looking for baudrillard, boorstin, or eco?

dare to hope for what is good
instead of what is merely good enough.
Dead in sin | Saved by grace | Living in hope | Walking by faith | Surviving on a prayer

+ sola scriptura + sola gratia + solus Christus + sola fide + sola Deo gloria +

samedi, septembre 29, 2007

 Facebook Masala (or Facebook Stalker)

Libellés : , , , ,

[Facebook Masala (or Facebook Stalker)]
Sngs Alumni @ 29.9.07 { 0 comments }

mardi, septembre 25, 2007

 Prelude to a post

G.K. Chesterton (one of my favourite non-authors) once wrote:

"The thinking person always resists the most dominant thing in his culture because the most dominant thing is always too dominant."

Libellés :

[Prelude to a post]
Sngs Alumni @ 25.9.07 { 2 comments }

dimanche, septembre 23, 2007

 It's Only Words That I Offer

English words have a strange sort of life-cycle in modern society. For example, "cool" was thought to be the height of fashion in the 1990s, which later gave way to "hot" early in the 2000s. Then there was some sort of icy conflagration, and the two antithetical words suddenly meant the same thing - the flavour of the moment, the bee's knees. Then a Hilton decided to turn up the heat and reclaimed, renamed, and re-branded "hott" for her very own (before being put into jail - but not, unfortunately, for the offence of mangling her English spelling.)

* * * * *

I just read someone's blog post describing their waitress for the night "astute". While the term is complimentary, the post was decidedly abusive.

My question for the evening as I bake cookies for church - does "astute" now mean "ass"+"attitude"?

Libellés : ,

[It's Only Words That I Offer]
Sngs Alumni @ 23.9.07 { 1 comments }

jeudi, septembre 20, 2007

 Free Speech or Idiot-Management?

Look, the dude was obviously looking for trouble. He jumped the question queue, was extremely obnoxious, and while I don't think there's any problem with raising difficult questions to Kerry, for goodness' sake, raise it properly instead of shouting obnoxiously. Reports are coming in that are strongly suggesting he staged the entire thing, to the extent that he brought his own camera, and after he was arrested by the cops, he had a 180deg change in personality when the cameras were off him.

If you purport to a serious discussion, why are you making your country's political system a joke for the rest of the world to ridicule?

Libellés : ,

[Free Speech or Idiot-Management?]
Sngs Alumni @ 20.9.07 { 0 comments }

 Wheelock Place = Mutant Module

I have found it! Wheelock Place reminds me of the MUTANT MODULE from the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle series, way back in the 1990s!

Well, not MASSIVELY, but the conical shape anyway... :-)

Libellés :

[Wheelock Place = Mutant Module]
Sngs Alumni @ 20.9.07 { 0 comments }

lundi, septembre 17, 2007

 The Myopic Guitarist and Bassist

Finally, a funny and nice picture of me! :-)
That's Minghui beside me, my bassist.

Photo taken by Adeline on her Samsung phone.
(She accidentally deleted the first, so we posed for this twice.)

Libellés : , ,

[The Myopic Guitarist and Bassist]
Sngs Alumni @ 17.9.07 { 0 comments }

vendredi, septembre 14, 2007

 Upper Serangoon Reservoir Photos

After the last post, which many people complained was too cheem (yes SX, I'm looking at you), a post-lite photography study of Upper Serangoon Reservoir. Half of a very rushed hour, with Lijie's 10-22mm lens and Dominic grumbling in my ear about "all reservoirs look the same, what's the difference, blah blah blah...", and we have pretty pictures of the lake on a lovely, cloudy day.

no entry

all roads lead to home

rocks and some water

the road not travelled


430pm on the lake

the jetty
this is now my desktop wallpaper :)

heart to heart

... and at the end of it all, I asked Dom if he regretted coming, and he grudgingly said "yes lah, yes lah, nice lah." Such an educated response. :-)

Libellés : ,

[Upper Serangoon Reservoir Photos]
Sngs Alumni @ 14.9.07 { 1 comments }

jeudi, septembre 13, 2007

 Singapore's ERP Gantries and traffic woes

(Please read while bearing in mind that I have no economics background.)

