Sunday, October 30, 2005

Some time this week

MacRitchie Tree Top Walk


A 250m aerial walkway among the trees! The latest feature of our very own forest, the walkway is a free-standing suspension bridge spanning Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang, the two highest points in MacRitchie. At 25m above the ground, the walkway gives you a closer look at the canopy, where all the action takes place. Here, you also have a better view of some of our forest birds; Colugos (flying lemurs) and Long-tailed macaques (monkeys); view trees from an entirely different angle and enjoy a panoramic view of Upper Peirce Reservoir. Some 80 species of birds and 18 rare trees have been spotted in the forest.

Monday, October 24, 2005

MIA: 25th October to 5th November

I'll probably not have the time to write much here over the next couple of weeks.

Jonny's here from the 25th to the 5th of the next month, and we'll be staying at my Bukit Batok place. Where there's no internet. And no phoneline. But there's air-conditioning, thank goodness.

Jonny's gonna be doing some Buddhist things, including possibly a meeting at my place. I'm slightly scared about that, but it should be do-able. A spot of spring-cleaning would definitely be warranted though.

Then, among the sights that we should be going for are: the Bird Park and the Zoo, Sentosa, Kusu Island, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Little India.

Jonny should also be paying a visit to people at NUS with respect to work opportunities. And maybe the Arts House and MICA.

This morning, I will be packing stuff to bring home. Some clothes definitely. Mobile charger. Batteries. Battery chargers. Brochures. A UK DVD to test on my home DVD player. Should I do a check-list?

I will also be sending in some photographs for the Changi Airport photography competition. Wish me luck! :p

mmmh. There are people I hope to keep in touch with and see soon. Ryan, hope that you're having a wonderful trip, and send me a text when you are back ok? Shane, I haven't heard anything from you for AGES, and hope you're alright in London.

Any other friends who read this blog and who are in Singapore, I should be going to Chijmes next weekend (prolly Saturday) to watch a free jazz concert thing. http://www.power98.com.sg/pages/chijazz.php Text me if you wanna come along and meet up! :)


Picture Sensational Jazz told in an alluring place like CHIJMES, right in the middle of the city. Chijazz 2005, the only jazz carnival worth waiting for in Singapore, marks its 10th successful year with electrifying line up and an eclectic mix of Handicraft Retail Booths and Chijmes F&B Food Tents. This year's "Jazz & d' Rest" is jointed by dynamic groupings of soulful and talented household musicians such as Jose Thomas & Eka Marina, Lewis Pragasum, Indra Ismail and young aspiring ones such as Jenny V and Beverly Morata. Their combination of Pop & Funk Jazz will definitely blow you away. This free fiesta is not to be missed.

29th October 2005, Saturday
Chijmes Fountain Court, 730pm to 10pm

30th October 2005, Sunday
Chijmes Lawn, 5pm to 930pm

Saturday, October 22, 2005

On proselytising

Mr Tan, who used to be a teacher on a little red dot somewhere in the Far East, runs a little carpentry store in a little village in the land of freedom and choice.

He doesn't stock very many items. He also sells fruit, but he only has apples.

He is a firm believer in apples. Apples are good for him. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

While at the local bar, Mr Tan extolls the virtues of apples: apples are crunchy, apples are sweet, apples are nutritious, apples have lots of vitamin C.

Mr Tan believes that everyone should know about the value of apples. After all, they are the best for everyone.

Mr Tan knows that there are other fruits of course that are just as good. Kiwis are nice. So are oranges. But as Mr Tan tells his wife and everyone else who cares to listen, if you have apples, you don't need any other fruit. The apple is the fruit of health.

But for Mr. Tan, apples are just the thing. He will sell just apples.

If people want kiwis, or oranges, then they will have to find out about them and their value themselves through the internet. If they want them, they will have to drive 30 miles to the next village to get them, along with all the other groceries that they have to get.

Mr Tan thinks that it's a free country after all. He feels that it's the villagers' free choice, what fruit they want to eat. He also feels that it is entirely professional of him to sell apples, to only sell apples and to promote them outside working hours.

Where it began

It's nearly Christmas, come bowling!
Monday 15 November 2004
from 19:15 at Rowans Bowl in Finsbury Park, London.

This event is public and has a fee.
Ticket charge: Members £7.50, Non-Members £9.50.
No invitation is required.

Back by popular demand, this event has been slotted in by request!

Come meet new people, old faces and have a drink or 10 with all of us!

The event will cut off before Monday 15th so please buy your tickets in advance!

Inform the man on the door that you are arriving for Jon Carter's reservation.

See you all there :o)

A maximum of 60 pre-paid tickets will be allocated.
37 tickets reserved.

Friday, October 21, 2005


I actually haven't unpacked my stuff since coming back from England yet.

No wonder my emotions are still in a mess.

Had a minor sort through just now.

Was concerned for someone I care for quite a bit, and before I spoke to him about my concerns, I felt that I had to make sure that none of them were a result of self-interest or jealosy. And yeap, after some consideration, I am confident that the concerns did not stem from either of these. :) And so, I have spoken to him, and trust that he will be ok.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

BBC National Curriculum Quizzes

Just did a couple of tests based on the English National Curriculum.

For Geography, I fared the worst, with 6 / 14 right.
Slightly better was French, with 6 / 12.
Physics was 7 / 10.
Math. was 19 / 20.
English was 20 / 20.



我要的幸福 渐渐清楚
梦想 理想 幻想 狂想 妄想
幸福 我要的幸福没有束缚
幸福 我要的幸福在不远处

Deeper breaths and slower steps

I took a deep breath just now, to relax and to think.

