Friday, July 28, 2006

Bright eyed and bushy tailed.


There's a point in time when you cross the line from peppy to downright creepy.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

And this is really a surprise?

Some parents are using letters from police concerning their children's late-night activities to get the courts to declare their children beyond parental control.

Director of the society's Youth Development Centre, Ms Carol Balhetchet, said: 'Some parents who have received the letters have come to us to ask what they should do. A few of them have been thinking of declaring their children beyond parental control and some of them have decided to take the letters and go to court to get the court order.'

One wonders if the escalation of the problem of teenage delinquincy has, perhaps a smidgen, a correlation to the decline of good parenting.

Gone are the days when parents would wallop the hell out of their kids if they found them cheating. Today, parents yell at the teachers for "allowing students to cheat". I mean, if we're really going to be a nation that sends the message to our kids that personal responsibility is really an illusion and the other person is always at fault, aren't we building a nation of citizen assholes?

What really yanks my chain is when the inevitable occurs, parents sit back and wonder, "how did my kid ever turn out so wrong?" like they didn't know.

Well, they should. In a flashback montage with cheesy 80s music, the parent(s) in question should remember the days that they glared accusingly at strangers for admonishing a child whose behaviour was out of control. Or ripped a new one for teachers who tried to discipline their children. Or gave in when their kids demanded more than they should have.

But, like all typical Singaporeans, they won't see. It won't be apparent to them because, like the values that they will eventually be handing down to their children, they won't think on reflecting inward. Because it's not their fault when their kids misbehave. It's the situation that the kid was in. It's not their fault when their kids do badly in school. Blame the teachers. It's not their fault when their kids start cussing and swearing. Blame the movies. Heck, blame everyone.

After all, it's the Singaporean way.

"You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father." ~ From Parenthood, eloquently delivered by Keanu Reeves when he still had flopsy hair.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


It's little snippets like that that brighten up the marking.

"...our older population is still sticking up their principal..."


How much do I love thee?

I had fried chicken last night with full blessings from the wife. (If I only ate 4 pieces...)

Rare are the days when life gets better than that.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Ever buy something that didn't work?

Well, in a bid to cut costs, I bought a 3 pack of Dettol Cool soap. (Actual soap bars, not the liquid stuff) I realised, sadly, that I got gypped by Dettol. Not only does the soap bar not leave a tingly menthol feeling on the skin (...mmmmm....Menthol) it smells suspisciously like Dettol. Before any of you go "D'uh, it's Dettol", I have to add that the Dettol Cool liquid soap had a pleasant menthol after-wash smell that masked the scent of "Dettol cleaning power" to go along with said tingly "Dettol clean feeling". The Dettol soap bar however makes me smell like a hospital. It's sad when you're going for the fresh after-bath feeling and end up feeling disinfected like a SARS patient.

To quote Donatella Moss on The West Wing: "I want my money back."

Also, the post with the highest incidence of the word "Dettol" for the win.

Friday, July 21, 2006

This is funny...because it's true.

Wife Faction

And to my wife: I love you honey...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Whiskey for my men...

...And beer for my horses.

I got hooked on this song off a World of Warcraft (I can hear the collective groans of the wife and the cousin right now...) video that I downloaded off the net. I always thought it was a weird title and yet a rather apt look at conventions of "the Western". The song was snagged into my brain when I actually listened to the lyrics, which go something like this:

Willie man, come on
Six o'clock news
Says somebody been shot
Somebody's been abused
Somebody blew up a building
Somebody stole their car
Somebody got away
Somebody didn't get too far, yeah
They didn't get too far

Grandpappy told my pappy
Back in my day, son
A man had to answer
For the wicked thing he done
Take all the rope in Texas
Find a tall oak tree
Round up all of them bad boys
And hang 'em high in the street
For all the people to see

And justice is the one thing
You should always find
You gotta saddle up your boys
You gotta draw a hard line
When the gun smoke settles
We'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back
At the local saloon

We'll raises up our glasses
Against evil forces
Singing, "Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses!"

We got too many gangsters
Doing dirty deeds
Too much corruption
And crime in the streets
It's time the long arm of the law
Put a few more in the ground
Send them all to their Maker
And he'll set them on down
You can bet, He'll set 'em down

Cause justice is the one thing
You should always find
You gotta saddle up your boys
You gotta draw a hard line
When the gunsmoke settles
We'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all meet back
At the local saloon

And we'll raise up our glasses
Against evil forces
Singing, "Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses!"
Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses!

You know justice is the one thing
You should always find
You gotta saddle up your boys
You gotta draw a hard line
When the gunsmoke settles
We'll sing a victory tune
And we'll all met back
At the local saloon

We'll raise up our glasses
Against evil forces
Singing, "Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses!"
Singing ,"Whiskey for my men, beer for my horses!'