With the recent announcement that ERP hours are going to be extended, came a flurry of complaints about how expensive it is to drive these days (as usual). As a part-driver, part-public-commuter my question to the government scholars working on this issue is: how much more money are you pumping into public transport systems in Singapore now? And I don't just mean money dumped into new systems telling us when the bus is next arriving - if anything, Singaporeans need the ambiguity to develop more patience.

The question is a pertinent one, yet a very difficult one to answer. This is due to a number of facts: (1) public versus private goods and services, (2) population politics, (3) politics and the population. All these factors point to one thing: this is a very sticky situation that is tough to navigate and balance. Not that it hasn't already been for the longest time, but it's new to me since I've never bothered to think much about it before. (Plus, guess whose blog this is? In the eternal words of Homer - and I don't mean the dude who wrote Odyssey - "D'oh!")

(1) Public and Private Goods
The fact that our roads are maintained by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), but the public transport system are run by (quasi)-private companies. Comfort DelGro (and the other cab companies), SBS and SMRT technically do not have an incentive to pump any more money into our current infrastructure - with our population burgeoning, there will always be someone taking public transport somewhere. Why should they bother so long as the systems they've put in place run smoothly?

If you think that they're on the side of the consumer because they're supposed to be serving the public, think again. We've already seen how some of them functioned after the NEL was built and operational. Due to their monopoly on bus and train services, SBS or SMRT (I forget which company, or it could be both of them) cut their direct bus services into town, so as to ensure that there were enough people taking the NEL into town.

What they didn't consider (at all, in my opinion) was the fact that many people take a direct bus into town, allowing them a rather restful - sleep-on-the-bus kind of restful - journey to work. With the introduction of the NEL, these buses were cut, and now these poor commuters had to take a feeder bus to the NEL station, take the NEL into the MRT line, then switch to the MRT line. This means two changes and three modes of transport. Not particularly restful, in my opinion.

(2) Population Politics
The public-private transport problem is compounded by a number of factors, not the least of which is the politics of our tiny population size. According to the government, we would like to further increase our population size from its current 4m to a couple more million people. This will cause jams EVERYWHERE as people bump into other people. Think Smith Street during Chinese New Year. That will be Singapore, and - trust me on this - the best and the brightest won't have much loyalty to this patch of ground that they're standing on, if you don't give them some form of quality lifestyle. (I just suggest that we use Ho Ching's Temasek money and buy Australia or New Zealand, just as a holiday resort for Singaporeans.)

And yet, we need to increase the population to remain economically competitive. So our transport woes will increase exponentially if the public transport companies are twiddling their thumbs. The Circle Line is not enough. We need more trains, and at more frequent intervals.

(3) Politics and the Population
This has to be credited to Andy F., who commented over lunch that the government cannot cut down on its quotas any more because it still needs to please the up-and-coming younger generation. "They cannot tell the younger generation they cannot buy cars," he noted sagely. The man is in his late 30s, drives an MPV, has two kids and a wife, and apparently that gives him more insight than me into this matter, since I never thought of it that way.

When applied to myself, I concluded that - yes, I would be pissed as hell if the government decided to bar me from having a car. I'd take it as a personal affront to my freedom of movement, and yes, it would matter during vote time. Not that it matters much in my constituency anyway.

So what's to be done? How can these things be balanced? I think we need an updated problem definition before we come to any conclusions. The current problem definition is an old one - how do we transport Singaporeans around? The newer problem definition needs to add - "6 million" into the equation. The current stopgap measures are insufficient to handle our out-of-control population. This may come as a surprise to many of us, who have grown up listening to "falling birth rate, falling birth rate, falling birth rate", but the fact of the matter is that our immigrant policies are rather friendly, and we've got many non-native Singaporeans in our number now.

Apart from that, we need to consider the unthinkable - less cars. We might have to bite the bullet on this one; I have no desire to see Singapore go the way of Bangkok and their infamous traffic snarls.

