Friday, October 29, 2004

iPod Photo!

sign me up for one of these!

he's right, you know. buying an iPod is not a rational economic decision. it's an instinctive i want! reaction, just like a child reaching for anything in sight (generally to stick it into his mouth, though i wouldn't reccomend doing that to your brand new iPod.) it's just and elegant. and shiny in the back. and cool. who cares if there are cheaper competing models out there that can do approximately the same thing, or that weigh less, or have longer battery life? (ok so i'm slightly bitter abt battery life, but honestly, how often DO you listen to music fifteen hours straight anyway?) they aren't an iPod.

then again i am somewhat of a techy-geek, and automatically respond to most cool new gadgets with an i want reaction: see someone using the Blackberry or a Treo in a cellular company's commercial? i want! one of those. even though my cellie can do just about everything that i could conceivably use the alternatives for. PDAs are another great temptation, despite the fact that all i need them to do is be a cellphone. -grin- sure, opening microsoft documents and so on to read on the fly is a great idea -i love it!- but i also have a twelve inch computer that isn't too heavy to tote around, with a much bigger screen for reading, so what need have i for a PDA? doesn't stop me from wanting one though. -grin-

however, we live in an unlimited-wants-limited-resources sort of world, and my resources are far better spent elsewhere, so i just bite my lip, stuff the i want! reaction back in the three-year-old's-mentality bag where it came from, and concentrate on more important things. like West Wing, which comes on after said commercials; or reading for The BA Thesis. (it looms!)

a rose by any other name...

-grin- thanks for the comments, peeps: she has been named. i decided on...


which sounds more laptoplike, plus i like the fact that she's a smart cookie in MoV. (happy memories from RGS also.) so, now she officially has a name.

i took her into the living room with me to 'work' while i was watching CSI last night. man, she really heats up! it'll be great this winter when my apartment is freezing cold...better than a hot water bottle. or socks, as someone reccomended two days ago. -grin-

it's friday of fifth week; how did that happen? why has no work been done on the BA Thesis? why is there an annotated bibliography due in three days?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

the curse has broken

the Boston Red Sox are the champions of the 2004 World Series! pulling off eight straight games, coming from 3-0 down against the Yankees to take the ACLS, then sweeping the Cardinals in four straight games to take the World Series. it's been a long time coming -86 years!- but the Red Sox have finally done it! with style, too. none of this nambly-pambly seven-game series business.

we caught the last few innings of Game Four because wednesday night is tvfest night in my apartment: an hour of America's Top Model followed by the highlight of the week, the all important hour of the new season of West Wing. i can't BELIEVE (italicised and bolded for emphasis) what happened last night. it is totally insane. i can't imagine what is going to happen next. AHHHHHH i really have to wait an entire week to find out? and then watch the ramifications unfold over an entire season??!! i can't wait. (apologies if this drives the legion of West Wing fans back home to distraction. i'm doing my best not to do a spoiler, but i am going to explode! if i can't at least yelp about it for a bit)

then we flipped over to Game Four, right in the middle of the seventh inning (though we missed 'God Bless America', so i promptly started singing - we had been singing the Star-Spangled Banner earlier anyway) and -the Cards hadn't even managed to score one run, ONE RUN, and the Red Sox were 3-0 up. by the time it was down to the final three outs in the bottom of the ninth i wasn't even pretending to be studying for the midterm that i have in slightly under an hour this morning. it was great to watch the team jump all over each other with joy, and the Sox fans at home in Boston doing the same thing. coolness. =)

well -gotta go work on that midterm, so...wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

there is a new baby in my life

i got the call this morning, while i was stuck in JapPol. so this afternoon, after alex came home from class, i made him drive me to 60th and Kimbark, where we proceeded into the deep dark bowels of the New Graduate Student Housing, and...

picked up my new 12" Powerbook!!!

i'm excited. got her all set up in my room already (typing out this post on her as we figuratively speak), MS Office installed and all requisite messaging programs going strong. i love it already, despite it being heavier than i expected. it's about the same weight, if not slightly heavier, than the iBook (although that is already miles lighter than my Dell brick, which has been almost certainly permanently retired -i probably have to pull some old files off of it soon, but otherwise it is ready to be wiped and donated) but it looks so much cooler. and it's MINE -no sharing with the brother- how sweet is that?

photos, as promised to one Adr, soon. after midterms, when i have had the dinner party i promised mike. :) perhaps i will bake her a cake, if i can come up with a good name. am leaning, as per suggestions, toward a shakespearean name, but have already heard objections to my two favourites: Lady MacBeth, and Ophelia. any other (obscure) suggestions, anyone? -looks plaintively in Gail's direction-

