Showing posts from October, 2004

Dog shoots man, updated

They finally charged the heartless guy who tried to shoot a litter of puppies and ended up getting shot by a puppy. And in other dog news, this Rottweiler saved her owner by dialling 911 . What I think is amazing is that the dog is trained to "alert her owner to impending seizures before they happen" by sniffing out changes in body chemistry. Didn't know they could do that.

Best of craigslist

One of my favourite things to browse through is the Best of Craigslist . (If you don't know what craigslist is, it's an online classifieds site, to put it succinctly. I wish there were a craigslist Singapore.) Here's some of my favourites: nude economic consulting , the Asian woman as the ultimate hipster accessory , entourage seekers .

Random Celebrity Photos

Newsday has a pic of Renee Zellweger from the premiere of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason . Always think Zellweger looks better in the Bridget Jones movies - when I watched Chicago I felt like rushing up onto the screen and giving her applesauce to eat or something. Meanwhile, they have a pic of Elizabeth Hurley promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but given the outfit she's wearing, it seems more like she's also promoting Awareness of Liz Hurley's Breasts Month.

St Bernard

The Order of St Bernard is giving up its St Bernards , because the dogs are "distracting [the monks] from their work of ministering to actual people". The St Bernard puppy that the NY Times showed is so darned huge but cute:

Bush campaign site blocks overseas traffic

Hey, how are us political junkies from overseas going to follow the election when people are doing things like this ? And aren't there Americans abroad who want to find out information?

Coconut and Pumpkin

More of Coconut, cutest dog in the world , with a blue pumpkin. It's coming up to Halloween!

The Sox win it all

The Boston Red Sox, 2004 World Champions . I'm beyond happy.


Speaking as someone whose mother has kidney failure, I think it's awesome that Alonzo Mourning is coming back to play basketball after his kidney transplant.

I love my search engine

Men talk to Google not girlfriends . "Search services have become so central to our lives that in many cases they're being treated like trusted friends. Men in particular seem to be turning to them like a mate in the pub to give advice, provide entertainment and even help out in rating potential girlfriends."


Okay, I admit to being an American political junkie. And I know that Daily Kos and Atrios are going to be hardcore pro-Kerry. But to see that two of the leading neo-con bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Mickey Kaus are endorsing Kerry... ouch. Interesting times we live in, when left/right labels don't split up so evenly.

Another good man goes

RIP John Peel .

Public Displays of Affection

It's quite embarrassing when you're caught canoodling in public . Especially if you're a couple of married members of the US Congress. And one week to go before elections.


The Singapore Art Museum (nee St Joseph's Institution) on Bras Basah Road in Singapore, captured by my Lomo.

Stepping back

An MIT graduate railing against technology ? Say it ain't so!

Head of the Charles

The annual Head of the Charles Regatta was on in Boston this weekend. Hearing about it brought back memories of all the festivities at the banks of the Charles River. I always wondered if the name of the race was an oblique reference to the beheading of Charles I .

Pyramid scheme

Mummifying your pets . Now that's retro.

Barney the rapper

Barney, singing better than he's ever sung before . West coast purple pimps represent!

Inclusion and exclusion in the country

Oh it's like an animal farm That's the rural charm In the country - Blur, " Country House " John Lanchester has a good piece in the Guardian on false idealisations of the countryside in England. He's a novelist, but he's got the essential idea of urban economics right: After all, one of the most robust indicators of how satisfactory a place is to live is whether or not people want to go and live there. Interesting fact: the French countryside is losing people, the English countryside gaining. And I really liked the following observations: It's just that it seems to me to be a fact of modern countryside life that community, in this hearth-hallowed, warm-glow sense, doesn't exist... when they mourn the loss of a sense of community, they are asking us to mourn something which died a long time ago if, indeed, it ever existed. The thing about "community" is that it can be an exclusive term, not just an inclusive one. By definition, if some

More Blogger annoyances

Two things about Blogger that annoy me: It can't get my time zone right for posts at noon-1pm and midnight-1am: the hour for such posts is always "01". Not really a Blogger issue, but how it works with Google I guess - Google tends to capture the main page instead of the individual posts, so people come searching for things I wrote in the past and not find it. If you've come to this blog that way, do note that whatever I write should be in the archive - just use the Google site search I have in the sidebar. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Friday's child

Via Snog Blog , here's a little site that lets you know your day of birth . I always knew I was loving and giving. Heh.

Early voting

Random US election question: now that lots of states are allowing early voting, what happens when someone votes, and then dies before Election Day? I guess his or her vote must already be counted, but isn't that sort of strange? A vote from a dead person? On the other hand, you could argue that Election Day was always sort of arbitrary.

