Showing posts from November, 2004

Blogger has mother murdered?

A kind of shocking story - this girl allegedly had her mother murdered. Her blogging is incidental to the mother-daughter trauma that precipitated the case, except that she actually blogged about the murder. Freaky. Rachelle Waterman had posted to an online journal dating back to February. In the journals, which she titled "My crappy life, the inside look of an insane person." She says she lives in Hell, Alaska, details conflicts with her mother and writes about a desire to commit violent acts against herself and others, KRBD reported. One of her last entries was posted Nov. 14, hours after troopers say Arrant told her her mother had been killed. In the entry, she writes about her trip to Anchorage and having purchased some new boots, KRBD reported. In a final entry last Thursday, Waterman wrote that her mother had been murdered and that she would not have computer access for a few days because police were confiscating it, KRBD reported. ( Link ) This is her blog , bu

Mod dog

Just checked out brand-new doggie blog Modern Pooch . Cute. Although this pic of a Mini Schnauzer inside a shoebox is just weird.

Mr Picassohead

Here's a rendition from the marvelous Mr Picassohead tool. ( Picassohead gallery ) From Things Above , which has lots of interesting art-related links.

More urban legends

Hey, I never knew had a page specifically dedicated to urban legends . Like proving that the "home computer of the future" picture supposedly taken in 1954 is a fake, and that the whole "Bush states have lower IQs than Kerry states" thing is a hoax too.

A minor key - Singaporean history

A slight little "this day in history" note in The Straits Times pointed out that Singapore's second Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock passed away on this date in 1984 "at his home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia". That intrigued me - why was our former Chief Minister living in Saudi Arabia? There's not much on the web on Singapore's history, though, but the first para of this column seems to indicate the basis of the story: Lim Yew Hock had converted to Islam, and went on to Saudi Arabia to become Assistant Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. The whole story made me think about these various minor strands of Singapore's history. We like to think of Singapore's cosmopolitanism meaning a comfort with Western society, but naturally the flux of people in and out of the island means there must be Singaporeans - not just those born into Muslim families - who become equally comfortable with Islamic culture and the Middle East.

Faux irony

My new coinage: faux irony. Or "fauxrony" if you must. For situations where people claim to like something in an ironic manner except that they really do like it genuinely. "Britney Spears' Crossroads was a classic of modern cinema", he said in faux-ironic fashion. Which adds another layer of irony, I suppose.

Blockbuster Drugs

Am I the only one who thinks it strange that pharmaceutical firms make most of their money off just a handful of so-called blockbuster drugs? I used to think they had a whole array of drugs and the profits were spread more evenly among them. Funny how billions can ride on something like Vioxx. Rangel MD has a doctor's perspective on the Vioxx scandal: There is no data and indicates that massive litigation and class action lawsuits for millions (if not billions) of dollars against the drug companies does anything to influence the drug industry to try and improve the safety of their products. All this legal action amounts to is a giant transfer of wealth for every sensationalized drug scandal that comes along without any lasting benefit.

Need an English-English Dictionary?

I'm fascinated by the insidious process of word adoption - while people bemoan awful coined neologisms, some phrases just slip insidiously into the universal English language. Hence "run-up" and "gone missing" are now part and parcel of American English, and I presume some Americans would be shocked to even realise this wasn't the case 20 years ago. Among other British English words I've spotted making the trans-Atlantic leap: " gobsmacked ". On the other hand, I guess "fortnight" doesn't look to be crossing over anytime soon, more's the pity. Which goes to show, if a word is useful or just catchy, people will often adopt it (I still don't quite understand why "fortnight" has not been popular in America) - and then will probably insist that they've used it all their lives. One great thing about blogging I think for linguists is that it'll make it much easier to track informal usage. But it's intere


Origami theory - you can make everything with just one cut? Best. Math. Ever.

