Friday, April 30, 2004

more disaster strikes in Singapore

i know more ppl stop by here than by the LJ, so i thought i'd post this up here, in full because we all know how stupid the ST Online archives are.

i don't know what is going on back home -whether this happens all the time and the newspaper fails to cover it, until something like the highway collapse draws attention to it; or it should be something we are seriously going to be worrying about for a while. on the surface it seems that there is little to no connection between the two cases. however, both cases appear to have resulted from supports giving way etc etc - the rest of the mechanism of destruction really doesn't matter. if it isn't sabotage (of what? the Circle Line? who would care enough? this isn't The Fountainhead) or terrorism (i find that hard to swallow but i'm also trying to avoid being paranoid), then it could well turn out to be industry-wide shoddiness in quality of materials -and- work. that's the scary part.

APRIL 30, 2004
Two die in worksite collapse

29 injured as rods for Fusionpolis foundation crashes onto 40 workers
Dead: A Bangladeshi worker and Singaporean Lee Chee Yong
Ayer Rajah industrial accident unrelated to MRT works nearby

By Sharon Loh

THOUSANDS of steel rods crashed down on some 40 workers at an Ayer Rajah construction site yesterday, killing two and injuring 29.

The men were fixing steel supports for the foundation of a six-storey basement for Fusionpolis, a JTC Corporation high-tech township, when part of the framework collapsed.

They were working on a steel latticework 5m from the floor of Singapore's deepest construction site, going down 30m.

By the time Singapore Civil Defence Force officers arrived, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi was dead, and two workers were pinned beneath a flattened area 50m by 50m.

Together with construction workers, rescue personnel picked apart the 12m-long rods to free the duo, one of whom was dead. The other was speared by a rod in his right thigh.

At a midnight briefing, the SCDF said that all 420 workers on the site had been accounted for. But it would work through the night to clear the rods and expected it to be done by 6 this morning.

Work had been going on round-the-clock and hundreds of workers are believed to be on the site in the day, and about 200 at night.

The accident is the second at a construction site in 10 days and is eerily reminiscent of last Tuesday's MRT tunnel collapse in Nicoll Highway, with one worker saying he heard a breaking sound before the steel framework folded like a pack of cards at 1.30pm.

Bangladeshi Mohammad Alilal Miah, 27, was tightening rivets when he heard it.

'I looked up but there was no time,' he told The Straits Times in halting English.

He bruised his leg and was later discharged from Alexandra Hospital.

The authorities hastened to assure Singaporeans that the accident was unrelated to and unlike the Nicoll Highway collapse.

In the earlier disaster, soil movement caused by the collapse of a temporary supporting wall triggered a massive cave-in of the area, killing four men. Water poured into the massive ravine, causing further instability in the soil.

But yesterday's accident had nothing to do with the works for the new rail line, although an underground MRT station is being built next to the Ayer Rajah site by the same company, said the Land Transport Authority.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower, Mr Hawazi Daipi, also stressed the localised nature of the crash, telling reporters at the site: 'This is an isolated industrial site and unrelated to the Circle Line.'

It could happen anywhere, he added and pointed out that fatal industrial accidents have halved since 1997 - from 72 deaths to just 31 last year.

Earlier, Mr S. Iswaran, MP for West Coast GRC, said at the site: 'The immediate response among some is to draw parallels with the Nicoll Highway incident and see if there is some broader problem because of the Circle Line.

'But it is very clear from a lay person surveying the site that it is an industrial accident because certain steel bars have collapsed. It is not because of any tunnelling works or soil movement.'

Of the 28 workers ferried between 2.30pm and 3.30pm to the Singapore General, National University and Alexandra hospitals, 21 were later discharged. Most had injuries to their limbs or faces.

But two died at the site. One was a Bangladeshi who received his work permit last month.He was crushed to death by falling steel.

His co-worker, Malaysian Li Gui Ming, 48, saw it happen. 'I couldn't bear to look at him; he had about 4 layers of steel rods on him,' said Mr Li, who injured his knee. 'He was still conscious and kept opening and shutting his eyes.'

The other man who died was Singaporean Lee Chee Yong, 51, a supervisor with Kingston Construction. He was pulled out at 7.30pm.

The Building and Construction Authority said workers were fixing steel bars for a 5m-thick foundation for the basement. The top layer of steel bars fell when their supporting structures gave way.

All work has ceased, said the project's builder, Greatearth-United Engineers Joint Venture.

Fusionpolis is a two-tower information-communications hub that is part of the $15-billion, 200-ha One North hub in Buona Vista. Its first phase was to be completed in the third quarter of next year, and this is its first fatal accident.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Singapore Arts Festival 2004

take a look at the events for theSingapore Arts Festival 2004. Yo-Yo Ma is playing with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in a one-night only performance at the Esplanade. where will i be, while this wonderful event is happening? on a cruise ship headed for alaska.


someone i know, pleasepleasepleaseplease have tickets (he's sold out already), and go, and tell me all about how wonderful this man is when he's playing a cello solo in the (much vaunted) new halls of SSO's new home, the Durian.

please. -whimper-

the Count Basie Orchestra will also be in town, 11-12 June, playing good ol' big band swing. Dancers will probably be disappointed by the lack of dancing space in the Esplanade concert halls, but hey, there's always the aisle...if they don't throw you out for unruly behaviour. worth going to in any case.

i'm going to be crying about the Yo-Yo Ma for a while. i missed him while he was here in chi-town too - couldn't get tickets.

a few more offerings look interesting -there's Cantonese Opera coming to town, for one- though not really as interesting as the Arts Fest offerings of my youth. -grin- perhaps i was less discerning then. or had less narrow tastes in what i like and dislike about music/theatre/dance. anyway, go take a look-see.

Monday, April 26, 2004


aiyee. someone i know -someone i went to school with- met julia stiles on the street and took a picture with her. i'm so absurdly jealous. i wanna meet julia stiles and take a picture with her -- though god only knows what i would say to her if i ever got to meet her...


think it may become my mission in life to see all Julia movies at some point. i'd forgotten, for one thing, that she's in Bourne Identity, which was sort of bizarre to begin with. and she's in newly opened The Prince and Me.


how is it sunday of fourth week

it's concert day! looking over my music i am simultaneously surprised at how much i know and how much is left unlearned. i'm just going to have to wing some of it, a feeling that made me totally unsettled our first concert, but that i am completely acclimatised to by now.

i meant to blog a couple of comments about our guest conductor, robert sinclair, on friday, but i guess i got caught up in banana-nut-muffins. :) anyway. his style of handling a choir -not conducting, which he does with a baton and which i find vaguely unsettling as a result- is much like mr toh. more precise than randi's, muchmuch more precise, and demanding. he wants the choir to do what is written on the score, which doesn't sound like much until you realise how much randi lets us slide on following dynamics and other notation on the score. how much he just wants us to read notes and get the big picture right, without caring about the details.

but sinclair -- ah, that's a conductor i can work with, if only he would throw away his baton. (i hate batons. i like conductors who conduct with their hands, because it feels so much more natural being directed that way. more organic, less beating time.) yelling for us to read the score, look UP from the score, to watch him and do what he says with his hands (baton). taking it at the speed -he- wants to take it, not at the speed we've been drilled in.

i'm reminded of the times when the RGS choir or RJ chorale would have a guest conductor come in, and we would marvel at how different we sounded under the hands of some stranger, rather than our familiar mr toh, or ms loo. sometimes we even sounded better, because we weren't sloppy 'cos we're accustomed to the way he/she conducts. i never realised how important that is until friday, when the Motet tried very hard to sound exactly the same under sinclair's baton as we do under randi's hands, despite them having very different conducting styles and requirements.

