Friday, May 27, 2005

Getting Real. No Fear. (And Introducing Star Orchestra Wars)

Ok, this time, it's Minister for Home Affairs Mr. Wong who has interrupted my hiatus. Mr. Wong says, "Get real. Come on, we live in the real world in Singapore." He was answering a Straits Times reporter on the question of fear.
Opposition parties and many Singaporeans believe that there is a climate of fear. This prevents people from wanting to speak up or stand for elections. What is your response? You read the newspapers. People write long commentaries, punchy articles that are highly critical of government policies. Is there fear? People appear in forums and dialogues and ask questions. Is there fear? What is the consequence of saying something that is challenged? Is the consequence being locked up in jail, disappearing in the middle of the night and you don't come back? Get real. Come on, we live in the real world in Singapore.
That's nice to know! And I was worried for so long that someone would drag me away in the middle of the night! BTW, I really like the way he says it, so cute, oh come on! You got to me kidding me!! :) Anyway, the reporter also asks him about the Films Act that prohibits 'political films'.
Does the law apply to television stations that put out interviews and programmes on PAP ministers? That is not a political video. That's a broadcaster and a content provider doing a job. It is done in other places. The minister is explaining himself, his policies and how he wants Singapore to move ahead.
Finally, the OBi-wan Kenobi marker is revealed! Sort of. Essentially, one would just need to be a broadcaster and content provider 'doing a job'. Hmm... is someone with an Internet connection hooking up a blog and publising Podcasts considered a 'broadcaster'? Anyway, the way I'm seeing this given Mr. Wong's answer, it's less a political issue now, and more of an issue of 'fairness' (since a 'broadcaster', by right, should be fair and balanced.) Back to hibernation. Orchestra Wars is found in the comments section.

Music Baton

So Adinahaes sends me a musical baton, and in doing so, forces me to have a hiatus interruptus. Total Volume of Music files on my computer: 1.58 GB The Last CD I bought was: Safe in a Crazy World by Corrinne May Song playing right now: Star Wars ROTS: Battle of the Heros (John Williams outdoes himself!) 5 songs I listen to a lot or that mean a lot to me: I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying by Sting Be Thou My Vision by various people Symphony no. 9 in E minor, op.95 'From the New World' by Dvorak Come What May by Nicole Kidman and Obi-wan Kenobi Wide Open Spaces by Dixie Chicks 5 people to whom I'm passing the baton: Alison Hidi Hui Chieh Vic Vivien The Dvorak piece is the first CD that my father bought for $40 at a shop at Raffles City many decades ago. And at that time, we didn't have a CD player at home. But my dad reasoned that if we bought the CD, we'd naturally get a CD player soon enough. He was quite right. The Sting piece is actually a song about divorce, forgiveness, joint custody, astronomy, babysitting, ice cream and parks on Sundays. It's also a country song, which is nice. There's also another 'real' country version, a duet with Sting and Toby Keith. Be Thou My Vision is my favourite hymn. Another favourite hymn is When I Survey The Wondrous Cross. They don't make hymns like they used to. But then again, King Solomon also says, it's ridiculous to think about 'the good old days'. Come What May is a song that me and my ex-girlfriend both liked. It's a lovely love song. I think Obi-wan should break into song more often. A Jedi Master who sings, who would have thought?! The Force is strong in their song. Wide Open Spaces is by the cool Chicks. The song talks about a state of mind I try to have, especially in an environment that doesn't naturally encourage wide open spaces. Now, back to hibernation.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Revenge Of The 'TH' Sound