I realized that I could have been trying to do too much, and achieve too much.

Trying to rush up the re-enlistment process. Rushing to build up a new social circle. Rushing to make new good friends. Rushing to make sure that I keep in contact with and keep close to old ones. Rushing to get my results.

It was in part a strategic move, the rushing around things. I thought that it would help to prevent myself from getting bored and nostalgic, and to make sure that the sudden absence of a particular someone beside me would not be too noticeable.

I think the strategy hasn’t been good for me.

Not only because it has failed in its aims, however inchoate they might have been when I first embarked on it. I am bored. I am very nostalgic, to the point that I am almost positively inclined to favour anyone with a British or pseudo-British accent. To the point whereby my ears perk up when I hear BBC radio. To the point that I am still religiously following the Tory leadership election.

The absence is also obvious. And there is nothing much I can do about it.

I can only hope. Is there a limit to hope though? I thought for a while that it is too tiring to hope and then be disappointed, hope and then be disappointed. But now, I think not, just as long as I take deep breaths, play a couple of Sun Yan Zi songs including 我要的幸福, I'll be alright.

There is something I am presently hoping for. I dare not enunciate the hope however. I am cowardly I guess, and dare not take the responsibility of overly influencing one’s uprooting and replanting in a new environment which may be stifling and stunting.

The rushing around strategy hasn’t been good for another reason. It’s too tiring. Perhaps far more so than all the test and exam hoops that every Singapore kid has had to jump through. Maybe because this time, there are more and deeper emotions involved. A barrage of different and contrasting emotions hit me every day – hope and despair, joy and disappointment, anticipation and dread, anger and irritation, jealosy and loneliness. It’s also quite tiring initiating and re-initiating contact. Thus far, only one of my new pals has initiated a ‘Let’s meet up again’ and followed up on it without prompting. Ok, there’s two, but the second one is in HK or Macau at the moment. The result of the tiredness: I feel slightly more judgemental these days. And I swore once yesterday, the third time in my life that I can recall. I realize that when I ‘lol’ on MSN, I am no longer really laughing. I’m afraid of becoming a bitter person. I’m afraid of losing my laughter, my mischief, myself in the rushing and rushing.

Oh. One thing I am really really nostalgic about. The hugs. Singaporeans don’t hug unfortunately. And so I am hug-deprived. And therefore I am so going to be giving the wrong signals to anyone who hugs me next. I will prolly cling on and not want to let go. And get horny and what not.

So. How is tomorrow going to be like? Do you know? I don’t.

I only know that I may have to take deeper breaths, and slower steps.


Mon updates

It looks very likely that I would have to go for another haircut before re-enlisting. Just called up CMPB. The medical information has not yet been updated to the system, so I do not even have a proper PES grading yet. Once the grading is out, the amount of time would vary. If C or E, then the security clearance to become a clerk might take up to one and a half months. If B, then it should take two weeks.

So it looks like I will have time to re-write my thesis for potential submission to the London Review of Education (LRE). I think I will start that tomorrow, after reading through past articles in the LRE, and re-reading my own report.

Jonny might be coming over on Monday. And it’s brilliant that I would have time to accompany him if he does. See some sights, job searching. Job searching would be so much easier if we could go down to see the people involved. Just spending time with him would be really really good. What I’m really afraid of is the end of the trip. Another goodbye might just kill me. I’ll give Jonny a ring when morning hits Crawley, and have a chat with him about it. If he does come over, I think it’s gonna be Deepavali and Hari Raya. Two public holidays to experience. :p

I have done a little research on art courses in Singapore, at the Nanyang Academy and La Salle-SIA.

The zit on my nose is going down I think. At least it isn’t growing any more. It’s a scary red now though, coz of the clotted blood. I’ll be right back. Let me wash my face again, it feels sticky.

I wa thinking about stuff yesterday, and I think I'm getting a tad tired of sggarcon. The feel is so different from outintheuk, and harder to make friends somewhat, in terms of energy and effort. Or maybe it is Singapore, where everybody is so busy.

Ok. This afternoon, I’ll prolly go to Clementi Central to have something yummy for lunch again. If I’m feeling penurious, then it would be the bee hoon or the nasi lemak again lor. If I’m not, then… I don’t know what to eat also. Roti boy? Then need to get calling card to call Mr. Stockbridge oso. I hope that he is at home tonight, so that can call his home number.

Then the rest of the afternoon would be spent reading Hernando De Soto’s polemic on mysterious capital. Just browsing through actually. I suspect that close reading would irritate me grossly.

Monday, October 17, 2005



e-Consultancy Paper for the Casino thingies.

I have got reservations on ....

  • The word Totalisasosetor. What on earth is this? Is this in the Oxford or Coxford or Bureaucratice dictionary?
  • The $100 entry fee for Singaporean citizens as double standards.
  • The $100 entry fee as an economic disincentive to possibly replace moral disincentives to gambling (a.k.a. the freakonomics argument)
  • The $100 entry fee actually encouraging more gambling than less (I re-jigged a couple of assumptions for the standard budget line and utility curve model to come out with a possibly not-so-good result.)

[Ooops. My model manipulation for the last point went a bit haywired. Re-thought through it this morning, and the result was still such that gambling expenditures would be reduced, though reduced to a smaller extent than would have been expected in the standard model.

Might come up with an alternative model later, based on the 大财不出, 小财不进 principle, i.e. will people, having paid the $100, be encouraged to gamble more in an attempt to make back the $100 or to cancel out the disutility (including psychological disutility stemming from the apparent double standards) associated with having to pay the $100?]