i don't think i've ever been as amazed at the quality of the raffles choirs as i was just thinking about them on friday afternoon.

anyway. it's almost time for me to get changed and get ready to head over for preconcert rehearsal (by which i mean pack Parson's A Certain Idea of Europe to read while we wait). wish us luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2004

being unhappy

Terry Teachout makes some remarks about unhappiness vs. happiness being inspiration for the arts - and how people appear to prefer to like unhappiness to happiness when it comes to calling something 'art'.

that's something i've thought about many times in the last few years. i mean - i was prolific back in RGS and RJ: writing poetry was (relatively) easy, and my poems -while not wonderful- were not terrible, either. about the only thing they had in common with each other -the poems i mean- was the fact that they were about being -- unhappy, incomplete; about yearning for something missing, or missing something that is about to go away. about what might have beens, if i had been braver/luckier/stronger/wiser.

and now that i'm in college, the flow has slowly dried to a trickle, then to nothingness. an empty streambed. :) i'm left with appreciating the works of others -manymanymany props to josh yap- in the little time i have to spare from my frantic reading and writing classes. why? well -- i'm less unfulfilled. i love college life and it challenges me, stretches my brain in unexpected ways, leaves me too tired to brood over life's inequities (at least, with regards to my own life; to the world in general? plenty of time.). i'm not looking over my shoulder in regret at the lost love, the lost opportunity, the lost time. i'm too tired doing the things i do to reach inside of myself to find the words to express real meaning, and have too little time for fiddling with the sounds and feel of different words, their descriptive nuances, their emotional triggers.

and there's the key, i think. in the absense of unhappiness, and of enough time and energy to think, it's hard to produce something good. something real. writing is -for some- a cathartic process, a means of getting the wrongness, the badness inside of you outside; externalising an internal pain; exorcism. doesn't matter whether the pain is a broken heart, or a betrayed loyalty, or rage against the craziness of (some aspect of) humanity. if it's left inside it festers, and poisons, and renders you dysfunctional.

of course, that's not to say that everyone writes equally well or even that everyone writes to get rid of the ugliness inside of their heads. clearly that's not the case. i couldn't write music like Sondheim if i spent all my time and energy trying. i've seen happy poems -in the minority, but there- (though i must confess, i generally don't like them very much). but to me, the trigger, the urge to write, the germ of inspiration -is discontent. unhappiness. longing. a driving desire to immortalise something transient, something fleeting, before it's gone forever.

why do people respond to it in the theatres, or in books/newspapers/journals, or the radio? i guess maybe because it helps them -for a little while- exorcise their little demons in ways that they can manage, without their having to write a musical or a book/poem - it finds them words or other expressions of their own private misery. because very few -veryvery few- people are genuinely happy all the time about everything, and because nobody likes to be unhappy. and maybe it's because we're willing to believe that we are not alone in our misery, but we're not willing to believe that our happiness is unique, perhaps similar -but not identical- to any other's experience.

-shrug- that's my two cents' worth. read Terry Teachout's piece. :)

Singapore Idol!

wow. Singapore Idol is coming to town. -grin- i can't wait to listen to thousands of Singaporean teenage wannabes warbling their way through karaoke classics...:) it's gonna be bad, it's gonna be so deliciously bad...


i know there's talent out there. the question is whether said talent will show up and audition...

banana nut muffins

i made banana nut muffins this afternoon. =) despite the fact that they look nothing like the banana nut muffins that i regularly buy from the store or from campus cafes, they taste remarkably good - perhaps not as moist or banana-y (though i blame the bananas i used for that), but still, yummy enough. i just had a bite of one fresh from the oven, and the crust is crunchy, the way i like it, and the inside is not too sweet, with a startling taste of banana when i bit into one of the (not very well mushed up) bits of banana.

note to self: use more ripe bananas the next time.

yay! so now i have six muffins -- well five, really, since i have to finish eating the one that i just started munching on -- to consume over the next few days. anyone want one?

Friday, April 23, 2004

reading the blogs of JC students reminds me of how much i loved loved loved those days.

quite frankly, school life in Singapore has been very kind to me. GEP was great; i loved RGS, and i loved RJ life from start to finish. reading about their exploits now reminds me of early morning breakfast in the RJ canteen, or sitting on the Amphi steps in RGS with my classmates blowing bubbles; reminds me of Valentine's Day while being part of a choir/chorale tradition of giving flowers so that we all wound up toting ridiculous numbers of roses and candy hearts around all day -a time when V-day wasn't just about romance and couples but also about friendship, and community; reminds me of dozing off in an aircon TS surrounded by equally sleepy friends/classmates, or skipping Lit-S completely to sit in the canteen, watching the palm trees dancing in the breeze while doing my (hated) math homework. and writing poetry. remember our little poetry-writing exercise, cher? i still have the results right here.

untitled, 25 August 1999

there’s a certain slant of light
on hazy lazy sleepy afternoons
that softens and smoothes
the jagged edges of everyday objects
blurs the intense colours and
lulls sharp scents of hustle-bustle morning
into smoky sepia tones
it seeps into the humming-
thrumming of the ceiling fans
that swirl a warm tropical breeze
of muted conversation around me
and i can believe there is a heaven
here on earth

it gentles everything it touches
with silk-spun gossamer fingertips
and as i watch it lands on you
resting butterfly-kisses of trembling affection
a creamy woven-lace veil of
homage from beyond the clouds

that picture stays with me now of
you bathed in the otherworldly glow
of long caressing sunbeams
and comforts me
when this world is harsh and painful
and maybe
that’s why i love you

i like college, and i'm not saying i want to go back in time to 1999-2000...but sometimes, on looking back, the combination of the sepia-painting of history and the nostalgia-induced yearning for the simple intensity of those days suckerpunches me right in the gut.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

what a crazy crazy day. although it's been threatening to rain all day, it hasn't actually rained, so we've just had gloom and doom all day. it would be kind of nice, if i were in Singapore and not in Chicago, where gloomy weather is depressing rather than refreshing...

started out with The European Union tackling the five-hundred-page MONSTER that is Moravcsik's The Choice For Europe. boy, am i glad that is over with. three solid hours (well give or take a few minutes) of arguing over what precisely is the argument -is there bargaining? if national preferences are convergent from exogenous factors, what's left to bargain over/coordinate? ad nauseum. though i did get a few shots in re: diffuse cost/concentrated benefits, which is one of my favourite arguments. it's so nicely, widely applicable to so many arenas, and it has the additional bonus of being one of those cocktail phrases like Ms Yeo's 'physical manifestation of a psychological state'. -grin- at the end of it i'm questioning what i read four hundred pages of descriptive writing for, since he seems -ultimately- not to advance any sort of prescriptive theory, but rather a 'well now that events have played themselves out, let me take a shot at putting the pieces together' kind of argument. not a ken waltz start-from-basic-assumptions systemtic theory at all. :)

then straight off to Motet rehearsal with Will conducting in Mandel today. did some Sweeney Todd, and was frightened by how unprepared it sounded when we started. improved pretty much 100% over the course of rehearsal, but that's not saying much. we all know it's easy to get big percentages when the base is small. God help us for the sunday concert. please let the men remember how to carry a tune.

then sprinting off to Mearsheimer's class, though eschewing the five flights of stairs in favour of waiting for the elevator today. i'm tired and old. the class itself was sort of ...slow. we spent much of it talking about last week's reading, particularly the hidden assumption of uncertainty of intent which much of the class didn't seem to understand was a necessary condition for generating fear. there seem to be so many more dunderheads in Mearsheimer's class than Sebastian's. it's ridiculous -by the end of half an hour i was wishing three people would just die of a heart attack there and then. and then we managed to trigger an extended -though entertaining- Mearsheimer-monologue...with disturbing references to himself in the third person. "John's gonna go after these arguments", "In John's book, he's got to kill these" while crossing out balance of power, offence-defence balance, and offence/defence distinguishability...and so in in that vein. it's vaguely disturbing that he refers to himself as 'John'. but also vaguely amusing, in the eccentric uncle sort of way.

so. back home. time to go take a break from work. my 'ead 'urts.

more on Nicoll Highway

(damn the ST Online! they've changed their homepage site on me! little pieces of -expletive deleted-.)

anyway, as promised, for Singaporeans reading this, more information on the Nicoll Highway accident. the length of time Nicoll is expected to stay closed gets longer with each day --six to nine months, they're saying now.