As tomorrow is Tuesday, half-price cinema tickets day, I'll be watching Revenge of the Sick S*it Sith. Frankly, I'm scared to death. I would have to confront... the Dark Side! It's not going to be a pretty sight. I just read a news article that says worldwide sales of Star Wars merchandise have topped USD9 billion since the first movie. And sales of Darth Vader figurines have outsold all others 3-to-1. The point is: most people want to go over to the Dark Side. But I have no plans to do so, at least not any time in the short term. One of the great mysteries I have in my head is why and how people go bad. The other is the nature of suffering. And the first mystery is going to be answered tomorrow. I've tried to avoid the spoilers, but one that I've heard involves the ambiguity of evil. Now, this is truly a curveball. How do I avoid being seduced by the Dark Side if I don't know what it is? May the Force be with me. ----------------- POSSIBLE SPOILERS/EXPECTATION-MANIPULATORS BELOW, DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE FILM! Tuesday Update: I've just seen the movie. YESSS!! 9 out of 10 stars! Lucas has got it right, finally! Tight editing, great music, supreme Lucas-esque cheesy 80s lines, and most importantly, handled the nuances of the Dark Side really well. I mentioned the ambiguity of evil above. It turns out that understanding this ambiguity is key to avoid being seduced in the first place! If not, one becomes extreme, and will quickly fall to the Dark Side... But of course, that's only a small part of it, the rest of the moral of the story lies in the Jedi's Code. And also, never underestimate the power of the Dark Side... I wondered why the unknown Heyden Christensen was cast in Episode II. What does this guy have that other actors don't? In hindsight, I think Lucas' a genius to cast him while he waits a while for the guy to 'grow up' to tackle Episode 3. A good guy, a bad guy, who knows? The guy who can do no wrong, Ewan McGregor is such a hero! Did a wonderful job to follow the first trilogy's Obi-wan. I think I should buy a Obi-wan figurine. Now, wait for the six episodes DVD, we will. The Force is strong in this one. In the meantime, my online diary will be on hiatus until the end of next month. Comments are always welcome though...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Straits Times Ethics Committee Issues Guidebook For The Public

Singapore, Singapore-- The Ethics Committee of the Straits Times today issued a guidebook for the public to educate them on the proper procedures to follow in the event that they are approached by journalists who want their opinion.
"Contrary to popular belief, our newspapers do have a Code of Ethics, and we take our commitment to fairness and accuracy very seriously," a spokesperson from the Committee said.
"Recent events have shown that we might not have reached those standards. We are seeing an increasing number of instances where sources claim they are quoted out of context or misquoted. As a result of the complaints that we have received, we would like to educate the public on steps they can use to protect themselves when the situation presents itself."
The 20-page, colour guidebook entitled "The Straits Times and You" contains sections such as issuing press statements, fielding telephone calls from journalists, and strategies to choose the best photo to present oneself to a readership of 1.23 million. Among other things, the section on communicating with journalists includes the following:
"For the purposes of full disclosure, it is now standard company procedure for all our journalists to issue the following 'statement of rights' to potential sources before they are allowed to obtain any information from them."You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in our newspapers and websites. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during the interview. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to remain silent."
A journalist with the Straits Times who wished to remain anonymous applauded the Committee's initiative. "For far too long, innocent people have been misinterpreted, misconstructed, misconstrued, and misunderstood when their words appear in our newspapers. This is a small, but bold, move to raise our standards."

John Lim, who felt he has been misquoted before, agreed. "Yeah loh, last time I got interviewed by this reporter, and when I see the final article, I was, like, "When did I ever say this?" Then hor, yes, I remember that I did say such things. Then I look back at the article again, and I wonder, "When did I ever say this?!" It's all very strange. The newspaper seems to have a special power over people... don't know exactly what."

A senior editor at the Straits Times disagreed. "Don't get me wrong, I think its essential for any media company to have an Ethics Committee. But I don't understand what they're saying. Quoting our sources out of context? What does that mean? A quote is a quote is a quote. We present the quote AS IS. All quotes that appear in our newspaper actually came out of the mouths of our sources. It is up to our readership to make an informed judgment on the validity of the quote. We try to remain objective and balanced. I'm sorry to say this, but I think the Ethics Committee has misunderstood us this time round.

A representative from the Ethics Committee could be reached for further comment, but he declined to comment further.

Context: SingaporeAngle, SingaporeInk, me.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Audio Entry: How To Say The Singapore Pledge Correctly

The following letter appears in today's Straits Times Forum. So here's my audio entry (2.7mb). I think I only got 40% right. Someone please teach me how to speak good English...
How to say the Singapore Pledge correctly IN ALL the talk about speaking good English, I have noticed that little or no attention has been given to the emphasis of the correct syllables. Singlish tends to stress the final syllable of words, whereas the correct emphasis often lies in an earlier syllable. Take the Singapore Pledge:
  • citizens: In Singlish it's citiZENS; it should be CITizens.
  • Singapore: In Singlish it's SingaPORE; it should be SINGapore.
  • united: In Singlish it's uniTED; it should uNIted.
  • people: In Singlish it's peoPLE; it should be PEOple.
  • regardless: In Singlish it's regardLESS; it should be reGARDless.
  • language: In Singlish it's lanGUAGE; it should be LANGuage.
  • religion: In Singlish it's reliGION; it should be reLIgion.
  • democratic: In Singlish it's democraTIC; it should be demoCRAtic.
  • society: In Singlish it's socieTY; it should be soCIety.
  • justice: In Singlish it's jusTICE; it should be JUStice.
  • equality: In Singlish it's equaliTY; it should be eQUAlity.
  • happiness: In Singlish it's happiNESS; it should be HAPpiness.
  • prosperity: in Singlish it's prosperiTY; it should be prosPERity.
  • progress: In Singlish it's proGRESS; it should be PROgress.
  • nation: in Singlish it's naTION; it should be NAtion.
  • Look in any English dictionary and you will see that the correct syllable-emphasis is indicated. Perhaps this is an area that the Speak Good English Movement can look into highlighting as well. Pamela Chong Kwang Ngo (Ms)