PowerPoint in education

I've blogged about my general disdain for PowerPoint before, so I'm glad to see that AmShazam over at MIT has commented on how PowerPoint has been badly used by educators. I remember back in college that almost none of my professors used PowerPoint. I think it was a recognition that there are certain issues with using a business-presentation program as a tool of pedagogy. I remember talking to someone here in Singapore about how great it was that my profs still used chalk, and he acted surprised at how low-tech it seemed. I thought it was pathetic, really, to assume that good teaching must involve the latest technology, without even analysing whether that technology suits the needs of the teacher. I agree, PowerPoint is only a tool, and you can be a great professor/lecturer that uses PowerPoint, but it's a tool that's much easier to use to generate linear presentations than the freewheeling discussions that good classes require. It's just not really designed for

Articles of faith

Over in Verbal Energy, Ruth Walker has an article on the proper use of the definite article - i.e. the "the" (not to be confused with the band The The ). That made me think: one thing I dislike about English usage in Singapore is the tendency to drop the "the" - for instance, in talking about a speech made by the Prime Minister, some people open with "Prime Minister said..." I've heard this may also be the internal style of the British government, so it's not necessarily wrong, but it certainly sounds unidiomatic, and certainly not the style of formal reporting (the BBC, for one, definitely uses " the PM "). The same blog entry also points to , a fascinating site that ranks words in the English language according to their usage in British English, based on the British National Corpus ("the" is #1 with a bullet - no surprises there). It's the tail end that has some weird relative positions: why is "dre

Form follows substance

Been doing some minor tinkering with this blog's design, and I chanced upon a good web design article by Jakob Nielsen - " Mastery, Mystery, and Misery: The Ideologies of Web Design ". Basically makes the point that a good interface should get the hell out of the way so that users can get to content. It made me think about the explosion of blogs: sure, in the 90s everyone used flashy Flash sites, but who ever visited them more than once? As it turned out, what was more popular was the plain text and links of blogs - content.

Bryn Celli Ddu

More pics from my travel-writing days. Here's Bryn Celli Ddu (means "the mound in the dark grove"; best approximation of pronunciation I can muster: bryn keh-HLEE thee) on the island of Anglesey in Wales. It's a henge, aka a burial chamber, that dates back to the Neolithic era. The stone outside is a reconstruction, with the original sitting in a museum, but the thing I love is that this mound just sits there, without any need for garish signs or explanations. (Apparently, there was a sign in Welsh, but I didn't see it.) Which is as it should be, I think - why should the past be only explained in terms of the present? Of course, the cairn (wow, I rarely get to use that word - wonder what the family cairn terrier would do if I brought him here?) is quite off the beaten path so it's not overrun by tourists. To reach it, I hiked from Llanfair P.G. More pics of Bryn Celli Ddu

Review: Blackpool Deluxe

A review of the White Stripes' Blackpool Deluxe download-only 3-song EP is up on Delta Sierra Arts .

New movie reviews

Very belatedly, I sat down and wrote reviews of two films I caught earlier this year: Under a Tuscan Sun and Spider-Man 2 . Both up on Delta Sierra Arts , my reviews site. Will do up my Before Sunset review sometime soon, but until then, you can try The Suburbs Are Killing Us for music from Julie Delpy. Edit: why the hell did I italicise the name of a blog? D'oh. Edit 2: My Before Sunset review is up.

Drama Queen

Flipping through blogs, I found this list: Ten signs you're a drama queen : 1) You say I AM NOT A DRAMA QUEEN! 2) You refer to yourself in the third person. 3) You warn people not to bring drama into your life. 4) The problem is never you -- it's always "them." 5) You leave behind a trail of chaos wherever you go. 6) You like this (#5). 7) You ask people for help with a problem, then you tell every single respondent why they are wrong and how that is not possibly something you could do. You get mad when people get mad at you for this. 8) You keep doing the same things that get the same crappy result, over and over and over. Then you complain to everyone about how unhappy you are about it, but how you are powerless to change it. 9) You make grand declarations about yourself, your life, and your amazing personality, only to completely forget about them and/or reject them within a few weeks, if not a few days. 10) You turn a blind eye to the

Hell is other people

Julian Baggini on modern manners and philosophy : You should not accept or continue a phone call if a shop assistant is serving you. If Jean-Paul Sartre were alive, which he isn't, and he gave advice, which he didn't, he may well have shed light on the correct use of a mobile phone using his distinction between thinking of a person authentically as a being-for-itself (être-pour-soi) with will and consciousness, or inauthentically as being-in-itself (être-en-soi), a mere thing. So when we ignore the presence of someone like a shop assistant, treating them as absent and the absent caller as present, we are doing no less than denying their humanity. Very true. Baggini also points out how rude it is to send text messages to someone else in the middle of a conversation. Come to think of it, I like the idea of Sartre as advice columnist: Sartre's Day Dear Sartre, I know I'm a grown woman and should know better, but I mope endlessly about my boyfriend who

Geek body of work

From boingboing, the world's geekiest tattoo . Perhaps on his ankle he could tat "C:\>Run"...

