Friday, January 29, 2010

Google View of You (aka Me)

The venerable Spike of HonkieTown fame sent me an email, asking about rents in Singapore (suggestion of maybe a job here in Disneyland-WDP?) and so I called up a property website to send him the link. And I sat there, looking at all the apartments.. .


It's just like Googling your own name, isn't it, an irresistible urge? It's not even an idea or a thought, it's something from a deeper part of the brain, under some autonomic control that's operating so fast your hands have already started typing before you told them to, before you are even aware of what it is that you're wanting to type...

Yes, I drop my head in shame, I looked up my current apartment block! Was this a wise thing, I was wondering? It could mean pain and disappointment, or it could mean joyous exultation...

And yes - *punches air feels slightly confident* - the larger 2000+ sqft apartments in my building which were $8K two years ago are now less than $6K. However on a per/sqft basis, that means my place is only slightly overpriced at the moment.

That's maybe some positive info (for me) when the lease runs out at the end of August. I'll check again before then of course. If I remember. The landlord always used to be way below market price. He said all he wanted was to cover the mortgage and as I am an expat professional (aka Foreign Talent) I am presumably a good and reliable tenant (when I remember to update my automatic rent transfers.) However, the last few leases we "negotiated", the ogre of greed seems to have overtaken him. The property bubble in Singapore inflates every so often, and using Gordon Gecko-like rationalizations such as, "We've got to follow market trends!" he jacked up my rent to almost double what it was before. Well, following market trends, my smaller apartment should be a fair bit cheaper for my upcoming lease; maybe not as low as it was originally but I'll push hard when next we sit around the negotiation table with our spritzers and Caesar salads!

Yes, so there I was looking at the pictures of the apartment block they had put up on the website. They were small, oldish and not really representative of the place. Then I noticed the Street View Tab next to the Photos Tab. Is that the Google thing, I wondered?


A while ago, maybe a year, I heard that they were going to do the Google Street View thing for Singapore. Not long after that, one bright clear morning when I should have been at work, I was sitting at my overlarge desk in my huge study/library(no3)/bedroom/shagnest. For some reason, maybe I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye, I happened to glance out the window. The laneway outside my window is right on the nub of a dead-end, so I don't often see cars coming this far up. There in the lane was a van, I think it was white (or dark green) and it had (I hope I am not too far from remembering this correctly) a bubble thing on it's roof. The van may have had a small Google logo on the side, but I can't be sure, Officer.

Hey, I thought (like I knew what I was talking/thinking about), that's a panoramic camera. They're doing the Google Street View thing! Cool!

A few months later I tried to find something on Google Earth and thought I'd check the Singapore Street View but it wasn't there. Or I couldn't call it up. Maybe my GE was out of date. Maybe I'm an idiot. So, in harmony with my defining characteristic of late, I forgot all about it.


When I realized that there was another tab there called Street View, I clicked and WOW! There it was! My street! My very own street, where I've been living these last 5&7/12 years. It's awesome (not my place, though it's pretty good, but I mean Street View) but then so is Google Earth, awesome I mean, so that's only to be expected.

At first the view started a far way up my street so, once I figured out how to move forward (by reading the little tag that came up and read "double click here to move forward") I could check out my place and environs (love that phrase, so Joycean) from all over. You scan around left and right, you zoom in, fantastic. Much better for giving the ambience, the freaking zeitgeist of a place than those few outdated photos. Wonder if they did the back lane-way? And then, hey I'm hop-scotching up the road towards the dead-end...

"Hey", I call out to Izzy and Joyce the Supermaid (who is stitching together the old ironing board with left-over pieces of string), "come check this out."

I show them the back of the house and say, "There our apartment, and that must be my window. Check it out, cool, huh?"

That's when I remember about the van...

"Wow, there was some van that come up the laneway with a big bubble on it's roof. I saw it, a while ago. I wonder... Hey, I must have been looking out the window when it was there! I wonder if they took a photo of me?"

So I move the view down the laneway a bit further and swing the perspective around to get the window as close as it will go to front on, and I zoom in...

"Look at that dark bit there, it's my head. I swear, look at it!"

"Oh man," says Izzy.

Freaky mystic weird - isn't just so like that scene in Antonioni's Blow Up where David Hemmings keeps zooming up his photos till he sees the dead body and the gun... (the bit where he gets Jimi Page's guitar, or was it Jeff Beck's is cool too.)

