Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Editors and Muse

The latest albums from The Editors - In This Light And On This Evening and Muse - The Resistance are absolute proof that these two bands are currently in top form.

The Editors seemed to have channeled Brad Fiedel's Terminator soundtrack by way of Flood, which is a significant breakaway from their first two albums.

Muse surprises too with some prog-rock-ish stuff that deviates from their usual. The second half of the album is less radio-friendly but so much more ambitious and superior sounding. The result of their own production inputs I suppose. This album is the first self-produced album for the band.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A song a day 91


Saturday, September 26, 2009

We need a hobby

No, I don't think I will close this blog. However I won't blog as often.
It's been a busy one months since June. I don't think things will be letting up in the next one year or so.
I am still awaiting my Audrey Kawasaki print. I don't think there are any firm plans for Pin's birthday. So nobody's talking about a McDonald's Party for him.
The usual suspects, if we can call ourselves that anymore, haven't been doing the usual clubbing weekends anymore. Maybe it's just me who haven't been doing so.
We were in KL for a weekend getaway. Get away from what I don't know. We were just using the reason of checking out the construction progress for Swiss Garden Residences as an excuse to hit north for a binge fest. Meals came at 4-hourly intervals except during the 6 hours of sleep. we had a short 2 hour jig at Zouk KL but it was the afternoon conversation we had before checking in that reassured myself that I am not the only one who is choosing to stay in on weekends. Actually that is not the case either. We had decided that maintaining a hobby would be good. But cannot decide if it was going to be golfing, tea appreciation or poker/dvd nights. The location was also a consideration. Having a place to crash would be good.

I think some of us foresaw this years ago. What were we going to do when we lose interest in the scene.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mercury Prize Nominees

This year's contenders are again, strong.

Bat For Lashes, Friendly Fires, Lisa Hannigan (finally! an album from Damien Rice's duetress), La Roux.....gosh!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Click click click

Everyone reading this, go to http://hall3-sincity.com/

or click here.

Click the Queen of Hearts and vote for my sister Dominique Pang.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Audrey Kawasaki, again.

Two Sisters arrived sometime earlier this year. It's a time limited edition print and it ran to 1060 within one hour. That's how ferocious Audrey Kawasaki fans can be like. The previous time limited edition print I got hit 790. I wonder why the numbers always end up being a multiple of ten?

I haven't been checking her website and didn't realise that the rss feed from her livejournal was not working. Serendipitously, I decided to check her website out on Friday night and lo behold, a limited edition print of the lead painting at the Tokyo exhibition held in May was on sale. Only 200 of them. So I woke up at 5:50am on a Sunday morning and was lucky enough to purchase one of them.
I can't wait for it to arrive.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


the above has set in?
I've been busy and not been blogging. But the number of hits per day remained constant throughout this 6 weeks of hiatus. What does it tell me (and you)? The entries in here don't matter much in the world wide web.
Lots of exciting news, if you're bothered. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brilliant brainstorm briefly brewing

Party FAQs number 7:

Are there any age restrictions for guests? Can adults have Parties at McDonald's too?

There are no age restrictions. Yes, adults are welcome to throw parties at McDonald's. Adults can be kids again and experience the same games, activities and gifts as kids do!

I'm lovin' it

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Innocence Project

There is this 62-year old Japanese man named Toshikazu Sugaya of Tochigi Prefecture who was sentenced to a life sentence after he was found guilty of killing a 4 year old girl in 1991.
His father died of shock when he was convicted.

Recently, he was released from prison after serving 17 years of a life sentence, when new DNA evidence proved that he wasn't the killer.

Besides the fact that he was wrongly accused and sentenced, there is also the disturbing thought that for the last 17 years, the real killer got away scot-free.

But back to the "wrongly accused and sentenced" bit. There is this online website that tracks convicted criminals who were exnoerated of their crimes after new DNA evidence was found in their favour. It's quite a disquieting thought to know that despite all the measures in place, the justice system is fallible.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

My job as an insurance policy for Singapore

I remember that somebody once likened military expenditure to buying insurance.
You hope never to use it but when you do, you are damn glad that you have it.

I have several policies. I started with a Life Insurance after a talk by some Insurance Corporation of Singapore representatives during Basic Military Training. This was followed by an Investment Linked Policy when I was 19. Endowment funds followed. And I recently switched to private health insurance to expand my medishield/save coverage and also increase my coverage on critical illness.