Coke vs Pepsi, the science

Here's research near and dear to my heart. (I drink an inordinate amount of cola a day, and one of the books I read numerous times as a child was The Other Guy Blinked , aka Pepsico CEO Roger Enrico's story of the Cola wars.) Apparently Coke has such powerful branding that seeing the brand actually affects your nervous system's response: The experimental design enabled the researchers to discover the specific brain regions activated when the subjects used only taste information versus when they also had brand identification. While the researchers found no influence of brand knowledge for Pepsi, they found a dramatic effect of the Coke label on behavioral preference. The brand knowledge of Coke both influenced their preference and activated brain areas including the "dorsolateral prefrontal cortex" and the hippocampus. Both of these areas are implicated in modifying behavior based on emotion and affect. In particular, wrote the researchers, their findings suggest

No rest for the wicked

Busy moving house. So it will be a slow weekend over here at Maybe you want to try cooking to hook up ? Or take the "which file extension are you?" quiz: Which File Extension are You?

Single-shade M&Ms

You know how rock star's concert riders always have weird demands about M&Ms (only the brown ones, no blue ones etc.)? Or the urban legend that the green M&Ms are an aphrodisiac ? Why don't they make packs of M&Ms that are just one colour?

"Please don't send me home - I'll be good!"

More pictures of Coconut , world's cutest dog. Now a feisty 6 lb 8 oz. Not quite a Size 5 yet, though, apparently.

De La Vega

I have very fond memories of De La Vega 's graffiti gracing New York City's streets - all these chalk figures and quotes in Union Square and elsewhere. I was reminded of this when I watched the Dave Chappelle Show and suddenly noticed he was wearing a De La Vega T-shirt. In support of De La Vega after his arrest ?

Sox in the Series

I normally confine baseball talk to my baseball blog , but it had to be said: the Boston Red Sox are in the World Series. So happy.

The Arad turntable

This was a pic on my blog for a while: the turntable of my dreams. By Ron Arad .

Blogs and advertising

Kottke has an interesting point on the increasing number of ads in blogs. I guess people need to defray the costs of hosting, and I'm inclined to accept that the presence of ads doesn't immediately disrupt the look and feel of a page. (Of course, I may be biased myself - see the tiny little ad space in the sidebar?) As I commented over at the original kottke article, I think ads do disrupt the aesthetics somewhat, but I don't think they really spoil the underlying self-publishing ethos. After all, there are ads in the alternative press. What's different to me are developments like the rise of the Nick Denton stable of blogs (Gawker, Gizmodo, Wonkette etc.) where blogging is developed specifically as a means of generating profits. I wonder what the effects of that on the blogosphere are?

Cheryl Fox cleared

Well, good to see that Cheryl Fox, Singaporean newscaster and host of a certain gameshow that I once took part in , has been cleared of cocaine use.

Robert Downey Jr., singer

I wrote that I was looking for a recording of Robert Downey Jr singing "You Don't Know Me", and then - thanks to Winamp - I chanced upon this report that he now has a recording contract . Guess even if he "loses focus" you only have to be in the studio for a day, as opposed to the months of committing to filmng.

The living jacket

Wow, this is a weird intersection between science and art: Jacket Grows From Living Tissue . About the two conceptual artists involved: Calling themselves conceptual artists who create working prototypes, they say their aim is to bring to the forefront the philosophical implications of making living organisms tools for our own purposes. Well, they certainly achieved their aim with me.

Flabby preludes for a dog

Randomly: one of my favourite titles of a piece of classical music is Erik Satie's " Préludes flasques; pour un chien (Flabby preludes; for a dog), for piano ".

Inventions by Mormons

Here's a list of things invented by Mormons . The presence of rifle, shotgun, aqueous explosives, and Doom on that list surprised me. The presence of medical technology (hearing aid, heart bypass machine) didn't.

Black and white and red all over

Saw this ad on Clearly, USA Today is taking a direct shot at the Gray Lady .

Vegetarian shoes

Spotted this on Zappos , the Girlfriend's new-found online shoe store. Must say, Zappo's looks nifty - I'm not a shoe person, but they seem to know what people look for. But vegetarian shoes?? I found out what they mean - no leather - but still, I see that and I think "... as opposed to all those carnivorous shoes out there".

The skinny on the Olsens

And, finally, away from the heavy stuff. Don't know why I didn't mention this when I first read it , but the Olsen twins had slimming mirrors installed (third item in that link) in their new New York apartment. Is this really appropriate behaviour for a pair that's 50% anorexic ? Or perhaps I should refer to them as "half-full".

Abortions and Poverty

Here's a really interesting piece in the Houston Chronicle by a pro-life professor and a journalist on why abortions in the US rose during the Bush administration . I seem to be on an economics bent today...

Got PPT?

Via kottke , who I think of all the so-called "big name" bloggers usually has the most interesting links, I discovered this " PowerPoint to the People " contest. (I hope this isn't part of a naming trend for Microsoft-themed contests. "Word to the Wise" beckons.) Best part: PFA wants to see your PowerPoint presentation whether it's hardsell, softcore, or medium cool! Heh heh, they said "softcore". Of course, since I'm the kind of person who keeps Edward Tufte's The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint on my desk, my feelings on PowerPoint might be somewhat tainted... Tufte - PowerPoint is Evil Aaron Swartz's PowerPoint outline of Tufte's text .


