Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Truth In Advertising: Real Reason For GRC

As I was flipping my paper version of The Straits Times a few hours ago, I thought their editorial office had been hacked by The Onion or something. Something got published that just wasn't supposed to be revealed to the populace. But it's one of those things that makes this country just absolutely fascinating for someone like me who likes to read National Education pronouncements and somehow try to make them relevant to my daily life. I've always thought that pigs would fly before something like this happened. It now seems that either the editorial office got hacked, or pigs really do fly!
GRCs make it easier to find top talent: SM Without good chance of winning at polls, they might not be willing to risk careers for politics By Li Xueying SENIOR Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday gave a new take on the role of Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs) in Singapore politics. Their role is not just to ensure minorities are adequately represented in Parliament, he said. They also contribute to Singapore's political stability, by 'helping us to recruit younger and capable candidates with the potential to become ministers'. 'Without some assurance of a good chance of winning at least their first election, many able and successful young Singaporeans may not risk their careers to join politics,' Mr Goh said at an event marking the appointment of members to the South East Community Development Council (CDC). 'Why should they when they are on the way up in the civil service, the SAF, and in the professions or the corporate world?' But he was quick to add that GRCs themselves do not guarantee victory...
For the full version, please subscribe to the online version of the newspaper. This article alone is worth the entire year's subscription! What really happened that induced an 'admission' of this sort? I don't know, but developments in the next few days would be very interesting indeed! :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Aussie Socceroos Win!

Wow!!! A few hours ago, I switched off the TV with 10 minutes to go between Japan and Australia; Australia was trailing 0-1. I thought the Roos weren't really playing inspiring stuff and a few minutes won't make much of a difference. I just read that the Roos had beaten the Japanese 3-1!! Substitute Tim Cahill scored three times in eight minutes! Go Aussies! I like this team because the kangaroo is my favourite animal, but I also wish the Japanese would win because I have the same hair colour as them, and my last name is the same as their national currency. So I'm happy no matter who wins hehe...

GSM Mobile Phone Tells You Where You Are

La what?! When this appeared on the handphone today, I thought I got a handphone virus and promptly switched it off! hahaa... It's about time the telcos switched on this feature. When I was in Perth, I would get Northbridge in the bedroom, and East Perth in the living room. It's really quite fun...

Saturday, June 3, 2006

How Does One Understand Irony/Satire?

"If you're going to tell the truth, you'd better make people laugh. Otherwise they'll kill you." ~(probably) George Bernard Shaw
I was just thinking about what Mr. Wang wrote about Dr Lee, our Information Minister. I've talked about him before, and this time, it's about mrbrown's podcasts. At Wang's comments section, there's an interesting discussion about whether mrbrown is doing the right thing, whether humour will dilute the message or make it less respectable. As I see it, mrbrown has totally neutralised the bizarre tactics of the Ruling Party with that single podcast episode, at least in the blog-sphere of influence. mrbrown is so good at this, he's been doing it for the past eight years. To be fair, it's sometimes quite difficult to 'get' what mrbrown is trying to do (especially if one's feels the same as Dr Lee), specifically, the idea of satire or irony to tell the truth about something, even if it's sometimes rude and irreverent. Although I think strictly speaking, these two terms are not exactly similar, but they do share some characteristics. These dramatic tools require one to become illogical. Yes becomes no, no becomes yes. 'There are no 300 taels of silver buried here' becomes 'there are actually lots of treasure buried here'. A different set of logic might thus be needed. Now, I'm fascinated by how folks understand or think about these sorts of things, but let me just sidetrack to non-humans for a second... I was at the zoo earlier this year. The zoo is actually quite an ironical and funny place, because it should occur to some that it's unclear whether humans are actually visiting the animals, or whether humans are being met by animals. This sort of bizarre relationship was not lost on one particular orang utan, at least that's what I thought.
From the zoo's website
There's a 'photo taking' area just beside the orang utans' enclosure where visitors pay a few dollars to have the opportunity to stand beside one orang utan to have their photo taken together. When I was there that day, there weren't any visitors queing up, so the orang utan and his keeper were just hanging around, looking a little bored. I could see from the expression of the orang utan (at the risk of being anthropomophic!) that he was getting restless, and had the 'this is bloody ridiculous!' look on his face. Waiting for people to pay us money just to take a picture with us?! What's wrong with those humans? The keeper was probably thinking the same thing. Then something bizarre happened. The orang utan started to punch the keeper on his upper arm! Now, those weren't just feeble punches. It really looked like he was going for it! And he started to hit the keeper again, again, again, again and AGAIN! And the orang utan was SMILING. And the smile was really WIDE! (It's hard for me to describe it, you got to see it yourself!) Real punches from an arm that could open up a coconut without any tools! Now the keeper decided to play along, so he started faking and twisting his face as if he were in real pain. The orang utan didn't care, and continued his assault, smiling. He was obviously having lots of fun. Moments later, the keeper decided he had enough, and started to bring his hands around the orang utan's neck and strangle him! Of course, it wasn't real, but the orang utan was STILL SMILING from ear to ear! It's very funny, but those two chaps were just bored out of their wits waiting for visitors wanting to take pictures with them. Now, I was just STUNNED as I watched this mock interplay of violence between animal and zookeeper. Aside from the fact that an orang utan's face looked like a human's face, this sort of behaviour seemed to me to require 'higher-level thought processes'. While it's not strictly satire or irony, I suspect it requires a 'different set of logic' to appreciate. How is the orang utan aware of this? Maybe I'll punch an orang utan next time and see what it would do... Anyway, coming back to court jester tactics, the only way to tell the truth around these places is to make people laugh. Getting killed for doing the same is just not worth it!