Like military expenditure, my objectives were clear. So through good times and bad - Asian Financial Crisis, SARS, bursting of the Tech-Sector bubble, I bought policies not just because I could afford them. Rather, I bought them because I could not afford not to have them. Am I better off now had I not bought them? I don't know. I have difficulty finding insurers who don't mind my medical condition (hypertension). My health and critical care policies come with exclusion and loading respectively.

No matter how the economy is performing, I maintain my policies with regular payments. This is because I expect the policies to provide protection whenever it is needed. Good times or bad.

So if military expenditure is like buying insurance, then why am I not given a bonus when times are bad? Don't I provide protection when times are bad?

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I lost The Game!

What is The Game?

Rule 1: Everybody is playing The Game. (You included)
Rule 2: Whenever you think of The Game, you lose.
Rule 3: When you lose, you must announce your loss.

Read the first letters of the top 21 most influential people on Time's list. As voted by internet users.

It is not a coincidence.

Odd observable but unnoticed facts

Music ∝ 1/Volume
If the music is not found in your iPod, the volume at which it is played is inversely proportionate to its quality - invariably, music played from handphones are exceptionally loud. Quality does not refer to the bit rate ie. 128, 256, 320kbps.

Nose-diving Drivers
The top 2 activities drivers take part in while stopped at a traffic light: Nose-digging, closely followed by checking out if other drivers are digging their noses. I do both. Simultaneously. ftw.

Although the salinity of the water will change, the "city reservoir" that was created from Marina Bay will not have observable environmental effects. This is because Singapore was not concerned about the ecosystem in the water before and will not be too bothered about it when the seawater in the bay becomes "fresh" water. There is no basis for comparison.

Human Traffic
The human traffic lane system employed at various MRT Stations eg. Outram, Somerset and Orchard will never reach its potent effectiveness in easing human congestion. Until a fine is imposed, enforced and the culprits shamed on The Straits Times, The New Paper, My Paper, Today, Berita Harian, Tamil Murasu, Lianhe Zao Bao and especially Shin Min Daily News (because the 4D results are published in this tabloid).

Danger, May Cause Drowsiness
Passengers who are old, handicapped, pregnant or a combination of any of these descriptors are special. They cause drowsiness in other passengers. Especially in a moving train or bus.

Friday, May 22, 2009

What I want to do with my one hour lunch

60 minutes in a lunch hour.
3 minutes from office to canteen.
no more than 7 minutes in the queue.
consume food in 10 minutes or less.
buy drink back to office.
back to office within 30 minutes of lunch hour.
spend next 30 minutes reading newspaper while sipping drink bought from canteen.


but the need to maintain "harmonious relationships" with colleagues meant that i spend more time making mindless banter that leads nowhere and often repetitive.
sometimes the topics of conversation are interesting. but often it's boring.

i dread to think what the Scout's movement did to me in my formative years. i memorised this as a wee 9 year old boy. and it's stuck with me like a bad tattoo.

Scout Law (Singapore)

A Scout is to be trusted
A Scout is loyal
A Scout makes friends,establishes and maintains harmonious relationships
A Scout is disciplined and considerate
A Scout has courage in all difficulties

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The shadows criss-crossed, growing longer, shorter, disappearing and reappearing on the dashboard. It was rhythmic, as long as his speed stayed constant and he doesn't meander out of lane. The drone from his engines was almost drowned out by the stereo whose volume was turned up loud enough to only neuter the whir. Occasionally, he could hear syncopated voices and music from the speakers. Arrhythmic. Yet at times, momentarily; almost serendipitously, in sync with the passing shadows cast on the dashboard.
If he wound down the windows, he could feel the howling wind which he can only imagine. But he likes it this way. For now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Woke up this morning

I woke up this morning and a minute after getting out of the bed, I received an sms from my immediate boss.
I don't work Saturdays.
Not typically so. Unless I am on duty.

I quickly made a reply.

While watching a travel programme on tv, the images triggered the memories of my visit to Vietnam 9 years ago.
There was a tour that I signed myself up for.
I remember myself snorkeling in and around the bays and islands that were found near the coastal town Nha Trang.

The tour guide fashioned a "floating bar" of some sort using big tyre and an aluminium tray, and offered watered down ice cold alcoholic drinks. What appeared to me some cordial with red wine.

Floating in middle of the sea after a suitable amount of the drink, listening to the Beatles and other radio classics from the 1960s and 1970s. There was a particular song that made me think about my life then.

As it does now.

All my troubles seemed so far away,
Now it looks as though they're here to stay,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

I'm not half the man I used to be,
There's a shadow hanging over me,
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Boyle's Law - redux

Monday, May 11, 2009

Coolidge Hi Top

So the results for my shoe poll are in.