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

"For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day -and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2 Tim 4: 6-8

Thursday, October 21, 2004

ay caramba, what a series

so the Yankees blew a 3-0 lead to lose the ALCS, and the Red Sox are going on to the World Series, where they'll face either the Cardinals or the Astros, depending on the outcome of Game Seven of the NLSC. i'm rooting for the Cardinals, partly because (a) they have little red birdies as their symbol, and (b) the Astros not only have a stupid name, but also have a symbol on their caps that much resembles a mutilated starfish, which makes me unhappy. however, i will support whoever wins and goes to play against the Red Sox, because they cannot be allowed to win a World Series. that would make the Cubbies sole occupiers of a very lonely low step labelled 'haven't won a World Series in living memory'.

we flipped madly this evening between West Wing, the Yankees-Sox game (though after the first inning or two it was pretty clear who was going to win), and America's Next Top Model. but yes, the new season of West Wing premiered tonight, and we have been promised eight all new episodes in a row (yay NBC!) which will take us all the way to the end of the quarter and then some! so i am excited. heehee. it was a cracking good episode too, though it didn't quite tie up ALL the loose ends of last season's finale. talk about starting the new season with a bang! looks like a lot of shakeups are going to ensue, not sure whether this is good or bad...

but i am very happy to have President Bartlett, Josh and CJ and all the others back again, and am waiting with semi-bated breath to see what happens. (oh, and CSI tomorrow night, with Sarah still in it -i wonder what happened there? not that i am complaining, but i could have watched so many more episodes...)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

inspiration to work

what i really need is some inspiration to work, rather than procrastinate. yes, i did get most of the problem set due on thursday done today (albeit mostly in JapPol class this morning, as Silberman was going on at length about why factions exist), and yes, i did write another mediocre little ditty on the subject of misunderstood customs this time, for chinese class. but that's the extent to which i 'did work'.

instead of working, i baked banana walnut bread, which i am v proud of: it smells wonderful and tastes like banana bread, which makes me happy. (my first attempt at banana nut muffins didn't produce anything remotely resembling banana nut muffins!) i also made dinner, watched two episodes of The Simpsons (yay!), and now am doing laundry and bumming around.

oh, but i really want to note my displeasure at the new Straits Times Online site, which now requires logins to read. now, it's not like it was a wonderful site to start with, but hey, at least i could get singapore news as long as i didn't want it to be more than three days old. (and these days i am not getting the STWeekly, which i used to get -the int'l edition) now i have to log in to read news that i really don't have a burning desire to keep up with, at a newspaper i have little to no respect for. yeah, the odds that i'm going to do that on a regular basis are Real High there.

i guess i'll have to rely on my parents to keep me informed as to whether i will have a country to return to in a few months' time. meanwhile i shall read the NYTimes ferociously while i can get it delivered to my doorstep. (though i am afeared that this will make me more miserable to return to the ST...)

Monday, October 18, 2004

blasts from the past

it amuses me to know that i know 'one of the sharpest students' that Dan Drezner has ever taught. anyone who has had a conversation with pstan will instantly recognise the tone of this email.

elsewhere: my iPod is on shuffle mode, and this blast from the past just started blaring from my speakers. ahhh youth. -grin-

i believe the sun should never set upon an argument
i believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
i believe that junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you
i believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
i believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem
i believe that i'm loved when i'm completely by myself alone

i believe in karma what you give is what you get returned
i believe you can't appreciate real love til you've been burned
i believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
i believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

i believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
i believe that trust is more important than monogamy
i believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
i believe that family is worth more than money or gold
i believe the struggle for financial freedom isn't fair
i believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

i believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
i believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
i believe that god does not endorse tv evangelists
i believe in love surviving death into eternity

Sunday, October 17, 2004

singin' the blues

last night alex and i went to my last Blues 'n' Ribs at Ida for at least a v long time, more likely forever. and it was good. i mean, the fried chicken and the ribs were, as usual, lackluster, but hey, they were free. and we college students are the kings and queens of free food (esp when there is also free beer involved.). but the blues, ah -- the band wasn't bad, the singer wasn't bad at all, and i was really enjoying it. alex and i got up and danced a bit -and despite the fact that i literally haven't danced since something like this time last year, i really enjoyed myself, my feet remembered (mostly) what to do, and i proved to myself that i can still count to eight. and feel the music. it was awesome.