Using my incredible powers of inference, I swear that's incontrovertible evidence of a mysterious murder!

But the one below, what do you reckon? Is that a picture of me looking out the window at the Google van?

Either it's me or it's..... not.


And in the end, getting distracted easily with this blog-post, grabbing screens and playing with the photos and finding the Blow Up ones (being easily distracted is my OTHER defining characteristic these days) I neglected to email Spike the link to the site I recommend. But as he reads my blog anyway and as he is fond of ALMOST everything starting with a small 'i', here it is: iProperty. Good luck finding something with a master bedroom as big as mine now that the town is exploding upwards with all these huge blocks of hyper-modern micro-apartments!

I recommend checking in Regions 9-12, those North and West of Orchard but close. Expat Heaven, or do I mean Haven?


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thailand Continues To Use "Bogus" Detectors

The United Kingdom has placed an export ban on a bomb (and/or drug) detection device, the ADE651, which under analysis proves to be a complete sham. The ban is only effective for Iraq and Afghanistan however, so other countries continue to be free to purchase the expensive pieces of empty plastic.

I described the ADE651 in a previous post. Now I see there is even a blog dedicated to exposing this device. But here is an interesting (I think) update:

In Thailand, similar dousing technology devices are still in use for the detection of illegal drugs! Detection equipment called the Alpha6 and the GT200 are said to be able to detect 70% of drugs (or bombs in Iraq?), slightly more than 2/3. Maybe the same number of red herrings?

By how much are the Thai authorities being ripped off? The Alpah6 is cheap (Bht400,000, £7,500, USD$12K) but is supposed to detect only drugs, whereas the more expensive GT200 (Bht900,000-1,200,000, £22,500, USD$36k), it is asserted, can detect both drugs and explosive.

They have even ordered more for Phuket!

But here is an interesting alleged quote used in that forum discussion - I don't know whether it is a fake or not:

"an officer with the Phuket Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation, says that procurement procedures mean that it would take around one month to sort out the kickbacks."

Ha ha. Scary.

But do they detect wishful thinking, one wonders. Or greedy, lying salesmen and greedy, corrupt politicians and officials?


As I said on the previous post, these "molecular resonance" devices actually 'work' on the same principle as water dousing, according to the maker of the ADE651, Jim McCormick. Such a method is exactly as reliable as homeopathy: which is to say they don't work at all. These things are merely something the desperate, confused, vulnerable and gullible stretch for when real equipment (or medicine) has reached its limit. Which is to say, it works at the level of the placebo effect. It only has subjectively positive results if you believe it works, and that type of 'working' is unable to be measured or confirmed by any test or trial anyone can devise. Which, I repeat, means they don't work at all.

This "glorified dousing device" is sensitised to whatever it is you want it to detect; specific types of explosives, or certain drugs, and it is claimed that "under ideal conditions" it can detect such substances from up to a mile away.

It is allegedly 'powered' (it doesn't need power) from static electricity generated by the body as the user walks along. Never mind that such static electricity generation requires a certain type of friction, such as walking over a carpet (zap! when you touch a doorknob), and you would not generate any measurable or usable quantity of static electricity by walking over gravel or dust.

The bits of plastic and tin used in Thailand are also made in England. I wonder if maybe they come from the same backyard shed in Somerset where the utterly sleazy looking Jim McCormick was churning out his ADE-651. McCormick has recently been arrested for fraud over his ADE651 device by the way.

Never believe anyone with eyebrows like this:


I said in the previous post that it beeps. It doesn't beep, in fact it is a piece of wire that swivels on a mount of plastic in a plastic hand-held holder. As shown in the BBC video (which I didn't watch completely last time, sorry!) it merely swings towards the suspect material (spooky, mystic, weird) - but in reality it swings with subtle, perhaps unconscious, movements of the wrist and shifts of body position. Wishful thinking. Auto-fulfilling prophecy. Magic. Divine intervention. Nothing.

While the articles from the Bangkok Post do not mention the English ban on the ADE-651 nor its ineffectual performance nor the arrest of McCormick, the timing of these Thai articles in interesting - exactly one week after the BBC broke the story. Methinks the Narcotics Control Board protesteth too much.