But like I said, I didn't say that I'd buy the pair that wins the poll.

In a way, I did. Cause I bought the winner but in a different colourway.

This is the shoe, as reviewed on hypebeast. Yes, I am ashamed that it's on that website.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Poll: Can you helpch me?

I promise you that this poll is more exciting than Singapore's Polling Day.
Because the outcome is more dynamic.
Helpch me decide on which pair of shoes to buy.
The winning pair of shoes in this poll may not be the actual pair that I will buy eventually.
See what I mean by saying that the outcome will be "dynamic"?
Tell your friends about this too can?

Onitsuka Tiger Coolidge Hi Top and Coolidge Lo

Converse Jack Purcell White and Black

Update: Results are in.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Valentine 2 : Carol Ann Duffy revisited

I posted about this once before.


Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

Carol Ann Duffy 1993

It's too good to stay covered.

Carol Ann Duffy is the freshly minted poet laureate.
First Scot to be chosen.
First woman to be chosen.
First openly gay to be chosen. (There might have been closeted ones)
First poet to be chosen in the 21st Century.

I think "moon" in the poem has taken a darker hue in terms of meaning for me. It is not what is promised. But how she intends to orbit around you, discrete in "brown paper", as you go about your daily musings......

Top 10 :: Cover Songs

  1. Mad World - Gary Jules original by Tears For Fears
  2. Let's Dance - M. Ward original by David Bowie
  3. I Don't Like Mondays - Tori Amos original by The Boomtown Rats
  4. Ship Building - Suede original by Elvis Costello
  5. Landslide - Smashing Pumpkins original by Fleetwood Mac
  6. Hurt - Johnny Cash original by Nine Inch Nails
  7. Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley original by Leonard Cohen
  8. Heartbeats - José González
  9. Wonderwall - Ryan Adam original Oasis
  10. Such Great Heights - Iron And Wine original by The Postal Service

I know I had a list similar to this. But this list is updated and filtered.
And yes, it's probably better than yours.

Top 10 :: Trip Hop

  1. Rabbit In Your Headlights - UNKLE featuring Thom Yorke
  2. Stars - Dubstar
  3. Roads - Portishead
  4. Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes Out - Thievery Corporation featuring Emilianna Torrini
  5. Protection - Massive Attack featuring Tracey Thorn
  6. Pumpkin - Tricky
  7. 6 Underground - Sneaker Pimps
  8. Trigger Hippie - Morcheeba
  9. Cottonwool - Lamb
  10. What Does Your Soul Look Like (Part 1) - DJ Shadow

It's ok if my list looks awesome. It's meant to be.
Oh and the fancy scroll box? It's just because.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nude Couple at Holland Village

The nude couple at Holland Village were fined S$2,000.

I thought it was a little too harsh even though they were not jailed.
The fine was the maximum but they could have been jailed.
Punish them by making them wear clothes lah. Anyway, what was so anti-social about walking in the nude? They probably could make more friends, aid social cohesion and create a good laugh (and a buzz on stomp/sam leong's alfresco/hardwarezone edmw).

The pair (what other "pair" were you thinking of?) are students at Karolinska Institutet. The guy claimed he misapprehended and didn't know public nudity is an offence in Singapore. Maybe he thought Holland Village is governed by the Dutch. It's like the people who walk along Little India. They cross the roads along that stretch of Serangoon Road as if they are in India. Hmm, actually I have not been to India. So I don't really know. Neither have I been to Holland. So I am not certain if nudity is permitted in Holland.

The girl, being the scholar that she is (she is more than a lab technician ok), contributed to society through her research work in infectious diseases. She contributed to the vibrant night life of Holland Village that January night. So she should be rewarded. She was involved in projects promoting safe sex education previously. That's meritorious as well. I'm sure she was carrying a condom while parading in the nude. Just in case.

But when they left court today, they did not return to their former glory.
Preferring instead to be very covered up.

Pictures from CNA.

Monday, April 27, 2009

What is a vicious circle?

When a bad thing leads to another bad thing and so on so forth until it leads to the original bad thing which leads to another bad thing...

Therefore when you have a sadistic side punishing your masochistic side, it's just about as vicious as it can get.

This didn't keep me up


Commonly used in written form.

But I don't think I have heard people actually using them in conversations.

