Showing posts from July, 2005

Food crisis in Niger

There's a growing food crisis in Niger ( pronounced nee-ZHER , incidentally): [France] said it would triple food aid to 4.6 million euros ($5.6 million) this year for Niger, where starvation threatens the lives of tens of thousands of children and has left millions of adults hungry after drought and locusts destroyed crops. Very sad that malaria and diarrhoea may lead to many children's deaths. There's a UK Disaster Emergencies Committee appeal going round. Will make some calls to the Red Cross and World Vision to figure out if there's any way for Singaporeans to donate around here. Edit: I should note that my calls seemed to indicate that there was no way to donate directly to the Niger crisis in Singapore, although of course funds will wend their way towards Niger.

Linksfest: I do not want what I haven't got... oh wait, I do

Sundays were meant for leisure reading... Grammar.police on American Apparel's CEO Dov Charney's hands-on approach ... and we mean hands-on. (Here are the American Apparel models , for people who just want to gawk.) New Razr phone coming up, the "Q" . I still want the Sony Ericsson K750i , the one with the autofocus camera. Nick Hornby interviews Bruce Springsteen . I tend to agree with TMFTML , footnotes aren't really the best style for Hornby. Since we're talkin' about the Boss, that brings to mind "Thunder Road", which brings to mind Thunder Road , which is a film mentioned in the nice long feature on director Jim Jarmusch in today's New York Times Magazine. Here's a good quote: "Throughout his life, he has courted and cultivated influences and mentors, and though many of his mentors have now died, they seem to float around his brain like wise, stubborn, pontificating ghosts. 'I really miss Joe Strummer,'' h

Life is Elsewhere

Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have travelled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination. - Jhumpa Lahiri, “The Third and Final Continent” So this weekend I'm shifting with the family to a new place in Kembangan, which seems as good a reason to allude to a Kundera title as any. Moving always seems to invoke a whole flood of emotions. Once you spend enough time in any one space, once you hang your hat and claim it as yours, you realise it's not just that you occupy the space - the physical space ends up slowly, through some dim process of accretion, occupying your psychic space, infusing random corners of the mind with associations and memories. Which leaves me knowing two geographies: the one of physical corporeal dimensions, and my personal psychogeography, defined by imprints of the past. My essay on leaving Harvard after graduation

Greek Tragedy

Congratulations to Stephanie Klein, whose blog was featured in a very flattering article in the New York Times as one of the "top 1%" of blogs (apparently if your Technorati rank is around 2000, that's the top 1%, or so Sifty is quoted as saying). She was generally quite pleased: At the end of the day, this isn't about attention, an abundance or a dearth of it. It's about doing what I love. Being recognized for it feels extraordinary, it does, but really doing it, actually writing, is what really matters to me. Getting paid to do the thing I love most in life is a dream. The kind where when you wake up, you try really hard to fall back into just so you can ride it out a little longer. (From Greek Tragedy ) What struck me about Klein's post was what she wrote about the article's effect - or lack thereof - on her self-image, comparing the onset of "celebrity" to when she became thinner: When I lost a lot of weight, it took a long time for my brain

Dinner with Tyler Cowen

I recently had dinner with Tyler Cowen of Marginal Revolution , the economics blog that's tucked into my blogroll - he also writes for the Avian Flu blog . Cowen's an economics professor at George Mason University , but was in Singapore to research his upcoming book on American regional food. So fellow blogger Michelle and I took him out to dinner at Maxwell Road Hawker Centre to experience Singaporean regional cuisine - as you can see, on the table were our finished plates of (clockwise from bottom right) oh luat , chicken rice, Foochow oyster cake, claypot chicken, and XO fish soup (the best thing we had - clearly Michelle was helping herself). Got to reminisce about college days with Tyler, as well as talk with him about the best churrascuria in the world (somewhere in southern Brazil, apparently), the slow death of small regionals sodas such as Moxie and Kickapoo , the wonder of seafood in small shacks in Louisiana (made me think of Uglesich ), and, Michelle's boyfriend

Pirates of the Caribbean casting - ARRR!