    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Singer Snail Mails Her CD Direct To Fans

    Woohoo, the autographed CD from Corrinne May arrived today! This women is really cute. In her FAQ on the question 'how will you ship the item', she says, "Lovingly! First, we will pack each item with care, say a little prayer, and then drive to our nearest local Post Office at not more 25 miles/hr and pass it over to our favorite local Postal employee, Dan." Does anybody else in the music business do things like this nowadays? Just like the blogger phenomenon where writers want to do business directly with his or her readers, independent musicians want to get personal with their listeners. The CD can be found in CD shops,, and CD Baby. But one can also get autographed CDs direct from her. The new album Safe In A Crazy World is less of a concept album than the first which I found to be very technical. Still, the new album is a wonderful complement to the first; it's got a more pop style to it. I'm listening to it repeatedly for far, far more times than is advisable. Can't wait for the next album, which I'll probably order from her direct again. Listen to samples here, here, and here.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    A Short Guide On Understanding TV Weather Reports

    Today, I'm going to talk about the weather reports found on TV. For readers in Singapore, I know all this won't be totally relevant because Singapore's weather is always the same. It's so 'the same' that I can actually predict it with a high degree of accuracy most of the time. Still, if you watch CNN or stuff like that and they talk about the weather, this might help you catch a little bit of the action. The first picture above is easy enough. These are temperatures in degrees Centigrade reported by school kids. Next comes the forecast for the next three days. The first thing to note are the white lines. They denote air pressure in hectopascals. So anywhere along the line labeled 1020, the air pressure is 1020 hPa. When the lines are closer together, the 'pressure gradient' is steeper. Wind is formed when two areas have different air pressures. So, the wind will be stronger when the 'pressure gradient' is steeper. The next thing to note is the blue line with triangles. This line denotes a cold front. A cold front is cold air meeting warmer air, pushing up the warmer air. This might result in rain. You can't see it here, but there's actually a low pressure region just to the bottom left, out of the screen. (Click here to see the latest chart.) In the southern hemisphere, wind spirals cLockwise around a low pressure region. (The opposite happens in the northern hemisphere.) That means the wind will reach the land area (the bottom left of Australia) from the west. You can see the progression of the cold front for the three days. This cold front will be moving towards the mainland and hitting Australia from the west, bringing bad luck, uncertainty and rain. The last screen tells us the forecasted wind speeds at the coast. "N/NW winds" means wind speeds in knots, coming from the north and northwest. This is obviously a cursory look at things, so please correct me if I've made a mistake. There are useful tutorials, and also some weather education. The weathergirl today is Natalia Cooper.