Friday, April 24, 2009


this is me, coming to you live, in a toilet cubicle.
I need a shower, clean change of clothes and a good rest.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Rachael Yamagata Live in Concert at The Esplanade

was having a tummyache & a splitting headache from midweek beer...
The set list.:-)

Be Be Your Love
What If I Leave
Little Life
Worn Me Down
Letter Read
Elephant (instrumental)
Even So
Meet Me By The Water
The Only Fault
Over And Over
Sidedish Friend
Sunday Afternoon
Reason Why

Ok. Proper review later.

*proper-ish review here:

First thing : I am not going to say anything about Jack & Rai except that their last track reminded me of Jeff Buckley's cover of Van Morrison's The Way Young Lovers Do. Thumbs up.

Comparing the setlist from the last time RY was here, the amazing thing was the coincidence in her choice of her last song in the encore numbers.
And that she is having a cold.
No point giving you a blow by blow account. There are probably scores of bloggers in the crowd last evening.
Just remember that Bill Pullman is the "secret crush" and that the haunting intro to Over And Over was the result of her channeling the trumpet ghost.

Setlist from Mosaic in 2007.
Letter Read
Be Be Your Love
What If I Leave (previewed in 2007 and in latest album)
Paper Doll
Under My Skin
Meet Me By The Water
Known For Years
Would You Please
Worn Me Down
Sunday Afternoon (previewed in 2007 and in latest album)
Reason Why

So here's the reason why (from reading too much about her in online interviews, not that it's official, please):
It's easy to read the lyrics of the particular song she had chosen for her encore. As the lead singer of a Chicago band content with staying in the club circuit, she was no longer satisfied with the constraints that being in a band had on her. She was no longer happy being the way the band had wanted her to be. The clever play of words - "to cover the tracks that I have left" , referring to the band's future need to get a replacement singer to sing the songs that used to be sung by her. I am guessing it is related to what she wanted to tell her former band. Rather than to any particular guy she used to be with. This is a break up song. But not between a boy and a girl.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thought Police and the Ministry of Truth

I read George Orwell's 1984 more than a decade ago.
That was when the teenagers were still chatting on mIRC and setting up their own websites.

mIRC is still around, people have moved on from ICQ and more are getting into instant messaging. People are still setting up their own websites. Kind of. It's called blogs.

Twitter and Facebook allow users to share their thoughts and activities with the rest of the world (depending on your privacy settings). They do it without being told. That's not unlike the Thought Police (thinkpol in Newspeak). The thought police in 1984 were the enforcers of law and order in the psychological and intellectual realm. More than the control of physical breaking of laws, thought police will use all available means to glean thoughtcrimes - unapproved thoughts and the intent to challenge authority. With Twitter and Facebook, you will be logging "What are you doing?" and "What's on your mind?" without being told. I don't think George Orwell would have imagined that this was how the Thought Police would manifest itself. I wonder if he would have been twittering and facebooking had he been alive today.

Wikipedia and Google form the twin pillars of the Ministry of Truth. Ministry of Truth (Minitrue in Newspeak) is one of four Ministries in 1984. It "governs", "manufactures" and "popularises" truth. What this meant was that histories are re-written or destroyed so as to be presented in an authorised manner and disseminated to the population. And that is why I said Wikipedia and Google form the two pillars of Minitrue. Wikipedia gives you the definition of everything you need to know. I've been linking to Wikipedia throughout this blog entry. Google tells you where to find the information you need. It decides (through its algorithm) what is relevant and what is not for you and lists them out in some order.

Me? I started Twittering in 2007. According to Twitter, my first tweet was made on 15 May 2007 at 7:25pm. twittering. twitting. twiing. whatever ...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Can't fight the truth

I was reading the latest Basic Instructions and it was about female cartoons.

To cut the long story short, there are no Disney female animated character that looks hotter than Bugs Bunny in drag.

Not Minnie, not Daisy and not Clarabell.

It's true!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

This just in - singa gets pants

It was reported in Channel News Asia that Singa the courtesy lion will be adopting a new look.

I remember him from primary school and he (lion, not lioness) was looking like this:
Happy and with a tomato red (or is that diluted fire-engine red after several repeated washings??) t-shirt. Ready for a hug, he's t-shirt has got a pirated Watchmen smiley face print. And get (over) this; NO PANTS.

In his re-vamped look, which happened a short while ago, without us noticing, he has gotten for himself a brand new Made in Tiong Hua cheapo plain white t (not to be confused with this band - Plain White Ts) with a lousy misprint. Why misprint? Narbeh, the heart shape was misaligned. Resulting in an asymmetrical heart.
And as a reflection of softer governance, we are not obliged to be kind. Instead, we only need to try. In the former years, it was Make Courtesy A Way Of Life. Yes, it was that draconian - a way of life or death. Ok, not true but you get the idea.