SCDF men find a second body
LTA sets up inquiry into Nicoll Highway collapse; search continues but hopesfade for two Singaporeans still missing

By Tan Hsueh Yun

A SECOND body was pulled out of the Nicoll Highway cave-in late last night, hours after Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong reminded all concerned that the priority was to find the missing men, not point fingers.

Now is not the time to talk about who is to blame for Tuesday's disaster or about compensation.

The priority is to find the men not accounted for and to control the damage there, he said after visiting the devastated Circle Line construction site yesterday evening.

He vowed that the Government would find out the cause.

'This thing has happened,' he said. 'We will get to the bottom of it.'

At 11.42 last night, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) rescuers brought up the second body from the disaster site.

The body could not be identified immediately but from the clothes he wore, SCDF commissioner James Tan said that it was probably that of a missing China national. The other two missing men are Singaporeans.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has formed a panel to investigate the cause, headed by LTA board member Yong Kwet Yew, professor of civil engineering and vice-president of the National University of Singapore.

The Government may set up an independent inquiry, said Transport Minister Yeo Cheow Tong, probably headed by a magistrate.

Efforts to find the missing men continued through Tuesday night.

In the early hours of yesterday morning, all work came to a halt. Lights, generators and all machines were switched off while rescuers used a life detection device to pick up even the slightest sound or movement from under the rubble and mud.

No sign of life was detected and sniffer dogs were brought back in for the search.

Above ground at rush hour, traffic snarls in Geylang and Kallang and tailbacks on the East Coast Parkway were the norm as drivers scrambled to find alternative routes. Nicoll Highway may be closed for six to nine months.

Close by, the vigil continued at the Kampong Glam Community Club, where relatives of the missing waited.

Mr Goh expressed his sympathy for the family members during his visit to the site with Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng and Mr Yeo.

Standing at the edge of the huge wound in the earth, he was briefed by the SCDF chief and LTA officials.

It was a major accident and while relieved that the number of casualties was lower than it might have been, he said 'a casualty is a casualty'.

The priority was to find the missing men and, if they had perished, do the best to recover the bodies.

'But looking at the site and the extent of the collapse of the road, the tunnel, I was told that this is a very complex and delicate task,' he said.

Praising the authorities' quick reaction to 'a complex situation', Mr Goh said: 'I would say that they have done a very good job in coordinating, in responding to a crisis.

'That's what is important, because what has happened has happened. But how you respond to a crisis is a further mark of our ability to cope with disasters.'

He said that he had been in the Members' Room in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon when somebody said Nicoll Highway had collapsed.

He turned to the TV but could not get a sense of the scale of the accident, so he had Mr Wong and Mr Yeo go there to size up the situation and keep him updated.

But even as Mr Goh assured Singaporeans that answers would be found, he made it plain that this was not the time to say who was at fault, take action against anyone or discuss compensation.

His own reaction, he said, had not been to ask first who was to blame.

'My first question was: Are there lives lost? Where are they? How can we save them? How do we control damage to prevent further losses?'

Compensation will be dealt with at a more appropriate time, he said. 'I know this interests many people but when there's a crisis, you must know what steps to take. I would not expect the engineers and the Civil Defence to come here to worry about suing others and compensation.

'No. The immediate task is to rescue people who are trapped, and then to plan the next step and control the damage,' he added.

what seems to have happened is the one of the two supporting walls collapsed, and within seconds tons of earth was falling into the hole, taking everything on the surface with it. it's scary. how they build the tunnels is to put two concrete support walls in place, then dig out the earth between them, supporting the walls against the pressure of the rest of the earth on either side using steel beams and so forth. if those supports snap, everything falls apart.

work continues on finding the last two missing men, both Singaporean; one an LTA man. the odds of finding them alive seem to be fairly low at this point.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


from amos: part of Nicoll Highway has collapsed.

Road collapses along Nicoll Highway

A PORTION of Nicoll Highway near the Golden Mile Complex, where the MRT's Circle Line is being built, collapsed at 3:30pm on Tuesday.

Access to the road between the Kallang area and Suntec City has been blocked off by police and civil defence officers at the scene.

The casualties
One dead body - that of a Malaysian - has been pulled out of the rubble so far, and rescue teams, including search dogs, are on the job. Of the three people sent to hospital, two have been discharged after examinations by doctors. Three others, two Singaporeans and a Chinese national who were all construction workers, are still unaccounted for.

As night fell, rescue workers turned on powerful flood lights to continue their search. A civil defence spokesman said about 100 men were involved in the search and they were prepared to search all night.

If the men are not found by the end of Wednesday, heavy equipment will be brought in to remove the rubble in a stepped-up search.

One of the injured, a Thai male in his early 20s, is in the Singapore General Hospital and his condition is stable. Tan Tock Seng Hospital, also on standby for more casualties, has examined and discharged two other injured workers.

The aftermath
A hole the size of two basketball courts now occupies six lanes of Nicoll Highway. Motorists have been asked to avoid the entire stretch of the highway and to use other alternative routes to and from downtown.

Eyewitnesses said that the pedestrian bridge across the highway has also toppled over. Other reports said fires were blazing in the site. Water was gushing out onto the road, and some witnesses reported a strong smell of gas is in the air. Others felt tremors and heard blasts.

Gas and power disruptions
PowerGas confirmed that a section of a gas pipe along the highway was damaged by the collapse, but that engineers had shut off the supply. Gas supply to the area has, however, not been affected because alternative pipes are being used.

The collapse also interrupted the electricity supply to the Marina Centre area, affecting Suntec City, the Esplanade and Marina Square areas, according to a statement from Singapore Power.

A marketing communications manager working at the Suntec City told The Straits Times Interactive that the blackout occurred just before 4pm but was restored within 20 minutes.

Support beams gave way
The Land Transport Authority said that the collapse occurred around 3.30pm, when excavation works for the Nicoll Highway MRT station - part of Stage 1 of the Circle Line - near the Merdeka Bridge behind Golden Mile Complex collapsed.

A police spokesman said the support beams holding up the underground work site gave way. Some 20 workers were believed to have been working in the underground site at the time.

Police spokesman Tan Puay Kern has assured the public that the buildings in the area are undamaged and remain structurally safe. He also ruled out acts of sabotage or terrorism as the cause of the disaster, saying there was 'no evidence at this moment' to link it to terrorism.

Transport Minister visits disaster site
The Minister of Transport Yeo Cheow Tong visited the site in the early evening. Of the disaster, he noted that tunnelling had been used to build the MRT system for many years and that it was the first time this had happened. He added that no effort would be spared in sifting through the rubble to find those who are still unaccounted for.

