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Learning from the history evnt a week ago about archives declassifying documents after an allocated number of years (or in this country’s case, the lack thereof), I have decided to post-forward some personal thoughts about happenings in my personal life — but only a year later, in the manner of Freeze Dried posts, just that I set the year for 2011 instead.
It is partly a response to complaints/comments that my blog is hardly personal. It reveals little about myself and what I go about doing with my life, its past, present and future hopes. It has gone from philosophy to theological criticism to politics and history among other impersonal things, the closest it gets would be some musings on my outlook on life.
It will be interesting to see in a year’s time my thoughts and things that I would have forgotten and how things have changed. Sure some people write them on their blog on the day itself lest they be forgotten, but who actually looks through their archives (or is it just me that lacks this narcissism)
Not to mention that there is the fringe benefit which delayed ‘declassification’ contains — emotion fades with time, its easier to reveal a less controlled truth without repurcussions. In addition, some references (which are supposed to be vague and ambiguous) become obvious, harsh and offensive when seen in the immediacy of events on a timeline.
It is after all thick skinned to praise people openly, exhibitionist to tell everyone what you’ve been doing, and plain stupid to make harsh remarks about people. But less so, if you waited a year.
On a whole, I wouldn’t actually hope that much changes in a year. I might adapt to changes quite easily, but I quite loathe the expectation of it.
We’ll see in a year.
Additionally, you can’t exactly use a key to open a key, though you could put one key through the loop of another key…not that it will serve any purpose.
As for locks… that’s just going nowhere.
Of course, I have never been in favour of the naturalistic argument of intended functionality. Just because some things have an intended purpose does not preclude additional beneficial uses. It would otherwise be unnatural to kiss or whistle –the mouth is meant for eating and talking.
Just saying that lock-lock, key-key won’t unlock anything new. Looking at facts, devoid of any moralistic judgment — that’s all there is to it.
Yesterday I decided to spend my afternoon going for a history talk to find out more, get some inspiration and free food at the reception (of which I think I am guilty of taking close to a quarter of the cheese cake. Such events always have receptions).
It turned out to be largely a pessimistic one by some established Singapore academics airing their grievances about how sad and academically difficult it is to access sources from the National Archives. It was quite pessimistic and critical. The interesting part was that I actually met a few people who wrote some of my sources for extended essay on post-independence Singapore-Malaysia relations (where one professor thought I had already graduated and wrote it for my honors thesis. I don’t look that old, do I?)
The talk, which is meant to introduce their new book, focuses on this concept of “Gates” and hence “Keepers”, refering to Gate Keepers. There is some literary value in the multi-layered interpretations of the title. “Keeper” could refer to one who protects the integrity of History in preventing its corruption. But the very image of the gate implies a difficulty or obstruction in access. A keeper/gatekeeper could be one who ends up guarding history against the eyes of the public, “keeping” it from their knowledge.
Gremlin put it quite cheekily when I told her that I was going for this ”Makers and Keepers” thing (after some LOLing): “Isn’t it just ONE Maker and Keeper of history?” And she probably is right. A lot of the dialogue focused on how archives are about power and how arbitrary denial on legal, privacy, security or even technical issues become a hindrance to transparency. Archives which were supposed to be restaurants that supplied ingredients were reduced to bank vaults.
No doubt this is common in other countries as well. China’s bureaucratic red tape are a hindrance. India’s sheer lack of organisation too (plain havoc lol). But there are countries who put their archives online and a fair number who declassify documents after time has passed, like Britain. Not us. There is apparently hardly any material accessible about Lim Yew Hock’s government.
It’s quite sad and astonishing though — many of the books that I used for my extended essay were actually based off foreign sources when you check their bibliography. Even books written by Singaporeans about Singapore have to depend on sources from abroad, even the one which I recently read about David Marshall. How sad it is — that National History has to be derived from sources across the Causeway and beyond!
National History was then described as something that needed to be rescued from the state. Because it is something more than a tool of national indoctrination or political mobilisation, historical consciousness is a common identity that belongs to the individual. One would have thought at first that “Makers and Keepers’ both referred to the historian. But there probably is a distinction, I think it goes like this: there is one main Maker of history (LIKE A GOD LOL), and there are other (mortal) historians who have a right to make a historical narrative also, but are kept away from the sources by the Keepers of a single narrow Grand Narrative, that of the Singapore Story. The academics seemed to be quite against this idea of a single “Singapore Story”, with an outright challenge through the phrase “Singapore Stories” which were complex, overlapping and tangled.
At the end of the entire thing, there seemed to be a hint of idealism, where there was a hope for improvement and eventual transparency. Yet it was a weak and faltering hint . I think deep down, people knew not much would change. That’s normally how it is here anyway. There was a suggestion by one member of the audience who said that such an issue had to be made aware to the public or at least MPs. In all reality, it’s unlikely anything would change — why would it anyway?
It was then that I realised that idealism is actually a fruit of pessimism at its worst. There’s not much better to hope for…apart from tomorrow. “Idealistic” as one of the professors put it, is a word that is used in Singapore to scold someone.
I conclude with a quote about idealism from a controversial character: “And a life without convictions, without idealism, is a mere meaningless existence, and I’m sure most of you will agree that as human beings, we are worthy of a life much more meaningful than just that.”
It was the professor from NTU (who is NOT an historian) i think, who crafted this short but memorable poetic part of his speech based on Emerson’s quote “Every wall is a door”…
(in poor paraphrase from my memory, like many of the things above)
Every wall is a door,
every gate an invitation
every lock is a puzzle.
Who says that every gate leads to hell,
and that every door goes nowhere,
and that behind every lock is a pandora’s box?
Perhaps what lies behind the lock is a National Treasure.