I was rather surprised because I really didn't know that:

  1. I like country western type music.
  2. I am so pro-capital punishment.
/shrug. I think that the most disturbing thing about this song is that you've got, as the hand of the law, drunk men riding drunk horses...never a good idea.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Speaking, Frankly.

This week had me thinking a lot about the whole native speaker debate. I've spent time trying to organise my thoughts into a cohesive whole about the thing, considering that it technically affects my livelihood.

Frankly, I felt insulted the first time this whole thing came up. After all, they were hiring "native" (read: ang mor) speakers to come to Singapore to teach English (presumably for higher pay) just because that was the language that they used all the time. I felt that being primarily a speaker of the English language I was being shafted just because I had the bad luck of being born on Singaporean soil and therefore not considered a native speaker of the English language. Ask anyone and they'll tell you that I've got the practice because I AM monolingual.

It's not the first time (nor the last) that I've ever gotten gypped*. I don't think that I felt cheated in any way. Not really anyway. I wasn't really insulted because in my heart of hearts, I think that there are local (English) teachers that do not speak well at all. What I did feel is betrayed.

I know it en't (notice how I code switched there, like only a good English speaker can do?) personal and that the whole scheme's probably going to mean good things for the country's young, but I can't help feeling that somehow or another, I've been cheated on. I've worked hard to teach. I've put in my heart and soul into my work but all of a sudden, despite all that, my ministry's taken on a mistress and the mistress, well she's getting all the stuff I want and she'll be placed higher on the priority list when push comes to shove.

Another comparison that I could bring up (that doesn't make me sound like a woman) is that I feel like the Corolla after the owner's bought a Ferrari. Which brings up some very interesting value judgements right there: Ferrari > Corolla? Here's the thing, though. A Ferrari in Singapore's going to need to undergo monthly servicing to keep its engine running smooth. Singapore is simply too small a country for it. A Corolla will last forever and a bit through whatever our tiny island throws at it because Corollas are built for small places.

I think that inevitably we'll be getting our native speaking teachers in here whether we like it or not. I really think that it will be a good thing. The feelings of betrayal stem not just from this one incident but a string of betrayals like the refusal of MOE to support the initiatives we the teachers wanted, no, needed from the start. Where are our smaller class sizes? Where are the lessened workloads? What about the teaching assistants? In other words, why are you spending all this time, effort and money wooing your foreign mistresses when we've got our own domestic troubles at home that we have not settled yet?

Betrayed. Yes, that's what I feel. *shrug*

It shure en't easy bean local.

*Most Singaporeans have, in one way or another, been gypped. But that's not my gripe.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Of scars...

I was thinking last night about the song Scar, (Yes, I caved and bought the CD) mainly reflecting on the (very poignant) line "so that I do remember to never go that far, could you leave me with a scar?" and the lightbulb went *ding*.

Scars come in all shapes and sizes. They appear on faces, bodies or souls, speaking of some old hurts and pains that no longer affect us (aside from the dull ache of phantom pain). The incidents remain branded onto us though, the scars reminding us of the trauma. Little abject lessons carved into us that help us remember to never to get hurt the same way again.

Scars affect people in many ways. Some see scars as a way to help us remember that which came before. Some show them off as markers that set them apart from the rest. Some see scars as a life lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Chicks dig them. (Or so I've been told) So, yes, scars mean many things to many people. But scars remain there as a physical, mental/emotional reminders of what caused the wounds. Cuts and slashes.

Cultural scars are similar to their counterparts and they leave marks on a societal level the same way. The suicide runs of 911 have left scars both on the physical landscape of New York as well as on the psyche of its people. Ground zero is just being rebuilt but like some wounds, there will be scarring. Memorials will stand in the place of once destruction, little reminders to the tune of "lest we forget." And I think it's nice that scars help us remember.

Wounds incapacitate us. The hurt hinders us from action and the pain prevents us from thinking clearly. But scabs seal the wounds. Scars form. Pain fades.

It's the same, whether you've been cut because you've been the victim of a harsh word, or a knife wound, or witnessed an unwarranted attack by an unfair governing body. Wounds heal, yes. And given enough time, scars help ensure that the same hurts never get inflicted on us again.

Perhaps it's time for the blogosphere to start scarring.

" that we do remember..."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Gramophone and scars

We headed down to the sparkling new Gramophone store down in Takashimaya yesterday to see what the buzz was and I've got to admit, it was pretty much love at first sight. I like music stores. I love DVD shops. And Gramophone's a little bit of both. (Shameless plug? Nah...I ain't getting paid)

Well, it's got to be a first: They've also got a video rental service. What more could a movie geek ask for?

AnywayI was browsing through the music section and I zeroed in on the Missy Higgins CD The Sound of White and I actually considered picking it up. The only song I've heard from the album's Scar and considering the fact that I <3 style="font-style: italic;">that bad, just that the two kickass tracks blew everything else out of the water.)