This last suggestion from me is somewhat unusual - we need to develop another central business district, preferably somewhere which is new and underdeveloped. Somewhere like Punggol or Seng Kang. History tells us that CBDs are developed over time, and often grow from the location of the colonial headquarters for The Commonwealth. I suggest we say 'nay' to this sort of thinking and just invest a couple of billion to build buildings and develop infrastructure to Punggol and Seng Kang. There's a lot of space out there near tributaries as well, plus the views of our neighbours would (for once) not be of neon lights and dancing advertisements. A little bit of an unorthodox and out-of-the-box suggestion, but we need to push ourselves if we are to solve seemingly unsolvable problems.

Transport in an urban society almost always seems to be an intractable problem, with very few options. In a modern society, transport is a need, not a want. People need to get to work, to do business, to conduct their transactions. There are no two ways about it. Unfortunately, the desperate needs of the lower classes are often taken for granted as policymakers make lengthy decisions. The middle-class too, is being squeezed (and for full disclosure, I'm raising my hand here.)

While the decision-making process in Singapore is already very fast, and usually not-too-bad, there is a general fatigue that I sense in the transportation sector (which involve the usual players like the LTA, SBS, SMRT, and PTC.) We need bigger ideas, not just the run-of-the-mill "let's build yet another MRT line" suggestion. Let's face the bare facts: due to geographical reasons (tunnelling through granite, anyone?) MRTs will never be able to service the whole island, and buses don't run frequently enough for Singaporeans*.

Bigger ideas, people. Good ones. (I am tempted to say non-scholar ones.) I wonder what the Feedback Unit has on this matter?

* Let us not compare ourselves with other countries with useless transport systems, like say, France or London, with their lovely strikes and tiny pre-war compartments. Singaporeans run on a different, faster schedule. We're already the fastest casual walkers in the world!
* All photos by me! I rock my camera so hard, it's not even funny.

Libellés : , ,

[Singapore's ERP Gantries and traffic woes]
Sngs Alumni @ 13.9.07 { 0 comments }

mardi, septembre 11, 2007

 Lay them out, boys

Sometimes I think that guys should just lay them out on the table and use the ruler. (Either that, or there's something about the NTU air that makes people lose their sanity when they stay there too long - why do you think I'm staying away as much as I can? :-)

Libellés :

[Lay them out, boys]
Sngs Alumni @ 11.9.07 { 0 comments }

lundi, septembre 10, 2007

 Photographs from today

The sky was gorgeous today; sunny and clear with fluffy white clouds that even my mother commented on while driving us back to church (she goes back in the afternoon for choir; I break my Sunday church routine with a visit to the Novena gym - not that it's making an ounce of difference.)

The light was fantastic along Orchard Road as I walked to BigO at Wheelock Place to meet Matto, SJ+Van, Weilong, FT, Jon and Mok. HJ+Aaron were on their way, but got involved in a 10-car pileup (yes, you read that correctly), and got stuck doing the necessary. After BigO, they decided to walk around Orchard Road - which I personally feel is an insane idea on a Sunday afternoon, not the least because I WAS IN VERY HIGH HEELS, but hey, sure, anything to spend time with friends. Dinner was at Din Tai Fung; dumplings were as great as I remembered them, and OMG this is such a stupid post, but HEY LOOK, FANTASTIC PICTURES!

The Hyatt Hotel against a blue, blue sky. I loved the sky today. It was an amazing, amazing blue.

This is one reason to stay in Singapore - it may be hot as Hades on occasion, but we get weather that's blazingly bright and hot most of the time. Blue skies, warm waters (until the monsoon comes for real - then that's another kettle of fish.)

Wheelock Place's dome, on the inside, riding up the escalator - so I only got one shot!

Somehow, the outside of this dome always reminds me of that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle evil henchman transport - you know, the one that tunnels under the earth to give quick escapes to Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, and on occasion, Krang? I tried to find a picture of it, but failed.

Long time friends who just couldn't find anything to do on a Sunday afternoon...

Libellés : ,

[Photographs from today]
Sngs Alumni @ 10.9.07 { 0 comments }

 When in doubt, take a test

NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber-Dorky High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!I want to put in a lot of disclaimers here, like...