The Economic Prospects of Singapore

On material from Koh & Mariano (2006). The Economic Prospects of Singapore, Singapore: Addison Westley.

(Yah. 2006. The book say one. Available at the National Library and all good bookstores in Singapore. Amazon dun have. This is the, erhem, maiden publication of the SMU.)

Fluency of Writing: 3 / 5
Clarity of Ideas: 6 / 10
Content: 12/20
X-Factor: 2 / 5
Recommendability: 4 / 10
Total: 27 / 50

‘While the strategy of attracting foreign investments and producing for a global market has been remarkably successful in propelling Singapore from Third World to First World status, Singapore must now create domestic engines of economic growth if it is to beat the odds and produce more economic miracles.’ Page 5

I am not entirely sure what Mr. Koh means by a domestic engine. Does he mean that demand for growth should be locally driven, i.e. manufacturing in Singapore should be for the consumption of Singaporeans? I seriously doubt that this would be viable. If Latin America can’t do this, neither can Singapore. Does he mean that we should depend more on local companies, such as Creative, instead of focusing on bringing in MNCs and the like? If the second, I wonder what his employer, SMU-Wharton, thinks. Also, if the biomedical sciences and its related industries are considered a domestic engine, how exactly is it domestic?

The second problem I have with the above is … if the strategy is right, and the desired outcomes are achieved, how can the results be considered a miracle? Surely, only if the ends are met while the means are wrong can the whole thingy be miraculous. :p

‘Among the new measures introduced in the 1967 Economic Expansion Incentives Act was the granting of pioneer status, which offered tax exemption on profits for a period of up to five years. This tax exemption scheme effectively reduced by about 20 percent the cost of new investment for foreign firms. Later, in 1975, the granting of pioneer status was extended to a full ten years, which effectively subsidized half the value of new investment.’ Page 11

I would very much like to see the figures involved and clearer definitions of terms. What kind of costs is Mr. Koh talking about? How does Mr. Koh define investment (i.e. is he only referring to expenditure on physical capital)? Do taxes really take up so much of a firm’s profits?

‘The future prospects of Singapore are bright, although there remain many challenges ahead if Singapore were to maintain its economic prosperity. However, if the government continues to drive its economy with the same kind of pragmatism that characterized the past 40 years, imagination is the only limit to what Singapore might become in the next 40 years.’ Page 15

Somehow, the second sentence is contradictory. Surely then, there are two limits: not only one’s imagination, but also one’s pragmatism and the reasoning that lies behind and supports this pragmatism or ‘pragmatism’.

‘One way out of the conundrum is to have a big bang approach: announce a plan to double the population within the next two decades, with a readiness to admit not merely the highly talented but also those with intermediate and lower skills. This will solve the erosion of asset values, alleviate the problems of an aging population, bolster domestic demand and create a firmer base for the twin pillars of manufacturing and services….’ Page 44

The big bang approach was the only solution offered by Mr. Augustine Tan (MP for 21 years), to multiple problems, including, erhem, the challenges of India and China. The limits of imagination ehz?

‘Our comparative study of the four RAEs leads to a six-part summary.

First, the neoclassical predilection for Hong Kong’s free market growth model and against Singapore’s industrial policy is unsubstantiated….

Second, there are three models of growth take-off: HK’s laissez-faire, Singapore’s reliance on foreign MNCs and Korea and Taiwan’s modeling after Japan. All three models succeeded in growth take-off and the assertion that only one model works and the others do not is false


I quite like this chapter Industrial and Economic Development: Comparing Singapore with Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan, by Mr. Leung, even though I tend to dislike comparative studies. I feel that comparative studies involve very very small sample sizes, and academics involved in comparative studies seem to see only what they want to see. However, Mr. Leung argues quite well and is fairly convincing (esp. in his rebuttal of the Young-Krugman TFP thesis). I still have some reservations, e.g. in his analysis of education.

Oh. I found Mr. Leung’s acknowledgement of ‘an anonymous referee of the chapter for his / her comments’ quite funny. :P

I'm a bit sian of this book already, so will just skim through the rest of it, on trade, infrastructure investment, monetary transmission mechanism and economic institutions.

Ok. The last chapter by Mr. Phelps on economic prosperity and the dynamism of economic institutions is quite good. But Mr. Dudley Baines' comment, during a lecture three years ago, that institutions only work when they do and don't work when they don't, came to mind instantly.

Lan Yu

Rather surprised that this movie made it to Singaporean screens. Had always thought that male frontal nudity would not make it through the censors, and that they would kenna cut cut cut a.k.a. the one scene in 15.

Despite the reviews of it being deeply emotional, I didn't cry during the film. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood. Maybe the seats were so strangely uncomfortable. Maybe I was shocked at seeing the male appendage (some more not just one scene lor), and my mind kept wandering off to think about its implications.

One thing that struck me was how the roles of the main characters may well be considered a break-through in gay cinema. In Broken Hearts Club, there was a discussion about how gay roles tend to be stereotypical: the camp fashion accessory (Charlotte's pal in SATC), the sex-crazed drug addict (the guys in Circuit, the HIV-stricken (the poet in The Hours), etc. Lan Yu and Haodong were far more normal than that, though Haodong perhaps had a sex drive and promiscuity characteristic of stereotypical gay men. Indeed, the film could have been done with a straight couple and there would have little difference to the plot.

From http://lanyu.gstage.com :

Beijing, 1988. On the cusp of middle-age, Chen Handong has known little but success all his life. The eldest son of a senior government bureaucrat, he heads a fast-growing trading company and plays as hard as he works. His loyal lieutenant Liu Zheng is one of the few who know that Handong's taste run to boys more than girls.

