Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My birthday say I....

Your Birthdate: January 22

You tend to be understated and under appreciated.

You have a hidden force to do amazing things, doing them your own way.

People may see you as strange and shy, but they know little.

Your unconventional ways have more power than they (and even you) know.

Your strength: Standing up for what you know is true

Your weakness: You tend to be picky and rigid

Your power color: Silver

Your power symbol: Square

Your power month: April

I am an evil evil boy...

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

GEPers and elitism

Just like the pseudo 'shepherd's pie' I had for dinner yesterday, an article in Today has been both thought-provoking and difficult to digest properly.

This article is: What's another word for elitist?, which I have posted here. It's about GEP-ers being elitist. I would agree with some of what has been laid out in the article. However, there are overgeneralisations and perhaps an unhelpful overdosage of stereotyping.

I find the article difficult to accept. It aims to criticise, but is not very robustly critical.

Aiya. Maybe my beef with it is that it's not very balanced.

Some gripes of mine:
  • They hang out only with each other. A clear overgeneralisation.
  • They become so comfortable with other GEPers (as they call themselves), that even outside the classroom they prefer each other’s company. Is this a crime? If so, certainly not a crime of the students. As Ms. Teo said, don't people normally hang out with people they ... hang out with and know?
  • Michael Wee, another 15-year-old GEP student, said that the ostracism “does not affect GEP students in any way. What with existing close ties with other fellow GEP students, no one needs to bother about ostracism from those outside the programme”. *slaps face* Ok. Some room for immaturity can? Immaturity exists in everyone.
  • (Mr. Johannis) freely admits that many GEPers can be unskilled in social niceties and often can’t make small talk. I admit that I may have no idea what social niceties mean or should mean. And what kind of small talk one should make. But surely, this is a problem not just for GEP-ers but also anyone from any socio-economic class or educational background. It's grossly unfair to single out GEPers.
  • It is unfair to call the GEP elitist. It is just another level of a highly-structured hierarchical education system. What Dr. Peet probably means is that... it isn't fair to just call the GEP elitist. Instead, it's the whole educational system.
  • There should be room for more porous movement between the GEP and the other streams,” What does this teacher mean by 'porous movement'? In a concrete sense.

So what's another word for elitist? The article never answer its question oso.

It also never say what it means by elitist.

Or discuss whether elitism is necessarily bad.

But it's a tabloid hor.

If people want to read my B-grade tuppence worth essay on educational elitism, here it is.

Raffles school fees

Jump in school fees at Raffles, Hwa Chong JCs
Both say hike is necessary to improve quality of courses in integrated programme

Nov 29, 2005 The Straits Times

SCHOOL fees at Hwa Chong and Raffles junior colleges will go up next year from the current $26 to $225 and $28 to $250 a month respectively.

The two schools say the increase will enable them to offer better quality courses as part of their integrated programme (IP), like intensive science research and customised leadership programmes.

While the increase - which includes supplementary and laboratory fees - is steep, the amounts are similar to charges levied on students at other independent schools offering the integrated programme.

Students at Raffles Institution pay $200 a month while those at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) pay $280 to $300. Students in the school's International Baccalaureate programme will pay $450 next year.

Fees at Hwa Chong will go up by $25 a year from 2007, reaching $300 in 2009. Raffles JC fees will rise $50 in 2007 to $300.

Hwa Chong Institution principal Ang Wee Hiong said the junior college has not raised fees since it went independent last year and has to do so from next year to maintain the quality of the IP.


Raffles JC principal Winston Hodge said additional resources are needed to support student-centred programmes, like mentorship, research studies and industrial attachments.

It will have a one-stop student services centre on campus to help with scholarship support and psychological counselling.

Heads of both schools stressed that no deserving student will be deprived of a place because of financial difficulties as there are adequate aid schemes in place.

However, students who are not from feeder schools are likely to feel the pinch since those from feeder schools are accustomed to paying independent school fees.

For instance, of the 1,000 JC1 students Hwa Chong will accept next year, up to 30 per cent will be from non-feeder secondary schools.

Tay Zhi Yun, 16, a Secondary 4 student in St Nicholas Girls' who is considering Hwa Chong, said the increase in school fees makes no difference to her choice.

'Everyone knows they are a good school and have a good reputation for being strong in academics. The increase in school fees won't affect my decision.'

From my understanding of the school hike and the financial aid in place, students from non-feeder schools who can make it to either Raffles or Hwa Chong will not really feel the pinch from the increased school fees. To get into these schools, students will have to be in the top X% of the cohort. And I gather these students will therefore qualify for some Edusave scholarship, which fully covers school fees (but not other school charges like 'miscellaneous fees'). Also, as I understand it, this financial aid package is not means-tested, so everyone who qualifies academically into Raffles would receive it.

I wasn't from a feeder school, and thanks to pervasive financial aid, my family didn't need to pay through the nose for me to be in Raffles.

Instead of individual households paying for the hike in school fees, the taxpayer actually does (of course there are still equity concerns here).

Therefore, capable but financially poor students probably need not fret about not having the financial resources. Schools, though, have to worry about information poverty: to be equitable with respect to socio-economic class, information about financial aid should be well disseminated, such that no capable student would be denied a place from Raffles or Hwa Chong, simply because he didn't know he could go.

Monday, November 28, 2005

12 Elm Road and elsewhere

12 Elm Road

Bankside House

Bedford Place, John Adams Hall Annexe

I was dreaming about 12 Elm Road during my afternoon nap today. It really really felt like reality.

Coming back to 12 Elm Road and having to squeeze my hand through the mail-hole thingey to open the door.

Trudging up the wooden stairs up to my room


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Nostalgia versus new memories

Is nostalgia sufficient as a substitute for new memories in a relationship?

This is a question that I am really really scared of answering.

Mati how?

A morbid topic perhaps. Perhaps especially at the age of 23. But anything can happen, so ...

Mati how?

Something simple lor.

I don't want a religious funeral. A secular and short one. Definitely don't want all the bells and chanting typical of a traditional Singaporean Chinese funeral.

Then, burial or cremation? I'm a bit more scared of the latter, but I realise that it is much more practical. Therefore, that is what I prefer.

Then, the ashes put where?

Don't want Mt Vernon, or even the Mandai place. I don't want some strange altar of the Singaporean Chinese sort either.

I think I might like my ashes to be distributed into little little vases. Friends and family who want a portion can have a little vase, to do as they wish. Maybe even people I don't know.

Maybe a bit of the ashes to be poured into the river Thames, where the OXO pier is.

Maybe a bit scattered at Russell Square. A bit at the National Orchid Garden.

Maybe a bit scattered at places I have never been to before.