The next key thing to do, he added, was to stabilise the ground in the area and to ensure the security and safety of the buildings.

He added that completion of the Circle Line would now have to be delayed, and that the highway - a main artery linking eastern Singapore with the Central Business District - will have to remain closed for the next few months.

He noted that traffic flow would inevitably be affected during this time. Motorists have been advised to use the East Coast Parkway or North Bridge Road to reach downtown.

SBS Transit announced that its bus services 10, 14, 16, 70 and 196, which normally ply Nicoll Highway, will now run along Kallang Road, Jalan Sultan, Beach Road and Bras Basah Road before resuming their usual routes. TIBS said its shuttle service 608 will use Beach Road instead of Nicoll Highway.

more details to follow later in tomorrow's edition of the ST.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

yeah, what she said

avoiding writing the rest of the Regulation of Vice memo that's due tomorrow, while listening to Rent and anticipating the performance we are going to in two weekends' time. yay! the last time i saw Rent performed, it was a rather listless cast in front of a deadfish Singaporean audience that didn't know how to moo properly. =) quite a letdown from the electricity of the New York production we saw in 1999. (probably my last New York outing on that trip that didn't involve a raging fever and a throat so bad i could barely breathe)

we have a concert in just about a week - it's this sunday - and we just had our first rehearsal in the concert space today. the risers weren't up because the work order didn't get submitted, apparently. unfortunately, i'm short, and i stand behind the tallest girl -that's what it feels like- girl in the choir. -grin- i spent most of the time shuffling around behind her and craning my neck. but it was a fun rehearsal. the guy who's conducting us on Sunday -since Randi is going to be out of town- came to see us today, and got to watch Byron in rare form cracking us up while accompanying us. the concert lineup for sunday:

Brahms's Liebeslieder Waltzes (featuring the talented Byron and his sister)
Five Hebrew Love Songs
Sweeney Todd! (ahh Sondheim)
Feller From Fortune (a crazy canadian folk song)
Sarba Dance On A Chair

you should come just for the last one. it's great. the Liebeslieder will take some sitting through but it's worth it just for that last one. -grin-

all right, it's really time i started work on that memo for real. -sigh-


the memo is finished. my head hurts, it's cold again -it's a paltry 9C outside right now, and we are set to get some rain tonight/tomorrow-, and i still have shitloads of reading to do. but at the very least the damn memo is finished!

Monday, April 19, 2004

whenever i drink chinese tea -no matter what kind- i think of my grandfather, and family dinners at his house, and how he always always has a pot of chinese tea in the kitchen.

and how he was the one who started me in the habit of drinking chinese tea.

i miss my grandpa. it will be good to see him again in June.

this is turning into a food blog

livejournal just ate my original post, so this one will be shorter =p

today was a swelteringly hot day, topping 30C in the late afternoon, and The Apartment is stupefyingly hot. my ability to focus on reading -already not the best in the world when it comes to this book- just completely slipped away. and alex took a nap and woke up befuddled and -gasp- not hungry! so our original plan to cook up some nice fat juicy steaks had to be put on hold while i searched for something to eat that wouldn't prostrate me. us.

at first, i considered making a cold tomato soup. it sounded refreshing; the idea of serving it from a pitcher was appealing. especially if said pitcher had previously been in my (extremely full) freezer. but the only pitcher i own is made of plastic and stained with chinese tea stains, so i had to look for an alternative. then it came to me: French Onion Soup. quickly searching, printing out a recipe, and then dragging alex to the store for ingredients.

slice a medium to large onion into reasonably thin slices. in a medium sized pot, melt some butter with a dash of olive oil, then throw in the onions with some salt, pepper, and chopped rosemary/thyme/sage/combination of the above. fry the onions until tender, soft and sweet, perhaps til they take on a smoky caramel colour. (they smell absolutely divine.)

when the onions are soft and sweet, add enough beef stock to cover the onions and then some -make sure there's some extra liquid, too much is better than too little. i used Campbell's Beef Consomme, following instructions: one can of concentrated consomme, one can of water. bring to a brief boil, then simmer while you...

slice up some crusty bread into thick slices. then ladle out some soup into a bowl, float a slice of toast (or two) in it, cover with some grated cheese, whatever type you like, and microwave until the cheese melts. then drink up!

the soup was wonderful. the beefy flavour of the consomme with the sweetness of the caramelised onions was tasty enough to be satisfying -i had three bowls!- while not heavy enough to disturb me in this heat. between us we finished off the entire pot -which means i had most of an onion. but it's totally worth it!

we also wound up eating some steak after all, but we shared one thin-sliced ribeye, easily prepared: rub the steak with some dry marinade, let it sit while you do something else for a bit (while you frantically stir onions in a pot to stop them from burning, for example), then rub with a little olive oil and throw on a hot George Foreman grill for a minute or two. delicious and juicy, still slightly red in the middle - generally i like my meat more well done than alex does, but tonight for some reason i didn't mind the slight redness of the meat. perhaps i have become more carnivorous. =)

so it was a good meal. not heavy and filling enough that i am lying here twitching in the heat (ok, it's cooling down) but satisfying enough that i don't feel the urge to munch on junk food. now i'm going to make some chinese tea, drink some cold water, and finish reading that Damn Book. =) i swear, i cook to avoid this book. i've cooked up a storm this weekend. (sorry for blogging so much about it, evan!)

Sunday, April 18, 2004

for more details about earlier portions of my day, including the wonderful dinner i had, refer to Idle Thoughts: the LJ.

in other news, i triumphantly announce that i have completely more than half of the Moravcsik reading (i cheated and skipped to the concluding chapter. no surprises there.) and even managed to read some of the stuff for Mearsheimer's class.

let me just say here that i think most of Sean Lynn-Jones's article in Security Studies -titled "Offense-Defence Theory and Its Critics" is crap. his defence against some fairly valid -in my opinion- criticisms is absolute bunk, amounting to little more than 'well, it's analogous to this situation, where it would be all right' without any real justification as to why it's analogous.

ok, that was really confused. clearly, i'm more than ready to collapse into bed for a good eight hours before tackling MORE Moravcsik tomorrow, and writing a response memo (three pages, not a WORD more) for it at some point...

Saturday, April 17, 2004

food, glorious food

oh man, Moravcsik's The Choice for Europe is incredibly dense and guilty of the highest form of academic prose. LRS lectors would have his ass on a platter. but anyway, that's by way of explaining why i'm updating again despite having posted this morning.

our oven works! some background for those who don't already know: my oven hasn't worked since shortly after we moved in here last year. after months of bitching, we finally got the repairman in here last week to fix it. i finally got up the guts to test it out, not giving in to my fears that the oven would explode and i would die in the ensuing fireball...:) i'd had some really great baked chicken over at janice's place a while ago, and wanted to try it on my own. so i popped over to the store, picked up some rosemary and tarragon, butter, and some wine to fortify the cook (i've been curious about Yellowtail for a while -- it's an australian vineyard with a kangaroo logo. it turned out pretty good.) and headed back to start my cooking experiment.

i turned on the oven with great trepidation, then backed out of the kitchen into the living room, nervously clutching my bottle of wine and waiting for an explosion. utter silence. so i crept back into the kitchen to the welcome hissing sound of the oven heating up. woohoo! so i opened the wine, poured myself a glass, and set about making herb-butter-and-breadcrumb-encrusted-baked-chicken, accompanied by pasta with a mushroom-in-white-wine-and-butter sauce, and some of jan's lovely salad (which involves oranges and goat cheese and basalmic vinagrette). it was awesome, i stuffed myself, i stuffed alex. we just sat in front of the tv and ate. =)

so i'm happy with the outcome of my cooking experiment. now i have another dish to add to my repetoire of (many kinds of) pasta, including a carbonara sauce with no meat in it; risotto; and anything that comes out of a Prima packet. expect more baking stories in the future!