He ended his speech with a phrase he referred to earlier, “Count on me, Singapore”
It’s been quite sad really — the past whole week has been unproductive and yet tiresome. It must have been the waking up at 5am, and the sleep debt that accumulated since LAST weekend including the friday. And the vicious cycle carries on making me sleep at 9pm nightly and unable to be in a mood for much the entire day, to neither read nor write. I waste the day away there then come home just to sleep. I’d otherwise have written more — like “Ace Attorney: David Saul Marshall” or something about Ming Dynasty bureaucrat salaries, but maybe next week or the week after.
All in all, i have not been in a position to read the papers and I only just saw yesterday’s papers today. Not that I don’t keep up with the news, just that I spend most of my net time at work at The Online Citizen and Temasek Review, at most BBC, but hardly Channel Newsasia or AsiaOne.
The frontpage is quite amusing and can only lead to either one of the following conclusions: The Straits Times is either extremely cunning or made a small slip here and there strategically. Cunningness could be two way. One in furthering the governmental cause in a subtle message. Two in going contrary to that in a subtle message as well. I think ST does Both.
The positioning of the two frontpage articles to put across a subtle message is plain mindblowing (if coordinated, otherwise plain coincidental). At the headlines we have “Floods unavoidable after extraordinary rainfall’. And in the accompanying article at the bottom we have “More heavy rain ahead, weatherman warns.” Putting the two together, the message is clear: expect more floods, it’s unavoidable. Simple line of logic.
The speech in the first article further speaks of defeatism — that there is actually not much that can be done. We are restrained by space — it’s either canals or roads. We are mere mortals in a struggle against the infinite power of God and nature. Word choice is extremely important here, since the term ‘God’ brings to mind forces more powerful and uncontrollable than nature.
The implication is that it’s really not the government’s fault, its the space constraints and the will of God. Above all, we simply cannot be perfect. In other words, not much more can be done. It is an argument I used before: ” since its impossible to be perfect, why bother?”
Then there’s the mention of a random red herring that statistically the flood-prone areas have decreased. I’m not sure what the purpose of showing this track record is, but it seems inconsequential and does not diminish responsibility in any way. In fact, it is apparent that the current situation is worse, or at least more economically damaging.
But okay fine, assuming that we don’t require a 100% flood-free country (strawman) and recognising that there are alternatives to losing half the roads (false dilemma), the issue is not about accepting the will of God, but is in fact on the page 6 which continues from page 1: What can we do to protect ourselves? Even here, there is a cunning as the focus and responsibility shifts from What can the government do to what we can do for ourselves…like sandbags and warning SMSes, which are a stopgap measure.
The question is then somewhat answered on the next page (7) in “What will be done to improve drainage” — which explicitly shows that something is being done. It’s not like the government is doing nothing. Again there is a cunning, but I think most people are actually too critical of government response.
Still I think the most important question is yet to be answered: Is there anything to be done to at least prevent another Orchard Flood? Maybe not to be perfect, but to at least make a marked improvement.
But many people would have asked such questions about the future already. I prefer to look at the past to find the truth. A historical study could involve either do a comparison over time or a comparison over places. The fundamental question is then– is it really due to extraordinary rainfall? By which I mean, has there been incidences in previous years where rainfall has actually been HEAVIER and yet without the same extent of flooding? If so, it means that extraordinary rainfall is not the sole cause of the problem — there are other things that ought to be resolved.
Hmm wait, I just noticed: on the last line of page 7, “the highest one hour rainfall at 148mm was recorded on Nov 2, 1995″. Upon refering back to earlier in the article, the Orchard flood was a mere 101.6mm in two hours. Which leads to the question: seeing that there WAS heavier rainfall before, was there a similar orchard flood in 1995? I do not recall one, and I think an event which is dubbed “once in fifty years” happened then. I think this is the most cunning and subtle insertion — either that or its a real slip-up.
And what about other countries which have received the same amount of rainfall — I speculate (baselessly again) that nearby regions such as Johor might have experienced similar rainfall, I’m not sure about the outcomes though. But if it were to be so, it means that extraordinary rainfall is not the sole cause of the problem — there are other things that ought to be resolved.
Therein lies the straits times cunning, it is extremely complex and multilayered to the extent that we could call it balanced. On one hand it seems to subtly point out certain flaws (which are so subtle it needs a bit of intelligence or sharpness to pick out) probably because reporters can be itchy sometimes also. On other instances, it still fulfills its objective of putting across a favourable picture anyway — at least on the outside.
Either that, or there’s only so much acrylic you can add to turn reality into a favourable picture.
Perhaps sometimes we need to look at the entire newspaper issue as a whole and look at the arrangement of each article to see if there’s a craftful purpose behind it all instead of just looking at the article alone.. A bit like how National History Museum arranges its exhibits.
Speaking of Acts of God, there’s quite a number of radical rahrah militant charismatic things which I could come up with like “GOD IS NOT HAPPY WITH THE CASINO” (whatever mann) or God is not happy about the “persecution” (note the inverted commas) to a certain large church now. Actually, this can be stretched further to many many things…
And on a completely unrelated note, in chinese history, floods and famines normally were a symbol of the repeal of the Mandate of Heaven. It normally preceded revolution in the ‘dynastic cycle’. I recall instances like the flooding of the yangtze river or the Yellow River SHIFTING COURSE. Some say that since these are acts of God, it meant that God was not happy as China was not ruled well. There’s a more practical reason though — the floods often caused economic hardship and unemployment, pushing more people to join secret societies that revolted. It was hardly one sole cause that resulted in revolution. Often it was a culmination of hardship, famine, inflation, with population growth being one of the root causes. But to worsen things, it was the combination of weak internal government plus the presence of foreigners that led to the topple of a dynasty.
Where a revolt is successful, the mandate of heaven has been transferred. Where the revolt fails, the conspirator is a mere rebel and deserves to die.
I hardly believe in historicist determinism and of course, no such thing will happen soon. China had floods on a far more devastating scale with a weaker governmental control over the large landmass.
But there is still one major factor lacking — foreign invasion.
The most enlightening thing I learnt as a logistician is not how to count — a monkey could do that. It is not how to fill up your name and some numbers on a piece of paper — a monkey could do that even if its not in his native language.