If you watch the BBC video on the second link, there you will see how "dousing rod" technology is pseudo-scientific rubbish in general and these types of devices in particular are useless and fraudulent.

In 1995 the FBI called a similar device, the Quadro Tracker, "a fraud" and warned in 1999 against buying "bogus explosive detection equipment." Note that one of the devices the Thailand military claim is effective is called the QT200.

Mmmm. QT200 = Qaudro Tracker?


As I said in the earlier post, it is a worry and a disappointment that in this advanced scientific age, supposedly intelligent people who are in roles responsible for the lives of the public as well as other military (in the Iraq and Afghanistan cases) can continue fall for such plainly fake technological snake-oil, even to endorse and promote its effectiveness and continued use once the con has been exposed and the "technology" demonstrated to be non-existent.

But of course, if there is money to be shifted around corrupt officials, it sounds like a great deal - I'll buy that for a million dollars (or Baht)!!


About 8 years ago, New Scientist published an article about a swabbing type device, obviously not turning much of a sceptical (i.e. scientific) eye on the technology, which was being developed at the time in bloody Geelong, my home town!

Funnily enough, I have had my bags swabbed once by what seems to me now to be such a device. This was when I was leaving Melbourne Airport several years ago. The swab was tested in a large accompanying analyser. As I hadn't stored any of the drugs they were looking for in my bags for several days (joking), the results were "negative". As I not seen the device there since, I presume it was only being tested at that time and the Airport Security (or whomever) decided not to purchase it.

But I wonder how "bogus" and "fraudulent", or just plain inadequate this type of detection device is compared to the completely useless but profitable dousers that have been imported into Iraq and Afghanistan as well as, now we see, even Thailand.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Australia Day

Laze and germs, in honour of Australia Day here's Iva Davies and Icehouse (1982 originally)...

"Standing at the limit of an endless ocean...
Hidden in the summer for a million years
Great southern land"

Speaking of goannas... Here's the Goanna Band (also from 1982, with a slightly different message)

"They were standing on the shores one day
Saw the white sails in the sun.
Wasn't long before they felt the sting
Of white man, white law, white gun..."

I wanted to put in Midnight Oil, but they won't let me embed it, the bastards!

Bed's Are Burning

The day after Australia Day (i.e. January 27th) was the best for the first fleeters: the female convicts ships arrived. According to Robert Hughes' Fatal Shore, there was a joyous orgy of massive proportions.

The joy didn't last long however.


My son's genealogy takes him back to the First Fleet, via the female side. And now his girlfriend just received Australian citizenship today! One of the first and one of the latest! Congrats to Margot! Canadian AND Australian - it doesn't get any better than that!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Sniff This

People with half a brain have known for ages that the ADE651 "bomb detector" is perfect example of the Barnum Principle of defense spending - there's an idiot born every minute, and he's probably working as a supply person for some Armed Forces unit somewhere in the world.

FINALLY, it has been exposed for the con it is.

It's a piece of pure whiffle. It's an unglorified divining rod. It's a wank. It's a disaster capitalist's ideal opportunity: playing on the fear, ignorance and desperation of a purchaser, he can sell whatever he wants. It's open slather for some 'clever' developer/opportunsit (aka a thieving murderous cunt) like Jim McCormick (no relation to the mustard people, or me, thank Christ) to see a chance to fill a niche in the bomb/drug/fart detection industry with his pseudo-scientific con job.

The things beeps every now and then. It "works" on the same principle as a divining rod, the inventor says. Except that divining rods don't, um, work. The chip inside the machine does nothing, can do nothing according to the BBC report.

Built for about $0.30 in second-hand (or more) parts from trashed Vauxhall Victors, this device enables the purchaser to do whatever they think they would like to do with a device that does whatever they want it to do, at a bargain basement discount price of, get this, $60,000 per unit.

Rest assured that the developer of this unit has been working his mother-in-law's arse to an axe-handle width, getting her to make a few more units down in the garden shed in their dairy in Somerset (I kid you not) to continue to supply the Iraqi army (and others!) with the spare parts and back-up service they deserve for having made this canny purchase.

As it is a completely a functionless, useless piece of black-box un-technology, people's lives have been put at risk hundreds of times as serious-faced security guards have wafted it over bags, or even just pointed in the direction of whatever it is they think it can detect (whatever you "train" it to detect) over several yards, or - hey, why not? - miles.