• I cannot do science and math (but I find the concepts fascinating and useful, and the logic of everything appeals to me);
• I love computers it's true, and have no idea how my history and literature scores are so low;
• My graphic novel (they are NOT COMICS OKAY) fascination has finally reared its ugly head and bit me on the backside;

... but I won't.

Libellés : ,

[When in doubt, take a test]
Sngs Alumni @ 10.9.07 { 0 comments }

mercredi, septembre 05, 2007

 Albert Tiu: "On The Other Hand..."

(This is not a music review.)

To watch Albert perform is to remember how completely useless you were at the piano when you were younger.

To watch Albert perform on his right hand ONLY is to simply sit with your mouth agape.

The man sweetly spammed me with his invitation to his solo concert, and since I already had to be in NUS for a lunch and a meeting, I obliged.

Being back in a performance space (that's not the Esplanade Recital Studio) was a pleasant thing - the seats were good, the floor well-sloped, and the air-conditioning not too cold. The audience, however - they started queueing at 630pm for the 730pm free concert, while I stayed away from the queue to wait for Tony to get back from dinner. The ushers were familiar faces (I really liked talking to the students when I was there.)

The entire programme was just... scary stuff. The back story is - he injured his left hand earlier this year, and had to practice with only his right. He then decided to treat it as an opportunity to learn - so he adapted music for the right hand. Listening to him was like listening to a regular performance, except that his left hand was not doing any work at all. Through really skilful playing, and even more skilful pedal work, the guy just rocked the studies.

Ade, I'm sorry you missed it. I think you would have been in a puddle on the floor at the end of the Chopin studies.

[Bach/Brahms] Chaconne in D minor*
[Skryabin] Prelude Op. 9 No. 1 in C-sharp minor*
[Skryabin] Nocturne p. 9 No. 2 in D-flat major*
[Godowsky] Studies after Chopin:
No. 12a (Op. 10 No. 5) in G-flat major*
No. 5 (Op. 10 No. 3) in D-flat major*
No. 22 (Op. 10 No. 12) in C-sharp minor*
[Chopin] Preludes Op 28 No. 1-8 arr. for the right hand alone by Albert Tiu
No. 1 in C major; Agitato
No. 2 in A minor; Lento
No. 3 in G major; Vivace
No. 4 in E minor; Largo
No. 5 in D major; Allegro molto
No. 6 in B minor; Lento assai
No. 7 in A major; Andantino
No. 8 in F-sharp minor; Molto agitato
[Kawai Shiu] La coral de una mano Alberto (2007)
[Alkan] Study for the Right Hand Alone, Op. 76 No. 2 (Introduction, variations and finale)

* originally written for the left hand alone

Libellés :

[Albert Tiu: "On The Other Hand..."]
Sngs Alumni @ 5.9.07 { 0 comments }

mardi, septembre 04, 2007

 Happy Birthday Victor! Gayatri's at Race Course Road

These are my peeps: the ones who do not laugh derisively and call me a nerd when I take out my keys with my 1GB thumbdrive hanging from it.

These are the ones who will tell me that they too, have six thumbdrives with them at the moment, and ask why do I only have one? And only 1GB? Shame on me.

The ones who will tell me quite seriously that they are not geeks, they are Level 12 Paladins. And I believe them.

The ones who will enthusiastically coerce an unbeliever to join Facebook just because it's the technological thang to do at the moment.

These are my people, and tonight, I felt love, and I felt at home.

Happy birthday, Victor!

Libellés : ,

[Happy Birthday Victor! Gayatri's at Race Course Road]
Sngs Alumni @ 4.9.07 { 0 comments }

lundi, septembre 03, 2007

 Taking up the cross

It really is like that, isn't it?

Luke 9:23-26 - Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."

Romans 1:15-17 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

2 Timothy 1:8 "So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord..."
I've always wanted to put these verses about being ashamed of the gospel together, and a joint occurence - an email from Jo, and an MSN discussion with Sara - just seemed to catalyse that desire... there's a lot to be discussed here in the context of the modern Christian, and I always have a lot of thoughts on this issue...