Avast ye maties! There's an open casting call for extras for Pirates of the Caribbean II and III in LA this Saturday: Pirates: Extreme characters and hideously unattractive types, ages 18-50. Odd body shapes or very lean to extremely skinny. Missing teeth, wandering eyes and serial killer looks with real long hair & beards. Wigs & makeup are not what we're looking for. We also need little people, very large sumo wrestler types, extremely tall or extremely short people, albinos, amputees. Any size or shape that is NOT average is best. All ethnicities. Mostly men, very few women. Asian Men & Women: We need tons of Asian people of all ages and types to play Townspeople, Shopkeepers, Prostitutes, Pirates etc. All shapes, sizes and ages over 18. (Link via Indri , whom I'm ripping off this week) I love how they're all very specific about the way the pirate extras should look and then for the other types of extras they just go "oh, any random Asian will do&q

Payola 'scandal'

Eliot Spitzer continues his run as the crusading Attorney-General of New York - this time, he sniffs payola: "Our investigation shows that, contrary to listener expectations that songs are selected for airplay based on artistic merit and popularity, air time is often determined by undisclosed payoffs to radio stations and their employees," Spitzer said. In one instance in July 2001, Buffalo radio station executive David Universal and a guest were flown to New York City in exchange for his adding the Jennifer Lopez song "I'm Real" to the playlist at WKSE. ... In one e-mail, an exec trying to promote the band Audioslave wrote to a radio programmer: "What do I have to do to get Audioslave on WKSS this week?!!? Whatever you can dream up I can make it happen." ( The New York Post ) All well and good, but, as Gawker points out , no one could think "I'm Real" made it to the charts on artistic merit.

The Simpsons, the Math Instinct, and Borders

Exchanged my expiring Citibank credit card points for a Borders voucher which I promptly flipped around on the Simpsons Season 5 DVD set. Woo hoo! I just love listening to the commentary - so much effort goes into each episode, and unless you look up episodes on SNPP sometimes it's easy to let references and allusions slip by, not to mention in-jokes (characters that look like writers, that sort of thing). While in Borders, I flipped through The Math Instinct , an interesting book by Keith Devlin (NPR's "Math Guy") that argues that most animals, humans included, innately have some computational ability - dogs, for instance, can solve the problem of catching balls thrown into a lake in a way that would require "knowing" calculus. The title, of course, is a parallel to Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct (itself a book I can't recommend highly enough); in both cases the books challenge what we think we know about how we learn, although Pinker's

The Man With the Golden Face

Another great mugshot from the Smoking Gun : Man gets arrested for abusing intoxicants after he was caught with dilated pupils - and spray paint all over his face. "But how could you tell I was sniffing spray paint, officer?"

Old friends (bookends)

Some days I like to check in on old college friends' blogs, and so I was following Baratunde Thurston 's ascent as a liberal comedian , whereupon I chanced upon a link to singer/songwriter Mieka Pauley's site . Good to see she's still singing, and apparently doing well... I met her way back in '02, when she opened for Glen Phillips (formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket) and did this awesome version of "Angel From Montgomery". Such a talent - she's got the guitar chops of a folk singer, but she can belt it like a soul singer. Mieka Pauley MP3s - try "The Way It Is".

Paul Krassner and Scientology

Paul Krassner writes about Scientology . Just that combination of words is enough to make me want to read - Krassner, premier satirist of his generation, taking on the ripe subject of Scientology. But in this case it does sound like he was being serious about what Scientology said - still makes for a funny series of events: In 1971, I announced in an ad the features that would be included in the 13th-anniversary issue of The Realist . Among them, "The Rise of Sirhan Sirhan in the Scientology Hierarchy." The Church of Scientology proceeded to sue me for libel; they wanted $750,000 for those nine words, the title of an article that I had not yet written. The Realist was famous for its extreme satire (back in 1967, "The Parts Left Out of the Kennedy Book", most famously, described, um, an act of Presidential necrophilia; no less than Joseph Heller said "You practically write Catch 22 with every issue") so clearly the Sirhan Sirhan thing was a joke. Scientol

What's your humour style?