and i remembered something eun once said about whether the music is in our flesh and bones, when we don't come from the land where this music was born. and i thought about it more later, when i was watching Emeril on Food Network (don't ask. you do stupid things when you're tired.) and listening to snippets of his live blues band (i mean, how sad is that? you have a live band on your cooking show? how can you have ANY credibility?). after all, this music was born right here in Chicago, and in New Orleans and Kansas City, and it's heard everywhere here in Chicago. and ultimately, i feel like everyone can feel and understand the blues. it's something every person shares a little bit of. ok maybe not everyone can dance to it, and not everyone is moved in the same way by it (i always want to get up and dance, and sing -it's impossible for me to be still when someone -a live band!- is playing the blues near me) but i think everyone can understand, at least a little bit, what blues music is about. to me it's all about the rhythm and the chords and the glorious exchanges between lead instruments and there's something there too about the pathos of being human. you can sing the blues about anything. it's a terribly distinctive, wonderful sound, and it always gets my feet tapping and i start hunting for someone who can lead.

that's one of the things i'm going to miss about chicago, for sure. live blues bands -because really, it's so much more awesome and so much more real when the band is there, you are dancing, and they are playing off what you are dancing and you are dancing to what they are playing. it's a wonderful amazing tremendous feeling, and it's not one you can get from listening to a recording in the quiet of your own room.

Friday, October 15, 2004

poor again

i just thought i'd stop by and log the fact that i just paid off my credit card bill which included the whopping cost of a new 12inch Powerbook.


on the upside, i think they have raised my credit limit yet again, so i am unlikely to run smack into another credit ceiling anytime soon. unless i buy a car or a house. -grin-

not in the mood to do any work tonight -tired and headachey and fearful that i have yet another cold (is it possible, H, that you gave me the plague over the phone last night? regardless of that, it was good to hear from you =p)- so will curl up in bed and finish Ann Patchett's Bel Canto and perhaps (finally) read some Thurber. i also have the latest pratchett (Going Postal) waiting to be read. ahhhh bliss.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

how is this a domestic policy debate?

2005: watching the two candidates attempt to make policy statements around a question regarding the lack of flu shots in this country is tremendously upsetting, in a i am watching a train wreck sort of way. Bushie goes into malpractice litigation, and Kerry has decided to attack health insurance. "This President has turned his back on the wellness of America!"

we started out with a discussion of 'homeland' security that immediately devolved into iraq, war, screening cargo in ports and docks...'I have a plan!' -well, Senator Kerry, we'd like to HEAR what your 'plan' IS! oooh, Bushie is going after him now for talking about some mythical plan and here's the kicker: accuses Kerry of doing a 'bait-and-switch'! something that Bushie should well be aware of, seeing that he is a great proponent of it.

2018: it sounds like Bushie's been reading the Sunday New York Times Magazine -was that a lame attempt at a joke? (because the Times ran an article about how the 'funniest man in this year's race is Al Gore', worrying that both Bush and Kerry are Not Funny.) 'You pay, and he goes ahead and spends it'?

2020: is it me, or do both candidates seem rather slow to warm up today -Bushie's sounding rather awkward (esp post-flu-shot question), Kerry's being rather hestitant -ums and ers and awhs-. yikes! a Kerry joke!

2022: 'is it fair to blame the Adminstration entirely for the loss of jobs?' i'm not sure whose trade/economic policy i prefer -sigh- i'm unhappy with the notion of fair playing field or fair trade policy, or rather with the implications thereof. it's a fact that outsourcing happens mostly because labour here is expensive; labour elsewhere is cheaper; labour is a humongous chunk of a firm's cost. granted a change in the tax scheme might change some cost structures. but i don't think it's going to be as big a deal as cheap labour in China vs. expensive labour in Michigan.

2026: you know, i really can't keep up with these numbers streaming by me. how do they tell me anything about any positions? here we go: homosexuality and gay marriage: i'm seeing this whole ideology debate thing that Silberman was talking about playing out before my very eyes. here's a question for you: what are the big issues in this election, other than war in Iraq and associated war on terror? so far, we've talked about flu shots, job losses, and whether homosexuality is a choice. (2030: stem-cell research and a woman's right to choose.)

i can see that most of these issues are not going to directly affect most of the people in this country. job loss will not be trivial, but neither will it affect the vast majority of Americans. the fear of losing your job, however, does affect the vast majority of manufacturing and certain service industry personnel. the right to abortions for women -the number of women who actually have an abortion might be small, even trivial, in comparison with the number of women in the country. but that doesn't mean it doesn't affect them -i might never have an abortion, but i sure would like to think that i have the CHOICE -assuming i know and bear responsibility for the consequences.