Now we just need to Try A Little Kindness. Not explicit about giving or receiving it.

See the above for Singa's new look. Featuring the same cheapo Tiong Hua made t-shirt and green pants. Singa is embarrassed by his cheapo t-shirt and chooses a placard to hide it.

freakin' PANTS!

T-shirt I can understand because I have seen them wearing t-shirts in the wild. Slogan Ts no less.

I have even seen them wearing t-shirts and a red nose in the wild.

But no lions have ever been seen wearing freakin' pants.

Uniquely Singapore.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Bought this week

From top:
Pet Shop Boys - Yes (Special Edition with ETC)
Duncan Sheik - Whisper House
Royksopp - Junior
Starsailor - All The Plans
Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
M. Ward - Hold Time

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finally... salvation

Fighting against fungus and mould in hot and humid Singapore is tough.
Especially when you are a much neglected lens.

You need a nice home.

Like the one below:


Monday, March 30, 2009

Eff One

The shenanigans of 2009 melbourne grand prix.

It's a farce.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Slave to the details


I'm in urgent need of getting Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol and The Hazards Of Love by The Decemberists.

I'm surprised that I'll actually like something found on Pitchfork's Top 50 albums list. Top of the list in 2002 some more. Wah..

I'll come around

when you're down.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The 165 million bonus scandal

What is 165 million compared to 170 billion?
First we have to establish what is a million?

That's easy. One, followed by 6 zeroes. 1,000,000.

A billion is trickier. It could be 1,000,000,000 or 1,000,000,000,000. Depending on the scale.
Most English speaking countries, including the US, use the former.

So a billion in our context refers to a thousand million or one, followed by 9 zeroes, 1,000,000,000.

So 165 million of 170 billion in percentage terms is .......

165,000,000 ÷ 170,000,000,000 = 165 ÷ 170,000 = 0.000970588235 x 100% = 0.0970588235%.

The numbers aren't even astronomical but 165 million already seems huge. I can't fathom 170 billion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Churchill - ahead of his time

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else.

~ Winston Churchill

When it is difficult to appease the mob, you throw an array of "Acts" at them.

Act 1: Economic Stimulus Act.
Act 2: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Make it sound bombastic but always end your sentences with ".....and what this means is that it will do (insert undeliverable promise for majority here) for you." *yawn* Rhetoric. Joe Klein from Time will lend unabashed support. No problem.

Plenty of local support here too. The local leadership thinks that the US economy is "fundamentally sound" because of reassurances by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's remarks last month that the economy would pick up by 2010, once the government's stimulus package frees up lending to households and businesses.

Why do I smell a a Principal-Agent problem in the above scenario? Will Mr Bernanke tell China to stop buying more into US government's debt? Sounds like a pyramid scam? Wasn't the whole mortgage loan scandal just a legal form of Madoff scheme??

Singapore says no to protectionism. Everybody criss-crossed their arms to hold hands at ASEAN Summit, vowing to say no to protectionism too.
Malaysia says "Buy Malaysia" campaign. In the same month of the summit.

I like Keynes. But will fiscal stimulus save us? If so, by how much and in return, will there be any cost?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Media

In the past, I used to think that people who are knowledgeable are incredibly fascinating.
Now I think the person who is able to source for the needed knowledge and value-add is superior.
Being a knowledge silo is boring. Being able to create knowledge that is of importance and relevance is much more interesting.

I love that fact that new media has gotten many authorities back-peddling. The ruling party up north obviously did. And I think most authorities are finding all sorts of ways to discredit, disallow and disable new media. They ban certain activities and outlaw them on old media, as if they are able to control the internet. They say people who partake in new media are seditious, cowards and generally societal miscreants. They buy over established new media or create them in their official or unofficial capacities, telling the netizens that it is only by playing by their rules will you be recognised.

Bah. Save me from your good intentions.

I secretly think that new media is getting stronger and stronger each day. And I am McLovin' it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My folly

auntie was asking me about the cover of The Crying Light.
i said it was Kazuo Ohno, and that the album was dedicated to her.

it's a him.