I like the idea of being here, there, everywhere and nowhere.

Maybe a bit hidden in a corner of someone's storeroom.

Or somebody else's library.

Hopefully I would have friends and loved ones who will carry out these wishes. :p

hehe. People, tell me what you might do with an ickle pot of moi. :)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Just another day on the Underground

Recidivist, at residivist journals, reported the following announcement on the District Line

Ladies and Gentlemen, I apologise for the delay in leaving the station.

This is because of the passenger in the second carriage masturbating.

The alarm has been activated and someone will shortly be removing him from the train

Men behaving badly


Men behaving badly, single-handedly

Marc Abrahams
Tuesday November 22, 2005
The Guardian

When a young man masturbates, exactly how distracted does he get? An experiment performed on students at the University of California, Berkeley aimed to find out.

Full details are in a study that will be published in the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making. Dan Ariely, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and George Loewenstein, of Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, describe their arousing achievement in dry, formal terms: "We examine the effect of sexual arousal, induced by self-stimulation, on judgments and hypothetical decisions made by male college students."


Ariely and Loewenstein say their results are "striking" and more than confirm what most people believe about young men as a group - that when aroused, they (1) become sexually attracted to things otherwise offputting; (2) grow more willing to engage in morally questionable behaviour that might lead to sex; and (3) are more likely to have unprotected sex.

"[Our] study shows that sexual arousal influences people in profound ways," they write. "Efforts at self-control that involve raw willpower are likely to be ineffective." This is a dig at theorists - the ones who advise people to just say no - from experimentalists who are unafraid to get their hands dirty.

Our Second Date Anniversary (Bedford Place)

hmmm. I remember, from by hole-y memory and from records, that the original intention was to cook something.

I can't remember what we did for dinner, but I think the idea was to do something pasta-ey, specifically a 'tuna pasta thingy'.

But since the 25th of November last year was a Thursday, I would have had class until 8.30 p.m.. In which case, cooking dinner for two is perhaps not very likely. It also would mean that dinner would be quite late, and that Jonny wouldn't have been able to catch the last train back to Crawley.

Ah well. This leak-ey memory of mine. Re-reading my journal and kept correspondence has been quite interesting tho. For example, apparently we had been wanting to watch Mary Poppins and the Producers at least from the 22nd of January, 2005.

I was singing / croaking the following song from 'A Twist of Fate' on Skype. Here are the lyrics, and of course, once again it's dedicated to Mr. Jonny.

Every time you look into my eyes
(music by Dick Lee)

You'll see the love reflected in my eyes
A mirror of the heart that never lies
They sparkle in the way you do
And show the warmth I feel for you

It's clear
When you are near
You'll see the love reflected in my eyes
The feelings that I have
And can't disguise
The tears of joy are there to show
All you ever need to know
Every time you look into my eyes.

You'll see the love reflected in my eyes
The way in which my foolish heart replies
The secrets that we hide away
A fleeting glance can still betray
It's true
When I'm with you.

You'll see the love reflected in my eyes
Far brighter than the stars in all the skies
I feel I can forget the past
Start to live my life at last
Every time you look into my eyes

Doesn't it seem strange
How situations change
Far away from home and farther from
My mind
Suddenly standing there in front of me
Is more than I had ever dreamed I'd find

You'll see the love reflected in my eyes
So wide awake for now they realise
That even when I'm on my own
I won't feel that I'm alone again
On the darkest day the sun will rise
Every time you look into my eyes
Suddenly standing there in front of me
Is more than I had ever dreamed I'd find
You'll see the love reflected in my eyes
So wide awake for now they realise
That even when I'm on my own
I won't feel that I'm alone again
On the darkest day the sun will rise
Every time you look into my eyes.

Our first date anniversary (The Yard)

... dedicated to mr. jonny ...

Last Night (Wang Lee Hom)

Last night I watched you sleep as you lay there
I dropped to my knees and said a prayer
I leaned over softly to kiss your beautiful face
But I could not cross the ocean of your grace

The moonlight held you aloft a picture of peace
The only sound was the soft breeze form the east
My heart beat down in my chest
To the rhythm of your gentle breath
And the whole world calmed down
For this moment of rest

Now I 'm...
I'm standing above you trying so hard not
To tell you I love you
And all that I want in this world is you
If you'd only wake up
You'd know it was true

Oh baby I love you can be so hard to say
Especially when it's meant in this strong a way
But at this moment while you lie asleep
I am suddenly free
And my trembling arms reach out for you
As if you could see

Now I'm...
I'm standing above you trying so hard not
To tell you I love you
And all that I want in this world is you
If you'd only wake up you'd know it was true
If you'd only wake up you'd know it was true

Faking It

I might have mentioned this before, but heck, if I have, then I will just have to mention it again. Jonny and I were once on Channel 4's Faking It, but only for a couple of seconds. We had gone to Simon Happily's Comedy Camp at Bar Code, on the 23rd of November, 2004. One of the comedians was actually a scientist 'faking it'. He didn't quite get the audience laughing, with his jokes on neutrons, electrons and protons. Goodness, he should have realised that his audience was more likely to laugh at themselves, at Kylie, at Madonna, than anything vaguely connected to ... physics.

I have recently been told that I sometimes effect a fake accent, especially when talking to Jonny (and probably other ang mohs as well).

So, am I, on some leve, faking it as well? What does my change of accent / tone mean? Am I trying to be an ang moh by accent?

I have also been told that I'm a cosmopolitan masquerading as a heartlander, and a softspoken and quiet fella who noone expects to be quite so critical and even unforgiving and who isn't really supposed to distinguish between 'appreciating' and 'liking' or to dwell on the pedantic difference between 'responsiveness' and 'degree of responsiveness'?

Faking it suggests that I am trying to be someone I am not.

Faking it suggests that one can have a clearly defined identity, and that with his identit, there is a clear set of ideas and rules with regards to how I should and perhaps even must behave and perform. Feminists and postmodernists (ref Judith Butler) would probably tend to scoff at this second suggestion, at least because they recognise that eachand every one of us multiple identities or multifaceted identities. For example, a person is a woman. She is not just a woman however, and she may also be Muslim, a businessman, a mother, a daughter. She performs differently in different situations and contexts, and each of her identities or facets of her identity impacts upon her performance.

Faking it also suggests that I know whom I am, and whom I am not. Well, do I? I know that I am a person of doubt. I know that I doubt myself. I doubt that I know myself.

So. I don't really know myself, and therefore I don't really know whether I am trying to be someone I am not. I suspect that the feminists are right. That I have multiple identities, and a different and nuanced me manifests when interacting with different people and on different planes of existence.