Kerry, in response to 'is homosexuality a choice': 'we're all God's children' -what the hell? my jaw hasn't even undropped from prior comments. then Kerry informs me, at least, that Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian. i'm trying to see how he is distinguishing his position from Bushie's. not being clear here. sometimes nuance is a bad thing. Kerry is now quoting the Bible (inaccurately, i suspect, but that can wait to be checked)

2035: ah, here's a big one: healthcare costs and medical insurance. medical liability reform, malpractice reform, no consumer input? pushing generic drugs to the market faster. (something i used to be a big fan of, and i am still a big fan of the generic drugs in the pharmacy. but i have to say that high costs of prescription drugs pays for the research that produces the next big drug. the faster we erode pharmaceutical companies's profit margins, the faster we erode their incentive to put money into drug research.)

2040: i'm feeling Kerry's gravitas more than Bushie's -ok so perhaps i am biased against Bushie, though Kerry is rapidly eroding my support for him with every passing minute, but Bushie seems uncomfortable, fidgety almost. testy. chomping at the bit. Kerry's looking less like a horse, for that matter, and Bushie is looking rather less like a monkey. i think it's the clone-suit-and-tie outfits they are wearing. Kerry's figured out where the cameras are!

ah! here we go -here's the debate between ideologies: federal healthcare vs. private healthcare. here's a debate between the roles of government in society. 'our healthcare is the envy of the world' -what crack is Bushie on? on the other hand, i have to say that healthcare is a losing battle for most governments. nationalised healthcare has costs that spin out of control; private healthcare means that some people are not going to be able to afford it, especially as costs continue to rise year on year, with inflation and other increasing costs. federal pension vs. personal retirement accounts. 'we're going to protect Social Security!', Kerry says. we will not cut benefits, Kerry claims. but it looks like America is running smack into the problem that we ran into with pension schemes vs. CPF in Singapore -we picked the CPF, which means we pay for our own retirement with our own money, not taxpayer money. switching from one system to another, however, as Kerry points out, incurs a transitional cost which in the US could well be huge.

what's really going on is both candidates are admitting they don't know how to save Social Security.

2051: agh, i hate this whole trickle-down effect of tax cuts that Bushie's economic advisors seem to endorse. it seems to me that it's more effective as a political tool than an economic one. i'm also unhappy that the size of the tax cut means the deficit is big and getting bigger. to me it promotes the idea that the deficit isn't a problem for us to deal with now -well, no one is going to let the biggest and most important nation in the world go bankrupt, now are they- it doesn't promote fiscal responsibility to not understand that taking money out of stream of income while simultaneously allowing more money out is not a good thing.

2057: alex suggests the solution to the immigration problem is to make this a totalitarian state. that way no one will want to move here.

ahhh, minimum wage raise! -throws hands in air- seven bucks an hour, Kerry wants, up from 5.15 an hour. well, frankly, i'm not a fan. (ok, equal pay, i'm happy to listen to. but i'm a woman before i'm an economist.) i think minimum wages distort the labour market and mess up my wonderful market-clearing-information-carrying prices. Bushie, on the other hand, says 'the No Child Left Behind Act is really a jobs act' rather than an education act. the whole idea being well, get a good education, and you WON'T BE EARNING MINUMUM WAGE.

2103: i think these candidates need to come to the U of C and teach us how to get from the topic being discussed to the topic you WANT to talk about without anyone really understanding you got there. how did we get to after-school programs from Roe vs. Wade and constitutional rights and litmus tests for judges?

2105: how is Kerry going to find the people to add to the military? everyone knows that the military is already scraping the bottom of the barrel where personnel recruitment is concerned. this reminds me also of European effort to influence the election -they claim they may come in in Iraq if America were under a different president.

2109: how did we get back to foreign policy?