My latest buys

From top:
Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
Antony & The Johnsons - The Crying Light
U2 - No Line On The Horizon
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (with free Sun Giant EP)
Spiritualized - Songs In A&E

Friday, March 20, 2009

Moments of folly

(Yaakov) Elazari and (Yehuda) Golan complained to Lee (Kuan Yew) and Goh (Keng Swee), but the Prime Minister was undeterred. "I want you to recruit the most primitive people in the country, the uneducated and the jobless," he told them. Stunned, the Israelis tried to persuade him to reconsider, but he was adamant: "In the Second World War, I saw the Japanese and the British. All the British soldiers were intelligent and educated. But as soldiers they were worthless. The most primitive Japanese soldier gets an order and executes it, and they were extraordinary soldiers. The fact is that the Japanese army defeated the British army."

Golan says, "Yaakov and I tried to explain to him that it's not a question of education but of motivation. The Japanese soldier was motivated because he was fighting for his emperor, who for him was God. For him, he was ready to sacrifice his life. What motivation did the British soldier have, who fought thousands of kilometres from his home?" The explanations about the spirit of combat and about how to generate motivation persuaded Lee.

To Ron

Ron Weir
1945 ~ 2009

It is with great sadness that the University announces the death of Dr Ron Weir, Provost of Derwent College and Senior Lecturer in Economic History.

Ron, who passed away on Saturday 14 March, joined the University in 1970 and had been Provost of Derwent since 1982. Ron was an expert in Scottish and Irish Economic History, business history and the history of the whisky industry.

Dr Jane Grenville, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students said, "This is appalling news and our thoughts are with Ron's family. Ron was a well-known and longstanding member of the University. Students and staff will be shocked and saddened, as will generations of York students who remember him with great affection. Ron was a towering figure in the University in every sense - we will all miss him very much."

Professor Peter Simmons, Head of the Department of Economics and Related Studies, "Everyone in the Department is deeply distressed by the news, and we will treasure the memory of his wit and wisdom over the years."

The funeral will take place at 12 noon on Friday 27 March at York Crematorium. A reception will follow at 1pm in Derwent Dining Hall. If you would like to attend the reception, please contact Chris Unwin on clu1@york.ac.uk by 25 March.

Oh I remember Ron. Provost of Derwent College. Great big man. In the mould of a portly Englishman, not unlike Benny Hill. He was huge. His size was matched by his generosity. I remember having dinner with him and his wife at the little cottage near the Derwent bridge within the first week of arriving in York. It was his way of welcoming foreign students into Derwent College. That was also where I first met Mahesh. Ron lectured Economics and Social History. He was an expert on the development of industries, including potable spirits like brandy, gin, rum, whisky and vodka. His PhD was on the Scotch Whisky Industry.

His voice was booming. And his thick accent lent a great amount of authority when he talked about the British Industrial Revolution, Great Ireland Famine, Rise and Fall of the British Economy, The Thatcher years....That voice, riding on his stature, will not be heard in the lecture halls of Vanbrugh and Langwith College forever more.

Rest in peace Dr Ron.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


When it comes to grief (as a topic of academic study), there is the famed Kübler-Ross model of 5 Stages of Grief:

Denial - "No! This can't be happening to me!" Stage.
Anger - "Who caused this to happen to me?" Stage.
Bargain - "Please let me a little leeway" Stage.
Depression - "I'm never going to live through this" Stage.
Acceptance - "No matter what, I must continue to live a fulfilling life" Stage.

There is also the Charles Schulz model of a single stage Grief:

It's Friday!

Monday, March 16, 2009


last week, warrant tupaz became mister tupaz.

how does it feel to leave a job that you have had for 38 years. a job you started when you were 16 plus. he was in the navy longer than i have been on earth.

he was worried about how he's wife will take to him being around the house during office hours.

he was not sure if not having a job will suit him. going by the latest available statistics, he will have about 2 score and 4 years to go before he returns his pink ic.

i don't think mister tupaz can remember the last time he saw his pink ic.

i have not seen my pink ic since april 1998. that's 11 years ago.

he talked about being a taxi-driver (he obtained a taxi license more than 10 years ago) and also about sitting inside the security post (he thinks a condominium security guard is overpaid).

he joked about wanting death to come early. because he does not know what is he suppose to do now. he is only 55.

my uncle (grandma's oldest son) is in his early 70s. he has been working at the same metal workshop since he was 9. his current boss is the grandson of the boss who hired him. if i am not wrong, meals are still provided at where he works. he does not do much everyday. turns up for work and will provide assistance only when required. he's expertise is in bending metal rods manually (as opposed to computer assisted) into chairs. he does not earn much. but neither will he be retrenched nor told to retire.

he's held his pink ic ever since it was introduced.

allan ooi has returned his pink ic without ever seeing it since he started his job. he didnt like it and somehow felt he was unable to leave.

i passed my chance to see my ic in june last year. and i just received a reminder that i have to update the photo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Labrador Park

Last night after Raeburn Park (and ice-cream), we traipsed down to Labrador Park on a whim.
It was auntie's suggestion.
It's so different from the last time I saw it.