It is this:
A key that can open many locks is a Master Key.
A lock that can be opened by many keys…is just a shitty lock.
Think about it.
Nothing chauvinistic or sexist at all. Just some thoughts after a not-very-long day of work and I was listening to random office gossip over the phone. My mind has the tendency to draw random linkages and integrate them — although more akin to throwing everything into a bowl and mixing.
don’t get me wrong tho — I’m not exactly a supporter of this Alpha, i mean, Master Key thing. As I have been told multiple times, “Monogamy is for winners”. The opposite implication is obvious and somewhat harsh. I’m well trained/indoctrinated.
….I think it’ll be funny to ask someone to go unlock themselves.
Face Off is this movie starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage which I watched really long ago, while I was still actually shorter than some debate people then >< Its ridiculous that the police agent is so commited to work that he’ll actually bother changing his face to catch this criminal. Of late I have been under the impression that even policing is just a job. It’s hardly about social justice anymore — instead of catching knife wielding robbers, far more effort is spent on litterbugs and gaybait. Heh.
I always wondered how did people not realise the difference in size between the two of them. Or more importantly, wouldn’t there be really drastic and obvious differences that THE WIFE (or rather THE WIVES) could notice.
[Removes inappropriate scripted dialogue]
I mean, its just Face Off. Not Body Off.
Ever thought you felt your girlfriend’s hand on your shoulder?
Until in a seemingly long half a second when you reach back that you realise that its significantly too big…too coarse and too manly to make any sense.
then in the next second before you can process anything fast enough to remove your hand, you realise that she’s like in front of you….
The only thought in your head would be “such misfortune” (FUKODA) then upon hindsight, its actually better that it was a guy instead.
Here’s a quick look at how various topics which I read up about/have studied to some extent can be applied to relationships. After all, the purpose of
schooling education is to prepare the student for real life.
LITERATURE: Learning nice poetricks to say but the most important skill is actually reading between the lines. Realising that there is such a thing as unattainable romantic perfection — and that is fiction. I have often been scathing about literature, but don’t get me wrong — it is arguably so good that it is The Ideal which could transcend real human experience. But ultimately, unreal — there’s no real happily ending in life, because there aren’t endings, only commas rather than fullstops. Like that woman who asked for a guy that is unpredictably entertaining, funny, always there for her, attends to her needs and is low maintenance — she was asked to get a television.
HISTORY: Not only do you learn from the past (i.e. don’t fucking do that again), history is by itself a collective memory and identity — a foundational reminder of who you are today and what you do. It is important to examine how things change (progress or decline) over time. More about this quite soon.
ANTHROPOLOGY/GEOGRAPHY: As the saying goes, “as a comparison over time is to history, a comparison across space is to anthropology.” Through the studying of other women and your interaction with them and the differences and similarities which you can learn from. The more politically correct (and accurate) version would mean to study other couples, their differences and how it results in a rise and decline. Uh, i’m hardly a geographer and anthropologist of course!
PSYCHOLOGY: The Jedi Mind Trick on one hand, and a deeper reading on the functionings of the mind on the other. The study of psychology probably has the most diagnostic uses. But there is always that itching compulsion to carry out a small psychological experiment sometimes…. I’m no psychologist of course!
PHILOSOPHY: Uhhh, the end result will be more questions than answers. I am currently on a long break from philosophical readings (probably at least until end of this year) But it seems like philosophers tend to end up as bitter and unhappy people. Immanuel Kant (whom I dislike) was an old grouch who died a lonely man. Arthur Schopenhauer (whom I like) was rejected by a 17 year old when he was 43 and wrote that “Marrying means to halve one’s rights and double one’s duties.” Bertrand Russell (whom I like also) and penned “Marriage as Morals” married four timegs. I should try to stay away from philosophy… I’ve even tried to keep my inquisitive and too-free mother away from it.
ECONOMICS: Theoretically you learn about the obvious thing called “incentives” and how it results in logical effects. In practice, your main lesson from economics is that everything that you’ve learnt from a textbook cannot be applied in real life. Mainly because people are living, dynamic and unpredictable. There might be some degree of truth in concepts regarding utility and cost but I don’t think anyone will be very amused if you talked to them about “Law of Diminishing Marginal Returns”, your need for “Economies of Scale and Diversification” and the “opportunity cost” of the way you’ve been asked to spend your saturday.
They might make sense at times but fundamentally anything which deals with a human element should not be run like a company, i.e. a country/school (doublecough) — we wouldn’t consider a solely profit-making country/school to be very successful, do we — apart from the CEO’s perspective.
MATH: None whatsoever. My disdain for this banal subject is clear and always has been.
LAW: Apparently lawyers have the highest divorce rates — it is either because of their work pressures/work hours which drains most of the time and energy or because they simply know their escape routes better. Maybe the critical training of law just makes people more argumentative.
(Will be dissing law quite soon because I think it is overrated.)
But you know which is the most useful of all?
BIOLOGY: I’ve nothing to say. I think a cat caught my tongue.
I conclude with a saying that makes no sense but amuses me thoroughly.
“Girls are short, books are long”
(when talking to beulah, I amend it to “Books are thin…”)
This is just to clarify that the post written two days ago was in fact written two weeks ago — when I was still overflowing with unexplainable angst and perhaps even slight depression. And it is hardly even related to my circumstances, which were not bad (actually bloody damn good) compared to a lot of my peers even those right next door (OHWELL)
But it’s probably because of the change of environment — I’m quite change averse and although I normally adapt quite quickly, this was probably one of the longest it took me to lighten up. The last time was actually pre-attachment week zero at sembawang with a morning-travel-from-lakeside-to-sembawang traintime emo. On hindsight, it was probably more due to how for the first time I did not have a “look forward to seven weeks ending” or “look forward to ten weeks ending”…it was freaking one and a half years to go. (Have i mentioned that i was and still am very happy to have been 25% done with my getitdoneandquicklyfuckoff job now?)