Lan Yu is a country boy, newly arrived in Beijing to study architecture. More than most students, he is short of money and willing to try anything to earn some. He has run into Liu Zheng, who pragmatically suggests that he could prostitute himself for one night to a gay pool-hall and bar owner. But Handong happens to be in the pool-hall that evening, and he nixes the deal. He takes Lan Yu home himself, and gives the young man what turns out to be life-changing sexual initiation.

Handong and Lan Yu meet often, and the boy is soon very secure in his love for the man. But Handong insists that he wants a play-mate, not a lifelong companion, and warns Lan Yu that they will eventually break up. "When people get to know each other too well," he says, "inevitably they part." Meanwhile he showers expensive gifts to Lan Yu, expecting to deflect the boy's love by turning it into gratitude or dependency. Lan Yu is undeterred until the night he arrives at Handong's apartment and finds his lover in the process of seducing a college athlete.

They meet again on the night of 4 June 1989. Handong goes looking for Lan Yu, worried that he might have been caught up in the army's murderous sweep through Tiananmen Square. Handong gives Lan Yu his most lavish gifts yet ¨C a newly built villa on the outskirts of Beijing and a car -- and they begin living together as a couple. But again Handong shies away from his feelings for the boy. He enters a whirlwind romance with Jingping, a professional translator who has helped his company in trade negotiations with Russians, and marries her. Lan Yu moves out of the villa, and Handong loses contact with him.

Before long, Handong is divorced. He runs into Lan Yu by chance at the airport one day, and an invitation to try Lan Yu's home cooking leads to a resumption of their relationship. Now, at last, Handong learns to feel and show commitment to his lover -- just when his company comes under investigation for smuggling and illegal fund-raising. Handong is facing long-term imprisonment, possible worse, but to the delight of his sister Yonghong and her husband Daning (not to mention Liu Zheng and his other employees) he is bailed out by Lan Yu. The boy sells the villa and the car, and pools the proceeds with his own savings -- yielding enough to get Handong out of trouble. Finally, Handong and Lan Yu can be together.

But fate can play cruel tricks...

Sunday, October 16, 2005


I'm a tad restless and bored, after waiting for 3 weeks.

And feeling rather unproductive. Even though the 3 weeks has given me lots of time to meet up with old pals (Glynn, Christine, Zhongwen, Jingliu, Enzong, Kaiyang, etc), make new friends (Aaron, Ryan, Yves, Andy, Sam, Jay, etc)and kick-start a social circle.

Good news, the preliminary result for my thesis is an A. :p

And so I am thinking of re-writing it for consideration in a journal.

But, I'm only a Masters student / soon-t0-be graduate lar, so who want to publish? And my thesis was essentially mixing economics, English educational policy and history as well as philosophy of science. So which journal ah?

However, I think the experience itself of trying to submit an article could be fun. hmmm.

Anywayz, if the tutor thinks that it is not worthy of publication, then I will probably think about other possible topics, including censorship in Singapore (interest aroused by watching Lan Yu at Lido) and the inculcation of creativity in Singapore schools (Lyraine, can I take a look at your essay please?).

Coming up over the next week should be:
  • Comments on an SMU publication about Singapore's economic prospects
  • Feedback submitted to the scholarship board based on my London experience
  • The 6 photos that I submitted to BBC for the photography competition

Can anyone please suggest anything else productive for this bored me to do?

Saturday, October 15, 2005


At Asia's largest film event, the Pusan International Film Festival, a low-budget U.S.-Singaporean film has grabbed people’s attention amid the glitz and glamour of larger productions. The movie is about a single mother who is reunited with her father after 20 years because of her blind son.

Woohoo! Another movie I want to watch!!! :p

Film synopsis from www.cagesmovie.com


What happens when a single Singaporean mother and her blind son find themselves face to face with her estranged and despised father of 20 years?

Twenty years of silence are broken when a feisty young woman, ALI (Tan Kheng Hua) and her sheltered, 8 year-old blind son, JONAH (Dickson Tan), are forced to stay with her estranged elderly father, TAN (Makoto Iwamatsu).

Set in the forgotten suburbs of modern Singapore, her attempt to escape repeated bad relationships ironically puts her before the man she resents the most.

After a fall-out with her recent boyfriend ETHAN (Robert Tonelli), Ali finds herself broke, desperate and homeless. She reluctantly accepts a part time job in her father's bird shop, but not without the resistance of the shop's manager LIZ (Zelda Rubinstein), a manipulative and protective middle-aged British woman.

While Liz and Ali clash at every glance, Tan begins to bond with his new grandson, teaching him about the beauty of Singapore's traditional songbird culture.

For the first time, Jonah crawls out of his shell and finds a connection with the outside world, drawing him further from his mother's hold, and deeper into Tan's world. Ali's soon finds herself caught in a double-edged scenario, as she realizes her father has a powerful and profound effect on her son.

After great deliberation, Ali decides to let Tan and Jonah bond, but just as she feared, Tan mysteriously becomes cold and distant. As a result, Ali's feelings of childhood rejection resurface, sending her into a quest for the truth of their past.

But the truth is not always easy to face, as her father's explanation of why he left the family is revealed; a dark secret of 20 years past is exposed, changing Ali's view on life forever.

What results is CAGES, a powerful and poetic story about the intricacies of life. Set against the cultural backdrop of modern Singapore, the eloquent journey of a woman, her blind son and her father captures a unique portrait of family and tradition, while proving that love and hope are universal.

