Showing posts from January, 2005

Typeface of the year

Just because I like talking about type: the Danish Design prizewinner for typeface of the year in 2004 was Kontrapunkt .

Age and youth

Man, one of the guys who helped develop the Firefox browser is only a teenager ?! For some reason I've become acutely aware of the fact that I'm turning 27 soon, which is hardly old by any standards, but seems to be a point to take stock and say "hey, what're you doing with your life?". And looking at people who've done big things at tender ages just emphasises the point. Of course, I did fritter away part of my youth playing Lemmings .

I really hate Chicago

I've realised that for some reason people have been quite intrigued / horrified that I would choose not to buy an iPod because I don't like its use of Chicago as a font . ( Example - heck, I even got a link at the Cult of Mac blog .) To which I say, hey, it's not like Apple needs my money. And typeface design is a very big thing to me - when I was working at the Let's Go offices, I hung out with the designers and talked typefaces all day (and all night - we shared an apartment). So if I'm getting something that's being sold on the quality of its design, all the parts of its design have to mean something to me. Of course, now that the iPod Photo uses Myriad , I don't really have an excuse... That new Mac Mini though, I've thought about. Would be nice to have it in the house for my parents to use. Which I guess makes me one of those people Farhad Manjoo is talking about in Salon , who treat the Mac Mini as another household appliance, to run in parall

Google Video

J ust checked out Google Video , which returns results based on the closed captioning info of TV shows, along with a few freeze frames of the episode. Quite cool. Especially for those of us behind America in TV series - I get to see, for instance, what happened on the latest Law & Order .

Fidget, go surfing

Dr James Levine finds that fidgety people are skinnier than those who prefer to be sedentary - apparently you burn about 350 more calories a day if you're the kind of person who prefers to move about rather than sit still. More importantly, beyond genetic dispositions, the research seems to indicate that if you redesign your life so that you have to walk and move about a bit there'll be great health benefits. I personally like working on my desk , which is arranged in such a way that you have to stand up (or sit on a bar stool) to use it - given I haven't exercised in forever, I'll take the little chances I get. Dr Levine sounds like a fun guy to work with - here's his thoughts on the special underwear he designed to monitor movements from the study: "We had to be very creative," he said. "And you have to test them for comfort. I would put them on top of my suit. Mayo has a very strict dress code. Nothing gave me more pleasure than to wander arou

Oscar nominations

My quick take on the Oscar nominees : seems like this is the Year of the Biopic, what with The Aviator Ray , and Vera Drake all receiving big noms, and Hotel Rwanda and Kinsey getting acting nods. Seems like the Great Man theory of history is on its way to a revival. Wish Richard Linklater had gotten a directing nod though, Before Sunset was quite an achievement.


It's sad, I know, but I get a cheesy pleasure from seeing a grammatical/stylistic mistake in William Safire's language column . This week, writing on the words associated with being vegetarian/vegan, Safire writes: ... the diet was being called vegetarian , a word popularized by the formation of the vegetarian Society at Ramsgate, England, in 1847. After its planting, that word grew (from the Latin vegetare , ''to grow'') for a century. Presumably the section in the parentheses/brackets (funny how American and British English have different names for almost every punctuation mark) should come after "that word", not after "grew". And I know he was using language associated with plants, but I still think "that word grew for a century" is a strange sort of phrasing.

Chasing cool and failing

There's nowt so queer as advertising folk who try to use "hot" catchphrases without really knowing what they mean - or at least without thinking of the implications... such as McDonald's using "I'd hit it" in their new American ad campaign. Lovin' it is one thing, actually hitting it might me taking it a step too far. Maybe they were inspired by the lyrics of the Detroit Grand Pu-Bahs ' "Sandwiches" ("You can be the bun / And I can be the burger, girl / I know you wanna do it / We can make sandwiches").

Writer's block

My published writing career grows, thanks to Blogcritics ... this time a Paul Weller review snuck into .