Libellés : ,

[Taking up the cross]
Sngs Alumni @ 3.9.07 { 0 comments }

 Big Girls Don't Cry

The smell of your skin lingers on me now...You're probably on your flight back to your hometown. I need some shelter of my own protection baby - be with myself in center, clarity, peace, serenity...

I hope you know, I hope you know that this has nothing to do with you: it's personal, myself and I, we got some straightening out to do. And I'm gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket, but I've gotta get a move on with my life. It's time to be a big girl now, and big girls don't cry

The path that I'm walking, I must go alone. I must take the baby steps til I'm full grown. Fairy tales don't always have a happy ending do they? And I forsee the dark ahead if I stay...

Like a little school mate in the school yard, we'll play jacks and uno cards. I'll be your best friend and you'll be mine, valentine. Yes you can hold my hand if you want to, cos I wanna hold yours too. We'll be playmates and lovers and share our secret worlds. But it's time for me to go home, it's getting late, dark outside. I need to be with myself in center, clarity, peace, serenity...
Big girls don’t cry (they don’t cry)
Big girls don’t cry (who said they don’t cry?)
My girl said goodbye (my oh my)
My girl didn’t cry (I wonder why)

(Silly boy) told my girl we had to break up
(Silly boy) hoped that she would call my bluff
(Silly boy) then she said to my surprise
“Big girls don’t cry?"
Big girls don’t cry (they don’t cry)
Big girls don’t cry (who said they don’t cry?)

(Maybe) I was cruel (I was cruel)
Baby I’m a fool (I’m such a fool)

(Silly girl) “Shame on you?" your mama said
(Silly girl) “Shame on you, you’re cryin' in bed?" (Silly girl)
“Shame on you, you told me lies?" Big girls do cry

Big girls don’t cry (they don’t cry)
Big girls don’t cry (that’s just an alibi)
Big girls don’t cry

A song from the past, a song from the present, a song for the self.

Libellés :

[Big Girls Don't Cry]
Sngs Alumni @ 3.9.07 { 0 comments }

dimanche, septembre 02, 2007

 Facebook Makes People Sing

Strange things happen when people join facebook.com
They start poking, biting, casting spells, giving flowers and gifts... strange.
Then they start singing songs.
Scary songs.
Good songs.
Songs with good harmony.
Even students in Cambridge are not immune.

Facebook.com Song, by Abel Acuna | Facebook Song, by Rhett and Link

The Facebook Song, Cambridge Edition | Facebook, You've Ruined My Life

Libellés : , ,

[Facebook Makes People Sing]
Sngs Alumni @ 2.9.07 { 1 comments }

 Introducing Jonathan Chong at the Esplanade

Jon had a gig at the Esplanade today, showcasing his original work. The whole thing sounded excellent - the esplanade's outdoor stage should have been a difficult venue to handle, but I guess this is why they're the pros!

Jason was on bass, Nigel was on rhythm guitar, Michelle was backup, and Oliver was on the cajon (a drum that you sit on and play with your hands)

Me? I was taking photos, of course. :)

I'm mildly irked that the expedition had an 80% throwaway rate, but I'm trying to be reasonable with myself - I've only really had this camera for a week or so, and I'm still learning the nitty gritty bits of how to use it properly. The telephoto lens, for example, is great for the long shots, but it always gives blurry shots due to the lack of an image stabiliser. Couple that with my ineptitude, and you get very high throwaway rates. Must improve! :-)

The other thing is the 50mm "portrait" lens - it's very quick, but has the tendency to autofocus on other things. It also doesn't work well in the dark, so I have to learn when the use the flash is acceptable, and not a cheaterbug way of compensating for my inability to tweak the settings.

introducing jonathan chong at the esplanade!

jon | oliver | jason | nigel | mich

everyone on stage | everyone post-gig

Libellés : ,

[Introducing Jonathan Chong at the Esplanade]
Sngs Alumni @ 2.9.07 { 0 comments }

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Musings on Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life (PII)


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Stuff I'd Like
Lake Tahoe
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Taj Mahal
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