Emily of Emerald Hill spoke differently to different people. Christine said that Emily is a conniving woman who behaves in ways to get her way.

But heck, how many Singaporeans do not change his / her tones and accents when speaking to different people?

So.. faking it? I don't think so.

P.S. One thing I know about myself. Receiving and opening Jonny packages always makes me grin. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

New link

Joe.my.god wrote on trust:

How many times a day do we trust strangers with our lives?

We step out into a crowded avenue and trust that all six lanes of oncoming strangers will be sober and alert and physically able to stop their vehicles before slamming into us.

We sit down in a restaurant and trust that the dozen or more strangers that have handled our food have packaged it securely, transported it at the proper temperature, prepared it without cross-contamination, and served it before it spoils.

We lie down in our apartment towers and trust that our neighbors aren't falling asleep with cigarettes in their hands or with pots boiling on their stove, and that they haven't left the front door hanging open and allowed bad guys into the building.

We get on planes and trains and buses and trust that the vehicles have been properly serviced, and that the crew can handle problems and that other traffic in the skies and on the ground will stay out of our way.

Every day we surrender our physical safety into the hands of uncountable strangers, and we don't think twice about it.

But whom do we trust with our hearts?

Often, not even the people that know us better than anybody in the world.

There's an imbalance there, don't you think?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One less wait

I got my PES grading.

Wait and wait.

At first, a wait of four to five month (i.e. two to three months more of waiting) sounded just a tad too ludicrous.

But, hey, it does mean that I would have time to go around Singapore with Jon, go for a holiday somewhere with Ryan, have lots of kopi and cheesecake with Wilson and Christine and Zhongwen and all, and also go to surprise my Jonny (and attend Omar's civil partnership ceremony and my own graduation). woohoo.


Let me tone down my optimism.

There's the money issue for one.

Regina said that she will call me shortly about my PES grading.

If A or B, I can expect myself to have to prepare for BMTC (January intake?). I will be the uncle amongst kiddos.

If C or E, it will be security clearance time for clerical positions.

If still D, then... it's still an endless wait.

I suspect that it's gonna be a B.

I was advised to demand a deadline. Should I?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Grass-fragrance type

Just did a Magicworld character test that lyraine sent me.

Apparently I'm a grass-fragrance type.

You have very strong will, not dependent on others and gives an impression of being a lone-ranger. You are extremely curious and sensual, living a clear-headed modern life. At first glance, you place yourself on a pedestal, and are difficult to get along with. But once others talk to you, they know you are easy-going. And when the relationship develops, they realise you are affable. You have an androgenous charm, which makes you popular with all genders. But you don't like your weak side to be seen. You might look cool on the surface, but beneath it all, you are really passionate. Only people who know your true self can maintain a lony-lasting relationship with you.

What do you think?

The English school market: monopoly versus countervailing power in a Lakatosian Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes (MSRP) framework

The following is the abstract of my thesis for the MA Economics of Education. To read the individual sections, just click on the links below. :)


This report examines the drive for school markets in England using the framework of Lakatos’ Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes (MSRP). It argues that instead of being truly competitive agents of neo-classical economic theory, schools may actually possess monopoly power, which is pernicious for social justice reasons. This reality of monopoly power threatens the viability of school choice arguments. However, countervailing power has also emerged, and it may be a force that could possibly counter monopoly power. This concept is examined, and a simple typology of countervailing power is developed as a tool to identify and to facilitate the exploration and understanding of its manifestation in the English school market. In summing up, this paper suggests that at first glance, countervailing power is insufficient to mitigate against monopoly power. Also, recommendations for further work with regards to the use of MSRP as an analytical framework, and to the efficacy of countervailing power are offered.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jamie Cullum

London Skies - Jamie Cullum (Catching Tales)

Paint a picture,
Clear cut and pale on a cold winters day,
Shapes and cool light wander the streets like an army of strays,
On a cold winters Day.

Will you let me romanticize,
The beauty in our London Skies,
You know the sunlight always shines,
Behind the clouds of London Skies.

Patient moments you chill to the bone under infinite greys,
Vision hindered mist settling low like a ghostly ballet,
On a cold winters Day.

Will you let me romanticize,
The beauty in our London Skies,
You know the sunlight always shines,
Behind the clouds of London Skies.

Nothing is certain except everything you know can change,
You worship the sun but now,
Can you fall for the rain...

Will you let me romanticize,
The beauty in our London Skies,
You know the sunlight always shines,
Behind the clouds of London Skies.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Dream lar.

You know what I miss?

I miss the scouting around the Tesco's and Sainsbury's for cheap reduced foodstuffs.

I miss hunting down the cheapest and smallest bottle of sweet dark soy sauce in Chinatown.

I miss those terrible bomb-dropping pigeons.

I miss that hoody-top guy who feed those terrible flying rats.

I miss the screeches of London buses.

I miss the light rain of England.

I miss the lost tourists looking for the Royal Hotel National.

I miss the book browsing at Borders, Blackwells, Foyles, Waterstones and Prowlers.

Most of all, I miss my friends. I miss the hugs. I miss pestering people for hugs. I miss the kisses, haha, though I squirmed at them in London. I miss having glasses of guinness and black and cups of Cafe Nero coffee with them. While perving at peeps walking down Old Compton Street.

Oh sighz.

I dream that when I wake up, I can brush my teeth and trot around central London.

Some day, the dream will come true. :)

Yawning Bread: Creationist crusade reaches Singapore

Once again, Yawning Bread has a delightful article, and this time, it's on religion, and in particular about the dangers of fundamentalist Christianity. To read this article, just click here, go to the November 2005 articles and then click on the title: Creationist crusade reaches Singapore.

Here are some extracts from the article:

  • In the Online Forum of the Straits Times, 15 Nov 2005, can be found a letter from an Andrew Loke who took ChannelNewsAsia to task for screening a documentary about the evolution of humans. He claimed that it was a "highly debatable theory" being "presented as fact." He wanted the TV station to screen his preferred account "to let the public know the truth about our origin." What is his "truth"? While he didn't say the word, we can surmise it is Biblical Creationism, for his main reference is a site called Answers in Genesis.
  • I have argued again and again that our elites and our government are blindsided about fundamentalist Christianity, which in some ways is as dangerous as al-Qaeda ideology. Fundamentalist Christian views slip through because some decision-makers and editors here hold sympathetic worldviews, the same way Kansas and Dover borough voters elect crazies to their school boards, only to wake up in shock at their hidden agenda. Don't be surprised if one day, Singapore finds itself with religious fights like in the US.

I'm not anti-Christian, or anti-religion. I'm just ... not much for institutional religion, and their attendant discourses and required mindsets, for myself.