It’s nothing like the lengthy complaining post (though the facts pointed out about work don’t change). Things really have been not bad.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday were spent more or less by myself since everyone else was sent to the Island. Praise be to God for I did not need to go and instead took a lot of naps.
Last Thursday lasted until 10pm without dinner but the day after was a hospital visit that took a whole day (ladeedum) + 2 days weekend + Monday off = 4 day weekend. Tuesday, which felt like Monday, was spent in front of a computer with internet reading Full Metal Alchemist since that series just finished and I read a quarter of it in sec three.
Wednesday had a bit of work and nagging, involving me running around a bit….to put bedsheets. And I don’t mean to put put bedsheet, I mean to just throw it onto the top of the bed. The rest of the day was just spent in my storageroom ‘counting things for a while’ before going through my book.
Today involved heavier, more physical work which I have not touched since injuring my back but I got home at 2pm so who cares. In fact, I haven’t done anything physical or carried anything heavy apart from my uhh… as in apart from my daily backstretches.
Now to hope that I do not have any backaches tomorrow morning or any time soon. It will not only mean that my back has fully recovered, but that it has gotten stronger since I grappled with the same bugger that hurt my back the last time…just twice the size.
I’m on the way to recovery, and I actually feel somewhat satisfied (while very tired) in a way which reminded me of my time as an attached personnel. Ah, good ol days then. Might be my best seven weeks of the entire two years then — complete with good upperstudy, good hardworking intellectual friends that speak english and good food that has pork. Things I won’t get around here even though life is already not bad.
Oh and I have no work tmr means three day weekend. But come Monday, I hear i’ll get a taste of the most busy period.
If work were to be likeable, it wouldn’t be work! Work is not very fun. Of course, why else would we be paid to do it — or compelled to for that matter
The capitalist system makes things very simple: you’re tired and sian after an entire day of work, you have money and you don’t reallyyy know what to do with it — simply spend it on all sorts of self indulgences to make yourself feel better. Anything from indulgent food to a pair of shoes — at least it gives you a feel that you are working for something. One evening a lot of ice cream, another tea-time a filling selection of cakes enough not to eat dinner, another afternoon feasting on a beer sausage. These gustatory sensations help to lift one’s mood — a good case for binging (in as much as my appetite has actually decreased, paradoxically)
This in turn creates jobs (which sounds better than WORK) for people, yadda yadda and the circular flow of work carries on. People buy cars from a car maker who buys tyres from a tyre maker who buys rubber from a rubber tapper who buys tools from a tool maker who buys raw materials to make the tools, who buys tools to obtain the raw materials. All the trouble you cause by wanting to buy a car.
Presented as a flow of money, it looks like a positive thing, but if you think about it, if you didn’t buy your STUPID indulgence, you give people less work! Although from a ministerial point of view, your STUPID indulgence is a good addition to the nation’s statistics! Spending is a sign of growth, gives people jobs etc….more money to be taxed also, both from buying the indulgence and giving the producers more income…which means more income tax too!
It’s a sweeping generalisation to say that work is simply for stupid indulgences. The reality of it is a lot harsher — apartment flats are now more expensive than they used to be, not to mention the costs which a car and the petrol it guzzles incurs, then there are children to support and parents to support as part of ‘filial piety’. Worst is if you’e stuck paying house and car loans of course. We’re not even talking about the supposed Singapore 5Cs of cash car creditcard condo club. (of which I’m actually quite disinterested in 4/5 of them. Be surprised.) We are slaves to the wage, or more accurately, the loans, rents and mortgages.
But I digress. Then comes the issue of time: Leave work around 6, get home around 7, after dinner and washing up its around 8. You are then presented with two options: guai guai sleep at 2230 which means around another 2 to 3 hours plus of the day left. Or sleep at 0030 which means an additional two hours but with two hours less of sleep leaving you in a crappy mood the very next morning (especially if its at 0600). I cannot help but to wonder how some people have the time to make three children.
Then on top of time, energy is taken up also. Especially if the day was dreary, you’re left moody for the rest of the time awake. You have a list of history books to plow through to keep your mind alive, which serves as a form of good escapism but at times can be hard to go through after a long day. You have a list of movies and tv series and even com games to dabble with which are even better forms of escapism but you have no time to. Then ironically you waste some time thinking about how best to allocate your scarce resource of time. It is sapping of energy more than time — even with free time, there is not much to be done with it. heck time, I cannot help but to wonder how some people have the energy to make three children. No wonder birth rates are on a decline.
Now if I were the Ministeria-authority of Child-bearing and Youthful Sustentation….there is an easier and more likeable policy to implement… But from a ministerial point of view, what is the purpose of having a growing population if it is at the expense of economic growth? (I think it is quite obvious that we regard economic growth as an end in itself and not merely a mean) Actually what’s the purpose of a growing population at all, bearing in mind that historically population pressures has been regarded as a cause for a plethora of social, economic and political problems. Is it important to the extent that it must be supplemented with foreign talent… even if we were to have a “bigger pie”, it is split between a larger number of hungry children
There is not much of a choice. We’re stuck. IS THERE an alternative to burning hours and energy and slogging away?
I would have bought myself some chocolate…but ah I recall that I have better things at home to occupy myself with.
And I am starting to empathise — why sometimes people don’t want to talk about their day at work or even some times physiological *cough* effects of such moods *cough*. But we need to talk in such occasions, the solution is actually to talk even if we don’t feel like it.
Written in 02/07/2010. Speaking of circular flows — i was toying with this naughtily amusing idea last year of having a econs theme comic. Here.
Dry historyxbible post ahead, I warn and apologise. Written during workhours as part of my routine to keep my brain alive at least till the end of the year. Think of my inspiration to be akin to me being Israel and everyone else around me being Egypt, Syria etc, if you know what I mean.
Fifteenth century Egyptian Historian Ibn Khaldun is known for developing a scientific method for history and he uses historiography to question the validity of the Bible, in particular the book of Numbers. I’m not sure what else he criticises (I think something about money also) but he tries to disprove that Moses’ Army had 600,000 people. One wonders why this Egyptian historian tries to nitpick with the numbers of Moses’ Army.