Friday, April 16, 2004

a new draft competition bill?

this one's for all the Singaporeans -- and anyone else who gives a damn, really -- who read this blog: the Ministry of Trade and Industry is putting out the draft of a brand new competition law. (no, it's not what it sounds like; it's supposed to regulate anti-competitive behaviour, rather than enforce competitive behaviour, which is what i must confess immediately jumped to my mind.) more details can be found here, while the actual Draft Bill is a pdf document here.

i have a couple of quick, preliminary responses to it. (i doubt i will have enough to say to make a formal comment/recommendation in the style that MTI wants. see their site for more details. i just don't have the time or expertise to write up something that involves a table of contents.) i'm no expert -not even close- to the language of the law, so there's bound to be some confusion, albeit much reduced by the fact that said Draft Bill isn't really in lawyer-speak.

i don't object, in principle -and in general- to the creation of what amounts (in my mind) to an anti-trust law in Singapore. i think it's a good thing to protect against the actions of cartels and monopolies, particularly in our relatively small economy. i also don't think that their IP protection laws are going to get in the way - the solution is simple: if they're afraid that long patents and monopoly over technology will have an adverse effect on competition, then shorten the period where owners of IP rights have exclusive right to them. -shrugs- that's one ongoing debate in the US, for sure. however:

(1) the exemption for "any entity carrying out activities on behalf of the Government or statutory bodies" bothers me a little - i want to know who they mean by this. some examples would be nice. i mean, clearly they don't mean the postal service. if they do indeed mean the GLCs, then i take issue. the whole point of a competition law, in my mind, is to force our huge GLCs to make way for perhaps more efficient, more nimble players in the domestic market. the other standard exemptions i don't think i would take umbrage at -- defence and so forth. my reaction to those exemptions are 'doh.'

(2) i'm not sure i like the desire not to criminalise anti-competitive behaviour. ok, maybe criminal penalties are too severe for what is really a diffuse harm/concentrated benefit situation (as Mill would say, there is no 'assignable blame', no direct harm to one person, but rather general harm to society at large). it's not like fraud, for example. but surely the threats of fines and possible litigation are not enough to restrain a true monopolist? surely they'll make enough (a) by the time the Commission gets around to slapping fines on them and (b) after they get done paying the fines that the said fines will not be enough. they're certainly not punitive. 10% of turnover up to a maximum of three years isn't nothing, but what about the companies that are going to be able to sit out a three year maximum fine period?

i am, of course, thinking of major monopolists like our friend Bill Gates and Microsoft. the odds of such a situation arising in our little island are fairly low - ie a monopolist with the power to harm as many people as Gates does through higher prices and restricted quantities. however, wouldn't it be better for us to have the possibility of 'structural remedies' not in the form of litigation, as MTI suggests, but in the power to break up monopolies and cartels, like creating little Baby Bells out of the Big Bell in the US?

my two cents. perhaps there'll be more on this later. leave comments if you have them =) perhaps we can get up a joint response to MTI for this Bill.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

i guess most people have figured out that the blog will be updated much less frequently this quarter, partly because i am swamped with work, much more so than last quarter, and partly because It Is Spring.

as gaiman puts it over on his LJ, Spring Is Here. it's a balmy 13C right now, and it's past ten pm. sweet! it promises to stay warm for at least a couple of days, which means skirts and heels. yay! it also makes the prospect of going outside and doing things much less formidable, for which i am happy.

anyways, today was a good day -- lots of conversation about european integration, and bumbling up-in-arms comments about idiots who don't understand the meaning of words like pareto-optimal and yet use them in Seminar on Realism as if they were god...there's one in every class. at least. (alex just remarked that he can fly from London to Berlin on Ryanair for 0.71 euros. damn!) i managed to talk in each class today, which for me is a big deal, since i'm not a big participant in classes. today for some reason i just took off. it doesn't hurt that both Sebastian and Keven know my name, for some reason.

Motet rehearsals are getting kind of sketchy though. Randi's had a lot on his mind lately and he's been getting kind of snippy with the choir. granted we have a big concert about two weeks away and we still don't know our music. (heaven knows if this were the RJ choir we'd all be dead from panic attacks by now. including mr Toh. but he'd never allow it.) on top of that, his father's not doing so well - he had a stroke a while back, and Randi's awfully worried about it, it looks like. which is bad. i hope Randi's dad gets better, though it doesn't look too much like the prognosis is good. in the meantime we are struggling on with our music. i was just thinking about singing here at the U of C compared with singing back in the RJ Chorale and how totally different the approaches our two music directors have. (and the fact that i seem to be attracted to music directors who then leave me. -grin- Ms Loo, Mr Toh, now Randi...) in RJ -and RGS as well, come to think of it- we didn't focus on doing lots of music, though we did do a fairly wide range of genres and styles. (one thing judges always commended us on: our flexibility) instead we worked on getting the pieces memorised; on doing detailed, nuanced work; on working with our conductor and putting our music in his hands. here we learn incredibly huge amounts of music just in one quarter for one concert, almost never have to memorise it, and spend a lot of time staring at our music just trying desperately to read the notes rather than working with Randi. of course, this means we get to do lots of different stuff, but i think on the whole i would prefer to work with a Mr-Toh-style chorale. i miss the Raffles Concert Singers. you guys were awesome. =)

ah well. i guess there will be more updates as and when -- either tons this weekend as i procrastinate over writing a response memo for Leitzel and one for Sebastian, while struggling to finish reading Moravcsik on European integration and digging out sources on legalising prostitution in the United States: Pros and Cons. (by the way, i would LOVE constructive ideas on titles for a paper on legalising prostitution. feel free to leave your ideas in the comments box.) or perhaps nothing, as i manage to focus on doing all of the above? i leave it to the fates to decide...-grin-

ooh! and my cousin Joanne got into LSE! she's going to start in the fall, doing Philosophy and Economics. two cousins in london! how awesome is that. -grin-

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

i give up

no wonder i have no motivation to do my reading for East Asian Security -- i have come to the conclusion that either (a) everyone who writes about East Asia is a crazy kook, or (b) everyone i have been assigned to read this quarter re: the future of East Asian stability is a crazy kook. damn, if i weren't a crazy kook i could make a fortune writing reasonably well-written books about the next decade of East Asian politics.

but since i am so frustrated with Japan's National Security, i shall take the quiz that all my friends are taking:

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, find line 4. Write down what it says.

(These subsidiaries often import) components from Japan and export finished products to other countries both (within Asia and beyond.)

2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What do you touch first?

Nothing but air, unless my arm were about three feet longer, then it would be the foot of my nice full-sized, very comfy bed...

3. What is the last thing you watched on TV?

erm. Cubs vs. Braves, friday night? we won, in the fifteenth inning, 2-1.

4. WITHOUT LOOKING, guess what the time is.


5. Now look at the clock, what is the actual time?

3.55pm. i'm less kanchiong than i thought.

6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear?

My crazy wall clock's random ticking noises, plus howling wind through our ventilation system.

7. When did you last step outside? what were you doing?

Coming home from Motet rehearsal about one and a half hours ago.

8. Before you came to this website, what did you look at?

Random blogs of friends.

9. What are you wearing?

boyfriend's old RI Prefectorial Board tshirt -smirk- the theft of which he protested earlier today but failed to stop; and bright pink-hearts-covered boxers from Gap.