The nominations for the 2005 Bloggies are out! One of the blogs I contributed in very small part to, the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog is nominated for a host of categories, and it's worth a vote not just out of sympathy but for showing the potential for blogs as centres for information from disparate sources. Two Singaporean blogs, the ubiquitous Xiaxue and life in mono are also in the running, under "Best Asian Blog", while some of my other favourites - , the London Underground Tube Blog , the Soxaholix , largehearted boy , and Teaching the Indie Kids to Dance Again , all made the cut in various categories. As a naff radio DJ might say, "lots of good stuff to see, check it out".

Golden retriever

Man pees way through avalanche . Creative, I must say.


Man, these online quizzes, they tell you things you don't want to know about yourself...

I love terriers, apparently

Just signed Coconut up for a Dogster account. Here's his profile . And Rerun the family dog also has a Dogster profile . Leave them bones, yeah?

Using the Internet language corpus: are acronyms words?

The Economist this week has a nice article on how the Internet is starting to be accepted by linguists as a corpus for analysis of language usage. The advantages of the vast amount of data on the Net outweigh the disadvantages of its biases. (The biases: since it's a published medium, it's more formal than speech, but that's a disadvantage many corpuses (corpi?) face; more problematic, Internet language usage may be deliberately skewed towards words used to attract people to gambling and pornography sites.) As I recall, my old friend Bert was already roughly doing so by comparing the number of Google results for the so-called "proper" usage. Of course, there are technical issues with using the Internet - for one, although the article doesn't say this, no search engine is perfect, so the choice of engines could make a difference in terms of how the word-distribution is skewed. But the concluding paragraph was perhaps the most intriguing: The easy avai

The Last Executioner

The Village Voice has a personal history of the last executioner of New York state back in the day when New York still had the death penalty. Interesting how all the executioners ended up either quitting, speaking out against the penalty ("I hope that the day is not far distant when legal slaying, whether by electrocution, hanging, lethal gas, or any other method is outlawed throughout the United States", said one back in 1939), and/or committing suicide. What a grim, grim job.

What becomes of you my love?

Ever seen a blind man cross the road, Trying to make the other side. Ever seen a young girl growing old, Trying to make herself a bride. And what becomes of you my love, When they have finally stripped you of, The handbags and the gladrags, That your Grandad had to sweat so you could buy. - Mike d'Abo, " Handbags and Gladrags " Just finished watching "the Office" Christmas specials while (I guess oddly enough) working late into the night. Brilliant. Just a brilliant, brilliant comedy. So many great moments: Brent finally stands up to Finchy, and of course, that shining moment of pure joy when Dawn comes back.

Humour down under

This 42 Below vodka ad conflates a hodgepodge of Kiwi and Aussie stereotypes. Great fun, mates. (Via present simple , who also has great examples of Japanese English on her blog.)

Kill Bill

Programming language inventor or serial killer ?

Artists ranked

Artfacts' artist rankings for 2004 (based on exhibitions, with higher ranking for bigger/more prestigious exhibitions) sees Picasso keep his #1 spot. Very gratifying to see Gerhard Richter and Bruce Nauman in the top 5. Also great to see some big rises from Brancusi and Donald Judd. Okay, ranking artists is kind of silly (and Yoko Ono pops in at #67), but at least it does seem to indicate that more people are getting to see the works of some of my favourite artists, like Brancusi...

And the horse he Rodin on

Two art blogs caught my eye recently. Okay, quasi-art blogs: Graffiti Paparazzi , which captures photos of funny graffiti (my favourite must be the semi-Marxist rants, philosophical counter-arguments, and literary references over in the loo of Cafe Algiers in Harvard Square - this guy 's equally in love with the grafs), and Stand By Your Statue , which involves a guy and his friends reenacting the pose of various statues around the world - the Thinker , the Statue of Liberty , and more more minor pieces... Amazingly, he's been doing it for six years . Part of the great tradition of British eccentricity/humour? Lucky man, though, seems to have travelled far and wide.

When vanity and technology collide

Trust the Japanese to come up with a device that creates the double-eyelid look . Or one that gives you a longer nose .

The mutt's nuts

What people come up with... I learnt about Neuticles . (Too late, my dog's already neutered.) I thought it was one of those standard urban myths, but a quick search through the US Patent Office's database proved that the patent's real.