Sometimes when I drive through checkpoints, the device moves simply because I have medications in my handbag. Sometimes it doesn't - even when I have the same handbag
Umm Muhammad, retired Iraqi schoolteacher

I wonder how many people innocent have died because this bum-fuck piece of evidence of humanity's stupidity has been used in checkpoints in Iraq?

How stupid ARE people?

How stupid ARE people in the armed forces?

How at risk are we, the general public (those of us in Iraq anyway), when people we are meant to trust fall for this sort of out and out quackery?

Who TESTS the claims of these machines before the Armed Forces buys them? No-one, no time to check, we at war with, um, terror! What about being at war with the sleazy criminals who are bleeding the armed forces of the world dry (and the people who pay the taxes which pay for it all) with their lies and half-arsed... arse. I am sorry, I am almost speechless at the criminal negligence of the people who failed to prevent this...

If more people actually knew some science, had just a tad of skepticism about these snake-oil salesmen offering them deals that are obviously too good to be true (true for the salesman's bottom line of course), then this sort of tragedy wouldn't become the farce which is playing out at the moment.


Question: Why?

Answer: people who have been conditioned to believe such stupid things as there being some Big Brother in the sky who watches over them and has done for everyone else since the dawn of time - oops no, sorry, only since some Middle East Camel trader cut off his foreskin 7,000 years ago - 24/7, and who takes a very serious view of whether you call him/her alah or allen or god or baal and who will help you find your car keys but has no time to stop soldiers or rebels, in whatever war you care to name, from raping children and women or hacking or machine-gunning them to death - those sort of people will believe in anything. Obviously.

They'd even buy the ADE657.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Value of Nothing

Further to my previous post about how giving things like "smiles" and donating to worthy charities can make you a happier person, here's a book by Raj Patel (a friend of a friend actually) which says something along the same lines.

I love those books that tear at the 'greed' and 'selfishness' mantras of the last few decades. I grew up as a self-styled urban-hippy surfer, and all that stuff was just bullshit. There was hunting the waves, the intensely personal thrill of riding them, there was being cool. Any desire for flashy worldly goods, any competitiveness, any seriousness, made you automatically a profoundly undesirable dickhead and you were out.


Be stupid and buy it.


Big Pharma - Bad Karma

I used to rant a lot about lying drug companies. I still hate them by the way, but now that I am chronically hooked on Lamictal and Lyrica, I have a grudging respect for medications in general, if not the companies that produce them.

Non-Americans may not understand the obsession with personal psychological health and mood variation that people in the USofA seem to have. What ARE they raving about? I remember a young Yank guy in Phuket who was going home that night; he told us he had taken a Valium to keep himself calm during the packing process. WTf'ingF?

The obvious reason why Americans suffer from such mass hypochondria (surely there's a pill for that?) is the propaganda that is pumped at them day after day on the idiot box.

It's the only explanation. In Asia of course we are mass fed on such crap as skin-whitening drugs and herbal viagra, but to nowhere near the saturation levels of US television.

As I've said in those previous posts, the claim of $800m for development costs is utter bullshit - it includes $400m "opportunity costs" which is money they would have earned had they invested the cash somewhere else! WTF again! Other components of the $880m are Marketing - those TV ads - and Phase IV trials, which are merely attempts to find new uses for the drug in order to extend waning patents. What a completely transparent con! Big Pharma lies to you, and it gets away with time and time again...

Because people are sheep.

Or have you stopped reading already because you have "adult ADD", like my flatmate claims she has (bullshit, I say)?

"Disease maintenance and symptom management..."


What about curing my bad feet, you unglorious basterds?


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Interesting how competition works ... a stack of six books I'm ordering from Amazon is USD$121, that's including the $36 postage to Singapore.

From BookDepository in the UK the same books are USD$136, but hey, there's "free" wordlwide delivery...

So it costs $15 extra to get them for free...


In case you're curious, the books are:

* Julia and the Bazooka: and Other Stories (Peter Owen Modern Classics) - Anna Kavan - $15.56

* Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America - Barbara Ehrenreich - $15.64

* The Noise of Time: Selected Prose (European Classics) - Osip Mandelstam - $12.21

* Monsieur Pain - Roberto Bolaño - $15.61

* War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race - Edwin Black - $17.82

* First As Tragedy, Then As Farce - Slavoj Zizec - $9.32

Nearly time for YET ANOTHER bookshelf.

