out at Club Med Bintan) but then spontaneously decided to invite poon and tongli over to my place to play the LOTR Risk. It was extremely fun!! A game well worth the money, and the next morning we decided to play another quick game.. and when andy and junx are both free we can probably have another session with everyone!

For dinner we tried to cook rosti, and the attempt turned out well. Also added stir fry vege, the usual unagi sauce baked salmon thing, and then some frozen / vacuum packed teriyaki chicken and meatballs.. Meal was good, and now I have another dish on my easy-cook pot luck roster. Yeah!

So poon and tongli and us chatted about stuff until 4am about ghost stories and DA and Wheel of Time.. sudden;y made me feel like the reading Robert Jordan all over again. Sunday, and it was to join Key's friends (Qianhui, Raymond, Qiwei) for mahjong, and then to join the engin mcs for a bbq at reg's place. Reg's place, never been there b4, wow it's a nice place. BBq was slightly expensive, but heh, gotten used to massive expenditures when hanging out with that bunch. And today, just nua-ing around in general before picking up my sis and mom and Jerm at the ferry terminal.

Thing is, I can't even seem ot have fun without feeling guilty about it, cos there's just so much that's undone. NYF arrangement with AMK FSC, I haven't really even touched that, and the THC OSY stuff and web things, I haven't done as much as I could. But.. a bit sianz, really.. There hasn't been a weekend in three months which I haven't spent some part of working on these things.. Even this long weekend had a half day of training built in on saturday morning. It's childish and immature to complain, but most days I still feel like a kid anyway...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Heh... this is the cute doggy for my competition robot. Note the cute bandana on the head!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

SUVs, minivans, and safety.

Was browsing through FastCompany and saw a link to one of Malcolm Gladwell's articles. Ever since my sis passed me his "The Tipping Point" I've been a fan and went out to get Blink when it hit the shelves. So I just surfed on to the article and found it quite interesting reading. Basically, it's about how SUVs are so popular mainly because people think they're safer, and actually this perception that they're safer might actually cause them to be more dangerous.

Anyway, my sister was considering buying a Nissan Prestige (?) last week, and I'd been telling Key that my sister wanted to buy an SUV. At the time, I said something like, MPV, SUV, minivan, all the same to me, but I guess the article highlighted to me the difference, and it's quite a big difference! So I take all that back!

Anyway: here's an interesting snippet to quote to your friends who are contemplating buying those SUVs which waste fuel, pollute the atmosphere, and always block your view of the road when they're in front of you:

According to Bradsher, internal industry market research concluded that S.U.V.s
tend to be bought by people who are insecure, vain, self-centered, and
self-absorbed, who are frequently nervous about their marriages, and who lack
confidence in their driving skills.

Yep, so don't!

settlers' cafe, holland v

Met up with tongli and poon (and key joined us after her paper) at settlers cafe yesterday. Key thought it should have been in chinatown, but turns out the original branch was in Clarke Quay, and the place we went was a new branch (soft launch!) at Holland Village, 15 Holland Drive. Should have had Andy and Junx over as well, but Andy's already traipsing all over Japan with his gal, and Junx's hockey season has already begun, so his saturdays are gone.

Anyway, it was a rather expensive day overall: At $140 for the time from 2pm to 11pm and including 4 dinners.. divided between us.. ow. I guess I'd rather have bought a couple of games and tried them out for several hours at a time? And also given that we played the games at a far slower pace than recommended generally.

Still, the environment was generally good. For those not in the know, Settler's Cafe is this place where you can rent tables and get refreshments and play board games all day long. I guess the advantage is that you can choose from a wide variety of games that may not be easily available in Singapore otherwise. And it's got a decent atmosphere. But for me, I don't mind spending a whole day only playing a couple of games repetitively. And most of the groups I hang out with are like that. We play several rounds of cranium, or taboo, or the various other games whose names I temporarily forget... So, probably, not so worth it for me, I should just go get the games. As for availability, I KNOW that I've seen many of these games on sale in Singapore before, the market seems to be increasing. The leisure stores that sell Warhammer stuff, the comics shops like the one at Bugis opposite Kino, and even those department stores.. Just have to look I guess. And next time I go travelling to European / US / Australian shores, I'll make sure to bring back at least two new board games for inviting people over. I was telling Key the other day that when I start work I plan to have small parties every two to three weeks... heh.

Anyway, for the record, what we played yesterday:

1) Basari: A trading game, rules were explained incorrectly to us and ended up in some impasses. Okay game, I wouldn't generally recommend.

2) Zombies: Hack and slash. Those old AD&D board games meets munchkin style "sabo your friends so they can't win before you!" with a B-grade horror movie premise. It's really like munchkin. Good for one game but too tedious to keep playing, and not much replay.

3) Modern Art: Auctioneering game, involving various different types of bidding and bluffing. Novel premise (to me) and quite cerebral. I thought it has high replay value (you could probably play it twice in a gathering and play it once every two or three gatherings) but you need a crowd who's willing to sit down and make fun and be extremely think think think about it.

4) Citadels: Building/resource game, think it works out better with more players. Kind of dry, actually, and there isn't a fantastic amount of interaction/backstabbing for a game that is so backstabby in nature.

5) Cranium: The old Stanford fave, except that only Tongli had any experience with it. It's a great game, but you need more people, more people, more people! hahaha... High replay, good fun...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Someone's better summary on racist scholar

I recovered this by following up the links on Singapore Ink, which I must add is pretty good at tracking Singapore political news..

Anyway, this guy gives a good summary of what I was trying to say in that whole long rant earlier:

I agree with you. To all those who are reading this post, I think you
should think about this.
Calling for his head, or asking for his scholarship
to be revoked, serves no purpose. If he is truly racist, doing those things
would not change his views. What it would do however, is to make him hide those
From a broader perspective, making an example of him would also do
nothing to change society in general. Racists will always be racists, and find
reason to be racists. Only they themselves can change their minds, not us.
when I called out for vigilance, what was my intention?
I maintain his right
to be a racist. If he thinks racist thoughts, or says racist things to himself
or his friends, that is his right. But what we have to be watchful about is if
his racist thoughts impacts the way he acts if and when he should ever attain
public office.
That is in essence the point. We should not seek to punish him
for his thoughts: that would be cruel and inhumane. But we should be vigilant,
such that if he ever acts on his racist thoughts and puts them into action by
wielding the power of a public official, THEN we have every right to call for
his head.