    Monday, May 16, 2005

    The Xiaxue Doctrine

    "First we're going to cut it off, then we're going to kill it." -General Colin Powell/1991 Gulf War "I know the people whom I criticise are not going to come after me and sue me. I don't write about companies and they are the ones that will sue." -Xiaxue/The Straits Times/Blog No Evil
    The Powell Doctrine is essential for battle planners. The idea is to wage war only when overwhelming force can be used against the enemy. A military strategist who consults for both West Point and Sandhurst, Xiaxue is well known among international military circles. Her most famous paper examines the Powell Doctrine, and extends it by looking at things from the opposite side, urging disengaging from combat if the enemy has overwhelming force. For the past few years, Xiaxue has been moonlighting as Singapore's most popular blogger to explore her more infantile side. Recently, social commentator HuiChieh re-discovered her military credentials after reading the newspaper article. He coined it: The Xiaxue Doctrine. The Xiaxue Doctrine is indeed useful for understanding a lot of things, and not only in matters of war. It provides essential insights to business, as well as legal matters. The rest of this entry will examine some of my thoughts and implications of The Xiaxue Doctrine. There are barriers when taking advantage of the fairness of the law There are significant barriers to entry when attempting to make use of the rights and privileges accorded by the law. The law tries to be fair, and to be fair, it is the fairest institution set up by man to ensure the coexistence of competing interests in an uncertain society. However, to claim this fairness, one has to resort to obtaining resources that are inherently not fair: money, power, politics, time, emotional costs and so on. There are those who can make use of the law to their advantage, there are those who don't have the necessary resources to do the same. For example, The Xiaxue Doctrine highlights the fact that companies have the ability to sue, while individuals are far less likely to do the same. Do note that this has nothing to do with the inherent fairness of the law itself. Debunking the 'there's no smoke without fire' myth There is a common temptation when looking at lawsuits (for example, the Michael Jackson case) and decide that 'there's no smoke without fire', there must be something substantial behind the charges. Therefore, the defendant is mostly likely guilty, at least to some degree. The Xiaxue Doctrine blows this myth apart. There is no inherent reason why a defendant in any lawsuit should be any more guilty than the plaintiff (the party that initiates action). A simple thought experiment illustrates this. If someone accuses you of molesting and demands a public apology or else legal action will be initiated, does that mean you're guilty, that there's no smoke without fire? Obviously not, assuming you're innocent and have no idea what this person is talking about. I fear the sacred honor that is 'innocent until proven guilty' is fast becoming an ancient relic. Our legal institutions are nothing without this assumption. There is smoke without fire, it happens all the time. The Chinese have a saying, 恶人先告状, the bad guy reports the crime first. Just because someone reports a crime, it doesn't mean he is in the right. The Xiaxue Doctrine is clear on this. There are some who can report a crime, and some who cannot. Choose your enemies, wisely. The Xiaxue Doctrine implores all to choose whom to fight against, wisely. Some enemies entail lower risk, some, a great deal higher risk. Have you chosen wisely, today? Some companies will choose to take action for no apparent reason The Xiaxue Doctrine recognises that some companies might initiate actions (legal or otherwise) for no reason, simply because they can. "They are the ones that will sue," she says. Even for things she has written that is not worth suing in the first place? The Xiaxue Doctrine seems to be affirmative on this point. With that, happy interpreting lawsuits. I, for one, still thinks Michael Jackson is innocent at this point in time.

    Friday, May 13, 2005

    The Paranoia Begins!

    I was just looking at the log of visitors to this blog. If you don't hear from me for the new few days... don't forget to help me file a missing person's report!

    Thursday, May 12, 2005

    Why Don't School Buses Have Seat Belts?

    I subscribe to this spam mail service called Ask Yahoo! which answers a question from readers everyday. I've often asked myself the same question about seat belts.
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration argues that seat belts aren't the most effective way to protect passengers on school buses. Instead the big yellow beasts employ something called "compartmentalization." Think back to your days on the good ol' school bus. Remember how those rigid green seats were wedged closer together than on even the cheapest no-frills airline? That's compartmentalization in action. Sitting in "strong, closely-spaced seats that have energy-absorbing high seat backs," passengers are effectively protected from crashes...
    If you need answers to something and are willing to pay, visit Google Answers. They are a great bunch of researchers. You may wish to pay me to answer questions, but only if there're simple enough haha...

    Episode V: The Mainstream Media Strikes Back

    This is so going according to the script. A few days after a new hope, the mainstream media launches a well thought-out plan to gain the upper hand. 'Veteran' local bloggers mrbrown and mrmiyagi were invited to give an interview with the Today newspaper, and I think what became of the final article was a classic case of 中了借刀杀[自己]人之计。 Reading Mr Miyagi's entry, if I were in his shoes, I'd probably have muttered to myself, "主流传媒果然厉害!" Shellshocked, the two mounted a glorious comeback, telling their sides of the story in their own blogs. I've seldom seen such an incisive commentary of what the local mainstream press is capable of. And because of the nature of blogs, the collective wisdom of visitors adds to the effect. Normally, we hear of friends or friends of friends who were interviewed by newspapers and later complained that they were 'taken out of context' in the article that eventually appeared. And then we don't know what they actually meant. Aiyah, maybe they're just too sensitive. Or maybe, they misunderstood the article, lah. This time it's different. One can see exactly the angle that the newspaper wants to tell the reader. It's not only 'innocently taken out of context' or 'misunderstood', it's taking the words of the interview, and making it fit into a pre-conceived agenda or story. All in all, I think this is very good for public education, to view the media with a critical eye. And Gilbert Koh has a very good tutorial for handling newspaper interview requests. Read it at mrbrown's entry.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2005