Brilliant idea! Store all the books I've already read. And, sigh, the ones I'm never going to read.


[re-edited for easy reading for Momentary Madness who has trouble with certain cut and paste layouts.]

My Turn

... at Microfiction Monday, hosted by Stony River.

140 characters or less for this picture:-

"I think I trod in something vaguely amusing," said Livia.

"Does it stink as much as my fucking horrible hairdo?" her sister replied.


Oops! I don't think I was supposed to swear!


Monday, January 18, 2010

Smile Like You Mean It

(Bhavani from India. 3D image is a fetus with similar defect)


Remember that scene in Doc Hollywood when Dr Ben Stone (Michael J Fox) finally gets to LA and has his first day with the super successful plastic surgeon, Dr Halberstrom, played by the ever-over-tanned George Hamilton. I haven't seen the movie lately, but I can always recall Dr Halberstrom holding the liposuction cannula like a golf-club and saying "Cleft palates, you live for those!"


Many sonographers are doing 3D scans of babies' faces these days. Tom Cruise even bought a 3D machine for... what's 'is wife's name these days.

Sometimes, you get the feeling families only attend the ultrasound examination in order to get their orange-colored printout or CD of the semi-profile view of their baby, all pretty and healthy.

All day the sonographers are busy scanning for 'real' rather than cosmetic reasons, such as confirming the due date and checking for things like undiagnosed twins, placenta previa, heart defects, growth failure, and other signs of life-threatening problems. When the inevitable question comes up about whether a 3D picture of the face is available, most sonographers are happy to oblige, or are forced to by their employers, even though it might add 5-10 minutes of what the sonographer may secretly think of as 'wasted time' to the already long study. About a third of mothers will be disappointed because that is the failure rate of the 3D scan - baby will be face down or there's not enough fluid around the face, or the image for whatever reason is unobtainable. By the way, studies have shown that "bonding" is no better with or without a 3D scan...

However, if the baby is in a good position and unfortunately DOES have a cleft lip and palate, the sonographer will become quite excited, even though, hopefully, they may not show this overtly.

Cleft palates, you see - You live for those.

Lots of pictures will be taken to verify the findings and with a hope to get a nice view for next week's clinical meeting. Fetal facial deformities such as clefts provide pretty much the only valid medical use of this incredibly popular scan.

But what do the parents do about it once you've found this problem? They wait. But at least it's an informed waiting. No surprises. This is what your baby is going to look like. Those high-flying cosmetic surgeons will fix it when baby is born. (I wouldn't get Michael Fox to do it nowadays though!)


So what happens if the mother lives in an inaccessible region or is desperately poor or in a third world country? She might not have even seen a doctor during her pregnancy, let alone be uploading her 3D scans to Facebook. Her baby is born with what appears at first as a frightening deformity. Does she abandon the child, or does she protect it from the prejudices of those in her town/village/family? Does she leave it at an orphanage or with another family member who might or might not be able to care better for the baby? Even if the baby survives the difficulties of feeding and grows well, she or he is going to marked out as special, even unlovable, an object of peer ridicule.

In the NYT today, Nicholas Kristof quotes a a fair bit from a favorite book of mine, Jonathon Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis. If you wonder why Ayn Rand followers all look so grumpy and unhappy in their externally successful lives, it is because they have forsworn against charity. Their philosophy is simple: "take".

Haidt's thesis however is that giving is one of the essential foundations of true, gut-deep happiness. Drugs work well against depression, as do Zen meditation and behavioral therapy. But being happy is more that not being unhappy. If you do things that occupy your mind and allow you to concentrate, shutting out distractions for an extended period of time, you will probably feel satisfied. Making little castles for role-playing games and painting little soldier figurines, for example. But such solitary pleasures only go so far. We are social creatures and need be involved in the world outside our skulls. Not only involved, but active in a positive, constructive way.

One of the great ways to be positive and use the benefits of our cultural capitalism, living in a prosperous nation, is that we can give generously to charitable organisation without losing or compromising anything of significance, like our blatantly sybaritic lifestyle.