I think another visit is due soon.

Oh and Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Gardens) too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seventh Heaven @ Raeburn Park

Raeburn Park is located at the former Gan Eng Seng School.
A cul-de-sac next to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, next to Spottiswoode Park.

Hiding in the old school compound is Seventh Heaven, a ice-cream parlour that sells "artisanal" ice-cream creations. It offers customised premium ice creams to suit your palate as well.

The website will give you more information.

auntie and I had sandwiches - tuna melt and sesame chicken. The tuna melt fillings were more familiar, tuna chucks with mayo (I think) purple cabbage and onions. The sesame chicken fillings were sesame chicken slices, carrots and pineapple. I don't think I've had a sandwich with carrots and pineapple in it.

Then there was the ice-cream.

auntie chose lychee martini, mango and peanut butter for the Sampler Menu I, which is an item from the menu for you to select 3 flavours.
I ordered Sampler Menu II, which is the item whereby the house selects the 3 flavours for you.
And we were given green tea, chocolate & whiskey and irish cream liqueur - popular flavours.

The ice-cream was delicious. Rich and creamy. No pictures. Maybe next time.

They are supposedly crowded on Friday and Saturday nights after 8pm. We left at 7:45pm and the place was empty. I suppose the crowd is punctual.

Friday, March 13, 2009

mental note

mental note to self: need to get new albums by antony and the johnsons, m. ward as well as 1 other band whose name i just cannot remember right now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Reader and late night conversations

Danger will only increase my love,
it will sharpen it,
it will give it spice.
I'll be the only angel you need.
On this arm, Luise,
you will go dancing through life.
You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it.
Heaven will take you back
and look at you and say
"Only one thing can make a soul complete,
and that thing is love."
~ The Reader

Maybe that is why she chose to die.

I think the movie is about making choices and taking actions, thereby causing effects. Effects of which may be unintended and may cause one to regret much later. Or not.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Said to have claimed

Siti, a 7 year old girl fell through a gap in the metal railing near where she lives. Dropped 4 storeys, and miraculously survived, albeit multiple fractures.

Her family said the gap was reported in December to the Bukit Merah Town Council. But the latter last night said it could find no record of the call.
The poor girl's uncle, Mr Muhammad Syukri, 20, currently unemployed was the one who reportedly called the town council three months ago about the broken railing. He claimed he was told someone would be sent to check on it. “I didn’t hear from them, I don’t know if they came or not.”

How come when there is a dispute of whether or not a call was made, the paper chose to state that the BMTC "said" it could find no record of the call but the girl's uncle could only "claimed" that he was told someone would be sent to check on it.

Said - to express in words, to state as an opinion or belief
Claimed - to assert in the face of possible contradiction

When do you normally use "said" and what can make you decide to use "claimed" instead?

Way back in 2005, when Katrina struck New Orleans, a black man was reported to have "looted" food from a grocery store while 2 white people "found" food from a grocery store. (available on boingboing "black people loot, white people find?").

Enough of my nonsense. I hope the girl gets better soon.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Foolish to advocate the learning of dialects

We have achieved progress with our bilingual education in the past few decades. Many Singaporeans are now fluent in both English and Mandarin. It would be stupid for any Singapore agency or NTU to advocate the learning of dialects, which must be at the expense of English and Mandarin.

That was the reason the Government stopped all dialect programmes on radio and television after 1979. Not to give conflicting signals, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew also stopped making speeches in Hokkien, which he had become fluent in after frequent use since 1961.

Chee Hong Tat
Principal Private Secretary
to the Minister Mentor

I don't know if the past can necessarily point the way to our future?

I definitely felt that the above was a strongly worded response.

I enjoy speaking teochew with my friends and especially my family. Enjoy. Because there is a certain closeness in the speaking the language which I was brought up with. There is an immediate connection. It's just different (and challenging) trying to explain what a slightly raw banana tastes like or how fantastic the fishball in my meepok dry is at the first bite.

I am sure PPS to PM had statistical evidence to prove that [our] bilingual education had achieved progress. Just as I am sure he will have statistical evidence to prove that the government had overwhelming success with the family planning campaign (Stop At Two and then replaced by Have Three Or More. If You Can Afford It). Government used to think F1 is a waste of time too. And that MRT stations do not need to be wheelchair-friendly. Lifts in HDB apartments do not need to stop at every floor.