Christianity and God and Jesus, to me, is a possibility. Buddha and the idea that everyone is a Buddha, to me, is also a possibility.

And I think I like to keep religious ideas as just possibilities.

I'm not very keen on 'reaching out' sessions. 'Reaching out' connotes desolation, neediness, lost, not in, destitution, etc. on the part of the 'reached out'.

'To bless more people'? *shudderz* I think I'll pass.

If 'reaching out' sessions are really intended to make friends, then I feel that religion has to be kept out of the agenda. Otherwise, there's a 'You join us, then we all be good friends in this big family' kind of feel to it. Peer pressure of the worst un-thinking and guilt-tripping un-feeling kind perhaps? Or, there has to be assurance that one can be critical towards religion (and science). And there has to be assurances that ALL are welcome and will feel welcome.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Disappearing coloured bubbles

The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles

Chemical burns, ruined clothes, 11 years, half a million dollars—it's not easy to improve the world's most popular toy. Yet the success of one inventor's quest to dye a simple soap bubble may change the way the world uses color By Mike Haney December 2005

Tim Kehoe has stained the whites of his eyes deep blue. He's also stained his face, his car, several bathtubs and a few dozen children. He's had to evacuate his family because he filled the house with noxious fumes. He's ruined every kitchen he's ever had. Kehoe, a 35-year-old toy inventor from St. Paul, Minnesota, has done all this in an effort to make real an idea he had more than 10 years ago, one he's been told repeatedly cannot be realized: a colored bubble.
No, not the shimmering rainbow effect you see when the light catches a clear soap bubble. Kehoe's bubble would radiate a single, vibrant hue throughout the entire sphere—a green bubble, an orange bubble, a hot-pink bubble. It's a bubble that can make CEOs giggle and stunned mothers tear up in awe. It's a bubble you don't expect to see, conditioned as you are to the notion that soap bubbles are clear. An unnaturally beautiful bubble.

Kehoe made a bubble like that when he was 26, after only two years of trashed countertops and chemical fires. He showed it to toy-company executives, who called it a "holy grail." And then it broke, as bubbles always do. And when it did, the dye inside escaped onto clothes and carpets and walls and skin, staining everything it touched. The execs told him to come back with a bubble they could wash off their boardroom table.
That was nine years ago. In the intervening years, Kehoe continued to mix, boil, and brew with endless enthusiasm and little success. Until one day, his stubborn persistence led him to $500,000 in financial backing, enough to hire a dye chemist. Together, they took Kehoe's obsession to an outcome even more amazing than he had ever hoped, an outcome no one could have anticipated for the simple reason that no one imagined it possible. The secret to nonstaining colored bubbles, it turns out, is a dye that could unlock a revolution in color chemistry.
All you need to do is make color disappear.

... ... ...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Planes of existence

Apparently there are quite a few of them that many of us have to traverse.
And sometimes, people cannot co-exist on the same plane of existence.

Or specific bits of people cannot co-exist on the same plane of existence as their family, friends, church-goers and colleagues.

It's complicated.

chelsea5manu0 said in a comment on an earlier posting of mine, 'it's better to lead a simple life than a complicated life.'

Sometimes, we have very little choice in the matter.

Some of us might want a black and white world, where we know clearly what is wrong and what is right. Where choices are simple and easy to make.

But life ... really isn't that black and white. And life isn't simple, especially if life is to be based on conventional wisdom.

From Freakonomics:
It was John Kenneth Galbraith, the hyperliterate economic sage who coined the phrase 'conventional wisdom'. He did not consider it a compliment. "We associate truth with convenience," he wrote, "with what most closely accords with self-interest and personal well-being or promises best to avoid awkward effort or unwelcome dislocation of life. We also find highly acceptable what contributes most to self-esteem." Economic and social behaviour, Galbraith continued, "are complex, and to comprehend their character is mentally tiring. Therefore we adhere, as though to a raft, to those ideas which represent our understanding."

I like complication myself. I like different perspectives, even though I might still scoff at some of them. This intellectual elitism, I must curb. Thanks, Ryan, for reminding me about the arrogance and snootiness embedded in hierarchies of knowledge (see Michael Apple's work on knowledge hierarchies in school curriculums), and for rightfully chiding me for frowning at pop-culture in public libraries.

But complication is tiring. And walking from plane to plane when meeting different sets of friends and family can be very tiring.

In some planes, I can be all of myself. In some planes, some bits of me are ... known but not enunciated. In others, well, some bits of me are almost clearly no-go if I want to preserve the relationships.

And what if the planes collide? Eeeks! It did on Saturday and I think I reacted badly.

But.. a deep breath resolves my panic.

Freedom for schools; Power for parents

What is in the White Paper?
BBC, Monday, 24 October 2005, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK

"Self-governing, independent state schools" have been announced as the future model for schools in England by the Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The White Paper, Higher Standards, Better Schools For All, means that schools "will finally be opened up to real parent power", promised Mr Blair.

The Education Secretary Ruth Kelly has said that the key themes of the reforms are "freedom for schools and power for parents".


Instead it proposes ways of introducing a greater number of desirable school places - through the setting up of new schools and encouraging successful schools to expand.

A new type of self-governing school authority, a "trust", will be created, which can oversee individual schools or a mini-chain of schools. These can be run by successful schools or outside providers, such as universities, businesses, faith groups or community groups.

In particular, parents are being encouraged to consider setting up schools - with funding promised to help them put their ambitions into bricks and mortar.


In advance of the White Paper, the government promised to challenge the dominance of middle-class families over successful schools.

But the proposals are about encouragement rather than enforcement.

There will be free school transport, up to a distance of six miles, for children from low-income families. And there will advisers to help parents make sense of the admissions maze.

But the admissions system will only be altered when the school itself wants to change.

An alternative proposed in the White Paper is "banding" , in which schools take pupils across a range of different abilities.


There will be a re-definition of the role of local authorities - with talk of councils becoming "champions" of parents and pupils, acting as a mediator between schools and their consumers, rather than being seen as the provider.


Under the "personalisation" heading, Ruth Kelly has announced that struggling pupils and the most gifted will receive customised classes - either to help them catch-up or to stretch further ahead.


Although less headline-grabbing, but with longer-term significance, have been the repeated suggestions that assessment of education has to be about individual pupils, rather than looking at the performance of institutions.


If it glows, throw it

BBC - Glowing meat alarms Australians

Australians have been told there is no need to panic after a recent "glow-in-the-dark pork chop" scare.

Apparently, this phenomenon is normal and commonplace, and caused by harmless pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria, which is not known to cause food poisoning.

But Mr Davey, of the New South Wales Food Authority, recommends that consumers throw any luminous pork chops - or other cuts of meat - straight into the dustbin.