Speaking of the Economist , I was well chuffed when I noticed that it used "staunch" for "stanch" in an article on the ongoing NHL (that's National Hockey League) lockout in the US/Canada: "To staunch their losses, the owners are insisting that the players accept a salary cap" ("On Ice", p. 37 - or follow this link if you have a subscription) But apparently, the stanch/staunch distinction isn't preserved by British journalists . Phooey!

Corporate takeovers and effects on share prices

T his week's Economist has an article (requires subscription to view) on cross-border acquisitions expressing the surprise finding that takeovers by British firms of American firms tend to fail, whereas British takeovers of firms in the EU and other parts of the world tend to succeed: You might expect the opposite, given that Britain's corporate culture is much like America's, but some way from those of most EU countries. ( Link , requires subscription to the Economist . It's on page 69 of the magazine.) What I don't get, though, is why the researchers involved (Alan Gregory and Steve McCorriston of Xfi , Exeter University's Centre for Finance and Investment, and yes, I think the name "Xfi" is veering dangerously close to linguistic-combover territory) are so surprised. It's probably true that American corporate culture is closer to British than the rest of the world. But surely the results show that the important factor is not the similarity of

Sandra Oh, and non-cute Asian stars

The New York Times has an interview with Sandra Oh in conjuction with the release of Sideways , wherein I learnt her husband is Alexander Payne, director of Election , thereby raising her cool level even higher. I really liked Oh in Under the Tuscan Sun , and the voice that emerged from the interview solidified that liking. She had some sharp words to say about the lack of Korean support for Margaret Cho : Koreans didn't support her because of their own [expletive] bias, what's the word, something -ist, not racist but just that [expletive] where they only want Asian stars who look like [expletive] Asian kewpie dolls. ( Link ) Oh's got her finger on a phenomenon, although like her I can't name it. I'm always disturbed by the fact that every female pop star that comes out of the Hong Kong / Taiwan pop machine has that kewpie look to her. Sure, Hollywood favours the good-looking too, but at least you don't always have to be subjected to that cloying cuteness.

Stop using the "z" for "s"

Over dinner on Friday, I was informed that Baker's Inn, a Singaporean cafe chain with incredible desserts, has "rebranded" itself into " Bakerzin " (Lord knows why they needed a name change, although the Girlfriend suggests that perhaps their overseas expansion caused some nomenclatural conflict). I really can't stand it when companies use the "z" as a "cool" way of spelling "s". It may be okay for teenage text messaging, but it really looks undignified in a corporate setting. It's the spelling equivalent of a combover : makes you look like you're an old fart trying to act "with it". To quote Bakerzin themselves: We too feel that the new name has strong brand recognition, is chic and a la mode ( Link ) "A la mode"? I know it literally means "in the fashion", but if you're talking about dessert, it means only one thing: with ice cream on top . And I don't want a brand name with ice

In defence of pedants

David McKie is proud to be pedantic . Edit: changed "defense" to " defence " in the title.

Found Art

Bus stop shelters in Ukraine .

The dogfather

Whee! A Google search for " world's cutest dog " brings up Coconut at #3 (your mileage may vary). It also brought up this funny post on dressing up your dog from TheCrookedCervix , a bittersweet blog about a woman undergoing IVF treatments. Sometimes the capacity of people to endure is quite inspiring.

MP blogs in the UK

I think it's really interesting how many politicians in the UK keep their own blogs - fascinating development in contact with constituents. Bloggerheads details the state of play.


The Singaporean English equivalent of the American " artsy-craftsy " is "arty-farty", which I actually think captures the idea of blowhard pretentiousness better. But I still don't think the phrase should be applied to decorative toilet seats:

Beats and rhymes

A running theme of this blog is attacking false idealisations. So I like the point made at that you shouldn't judge hip-hop just by the "social consciousness" of its lyrics. As Jay Smooth points out, hip-hop is about beats and rhymes, and to say its merit derives solely from how socially-conscious its lyrics are is patronising to the entire genre. After all, no one "justifies" rock. There's Bob Dylan's social messages and Aerosmith's paeans to the charms of nubile women, and they both can fit under the category of good rock music. Music can be a vehicle for polemics , but to insist that it is forgets that music has its own inherent qualities. (Incidentally, writing this post made me think of the the virulent response to Dylan going electric .) I suppose context is important... if you don't ever hear hip-hop in the context of a block party, club, and similar situations, do you end up just thinking of hip-hop purely as some form

Songs I've been looking for

Song I've been looking for for 7 years: I heard it at Zouk in a Jon Carter set, I think, and it featured a line much like the start of Oasis's "Wonderwall", except that it went "today is gonna be the day that I'm gonna go back Jamaica" or something to that effect. Anyone have any ideas? Other songs I've been trying to track down: a recording of Robert Downey Jr. singing "You Don't Know Me" from Two Girls and a Guy .