Dear Economist ....

An Aunt Agony-ish column, by Tim Harford, at http://www.timharford.com/deareconomist/, to be in the FT from 29th October.


Mergers and gay priests
Dear Economist,

Christians are called to support one another and to settle their differences. Further, churches cannot survive without money. What advice would you give to the Anglican Communion, as it attempts to address the issue of homosexual priests?

Anne Chaffey, by e-mail

Dear Ms Chaffey,

I am not sure why a church would worry about money. If God can raise the dead, I’m sure He can manage a non-inflationary monetary expansion. Yet leaving money to one side, the Anglican Communion retains great spiritual value. The question the churches need to ask is whether that value is greater if they stick together, or arrange a separation.

Such a separation needs to be amicable, and would surely be so only if the churches could agree to share out indivisible assets fairly, including church buildings, valuable brand names, and archbishops. Fortunately, Peter Cramton, Robert Gibbons and Paul Klemperer solved the problem of fairly and efficiently reallocating jointly owned assets in their Econometrica paper “Dissolving a partnership efficiently”. They use a kind of auction to determine who gets the asset and how much compensation is paid to the others.

The only concern is that some factions may prefer a schism even if spiritual value is maximised by a unified communion. This is what economists call “strategic refusal to interconnect”. As a parallel, consider two different standards for computer software...


Thursday, October 13, 2005

So cute!!! ; My BBC favs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

BBC Photo Competition

Am thinking of taking part in this. The theme is 'spaces'.


6 entries per person, and I'm thinking of sending in a mix of photos, from Soho, SOAS, Koh Phi Phi, Manchester, Newport and Trafalgar Square.

Have got to write descriptive texts for them. Will post the texts later. Photos, I doubt it. Blogger on this computer doesn't seem to be very comfy with posting big piccies.

Dear Sir,

My name is Weijie Ng.

Attached are my entries for the above-mentioned competition.

There are six photographs.

The first is titled Big Brother. It was taken during a midnight stroll at Trafalgar Square with the boyfriend last year. We were just about the only people there, and had loads of space to ourselves, albeit with 'someone' watching. :p In the photograph, Nelson's Column is at the left hand side, while one of the fountains is in the foreground.

The second is Koh Phi Phi. This was taken in April, a few months after the tsunami. The place was still devastated, with big gaping holes where buildings used to be. However, there was also serenity, beauty and hope.

The third, Reflection, was taken in Manchester. The reflectiveness of the building's surface is certainly eye-catching and helped to make the city centre more attractive as well as to appear more spacious.

The fourth, Bike Stand, was taken at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. The fifth, Chairs, was taken outside one of the coffee places in Soho. Both show interesting shapes of spaces demarcated by the legs of chairs, the bars of the the bicycle stand, etc.

The last photograph, Wire Man, was taken on holiday in Providence, Rhodes Island, USA. Look closely, and you'll see a man emerging out of the water and empty space.

Hope you like the selection of photographs. :)


Rafflesian 'notable alumni'


Scroll down the page, and you'll find ...

Kwek, Mean Luck
Puru, Prakash
Tang, Tee Sing
Alfian Sa'at
Tseng, Michelle
Kit Chan - singer
Rui En - actress, singer
Corrinne May - singer-songwriter

Now, who's the prankster?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Blog updates...

Added and subtracted a few links to the right.

The additions include a link to Lakatos' seminal article on the distinction between science and pseudo-science, as well links to two constituent colleges of the University of London.

Pierre Et Gilles

"On aime idéaliser mais on parle aussi de la mort, du mystère et de l'étrangeté de la vie. Il y a autant de douceur que de violence dans nos images..."

Pierre & Gilles

Monday, October 10, 2005

A perfect day

Closed books ...

Questions to think about:

  • How I am a closed book
  • Why I am a closed book
  • What does it mean for me and my relationships with others

Okay. I have been thinking about the above questions. I was going to do an extensive blog on them. Am too tired though, to write about them tonight. I need a back-rub, among other things.

So, if interested, then got to ask me in person lor. Books must have people to be interested and to open one right? Or else, it open itself meh?

Or else, judge me only by my cover ah? I so sad hor.

Managing Civil Disobedience

Nice analytical article in the Straits Times today by Cherian George, reproduced here at: http://thethirdweireading.blogspot.com/2005/10/managing-civil-disobedience.html

... campaigns of civil disobedience test a state’s moral legitimacy, revealing whether its rule is based mainly on consent or on coercion.


While the principle of zero tolerance for law-breaking is straightforward, applying it will be a challenge. Civil disobedience will test a key element of PAP governance: its acumen in calibrating its use of force against political challengers, such that opponents are neutralised with minimum collateral damage.


Its calibrated approach to coercion may be one of the least appreciated of the PAP’s many skills. Indeed, stating it this way will probably provoke some incredulity. After all, even some of the PAP’s most ardent supporters think it is guilty of occasional overkill. PAP leaders themselves are not coy about their macho side. Mr Lee Kuan Yew talks of knuckledusters and nation-building with equal aplomb. If the PAP were to develop and market a computer game, it would be a cross between SimCity and Street Fighter.


IMAGE aside, however, the facts show a government increasingly aware of the need to exercise self-restraint in its use of force. Yes, it has an array of repressive tools within easy reach. But, compared with other states that possess similar tools and are controlled by similarly strong-willed leaders, Singapore’s Government has been relatively judicious and sophisticated in their use.


... even though violence, power and authority often appear together, they are not the same. Indeed, she added: ‘Power and violence are opposites; where one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears when power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power’s disappearance.’