So here I sit wondering if The Sound of White is worth getting. That said, here're the lyrics that got me thinking to begin with.

He left a card, a bar of soap and a scrubbing brush next to a note
That said "use these down to your bones"
And before I knew I had shiny skin and it felt easy being clean like him
I thought "this one knows better than I do"

A triangle trying to squeeze through a circle
He tried to cut me so I'd fit

And doesn't that sound familiar? Doesn't that hit too close to home?
Doesn't that make you shiver; the way things could've gone?
And doesn't it feel peculiar when everyone wants a little more?
so that I do remember to never go that far,
Could you leave me with a scar?

So the next one came with a bag of treats,
she smelled like sugar and spoke like the sea
she told me don't trust them, trust me
Then she pulled at my stitches one by one,
looked at my insides clicking her tongue
and said "This will all have to come undone"

A triangle trying to squeeze through a circle
She tried to blunt me so I'd fit

And doesn't that sound familiar? Doesn't that hit too close to home?
Doesn't that make you shiver; the way things could have gone?
And doesn't it feel peculiar when everyone wants a little more?
So that I do remember to never go that far,
Could you leave me with a scar?

I think I realized just in time, although my old self was hard to find
You can bathe me in your finest wine but I'll never give you mine
'Cos I'm a little bit tired of fearing that I'll be the bad fruit nobody
Tell me, did you think we'd all dream the same?

And doesn't that sound familiar? Doesn't that hit too close to home?
Doesn't that make you shiver; the way things could have gone?
And doesn't it feel peculiar when everyone wants a little more?
And so that I do remember to never go that far,
Could you leave me with a scar?
Could you leave me with a scar?

How much more poetical can you be when talking about expectations people have on you? It's great stuff.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The press as the fourth estate.

"The term Fourth Estate refers to the press, both in its explicit capacity of advocacy and in its implicit ability to frame political issues"

Without a strong press, a government could do anything it wanted and no one would be none the wiser. It could become corrupt and nobody would know. It could make deals that benefit the ruling class and the public would never know.

I don't really know why I thought of that...

We now return to regular scheduled programming.

Friday, July 07, 2006

And the holy grail goes to...

King Arthur: Old woman.

Dennis: Man.

King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?

Dennis: I'm 37.

King Arthur: What?

Dennis: I'm 37. I'm not old.

King Arthur: Well I can't just call you "man".

Dennis: Well you could say "Dennis".

King Arthur: I didn't know you were called Dennis.

Dennis: Well you didn't bother to find out did you?

King Arthur: I did say sorry about the "old woman", but from behind you looked...

Dennis: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior.

King Arthur: Well I am king.

Dennis: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.

King Arthur: I am your king.

Woman: Well I didn't vote for you.

King Arthur: You don't vote for kings.

Woman: Well how'd you become king then?

[Angelic music plays... ]

King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.

Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

Dennis: Oh, but you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you.

Dennis: Oh but if I went 'round sayin' I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away.

Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!

King Arthur: Bloody peasant!

Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway! Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw him, Didn't you?

I've always found this funny. Wonder why I bring it up now.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

From the foreign press.

Singapore 5 July 2006

Government criticised for condemning “unconstructive” article

It is not the job of government officials to take a position on newspaper articles or blog posts unless they are clearly illegal, Reporters Without Borders pointed out today after the Singaporean newspaper Today published an opinion piece by an official on 3 July condemning a recent post by blogger Lee Kin Mun as over-politicised and unconstructive.

“This reaction from a Singaporean official is disturbing,” the press freedom organisation said. “It reads like a warning to all journalists and bloggers in a country in which the media are already strictly controlled. The media have a right to criticise the government’s actions and express political views. Furthermore, a newspaper’s editorial policies depend solely on its editors. They should under no circumstances be subject to instructions issued by the government.”

Lee, who uses the pseudonym “mr brown,” wrote an article entitled “S’poreans are fed, up with progress!” for Today’s opinion pages on 30 June in which he criticised recent government measures and the constant cost-of-living rises in an amusing and acerbic fashion.

Krishnasamy Bhavani, a press secretary to the ministry of information, communications and arts, responded with an article published in Today on 3 July in which she defended her government’s policies but went on to criticise Lee for taking a political position.

“It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government,” she wrote. “If a columnist presents himself as a non-political observer, while exploiting his access to the mass media to undermine the government’s standing with the electorate, then he is no longer a constructive critic, but a partisan player in politics.”

Lee is one of Singapore’s most popular bloggers. When the government banned political podcasts during the recent elections in April, the media largely took its cue from Lee’s position that, “Prison got no broadband,” in which he seemed to discourage bloggers from violating the new rules. But he nonetheless tested the authorities himself by posting a series of “persistently non-political podcasts” on his blog.