Fowl tip

Someone on a message board I'm on posted this. Heh. But seriously, it's coming on Thanksgiving, and I really want to eat turkey - or better yet, turducken . Meat! Meat! Meat! Of course, this surfeit of carnivorous cravings might mean I need to call in the Magic Meal Mobile . I don't need a diet, I just like the idea of someone making me all my meals. And since it's already Thursday over here... happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!


Here in Singapore we see abalone and think "oh, high-end special occasion food". This startup in California goes "oh, new biological nano-fabrication processes ". Dr. Belcher has studied the biology of abalones and how the mollusks are able to assemble an extremely hard shell from calcium carbonate and other minerals in an ocean filled with various microbes and contaminants. The result: she and her colleagues have developed proteins that can bind to about 30 different electronic, magnetic, and optical materials, and then assemble the materials into protein structures.

Ah, the weird and wonderful

A disparate collection of links: on being made to pay copyright for the citing of Radiohead lyrics... the bear that poops prime numbers ... Yoshio Taniguchi's extension to MoMA has opened; wish I were there... everyone in a kitchen in New York is Spanish-speaking, as anyone who's read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential knows; clearly the snooty family described here hasn't caught on... after almost a whole year on hiatus, Kim Jong Il's livejournal has new content...

Earl of Sandwich

Following in the footsteps of the auction of the sandwich with the image of the Virgin Mary , here's a sandwich with the image of Hello Kitty . Only US$8.49. Of course, that might have been higher if the seller were here in Kitty-krazed Singapore .

I feel as if I'm in a play

More pictures from my travels through England. This is the famed bus shelter in the middle of a roundabout from " Penny Lane ", now converted, inevitably, into a restaurant living off the fame. Here's the backstory behind "Penny Lane" - as noted in that article, none of the places mentioned in the song are strictly on Penny Lane itself, but rather in the general area known as Penny Lane.

Dropped calls

You know, everyone and her grandfather seem to be obsessed with handphones/mobile phones/cellphones here in li'l Singapore. But very few people I meet have the same main criterion as I do, which is: if I drop the phone out of my pocket (fairly common occurence for me), will it still function? Those danged stores won't let me test the phones that way.

iTunes store

Woohoo! Much as I've derided iTunes, I always wanted the store to work in Singapore, and I figured out that as long as you have a US credit card you can shop for tunes online. Mmm. Quality recordings, proper tags. Well worth $0.99 a song. Plus, by putzing around, I figured out how to make a wishlist - just create a playlist and drag songs from the iTunes store onto it. So I guess I answered this man's question . Of course, it turns out the info's buried in the iTunes website anyway. Worst thing I've learnt from the store: there's a Jennifer Love Hewitt version of "Me and Bobby McGee" ? If there's anything anyone knows about Jennifer Love Hewitt, it's that she's never been busted flat in Baton Rouge... and probably never flat-busted anywhere else. Edit: speaking of wish lists, here's a bunch of cover songs I've been wanting . Of which I only have Jimmy Eat World's cover of the Prodigy's "Firestarter".

Charlie how your angels get down like that

Next on Fox... When Blonde Superstars With Boyfriends Who Have Been Involved in Wardrobe Malfunctions Attack .


So I took a taxi to work today, figuring that if I'm in a cab I can get some shut-eye. Of course, then I realised my cab driver was one of those drivers who insists on accelerating as much as possible, despite being caught in heavy traffic on the ECP 1 . You guessed it: much acceleration followed by sharp braking, followed by an increasingly green-looking face. By the time I dropped off at my office I had a hard time walking straight; had to spend considerable time staring at the porcelain of the office loo. They really should equip some cabs with barf bags. Oh, and I am not watching the remake of Taxi with Jimmy Fallon. Not because it'll remind me of today. Because it looks like it'll be crap. Jimmy Fallon: I would call him colossally overrated, but I don't know anyone who even thinks he's funny. Except with Tina Fey, who probably could be funny doing Weekend Update with a Chia pet. 1 Singaporean expressway 2 2 Also known as a motorway or highway 3 3