An article in the New York Times on Friendster and its failure as a business contains this little titbit: Orkut began as a plaything for Silicon Valley's digerati but, oddly enough, has morphed into a site where the primary language is Portuguese. Nearly two in three registered Orkut users hail from Brazil; Americans account for only one in 11 registered users. Similarly, Friendster is wildly popular among 18 to 21 years olds living in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, who account for a huge portion of Friendster's most active users. I guess even the virtual nature of the Internet can't stop friendships from being primarily local. Of course, if you're one of those who believe in communal bonding via pain (a la school hazing traditions ), you can always get together to play Shocking Roulette .

Kinsey review published

Apparently the review of Kinsey that I wrote for my own reviews site and for Blogcritics made its way to, so it's been syndicated in such places as . I guess I can add that to my portfolio.

More dastardly Spongebob revelations!

Full disclosure: I'm a Spongebob fan, and I should mention that I'm very tolerant of the fact that sea sponges are really hermaphrodites . So Squarepants' enemies may wish to stay clear. Random fact: Spongebob Squarepants is called Spongebob Schwammkopf in Germany. That translates to Spongebob Spongehead, which seems a lot less funny than Squarepants.

I Love the 90s

There's a good collection of the best quotes from VH-1's "I Love the 90s" over at The Art of Getting By. Some of my favourites: "House of Pain had Jump Around and Kris Kross had their jump song. I think it was nostalgia for 1984 when Van Halen had their song Jump and The Pointer Sisters had Jump (For Your Love) . So, I think they were thinking, let's have some more jump songs!" (Weird Al Yankovic) "What? Is he auditioning to be the new dial tone?" (Hal Sparks on Kenny G's 45 minute solo holding note) Actually, the whole "I Love the 80s/90s" series is interesting from my point of view because it's fun to compare what phenomena were shared between the US and Singapore (like slap bracelets - found that out over dinner in the dining hall one day) and what was culturally specific. And since I'm crediting other blogs, I should say that apparently, I'm contributing to Lance Mannion 's sense of being in a Fellin

More urban legends

Much pleasure is derived by the arrival of two e-mails in my inbox: the Smoking Gun one, detailing all sorts of strange legal goings-on, and the Snopes one, which helps confirm or debunk rumours and urban legends going around the Internet. For example, there is definitely a bug in Mappoint that creates a route between two towns in Norway that goes through 7 (!) countries. But while the Bill Gates photos are real, the idea that he was posing for Teen Beat is not (to be fair, the original blog entry sounds like the "Teen Beat" bit was just being snarky).

Coconut pictures

Two new pics of Coconut , world's cutest dog, in his sweater for those cold Midwestern winters. He looks miffed about the sweater, non? Tech note - the album was created using Picasa 2 . I really like Picasa, and I think its features are pretty sweet for a free program, but I just wish it could do one thing: let me select a few pictures in a folder, and then right-click to export those pictures as a webpage. Right now it takes a few more steps. Unless I'm missing something.

Freaky moment #1 today

Reading the New York Times Magazine 's disturbing cover story on a pedophile , when suddenly on my MP3 player came Alanis Morrisette's "Hands Clean", about a music executive who uses his position to be a sexual predator.

More news bits

Quite funny: George W. Bush was caught without cash at church when the offering plate was passed around, and had to get help from his dad. I always forget to put cash in my wallet, actually, so I sympathise. (Via .) Extremely sad: Italy's real-life Romeo and Juliet , this one set in Padua instead of fair Verona. Just plain strange: New Zealand gang steals dead member's body from his own funeral . Elv1s 4ever: Elvis has the 1000th UK number 1 single with "One Night". Quite a remarkable feat for a performer who's been dead forever. Although it's probably more due to a decline in the singles format. Spiralling downwards: Paris Hilton caught on tape shoplifting . Apparently, being a Hilton means you don't have to check out. The idea of catching P-Hilt on video has jumped the shark.