Reporters Without Borders was not able to reach Lee for a comment.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

And the first salvo has been launched.

I just read the Brown article, you know the one causing all the furore on the blogosphere at the moment. I have to admit, it's one of the most cynical and sarcastic pieces he's done so far. And there's been a reaction to it. (Being very understated here)

Bhavani's written a reply to the Today newspaper which, as much as I would like to credit our civil servants for keeping as emotionally detached from these kinds of articles (read: Mindless automatons), shows certain cracks in layers of bureaucracy that keeps our government nicely out of touch with we the citizens. That said, with the rather emotional reply to Brown, which has brought about unprecedented comments on MB's blog (426 and counting) was rather hasty IMHO and as a result, lends itself to so many attacks. (As we all know, fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to the dark side) So where should we begin?

  1. If a columnist presents himself as a non-political observer, while exploiting his access to the mass media to undermine the Government's standing with the electorate, then he is no longer a constructive critic, but a partisan player in politics. ~ Firstly, when did attacking the government become partisan politics? Is Bhavani admitting that the government is a single party government? Is she therefore saying that the government is partisan? Very bold madam. Did you actually have permission to say that? Perhaps (*shock*) our government is ready to announce that the government in Singapore itself is partisan and therefore liable to punish those who have the audacity to vote for the other guys. Oh, wait. They already did that with the upgrading thing...never mind.
  2. He offers no alternatives or solutions. His piece is calculated to encourage cynicism and despondency, which can only make things worse, not better, for those he professes to sympathise with. ~ Oh...Dang. Did she just try to cut away support for Mr Brown? Or perhaps she's trying to ruin his credibility by painting him as a naysayer and a ringing gong. How, pray tell, can things get worse if people stop believing and start thinking? Are the people in Singapore merely mindless sheep (don't answer that, I know you want to) who are willing to listen to anti-governmental rhetoric simply because it comes from the mouth, or keyboard, of a prominent person? Do you honestly think, Ms Bhavani, that Singaporeans are so stupid that blind criticism is simply accepted? No, there has to be a problem that needs to be addressed if we start thinking that this naysayer makes some sense. And by the way, change (and hopefully improvement) comes from cynicism. Look at all the changes that the world has made in all human history and you may notice that it's all been brought about, pardon my french, by people being pissed off with the status quo. Cynicism brings change my friend. Live with it. By the way, wasn't it our very own government encouraging critical thinking in schools? Well, these are the new products you're getting. Sorry...They don't come with a money back guarantee.
  3. It is not the role of journalists or newspapers in Singapore to champion issues, or campaign for or against the Government. ~ Wow...It's not? What then is the role of newspapers in Singapore? "Sho nuff Mr Government sah, I'll carry them balls for you. Yes Sah." (Of course, I mean stuff like soccer and basketballs........) Maybe to make it really clear, we should just rename the Today newspaper to Toady newspaper.
There are many other instances of problems with Bhavani's letter but you can read it all for yourself in Brown's site...assuming that it hasn't actually been shut down. That said, I think it's safe to say that the letter was the first big shot that was fired in the war for free political speech in Singaporean cyberspace. Meanwhile, I think we should all batten down the hatches, grab your guns and bring in the cat.

It's going to be messy.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Why... people bring their infants in to action movies that involve big sounds?

Superman Returns was quite good. Despite the expected fan uproar over certain liberties taken on the Superman character, I liked it. Brandon Routh, although still green in the red and blue, is competent as the man of steel. I'm hoping that he grows into the role. The movie didn't annoy me at all. It was the movie experience. There was a couple that got it in their heads that it would be a great idea to bring their baby into the movie. It was ok for most of the movie because it was loud (The movie, not the baby...) but then again...there's the problem eh? Loud movies + babies = BAD combination.

Perhaps they were hoping to enrich the kid's life from the start. Singaporeans need halogen lamps for their cars?

Is there a certain part of Singapore that doesn't get lit? Is our country that backward that there are still areas of Singapore that are pitch black? Do we need to see 15km in front of us in Singapore? Can anyone tell me why Singaporean cars need headlights that solve all the aforementioned problems?

I was driving home tonight and one of the halogen enabled cars pulled up behind me. Anyone who's had that happen can tell you that it's like being hit by floodlights concentrated onto your corneas, burning a white patch into your cerebral cortex. (Read: It really hurts) A nice parallel would be being tailed by a car with high beams on.

I did it. I let him overtake me and I flipped my high beams on. It was vindictive but at least now, I'm not the only one with bright lights reflecting off my rear view mirror.
He sped off after a little bit of tailing on my part. It was a whole lot less spectacular than it seems. No biggie. It did leave me pondering the questions at the beginning of this part of the rant though.

Anyone have any answers?