Singapore idle

Here's a funny snarky post on Indian Stallion on Singapore Idol 's Indian-themed episode: So how did they go about it you ask? Well they had the Singapore Idol contestants run around trees that they set up on stage. They also talked in strong exaggerated Indian accents. It's amazing how they manage to capture the very essence of what the local Indian community is all about with that little skit. Because that's what we Indians pride ourselves most on - for dancing around trees in our Bollywood movies and talking English in really funny Indian accents. He follows up with a parody of what would be the equivalent for the Chinese population ("instead of dancing around trees, they could have those jumping zombies you see in those Chinese horror movies fighting shaolin pugilists who will use celebrated kungfu styles like the infamous Dragon's Dick style"). Quite sad, really, the lack of cross-cultural understanding that sometimes arises (even if people like

Superman lovers not so super

Here's a really interesting social psych experiment result: people who think of Superman are much less likely to volunteer for community service than people who think of other superheroes. Suppsedly because they think of Supes and go "well, I can't measure up". (From the New Scientist )

Mon dieu!

An old site: Heavy metal singer Ronnie James Dio for President .

Bush twins rebuffed

From Gawker: Freemans, tuesday night the 16th of nov. the bush twins, along with 2 massive secret service men, tried to have dinner. they were told by the maitre'd that they were full and would be for the next 4 years. upon hearing, the entire restaurant cheered and did a round of shots... ( Link ) Funny how politics can slide into meals...

Encyclopedia Wiktannica

Is Wikipedia a faith-based encyclopedia ? Robert McHenry, former EIC of the Encyclopædia Britannica (note: love the conjoined "ae"), thinks so.

Is branding dead?

Some think so .

Top 500?

Rolling Stone 's criminal list of the top 500 songs of all time . Sure, nominate "Like a Rolling Stone" as your #1 why don't you? Great song, but there's an all too easy reference to the mag's own name. Plus, "Hey Jude" is not the best Beatles song. Not even close. Edit: Using the sort-by date, here's a rough count. (Definitely miscounted somewhere, since it doesn't add up, but the trend is clear) 50s - 73 songs 60s - 204 songs 70s - 142 songs 80s - 55 songs 90s - 20 songs 00s - 3 songs 'VH1 Divas Live' - 1 song (hey, don't blame me if the sort by date function is weird) That's just wrong. I love the 60s, but you're telling me there were 10 times more great songs written then than in the 90s? Pshaw. Edit: here's a list of songs that should've made it in .

Humour me

Major standup comedy fan here. Quick point. One of my favourite comedians is Steven Wright, so here's some of his jokes . "Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect" Also, here's the list of the 100 Funniest Jokes of All Time (the top 75 formed one of my favourite GQ articles). Some good ones there.

Pennies From Heaven

I thought I was obsessive-compulsive about cataloguing my music , but that's fairly garden-variety obsession. Even the fact that I arrange my dollar notes in my wallet in order of serial number is fairly harmless. Now, collecting 1.4 million pennies and sorting them by year and mint - wow.

Million-dollar blocks

An interesting use of mapping software: finding out " million-dollar blocks " - i.e. where the authorities spend too much on incarceration instead of prevention.

I-69 to be renamed?

She sat back, and awaited the naming of I-69 . If you can't pass by an instance of the number 69 without laughing and you're above 21, you have too much sex on the brain. And yes, it's a fake news article. Although in the strange twisted way that these things work, someone might go "hey, good idea". Edit: kind of how the Onion 's Harry Potter story found its way into anti-Satanist e-mails .

Moral codes

Just discovered Majikthise , a philosophy blog, via trying to find some information on baseball of all things. I thought in particular that this post on the reduction of the idea of morality into sexual morality by commentators such as David Brooks and Tom Wolfe was really good. Snippet: It doesn't seem to occur to them that anyone could have a robust and defensible moral code that made no specific reference to sexual behavior. Such moral codes have implications for sexual behavior, but only because sexual choices are governed by more general principles like keeping promises, or promoting happiness, or acting according to a universalizable maxim. Great blog, and its name being a reference to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is cool for a H2G2 fan like me.

"I don't want to belong to a club that would accept me as a member"

Speaking of the MRT , they're now running a promotion: "use this [picture of EZ-link stored value card] to win this [picture of car key]". Isn't that weird? It's basically saying "if you use the subway a lot, you increase your chances of not having to use the subway ever again".