Participating in the good works of charitable organisations, even from the distance of an online credit card payment, can provide you with a sense of connectedness to the world. Peter Singer's latest book The Life You Save argues that there is a "clear-cut moral imperative for citizens of developed countries to give more to charitable causes that help the poor." Wikipedia. Dr Singer donates 25% of his salary to UNICEF and Oxfam. Moral imperative or not, it can make you feel good to donate even a little bit to a good cause. It can be a step towards happier life, knowing you are making someone else happier, healthier, better educated, better sheltered or less hungry.


The Haitian earthquake is an obvious current example. Reliable charities like Oxfam or World Vision or the World Food Program enable you to direct your donation to a specific cause, such as Haiti, if you want to it that way.


However, Kristof's article goes on to mention the work of the Smile Train, a group that helps children in rural areas of Africa, the subcontinent and Eastern Europe with untreated cleft lip and palate. What a great way to get involved in the world.

Stop picking your nose and help some child get a new smile.

Want to make yourself happy? Make a child smile.

(Bhavani after operation)


Any libertarians or Randians who think this is wrong can kiss my ever-smiling arse.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Old Sensations

If there was one song ever that could get my butt up and on the dance-floor it would have to be this classic! Youtube won't allow me to import the then amazing original video set in Prague (here it is in case you've forgotten), but this is the live version from Live Baby Live shot at Wembley in ?1987. (Fuck J.D. Fortune, btw.)

The scene of the crowd bopping en-masse to the music is pretty cliche now, but this was the first video that used this wide view to show the effect the music was having on everybody, or maybe it was because INXS was the first band in the world to make those people wanna ROCK like this!


Michael Hutchence grew up in Hong Kong of course, and the Hong Kong cover band 9th State (named for their 9th incarnation) used to play New Sensation in the F-stop bar in Lan Kwai Fong years ago, when I lived in Hong Kong. It's been gone for ages; the tiniest bar on the planet... they set the band on a beer-coaster by the door and let them just pump great music out onto the steep cobbled street and people just hung around, listening, drinking, moving on, or they started dancing. Britta, now my best buddy's wife, and I used to just love letting our hair down, metaphorically in my case, to this song.

The thrill of dancing like no-one was watching in this tiny bar remains one of the greatest sensations of my life.


Other than doing it again for the next umpteen years at the HK Rugby7s.

Which is why I am quickly posting this to warn everyone that I will be there again this year! Cathay Package has been purchased! Look out South Stand, look out The Tent, I'm on my way! This will make 12 out of 13 possible annual appearances. My first ever weekend in Hong Kong back in 1998 was indeed The 7s! I thought, Oh My Fucking God! Think Superbowl, non-stop for three days!

I missed last year for some work reasons, but I will be back...


I told you
That we could fly
'Cause we all have wings
But some of us don't know why...

Michael Hutchence


[p.s. I have an inside scoop on Mick's death, but I have to remain hush-hush.]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Recommendations Needed

Is there anything else out there like the following three novels/novellas?

More about HungerMore about DownstreamMore about Notes from Underground

I crave more of the desperately poor, semi-psychotic, philosophical loner types - without stretching it as far as Westerns of course. You'd think in my ridiculously over-the-top library there would be something, yar? But nothing since Denis Johnson's "Jesus' Son" has come even close. Defying my New Year's resolution AGAIN of buying 1) nothing contemporary and 2) nothing American and decidedly 3) nothing contemporary American, I purchased Andre Dubus III "The Garden Of Last Days", set in a strip-club (why am I thinking of the movie Exotica?) and left it in the sushi restaurant tonight... What an idiot.

More about Jesus' SonMore about The Garden of Last Days


Monday, January 11, 2010

A Day At The Office - Twitter

From an anonymous Japanese German* Twit, freshly translated by E@L:


7:23: Woke feeling like crap warmed up.

8:17: Breakfast was real crap.

9:14: Faced with a whole pile of fresh crap at work this morning.

11:33: Boss asked how it was going. I gave him a shit-eating grin.

12:59: Crap food for lunch.

2:06: More of the same crap. Plus some new crap!

5:24: Nothing but crap all day.

[Video link deleted by Singapore MDA]

7:28: Note to self: Must quit this scat porno movie business.


* What is it with these Germans?


In Breaking News: people vomit whilst reading E@L's bog. I'm sorry I'll read that again, "E@L's blog".