Best concerts of my life

I was thinking about the great concerts I've had the luck to go to in my life - as far as I can remember, these were the best five: 1) Pearl Jam , 1995, Vitalogy tour, Singapore Indoor Stadium. Amazing show, clearly outstanding. Mudhoney opened - woohoo! Although clearly there were people who really just wanted PJ to come on and seemed unenthused about Mudhoney. Here's the setlist (wow, mining facts of my personal history from the Internet): Set: Release, Go, Last Exit, Spin the Black Circle, Tremor Christ, Corduroy, Not for You, Lukin, Even Flow, Dissident, Animal, Deep, Jeremy, Rearviewmirror, Immortality, Alive, jam/Blood Encore 1: Daughter/(ABitW-II)/(W.M.A.)/(Little Wing teaser), Why Go, Porch Encore 2: Sonic Reducer ( source ) They kept announcing that the show wouldn't continue if the crowd continued moshing. We did it anyway. My lasting memory was that people took turns to go on stage to shake Eddie Vedder's hand. That, and I and my friend Eugene j

Why (network) television sucks

Just joined Blogclicker , which is a blog-exchange ring: in exchange for looking at other people's blogs, they send traffic to your blog. It's kind of like Blogger's own "Next Blog" button, except that since the blogs actually took the trouble to sign up for Blogclicker, you get a lot more interesting blogs, rather than the one-post "oh, I just started this" entries or personal for-friends-only blogs that the Blogger button brings you. (Edit: I also joined Blog Explosion . If you want to join just click either link - gets me some referrer credit.) Anyway, the point of that was to say, I discovered another fun blog, Why Television Sucks , written by a TV writer. There's a great entry on it on how TV network execs suck the life out of TV screenplays by seizing on one (often irrelevant) detail. This is just an excerpt, go see the original : I pitched a pilot one year about my family... The twist was, that because of my amazing Mother's sense of

Call the fashion police

If the world's ugliest dress doesn't appeal to you, you can try this top by Alexandre Herchcovitch. I understand designers at fashion shows have to try to stand out and can't just do a little black dress, but isn't there a limit to the silliness? What is in the water at the Sao Paulo fashion show? And clearly the combination witch/cowboy hat doesn't go with the top. Though Lord knows what would. (Via Manolo's Shoe Blog , which also had this funny take on Hong Kong Fashion Week .)

Internet Timewasters

Apparently, there's a pro wrestler called the Sandman whose schtick involves carrying a weapon known as the Singapore Cane. For some reason that makes me laugh. Other random fun bits: via BoingBoing , how tall are you compared to famous people ? I hadn't realised Barry Manilow was a six-footer... Also via BoingBoing, the world's ugliest dress . Seriously. It looks like the designer ran out of ideas and sewed a bunch of cloth napkins together... And we could use a weatherman like this over here - would sure liven up the constant "showers over several areas in the late morning and early afternoon, temperatures ranging from 24 to 32 degrees Celsius" forecast.

Another Slapdash production

Just got back from DJing at a dragon boat race benefitting tsunami relief. ( Event flyer ) Was a bit surprised, they said they had a CD player so I just assumed it would just involve supplying a bit of background music, but it turned out they'd rented a whole sound system package including proper DJ CD players; if I'd known I'd have prepared a more house-oriented set. Oh well. Nothing fancy today (here's the set list ), but it was good fun in the sun for a good cause. Good to get these fingers back on the decks - haven't DJed in forever.

Heroin is so passe

Apparently Kate Moss is dating Pete Doherty of the Libertines . So the icon of 'heroin chic' is dating the heroin addict ? Must be the skinniest celebrity couple around.