A hilarious collection of fake Spidey comics .

Scenes from the MRT

Snippets of a conversation by 3 teenage students on the Singapore subway train. Girl talks about her boyfriend trying to get her to play PS2: "Everytime I play that soccer game I'm so scared I kick the ball away." Boy: "You do realise they're digital characters, right?"

Beatles For Sale

On the release of the Beatles' first four American albums on CD . I think the Capitol albums are a travesty, but I can appreciate that they hold nostalgic value for Americans. And this sentence is especially fun for a singles collector like me: The Beatles took a different view. With only a handful of exceptions, they adhered to a policy of keeping albums and singles separate. For them, why should a fan who bought the single have to buy those songs again on an LP? I guess I've met too many people who think albums are the be-all and end-all of rock. Don't get me wrong, I love them, but I'm also a big fan of singles with their obscure B-sides and the needle spinning deliriously for 3 minutes, and I didn't like the death of the single in favour of albums full of filler tracks (although it seems MP3s have brought the single back to life). If you have 40 minutes of stuff, you make a great album ( Sgt Pepper's , for instance). If you only have 5 minutes, don't co

Bridget? I hardly even know it

I watched Before Sunset yesterday, and it was an exhilarating, life-affirming film. Review to come soon. But anyway: before the movie started, they screened a trailer for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason , and much as I liked the first movie this one looks like it'll be a disappointment. Going by the principle that trailers for rom-coms usually show one of the better jokes, the joke Colin Firth (as Mark Darcy) has to deliver is atrocious: Bridget calls to say naughty things, Darcy is on speakerphone, and the punchline is of course revealing the luminaries with him; but Darcy names way too many names, completely ruining the comic timing of the joke. Edit: my review of Before Sunset is up.

Gene Simmons - strange looking man

This is what Gene Simmons looks like without the KISS makeup . Now you know why he needed the makeup.

Clowns aren't sexy

Sexing up Ronald McDonald is just freaky. Brr.

Apologies Accepted

Apologies Accepted - the international response to Sorry Everybody .

iTunes 4.7 vs Winamp 5.0

The news of the death of Winamp has spurred me to try to use the Windows version of iTunes, or rather, to resuscitate the moribund iTunes on my computer. Ultimately, I've come to this conclusion: much as I like the look and feel of iTunes, ultimately I find the program quite infuriating. Plus points of iTunes (version 4.7): The iTunes store. Not that I've purchased anything, since they don't let those of us in Asia do so, but it's good for listening to samples of songs that I may wish to purchase, and for the simple purpose of verifying attribution on my MP3s. Winamp's Media Library is very iffy on album info. The ability to set when songs should start/end. Good for those pesky MP3s that are poorly cut. Look and feel - of course. iTunes looks good, and the option of including artwork is nice. Main annoyances: ID3 tags. My main source of iTunes grievances. With Winamp, I can update both the ID3 v1 and v2 tags. iTunes just updates the latest ver

The Istana

Today was a public holiday here in Singapore (yesterday was Hari Raya Puasa, the end of Ramadan, and since it was a Sunday they gave us the Monday off). As per tradition, the Istana , the official residence of the President, was open. I went with some friends to look around. It's amazing to have this huge, lush, verdant space in the middle of Orchard Road, Singapore's shopping heart. The photo above is of the actual Istana building. We took a little tour that let us see the state rooms, as well as the gifts presented to Singapore's leaders by various heads of state. It's definitely worth seeing at least once - next opening is Thursday, 10 February 2005 in honour of Chinese New Year.


Robodump . For when you absolutely need to pretend there's someone using a cubicle.

Exit the Wu-Tang

The ODB is dead . Completely unexpected.

Tommy Lee, student

I know it's all for his new "reality" show, but the idea of Tommy Lee being in the college marching band makes me laugh. I'd love to see a drumline rock out to "Dr Feelgood".

Dogs as unifier

A Slate article on dogs as the great uniter between races and ethnicities , by Ahmed Tharwat, an Arab-American with a beagle: I discovered that owning a dog easily accomplished what many diversity training programs have failed to do for years. Regardless of our race, color, religion, or country of origin, we were one community of civilized dog lovers. My Malay teacher once informed me that the general aversion to dogs in the Islamic world is a custom, rather than a dictate of Islam. These articles seem to support that theory, but I honestly don't know enough on the subject.