There is an academic article version, titled 'Calibrated coercion and the maintenance of hegemony in Singapore' and it is available at http://www.ari.nus.edu.sg/docs/wps/wps05_048.pdf .

10% S$ Time Deposit Account

Sounds too good to be true?

On the Straits Times today, there is a rather eye-catching OCBC advert, and a very eye-catching headline: 'At 10% p.a., today's perfect for starting a S$ Time Deposit.'

That means, S$40,000 could be S$80,000 this time next year.


Wait. Read the smaller print, and the 'irresistible 10% p.a. interest' is only for the first 10 days. Then, the interest rate changes to 2% p.a. for the next 10 months... Giving an effective rate of 2.26% p.a.

Stupid right?

Like that, can advertise say got irresistible 100% p.a. interest (for one day) and 2% p.a. interest for the next 10 months, oso only 2.26% p.a. effectively lor.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Thinking about ...

Thingeys I've been thinking about:

a) The distinction between hugs, cuddles and embraces. (after reading Jonny's blog)

Of the three words, I like 'cuddle' the most. To me, hugs are very commonplace and embrace too formal. Cuddle strikes me a rather cute word (like waddle and puddle) and seems more fun and intimate.

b) How far I agree with Ryan's statement that 'Congress is about negotiation, Presidency is about concession and the Supreme Court is about real power'

Wilson seemed to agree with Ryan yesterday.

I still have some reservations on it. Maybe I'm nit-picking, but they seem to imply to me that only Congress negotiates, that the President only concedes, and that there is only one source of real power. And what is real power? Cue: soft power, hard power, military power, etc ... I would think that each of them has real power, at least in one way, i.e. their ability to check and balance each of the other two branches of the American government.

Suddenly the animal chess game came to mind. Which animal has the most power in that game? The mouse, the tiger, the elephant?

Blog Updates

There will be a new link to another blog: Jonny's ba ba bo bo at http://jonnybababobo.blogspot.com/ . The first entry of this blog is on the 7th of October, just yesterday.

There will also be a new link to www.tomorrow.sg , which is a compilation of articles from the Singaporean blogosphere.

Then, a link to www.sunyanzi.com will be made too. Her latest album was just released in Singapore yesterday, and there are a couple of brilliant songs on it. The feel of this album is a bit different from the others, in my opinion, in that it seems to be rather more light hearted.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Time: The Battle Over Gay Teens

I've posted this article at: http://thethirdweireading.blogspot.com/2005/10/time-battle-over-gay-teens.html

Excerpts here:
Perhaps it's not surprising that the straight world isn't always ready to accept a gay kid. But the gay world doesn't seem ready either.

On the first day of the Point Foundation's retreat, which was held in a town on Little Traverse Bay called Harbor Springs, Mich., the 38 students who made the trip were given gift bags that contained, among other items:

==> ½-oz. jar of American Spoon Sour Cherry Preserves
==> A Fujifilm QuickSnap Flash camera
==> A small tin of Trendy Mints from Henri Bendel, New York City
==> A DVD of the 2001 film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, in which a teenage boy is masturbated by an adult
==> The Harbor Springs Visitors Guide
==> The Aug. 16 issue of the gay magazine the Advocate, whose cover featured a shirtless man and blared, SUMMER SEX ISSUE.


But when I opened my gift bag, it occurred to me that gay adults are still figuring out how to deal with gay kids. The gay subculture, after all, had been an almost exclusively adult preserve until the relatively recent phenomena of gay adoption and out teens. Point scholar and Emory College junior Bryan Olsen, who turned 21 in August and has been out since he was 15, told me during the retreat, "It probably sounds anti-gay, but I think there are very few age-appropriate gay activities for a 14-, 15-year-old. There's no roller skating, bowling or any of that kind of thing ... It's Internet, gay porn, gay chats."


... according to Savin-Williams, most gay kids are fairly ordinary. "Perhaps surprising to researchers who emphasize the suicidality, depression, victimization, prostitution, and substance abuse of gay youth, gay teenagers generally feel good about their same-sex sexuality," he writes. A 56-year-old gay man with a slightly elfish mien, Savin-Williams has interviewed some 350 kids with same-sex attractions, and he concludes that they "are more diverse than they are similar and more resilient than suicidal ... They're adapting quite well, thank you."


"Increasingly, these kids are like straight kids," says Savin-Williams. "Straight kids don't define themselves by sexuality, even though sexuality is a huge part of who they are. Of course they want to have sex, but they don't say, 'It is what I am.'" He believes young gays are moving toward a "postgay" identity. "Just because they're gay, they don't have to march in a parade. Part of it is political. Part is personal, developmental."


Until recently, growing up gay meant awaiting a lifetime of secrecy--furtive encounters, darkened bar windows, crushing deracination. That has changed with shocking speed. "Dorothy resonates so much with older gay people--the idea of Oz, someplace you can finally be accepted," says Glatze of YGA. "The city of Oz is now everywhere. It's in every high school." That's not quite true, but the emergence of gay kids is already changing the politics of homosexuality. When their kids come out, many conservatives--just ask the Vice President--start to seem uncomfortable with traditionalist, rigid views on gays. But what happens when your child comes out not at 23 but at 13? At least in the short term, it's likely that more gay kids means more backlash.


"It kind of reminds me of the issue of driver's licenses for kids," says the University of Minnesota's Remafedi. "Yeah, it's great they can get around. But there's also a greater chance you can have an accident ... In my own life and generation, we separated ourselves from the straight community. We lived in gay ghettos, and we saw the larger culture as being a culture of repression. Hopefully, some of those walls between cultures have come down. But walking between those worlds takes a lot of skill."