Take a load off Annie

Exegesis of one of my favourite songs, The Band's "The Weight", complete with Buñuel references. Ah, enlightenment. Lyrics to "The Weight" . And yes, it is "Fanny", not "Annie", in the chorus. Edit: actually, apparently the Fanny/Annie thing is a topic of much debate . Dagnabit, and I thought I had clarity. There's some metanalysis going on, but in which direction?

ASCII-fying my blog

My blog, in ASCII .

On tragic hipness

Luc Sante (author of one of my favourite books, Low Life , about the seedy history of New York) writes in the Village Voice about John Leland's new book Hip: The History ( excerpt ) and the concept of hipness. Some flippin' great lines and thoughts: And hip is occult, arcana without a heaven. Cultural miscegenation is fundamental not just to hipness but to the United States in all its finest aspects. Was there ever a more perfect hipster than Bugs Bunny, at least before he became a shill? ( Link ) I particularly like the idea - of both Leland and Sante - that interracial exchange is at the heart of hipness. There's something I hear in Sante's voice that recalls that ultimate hipster Lenny Bruce talking about Jewishness and goyishness ( "I'm Jewish. Count Basie's Jewish. Ray Charles is Jewish. Eddie Cantor's goyish. The B'nai Brith is goyish. The Hadassah is Jewish. Marine Corps - heavy goyish, dangerous. Kool-Aid is goyish. All Drake's Cakes

Flaming Lips take on Spongebob

How cool is the fact that the first single off the Spongebob Squarepants movie soundtrack is a new Flaming Lips song ("SpongeBob & Patrick Confront the Psychic Wall of Energy")? So right . Just so right.

IgNobel Awards

One fun part of my former university was the annual IgNobel awards - awards given for funny scientific research. Among the winners this year was research done (by a high school student, so don't start railing about wasting research grants) on the 5-second rule: 76 percent of U.S. women and 56 percent of men were familiar with the 5-second rule, and used it to justify picking up and eating dropped treats... Clarke swabbed floors at the University of Illinois and found them surprisingly clean of microbes, thus justifying the rule. ( Link ) Me? I've always known it as the 7-second rule. Fortunately seems like I'm safe. Also winning were studies of the links between country music and suicide, of finding the perfect combovers, and - of course - honouring the inventor of karaoke .

New Google Apps

Looks like the California juggernaut is at it again... Google Print is clearly a direct response to Amazon's "Search Inside the Book", while Google SMS is helluva cool (if it's as accurate as it claims). Would love to see Yahoo! and Amazon's responses. And thanks to Scripting News , I learnt about Google Desktop Search , which I'm currently testing. Thus far, it's frickin' awesome - it finds any text within your Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files, and it digs up old web pages that you've visited (so none of that "where did I see that"). I don't use Outlook or Outlook Express for e-mail, so it can't handle that, but still, cool. I know, by now it's like I'm a shill for the firm, but it's just cool. I love how after a fairly moribund period, there's now search wars and browser wars. Edit: Cheah Chu Yeow over at Redemption in a Blog shares my Googlenthusiasm.

Conservation efforts

My bedroom window overlooks some classic Singaporean architecture: the old shophouses of the South Bridge Road area, full of clan associations and import-export businesses still conducted by pen and paper by old men in white singlets. It's such a joy to walk by these slices of Singaporean history, and so I was really glad to learn (from soon-to-be-defunct paper Streats ) that the area has now been earmarked for conservation .

The Long Tail

Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson writes about the Long Tail effect - that the Net's ability to offer unlimited selections (unlike traditional bookstores or record stores, which are bound by constraints of local demand and physical space) creates a "long tail" of demand that counters the standard assumptions of a hit-driven media culture. As Anderson aptly points out, "Hit-driven economics is a creation of an age without enough room to carry everything for everybody." This seems natural - after all, it's the same Internet that allows people to agglomerate very specialised interests that their residences may not allow them to explore - yet it still seems a long way before people understand the volume contained within the tail. Anderson's article is particularly good when citing killer statistics that are counter-intuitive: 99% of the top 10,000 titles in any online media store (Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, etc.) will rent or sell at least once a month.

Top Trumps

Okay, any boy growing up in Singapore in the 80s must have played Top Trumps at some point., that bunch of cards featuring cars, animals, drag racers, whatever, and their stats. (Apparently they're now selling at Borders for $13 each.) Whiled away many a schoolbus ride home comparing the engine size of cars. Via Freaky Trigger , I learnt that they're still making the cards , and there's now a Smash Hits! deck . Must investigate.