10. Did you dream last night?

most definitely. weird dreams.

11. When did you last laugh?

on the way home from school with alex.

12. What is on the walls of the room you are in?

too much crap. ok let's see: wall clock which makes loud ticking noises from ikea (two bucks!); a series of photos in frames also from ikea -mostly of me and eunice and cecilia, but one of me and rachel from the day we got our scholarship thing from PM Goh; an old picture of alex and i from yonks ago; several poems by various people including Tsin Yen's One Winged Angel; postcards from italy from alex in the summer; a noticeboard with many outdated notices; a huge stop sign over the light switch; and a poster ying drew yonks ago for me of Roller Ram.
13. Seen anything weird lately?

all my friends are weird. :)

14. What do you think of this quiz?

it's a great waste of time i should spend reading Japan's National Security.

15. What is the last film you saw?

Ghost in the Shell at Doc, unfortunately dubbed instead of subbed. damn you, Doc Films. =p

16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy first?

A house in New Zealand with my dream kitchen, and my perfect wall-to-ceiling bookshelf-covered, split level library. Think Henry Higgins's library in My Fair Lady. and a dog. a big dog.

17. Tell me something about you that I don't know.

oh good grief, let's not. =)

18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do?

have fewer hungry, homeless people.

19. Do you like to dance?

yes :)

20. George Bush: is he a power-crazy nutcase or some one who is finally doing something that has needed to be done for years?

my view is terribly uncharitable: he's a power-hungry, greedy selfish nutcase who is preying on human fear to get what he wants.

21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her?

for some reason girls' names are harder. Megan, maybe.

21. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him?

erm. Phillip. or Paul. or...the list goes on.

22. Would you ever consider living abroad?

Yeah. see my answer to post about becoming multimillionaire. =)

Monday, April 12, 2004

Happy Easter

so there's only about another fifteen minutes of it left, Chicago time, but...Happy Easter everyone. =) hope you had a good one.

i got dressed up for church today and the weather cooperated, just a little, just enough so that my still-slightly-damp hair didn't freeze when i went outside, and i could wear a skirt and heels. (ahhh the heels. i haven't worn strappy heels in a while -with good reason, bloody chicago winter- and my feet are unused it the pressure points) it was a lovely sunshiney day too.

got to Bond Chapel just before the crazy rush, so pstan and i managed to sit where we wanted as opposed to where we were squeezed into. Mass was good -- i like the Latin, and the notation gives me a chance to practice not only my sightreading ability but my ability to read Gregorian Chant notation. =)

then i spent the rest of the day loafing off until alex came home. =)

it's been a good Easter weekend, no doubt -- shopping yesterday where i managed to get H a bday prezzie for her 21st next week, which she likes! and also a cool dress from H&M pour moi, and yoga pants for my pilates class. 'twas a good outing. =) and dinner with H and Claire followed by a movie at their place, and lots of the most awesome cookies with chocolate overload at the same time. only bad thing about the weekend was the amount of work i got done -to wit, zero. (well at least i finished reading the Lundestad. only two more articles for the EU, and ALL OF KENNETH WALTZ to go by wednesday not to mention something like seven articles for East Asian Sec. AHHH!)

time to go read/sleep, though i've just had an entire mug of coffee and a long girl-talk chat with the roommie. we've decided that boys are (a) stupid and (b) lazy when it comes to dating, and they really need to get their signalling aparatus in shape! -grin-

Saturday, April 10, 2004

another quick post since i haven't posted for a while, other than replying to comments about tea and Windows. (i remain a Windows user, but perhaps not for long...-cue ominous music-) have just emerged from a nice 20-lap swim in our lovely new pool (ok, so it's almost a year old but what the heck, this is only the second time i've been in it) and am killing time in the Reg before having lunch with alex before he takes off to visit fiona, joshua, edward and co at Upenn. (leaving me with a weekend free to wreak havoc with my girlfriends. oh wait. it's Easter weekend. leaving me with a friday night and a saturday free to wreak havoc with my girlfriends.)

week has been a chaotic, but thoroughly enjoyable mess. this quarter's gonna be much better than last, i feel. i really do do a lot better when there is more pressure (external pressure, since i am patently incapable of applying pressure to myself) rather than less, from classes. =) so a full load of reading-and-writing (not problem set) classes is working really well, lots of motivation, plus i really like the professors. Mearsheimer is awesome, as is Jim Leitzel, and i am loving the whole EU thing with Sebastian.

the readings for Sebastian as well as for the East Asian Security class have suggested some avenues for my BA to wander down re: integration. they point out the relative lack of institutionalisation in East (and by extension, Southeast) Asia. ie the alphabet soup is more of a thin gruel, to paraphrase someone -i forget who at the moment. Freidberg, maybe, in "Ripe for Rivalry". so perhaps i might do something on (a) why lack of current institutionalisation in Asia - also something about the thickness and robustness of existing institutions such as APEC and ASEAN; and (b) what's the future for institutionalisation in Asia. is there something intrinsically different about Asia, as some authors like David Kang seem to contend, that make theories based on the European nation-state fail to describe Asian international politics? i don't happen to think so. in part because i believe that people are people are people regardless of skin colour, hair colour, height, so on so forth. ie if it's human nature that drives the IR train, as Mearsheimer puts it, then the IR train is going to be the same wherever there ar e humans. i happen to think that any current differences result from a different socialisation and concept of community -as i wander dangerously close to constructivist grounds- and as those ideas change -become more Westernised- so will the outward expression of our politics.

anyways, just something for me to think about. in the meantime it's lunchtime and i am starving. the after-swim-lack-of-hunger has worn off with a vengeance!

Thursday, April 08, 2004

many a thing to say but not too many words in which to say them -- my brain is fried. i have been drinking entirely too many cups of good Chinese tea, though have stayed off the coffee during the day...the tea is just something to keep me awake (the process of drinking) while i'm reading at midnight for classes.

a little sidebar on tea, since i have been reading Sudeep's postings on tea which he referenced over at Crescat Sententia:

he writes that the second pouring of tea is the best, which may or may not also be true for most Chinese teas, come to think of it. certainly the red teas. but it just struck me that my favourite pour for the tea that i drink -which is jasmine or fragrant tea, xiang pian, which is all i tend to order in chinese restaurants also- is the first pour. before the tea has had a proper chance to steep, so that all that is caught in that first cup is the fragrance of the jasmine, and a foretaste of the clear, slightly bitter tea. of course, i have to admit that i brew my chinese tea not in a teapot but in a large plastic jug, for lack of a teapot. Not the way i learned to in the teahouse. did you know that Chinese tea can be drunk a day old without any change in flavour? (i'm drinking some of last night's now.) anyway.


six hours of seminar turns out to be not too terrible at all. i enjoyed this morning's little pow-wow on realism, liberalism, and constructivism (whose proponents got a little less short-shrifting than usual) in The European Union. the little break helps immensely, let me tell you. three hours is no joke. esp in Pick 506, where i had my Seminar on Realism with Mearsheimer -- those chairs are brutal. i did get out early both from Motet before, which allowed me to eat lunch at a reasonable pace instead of wolfing it down before the professor appeared, and from the class, because Mearsheimer is doing a tv spot on Iraq this evening and had to 'cut and run'. i must say that Seminar is extremely enjoyable, even if Professor Mearsheimer has a disconcerting ability to call your name on the one question you have no idea how to answer or what to say. and then your brain -ok my brain- blanks out and i don't even have the wherewithal to make something intelligible (not intelligent, mind you, intelligible) up. -grin-

now i need my Kenneth Waltz to arrive in the next two days so i can read it before next week's slaughter begins. it's shipped already, unlike Parsons's A Certain Idea of Europe, which i am getting slightly antsy about, for Sebastian's class.

i think it's probably a good bet to say that i will remain a neoliberal institutionalist, though it's too early to tell at this stage. frankly Mearsheimer's offensive realism theory is appealling (helped no doubt by the fact that his book is clear and easy to read. he has no interest in obfuscating or being obtuse for the sake of sounding academic, clearly.) and might just change my mind. we'll find out in the course of ten weeks. some of it is rather compelling...