Which Country Are You?

You're Costa Rica! You're about as peaceful as anyone on the planet, a real dyed-in-the-wool pacifist. And why not? No one really poses much of a threat to you and everything seems to work out, no matter how much violence and insanity rages all around you. So you relax and appreciate nature and culture while the rest of the world carries on their petty disagreements. If only everyone could follow your example... Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Pynchon on Marquez

Wow. Thanks to Jonathan Schroeder , I found this old review of one of my all-time favourite novels, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera , by one of my all-time favourite novelists, Thomas Pynchon. Magnificent. He writes with impassioned control, out of a maniacal serenity: the Garcimarquesian voice we have come to recognize from the other fiction has matured, found and developed new resources, been brought to a level where it can at once be classical and familiar, opalescent and pure, able to praise and curse, laugh and cry, fabulate and sing and when called upon, take off and soar. A worthy review of a book I'm altogether unworthy of. [A personal top 5 novel list: Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 . Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera . Nick Hornby, High Fidelity . James Joyce, Ulysses . Richard Farina, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me .]

Reclaiming morality

Jackie Ashley has a good column in the Guardian about the increasingly narrow definition of "morality": The suggestion is that a family man who owns a couple of gas-guzzling cars, several homes, a motor-yacht and a private plane, who avoids taxes by clever siting of his company, and who can't stand "queers" and foreigners, yet goes to church twice a week, is living an ideal moral life. In fact, for many of us, he would be about the least moral example we could think of. I think it's easy to focus on the "do nots" - do not do this, do not do that. The much harder task morally is loving your neighbour and your fellow man, and fulfilling your responsibility to society. It's understandable that people may have different means to that end (a free market approach vs a redistributive approach, for instance) but I feel it's important to acknowledge at least that the moral life is far more than adherence to select tenets, important as those may b

Cooking in jail

Jailhouse food anyone ?

A peek at uncanny valleys

I was about to blog about the concept of the Uncanny Valley - the idea that at a certain level of animation, things get so close to realism that humans instinctively read it as creepy rather than endearing. But then I found this page describing the uncanny valley as it pertains to The Incredibles vs The Polar Express . Screw it all, I just want to watch The Spongebob Squarepants Movie . No threat of uncanniness there.

Chair lust

I used to really want an Aeron chair , and I kicked myself for not buying it for $400 Singapore when they were clearing it at this auction. But now I've discovered that there's a Tempur-Pedic Executive Office Chair . Man oh man. Anyone have US$1349.95 to spare?

Nick Hornby titles

Why is it all the wordplay in Nick Hornby book titles get lost in their translation to movies? Since Hugh Grant's character in "About a Boy" isn't a Nirvana fan, the "About a Girl" reference doesn't come through. The upcoming "Fever Pitch" is transplanted to America, and the substitution of baseball for football/soccer causes the reference to football pitches to be lost. About the only one that keeps the word play I guess is "High Fidelity".

Stop! Hammer Time

It's really juvenile, but I really like this MC Hammer animated icon .

Borderline compulsive

Apparently they brought in two border collies on the Pace campus in Pleasantville, New York to chase away the Canadian geese, and then the dogs were so successful that there were no geese left, so they brought in 5 sheep and a goat to keep the dogs occupied. How bucolic-sounding. (From " Dogs on Campus, and Geese Watch Their Step " - NY Times story, registration required. If you don't like registering, try .)

Burn baby burn

Skepticism on the idea of spontaneous human combustion . All I know is, it was annoying that Krook in Bleak House died of spontaneous combustion.

Fear of the unknown

For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed: it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. We, however, are not prisoners. No traps or snares are set about us, and there is nothing which should intimidate or worry us... We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. - Rainer Maria Rilke, " Fear of the Inexplicable " Indeed.

In my ears and in my eyes

Clearing out a cupboard, I found photos of my stint writing for Let's Go ... here I am in Liverpool, on Penny Lane . (Yes, there's a shelter in the middle of a roundabout.) The Penny Lane road "sign" on the wall is actually painted on, because way too many people stole the real sign. Very strange.

We're sorry

" Sorry Everybody " - apologies for the US elections.