(I thought it was funny: where would we be without toilet humour!)


Friday, January 08, 2010

Déjà Brothel View

Just as happened when E@L first came to Singapore in 1983, the Sanur taxi-driver overestimated the level of debauchery they were seeking as he took E@L and his buddy into pathways dim, where a small hotel had been converted into something more and yet, something less.

E@L and friend were actually looking for a bar where they could chat to girls, play a game of pool or two and drink a few beers. Something similar to the bars of Thailand.

This was exactly what E@L and a Dutch acquaintance from bar of the same hotel (The Cockpit) were looking for in pre-4FoW Singapore all those years ago.

And, as at that time, after walking through a small gate, they were confronted by a display of melancholy girls seated around a table. Here in Bali, there were about 20 girls each with a large button on their clothes showing a number. E@L ventured to ask who was from Bali but none of the girls put up their hands. They were from Java, one offered.

In Singapore, when the girls were trooped in for a viewing, there was no-one looking happy he recalled. E@L was all for running away immediately, but the Dutch guy wanted to ask the price. He converted it to Guilder and was shocked. "So expensive. In Amsterdam only xxx Guilder!" E@L was shocked at the price of the beer they were offered - $7. They left immediately and the taxi-driver apologetically, and perhaps pissed at not getting his finder's fee, took them to a disco in a car-park where beer cost the same.

In Sanur, it was the same. No-one smiled. Trafficked in from the adjacent large island, maybe from Jakarta or perhaps the small stone-age villages of the jungles where poverty and desperation were rife, these sex-slaves had given up so much. Dignity, freedom, their passports. Perhaps they still owed the snake-heads money for the privilege of being taken down to this level of degradation...

E@L and friend moved out quickly. The taxi-driver, apologetic and perhaps upset at not getting his finder's fee, took them instead to a Spa where they received normal Balinese massage, no Plus.


Thursday, January 07, 2010


Her brown thighs spread wide around his body and her hands rested calmly on her knees despite the thrust which moved her. A white singlet hugged her narrow body and its straps exposed her tanned shoulders. E@L could just make out the smallest of denim shorts hugging her butt.

"Does every motorcycle come with an accessory like that?" E@L asked his buddy as the couple - Western man, Asian woman - squeezed their bike past their taxi on the narrow road from Ubud to Sanur...


I notice a decided trend towards "peeping-tom"ism in these posts lately.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Blame Anthony Bourdain

I do. Each of my teeth has its own separate hangover. That third martini must have been spiked. I recall jauntily launching myself downhill on the road to my hotel - alone for some reason - when a taxi driver took pity on me and bundled my sorry excuse for a body into his car for God knows how much money.

I also recall hugging the band's guitarist like he was my long lost (Balinese) brother, but I also told the singer she should wear high heels. This was later (how much later, I can't tell you) at a completely empty club I recollect as being called IngSoc, but that maybe due to us talking Orwellian Newspeak earlier in the day. I am feeling double plus ungood currently. We toasted the late great Keith Floyd, goddam him.

My head says eat, but my stomach says no fucking way.

There's a sign on the wall (but you've got to be sure) about Bourdain claiming Nury's BBQ place (candlelit due to a rainstorm) to have the best martini on the planet. Unfortunately, Jeremy told us, this declaration never made it to his (Bourdain's, that is, Jeremy doesn't have one, but do I have his card) TV show. Meanwhile (or later, or earlier) I was explaining the indubitable (I think Adam tried to use that word first, but pronounced it "inbubblable" - he had commenced on the martinis before us) superiority of Frank Moorhouse's book on martinis as I sipped on my second vodkatini (is a vodka martini, strictly speaking, a martini?) when the rational world began to collapse around me. Is Ubud really a martini town, I kept asking no-one in particular.

Somehow, around 1am, I had survived thus far and wisely decided to repair to my hotel in order to repair, which has only partially succeeded thus far. I believe Daryl witnessed my return. He was sitting bemused in a chair in reception surrounded by fuzzy lizard creatures. I may be wrong in this.


This morning I shocked the gardener into silence by walking out naked to collect my swimming trunks which had been drying on the balcony.


How was your night?