1. It is silly to put personality quizzes on one's blog 2. This one said I'm like 3 of my comedic idols (Jon Stewart, Woody Allen, Ricky Gervais), plus it guessed (correctly) that I loved "the Office" . 3. Ergo, I'm breaking the first rule. 4. I'm an egoist. And hopelessly delusional. (Via waterbones ) the Wit (69% dark, 34% spontaneous, 22% vulgar) your humor style: CLEAN | COMPLEX | DARK You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean you're pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that 'the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat. I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most effort to appreciate, but it's

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - There She Goes, My Beautiful World

I don't know why I haven't written about it when the song's been stuck in my head for months, but might I recommend to you the hyperliterate lyrics and the rollicking tune of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' excellent "There She Goes My Beautiful World" , from the Abattoir Blues / the Lyre of Orpheus double album? John Willmot, penned his poetry riddled with the pox Nabakov wrote on index cards, at a lectern, in his socks St. John of the Cross did his best stuff imprisoned in a box And Johnny Thunders was half alive when he wrote Chinese Rocks Singers that sound gospel enough to take you to heaven back up Cave's distinct gothic voice on lyrics about the necessity of suffering for one's muse - to paraphrase a former Cave collaborator , I just can't get it out of my head. Send that stuff on down to me! Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds site Technorati Tags: music , nickcave

On nannies and class and gender

Rebecca Traister wrote a really good piece in today's Salon on nannies , and how nannies occupy a space of discomfort in people's sense of class and gender identity: The stories are very different, but they both highlight an uncomfortable condition of middle- and upper-class life that we don't like to talk about very much. It's incredibly hard to wrap our heads around the tricky contradictions and muddled ways we view the people -- usually female, with varying degrees of education, money and racial advantages -- who help parents privileged enough to employ them balance the responsibilities of work, social life and child rearing. It's a powder-keg relationship, packed with class, gender and age anxieties, doused with the lighter fluid of psychological transference and jealousy. When it explodes, as it has in these two cases, neither nannies nor mommies nor jilted girlfriends come out looking good. Traister does an excellent job of tying together two nanny stories.

Linksfest: The new pollution

Man opens fake bank . A different kind of robbery. Using Google to write poetry . The Boston Herald asks why Myspace is so popular . (Still using my Friendster account myself.) Non-errors in English , for those who wish to boldly split an infinitive. Posters of various music gigs . Check out this Interpol poster , for a concert on my birthday 2 years ago. Or this great Jon Spencer Blues Explosion / Yeah Yeah Yeahs / Liars one . Technorati Tags: robbery , poetry , myspace , english , music , posters

Other Asian bloggercons

Just as Singapore's own bloggercon took place in DXO, a club, other bloggercons around the region are meeting in interesting locales as well... the Bombay one, true to that city's rich acting tradition, is being held at the Prithvi Theatre at the end of this month, while the Chennai one will take place in the "wonderful and elite Madras Boat Club" . No Wi-Fi in the Madras Boat Club, unfortunately. I think buildings that date back to 1867 in general tend not to have Wi-Fi. (From Global Voices Online , which very graciously featured my post on Xiaxue being hacked . My alma mater's law school seems to be doing a lot in the blogging field...)

Botox for Boxers?

Plastic surgery for dogs grows in popularity in Brazil. He uses Botox to fix inverted eyelashes. He has even tightened the mammillae of a couple of female dogs, whose owners wanted to show them after they had given birth. A dog with a boob job. Now I've seen everything. Well, everything but disguise kits for dogs . (Links via Puptastic )

Am I Hot and Near Your Place of Residence?

Now that Google Maps and Hot Or Not have opened their data to let users create their own apps, someone combined the two of them . Brilliant, eh? Ah, open source.

Pint of bitter, please

Talk about bitter cuckolded husbands .

Mixtape: Music for the Melancholy

There are some days when all you want out of your playlists is melancholy, when you want the drums to hit in slow, when you neither want music to soothe or to heighten, but just to be there, to articulate for you. Which is to say, there are some days when what you want are the tones of Al Green in "For the Good Times": "Blow softly against my window pane late at night Make believe you love me one more time For the good times". Ain't nothing like the Reverend's voice. Some other good songs for my melancholic mixtape: Moby "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" Solomon Burke "Got to Get You Off My Mind" The Velvet Underground "Pale Blue Eyes" Elliott Smith "Miss Misery" Emmylou Harris "You Don't Know Me" (still looking for a recording of the Robert Downey Jr. version from Two Girls and a Guy ) And I still say the more I listen to Outkast's "Hey Ya!", the sadder the lyrics seem. Oh, speaking of Two G