His argument (simplified by Norman Wilson) is three pronged. First, political organisations at that time lacked the logistical ability for such a number. Second, the largest political power then, Persia, had an army of merely 120,000. Third, the army is supposed to have only consisted of the four generations of descendants from Jacob. Norman Wilson doesn’t mention the fourth point, that the area used for attacking Egypt or Syria, is insufficient to support 600,000 people.
This is where I attempt to launch a rebuttal on an established ancient historian and his logical method of historiography.
The first point on political organisations lacking the ability is an unfounded assertion. It is in fact a circular argument, which is disproved if Moses’ Army did have the logistical ability to cope. Just because there are no other organisations of that size, does not mean that it is impossible to have a few rare feats.
The second point is again a circular argument — if Moses’ Army really were to have been 600,000 that merely usurps the title of “largest political power” from Persia. In the first place, who granted the title of “largest political power” to Persia? Our assumption is that the title is valid to begin with. Having a larger number than the “largest political power” doesn’t make it impossible, it merely makes Moses’ Army to be discovered as a newer “largest political power”.
The previous two points are like saying that “History has never seen a black swan before.” Then when there is mention of a black swan, to say that it is impossible because of the previous claim.
The third point is where there is a factual error made by Ibn Khaldun. No doubt it is very difficult to reach 600,000 after only four generations. (calculate 12 to the power of four= around 20,000) The thing is, it wasn’t only four generations. It was at least 6. In Numbers, the man who helps Moses with the census from the tribe of Judah is Nahshon, son of Amminadab. Refering to the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew, the number of generations from Judah to Nahshon can be traced.
2. Perez (lol, latin american)
Now to do some basic SL math. Using 12 as a reasonable number to assume a base number (since Judah actually had 12 in his generation), 12^6= close to three million. Since gender distribution is normally equal and the census only took into account men, lets halve the number to give 1.5 million. To give further generous leeway (say for disease, death, infertility and impotence, child birth), we could halve it again and it’ll still be 700,000. It is hence actually reasonable to say that Moses’ Army was indeed 600,000
But we’re assuming here that Nahshon is without children when he took the census. This is however unlikely given that he is the head of the household, it might be reasonable to include one more generation after him as well — Salmon. The Jewish coming of age is at 13, where it is possible to marry soon after. It is probable that when Nahshon was in his prime (around 30 to 40) that his sons have reached the age of 20.
On his fourth argument that of land constrains on the Israelite battle formations, (not that its the strongest argument, but its the argument I’m weakest in fending off) I think its hard to say that just because the Israelite battle formation cannot fit into a certain territory that such numbers cannot exist. First, just because the 600,000 were on the census does not mean that all were used at once for battle — a fair number might have died of illnesses or even during battle — yes, people do die during battle. Second, common sense (while I’m not sure if the same sense applies back then) would have some troops stay behind as a defensive force. Third, even if ALL 600,000 were used, surely battle formations have the flexibility of being amended when necessary — which army will die-die stick to the same formation when the terrain does not permit it!
Furthermore, Ibn Khaldun might be unable to show a sufficient motive for the Israelite army to lie about their numbers in a census. It is doubtful that writers of history later on had a motive to inflate the numbers either.
Using Ibn Khaldun’s method of “cross-checking sources” against himself, another Moslem historian, Al Mas’udi (use Moslem to check Moslem) also says that the Israelite army was of 600,000. Although the flaw in this point is that he may have well just taken the figures off Numbers.
However, my method assumes that the genealogy of Jesus is one that is accurate (which I am inclined to believe that it is). I also do not have a full picture of Ibn Khaldun’s criticism. There may have been other stronger and more valid arguments he showed, but I have not read about.
Four years since one of my many mentors told me and I’m only starting to understand — my rebuttals are too defensive and not offensive enough. Meaning to say, that I could block against Ibn Khaldun’s various reasons but I can’t completely demolish Ibn Khaldun’s claim and prove that there were 600,000.
They’re of varying levels — showing you’re not wrong, showing that you’re right and showing that someone else is wrong.
On the 5th of July, the Economist published an article on politician’s salaries. Available here before they take the article and my image source down (cos I’m too cheapskate to subscribe) http://www.economist.com/node/16525240?story_id=16525240
If I were to pursue Economic History, which I am actually starting to steer away from, I will need to be able to process simple quantitative data as above. In the following, I will be trying to be as objective as possible in only using facts to show facts. But as we know, all historians (or people in general) are bound to have a bias no matter how hard they try.
First, let’s examine the facts at face value. Singapore ranks second highest in terms of political leader’s pay to their country’s GDP per person. Second to Kenya, who is the main focus of the article and a fair bit more than Indonesia.
I would present some background information about Kenya to draw a contrast with Singapore but then I realise from the jagged line in their bar that they probably far exceed Singapore in the ratio. Indonesia would be more convenient especially since they actually rank LOWER than Singapore. Alan Beattie dedicates a chapter in his book False Economy to how they are an example of a corrupt country with a successful economy!
Congratulations for being the bane of development economists — for in 1970 and again in 1997 Indonesia was told by the World Bank that corruption might be a problem to development, Indonesia merely pointed at their rates of growth as a way of giving the World Bank the finger. In the study of development economics, Indonesia is the first name that comes to mind when “crony capitalism” is mentioned. It is apparently corrupt even with a high politician salary to GDP per capita ratio — and Singapore still exceeds their ratio by far.Maybe that’s why we have no corruption, some might argue.
The significance of a RATIO to the country’s GDP per person is that it compares the leader’s salary to how rich or poor the people are. It’s okay to have a high basic salary as long as the people are rich as well (low ratio). Examples include South Korea, Israel, Taiwan that have salaries in the $100,000 range but having a ratio less than 10 as compared to Singapore which is more than 40.