London Bloggers

The London Weblog Directory is, eponymously, a directory of bloggers in London. Even though I am not longer in Holborn, I think I will still attempt to register my blog there.

Some bloggers at Holborn:

The Partridge Files a Welsh LSE student's general blog

butternobutter? on economics and politics in general

alexhansford.com "A website about the comings and goings of a twenty-something bloke living in West London. Movies, running and irony... what more could anyone want?!?"

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

1st Anniversary: When Jonny met Wei.


Does parental income influence schooling outcomes?

According to many studies using regression analysis that I have seen, family income and socio-economic class matter quite significantly in the determination of schooling outcomes.

It therefore comes as no surprise that as reported by the BBC, Plug & Vijverberg (2005). "Does family income matter for schooling outcomes?: using adoptees as a natural experiment", Economic Journal comes to a similar conclusion. This paper claims to differentiate between parental ability and parental incomes.

I am somewhat uncomfortable about the last paragraph of the BBC article. Reporters sometimes miscommunicate and '(t)he reason is that more than half the transfer of ability from one generation to the next is genetic, as they showed in a previous study' strikes me as a possible simplification. I want to read that article to see how they got this statistic. What does 'transfer of ability' mean? How is ability measured?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Poppins Perfection

Laura Michelle Kelly, in an interview with the Straits Times, said, "Playing somebody who knows everything about everything makes you realise how fallible you are".

Huzzah of the day: Ms. Kelly will be collaborating with Mr. Cullum on a jazz-pop album!

Degrees of separation

In Saving Face, Wil said that for all the Chinese in America, there are only two degrees of separation, i.e. everybody almost kinda knows everybody else.

It is of course an exaggeration, and it would be similarly an exaggeration if I am to say that this is true of Singapore, or even just those of the rainbow hue in particular.

Friendster counts the 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree friends I have around the world. And the numbers are actually quite astounding. With just 73 (acquaintances / friends) in the 1st degree, I've got 5701 in the 2nd degree, and 275, 127 in the 3rd degree. And these are just people who are online on Friendster. So, if the population of the world is 6 billion, my friends, to the 3rd degree on Friendster, make up roughly 4 percent of the total! woah.

I have only recently got to hear about an old friend, who kinda popped up into two different conversations with distinct sets of friends. Small world. Anywayz, from descriptions, he appears to have changed quite a bit, from science geek to sporty rugby boy. Will certainly be nice to meet up with him again and catch up. Not that I haven't changed myself, since I'm sure I have, but I think the description 'harmless little fellow' probably still fits me. Does it? Feedback from friends who know me from school? Or comments from people who know me in the 2nd degree? :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Facts and possibilities

The Exorcism of Emily Rose reminds one that it is very possible that there is a supernatural world out there, that it is very possible that there is God, that it is very possible that there are demons called Balliol and Lucifer.

I am an agnostic. For me, anything really is possible I guess. Which contributes to my not being in an religion. How to be a Christian, if, say, it's possible that there is reincarnation? How to be a Hindu, if, say, it's possible that the stories of the stigmata and all are true?

With regards to religion, what really is fact, and what are possibilities?

Friday, November 11, 2005

Blood donations

I know there's a great need for blood donations.

Personally, I'm squeamish about the matter. Needles. YUCKS! Needles and bags of blood. erm. No thanks.

Thankfully, I don't qualify for blood donation.

Too skinny. Size 26 jeans. 51 kg and 173 cm.

And I have resided in the UK in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. So there's the mad cow waiver. I didn't not eat beef.

I hope to avoid blood donation. Admire those who volunteer their blood. And pity those who are compelled to contribute (and perhaps especially those who are also compelled to lie to contribute).

Singapore 2nd Last

From www.durex.co.uk ...

More than 317,000 people from 41 countries took part in the world’s largest ever survey on sexual attitudes and behaviour. The research confirmed that Greece is officially the sexiest country with the Greeks having sex 138 times a year - well above the global average of 103. Croatia (134) and Serbia and Montenegro (128) come a close second and third.

Almost half of all adults surveyed said they were happy with their sex lives although men are the least satisfied with how often they have sex. The survey also revealed the global average age for first time sex is 17.3 and the trend is for people to lose their virginity earlier, with 16 to 20 year olds becoming sexually active by 16.3 years.

Most people believe sex education should start at 11.7 years. Virtually all those surveyed believe children of 16 and under should receive sex education and more than a third believe governments should invest in sex education in schools. Almost half of all adults globally admit to having had unprotected sex without knowing their partner’s sexual history, despite more than one in 10 admitting to having had a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

How the research was conducted
Based on the number of respondents from 41 countries, the 2005 Durex Global Sex Survey is the largest sexual health research project of its kind in the world. Now in its ninth year, the survey has quadrupled in size since its launch and covers 41 countries - newcomers this year included Indonesia and Chile. This is the fourth year that this survey has been carried out via the durex.com website and responses have been analysed by sex and age to give an in-depth and truly global picture of sexual attitudes and behaviour.

Singapore came in second last. Last is Japan.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In response to comments 091105

Thanks chelsea5manutd0, gf971 and anonymous for your comments. Very much appreciated. :) The following are some of my responses.

To chelsea5manutd0:
I kinda object to singaporeans being called a 'breed'. Like sheep and cows and all. Argh. Makes me think that in the future, we and our descendents will somehow be genetically modified products eventually.

I have also some queries about Singapore's so-called conservative heartland. Is Singapore really that conservative? yawning bread has suggested from his observations that heartlanders can be actually be quite liberal. My family has the characteristics of a heartlander family but has proven to be rather liberal in some respects. Do we think that the majority of Singaporeans are conservative, simply because the government and the press tells us that this is the case? Have we actually questioned this 'fact'? Have heartlanders actually considered their stance on political and social issues, or have they simply taken what the government, the press and religious institutions have told them (ref Judith Butler's performativity)? What if certain decision-makers, as yawning bread has also seemed to suggest, see the heartlanders as conservative, simply because these leaders are themselves conservative, and see what they want to see? What if the heartlanders, then hearing from the government, the press and the religious institutions, take up a conservative stance simply because they think other heartlanders are conservative or that the definition of heartlander is to be conservative (i.e. sheep mentality)? Of course, I may also just be seeing some heartlanders as liberal-ish because I may be predisposed to think and feel so.

I also kinda rebel against the idea that the academically less successful Singaporeans see or resort to liberalism as more of an escapist rebellion than an embrace of cultural diversity. Is this really true? This idea actually strikes me as vaguely paternalistic and presumptious. Does chelsea5manutd1 mean that the lesser educated are more likely to be escapists and are also less capable of embracing cultural diversity?