Xiaxue hacked

One of the more well-known Singaporean bloggers, Xiaxue , just had her Blogger account hacked, and over 3000 blog posts deleted. That's, to put it mildly, a shitty thing to do. It's probably even criminal. I know she's controversial and that some people don't like her tone of voice - but to hack into an account and actually delete years of effort and leave a horrible message below? That's disgusting. Fortunately, Blogger backs up everything on Blogspot (I think they backup everything, full stop, since when you publish it goes through their servers), so it seems she'll get everything back. But this is a good moment to remind people to back up their blogs .

Git yer kit off!

Spencer Tunick continues his public nude art series in Tyneside : Spencer Tunick, a 38-year-old New York-based artist who creates and documents installations of large numbers of naked people, must be a man of no mean persuasive powers to have convinced 1,700 Tynesiders that getting up in the dark, stripping off and spending the next three hours with a brisk north-eastern wind whipping round their unmentionables was a good idea. I've been to Newcastle in July. Yeah, it can still get pretty damn cold. But I suppose if you want to contribute to art you have to conquer your fear of shrinkage.

Malaysian restaurants in New York

One of the funnier sights of New York for me when I was working there was Allen Street on the Lower East Side, where, right at one end of the street of restaurant supplies, the Singaporean restaurant Sentosa stood near the Malaysian restaurant Proton Saga. If you're not from either country, that might not be funny, but it's hard to think of two names that are more immediately recognisable as belonging to the respective countries. Plus, besides the amusing naming, the places had great food - tucked away at one end of the LES, they seemed to attract smaller crowds than, say, Penang or Nyonya, but more hardcore diners. Sadly, Sentosa moved out to Flushing a while back (I wouldn't be surprised if it was even better now), and now the Village Voice informs me that Proton Saga has been replaced by a restaurant called Skyway , whose name, while still based on a Malaysian icon (it's the tram that leads to Genting), doesn't quite carry the kick of "Proton Saga" in

Those Carlsberg ads

Random thought: the point of the "no such thing as a quiet beer" Carlsberg ads they show before movies seems to be "Everytime you're about to get lucky, don't open a Carlsberg, otherwise some asses will barge their way into your life".

Quarterly Literary Review Singapore

The July issue of Quarterly Literary Review Singapore is out. Here's some lines from "Quarterly Report No. 2: Central City Waste Incinerator" by Yeow Kai Chai (music reviewer for the Straits Times ), a poem that I thought tangibly tripped off the tongue: the rhythm is a xylophone ribcage bones scat like song folio unfolding unto itself at the cleft of such lavish chin ( Link ) I don't think Toh Hsien-Min, Chief of QLRS , remembers me - we only met a long time ago, and I haven't been really participating actively in the creative writing scene here in Singapore. But I do think QLRS is quite a nice labour of love.

Hang the DJ?

The whole concept of "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" is somewhat bizarre to me - who makes a musical based on songs by the Smiths ? Musical theatre, at least in the West End/Broadway style, often seems to involve a certain detachment between actor/singer and character, whereas the Smiths come across as so intensely personal, even when they're over the top, even when Morrissey is at his most theatrical and melodramatic. It really does sound like a mismatch: "Some Girls" seeks the spirit of the Smiths' songs by transforming them. The arrangements are not for rock band, but for string quartet with electronics. Morrissey's heartsick legato croon is reassigned to four women and two men, who deliver anything from keening, primal unaccompanied wails to swing-era harmonies. ( The New York Times ) I know sometimes shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you'd like to, but perhaps sometimes ideas need halting... Also very disappointing was s


Tom Coates writes about the stoic manner in which Londoners have responded to the bombings . Quintessentially British: "We're going to make it absolutely clear once and for all that this is a city that has been burned to the ground, ravaged by Plague and bombed to hell and will not be moved by these terrorists. And then we're going to get on with our lives. As normal. Full Stop." Technorati Tags: london , bombings