Animated discussions

Some bits on animation, cartoons, and comics: More on the Polar Express and why the motion capture sapped the life out of the live-action (relates to the " uncanny valley " concept) Some conservative groups are challenging Spongebob Squarepants , saying that he was featured in a 'pro-homosexual video' that promoted a "tolerance pledge" that included tolerance of sexual identities. Only trouble is, as the New York Times notes, "the video has appeared on television networks, and nothing in it or its accompanying materials refers to sexual identity. The pledge, borrowed from the Southern Poverty Law Center, is not mentioned on the video and is available only on the group's Web site" (cue standard animation "wawk-wawk-wawk" embarrassment-sound) The Fantastic Four movie trailer is out! I like the Fantastic Four - always wanted to be Mr Fantastic - but the trailer really does nothing for me. And the tagline is incredibly chee

Law & Order

I'm intrigued by these reports of the final appearance of Elisabeth Rohm (aka ADA Southerlyn) leaving Law & Order - in her last scene, Rohm/Southerlyn just goes "is it because I'm a lesbian?" And that's it. Bizarre. I know L&O usually stays out of its characters' private lives and just drops in random nuggets - even in all the seasons what do we really know about ADA McCoy's daughter? - but as a conclusion it's really out of left field. A lesbian ex machina, so to speak. Dagnabit, no L&O here in Singapore (only Special Victims Unit , its weak horny cousin). So now I'll only learn what happened after from the Inane 1 . Edit: Tara on When Tara Met Blog notes that she met a producer or director on L&O who said that Rohm "couldn't act and was hard to get along with, which is why she [was] being written off the show". Interesting. 1 Inane: pronounced In - nuh - ne'. e.g. "How do you log on to the Inane

Name that object

Another thing with multiple names, in the vein of sub/submarine/hoagie/grinder: the winter knit hat (aka beanie, ski hat, toboggan, toboggan hat, toque...)

Don't follow me

This new rel="nofollow" link tag introduced by Google to prevent comment spam is a great idea - and not just for preventing comment spam. As Robert Scoble notes , as a blogger I now have a way to link to things without increasing their Google rank - useful when I want to cite something egregious, pathetic, or otherwise despicable. Amazing how Google got all the major blogging firms to cooperate, not just its own Blogger but also Six Apart , WordPress, MSN Spaces, and the lot. Now will the other search engines (MSN, Yahoo! etc) respect "nofollow"? Edit: yup, according to the MSN Search and Yahoo! Search blogs, they will. I didn't know all search teams had blogs. Edit again: what's to prevent people using "nofollow" to avoid 'leaking' out Google PageRank?

Party On Plastic

Via Majikthise , Lego P/Funk - tear the roof off the sucker!

Such Great Heights

An elegy to the vanishing local post office in the UK , and the story of Singapore Post's attempts to move into financial services . Clearly the postal services are dealing with the need to reinvent.

The A380

A diagram of the new A380 from Scripting News , for you flight buffs out there. Hey, two of my best friends are now in the employ of Singapore Airlines and Emirates, so I gotta keep up. The fact that it has a) an air-conditioning plant; b) a restaurant and bar; and c) a lift / elevator are all ridiculous. Singapore Air's going to be the first to get them, so I'm hoping I'll get to board one sometime...

Pop Goes the Weasel

At the counter at Times the Bookstore today I flipped through The Wives of Bath , a chick-lit novel by Weny Holden that had the distinction of being named after my favourite of the Canterbury Tales ("Experience, though noon auctoritee..."), which was why I flipped through it in the first place. This was not, I'm sad to say, Susan Swan's more distinguished novel of the same title, which eventually was made into a film I really liked, Lost and Delirious . The weird thing is, Lost and Delirious was the very film that was bugging me, as its name eluded me for the whole of this morning (I was just going "what's that film about those girls in boarding school called?"), and looking up that Susan Swan link reminded me of the film. Yay, one less nagging trivia question in my mind. Hey, Mischa Barton was in that movie! But I digress. The point is, the Wives of Bath page I flipped to had the words to "Pop Goes the Weasel", which I've never k

Vampire in Birmingham

Okay, the idea that there's a vampire stalking Birmingham is yet another urban legend ... Stuart Jeffries argues in the Guardian that there's a human "need" for such balderdash. Frankly, my memory of Brum is that its city centre is a nightmare in itself, at least in terms of architecture and urban design (admittedly there were already signs of improving) - ring roads galore! Update: the Birmingham police have arrested a man suspected of biting 3 people and hence sparking off these rumours.