While I agree that polarization of liberalism and conservatism, especially to the degree experienced in Iran and France, is not to be desired, I feel that at the moment, there is very little risk of political unrest (to the extent present in France or Iran) or uncontainable liberal anarchy in Singapore. Singapore is not a predominantly single religion conservative state like Iran is. Neither does Singapore’s liberalism go quite as far as that in France. Therefore, I am of the opinion that invoking Iran and France smacks of scare mongering. Also, I am not quite sure whether the France riots can be attributed solely, if at all, to liberalism.

I agree that there should be an awareness of the majoritarian position, if it can actually be credibly determined. There should not be an imposition of the majoritarian / ‘majoritarian’ view. Swamping the populace with waves of propaganda-ish majoritarianism through the media and an education system incapable of allowing for questioning would probably count as an imposition.

I guess as chelsea5manutd0 said, independent learning may be dependent on the individual. But if there isn’t really time nor space to reflect, then positive independent learning might not actually take place, can it? As anonymous would probably agree, bottom up initiative can hardly be expected to flourish if sheep have to keep jumping through hoops.

I have certainly not said that liberalism is a prerequisite to independent learning.

I have no idea what ‘the ability to process the extent to which Singapore's education system allows independent space to learn is itself a derivative of the methods and planes of instruction in which Singapore's education is conducted and shaped’ means exactly. In fact, I’m afraid I was a bit lost throughout the last part of Chelsea5manutd1's last paragraph. Too chunky lar. Having broken down that paragraph into bite sized bits, dense little me has some inkling now. I would therefore once again like to question how the inclination of the individual collective is determined. Are heartlanders really conservative, or are they 'conservative' simply because we like to think of them and talk of them as such? Does the position of 'heartlander', a concept conjured to facilitate understanding of the sweep and nuances of Singapore society, in being at one end of a possibly false or over-simplified dichotomy, somehow cause us to mispresent the positions of constituent individuals?

To gf971:
'Or in a archetypally Singaporean fashion, maybe they will get some civil servants and politicians to think about that point and write several papers before arriving at an indistinct conclusion...'

... gf971, you are one naughty boy. :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Reviewing my London experience

I think I meant to put these up some time ago, but somehow slipped my mind until yesterday. The following are responses to an evaluation form, with regards to my learning experience in my four years in London.

Learning from the English education system:

I believe that an aspect that may be good about the British education system is the availability of space for independent growth.

British school hours are shorter than Singapore’s. Their holidays are far longer. Their afternoons and weekends are not packed with de facto compulsory ‘co-curricular’ activities (CCA). This is similarly true for the British university experience: at the LSE, there was an average of 10 hours of classes and lectures per week, while at the IOE, most students take two modules per term, making up just 6 hours of class per week. British students are expected to be independent. At university level, lecturers and tutors are more of guides and facilitators than purveyors of knowledge and information to be consumed just for the examinations, as it appears to be significantly so in Singaporean universities and schools.

With more time, it seems that the British have more space to grow independently, to building up their own interests, whether it be in playing sports and games, in going to the theatre and concert halls, in developing aspirations for the arts or the sciences, etc. There is far more space to consider going for unique experiences: instead of spending excessive time chasing points from officially recognized ‘co-curricular’ activities, Singaporeans may for example benefit more from working while studying. Friends in London are far more likely to work for catering companies, libraries, charity organizations, research groups, etc., and through their jobs, they become more confident, gain vital socialisation skills, especially with others from different socio-economic and educational background, and grow as individuals. From a macro perspective, surely this attainment of self-confidence and socialisation skills would be beneficial to social cohesion.

The creation of space for independent growth would not be easy. A starting point would be to re-consider the set of incentives that have been used pervasively throughout the education system. For example, Singaporean school students need CCA points to help them get into better schools or to get scholarships. Therefore, they are perhaps induced to participate in activities that yield the necessary points, and arguably not because of the good of the activities itself. These activities are beneficial, but also tend to be time-consuming, and if not committed to for the right reasons, would not only be unproductive but also tend to crowd out any other activities that may be equally good or even better for the independent growth of the person.

These incentives point out the desired direction that Singaporean students should aim for. However, they may also be disincentives: for Singaporeans to do the necessary community service that are not recognized, for Singaporeans to think instead of merely following the incentive signposts, for Singaporeans to become individuals rather than stressed sheep jumping through hoops.

Then, in the absence of bureaucratic-induced incentives, some Singaporeans may become lost and directionless. Upon leaving an educational system where institutional carrots and sticks are omnipresent, Singaporeans may lack both the initiative and the courage to think for themselves what they want and how they should go about achieving their goals. This may be a contributory factor to the ‘quarter-life crisis’ that some of my friends who have recently graduated from Singaporean universities are facing.

On learning from London:

Observation 1: London is generally more supportive of diversity.

The city of London is extremely diverse, and its people are generally not just tolerant but also accepting of other ethnicities, cultures, sexualities, etc. In fact, difference is actually celebrated, with various parades and festivals held regularly in London, including the Chinese New Year Celebrations in Trafalgar Square, the London Pride March through central London and numerous ethnicity festivals at Coin Street on the South Bank. People with disabilities are also very visible in London, and are included in many of London’s activities, including the aforementioned festivals.

This mutual tolerance, acceptance and celebration encourages interaction, open discussion and understanding between groups, and therefore helps to promote social cohesion.

Singapore is also a multicultural, multiethnic city. However, there are limits to mutual acceptance and prejudice still looms large. The allegedly racist comments made by a scholar on his weblog and reported by Channel News Asia earlier this year is not unique. I doubt that most grandparents and parents, including my own, would be too happy about their grandchildren and children marrying someone of another (Asian / African) race, or entering a relationship with someone of the same sex. Contracted workers from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, etc., in Singapore are sometimes still treated as second class homo sapiens or low status Oompa-Loompas[1]. Club parties for homosexuals are disallowed on the basis of public disapproval in the form of phone calls to the police, or ostensibly their propensity for spreading HIV[2]. The existence of people with disabilities in Singapore appears to be largely unknown, since they seem to have been segregated from the rest of the community.