Wally Amos

Last night I watched the A&E Biography episode on Wally Amos , founder of Famous Amos. Show followed its usual predictable arc - man succeeds, destroys family, career hits a nadir, then revival. But as always the fact, the show dropped random nuggets of trivia that kept hooking me in, among them the fact that two of the initial investors in the cookie company were Helen Reddy and Marvin Gaye - could you get two more different singing styles? But then, Wally was the talent agent who signed Simon and Garfunkel. What a random path some lives take.

God Save Jermajesty

On freakiness in the Jackson family . (Do I really need to say which Jacksons?) How does a kid go through life with a name like "Jermajesty Jackson"? Not easy being in kindergarten when your first name sounds like a British punk song. And your mum being your uncle's ex-wife probably doesn't help matters any.

I'm stranded on the vortex floor

Being in London triggers a million synapses for any rock music fan, and it's apparently no different for New Yorker critic Sasha Frere-Jones. I thought it was funny that he had the same reaction as I did years ago: walking around Soho, it's impossible not to hear the Jam's "'A' Bomb in Wardour Street" playing in one's mind. (Of course, when I lived in London in the summer of 1999, the Admiral Duncan - a gay pub - was nail-bombed and the " Hate Bomb, Hate Bomb, Hate Bomb, Hate Bomb " line took on a chilly resonance.)

More photos of Coconut

New photos of Coconut are up! That's him chewing on a Greenie . A happy little Westie is he.

Great equations

From Arts and Letters Daily (of all places), I learnt about this piece on Physicsweb about great equations (ranging from the elegant world-of-math-in-microcosm that is Euler's equation, to the fundamental "1+1=2") and what makes them great. A sense of wonder, Robert Crease concludes. I love how wonder is a common feeling in math and science as much as art.

Gawker Expires

I moved away from Network Solutions as my domain name registrar, primarily because GoDaddy was much cheaper. But this post on Gizmodo makes me glad I did it. Apparently they de-regged New York gossip uberblog Gawker (which can be found here - details on the deregistration here ). Yeah, that's the way to drum up business, screw over a famous (infamous?) blog.

The disabled and sex

The Guardian has a good piece on the disabled and sex in the UK: When was the last time you saw a disabled couple have sex on TV, or a disabled person portrayed in the mainstream media as anything other than "brave" or "tragic"? I like the article: realistic about the physical and societal constraints on intimacy, and carrying throughout a recognition that the disabled have needs like everyone, rather than idealising them as somehow transcending the need for intimacy. (My reaction was similar to the reaction I had a while back to the silly Special Olympics urban legend : I think it's wrong to put the disabled on a pedestal, instead of treating them as fellow human beings.) The article mentions the Outsiders charity, which talks quite openly on the subject of disability and intimacy. It's really interesting how specialised a charitable service that is. In about a quarter century, I think it's likely that an aging society like Singapore will see a

Duff Marketing

From pop princess Hilary Duff, on her bad reviews: "The 50-year-old person that's writing the review is not who is meant to see my movie," Ms. Duff said, throwing her hands in the air. "I don't care what they think of the movie. They're 50. They're not the demographic." ( Link ) The demographic ? You know these pop idols are manufactured and all, but surely she could have said "they're not my fans/audience", instead of revealing that she groups people into marketing categories? Ick.

Confessions of a Would-Be Wonk

I'm an elections junkie: when I was 14 I was hooked on a computer game where you were a US Presidential candidate and you had to move from city to city to try to gain the requisite number of electoral votes. Oh, and I'd memorised the number of electoral votes each state had. Which is why the Electoral Vote Predictor is on my blogroll. I've just discovered Prof Sam Wang's Meta-Analysis of State Polls page, which goes one step further by doing a Bayesian (well, it looks Bayesian) analysis of voting patterns: now his analysis shows the median expected outcome to be a perfect 269-269 electoral vote tie. Ooh. Drama up ahead.


A fascinating piece on gentrification at points out that research shows that gentrification can actually cause poor people to stay. A good point made: Freeman and others, such as Duke's Jacob Vigdor (who reached similar conclusions in a study of gentrification in Boston), note that those opposed to gentrification often presume that the poor neighborhoods are stable to begin with, with settled populations. This appears not to be the case, according to our best studies. It seems to be falsely romanticising the poor to assume that they have different desires for movement, that they are somehow more "stable" than those who have more money. Communities are created through the ebb and flow of people moving in and out of areas, with some people remaining constant: while some areas have higher flows than others, I'm not sure this correlates that strongly with income levels.

Spam and fears

I'm intrigued by the idea that spam in part reflects a society's collective deepest insecurities, the ones that people don't dare to talk about openly. Hence the themes of sexual performance (including *ahem* enlargement) and financial relief. So, to cut a long story short: if spam reflects a society's fears, what does it mean that the spam that I get that originates from Singapore centres around selling copies of exam papers? Tangentially relevant: The Spam Weblog | Zefrank's hilarious performance of a 419 scam | James Seng , Singaporean spam fighter

Christopher Reeve?