2116: ‘what part does your faith play on your policy decisions?’ aiyee! ‘the native americans, who gave me a blessing the other day…’ one way to work support groups into your stump speeches…

2125: last question: 'we are each married to strong women. we each have two daughters. what have you learned from these strong women?' asks the moderator. 'to listen to 'em! to stand up straight and not scowl', Bushie shoots back. oh god, Bushie's cracking a joke! a JOKE! and Kerry responds! '...we've all married up, some of us more so than others' they're being FUNNY. that's a great way to end the debate. wow.

the full transcript will be up at some point, and i'm sure there will be more comments on the debate over time. but this is it from me for now -time to go do some work and charge the iBook. over and out!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

economics problem sets!

i suspect econ problem sets and i would get along much better if they weren't really the spawn of all things evil, but seeing as they are, and my international trade teacher has seen fit to assign a hellishly long problem set today that's due thursday, i think i shall have to put off changing my attitude toward them for now. -grin-

on the other hand, my Hua Mulan arrived in the mail today (yay for DHL and mommy) and i watched one episode earlier this evening while stuck, most ferociously, in the midst of writing my research statement for the BA. (the research statement is due to my preceptor by tomorrow. it has been emailed off, half-written, for comments, because i can't for the life of me make it any clearer than it is without doing more reading.) that one episode made me v. happy -there was, of course, an insane amount of exposition in it, but at the very end, my favourite character appeared! i'd forgotten this was how they (he and mulan) met. i speak, of course, of my dear Zhao Wen Zhuo, who is possibly the most attractive Chinese actor alive today.

and there are another 46 episodes to go! ah, bliss. time to come home early after class and sack out in front of the tv, i think...

in the meantime, here's a preliminary research intent statement to chew on:

I am working on studying ASEAN's reaction to the threat of terrorism in the region because I want to find out if member states are responding in the manner Koremenos, Lipson and Snidal predict in their rational design framework, in order to help my reader understand the constraints on regional institutionalisation and integration.

yay for The Craft of Research, which we are reading for BA seminar. most useful little work, it is.

Monday, October 11, 2004

i hate computer companies

taking a break from writing -in a totally incompetent fashion- a chinese essay attempting to criticise some phenomenon in an ironic fashion (??) to complain about my conversation with the Sony technical support peeps in Maimi, Florida this morning. (oh, let me take the time to say how sorry i am that they have been slammed by hurricane after hurricane, though it seems that back home in Asia we are experiencing the same phenomenon -we call them typhoons, of course, but they're just as bad, esp when you are an island nation like Japan.)

so what happened is my bro's computer has several issues with its keyboard, including a Tab key that's broken off so that every time he has to use 'tab' he gives himself a neat little electric shock, as well as a totally not-sensitive touchpad, and a dysfunctional CD drive. so he, happily international-warranty-ed, calls the aussie call centre -he's still Down Under- and requests some repairs. only to find out that he is supposed -i think- to call the american 'clearing house' to get his warranty 'activated'. (i am starting to hate the word 'activated'.) so, not illogically, he sends me an email asking me to call on his behalf, since i am IN the US and therefore am not likely to incur a humongous phonebill. obligingly, i called this morning when i woke up.

first, a slightly surreal moment after 'This call may be recorded for quality control purposes' announcement: i get put though AND my phone call gets picked up (wow, when's the last time you weren't put on hold) but then -i can hear conversation going on in the background, as if someone had picked up the phone then put it down on the desktop- and finally a click, and a man's voice speaking as if nothing had happened. so i relate my problem -or rather my brother's problem- to him, and he can't find the computer in his database. finally, exasperated, i tell him the computer was purchased in Singapore but currently resides in Sydney, and he was like 'oh, that's why it's not in my database.'

well, what the fuck. i mean, why should i even BOTHER with an 'international' anything with these damn computer companies anyway? the same thing with Dell: 'international warranty' means 'wait three weeks while we attempt to call all our offices at irregular intervals until we locate the one record on one computer in the entire world that has your details on it' rather than 'peace of mind when your computer screws up on the road (which, as we all know, it invariably will, because we produce merchandise that does that quite regularly)'. not that i'm blaming either the guy i talked to this morning (ok, i do blame him slightly, because when i expressed my displeasure to him, he replied 'well i can't answer your question, you'll have to speak to someone higher up the food chain than i am' rather than 'well, ma'am, i can't tell you why we are so fucked up, but i will pass on your comments to my supervisor and let him deal with it', which means the same thing, but would at least have made me feel a little more like he is being proactive.) or the guy who works the Dell counter on campus, because both of them were polite and clearly tried to help (the Dell guy by boosting my computer to the head of the line once the warranty cleared, and the Sony guy by trying to find me another number to call -though he failed) .

what transpired is Sony requires you to fax them a copy of your sales slip if you need your computer serviced, because -get this- they DON'T HAVE A RECORD OF WHEN YOU PURCHASED YOUR COMPUTER anywhere on their system, DESPITE the fact that they have a warranty system that is BASED ON THE DATE OF PURCHASE. -rolls eyes- if you can think of another way to make the warranty system even more inefficient and bothersome for your consumer, i'd like to see it. actually, on second thought, i wouldn't. it would probably give me a heart attack, and/or make me spit blood.