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

instead of doing my reading for tomorrow (what a bad idea) i decided to listen to an old BBC interview of Singapore's Prime Minister, Goh Chok Tong, on Hardtalk last Sept. (thanks to jolene for posting the link to it on her blog.)

have a couple of comments about it, in addition to agreeing with her comment about gormlessness. first of all, i'm disappointed in how passive our PM is in taking what might be called controversial questions. i'd like to see a PM quicker on his feet and more sure of his opinion -and his country's opinion- on various issues. i'd like to see a more argumentative PM; someone who enjoys the debate rather than endures it -- he seemed exceedingly uncomfortable there in the hot seat, as it were.

there are times where it is all right to say 'i can't comment on this' -like when he declines to talk about the trial of the JI leader in Indon, and the only justification he really needed to give was 'it's an ongoing trial in another country's domestic legal system, and i don't feel it's appropriate to comment until the appeals process is complete, for fear of prejudicing the outcome.' and leave it at that. i mean, that's a perfectly reasonable response and any repeated attempts at the same question can be fobbed off with 'no comment', without coming off as having something to hide.

his responses to several other questions also upset me, in that they seemed unnecessarily defensive, weak, or equivocal. for example, Tim Sebastian comments on UN and international condemnation of Singapore's (among other ASEAN nations) refusal or failure to condemn human rights abuses in what he insists on calling Burma, and which i will now call Myanmar. my response is that unlike Singapore (and the other ASEAN nations), the United Nations, and the United States, don't live in South East Asia. the ties of geography are inescapable, however much we wish we could unmoor our little island in the sea and move to more hospitable climes. therefore, our attitudes toward one another in SEA, regarding human rights as well as other things, is tempered by the necessity to maintain stability between ourselves. the necessity to prevent war, to contain conflict, or even to avoid it. and frankly, if we can make a little profit out of it too, why the hell not? if you believe the realists, which i sometimes do, morality has nothing to do with statecraft; power and relative gains do. and if we can get some kind of economic gain out of a bad situation then why shouldn't we enrich ourselves?

again on the questions regarding the Remaking Singapore campaign. i want someone who will immediately point out to the questioner that his question has no logical causality -- just because we are remaking something doesn't automatically imply that the previous version is bad or broken. (fucking microsoft remakes Windows every few years or so just to squeeze more money out of everyone, right?) there's also no reason to presume that change only happens when things are broken and no longer work, or that a system can be perfect from the get-go, for all circumstances in all times. it's promising that he points out that we have to allow a younger generation to help determine what kind of future they want -- isn't that the kind of thing that all the western liberal democracies are crying about anyway? that people should get involved in their governments and their futures? isn't that the way democracies SHOULD work? - that people should speak up and change the way governments are run and systems are shaped to suit the way they want to lead their lives? -- though how much determining they are going to be doing is still to be seen. saying the system isn't flexible because it has to be remade is patently ridiculous, if only because allowing the system to be 'remade', or changed, or adapted, or whatever you want to call it, is already a demonstration of flexibility in itself, isn't it. (otherwise we would be forced to go along with the old system until it really did break apart and leave us high and dry, and possibly dead.)

and in response to his remarks about Lee Hsien Loong and dynastic rule in Singapore, i'd have to say that the son doesn't always contain the father. i mean, let's take a look at the number of useless descendents the european royal families have produced over time. even if it IS dynastic rule (the jury, at least my jury, is still out on that), it doesn't mean that we are going to get a repeat performance of the 1970s and 80s. circumstances change; the circumstances that have shaped the man are different between now and independence in 1965.

those are the things that really jumped out at me. i guess the other stuff is old news -- driving JB Jayaratnam or Chee Soon Juan to bankruptcy, executions, blahblah. (though it did strike me that PM Goh's ballpark figure for number of executions is totally wrong - it's not even in the same playing field as the right number-; and his ignorance of ISD detentions is appalling, considering that somewhere along the line their detentions are supposed to be reviewed. though i can't remember if it's by the PM or the President. i can't imagine why it would be the President. i thought he didn't have any real work to do.)

perhaps Lee Hsien Loong will make a PM more to my liking, despite my current distaste. although i would argue that he's more elitist and more isolated from the common man than PM Goh is, he's also more aggressive, more argumentative, more in your face. i think he relishes the challenge of the debate. the question is, while he's a face i would be happier to see on BBC and other international interviews, is he going to be the kind of face that i would like to see in domestic news about taxation, education, human rights and so forth?

Vice Cream

taken off Jim Leitzel's Vice Squad is a link to this delightful article about vodka flavoured ice cream being produced in Australia. Read it, it's entertaining. What really caught my attention, however, other than this sentence:

"These products normalise alcohol and suggest to people that they ought to be thinking about alcohol just about every hour of the day" (you mean we shouldn't?)

is that Arnott's is making Tia Maria flavoured Tim Tams. those of us who have had Tia Maria OR Tim Tams, and of course both, would declare that this is a brilliant idea. to those people who think it's a bad idea because their underage children -who presumably are also disallowed the occasional tipple of wine at Christmas or Easter or New Year's- might gain access to alcohol, all i can say is just don't buy the damn things for your kids. besides, the amount of alcohol involved is miniscule to say the least (unless you totally do not understand the process of baking and the boiling point of alcohol). i really doubt your kids are going to (a) get drunk or (b) gain an overwhelming addiction to alcohol from eating Tia Maria-d Tim Tams. (an addiction to Tim Tams, on the other hand...but that's easy even without the alcohol)

-rolls eyes- i can see that Regulation of Vice will rapidly bring out the loud, angry libertarian portion of my soul that is usually kept wrapped in a straitjacket with large blinking warning signs over it.

janice freerides on this blog to say hello. =)

Monday, April 05, 2004


i know i haven't posted all weekend, which for me is highly unusual. and i can't imagine why i didn't update, though the fact that i've done a lot and been really tired probably has much to do with it. come to think of it i did accomplish rather a lot this weekend:

(1) finished reading Mill for Regulation of Vice.
(2) finished reading Machiavelli for Seminar on Realism.
(3) went out for dinner with weekeong, janice, yixin and alex to Cafe BaBaReeba, which served up awesome tapas and paella, as well as perfectly acceptable sangria. (perhaps we should have tried the mango sangria.) the octopus was -in my opinion anyway- slightly squishy, but that's always better than rubbery, and the garlic shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, beef tenderloin with cheeses and tortilla espanola were all awesome. not to mention the paella, which stuffed us all with lovely flavourful rice and insane amounts of shrimp, chicken, pork and beans. mmm...
(4) went to the gym on friday and did lots of cardio with H and Claire. i'm surprised that i didn't keel over after the workout on the elliptical, and also managed to lift a little for my miserable, puny arms. H worked my abs. poor me. -grin- alex and i then proceeded to go swimming on saturday, which was my first time inside Ratner, much less our new pool there. =) the pool is gorgeous! though i am slightly miffed that they are not opening the long course and are instead making me swim a 25yard course across the breadth of the pool. but no matter. it's still a great pool, nice and deep and clean and cool. i liked it. i missed swimming, so saturday was awesome. think i'm going to try and keep it up - the whole pilates/gym/swim routine. it's good for me, plus it'll be a break from interminable reading.
(5) finally managed to get hold of the Keohane reading for The EU, thanks to pstan's camping out at the Reg yesterday. also managed to finish reading the Wendt and the Ruggie, though still have to make it through the Keohane and the Mearsheimer. it can be done. AFTER i read this crap for East Asian Sec. ahhh!

so my life is mostly a spin-cycle of work craziness now. but i'm starting to like it. =) gotta run. lunch with pstan in a bit. ciao!