    Exact Nature of Crime Withheld From Jury

    So, this thing has really become quite bizarre. It's like going to court to witness the trial as a visitor, or a member of the jury, and then not knowing what the crime is because the plaintiff doesn't want to tell. It's really weird. The Reuters report that most have seen contain the following:
    Paris-based Reporters without Borders said the case highlighted the lack of free expression in Singapore, which is among the 20 lowest-scoring countries in the organization's worldwide press freedom index. "Chen criticized some of A*Star's policies but there was nothing defamatory in what he wrote," Julien Pain, head of Reporters without Borders' Internet freedom desk, told Reuters.
    So I emailed Pain to ask him for more insight since he seems to have seen the alleged defamation remarks. (To put a human face to the RSF, here's a video interview with Pain.) Obviously I understand that even if Pain does indeed know something that the rest of the world doesn't, he could get AcidFlask into trouble if he reveals what he knows since the newest apology does include a clause that the remarks can no longer be told to a third party. Which is precisely Pain's email reply to me, that he can't give me any more information about those comments and that it's up to AcidFlask to reveal them. Which he can't possibly do if he doesn't want to be threatened again! So this apology is quite clever, in a technical sense, because it gives the plaintiff a sort of joker/wildcard, a 'special power' to prevent anyone else to see for themselves what Exhibit A is. Even the famous defamation cases that involved rival politicians, the exact defamatory speech is clearly revealed. Could Pain have been right? That there's nothing defamatory all along? And if that's true, is there anything that can be done about this? I do understand that my analogy in the title isn't exactly analogous to the present situation since this has not gone to court yet. Still, the same strategy could be used against any blogger if things stand as they are...
    Some authority looking at kid's website: Hey you, I don't like what you write. Take it down. Kid: But it's just my website about zoo animals! Authority: I don't care, take it down. Or I'd sue. And don't talk to no one about this. Our conversation never happened. Kid: Whatever you say... *shrugs*
    More from SingaporeAngle, mrbrown.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2005

    酒后不开车, 开车不喝酒

    If you drink, don't drive. If you drive, don't drink. If you want to drink and drive, one alternative is today's weird news item. These guys are flying around the world with Flight Simulator and discovering beer at the same time.
    Welcome to The Flight of The Hopper website, an internet project devoted to the unique marriage of flight simulation and beer. The Hopper is a simulated aircraft on a simulated journey whose real crew consumes real brewed beverages from around the world.
    I need a beer... but I don't think I'll do the same when I fly my world tour. I'd probably crash, which is not very nice...

    Monday, May 9, 2005

    A Bump On The Road

    "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." ~Obi-Wan Kenobi to Darth Vader/Star Wars: A New Hope
    When all is said and done, may the Force be with you. And with all sensible bloggers too. Update: Congratulations to Hui Chieh, he's just become a dad!

    Resisting the 'Religious Right' in Australia: The 'Religious Left'?

    I've just watched a most fascinating half hour TV interview with Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd on the ABC program Compass. The default anti-war spokesperson for the Labour Party, Rudd has decided to announce that he's running on a platform that is on the side of God [or something to the effect].

    This is fascinating for me because just last week I was reading "God Under John Howard", a webdiary on the possibility that the Religious Right politics in the US would similarly affect Australia. It's argued that this has already started happening, with both John Howard and Peter Costello attending well-publicised Hillsong concerts to pull for votes. And yes, I've only now learnt that Hillsong is not only a singing group, but is actually a very big evangelical church. BTW, Howard and Costello, PM and PM-wannabe, are from the Australian Liberal Party, the incumbent centre-to-right party. The Labour party, with lovely members like Gillard I highlighted the last time, are the centre-left. This is contrasted to the Democrats in the US, who are the liberals with centre-left ideals; and the Republicans, conservatives with centre-to-right views. They have a leader called George Bush. You can call him Chimpy.

    Rudd's objective is simple: he wants to make the point that the incumbent has claimed God for themselves, and he wants to re-claim this 'contestable space' too. He feels that his party is losing votes with the demographic of voters who see themselves as evangelicals, and now he's going to give these people an alternative to vote, for Labour. And also, he can't ignore the rise of the new church-linked political party Family First. So, I guess in a sense, it's like "Oh no you don't. You're not the only one who's claiming to speak for God, I speak for God too." The situation in the US is a little different from the Australia context. In the US, the Religious Right is not only a religious demographic, it's also a very big business empire. Focus on the Family etc. make a lot of money, and with that comes political clout and the ability to lobby folks like Chimpy.