all i want -this is not too much to ask, is it? from computing companies that have the computing brainpower of several firstworld nations rolled into one- is an international warranty system that is really international. all it requires is for various national trouble-shooting centres to talk to one another; for warranties to be centrally sorted and the information internationally distributed. so it requires a fundamental change in your customer-service priorities. let me tell you, it would give you an edge on your competitors. i, for one, would be fanatically loyal to a company that really lives to serve my computing needs, not just from the moment i write them an astronomical (metaphorical) cheque for the purchase of a spanking new top-of-the-line machine, but also when it breaks and i need it fixed, despite the fact that i have purchased it in Singapore, live in America, and am speaking to a customer-service operator in India.

instead, i am faced with a bunch of companies that clearly stay competitive by colluding to provide equally awesomely bad post-purchase service to all their (potential) customers. yet another reason to make The Switch to Apple: even if their customer service is no better, at least their machines break less often.

Friday, October 08, 2004

and you think our censorship is bad

look what popped up in the STOnline today:

Malaysian blog draws flak from govt officials

KUALA LUMPUR -- Internet freedom in Malaysia has come under scrutiny after government officials lashed out at the publisher of a webjournal that carried a reader's comments that were allegedly insulting to Islam.

Opposition leaders and media rights activists scrambled to defend Jeff Ooi, who runs a web diary - or blog - on politics and issues of public interest, after a deputy minister warned that he risked being jailed under national security laws if he encouraged provocative Internet discussions.

Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based group, said late on Wednesday it 'condemned a bid to intimidate' the journalist, stressing the government's threats against him would 'force those running weblogs to use excessive censorship.'

The controversy began in this mostly Muslim nation, where religious sensitivities run high, after one of Mr Ooi's blog readers posted a comment on Sept 30 that compared the practice of progressive Islam by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's government to excrement.

Mr Ooi, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist in his 40s who works as a business analyst, quickly barred the reader, who identified himself as 'Anwar,' from posting further messages, saying his comments 'twisted and hijacked' the blog discussions.

'I do not condone offensive postings,' Mr Ooi told The Associated Press.

His blog is one of Malaysia's most widely read, attracting about 4,000 visitors per day. Readership doubled this week after widespread publicity in the mainstream media, which operate under strict licensing and sedition laws that critics say has led to self-censorship.

Some politicians have expressed concerns that Mr Ooi's blog - which in recent weeks has discussed suspicions of corruption in Malaysia's ruling party and public discontent over an increase in petrol prices - could inspire inflammatory debate.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Noh Omar has warned that authorities could take action against Mr Ooi under the Internal Security Act, which provides for the imprisonment without trial of people deemed to have undermined national security.

'In the case of, I am warning its operator to cease any discussions on sensitive issues related to religion,' Mr Noh was quoted as saying by the Berita Minggu newspaper. 'If not, actions using the ISA could be applied.'

'This issue is not about freedom of speech,' Khairy Jamaluddin, the Malaysian premier's son-in-law and close adviser, told the New Straits Times newspaper.

'It is about common decency.' -- AP
be prepared for some fairly pissed-off remarks from our neighbours across the Causeway sometime soon, i think. first news about how our new PM is all chummy with their new PM, and now a remark on our national paper about M'sians threatening to use the ISA on some poor hapless blogger who appears to have attracted a reader with more temper than sense. well, shucks. i wonder if that's meant as some kind of warning to our own bloggers? hmm? -grin-

in other news, i have absolutely no idea how to prove that Smith's invisible hand really does work the way that all us U0fC trained economists (and economists in general) intuitively know to be true. here's the question: Show that the actions of producers who seek to maximise their own profit lead to the maximisation of a country's GDP (which is an illustration of Smith's "invisible hand"). help! and the problem set is due at five, and i am sleeeeeppppyyyy...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Veep Debates

oh, yet another comment to make on the ongoing election saga here in the good ol' US of A. last night was the first VP debate between Cheney and Edwards (at the same time as the Twins-Yankees playoff game) . i caught none of it, having consciously decided not to waste my time (and mind) watching all of it, but did catch a brief snippet of it on the news report immediately after (emily was watching tv and called me out to see it).