Songs Whose Titles Don't Appear in the Lyrics

Once, back in college, me and my friends tried to come up with a list of songs whose titles don't appear in the lyrics... then randomly, today, I stumbled across a Brainy Encyclopedia on the exact same topic. The criteria are a bit different (we wouldn't have counted Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" because "diner" appears in the lyrics; they include it), but it's still a good list. We had Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" as one of our first picks.

Befuddled by lyrics?

An old favourite which I thought I'd resuscitate... translated lyrics from Here's 50 Cent's "In Da Club" : When I arrive at the discothèque, you can see me driving a Mercedes Benz with 20 inch rims. If I am hanging out with 19 other members of my entourage, you'd be well advised to know that everyone here is equipped with a weapon. The translations of Jay-Z's "Izzo" and Britney Spears' "I'm a Slave 4 U" are also pretty damn funny.

Alleged attacker spotted on Blind Date

If you knew the police were looking for you - why would you appear on a reality TV show ?

No to All?

Why isn't there a "No to All" option in Windows? That's one thing that always bugged me. Say when I'm coming all the files from one directory to another, and I never want the new files to overwrite files in the old directory, why should I have to keep clicking 'no'? Am I missing something?

Don't have a cow, man

Apparently I was on to something when I wrote about vegetarian shoes - the New York Times has a whole article on the concept , although they refer to "vegan shoes". I guess it's one and the same - although perhaps the use of wool in any fashion would be vegetarian but not vegan?

Cataloguing my music

An idle long-term project of mine is to properly catalogue my MP3s - making sure the album name is right, that sort of thing - especially tough since a lot were burnt from vinyl, and the attribution was quite spotty. You would think find the info is easy with the Internet, but there's a lot of bad info out there. Also, I'm picky: I like my MP3s to reflect the albums the songs were first released on. (Winamp has a media library that helps with attribution, but more often than not it just finds a random compilation instead of the original album.) So I should say that I've found two sites invaluable: Rolling Stone 's website , which has proper attribution of release dates, making it easy to distinguish greatest-hits collections from the original albums. It also has all the Rolling Stone reviews, including Lester Bangs' work . Great stuff. , which is really, really spectacular when it comes to dance music vinyl - it separates out the various 12&quo

Traffic causes heart attacks

Missed this one in the news: apparently being in traffic increases your risk of a heart attack . But not because of stress of driving, as you might think - bus riders are just as equally affected. It's because of particulate matter in the air caused by vehicle exhausts. Man, I'm sticking with the subway.

Feeding the Christian to the lions

You know, I know about Daniel and the lion's den, but this is just bizarre: Man tries to convert lions to Jesus, gets bitten .

How to get music off your iPod

How to get music off your iPod . Don't you hate it when copy protection makes it hard to do legit things? Like when you can't play a copy-protected CD on certain players.


To any American reading this: I hope you voted today, regardless of your political affiliation. It's personally inspiring to read stories of people willing to wait hours in line just to exercise their right to vote.

Divorce, American style

The Boston Globe has an interesting piece by William V. D'Antonio about the distinction between preaching moral values, and living them: Massachusetts does indeed have the lowest divorce rate among all 50 states. More disturbing was the finding that born-again Christians have among the highest divorce rates. Part of Massachusetts' relatively low divorce rate is attributed to the higher presence of Catholics in the state. Interestingly, this isn't just a direct link to the Catholic Church's opposition to divorce, but also to the Catholic Church's social justice teachings: The Northeast corridor, with Massachusetts as the hub, does have one of the highest levels of Catholics per state total. And it is also the case that these are among the states most strongly supportive of the Catholic Church's teaching on social justice issues such as minimum and living wages and universal healthcare. I'm not a Catholic, but I must say, I'm impressed by the social jus

Moving on up... to the East Side

Actually, I've abandoned my de-luxe apartment in the sky. If you don't know Singapore society, it's still very rare for someone to move out post-college: not until marriage, really. So it was a big and wonderfully liberating step. But for personal reasons I'm moving back home for a bit. Still miss the place though. Since I was an urban economist by training, I'm struck by how rarely one of the most fundamental tenets of urban economics is followed here compared to the US: people live nowhere near work. So great to be able to walk to work, to live somewhere that was a mix of working, living, and recreational areas. Very Richard Florida .


Flipping through an old GQ today, and found an interview with Keanu Reeves where they described the Matrix 's action as "balletic". That's one of the words that's destined to exist only in print - in speech the pronunciation hardly calls to mind the root word.