    In Australia, there isn't really this 'big business behind the scenes' thingy, I think. If I understand what Rudd's trying to do, he's just reaching out to those who feel comfortable that there are those on the Left who're also Christians, not just on the Right. While I'd prefer an anti-war guy like Rudd compared to pro-war Howard (on this issue per se), and I would probably hope Rudd is a moderate on issues of faith, I'm not exactly sure this is the way to go. Does one counter the Religious Right with the Religious Left?

    The problem I have with this is that firstly, I come from a POV of the separation of Church and State. In Matthew 22:21, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." Sure, I think that if Christ's teachings were to directly become public policies, they would be a good thing. However, there's a catch: whose interpretation of Christ's teachings is really what was intended in the first place? Even worse, what does one do with verses in the Bible that supports slavery etc. I just don't know, especially with artificially created wedge issues like abortion and gay issues. It's very easy to twist matters of faith into your own political agenda. And it can quickly lead to corruption if one's not careful.

    The second problem I have is: what does one do with folks from the Non-Religious Left/Right? Surely they have an equal say in matters of public policy. What happens when policies appear the way they do just because a particular faith seems to see it as such? What about other faiths? Religious faith per se doesn't necessarily result in better policies, any more than the age, skin colour, or gender of the politician should necessarily affect outcomes of policies. I need to introduce Randy, a professor at Singapore's NTU who argues the opposite. It's an interesting read. Link of the transcript is now available: Kevin Rudd: The God Factor

    Saturday, May 7, 2005

    Intelligent Women On TV

    Now, this may be a little weird. Yes, I'm only indulging myself. Where are all the intelligent women on television? In the movie world, I can only think of Jodie Foster offhand. In TVLand, she could be the first female Prime Minister of Australia if the stars align. Jodie Foster's elder sister, Labour front bencher, shadow health minister Julia Gillard. She was missing for quiet a while on TV, and appeared last night on Lateline, so I decided to take a few screen shots. Far, far better looking than John "I will serve as long as the party wants me to" Howard and the whiney Peter "John Howard still doesn't want me to be PM!" Costello. Now, the next person I'll paparazzise on is the Channel 9 weather girl, if in fact she hasn't been fired... LOL

    One Day More To Possible Litigation/Mother's Day

    One day more Another day, another destiny This never ending road to apology These men who seem to know my crime will surely come a second time One day more - One Day More/Les Miserables [apologies to Jean Valjean]
    I just realised two days ago that tomorrow is Mother's Day. It's too late to buy a card, so I'll have to call my mum and apologise. AcidFlask has it worse, though. Tomorrow is the deadline to apologise some more, until there are no more apologies left in reserve. I don't envy this man. And I think exams should come first, maybe more people can come around and empathise with this point. I'm actually more interested in why the apology so far is currently 'apology no enough'.
    According to A*Star's spokesman: 'We felt that, from what Mr Chen posted, he has not made an unreserved and sincere apology.' They felt, for example, that the last line of his apology left an avenue open for him to make remarks about A*Star or Mr Yeo on other websites or media. What A*Star wants now, it said, is an unreserved apology, a retraction and a promise not to do it again. --ST
    Besides the semantics of the last sentence mentioned in the ST, could it also possibly be because AcidFlask prefaced it with a quote from anti-slavery spokesperson Wendell Phillips (1811-1884), abolitionist, orator and columnist for The Liberator? The quote is from a speech before the Massachusetts Antislavery Society in 1852.
    Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. - Wendell Phillips
    The full quote follows:
    Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty—power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The hand entrusted with power becomes...the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continual oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot: only by unintermitted Agitation can a people be kept sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.
    Maybe that's why they want a second apology, an unconditional apology. And no more prefacing it with relevant quotes, please! More from ChannelNewsLocalBlogsphere, SingaporeAngle.