Mass customisation

One thing I always found strange about many old sci-fi shows is that they predicted a future of mass uniformity: the common uniforms on Star Trek , for instance. But the 21st century is here, and clearly what people want seems to be customised, personalised items. Now you can even get customised M&Ms .

Bouncy bouncy

Want a seriously powerful pogo stick ?

Hail the Baffled Kings

Looking through my blogroll, I just realised that both Snog Blog and the Minor Fall, the Major Lift are back from their remission... yay!

Going underground

I love subway systems - looking at their maps, their networks - and this is a lovely set of photos of the beautiful Moscow Metro stations .

Tiger Cup Final, 2nd leg: Singapore 2 Indonesia 1

Last week, we landed in Jakarta at about 9pm, and saw a huge crowd of agitated people around the "Hotel Reservations" room. So I wondered what was going on - did someone screw up and lose a whole tour group's reservations? Inched closer to take a peek - turned out the whole bunch was crowding around a tiny TV showing the first leg of the Tiger Cup final, where Indonesia was losing badly. And today, I saw the first-ever capture of an international trophy at the National Stadium. Nice. Overall Tiger Cup thoughts: Casmir always seems so slow - don't know where he got his rep for speed. Itimi Dickson, on the other hand, has pace... Indra's goal had a great finish... Lionel Lewis was clearly the player of the tournament, without him Singapore wouldn't even have made it past the group stages... why can't Singapore ever keep a nice clean sheet? we clearly have a good defence, but it seems to get complacent at times... but it would be churlish to complain to

Kinsey and Meet the Fockers reviews

My reviews of Kinsey and Meet the Fockers are up. A sampling... Kinsey is Bill Condon's biopic of pioneering sexologist Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson), harkening back to the bad ol' days of the 1940s, when - to put it bluntly - nobody knew anything. Meet the Fockers promises a lot, especially with its powerhouse cast, but ultimately it's like having your parents knocking on your door during a moment of passion - lots of great build-up, only to have a disappointing climax.

Civil War spam

Spam that (American) Civil War soldiers would have received had the technology been available (and had Spam the canned meat been invented for which spam could be named): ENGORGE YOUR MALE ORGAN BE IN RECEIPT OF DEPICTIONS OF HUSSIES! and that all-time classic: "Kind SIR, I am currently in the possession of the Estate of the late Joseph Smith, Esquire, keeper of many Fair Plantations in Fair Georgia. I had dispatched a courier with haste only to find that he had fallen in the recent calamity without making a WILL. I plead with you that, as a gentleman of good standing, you should stand in the stead of Mr Smith's heirs in the claiming of the Estate. I await your response with an address by which you may be contacted." (Inspired by McSweeney's E-mail shorthand for Civil War soldiers bit)

Tsunami-related scams

Beware of tsunami-related e-mail scams ... just a variation of the Nigerian 409 scam. I think it's despicable that people would stoop so low as to exploit tragedy this way.

Fun to stay

Turns out Felipe Rose, the American Indian guy in the Village People, really was an American Indian, and donated a gold single of "Y.M.C.A." to the National Museum of the American Indian (registration required; use BugMeNot if you want). This sentence cracks me up: And the museum happily and ceremoniously accepted it (a Lakota prayer was sung first, then everyone danced to "Y.M.C.A."). Fortunately, the museum had the sense to store the single in its cultural resources centre, rather than displaying it as a representative of American Indian culture. Funny how a song about gay men cruising for anonymous sex became a massive pop hit.

The power of the earthquake

According to NASA, the earthquake was powerful enough to decrease the length of each day: [Dr Richard Gross and Dr Benjamin Fong Chao] found the earthquake decreased the length of day by 2.68 microseconds. Physically this is like a spinning skater drawing arms closer to the body resulting in a faster spin. ( Jet Propulsion Lab link ) Scary, isn't it?

Hippos and tortoises, oh my!