But the graph overshadows the slim numerical margin at the side. Upon closer examination, one realises that Singapore not only has the highest basic salary, but has one more digit than everyone else — at $2,183,516. The next highest is at $513,245. Basic SL math tells me that it is almost four times more (or is it more than four times, my math is not very good)
Now to evaluate if there is a LINK between politician’s salaries and corruption. The claim is that countries with high salaries have a lower level of corruption and vice versa. This can be done by checking against Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2009. It’s a ranking and I blame my Singapore education for making me value rankings so much, not to mention the Post-Exam reviews I’ve been having for the past six years -_-
From a ministerial point of view, I am proud to say that Singapore ranks 3rd in the world when it comes to being perceived as uncorrupt. But New Zealand which is ranked first, only has approximately one tenth of Singapore’s basic salary.
But there are two more clear comparisons to show the link between corruption and high salaries. First example, Kenya ranks 146/180 despite Raila Odinga drawing a salary higher than Barack Obama. Second example, South Africa which ranks 55/180 with a salary of $272,280 has a higher salary but a higher level of corruption than Poland — at the bottom of the chart with a basic salary of $10,633 but ranking 49. There is a small difference in ranking between Poland and South Africa, but South Africa has 25 times the basic salary of Poland… and Poland is still less corrupt.
From a ministerial point of view again, the counter example would be India and China. India ranks 84 and China rank 79. This might be due to their low salaries — corruption becomes attractive as a top-up to their meagre ministerial monies. But perhaps since there are countries with low salaries that are high in corruption and high salaries with low corruption…there is only a tenuous link between the two???
But heh, Indonesia is more corrupt than both India and China at 111. (I had quite a time scrolling up and down the list looking for Indonesia) and that’s with a basic salary ten times more than India and China.
The statistical data might be misleading though– it only takes into account basic salary, leaving out things such as subsidised expenses from taxpayer money (think showing a card when visiting the hospital for an MRI) or even additional kopi money. To further criticise the above data, there might be other countries that have been excluded from the study that might have a basic salary higher than Hong Kong and closer to Singapore.
Above all, my comparison assumes that all other factors are equal or ceteris paribus (I blame my training in economics for such narrow simplifications), thus excluding many other factors such as cultural and geographical factors. i.e. larger countries might be more prone to embezzlement, or even the existing infrastructure or lack thereof. In other words, in some cases, the high or low levels of corruption might not have anything to do with salaries. I believe that it is highly unlikely that uncorrupt countries will turn corrupt upon a pay cut, or that corrupt countries will clean up upon a raise.
In conclusion, the point about politician’s salaries is like religion. There are many valid objections to it, but we just shouldn’t question it. And like religion, there are those who’ll say “without [our religion], there is no morality” or for that matter, integrity and low corruption.
Maybe there’s some merit to the argument — high salaries might be a good check against corruption, because there no longer is a need for embezzlement. Question is: how high?
But I think that at the very least the data shows that there can be countries with high salaries having high corruption and low salaries having low corruption. It’s a possibility.
And you wonder why the Economist was almost banned, or at least sued for libel, lost and had to pay $230,000. (More than Britain Minister’s Salary HAHAHA)
I think the Economist is a pretentious read. It’s for people who want to show themselves to be pseudo-academics, especially if they’re not even 20 yet. I hardly see the enjoyment behind reading the economist weekly. Even worse is the level of incomprehensibility their business and finance section that most people my age just wouldn’t get. The youths who do are mainly (and probably) debaters — which I have to point out that its unlikely that it will actually help much.
If anything, it should be read from the back to the front. Starting from the obituaries to the books then to science and technology. Skip over business and geographical areas you don’t care about then making your way to the news. Gremlin has her own objections and thinks that its overrated.
My long time ‘childhood friend’ ATK, claims that the Economist uses anonymous writers because it takes in articles from University students (not necessarily a bad thing) But I’m not sure how reliable the claim is, given that they’re meant to be anonymous, its meant to be secret — how then does it leak?
Why subscribe anyway — I go to the internets and copy and paste the articles I like. After all, who really reads about The Americas especially when you’re in Asia?
In the manner of book reviews:
“This is not normal.”
“You’re a motorcyclist right?”
“Interesting, very interesting.”
“We need to get this on video.”
My original intention was to bitch about how i have been shuffled from doctor to doctor, and for the past few times been undergoing same tests that bring nothing new but added pain. I mean, what is the purpose of twisting my leg around and asking “does this hurt? what about this? and this?“…for the fifth time.
But with a new doctor, comes a new insight…a bit like how new restaurants have new food. (This is unfortunately not the case for Camps.) Revelation: my knee is Not Normal. No, really. His doctor-trained manner of deduction leads him to ask me if i’m a cyclist/motorcyclist who has been in a motor accident. Evidently not. No wonder its not “The Adventures of Dr Watson.“
The two doctors were so fascinated that they then proceeded to video tape the procedure (read ME and my legs while I’m on my stomach). ”ahh i see, i’m very educational material.” although what was going on in my head about the usual connotations of videotaping was quite different…I was not very amused by the thought of publicly flashing my calves on the screen of a medschool lecture theatre. At least I refrained from making a snide remark during the filming. Pity, it would have amused those deprived students.
end of this week i will have to go for a costly test. Unfortunately it is in the morning, i’ll need to find a way to delay like today. My hope is that i get my letter… without needing surgery — it’s a bit overkill i think. The things that can avoid might not be worth it. It might be a very high cost in the long run…as well as in the short run! To put it simply, I might not like going to work, but I still would want to go out. I might not like to move around much, but I would at least want to be able to climb stairs.
Nowadays the hospital is a place of idle relaxation, especially if its a friday afternoon — where you want time to pass a bit faster so you could leave. At other times, particularly in the morning, you want time to pass slower — so that you don’t have to leave.