Carnival of ideas


The blogosphere as carnival of ideas, by H Farrell.


Why are so many academics beginning to blog? Academic blogs offer the kind of intellectual excitement and engagement that attracted many scholars to the academic life in the first place, but which often get lost in the hustle to secure positions, grants, and disciplinary recognition. Properly considered, the blogosphere represents the closest equivalent to the Republic of Letters that we have today. Academic blogs, like their 18th-century equivalent, are rife with feuds, displays of spleen, crotchets, fads, and nonsenses. As in the blogosphere more generally, there is a lot of dross. However, academic blogs also provide a carnival of ideas, a lively and exciting interchange of argument and debate that makes many scholarly conversations seem drab and desiccated in comparison. Over the next 10 years, blogs and bloglike forms of exchange are likely to transform how we think of ourselves as scholars. While blogging won't replace academic publishing, it builds a space for serious conversation around and between the more considered articles and monographs that we write.


Both group blogs and the many hundreds of individual academic blogs that have been created in the last three years are pioneering something new and exciting. They're the seeds of a collective conversation, which draws together different disciplines (sometimes through vigorous argument, sometimes through friendly interaction), which doesn't reproduce traditional academic distinctions of privilege and rank, and which connects academic debates to a broader arena of public discussion. It's not entirely surprising that academic blogs have provoked some fear and hostility; they represent a serious challenge to well-established patterns of behavior in the academy. Some academics view them as an unbecoming occupation for junior (and senior) scholars; in the words of Alex Halavais of the State University of New York at Buffalo, they seem "threatening to those who are established in academia, to financial interests, and to ... well, decorum." Not exactly dignified; a little undisciplined; carnivalesque. Sometimes signal, sometimes noise. But exactly because of this, they provide a kind of space for the exuberant debate of ideas, for connecting scholarship to the outside world, which we haven't had for a long while. We should embrace them wholeheartedly.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Tories say ...

George Osbourne says ‘social justice’ the most times:

But I will tell you the thing that makes me most angry about Gordon Brown: it's when he subjects us to one of his sermons about social justice.

For too long we have allowed Labour to claim a monopoly on social justice.

Let us resolve today that we will never allow that to happen again.

For in Brown's Britain social inequality has not diminished.

It has grown; The poorest now pay more of their income in tax than the rich; The tax credits fiasco has left some of our poorest mothers relying on Salvation Army food parcels to feed their children.

That's Brown's Britain. Where is the social justice in that?


Real opportunity comes not from treating all children the same but from recognising that they all have different talents.

Real compassion comes not from the means test, but from when we give people the tools to succeed.

And real social justice comes not from taxing the poorest the hardest, but from taking the poor out of tax altogether.

So let us be the Party of compassion; the party of opportunity for all.

David Cameron does an Education, Education, Education:

Aspiration is enabled by education.

How cruelly it is disabled by Labour today.

When one fifth of children leave primary school unable to write properly.

When one million school children play truant each year.

And when the very essence of aspiration - social mobility - is going backward in this country.

There are far fewer children from state schools going to our best universities.

And it's getting worse.

What have Labour done?

Created an exam system where sixteen per cent means a pass.

Where parents of children in failing schools have no redress and no way out.

And we're now a country where "failure" is called "deferred success".

The Government introduced the National Literacy strategy. It's a good idea - in fact it was Gillian Shephard's idea. But why can't children be taught to read with synthetic phonics, a method that works? Treating every child as if they're the same fails the child who's struggling and the child who's not.So why can't we have streaming and setting to help all children reach their potential? We've got to win the great debate about education in this country.To give choice to parents. Freedom to schools. And to fight for high standards.We must cast away the progressive theories and the all must have prizes culture that's done so much damage to so many children for so long. And we must win the battle over education for another vital reason. Parents with disabled children have to fight for everything. Just imagine what it's like when the special school that gives their child the love they need, the care they need, the therapy they need, and yes, the education they need……when that special school is threatened with closure.I've seen it, and it breaks my heart. Labour's idea of compassion is to put every child in the same class in the same school - and call it equality and inclusion.But I say that's not compassion … it's heartless, it's gutless, and it's got to stop.

David Davis’s speech annoys me:

There are two sorts of idealists.

Ideas are true or false, good or bad, useful or useless. But they are always powerful.

Tories are not, with a very few exceptions, stupid. But as in the time of John Stuart Mill, we have too often allowed ourselves in recent years to look like the "stupid party". (*slaps head*)

You can divide this process of intellectual renewal into two broad kinds.

City academies are a step back towards the Grant Maintained Schools that Labour destroyed in one of its first acts in Government. (not quite accurate here)

In Sweden, for example, new chains of independent schools have emerged, following the introduction of school choice. One of these chains has used technology to design a personal curriculum for every child, tailored to their own pace and style of learning. It would be easy to introduce such a reform in the UK.

But he does mention Singapore:

Road pricing isn't a new idea, but new technology can make it a practical reality. Sophisticated schemes of road pricing are already in operation. You will find them from Singapore, to Germany, to Norway.

Mary Poppins! What are you doing in Singapore?

Laura Michelle Kelly, the Mary Poppins at the Prince Edward Theatre on Old Compton Street, is apparently coming to Singapore to perform in a local musical production!! wheeheeee.

She will be at the Esplanade in A Twist of Fate from the 18th of Nov to the 4th of Dec 2005.

She has also been playing parts in the West End's Mamma Mia, Whistle Down The Wind, My Fair Lady, Beauty and the Beast as well as in Les Miserables.