If Singapore is to be not as divided as it is today, to be truly diverse and to reap the benefits of diversity, some measures, perhaps radical, would be needed. More socialisation may be a starting point. If Singaporeans interact with the Filipinos, the Indonesians, the Chinese, the British, the Bangladeshis, etc. in a social space away from the work place, it would probably help to bridge the gap of understanding, and know each other as people, instead of just superiors and inferiors, employers and employees in the hierarchy of work. Also, people who are homosexual should be allowed to speak out in public forums, instead of being shut up, shoved into the closet or chased abroad, at least so that they can be seen as people, not uni-dimensional alien abnormalities with ‘alternative lifestyles’, so that they can grow and live a fuller life, and not remain as stunted, dysfunctional individuals. The ban on homosexuality has meant and will continue to mean that gays, lesbians and bisexuals, who are not insignificant in their numbers, spend too much of their lives, hearts and minds on not being themselves, probably trying to reconcile the irreconcilable and end up being disillusioned, neglecting other parts of growth, and being unproductive outcasts from mainstream society. Then, it might be desirable to consider integrating more people with disabilities into schools and society as well. The socialisation of all children at primary school level[3] might be critical to further promote mutual understanding. Another vital step would be to make public transport as accessible as possible to these people, to facilitate their stepping out into the world, so that they become and feel more included in Singapore society.

However, perhaps such an increase in socialisation should happen from the bottom up, and quietly and implicitly encouraged by policy-makers, such as by facilitating more ethnicity and even sexuality based cultural, music and food festivals. Certainly, a hypothetical Socialise Singapore public campaign along the lines of the top down Romancing Singapore campaign would probably be seen as paternalistic and counter-productive.

[1] Servants in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory
[2] Surely, if the club parties move abroad to neighbouring countries, as the Fridae organized Nation and Snowball parties have done, the Singaporean authorities and charities would have little opportunity to ensure that date rape drugs and alcohol are not used and abused respectively, and to distribute contraceptives and messages calling for safe sex, which are far more sensible and pragmatic methods of tackling the spread of HIV.
[3] Instead of having separate mainstream and special needs schools, for example

Observation 2: London-ers are generally more willing to challenge themselves.

This observation is closely linked to my other two on the British educational system and on the diversity of London.

London-ers appear generally to be more willing than Singaporeans to want to challenge themselves, in their minds, in their aspirations, in their hopes for the world, in their perceptions of themselves and of others. I would attribute this willingness to the confidence, socialisation skills and initiative derived from the space they have for independent growth, and their embrace of diversity.

Over the course of the last academic year, I have gotten to known quite a few entrepreneurs and freelance artists, and they are especially inspirational. They take up all sorts of commissions, not knowing at the beginning how they would perform the tasks required, and instead learning while doing. These jobs include the running of workshops for families at Somerset House, the production of theatre sets for drama productions targeted at children with Special Educational Needs, the design of floats for the London Mayor’s Parade, the building of a floating sculpture on the river Thames, the decoration of schools with thematic sculptures and pieces of children’s art produced during specially run workshops, etc.

They follow their hearts. They dream, and dare to follow their dreams. They challenge themselves to follow their hearts and their dreams, to go beyond their own boundaries and to try new experiences.

If Singaporeans are to become as willing as London-ers to want to challenge themselves independently, the suggestions I have made with regards to my other two observations are perhaps necessary: a re-evaluation of the system of incentives prevalent in the educational system, and the fostering of greater socialisation such that Singaporeans become more self-confident and better developed as individuals.

If Singaporeans are to follow their dreams, they must firstly be allowed the space to dream, and also be supported in their pursuit of their goals. In the arts, for example, more and targeted funding should be considered, alongside with encouragement to communities to take part in public art works[1], as well as a sincere attempt to understand the needs and dreams of artists.
[1] Instead of having ‘public art’ works designed, made and installed by a government body, without significant public involvement, which has seemed to happen in a Clementi housing estate.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Typical Singaporean

http://malapropos-wisecracks.blogspot.com says:

What is a typical Singaporean like, anyway? Someone who thinks Singapore is the best country in the world (there's nothing wrong with national pride; it's just misguided in this case), believes everything the government tells them, and doesn't use his head to THINK. He/She has no initiative, and only does things when told to do so or in the hope of getting a beneficial outcome from it. They spend their entire school lives slogging to get the best grades in order to get into the best schools and courses that they believe will bring the most money, which are rarely their first interests. (But then again, given our large population and the limited spaces in the universities, what choices do they have?) They are greedy and self-centered, and to quote Ad, they have no interest in what affects their country unless it affects their money. They work long hours in dead-end jobs, hating their work more and more each day. At the end of the day, they end up dissatisfied with their lives, and blame the government for it.

Gosh. A tad too harsh?

Twist of Fate; Harry Potter; Oi; Emily

Booked tickets for the first one already. Watching Twist of Fate at the Esplanade Theatre for the first time, with some London pals. Will be my first time in a box as well, wheeee!!! Looking forward to the 20th of November! Excited.

Will probably watch Harry Potter, despite not liking the earlier movies, and getting irritated with the books for being rather long-winded. Prolly not on the opening day, as I don't really feel the inclination to fight with thousands of kids for tickets. Who wants to watch this?

Then, there's also the Oi Sleeping Beauty musical, by Wild Rice. mmh. A weekday is very probable, given the cheaper tickets on Monday to Thursday. Most likely to watch this with Christine, hor?

P.S. I am reading Emily of Emerald Hill now. Found a copy at Central Lendings. :p

Monday, November 07, 2005

Can human rights survive?

2005 Hamlyn Lectures - can human rights survive?

Professor Conor Gearty, Rausing Director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights and Professor of Human Rights Law at LSE, gives the 2005 Hamlyn Lectures this November.

Professor Gearty's lectures consider whether the subject of human rights can survive what he identifies as the three crises that the idea is facing at the present time. He also analyses what the subject needs to do if it is to meet its current challenges and prosper in the future. The three lectures will be held at LSE (10 November), Durham (15 November) and Belfast (17 November).

Conor Gearty's first of lecture, The Crisis of Authority, asks how an idea as apparently so rooted in truth as human rights can be made to work in our age of relativism, uncertainty and anxiety. It will be chaired by Stephen Sedley, Lord Justice in the Court of Appeal.

Professor Gearty, also a founding member of Matrix Chambers, will be the latest in a long line of judges, legal academics and experts to deliver these prestigious lectures, held each autumn. The series first began 56 years ago in 1949, when Lord Denning spoke on Freedom under the Law. Other speakers have included Lord Woolf, Lord Scarman, LSE emeritus professor Michael Zander and last year's lecturer Sir Bob Hepple QC FBA.

Writing about his choice of subject matter for the lectures, Professor Gearty commented: 'For years the subject of human rights was on the margin of legal and political debate, supported with zeal by the few and ignored by the many. Then, with the end of the Cold War came recognition, prestige and immense influence. Democracy everywhere redefined itself to make human rights an essential part of its make-up rather than the subversion of true majority rule that it had long been believed to be. By the start of the new millennium, the idea of human rights was well-entrenched as the key ethic of its age, the moral music that was to accompany 'the end of history'.