But nonetheless, I insist that the hospital is a gloomy place to be. A place where there are miserable people with miserable energy, sick people with sickness and their relatives being extremely worried depending on how rich/poor their patient is — and i will assume that the workers who spend the day facing such people can’t possibly be very happy unless they’re reimbursed with a yacht or a sentosa house. Sorry, even the yacht and sentosa house only go to people who work in town. (read private practice)
Here you see a scene taken out from an American drama series where they are rushing a gurney down the long corridor with white walls, there you see one or two people on wheelchairs. They’re all very unhappy — and with air like these , its a bit hard to get well or feel the least bit happy even on a “free day”.
You have to constantly remind yourself that you’d otherwise won’t be wearing slippers and shorts, that you’d be doing some random crap with some stupid people and the day will pass a lot slower if you weren’t actually there.
But sometimes, you just get this chilly feeling anyway. What better way to shoo away such ill-feelings than my stuffing yourself at the hospital cafeteria. Shaorou and charsiew noodles (YESS FINALLY A LUNCH THAT IS NON MU-)
I’m not sure if its apt or ironic that a hospital has these oily and fatty food. Don’t argue with me — pork is by itself unhealthy. (My dad would say that there are reasons why the Jews and Muslims have certain practices, I reminded him that there are other things they practice that we might not want to subscribe to…) But not to worry, the vendors compensate for it by giving you less food overall.
How often do we see the motto in its original context, a lyrical Christian poem:
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
The other meaning of ACS could be to stand for Always Come Second. Its something that some of us will proudly (or rather humbly – the glass is half full) admit to — let the other two fight it out over who’s the first. The Rafflesian would say that the Best is Yet to Be simply means that we’re never the best. (I have a garang rahrah neighbour who will get both very defensive and offensive at this point)
I prefer to see it as a humble and hopeful mantra, that the current state isn’t the best yet, that there is something better to be achieve and a greater height to reach for. The Best is Yet to Be really means to hope for a better tomorrow.
Here’s an example of one interpretation:
If you’re the best today, strive to be better. If you’re better today, strive to be ‘betterer’ and if you’re ‘betterer’ today, strive to be ‘betterest’ so that over time, Singapore’s service standards can just keep getting better, ‘betterer’ and ‘betterest’
- Labour Chief on the service industry (who is by the way, not from acs, but from gongjiao)
THE BETTEREST IS YET TO BE LOLOL.
Taken in such a light, the Rafflesians make a good point: is the best ever here? when is it ever enough? is there a purpose behind being the best? how and by what yardstick do you tell what the best, i mean “betterest”, is?
Back on the point of school stereotypes and hasty generalisations, you cannot help but to wonder if the Best is Yet to Be is a motto of the ACSian or the Rafflesian.
And there is actually an additional dimension to what “Always Come Second” might mean. It’s one that I’d rather not mention here as much as it amuses me. Heh.
…you can come first for all I care. I rather come second.
Ah what the heck, I actually watched Twilight: Eclipse. (Guess why yourself ><) even though I hear trashy reviews of the entire series, has neither read the book nor watched the earlier two movie and really wanted to watch Toy Story 3 instead.
Record of very-summarised SMS and what went on in my head in response.
“hey, there are no more tickets for toy story 3″
“I’ll get random tickets instead”
(“….it’s so going to be Twilight. What else could it possibly be…but how can Toy Story 3 be more packed than that stupid show. There are more stupid people than children…“)
(… CHEE, iknewit. What’s this cunning CONSPIRACY! Nevermind, I’ll catch up on some sleep”)
I think that from hear on Twilight Eclipse shall be dubbed Twilight EPILEPSY. Especially with a FIRST ROW SEAT (that gave me the privilege of stretching out my legs and practically lying down in my seat) coupled with vampire speed movements, it is simply mindblowing…in a slightly dizzy headache-ish way. You can feel the same effect when you try to read something coming out a printer line by line, multiplied by time.
Fight-scenes wise, I think I’ve been too pampered by the level of choreography in IP Man and Karate Kid, but vampire fighting sort of sucks…It’s simply charging at each other and who-ever is closer to the protagonist side wins. But I forget, Epilepsy is not about cool-ass fight scenes, unlike the other two which are ALL ABOUT the fight scenes. Epilepsy is about some ball-shrivelling mush plot where the average looking girl for some reason attracts two supposedly hot superhumans (euphemism for monsters) and is in a triangle relationship (euphemism for 3some fantasy)
The only thing I thought cool about the movie was the flashbacks to some historical period (largely reminiscent of Anne Rice’s Interview with A Vampire, which stars both Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt!) Some of which actually reminds us of very pertinent issues like the impact of colonialism — surely we didn’t actually need vampire-esque freaks to wipe out red indian populations! (But in a trashy film for the *insert demeaning term*, who really take notes of these historical statements anyway) Where there is lack of plot (often the case in literature), its the social commentary that is interesting — a reflection of modern American sexual attitudes in teens.
What would have been really cool is if the wolfman (no idea about his name, but I think he’s hotter than the vampire) had this strong mexican accent…or was it inuit/red indian.. and the vampire (no idea about his name either) had a strong aristocratic English accent. But only a high-class production like Interview with A Vampire would go to the extent of having the actors put on French and Spanish accents.
In sum, it was eye dazzling, mind-blowing and…balls shrivelling.
Hrmm, I have a funny feeling that I did a generic blogsearch for Twilight Eclipse, the kind of posts that will show will be very different.
“today ii watch eclipse wif bf. omgggg *insert name* is lyk so hawt lorhxX”
I shan’t bother.
Q: How the hell does a small chinese man beat an angmoh the size of a bull?
Q:How the hell does a black kid beat chinese kids with a lot more experience in a Chinese Kung fu competition?
A: JACKIE CHAN!!!
I’m quite sure Ip Man has a lot of chinese government funding, it is like a quintessential piece of time-set chinese propoganda in the form of historical fiction (to make it less offensive) — with IPman representing the hopes of the chinese people against British colonial tyranny. I mean, the scenes explictly show large crowds of chinese rallying in support of IPman and even more explictly has the angmoh brandishing the Union Jack on his back as he entered the ring in addition to very obviously insulting various traditions from wushu itself to the joss-stick. IPman’s clarification speech at the end of his fight was merely tokenistic in my opinion, to display some sensibility — we all know it really is just about whacking the white guy up.