Immensely talented, she's apparently 23 / 24 only.

Who wants to go watch?

Singapore Flyer versus London Eye

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Theresa May says...

Ooooh. I love her speech at the Conservative Party Conference, which is available at the Tory website.

An excerpt here though:

We have to show that we are a Party comfortable with Britain as it is today.

A Party representative of men and women --- of every age, race, and religion.

A Party as at home in the cities as it is in the country.

A Party as confident about the future as it is about the past.

And we must reflect that --- not just in our words --- but in our attitudes.

In today's Britain, the vast majority of people regard equality between man and women as so obvious it doesn't even need stating.

And yet, for too long, in too many parts of this Party, the assumption has been that politics is a man's job.

And the other parties aren't much better.

But Margaret Thatcher proved that your ability to lead your country depends on your talent and your courage, not on whether you are a man or a woman.

And for the small minority who don't accept women --- or black or gay people --- as their equals, I've got a message.

Don't think you'll find a refuge from the modern world here.

There is no place for you in our Conservative Party.

Because every day that we are unwilling to embrace a future in which all men and women respect each other as absolute equals -- is another day we will be out of government.

But I'm optimistic.

I know we're moving forward.

That's why our benches have been swelled by great new MPs like Adam Afriyie, Shailesh Vara, Maria Miller, and Anne Milton.

I know that all of you, the real Conservative Party, are with them and with me.

And anyone who wants to stop us had better get out of our way.

Theresa May for Tory leader!!!

... jokey comments (not to be taken seriously or sedition):

bp says:
hmm shld she have used margaret thatcher as an example?

WJ says:
haha.. very divisive hor

bp says:

bp says:
that was my opinion lah

bp says:
i mean.. margaret thatcher to me is NOT the best of examples

bp says:
i don't think she delivered what she promised

WJ says:
she is my political idol tho, so i love it :p

bp says:
even if she did deliver.. she brought a lot of baggage along

WJ says:
she did try, and she made for exciting politics and history

WJ says:
she emasculated the unions, as mr reeves said. god, i love that word

bp says:
yes she did

bp says:
sigh. the word emasculation is found in EVERY single feminist book.. u like the word so much.. u go read them.

Letting go.

I guess it is simultaneously too painful and a relief.

We will always remain great friends and best pals ehz? :)

BIG babu hugs.....

Jonny and I just had a long talk. We decided to let go for a bit. If circumstances are right, and we are living in the same city again, whether it be in Singapore, London, or elsewhere, we are certain that with our connection, we can very easily pick up where we left off.

Provided that each of us doesn't find the other too old and wrinkly by then. :p

Jonny and I have had a wonderful time together for the past 9 months or so, and it was definitely a great learning experience for me, as he is my first real boyfriend (as opposed to my last relationship, which we decided was kinda a boyfriendship during a post-mortem chat). Being with Jonny was everything I could have wanted and more ( abit cliche I know). He's romantic, he's fun and he manages to live with my idiosyncracies and pranks. We will always love each other, and remain as good and close friends. :)

The alternative, putting so much energy into hope and making the long distance relationship work, would probably not be satisfying or enough for either of us, and divert us from growing in other areas. Especially if hope is dim and unclear.

For a relationship to work (for me at least), I believe that there has to be physical contact, and lotsa things have to experienced together face to face: hugging and holding, agreeing and accompanying, arguing and sulking, fighting and making up.

Even little things like going to the supermarket together, or collecting photographs for each other, can be huge and memorable and treasured events.

I will definitely miss the time together with Jonny. It has been the happiest time of my life.

Monday, October 03, 2005

R & D in Singapore

Business Times headline says: S'pore ranks among the world's high R&D capability nations; MNCs see Republic as top R&D location among developing countries - after China, India

Then in the text: And Unctad finds 4.4 per cent of the MNCs that it recently polled ticked Singapore as the most attractive R&D location, against 2.9 per cent for Korea and 1.5 per cent for Brazil and Mexico. Some 62 per cent picked China and 29.4 per cent preferred India.

Ermz. The order of magnitude quite the different hor?

To let go or to hold on

I don't know.

All I know is that it has to be a decision to be made together.

And that the chosen path for now, however reluctantly decided upon, might have to be the rather painful one.

Random UK Education News

LSE ranked top by Yell.com for entertainment - best and most varied entertainment.

The Open University most popular in student satisfaction survey; the University of the Arts, comprising of the London Institute, ranked least popular.

School meals in state English schools to be strictly regulated; End of junk food; Budget for each meal to rise to 50 p in primary schools and 60 p in secondary schools; Packed lunches to have at least two portions of vegetable and fruit

Government launching advertisements to clarify top up fees / student loan regime

The Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Bill will enable new parent councils to be established, with a wider focus than school boards (mmmh. nice. fits into my thesis for the MA)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Plans for the week

  • Meeting friend at Queenstown MRT this afternoon, prolly for DVD session
  • Going NTUC today to get Wang Wang biscuits
  • Call up MCC to find up what's happening
  • Try to arrange the next medical at MCC
  • Update CPC with happenings with regards to medical
  • Meeting Selina on Tuesday with regards to psychological interview and E of E info. sheet
  • Sort out photographs (prolly need to get an album or something)
  • Backup photographs on laptop
  • Mail the VCD to JoNny
  • Mail the aerogramme
  • Check status of piggy in the mail
  • Pop over to RI / RJC?
  • Do budgeting?
  • Consider teaching tuition and find routes to doing so
  • Sotheby's art exhibition with Christine?
  • Meet up with Xan Xan?

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