A big hello

By the way, thanks to all those who I met at Saturday's bloggercon, 'twas nice to put faces to the blog handles. So, in alphabetical order, a big hello to Amy , Faith , Faith (whose blog seems especially personal so perhaps I won't link), Grace , Sandra , Scarlett , Sheena , Terz , Tym , and Zhiyang . Um, if I missed you out, I do apologise - just leave a comment and I'll get right on it. Thanks for coming to our humble li'l affair. Same time next year? Incidentally, a potential explanation for fellow panellist Mr Miyagi 's lateness can be found in Japan Today : Ah, blood, drowning, and you still managed to show up pristinely dressed. You are indeed a cunning man, Mr Miyagi. Wax on, wax off. Technorati Tags: , bloggercon , singapore

In praise of speaking

David Hare, playwright extraordinaire, praises public speaking , as opposed to other methods of public discourse: Underlying this patronising conviction that no one person should be given the floor lies the idea that group discussion is more "democratic" than an individual being licensed to hold forth. My experience is the opposite. ... When one person speaks and is encouraged to develop his or her ideas, then it is we, the audience, who provide the challenge. We provide the democracy. In each of our hearts and minds, we absorb, judge and come to our own conclusions. The dialectic is, thankfully, not between a group of equally ignorant people thrashing out a series of arbitrary subjects about which they know little and care less. It is between an informed individual who, we hope, has thought long and hard about their own area of specialisation, and an audience which is ready honestly to assess what the speaker has to say. Democracy, like everything else, thrives on preparatio


Ruth Walker (who runs Verbal Energy , the Christian Science Monitor 's language blog, and with whom I've had a short e-mail exchange on the transition of "shop" from an intransitive to a transitive verb) mellows on elisions such as "gonna" , noting that there is a clear semantic difference between "gonna" in the sense of "about to perform an action" and "going to" in the sense of "about to reach a location" - no one ever uses" gonna" in the latter context. Will Smith, for instance, sang about "going to Miami", not "gonna Miami". And my apologies for referencing a terrible Will Smith song.

Bloggers.SG - roundup

So Bloggers.SG 2005, the first Singaporean bloggercon, went off quite well... the above pic is of the queue to enter the club. A queue! That we were not expecting. It was really great to see a random germ of an idea turn into a big shebang with proper speakers and bellydancers and sponsorship and all... And the fireworks at the end of it all were awesome! (Thank you, National Day Parade rehearsals!) As those of you who attended know, I sadly was mobilised in the middle of the conference and had to rush back home to throw on a uniform, grab my gear, and report to Selarang Camp. Which meant I had to pass up the chance to moderate a legal panel which, by all accounts, went great. I hope those of you who were in attendance had your questions answered, and your answers questioned. It was great fun helping to organise the thing, and also great fun putting faces to the blog names. Thanks to those of you who stopped by to say hi - always good to know someone reads this blog, I appreciate it. M

Blogging and the Law: Bloggers.SG Panel

For tomorrow's Bloggers.SG blogging conference at DXO, I'm moderating the "Blogging and the Law" panel that starts at 4pm. I am very pleased that we have two major panellists to speak on the topic, Daniel Koh from Rajah & Tann and Tan Min-Liang from Tan & Tan Partnership. Their full bios are here , but here's a brief summary: Daniel Koh is a partner in the firm of Rajah & Tann. Daniel is also the editor of The Law and Practice of Injunctions in Singapore , published by Sweet & Maxwell Asia and has also co-authored the chapters on Intellectual Property, Defamation and Employment Disputes. He has a broad based practice and a large part of his work includes claims for corporate fraud, breach of contract claims and resolution of commercial disputes Tan Min-Liang is a technology lawyer with the boutique IT/IP firm of Tan & Tan Partnership. He has chaired, made keynote speeches and sat on expert panels at conferences and international seminars,

Linksfest: Detritus of my mind

Gödel and the Nature of Mathematical Truth . (I promise, not all the links will be this heavy.) Ingenious uses for condoms in an Indian town. (See what I mean?) The idea of Celine Dion being booed on Live 8 is very amusing to me. The Cock, perhaps the most in-your-face name for a gay bar ever, closes down in New York. Actually, the Cock is not totally shutting down. It's moving into the Hole, another bar. The joke possibilities are endless. Technorati Tags: truth , condoms , live8 , nyc , bars coming right up!