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Chicago Quill

a brief note for those needing more online amusement. TheChicago Quill, a new online 'zine, opens its metaphorical doors today. =)

too much sleep makes me laaazy

i know i said i'd write more last night but i passed out at the insanely early hour of nine thirty pm or so. (i woke up several times after, and insisted i was awake, but failed to keep my eyes open for longer than a minute at a time, probably much to alex's amusement. i think i finally gave up, mumbling something about cleaning up tomorrow, at midnightish. i remember none of this in any clear way. -grin-) i did however manage to write something in my Livejournal while i was at the library reading On Liberty, so here it is. Enjoy.

in the meantime, i'm going to be reading The Prince for Seminar on Realism, some assorted articles for The EU, and hunting down the one book that's on 24-hour reserve for the EU at the Reg. (it was out yesterday. bah.) ahhhh spring quarter. =) on the upside, the sun is shining, the skies are clear (i can see downtown!) and the temperature is looks like it's going to be a gorgeous day.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Foreign Affairs

a brief post mostly to remind myself to take a look at the Foreign Affairs Bestsellers list when i get a chance. old JC-history students and political science types will recognise the title of the mag. it's an old friend for those of us who focused on globalisation, the arab-israeli conflict, and the (rise and fall of the) USSR. still chock-full of good stuff, and now a new monthly bestseller list for foreign affairs books in the US (well really in Barnes and Noble, but indicators and what-not.)

more tonight.

Friday, April 02, 2004

in response to the Bush vs. Kerry debate

now we all know that my preferences lie strongly with Kerry, in the -anyone but Bush- sense of preference. i've been known to say that i would vote for a hamster or goldfish over Bush. (of course, i am also not an American citizen, so really, my preferences have no real impact whatsoever.) i've just read, over at Dan Drezner's blog that he thinks (as does Megan McArdle, whom he references) that there is little to no differences between the two men, and any preference ultimately will be fairly weak. (perhaps whoever yells the loudest? or has more commercials on tv?)

here's my two cents worth. perhaps in terms of issues there is little to be chosen between the two -or at the very least it would take some skilled attention to detail to discern the real difference between the two sets of fiscal policy, or foreign policy (i mean, come on, the Bush Adminstration got the US into Iraq; even if Kerry is elected President he's still going to have to deal with the fact that US troops are already committed in Iraq, what great difference can he make to the spilled (spoiled?) milk, right?). however, there are some things i dislike immensely about Bush that have nothing -or rather, little- to do with the actual details of his policy. most significantly is the attitude the Bush Adminstration has of going it alone -de facto unilateralism, no matter how many gestures they make in the direction of multilateralism, so that they can claim that they've made a good faith attempt at engaging others. i believe that some honest good faith efforts at engaging international institutions and the international community is important - not the least because it assuages worry and resentment against US power. there seems to be some disconnect in understanding between the causes of threats to the US, and the flexing of (unreasonable) American military might. i'll probably have more to say as the quarter progresses and i read more in Seminar on Realism.

another big BugBear of mine: taxation. of course, i have been reading Krugman, who is by no means unbiased. however, he makes -repeatedly- a valid point: the bait-and-switch not just in taxation but in foreign policy. the Bush Adminstration lies to the American public -if not directly, by false information, then indirectly, by omission of information, by using the fine print, by obfuscation and by shouting louder than its critics. while the Bush Adminstration trumpets the savings that tax cuts they are desperately trying to push through will bring, they fail to mention who the greatest beneficiaries are. not the poor people, as you would expect. not even the lower-middle income range. but the rich. now it all comes back to what you believe about marginal prospensities to spend, and relative utlities. is a marginal dollar worth the same to a poor person as it is to a rich person in terms of utility? is it worth the same to society when it's returned to a poor person as when it's returned to a rich person? i happen to believe not.

also, let's not forget that the Bush Adminstration is riding the wave of fear, using it to push through changes in society that would otherwise be impossible. fingerprinting and photographing all foreign visitors to the United States, the Patriot Act, the insistence on treating everyone who is not 'with them' as 'the enemy' who is against them...there no longer exists a middle ground, where an observer is allowed to object without malicious intent. (sounds eerily familiar. the US should take care it doesn't turn into another...Singapore -grin-) that loss of middle ground i think is something that in itself is worthy of regret.

beyond all that, in this case, if it comes to picking between the devil i know and the devil i don't, i'm going to pick the devil i don't. i have proof that the devil i know is fully capable of lying, making a dishonest case for going to war, cutting taxes on the rich and increasing the burden on the poor, spending the country into deficit from a surplus (though perhaps any adminstration would have done the same, faced with the aftermath of 9/11), to name a few objections. even if there are no real policy implications for the choice ahead for the United States (i disagree, most of all with 'moderately multilateralist', but what do i know), there are moral and ethical implications stemming from the choice voters make in November. i don't know that Kerry isn't going to do the same if he is in the White House for four years, but at this point i would be willing to risk it if the alternative was another four years for sure of a Bush Adminstration.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

a brief update

in between the runnings-around, the screaming, and the tearing my hair out regarding class schedule for the quarter, i'm going to stop here and update all you interested people on what my schedule looks like as of now. those of you who aren't interested, the rest of the post will hold nothing of interest. -grin-

i got into The European Union with Sebastian, who has an awesome accent and has assigned an 'inordinate' amount of reading. thanks, apparently, to my short little blurble on 'Why I Want To Take This Class' in which i mentioned my BA and Duncan several times, and just generally pleaded the rest of the time.

i've also just received an email from Jim Leitzel saying that against all odds and all expectations, i have a slot in Regulation of Vice, if i want it. he's signing pink slippies tomorrow.

i also spoke to Mearsheimer this afternoon after stopping by his office door and noticing an absence of the promised list of names that he's admitting to his Seminar on Realism. screwing my courage to the sticking place, i asked him if he knew if my name was on the list. he was 'almost certain' it is. hopefully his memory is not playing tricks on him, and i have indeed gotten a coveted slot in said class. (again, i mentioned my BA and duncan several times in the course of HIS version of 'Why I Want To Take This Class'. man, this BA is getting a workout and it hasn't even been written yet!) i'll check in the morning.

but i can sleep easy tonight knowing that i am finally officially in at least three classes this quarter, and will not get kicked out of the country for losing my precious F-1 visa.

what this means, however, is an inordinately heavy workload and no sleep or fun for the next ten weeks. (which will make up for the totally slack ten weeks i had last quarter. hmm.) both seminars involve shitloads of reading, while Leitzel's class involves a lot of writing (which i enjoy but in THIS quantity?). and the East Asian Security class is also kind of stressful. so what should i do. i think that if push comes to shove i'm going to drop the East Asian. there is No Way In Hell i am dropping either the EU or Realism; and Regulation of Vice is hard to get into at the best of times. and i still need to graduate with that econ degree, or breach my contract.

still, it's nice to have the opposite pressure of choices rather than the lack of them. =)