Sunday, January 03, 2010


The plump woman came sedately down the steep path of steps towards the small stone shrine. Clouds of sweet-smelling incense trailed behind her from a green woven tray of offerings she was bearing on her head. She descended past lichen-covered carved monkeys and the firmly packed stones of the 80 year old resort's retaining walls, past the swimming pool where we lazed in the sun or floated on life-saver rings in the shade. She paused at the steps to the shrine, then walked up slowly between its narrow gates and took the tray from her head to place it on one of the walls of the shrine. Several smaller trays of woven bamboo strip, each full of brightly colored flowers and strips of leaf were arranged on the larger tray. Calmly, she placed a foot on the base of the square central column of the shrine and pulled herself up with one hand to place one of the small flower trays near the top level. She stepped down again and moved back to her tray. She then took several of the incense sticks from the tray, pulled herself up again and wedged a smoking stick into a chink in the carved stone near the top where the flowers were, one here, two there. On a ledge below, at about the middle layer of the carvings, she placed a square of leaf that supported a portion of rice. Back at the tray, she untied the knot on a plastic bag and pulled the bag down so that the lid of a small jar was exposed. The jar contained a dark liquid. She poured some of the liquid into a Chinese tea-cup sized plastic bowl and placed the bowl of dark liquid on the other side of the middle ledge from the rice. From a pink plastic container shaped like a Maggi sauce bottle, she poured a clear liquid into larger, brass bowl. This must have been water. Holding this larger bowl in front of her, she faced the shrine, first at the front then at either side as she dipped her fingers into the bowl and with a pink flower petal held between her index and middle fingers, ceremoniously sprinkled water to the left and to the right of the shrine with upward flicks of her hand. After each sprinkle she made a slow wave of her hand, palm forward, fingers together, and with closed eyes made a silent supplication to the Balinese gods of the forest and the river. From just below us, the murmur of cascading water rose through the dense and precisely sculpted jungle.

We relaxed.

Nick, relaxing

Going down the pool?


Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Road To Bali (aka Highway To Hell)

Checking out in a minute, but just a brief comment (HA!) or two about this god-forsaken ironic quotes paradise end ironic quotes.

It took me two hours to get across Kuta to Legian last night. About 15 minutes normally. Nevermind that the address I was given was wrong and I ate by myself, but to go 200m in 20 mins is just bullshit. With the amount of money that has poured into Bali over the years, primarily from Australians - surfers at first, yobbo tourists and their yobbo little brats of kids later - you'd think that SOME of that balance of trade would go towards doing something with the infrastructure. Despite its fame as a tropical mecca, it is one of the most tourist unfriendly places I have ever visited. It makes Chiang Mai look like Paris. Way too narrow, unmaintained streets; chaos at every jammed intersection; completely ungracious road-manners (no, you CAN'T get in, even though it means I will block the oncoming traffic for another 20 mins); cars parked in the most inconvenient and unlawful places; motorcycles clunking against panels as they weave through; pedestrians hopping like deer suddenly into the headlights because the footpaths are jammed with hawkers, rubbish and ankle-turning broken tiles...

OK, I am staying at Kuta these first few nights before I move up to Ubud for a week, but the fact remains that this is a third world shithole - even the ocean is shit here, chocked with detritus and flotsam, dark and uninviting (wrong season I am told).

Of course we know where the tourist money does go - down the greedy throats of those bloated ultra-corrupt politicians and businessmen (same thing) in Java, minus the 10% that is pulled off at EVERY stage of the logistical transfer of the loot. Christ, even the typists have to take their cut before they will prepare any documents.

What the fuck am I doing in Kuta? I don't surf any more, so why come here? Ah, that's right, Mates Rates at the resort and an upgrade to a suite.

For all this ruin, I blame Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour (who was a Mexican lady by the way. Not many people knew that, even in the bigoted film industry at the time).


Hope to calm down by the time I get to Ubud.


[Addendum] Which is not to say that my resort isn't gorgeous and marvelous btw , and that the rest of Bali isn't beautiful. Last time I stayed in Seminyak, much more peaceful; and the time before that was just after the 2nd bombing, so it was very quiet, even in Kuta.

Sigh... Bad news. My camera battery has died and as I left BOTH my chargers in Singapore it looks like I'll be iPhoning the Kodak moments for rest of my trip. I'd upload them, but I am on the new Netbook and it is am not synch'd to the iPhone.


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