Do I sense a little hubris in celebrating our present successes?

Foolish to advocate the learning from only the past?

My last 4 movies.

The Wrestler is about sticking to what you are familiar with. Because an old dog really cannot learn new tricks. Friends and family may forsake you. But your fans, they never give up. Not until you do.

Slumdog Millionaire is about destiny. The answer was given at the end of the movie. And that whatever your destination may be, always strive to be kind to others whom you meet along the way.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about forgiveness and keeping an open mind. Because the people who done you wrong have their reason(s). And mixing freely with whoever you may meet can grant you access to places you never ever dreamed of.

Milk is about trying again and again and again. And you may die trying. But damn, you tried. Also, not everybody loves an underdog.

Now onto The Reader.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A blip

Sitemeter showed a jump in readership to this blog yesterday.
It was because of people searching for "never let me go the island". Which led them to an entry I made way back in 2005.

Apparently Mark Romanek (love his music videos) is directing Alex Garland's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Stars Keira Knightley. So, non of the female actresses I thought would have been great for the "movie" version of the book made it.

Ah well...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

To you, before you say another word or write another line

To those who think that they are "one of us" because they live in HDB apartments (the heartlands - coined by them, not us) and pepper their speech with "lahs" and "mehs".
To those who write newspaper columns seemingly proclaiming ostentatiously that to be blinded by materialism is almost vulgar and that "[S]uffering and deprivation is good for the soul".

let me share a verse from the great Jarvis Cocker...

But still you'll never get it right,
Cos when you're laid in bed at night,
Watching 'roaches climb the wall,
If you call your Dad he could stop it all.

Don't be silly. You think if I speak with an American/Australian/English/insert your nationality here accent, live in a duplex, have two kids and tend to my lawn on weekends, have a bbq in my backyard during summer evenings, make me an American/Australian/English/insert your nationality here? By the way, does your/my country have an identity anyway?
You are not being hypocritical by writing about your decision to be frugal and to lead an austere lifestyle. But it does not tell me anything about your ability to choose an alternative. Tell me why is it that when I fall through my safety net, I really fall through. But through your safety net, you land on a wad of cash?

Friday, February 27, 2009


“They say people can think for themselves? Do you honestly believe that the chap who can’t pass primary six knows the consequence of his choice when he answers a question viscerally, on language, culture and religion? But we knew the consequences. We would starve, we would have race riots. We would disintegrate.” - Lee Kuan Yew, The Man & His Ideas, 1997

I am revisiting this quote.

Having read the first 3 chapters of Tim Harford's latest book (I read Undercover Economist as well, econs-lite makes for a good read in my humble opinion), got me to reconsider the quote above.

We are individuals, making individual choices. The government, as a State actor, makes decisions that affect many individuals. While it might be correct to say that a lowly educated person is unable to "viscerally" know the consequence of his choice. But I am pretty sure it can be proven that his choice was at the very least, rational. It may not well thought out. It may not even be the correct choice in the short, medium and even long run, but it probably wasn't a random response. There must have been a thought process.

And guess what? We love to witness such thought process. We can't become thought police but we definitely like the idea of a person verbalising his/her thought process and how s/he arrives at an answer or decision. And the producers of "reality tv" knows that. So do the producers of game shows like "Don't forget the lyrics", "Who wants to be a millionaire?" and "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?". The contestants are encouraged to talk through the process which they have done before coming up with an answer or making a choice. Usually this process would be out of sight, hidden in the brain. The audience love knowing the whys and hows, which is also why reality programmes like "Big brother" and "Survivor" have private one-on-one sessions for the contestants to air their thoughts.

Coming back to the lowly educated person making "un-visceral" choices, well, that is the burden one has to bear in a democracy. Because every person counts in a democratic State, right?

But has it struck you to notice how meritocracy might encourage highly educated individuals to make collective decisions? And the assumption is that the decisions these highly educated individuals make are "vicerally" superior to the decisions any body below them make?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

In celebration of mediocrity 6

If you're so good at being not good and get recognition for that, is it still an achievement? Would that be a paradox? A conundrum ? Catch-22? Will they remove the recognition the moment you earn it?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

In celebration of mediocrity 5

I wonder how many of you have tasted After Eight thin mints before?

This is what you have to achieve by this weekend.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

In celebration of mediocrity 4

The author sounds delicious....

Love the details, click to read more.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In celebration of mediocrity 3

You gotta click to read the fine print.