'It has not worked out quite like this. Through the genius and hard work of our predecessors, we have been able to carve out for ourselves a civilised niche in a small, accidentally perfect place floating in a universe that is otherwise unknowable. To survive and to continue to thrive, we urgently need a new way of explaining ourselves to each other and saying how it is we fit where we happen to be. If the idea of human rights manages to survive its current problems, it can provide exactly this guidance and direction. No other narrative even begins to compete. We all have a stake in the outcome.'

The Crisis of Authority is on Thursday 10 November at 6.30pm in the Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A. This event is free and open to all but a ticket is required. Tickets will be available from 10am on Monday 31 October at www.lse.ac.uk/events

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Head Moonie

The head of the Unification church has arrived in London, and is due to speak at a public event.


Will it grow as a faith in England? Though small at present, it has the financial resources to expand.

Since the first few months of this year, there already has been a new centre at Bedford Square, with enthusiastic youthful recruiters, yummy food and funky events.

I doubt that I came across as a likely recruit. Question too much lar. I choked a bit when I read Rev. Moon's self-assignation of credit for the collapse of the Berlin Wall. And challenged the proselytiser's conception of communism.

The Unification Church is apparently quite influential in the States, and owns (according to rumour at least) the Washington Times.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Thoughts from here and there

  1. Jonny, if I am living and working in London, then Yes would be a definite answer. mmh. How serious were you when you asked that question? I wasn't quite sure what was happening, and thought you were about to throw that rainbow thingey away.
  2. Recent blog link to Green Tyrant: a good friend's lovely blog on his gardening experiences in Canberra.
  3. Recent blog link to chelsea5manu0: stylistically rather stream of consciousness; exploration of life and introspective thought from a Christian finding his way in Singapore.
  4. The new Nike CUFF sweatband watch looks rather cool, and I just might pop over to Tangs to take a peek.
  5. I need new shoes, and the blue Weinbronner slip-on at Bata looks very nice. Though I'm considering moving away from blue in my wardrobe and choosing the strange strappy brown one instead.
  6. Saving Face, showing at Cineleisure, Plaza and Grand, is a delightful movie. Recommended for starring Joan Chen and its humour.
  7. Bought two new books at Borders: Mrs Dalloway and Freakonomics. Am I buying the books or am I really just trying to buy the time to read them?
  8. Got a B for my Singapore educational elitism essay. Have requested for the markers' comments to be mailed over. Wonder what I would think of them.
  9. I am happy with the preliminary results for my 6 MA modules, and very happy with the probable overall classification derived from these results.
  10. I want to thank Christine, Zhongwen and Wilson for their support over the past week. :)
  11. Playing Jay Zhou's song on loop, and actually quite like the song. Lyrics and translation at: http://lyraine.blogspot.com/2005/11/having-fun-not-doing-essayliterature.html
  12. This day, one year ago. Shujun's MSN read gay folks day. And then she freaked when I started talking about gay friends with her. This day, one year ago. There was a very strange car journey to see the fireworks at Alexandra Palace. An Italian, a Chinese national, a Hong Kong-er and a Singaporean. Then, a present, a future and a past. The future and the Italian are getting married in a few months, and I wish them all the best. :)

Moments and momentos

I cannot find a particular momento. It's a Starbucks coffee-holder cardboard thingey, that is used to insulate fingers from boiling hot caffeinated drinks. On it, there's Jonny's name, Jonny's present address in Crawley, our shared address in Bloomsbury. The thingey is one of a pair, and Jonny has the other one. In it is embedded a particular moment: a moment of parting at Heathrow, a moment of extreme sadness at Starbucks, a moment of shared amusement at the soya froth in Jonny's tea, a moment in time that I hope I will always remember.

I feel a bit sad at its loss. It could have fallen out of my wallet (I have been carrying it around most days since coming back to Singapore). It could have accidentally been chucked away as I spring-cleaned my wallet. Hopefully, Jonny has taken it with him to England on SQ320 yesterday. Maybe some day, it will pop out of a crevice in my room, as numerous other little mementos from other moments in time have done.

I am clingey to moments and mementos. I still have texts from first dates. Primary school scribbles. Tissues from friends. My mother's shoes. My own ultrasound scan (me as a thingamabob in the womb).

To me, the missing Starbucks thingey is no small loss. Thankfully, I have very many other momentos to remember the same moment. Photographs in the main. And the wrist sweatbands that Jonny and I got that day at Niketown and Prowlers, and were each wearing at Heathrow. Probably a receipt or two from Starbucks and Niketown and Prowlers. A journal entry online. A journal entry offline.

I have got mementos of happier moments too. The recent ones include: the neoprint and Saving Face ticket from the 2nd, the Underwater World and Sentosa tickets from the 3rd, numerous other receipts of purchases made elsewhere. And of course the photographs.

In The Hours, Michael Cunningham writes of the hours that his main characters have to endure. I love the book and the movie, especially the emotions so powerfully . However, I doubt I am similarly enduring the hours. Instead, I seem to be rather busy living and observing life (more the latter than the former), maybe too busy clutching at the individual moments, past and present.

The future? What do I know of the future?

Not very much. Just that there will be numerous more moments that I will want to clutch at, to savour, to hold, to yearn for and to be nostalgic about.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Stuff done and to do

To do:
  • Colour photocopy, enlarge and laminate neo-prints and mail to Crawley
  • Return library books at Bukit Batok
  • Re-write my thesis
  • Call up AFA about volunteering
  • Consider musicals and plays to watch over the next two months
  • Work out a budget
  • Find a temp job


  • Foot and neck massage at Pagoda Street, 3rd November
  • Sentosa 'ordeal' on 3rd November public holiday
  • Saving Face movie at Cineleisure, 2nd November
  • Malaguo with Christine and Jonny; Chijazz with Shuling, Christine, Zhongwen, Wilson and Jonny, then to hwa and mee sua at Geylang, 29th October
  • Dinner with Ryan and Suzanne, 30th October.

A measure of hope

So, it is not an end, or a new beginning. But somewhat of a moderate third way.

3 months from now, we will review the situation. We will examine our feelings (both mutual and for others), our life-states, our job prospects. On February 4th, we will see how things would have panned out, and decide whether we want to carry on.

I hope that it works out. Hope, with a touch of pragmatism?

This time at Changi, it was more of an 'au revoir' than a 'goodbye', for which I am thankful. No tears, and definitely much more smiley than at Heathrow.

Oh, Jonny, I will never forget that incredulous and smiley 'perhaps' that you repeated after me last night. Was my 'perhaps' that unexpected????? :p (P.S. Do you happen to remember the precise wording of the question?)

Listed on BlogShares