    Friday, May 6, 2005

    Local Blogsphere Thinking of Legal Action Against ChannelNewsLater

    Singapore, Singapore--Members of the Local Blogsphere are considering legal action following the publication of potentially defamatory remarks from Channel News Later, a local news-gathering organization. The specific defamatory remarks concern a recent news report on alleged legal action of local organization A*Star against a Masters student in the United States who is not really doing his Masters, but his Ph.D. The alleged paragraph containing defamatory remarks is as follows: "On Wednesday, Channel News Later broke a story about how the Singapore student, who is pursuing his Masters degree in the United States, shut down his blog after he was threatened with legal action by A*Star." The Local Blogsphere, in its response to Channel News Later, said it found the public news story contained defamatory statements. It was apparent to anyone that Channel News Later did not break the story this Wednesday last. The story was broken more than a week ago by the Local Blogsphere, examples here. By falsely claiming the breaking of the story for itself, Channel News Later has "falsely and negatively reflected on the reputation of the Local Blogsphere in the eyes of a third party". The Local Blogsphere also said it had the responsibility to protect its reputation and also that of Singapore. Sloppy errors like these, and the inability of representatives of the news organization to do simple Google searches, do not reflect Singapore well to the international community and discerning local readers. Singapore's objective to be an 'international media hub' would be severely compromised if this continued. And so, it is thinking of warning the Channel News Later of legal consequences unless the objectionable statements are removed. The Local Blogsphere also said it welcomed a diversity of views in all media, but the statements made in the news report "went way beyond fair comment."
    More from the Local Blogsphere News Gathering Organization, SingaporeAngle.

    Thursday, May 5, 2005

    A Moment of Silence

    I have read only a few of his recent funny blog entries, this guy has the X factor... Then there is serious stuff; I've never seen an online diarist/blogger do this before, dedicate a whole entry to his dad's life, with pictures and writeup. KennySia wrote yesterday that his father has passed away. My condolences to him and his family. Very, very sad...

    Which Americans Are Worse Than 9-11 Terrorists?

    Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson tackles the question head-on. And I almost fell out of my chair.
    On Sunday morning, Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson told TV viewers nation-wide that the threat posed by [out of control] liberal judges is "probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings." When an incredulous George Stephanopoulos asked if Robertson really believed that these judges posed "the most serious threat America has faced in nearly 400 years of history, more serious than al Qaeda, more serious than Nazi Germany and Japan, more serious than the Civil War?," he responded, "George, I really believe that." From, Media Matters, interview transcript
    What's wrong with these people? I think my head's going to explode soon. Arghhghghgh! OK, I've calmed down enough to think. People like him and James "Focus on your own darn family" Dobson, these guys really believe what they're saying. I have no doubt about that. And if the folks in the US aren't careful, they will take over the country! OK, I don't even want to think anymore, it's too frightening... Germany 1930s, anyone? More from the Christian Science Monitor.
    The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life. -Adolph Hitler, Proclamation to the German nation at Berlin, February 1, 1933 I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work. -Adolf Hitler, speech at the Reichstag, Berlin, in 1936.
    More from DailyKos.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2005

    What Would You Do If The Pictures In The Brochure Doesn't Appear To Match Your New Apartment?

    In yesterday's Straits Times Forums section. The section's subheading is called This and That. I think it's euphemism for 'something or rather/near or far/more or less'
    BEDROOMS SMALLER THAN IN BROCHURES THREE years ago, my family bought a condominium apartment. We made our selection based on the brochures provided. Recently, we got our keys, but found out the bedrooms are much smaller than what was shown in the brochures. Does this constitute misrepresentation by the developer? Xin Hui (Miss)
    Dear Ms Hui, I believe you have been duped by the pictures in the brochure! Besides the pictures, there should be to-scale floor plans included in your brochure too. You can use a ruler to measure the floor area, and convert the measurements to real-life numbers. Then use a longer metallic ruler to measure your apartment. If there's really a discrepancy, raise the issue with the developer. But trust me on the pictures, they are photoshoped! PS. Paging for Artist's Impression Guy to the Courtesy Phone. You have much 'plaining to do, my friend!

    Monday, May 2, 2005

    Understanding Women 203

    Haha, this is a good spam email. From Peiwenl (via, an article about understanding relationships in terms of numbers, a strict method of cost and benefit analysis.
    Make the woman happy. Do something she likes, and you get points. Do something she dislikes and points are subtracted. You don't get any points for doing something she expects. Sorry, that's the way the game is played.
    If there're women out there who doesn't think in this manner, talk to me. Thank you.

    Why Does God Hate Me So?

    One of the saddest things I have to deal with personally in my walk with God is when I see religion/faith being used for tragic purposes. This is not a new thing; it has occurred throughout history. Organised religion has been used to justify slavery, suppress women, encouraged wars, oppress homosexuals and other minorities and so on.