Another tale of inter-species friendships , this one of a baby hippo rescued during the tsunami who became close friends with the giant tortoise in the zoo he was put in. The two look cute together:

Words of the Year

Jesse Sheidlower (editor-at-large of the OED) writes about the Linguistic Society of America's annual convention - specifically, the 'fun' part where the American Dialect Society chooses the Word of the Year. The overall winner was "red state, blue state, purple state" - a convenient expression of the political dichotomy of America. More interesting words populate the full list of winners (strangely not linked to by the Sheidlower article). Dan Savage 's campaign for " santorum " (careful where you click that link) seems to have worked, since it won for "most outrageous". Also interesting that the Chinese luanqibazhao was nominated under "least likely to succeed" - I can see why, those aren't easy consonant sounds to get across the tongue. Heck, it was even spelt wrongly as luanqibaozhao in the nomination, so its chances of success seem rather remote. Tangential link: Double-tongued Word Wrester , a blog on neologis

Thai meteorology head reinstated

It's hard being a Cassandra figure ...

Surowiecki and Gladwell

Just noticed that Slate now has a discussion between two of my favourite writers, James Surowiecki and Malcolm Gladwell, on decision-making. Well worth reading. When do you get better decisions by distributing, as opposed to having a single savant make the decisions?

Best Singapore Blog

As expected, Mr Brown wins the Best Singapore Blog award. Congratulations to him and to all my fellow finalists!

Return to Singapore

Back from Jakarta, and just sent the Girlfriend off back to America. What a hectic crazy few days. Jakarta was absolutely teeming with people, with people filling every conceivable space as though obeying some law of human Brownian motion . A flurry of images: kids playing under highway bridges, goats eating the grass, and the stark contrast of simple roadside stalls amassing outside a spanking clean Carrefour. And traffic, traffic, traffic far as the eye can see. With cars three abreast on two-lane roads, the macet was immensely frustrating - especially for people who had weddings to help out in. But how authentic would a Jakarta trip be without hours stuck in traffic, eh? Am still nursing allergies from the pollution. Nice to have a chance to use my sparing Malay vocabulary though, lama benar tak bercakap Bahasa Melayu (or Bahasa Indonesia)...

Off to Jakarta

Meantimes, I'll be off to Jakarta over the weekend. Be good y'all.

Seth Mnookin and heroin

Seth Mnookin writes in Slate about conquering his heroin addiction . Mnookin's a good guy (full disclosure: he's a former Crimson editor who held the music-reviewer role that I would later inherit, and he's a fellow member of Sons of Sam Horn ), and I was shocked when I first read about his addiction story in the Harvard University Gazette . Nice to see his turnaround. Time to make New Year's resolutions, methinks. Like resolving to actually make resolutions on time, instead of procrastinating...


Baidu (China's biggest search engine) has released its list of top 10 searches in various categories in 2004 (the link's all in Chinese, so don't bother if you don't have the Chinese character add-on installed at home - I don't, so I had to look it up at work). The top 10 "why" searches are quite interesting: Why am I always the one that gets hurt? Why join the Party? Why live? Why are you having an affair? Why do we need to innovate? Why do we need to pay taxes? Why do we need to go to college? Why can't I get online? Why do we need to study? Why do we need to learn English? (link from Sinosplice)

The Apple Graphing Calculator story

The new work year has begun - can hardly believe it's 2005 already. Anyway, about work, ever been so committed to a project you would do it even after you weren't working for the company? Here's a prime example of skunkworks ...


Sandra Bullock gives $1 million to tsunami relief . Nice.

Another heroic dog

I love hero-dog stories. Like this dog that saved a boy from the tsunami . While water lapped at Sangeeta [the mother]'s heels as she rushed up a hill, the scruffy dog named Selvakumar ducked into the hut after Dinakaran [the 7-year-old boy]. Nipping and nudging, he did everything in his canine power to get the boy up the hill. Guess he deserves his nap...

The evil that men do

This is disgusting : people taking advantage of the tsunami for criminality - sexual abuse of the afflicted in Sri Lanka, looting of the houses of those known to be missing in Sweden. Special circles of hell should be reserved for the lowlifes who perpetrate these crimes.


Happy (sombre) new year to one and all. For a brief interlude from the news, here's Pac-Mondrian .