Some advertising for the upcoming Singapore bloggers conference - this Sat, 16 July, 2pm, at DXO (here's the NTUC Club press release on the subject). I'm moderating the legal panel at 4pm, where a couple of noted lawyers answer questions about the law and blogging. Wow, when we started this was supposed to be an informal 50-person session. Lord knows how it grew to this size.

Songs About Georgia

Ray Charles' "Georgia On My Mind" and Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia" are absolutely spectacular songs (few backup singers do backup like the Pips... that "woo-woo!" bit never sounds worn out). They're not even necessarily full-blown sad, except insofar as nostalgia and longing for places and loved ones is always somewhat sad. But somehow, heard back-to-back in the dark of the night they're quite possibly the sound of the broken soul weeping into the last order of whiskey. The wearing down of dreams in "Midnight Train"; the unsettledness of the "no peace I find" line of "Georgia On My Mind" - somehow that delicate mix of hopefulness and exhaustion tilts differently depending on when one listens to the songs...

Arial v. Helvetica

Mark Simonson writes about the differences between Arial and Helvetica (and Grotesque): The "a" in Helvetica has a tail; Arial does not. Also, the bowl of the "a" flows into the stem like a backwards "s"; the bowl of Arial's "a" simply intersects the stem with a slight curve. (Interestingly, the Grotesque "a" has a tail, just like Helvetica. The bolder weights of Helvetica have no tails, an inconsistency that bothers some people. Maybe it bothered Monotype, too.) Arial's "a" has always seemed a little badly drawn to me, but maybe it's just me. (Link via A Capital Idea ) On my Lotus Notes, my "Default Sans Serif" is Helvetica, and when I copy text from Word it sometimes pastes in as Arial, and the differences, while not immediately apparent, are immediately palpable: a slight smooshing of the letters, and odd little inconsistent curlicues. I always felt Arial looked slightly "off", but it's

That Not So Fresh Feeling

Scented panties and underwear that, um, enhances a guy's look ? The Village Voice wonders whether all this underwear innovation is any sort of progress. My question is, how embarrassing is it to be the model for Melon's scented panties ? "Okay, honey, look sexy - now, I want you to act like you've finally got rid of that smell in your crotch!"

Elevations 280: Bentley Rhythm Ace and the Freestylers

After some discussions on Bloggers.SG 2005 , some of us folks headed over to the Elevations 280 party being held at Market Street carpark, where we caught Bentley Rhythm Ace and the Freestylers. BRA were lots of goofy fun as always - they played what sounded to be a mashup of Garbage's "Androgyny" and Blur's "Girls and Boys" (obvious connections between the songs there), their own "Bentley's Gonna Sort You Out!", and a remix of "Billie Jean" among other things. "Bentley's Gonna Sort You Out!" was one of the songs that kept me company as I travelled through England and Wales way back in 1998, when I only had 2 CDs with me, and it felt oddly nostalgic to hear that "I love it" refrain. Big beat's died out, pretty much, but this set was a fun throwback to that halcyon pre-millennial musical moment when everyone was listening to goofy, over-the-top songs. I ended up digging out the BRA FSUK3 mix album that I ha

Speeding up Windows XP

Ways I optimised my computer on Saturday: Enabled Windows XP Prefetch only for my boot files instead of all files (using MajorGeek's Prefetch Clean and Control ) Disabled all unnecessary Windows XP services (using the Elder Geek's guide ) Switched from Trillian to Miranda , which uses less memory, plus allows me to put up a nice picture of Coconut as my background. Things seem good - certainly my hard drive seems to be accessed less, which indicates in my mind that there's less call for virtual memory. 256 MB of RAM doesn't go as far these days as it used to...

Stating the obvious

I gotta say, " Martha Stewart hates house arrest " is one of the funniest headlines I've read, and I'm not a Martha-basher. What, she was supposed to be having a ball?


Moodgrapher graphs changes in those Livejournal "I'm feeling..." moods over the last 7 days, so you get a sense of how LJers are feeling. Here's the chart for "horny" for instance: (Some server outage over the Fourth of July, which explains the weird shape of the graph then.) Looks like Friday nights are made for lovin'...