i have no comment on the substantive part of the debate -i did, after all, see but one exchange between the two- other than to remark that both seemed more ready to answer and more ready to go at each other's throats than Bushie and Kerry (which may well be a result of two things: (a) they are not the primary reason people vote and (b) VP debates don't matter, which is an extension of (a).). my real comment is this: is it me or does Dick Cheney look not-human? (not inhuman, mind you, not in the superman or cruel kind of way. simply not human, in the i am an alien sort of way.) it's sort of disturbing. like watching a robot with attack speech.

on the other hand i don't seem to be getting the vibe that Edwards acquitted himself fairly well either, but as the debate is fairly inconsequential, this is probably not a big deal. (he does need to stop quoting John Kerry, i have to say. it's almost as annoying as Bushie calling non-Iraq-War-supporters traitors, or whatever it is he said.)

my question is, if Dick Cheney is 'one of the most powerful vps' that america has seen for a long time -and it is not hard to imagine that he has massive massive influence over how the adminstration is run -i cannot help but think of him as the main force behind Bushie's administration (ah, the unholy alliance between Cheney and Rummy!), why is it that the VP debates are still inconsequential? shouldn't people give a shit what Cheney has to say? (then again, perhaps we already know what he has to say, and Edwards doesn't give any indication of being a strong VP, does he, so perhaps, ultimately, it doesn't matter.)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

oh my god, DBS.

my world is falling apart: Citibank Hong Kong can't get its shit together and keep my account updated; and now DBS Hong Kong does something as monumentally stupid as this. what is the world coming to? (an end, apparently.)

OCT 6, 2004
Safe deposit boxes destroyed by mistake

By Bryan Lee

DBS Bank is facing angry customers at one of its Hong Kong branches after a contractor mistakenly removed 83 rented safe deposit boxes containing cash and jewellery, among other items, and dumped them at a scrapyard.

The blunder occurred during renovation work last Saturday at the bank's branch in Mei Foo, Kowloon, a middle-class neighbourhood.

DBS staff have since salvaged some valuables and other personal effects.

DBS spokesman Catherine Ong said: 'I will be lying if I tell you we don't have upset customers. We have and we are doing all we can to help them. For many, the loss will be an emotional one rather than financial. But we recognise that this is no less important.'

The error could also prove costly. The bank said yesterday that it would 'honour its ultimate responsibilities' to the 83 affected customers.

It has already drawn sharp words from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), which said it 'is taking a very serious view of this matter'. 'The HKMA expects the bank to take prompt and appropriate remedial actions to compensate the customers,' said its spokesman.

DBS has blamed the fiasco on human error. The removal occurred after 1pm when the branch was closed for the day.

Kumihara, a Japanese firm specialising in safe deposit box installation and removal, was engaged to remove 800 empty small safe deposit boxes, which were to be replaced by more popular bigger boxes. Although these had been marked out and listed, 120 extra boxes were somehow removed as well. Of the 120, 83 had been rented out.

All this happened under the supervision of DBS staff, the bank said.

When the mistake was discovered the next day, the bank sent staff to the scrapyard where the old boxes had been crushed to try to salvage the contents. So far, it has recovered some cash, jewellery and personal documents.

'We will review every claim on a case-by-case basis. Everyone with a legitimate claim will be properly compensated,' Ms Ong said.

However, she was unable to estimate likely total compensation. Affected customers will need to list all the items in their boxes first. So far, it has contacted 50 of them.

Verification of claims, however, will be tough and may result in legal wrangling as renters do not have to declare to banks what they store in the metal boxes when they rent them.

The bank has notified its insurers and is working closely with them, she said.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

saturdays are too too short

gosh, what a day. the plan was to go to Target, get some shopping done, come home, have time to do other things, like do laundry and work. however, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that -- let's just say that instead of a simple two, three hour trip to Target, we left at noon and got back at five-thirty. =p and poor alex is tired from all that driving he had to do!

however, i did get a new food processor! -bounce bounce- -very excited- so now i can make pesto, and chop onions without crying, and chop garlic without killing myself and oh, make a bunch of things that can't be done (practically) without a food processor! and it only cost me thirty bucks, is a Black and Decker, and came with a free bonus handmixer! (which my roomie will appreciate, seeing as she is the one who makes cookies and other things-involving-dough. i, on the other hand, will make whipped cream!) this is every inch as cool to me as getting her very own power drill would be for ying. -grin- i'm happy.

oh, and of course a bunch of other odds and ends, like strawberry Nutrigrain bars -the best kind-, crackers, soap, that sort of thing. but the best is definitely the food processor! and we got frames for our two jigsaws too, which was nice. for a while we were worried about fitting the shopping-loads of five people into the trunk of the car, but the Taurus proved roomy and Amanda proved herself as a champion packer -there was room to spare!