None of the major news sources have it, but the Drudge Report claims Christopher Reeve is dead. If so - RIP, Supes. Edit: yup, it's now on CNN and the New York Times . Sad.

That takes Moxee

A police detective in Moxee, Washington used Google to identify a hit-and-run victim from 10 years ago. You know how they say with the advent of Google and its cache, everything is now public and you can never escape your identity? I guess sometimes that's not a bad thing.

Derrida Deconstructed

Jacques Derrida passes away . We may still debate the virtues and flaws of deconstructionist philosophy - but there's no doubting the influence the man had on intellectual life. Here's an old review I wrote of Derrida , the documentary.

Random quizzes

Which OS are You? Which Nigerian spammer are You?

Music links for the weekend

Basement jaxx: source details all of the Basement Jaxx vinyl releases, and includes an MP3 of the hard-as-nails (and hard to find) original version of "Where's Your Head At" . Since I'm a Jaxx completist (I collect vinyl related to the Jaxx and to Masters at Work), this was a great find for me. Meanwhile, largeheartedboy has links to a White Stripes cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps" in some sort of Detroit meets New York nexus of cool.

New movie reviews

Reviews of White Chicks and 13 Conversations About One Thing are up on Delta Sierra Arts , my film / music / arts review blog.

What Blogger lacks

Blogger is conducting some user testing , apparently. Well, I'm a long way away from Mountain View - have a friend working at Google, but that's about it - but I just thought I'd say: categories future posting . That's it, thanks.

Bad Album Covers

Rocking Vicar has a collection of bad album covers . I'm trying to think of particularly egregious ones outside the ones nominated...

Blogs in business

More stuff on blogging at work, this time from Fortune . That adds to the coverage from the New York Times and the Harvard Business Review. Seems like the use of blogs in enterprise is about to reach a tipping point. Here's Jonathan Schwarz, president/COO of Sun: Blogs are no more mandated at Sun than e-mail. But I have a hard time seeing how a manager can be effective without both. As I've noted before, one of the interesting developments will be how firms and organisations respond to this blurring of lines between work and private life and between the public face of a company and private opinions? Blogging is hardly even known in Singapore by those in business - and those who do know about it often see it as kiddie-diaryland - and I wonder how a society that's somewhat more squeamish about revealing private life will adapt to it.

Fortune Cookies

So what if fortune cookies are peculiarly American , not authentic? I like them. Especially adding "in bed" to the end of whatever fortune you get.

Copyeditor needed for sculpture

$40,000 library mural misspells names . I thought the artist's defence of the spelling mistakes was funny: "The people that are into humanities, and are into Blake's concept of enlightenment, they are not looking at the words," she said. "In their mind the words register correctly."

Anger management

Does this girl have anger issues ? An 11-year-old attacked her baby sitter with a machete during a struggle that included attempts by the girl to grab a baseball bat, a shovel, and a BB gun, investigators said.

Nobel Prize Bourse

Who'll win the next Nobel Prize in Economics ?

Tiger Woods gets married

Surely if you were Tiger Woods you can afford a better band at your wedding than Hootie and the Blowfish? I mean, what're Hootie doing now besides cover versions of mawkish Bread songs for TNT specials? - Tiger privately ties knot as celebrities look on

He's Just Not That Into You

TINEyboppin has the text of the Washington Post article on Greg Behrendt's "He's just not that into you" insight. Loyal Sex and the City watchers know, of course, that Jack Berger stunned Miranda with that blunt assessment - well, Behrendt was the show's "straight male" advisor (can't believe they had to work at finding one!), and he's even made a book out of that philosophy. Although, of course, the show also had it right when Miranda's date didn't want to go up to her apartment not because he wasn't into her, but because he had a violent reaction to the dinner...

I'm Friendly With Jane Austen

The things you can find in Amazon's Search Inside the book feature... as I've noted before , something I once wrote years ago ended up in The Friendly Jane Austen , so I dug up a scan. I like being quoted on the same page as Sir Walter Scott and Lionel Trilling. Illustrious company indeed. "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!"

Google circa 1960

Google in 1960 . Facetious, of course.

Caffeine Content

Daniel Gross debates whether Starbucks represents an addiction or simply an efficient means of caffeine delivery. I used to think it was 2 cans of Coke/Pepsi = 1 cup of coffee when it comes to caffeine content. But apparently, even on those days where I down 5 cans of Coke (160 mg of caffeine) I'm not even at half the caffeine in a tall Starbucks coffee (a whopping 375 mg).