London bombings and the West End

The Guardian's arts blog reports on the impact of the London bombings on the West End : For the first time since the second world war, every performance in London's West End was cancelled yesterday. With police advising people to stay out of the capital, most other venues cancelled live performances yesterday evening. Today however, London's vibrant cultural life is slowly returning to normal. The Barbican's Mostly Mozart festival season will begin as scheduled tonight; the arts venue have decided to make the performance - of Haydn's Creation, free of charge (space permitting), and will refund ticket holders. There's something about that stoic life-hasn't-changed-for-us, show-must-go-on attitude that's quite admirable. Diamond Geezer , a London blogger whose blog I stumbled upon one day and who's remained in my blogroll since, put it really well in reposting his post after the Madrid bombings: London's been here many times before, of course, and

Baseball, softball no longer in Olympics

Sadly, Singapore had to be the site of baseball's removal from the Olympics : SINGAPORE -- Baseball and softball were tossed out of the Olympic program for the 2012 London Games -- the first sports cut from the Summer Games in 69 years. The International Olympic Committee then rejected the five sports wanting to get in. I understand cutting sports for other sports. I wrote last month that baseball was likely to fall out in favour of rugby , and indeed, as far as world popularity is concerned, rugby might even be a better choice, what with the Rugby World Cup being apparently the third-most watched sporting event in the world and all (although I need a more accurate source for that stat). But to cut two sports just for cutting's sake without replacing them seems ridiculous. Technorati Tags: baseball , softball , olympics

More on the blasts

Tony Blair: "It is particularly barbaric that this has happened on a day when people are meeting to try to help the problems of poverty in Africa, the long term problems of climate change. It is also reasonably clear it is designed and aimed to coincide with the opening of the G8. There will be time later to talk about this. "Our determination to defend our values and ways of life is greater than their desire to create death and destruction and impose extremism on the world. What ever they do it is our determination that they shall not succeed." Apparently Leicester Square just got hit . And here's the double-decker that got split into two. Incredibly, incredibly sad. London Bomb Blasts on Flickr Technorati Tags: london , bombing , blasts

London hit by blasts

Very, very sad. May be a G8-related terrorist attack? Scanning the Guardian News Blog furiously for updates: 1110 PA is reporting fears of "many" dead after a series of what are now, patently, terrorist bomb blasts around the city. Eyewitness reports talk of terrible injuries, and "many fatalities". Bastards. All these familiar areas: what person who's been in London, even for a bit, hasn't been through King's Cross or Liverpool Street? I stayed off the Edgware Road for a few months... all these memories of roaming through Russell Square. Major tourist spots, major commuter interchanges at 8.49am on a weekday. Must be chaos now. And to think, just hours ago the city was rejoicing in its Olympic victory. What kind of evil drives people to this? Technorati Tags: london , bombing , blasts

Takeru Kobayashi, All-World Conquerer

For the fifth year, Kobayashi utterly destroyed all competition to win the annual Fourth of July hot-dog eating championship - 49 hot dogs, 12 minutes. Slightly off his 53.5 dogs last year, but still, the man's a legend. And check out the fact that he still has those abs: As expected, tiny Sonya Thomas , all of 105 lbs, came in 2nd (37 hot dogs). I don't know what it is with these two East Asian folks dominating competitive eating, although apparently Kobayashi drinks something to "clear the system". The IOC's in town to select the site of the 2012 Olympics - now if competitive eating could get on the menu of Olympic sports maybe Singapore would stand a chance at winning some medals... My own personal record would either be the time I ate 5 lobsters (yeah, pitiful compared to Thomas' 38) or the time I ate 40 McNuggets and a plate of fried rice. Some guy in the army said he'd buy me another pack of 20 another time if I could finish off 20 McNuggets, but a

Diner photo

Here's a photo I took a while back of the Court Square Diner in Long Island City, Queens, near the Citicorp Tower, with the 7 (I think) in the background. Was on my way to see either PS1 or the Socrates Sculpture Park. Random diners, chain link fences, elevated mass transit; ah.