however we did come home rather beat. so dinner was simple -store-bought roast chicken, and i made fettucine alfredo with store-bought fresh fettucine. (i really wanna try making my own sometime soon!) still, my first attempt at fettucine alfredo probably wasn't too terrible -how can anything with lots of parmiggiano in it be bad? tomorrow, i'll try making pesto. if i have time -i still have to do laundry, try and bake some chocolate chip cookies to bring to Duncan when i go see him sometime soon, and Do My Homework (hopefully i'll finish the Chinese Essay tonight.) as well. ahh, weekends, they're never long enough.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

i'm back

first week of school is over, my schedule is settled, and now it's all down to getting my brain in gear and doing my homework. riiiiight. (i did my chinese homework! and i suppose later this evening i might read a chapter or so on International Trade...) two things: (1) i made hamburgers for dinner tonight for the first time; and (2) the first debate between Kerry and Bushie was last night, and as expected, i have some comments.

debate first. the transcript for the 'debate' is here, with thanks to the Washington Post for putting it up, and Dan Drezner for pointing me to it. i have to admit that i am one of those who tuned in (though i had forgotten about it, and turned over to CBS because i'd also forgotten to watch CSI and was trying to catch the 'Next Week On...' bit, only to have the debate start in front of me), watched for a bit, and then turned off the tv in despair, thereby missing what i hear is kerry improving over the course of the evening, and Bushie deteriorating. but as a friend of mine says, 'it's not fair; george has an out; we expect him to be bad'.

i for one didn't think Kerry was doing so well; i think his weak point really is going to be that in contrast to Bushie's 'I Am Resolutely Leading This Country Forward (even if it is in the wrong direction)' stand, Kerry doesn't seem to have 'fearless leader' sort of attitude. encouraging though it is to have Kerry constantly reminding us that it's not good to be resolutely wrong, it's hard to see why we should vote for Kerry for any reason save as a rejection of Bush, and frankly that's not something i want to see as the (perhaps) Leader of the Free World. but i am assured that he improved as the evening went by. i also have to admit that i can see some of Bushie's charm, when i'm not focused on the fact that i really don't like him as President, which is disturbing. (it was easy to jeer and throw things at the screen during the State of the Union, because he was being really arrogantly annoyingly Republican)

my real comment on the debate, however, is that it isn't really a debate, now is it? a quick review of the rules for the non-American/non-watchers out there: moderator asks one candidate a question; he has two minutes to answer, after which his opponent has a ninety second rebuttal. if the moderator deems it necessary there will be a thirty-second extension on both sides after the rebuttal; if not the moderator asks another question. not a follow-up; another question. 'moving right along' style. the candidates are not allowed to address each other; just the moderator/audience (which is in the studio but not allowed to make noise except to clap at the beginning and the end. i suppose they are there to help the candidates remember they are live on national television -as if they could forget).

it's a little strange that they don't directly engage each other -what are we afraid of here, bloodshed? mudslinging? what?- and i find it slightly disquieting. it also gives me the feeling that everything has been (slightly) preprepared; Bushie in particular pounding in his message; Kerry having trouble finding his (as always). (i did like seeing Kerry scribbling madly away taking notes, however. i'm not sure Bushie was.) i would have preferred to see a more direct debate -conversation? discussion? argument? fight?- between Bushie and Kerry. however, as i've said before -it's not like my opinions matter, seeing as i'm not an American. =)

on to a more exciting event: making hamburgers. i love my George Foreman grill, have i said this before? tonight we decided hamburgers sounded good, so we went to the store, got some ground beef and onions and tomatoes, and headed back to my place. while the grill heated up, i seasoned the beef, shaped it into little round balls, and sliced onions and tomatoes. alex fried bacon. then i slapped a couple of beefballs on the grill and squished them flatter with the lid -at which point a satisfying sizzle and the smell of grilling meat filled the air. alex fried sliced red onions in bacon fat on medium heat until they caramelised and sweetened. then we simply toasted some hamburger buns, put the burgers on, covered with a slice of cheese, tomatoes, bacon and sweet red onions, dipped in ketchup and ate. we each had TWO! i think i ate like a quarter pound of cow. it was great. i'm stuffed.

and i have strawberries marinating in lime juice and sugar in the fridge! happiness is fooooood...

edit: with thanks to pstan, here is an article from MSNBC re: the aftermath of the debate. think what you will. we have our fingers crossed here in Apt 717N that kerry will win come Nov. 2. better make sure my roomie is registered to vote!