    The title above is a question asked by a gay person at DailyKos. He describes the emotional turmoil in this childhood, driven from his abusive family and home and forced to live on the streets. The horror of it all, physical and emotional, is unimaginable. But in his heart, he is still searching for God and working out his sexuality. And so he asks, "Why does God hate me so? And can I still be a liberal and believe in God?"

    The reason why he asks that is because the Religious Right, well, claim to be religious and seem to be have a monopoly on faith. And I replied to his thread, "Yes, sure you can. I am a liberal because I'm a Christian who believes Jesus' teachings directly contradicts with so many things that the Religious Right believes in. If I don't have the faith, I wouldn't even be bothering taking a leftist stance in many things and be in much trouble with friends etc. It's really a pain, sometimes...:)" I put a smiley face to laugh it off, but it's painful nonetheless. I've lost friends before because of my leftish leanings such as my objections against prevailing attitudes to gay people. Losing friends because of an idea is not something easy to take. What's worse is that I know this won't end anytime soon.
    Feed the poor and thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, blessed are the meek, the peacemakers, the merciful, the persecuted, eat with the outcasts and criminals, prevent a public execution by drawing in the sand, pray in private, do yourself up while fasting so that others don't know you're fasting, don't boast while confessing, don't be a hypocrite, don't be arrogant, easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich person to enter heaven, don't just call my name and forget everything else that needs to be done, be compassionate, heal the sick, love your enemy, offer the other when someone hits one cheek, donate anonymously to charities, love your neighbour as you love yourself.
    These are revolutionary ideas, even by today's standards. This sort of value system is in direct contrast to prevailing ideas; in fact, a person holding such views would be seriously disadvantaged. That's why I think Christ is a liberal. He is progressive in his views, doesn't necessarily believe in the status quo, if those views need to be changed.

    But more importantly, the overriding motivation for being a liberal is love. Love your neighbour. Without such a love, there's no point in being a liberal. I wonder what Christ would do if he meets a gay person. I think probably he'll have dinner with the guy, and treat him the same like any other human being. He'll also probably love the gay guy like he loves any of us. Sometimes I imagine an imaginary gay person in my mind and I tell the guy, "Look, it'd be so much easier for me if I didn't have to speak up for you. Do you know that?" But then, if I don't speak up, I can't sleep at night.

    So yes, I blame God sometimes for that. But what is encouraging is silently looking at gay people whom I personally know are living difficult, oppressed lives, and seeing they are actually living out a better testimony compared to some folks who call themselves Christians. I know God would be proud.

    A couple of years ago, I watched an episode of Queer As Folk which had a lovely conversation between a few gay friends. Emmett is going off to a church program that aims to help him get rid of his homosexual inclinations. The rest are sending him off.
    Ted: We wanted to let you know that we still love you. Maybe not as much as Jesus... but almost. And we're going to miss you.
    Michael: Especially the way you dance with your hands above your head, and your Liza impersonation. That's the way I'll always remember you.
    Emmett: Thanks. But I don't think God appreciates it quite as much as you do.
    Ted: I think God appreciates it even more. Because he created you in His image. At least, that's what I was always taught. And since God is love, and God doesn't make any mistakes, then you must be exactly the way He wants you to be. The way He intended you to be. And that goes for every person, every planet, every mountain, every grain of sand, every song. Every tear. And every faggot. We're all His, Emmett. He loves us all.
    Amen to that.

    Sunday, May 1, 2005

    Audio Post

    this is an audio post - click to play

    Tiger Direct Sues Apple OS X 'Tiger' Sues Tiger Balm Sues Tiger Airways Sues Tiger Woods Sues Zoo's Tigers Sues Tiger Beer Sues Tiger Direct

    The circle of life continues. Tiger Direct sues Apple for coming up with the new OS called Tiger. To recoup possible losses, Apple in turn sues Tiger Balm... and it goes on and on... Other companies hit by lawsuites include Tiger Airways, Tiger Woods, the Singapore Zoo, and Tiger Beer. 谁怕谁?乌龟怕铁锤! Bring it on!


    I went for a haircut today. The barberess asks, "So how do you want it?" And I always say, "No.2 [2nd shortest style]. Just do whatever you want. I don't really care." Strangely enough, the end result is almost always the same with different barbers and barberresses! Or maybe it's just because I can't tell the difference... Does the haircut look OK? Yeah, I think so too...