A Hard Day's Night

Yesterday afternoon, I watched A Hard Day's Night , Richard Lester's chronicle of early Beatlemania and the Ur-pop film, the prototype for the "get me to the stage on time" band movie. How strange to see the Fab Four with that retrograde insouciance, before the cares of the world took over (or perhaps before Al Aronowitz introduced them to Dylan ), before snarls and quarrels and 'artistic differences'. Just four likely lads from Liverpool, shot beautifully by Gil Taylor in crisp black and white, women in pursuit, the world lain out at their feet. I'll write a full review of the film soon, but I just thought I'd get those thoughts out there first. Technorati Tags: beatles , rock , music , film

The div:clear tags problem fixed

Oh frabulous joy! Blogger has now fixed the problem of the div:clear tags - here's the permanent solution . The folks at Blogger explain it this way: Before launch, the templates passed our tests but because of the open nature of Blogger templates, we weren't sure which kinds of template modifications were going to be affected. ( Link ) To me this sounds like another way of saying they were in such a rush to launch Blogger Images that they didn't test the thing properly, given that it broke the layout of the Bluebird template, one of Blogger's own templates. In any case I really don't think code should be added to blogs surreptitiously: some warning should've been given. What was it needed for, anyway? Flickr manages to post to Blogger blogs with alignment without screwing up layouts; heck, I've done it manually myself . And I wish there was an option for "no alignment"; now there's a nifty little "upload picture" button on Blogger,

Fourth of July wishes

To my American visitors - happy Independence Day! Time to bring out the BBQs, sling on those "Kiss the Cook" aprons, and throw some burgers on the grill. Man, I miss the Fourth of July festivities and fireworks displays. I remember walking with my friends along Memorial Drive in Cambridge, Mass., down by the Charles River, trying desperately to find a good spot to watch the fireworks from. In the end our view was blocked, but the spectacle was still something worth seeing, and the seeming bonhomie and goodwill of most people made the atmosphere fun. I also remember, a couple of years later, walking past Bellevue to the East River, craning my neck above the crowd on FDR Drive to see the fireworks. I was supposed to go to some Fourth of July party (I can't even remember whose it was now) but the general arrangements weren't very clear and I got lazy so I just walked down from my apartment to get a look in. Proust can keep his madeleines; this is what the smell of a burg

Linksfest: Where does the time go?

The moment I read the article title on (" Hairless pooch wins ugly dog contest ") I knew the winner would be a Chinese crested . I didn't realise just how ugly it would be . (That last link is to an actual picture of the ugliest dog, and may put you off meals or induce vomiting. You have been warned.) There Are No Male Groupies : an old piece I recall reading 5 years back, but still fun. The life of Leila Hadley Luce , author, namer of NyQuil, and woman about town. If you haven't been on the bandwagon yet, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah . Three MP3s to download, including "Upon This Tidal Wave of Blood", which I thought sounded really good when I played it at my DJ gig last week.

Spice Odyssey - Singapore Food Festival opening

Last night, I attended Spice Odyssey , the opening event of the Singapore Food Festival organised by at-sunrice , the culinary institute. The event involved traipsing around Fort Canning Park learning about the different uses of spices in cultures and history at various stations, each manned by Johnson & Wales (at least, I think they were all from Johnson & Wales) students here on some sort of exchange programme. Lots of fun. There were stations on how expensive spices were in the past, an introduction to making your own 5-spice powder (fun with mortars and pestles), using spices for cosmetics and so on, and each station was all accompanied by some little tapas/amuse bouche-style things to try. Mmm. Unfortunately, at the station on "spices as intoxicants", I ended up chewing on entirely too much betel nut methinks. This being my first attempt at the thing, I'm not quite sure I got why people are so crazy about betel nut (besides the fact that in Taiwan betel nut g

Let's Get Personal

Hal R. Varian writes in the New York Times on Günter J. Hitsch, Ali Hortaçsu, and Dan Ariely's research on online dating: Start with the self-reported characteristics. There was a strong Lake Wobegon effect in the data, with only 1 percent of the population admitting to having "less than average" looks. Even so, only a third actually posted a photo. The reported weights of the women were substantially less than national averages and about 30 percent were blonde. The reported weights of the men were consistent with national averages and only about 12 percent were blond. What are people looking for? The most important variable, for both men and women, is looks. Furthermore, posting a photo is a big help: women who post photos receive about twice as many e-mail messages as those who do not, even when they report that they have "average looks." The stated goals for using the service make a big difference in how many e-mail messages are received. Men who are &