Man and dog

I find Jon Katz's columns on dogs for Slate profoundly wise, representing the even-tempered voice of a man trying to do right by his dogs and to understand the essential nature of dogs despite the frustration it can bring. (Check out this piece that encapsulates the value and difficulty of patience .) So I thought this extract from Katz's newly-released Dogs of Bedlam Farm , where he gives away Homer, his border collie, was particularly moving. Homer sounds like a little heartbreaker of a dog: One spring evening a ewe broke off from the herd and ran into the woods—strange behavior. Homer followed her, and when I located them, a newborn lamb was nuzzling the startled Homer and the ewe had taken off to rejoin the flock. It took the better part of an hour to identify the proper ewe and bring her and her baby back into the barn for nursing and warmth. Meanwhile, the lamb had imprinted on Homer and tailed him for weeks. Homer looked unnerved but kept an eye on the little guy. And

"Be My Baby"

I'm reading Q magazine on the "1010 songs you must own". Yeah, Q has this obsession with lists, but it's a good list - part Q 's own suggestions, part nominations from musicians - that points out quite a few new tunes to check out. It does end with a top 10 that's not particularly controversial: Marvin Gaye "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" U2 "One" Nirvana "Smells Like Teen Spirit" The Beatles "She Loves You" Michael Jackson "Billie Jean" The Ronettes "Be My Baby" Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive" Bob Dylan "Like a Rolling Stone" James Brown "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" Sure, you could come up with another equally acceptable 10 songs (I'd put Gaye's "Let's Get It On" in there, probably), but it's hard to deny the quality of these tunes. The presence of t

Eddie Izzard

The Guardian interviews one of the funniest - and brightest ("Not content with having done gigs in French, he now wants to do them in German, and later, in Spanish, Italian and Arabic") - comedians around: What extremist Buddhists would be like: 'Really calm.'

More Coconut photos

Picasa 's a godsend in terms of prepping photos for upload onto the web. One click of "export as web page" and it's all ready for FTP - like this new batch of photos of Coconut the Westie.


I still don't know what to think of Nick Denton, blogging entrepreneur. Now the owner of Gawker/Wonkette/Defamer/Gizmodo/Fleshbot has gone all boys toys with Jalopnik (cars), Kotaku (games), and Screenhead (random stuff). The Denton sites are getting too slick for my tastes, I think. Screenhead at least highlights this video promoting Prodikeys, from Singapore's very own Creative Technology. Um... yes, the spirit of rock clearly lives on.

Finding Work Through Blogging

Lately I've been reading a lot of pieces on work and blogging. The New York Times talks about how blogs aid in job search ( Before Applying, Check Out the Blogs ), in which I noticed the following statement: Ms. [Gretchen, a Microsoft recruiter] Ledgard said she also kept a file of interesting bloggers and read them regularly, expecting that some will become job candidates Keeping all the interesting people on file but waiting for them to contact you about jobs? That's an interesting approach... a sort of passive-aggressive headhunting. Also, this is late, but I just checked out the case study of "Glove Girl" in the article "A Blogger in Their Midst ", from the September 2003 Harvard Business Review - my office has a subscription, so I looked up an old issue. ( Link to a summary of the article, from the author's own blog.) The interesting dilemma I find is that workers who blog can often be off-message and somewhat slapdash - and yet that makes th

Celebrity ugliness deconstructed

From Michelle , here's Go Fug Yourself , dedicated to pictures of celebrities at their worst, and attendant snark. Like Tori Spelling . What the hell did she do to her pug?


Ooh, stuff on the Simpsons movie .

Which Classic Movie Are You?

Come to think of it, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. What Classic Movie Are You? personality tests by

Subjects of the Police

From the list-crazy Vitamin Q , a succinct summary of the bizarre topics covered by the Police in their hit songs. An excerpt: Synchronicity 2 - and this is certainly the only hit song about a Jungian philosophy to mention Rice Krispies, belches, cheap tarts, Scotland, a crotch, picket lines and lemmings.

Saint Clinton of Chappaqua

Boy, beatification sure comes fast these days.

If you live in London...

Pillow fight !

Apres comment spam, le deluge

Disturbing trend I've noticed from clicking on the "next blog" button from Blogger: fake "blogs" set up on Blogspot by firms trying to hawk plastic surgery or video conferencing. Taking advantage of the "authenticity" of the blog format I presume. I'm not going to dignify those blogs with a link. Just suffice it to say that one's called Plastic Surgery Portal and one's called Weband Video, from Blogger users 3533829 and 3819163. Noise-to-signal ratio increasing... increasing...

More of Coconut

More of the ever-kinetic Coconut with his more sedate pal Bogart.

Wilco, Live at Uptown Mix, Nashville

A whole Wilco set for download . Be not so fearful.

Modernism returns

Slate slashes Thom Mayne's new California Dept of Transportation building. Nowhere near Zaha Hadid's Contemporary Arts Center in Cincy or Rem Koolhaas' Seattle library apparently. Me, I'm not looking forward to any return of the brutish hulks of modernist architecture.

Follow that taxi!