The typical chinese audience would just be itching to watch him get beat up. And I cannot help but to wonder how the angmoh actor agreed to go through such demeaning scenes at the hands of the chinese, who would have historically been his gardener and rickshaw-puller. (The answer is elementary: Money)
It’s even more interesting to find out the faces of westerners when they watch the movie I think. Though I can’t say for sure who they’ll side with.
Yet, I think it is clear that even the chinese will side with the black kid in Karate Kid. After all, all the other chinese in the duel stadium were applausing and supporting the black kid — a scenario i find highly unrealistic.
As much as I think that the Karate Kid is like the West’s revenge for IPman, it actually leads opinion away from race struggles through the struggle of a growing individual against an unscrupulous bully. We all can empathise with struggles and a “bully figure” in our life that has to be overcome….and JACKIE CHAN!!! For without the chinese man, the black kid is still one easily given a black eye by a bully. (in a very politically incorrect but funny way, i never really did see how it was a black eye ><) Speaking of which, that scene which involves hitting the face of an opponent on the ground reminds me of a scene in IPman.
But the important thing is not race or nationality — it is the inner virtue which makes all the difference. The characters portrayed as more malicious, more arrogant and more “likely to win” (discounting the fact that the protagonist always wins -_-) will lose. And we know it from the start of the movie, but it is the process of eventually reaching that goal which rallies our support behind the main character.
The one thing they don’t show — is what happens AFTER the climatic victory. It’s simply an anticlimax, life goes on as per normal. That’s all there is to it. You wake up the next day, thinking “yeah I won… and so now what?” I like how they concluded IPman, its back to normal day life with a new baby. Likewise, the sudden end to Karate Kid was effective, there’s nothing important left to show in His Story.
….unless you just scored a chinese girl after the match, THEN maybe life is different!
Maybe this is going to be like Movies and Media Studies appreciation week, for tomorrow: TWILIGHT ><
On the train home today, I observed this new campaign against littering, “it’s not cool to litter” and it quite humourously uses a shabby looking guy with long messy hair. (I was going to say beng, but it was merely a fake beng, I see the real ones around a lot more). One picture shows the guy picking his nose very vividly, graphically and up-close.
It is quite stereotypical — who says that its the young men with messy hair that litter? Why not the aunties from the market or the older men or even the random chio bu? Clearly the propoganda targets youths in particular, excluding other groups of litterbugs.
In fact, the message sent is slightly confusing since the guys used have supposedly well-styled (and arguably ‘cool’) hair. I think that if the propogandists were trying to portray shabby people, they’re not doing a good enough job — these people look more to the cool side than the true blue kind with colours on the hair, arm and teeth, very discoloured teeth. Its a bit of the model’s fault actually, he could afford to look worse!
If I had it my way, I think the most effective way: show true blue gangsters not only for littering campaigns but SMOKING as well. “You think its cool? Think again?” (I was inspired when I saw some of my Supplier underlings smoking. I wouldn’t smoke just so I wouldn’t project the same image as them) Some would call this approach scathing and discriminatory though.
Even if littering is not cool, taking the converse, not as if throwing rubbish is exactly very glamourous either…so is it even an issue of coolness? To begin with, who says that people litter because its cool? Littering might not be cool but it sure as hell is convenient when there is no dustbin around and I don’t want the coke can to be in my pocket, hands or bag. It might be a problem of not enough dustbins, but it is quite a logistical hassle to place dustbins every bloody where even in a small island nation. I think Singapore’s okay so far though, in Boston the streets are littered with cigarette butts. I haven’t been to China and Russia and have no intention of breathing, drinking or eating there for now.
Here are a few suggestions for the ministry of propoganda or parks, whichever:
1. Appeal to the high costs of short term convenience — “It Simply Is Not Worth It.” or “Corrective Work Order is not worth the small convenience.” or “Which would you rather: hold on to your trash or pick up other people’s trash?“. Maybe even an explicit “DO YOU WANT TO DO CORRECTIVE WORK ORDER?“. An alternative approach could be to spell out the details of corrective work order including number of hours etc.
If I had it my way, I think the most effective way is to: throw out a long list of people who has been caught for CWO to show that it is a reality, people actually do get caught! With the additional effect of naming and shaming. (hahaha, I’m so totalitarian)
This approach might deter people although this means that people just avoid getting caught and no police means boh chenghu. A bit like jaywalking. But at the core, our dear Singaporeans have beenn inculcated with a strong inner fear from both at home and at school. There is a fear of getting caught and punished even when no one is looking.
2. Appealing to dutiful citizenry — “Everyone Must Play His Part for a Clean and Green Singapore“, “Together We Keep Our Nation Clean“, “Your Litter Makes A Great Difference” (a bit hard to argue, though I would point out that once one person leaves a piece of litter, psychologically people think its okay to use that spot to litter since someone has to clear it up ANYWAY)
If I had it my way, the most effective way is to: appeal to patriotism by means of comparison with neighbours. “THIS IS (INSERT NAME OF NEIGHBOURING COUNTRY), WE DONT WANT TO END UP LIKE THAT, DO WE?” then show very graphic details of dirty streets etc. I don’t think it will be very good for foreign relations though…
This approach might work in the same way that people feel an obligation to give up seats to the elderly, though probably to a lesser extent. (Whether the MRT campaign is effective or not is then open to interpretation, heh. I say yes it is, but not entirely.) Ultimately, people are driven by self interest and as much as they would like a clean and green country, they’d rather indulge in their laziness. A bit like the Tragedy of Commons. Economics again, which is what Stephen Potter calls ‘The Approach of the Utter Obvious‘
But all these still beg the question — Why Target Youths? It’s an interesting question of media studies!
Whatever, I should so become a propogandist. I might be totalitarian enough! Too bad I’m not too keen on joining the Tsungli yamen.
…If I had it my way.