Got into a Maxicab (one of those van-like cabs that seat 6 people) that day and the cab driver told me the story of how a bunch of Indonesian women hired him for a whole day to follow a Korean actor around Singapore. Singapore's cosmopolitanism expresses itself in strange ways sometimes. How would a group of (middle-aged, or so the driver said) Indonesian women even know that the Maxicab is the best kind of cab for following stars? The cab driver also refuses to do the " teenage girls following Taiwanese boy bands around " thing. I can see why. All that screaming in the back of the van. Just ain't worth the hassle.

Blog ads

Douglas Rushkoff doesn't like blog ads . Oh well, gotta pay the bills.

Another MP3 download source

Just discovered betterPropaganda , which has a lot of great, decent-quality (128kbps) indie songs for download. Picked up The Streets ' "Fit But You Know It", The Shins ' "Kissing the Lipless", and !!! 's "Hello? Is This Thing On?", among others. Good stuff. My favourite music download blogs: Fluxblog | EC Brown | Tofuhut | largeheartedboy

Richard Avedon passes away

"I began trying to create an out-of-focus world - a heightened reality better than real, that suggests, rather than tells you." - Richard Avedon RIP, Richard Avedon . (There goes that dream of mine .) His photos for the New Yorker were weekly installments of art.

House of cards

Random snippet from an online baseball forum that I take part in: 1st Guy, about his house problems: Apparently [his house has] water, mold, and carpenter ants . It could be worse, it seems to be isolated to 1 area. 2nd Guy: Why are they called "carpenter" ants? Carpenters build houses. Me: Just like me, they long to be, close to you.

Now that's what I call music

Discovered a record store with some funky hip-hop breaks and acapellas at the basement of the Excelsior Shopping Centre yesterday. Didn't even have a sign on the store, so Lord knows what it's called. But I'll be back. Ah, serendipity. Man, to go all Jane Jacobs , it's these small specialised stores, not the big chains, that give a city life. Here's a good quote from Jacobs, guru of urban studies: The New Urbanists want to have lively centers in the places that they develop, where people run into each other doing errands and that sort of thing. And yet, from what I've seen of their plans and the places they have built, they don't seem to have a sense of the anatomy of these hearts, these centers. They've placed them as if they were shopping centers. They don't connect. In a real city or a real town, the lively heart always has two or more well-used pedestrian thoroughfares that meet. ( Link ) You can't just plonk a place down and say "e

Thought: Gravitating to Dense Stress

“That New York figured out the twenty-first century’s game back in the nineteenth doesn’t explain why people continue to gravitate to its dense stress long after physical proximity theoretically has become irrelevant to doing business, and the reason, of course, is that physical proximity is not irrelevant to doing business: it matters.” - Paul Goldberger, in The New Yorker

Walking in LA

One thing I loved about my job as a travel writer was just the daily random walking around cities. You walk inordinate amounts as a travel writer, and that's the way it should be: I think there's very little that gives you more of a sense of a city than facing it head on. I loved just chancing upon things as I walked around New York and London... strolling around the City of London with the street names that harked back hundreds of years, or walking from the Bronx Zoo to Arthur Avenue . (In Singapore, unfortunately, there's a kind of sameness once you get out of the city centre that makes these long walks not as exciting.) Still, it takes a kind of bravado to choose to walk around L.A., the city where cars are a religion. Which is why I thought Neil Hopper's Walking in LA site is pretty cool. Among my personal favourite walks, both long and short, on my travels: Broadway, New York: from Canal St to 57th St, then across to Madison Ave and up Madison to 96th. Exhau

Time flies? I can't, they're too fast

Terrible New York Times headline: "Bush Returns to Florida, Storm Rent but Vote Rich" ( Link ) The headline took me a double take to get, and that's one take too many. Hyphens would've helped ("storm-rent", maybe "vote-rich" even). Right now there are two words that can be both noun and verb ("storm" and "vote"), and, worse, there's "rent", a word that can be both noun and verb - but that the NYT has chosen to use in the less common adjectival form. As it's constructed, I almost read it as Bush telling Florida to "storm rent, vote rich" - and saying that Bush is asking people to wage war on rents and vote for the rich is a completely different meaning from what the article intends, to say the least.

Did ATMs kill the bank teller's job?

A thought on Alain de Botton's Status Anxiety (my current reading ) that struck me. Writing in Fast Company , Charles Fishman once made the point that employment has grown in some service businesses that have been automated: At the dawn of the self-service banking age in 1985, for example, the United States had 60,000 automated teller machines and 485,000 bank tellers. In 2002, the United States had 352,000 ATMs - and 527,000 bank tellers. (Link to a KioskCom mirror of the article ) Yet de Botton makes the complete opposite point: ATMs offered bank tellers few grounds for celebration... In the United States, 500,000 people, around half of the workforce in retail banking, lost their jobs between 1980 and 1995, in part because of the invention of these silkily efficient machines. ( Status Anxiety p. 101) So: which is it? Did ATMs kill retail banking or not? (You might argue that there was a bounce back in the number of retail banking staff between 1995 and 2002, so both are right,