Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Carvery

Just about to head off for New Years carvery here in my hotel (Madame Chiang sends her regards) so not much time.

Just wanted to say that I read Raymond Carver's original version of "A Small, Good Thing" by the pool. It was cut by 78% (word count) by Gordon Lish before publication in the 1981 What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. This is the book that Robert Altman made into the movie "Short Cuts". A section of the movie tells this story.

Carver's full version goes for 25 pages. All I've got to say is that the following lines:

"It's good to eat something," he said, watching them. "There's more. Eat up. Eat all you want. There's all the rolls in the world here."
[My emphasis.]

- I suddenly sobbed. Loudly. I was lying on a lounge by the pool. I had to cover my eyes.

Do you know the story? [SPOILER ALERT]

A mum orders a cake for her son's birthday. The son is hit by a car, goes into a coma and several days later dies... Meanwhile the cake has been forgotten about. The baker makes a series of harassing anonymous phone-calls not aware that the son was at that time in a coma. After his death, the parents realize who the calls were coming from and go to confront the baker at midnight. Their anger breaks down as the baker realizes his mistake and rotten behaviour. He gives them coffee, bread and cinnamon buns. And he says the above lines.

The first version did not affect me in the same way at all, even though Updike included it in his anthology of the best Short Stories Of The Century. Without rereading the old, edoited version, I think I prefer this long rambling one full of flashbacks and details of the hospital and its inhabitants.


All the rolls in the world. All the sorrow in the world. All the sadness in the world. All the contriteness in the world. All the fate in the world. All the lost children in the world. All the grieving parents in the world.


Shit I'm choking up again (it must be the drugs) as I type this.

All the talent in the world. Carver, a reformed alcoholic, died of lung cancer at 50, seven years after publishing the Lish edited collection and becoming dramatically famous.


What We Blog About When We Blog About Blogging

The small things, not the things that really matter.

I can't blog much about the main event around the table this Christmas for example, or its emotional aftermath. What can I say? It was fun at first, then suddenly it flipped to desperately sad and unfortunate, and very important for the family dynamic. It was almost fictional in its drama, but I can say nothing or I risk alienating my family entirely. How? By "blogalising" it I will inevitably distort the facts to suit my truth and that will be "how it was" for all my readers, while each of the family's truths won't get a look in. Even these bland comments will cause ripples of consequence. BTW, it's the same most Christmases. There are always a million things that could be told, but can't.

So instead, like a dirty old man, I notice a pretty girl's cleavage and that's what I blog about. WTF?


This from my friend Smoot, a Singaporean lawyer -

You know what the problem with a blog is?

It starts off as a place you can write stuff in, stuff that you can't write down in a diary because someone could find it. Then after a while, it becomes a place that transcends my normal everyday life, where I can talk about stuff that perhaps doesn't really matter but it matters to me in a relatively insignificant way, but important enough that I want to write about it. It's also a place to vent about the small stuff, if I need to vent.

But I can't talk about the big stuff. The stuff that keeps me awake at night. Because that's conduct unbecoming of a solicitor. Because I am bound by rules of confidentiality and propriety.

So I talk about what matters to me, a little. What bothers me, a little. Stuff that bothers me a lot is what I know to keep to myself. Even when I think so much about it that I can't sleep properly for weeks, and sometimes, oftentimes, it bleeds into my dreams and I wake up utterly exhausted, and put on my game face for another day.

Perhaps this time next year I will be far more settled in my mind, or maybe I would have lived with my fears long enough to have learned to ignore them.


And Facebook is even more superficial. Twitter, let's not even talk about it!


The title of this post comes from the Raymond Carver book of short stories, not from Murakami's manual of how to go jogging. I use it because not only because it is one of those iconic book titles that resonate and find application in a thousand variations, but also because my pool-side reading this holiday includes Beginners, the controversial drafts of many of Carver's stories before his editor Gordon Lish carved (sorry) into them, creating that spare, compelling, "left unsaid" style we all associate with Carver...

How interesting and appropriate.

I wonder what his blog would have been like? Full of small things, with the big things left unsaid like his short stories? But still he (or Lish) might manage to leave the truths of life hanging with an aura of awe all around, like a stepping into a cathedral and looking up close at the pews and the stained-glass windows, the paintings of the station of the cross, of the saints and the statues, but with each of his footsteps echoing in the enormity of it all, maybe...


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lyndal's Tits

The flat at Noosa needs to be paid for sometime in early February...

E@L went to the bank to change his AUD term deposit so that when it was due to rollover, he could get a fair whack of it out to cover the shortfall in the loan valuation.

The personal-service bank-clerk girl E@L had been staring at for 5 minutes as she completed the previous customer's paperwork pressed her button and E@L's number came up for HER booth. Yes! E@L had earlier noticed that she was the only one in an non-uniform suit; rather than high collar she had a low-cut top.

As he sat down and leaned forward so that he wouldn't have talk too loud, E@L tried to avoid looking down into her cleavage at the small goose-pimple imperfections of the skin where the swell of her breasts commenced. E@L passed over his passport and documents, and she too leaned forward. There is a God. She was wearing a red bra, the edge of it was just visible on her right breast where the black top had crept down... He was already looking at her face when she looked up from the documents and into his eyes as she asked about the size of his transfer.

She took the passport to photocopy it (bureaucracy!) and went to search for the right forms. When she came back and sat down her top was still low and her heaving embonpoint rose invitingly with each breath. If she had a push-up bra it was unnecessary, that much was obvious.

This time E@L was caught - she looked at him as he was raising his eyes. Without any sign of recognition or any pause in her explanation of the forms she hitched up her top with a deft hand that made the manoeuver almost imperceptible. As she continued asking him to sign forms and write the details down, she surreptitiously hitched it up again. Lost. They were almost completely gone. E@L leaned back and looked out the window of the bank, and sighed.

"That's all," she said, dismissing him with a cheery "Happy New Year."

He smiled at her, genuinely, thinking "Would you please marry me?", stood up and made his way out...

A man sitting on the couch waiting his turn for the personal-service bank-clerks heard a soft but distinct murmuring from the big man who passed him by. He wasn't completely sure because of the Australian accent, but it sounded very much like: "Lyndal, you have great tits."


Off to Bali this very minute; bags packed with hat, baggy board-shorts, sun-block, snorkel and holiday reading (don't ask - OK; Jack Vance, Chabon, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Carver, and Ann Quin) - plus novel-writing accoutrements...

Later, dudes.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Long Time No Blog

Not a lot of internet access of late. Meh. Busy: Melbourne, Geelong, Melbourne, warm days in the sun, oh so chilly in the shade. It's amazing how severe the temperature discrepancy can be down here.

The usual range of unique but stereotypical Christmas Hostilities. Many of those Things That Cannot Be Blogged About.

My favorite present from this obsolete pagan ritual was a book called How To Be a Better Foodie"! Excellent culinary snobbery compendium! The only problem that my memory is so bad that I won't remember anything I read.

One deliciously pretentious but unfortunately erroneous thing I noted was that Madagascarian vanilla is sort of considered the bee's knees of vanilla, merely because it is so expensive. A total wank - vanilla is vanilla. It's just that the natural fertilization in the native Central American habitat of the vanilla flower is done by a certain breed of Mexican bee. Those bees don't live in Madagascar, nor do any other insects that naturally do the sticky job, so the farmers who imported the vanilla plants had to develop a technique to fertilize them BY HAND - a very labor intensive process. And THIS is why they charge such a high price for Madagascarian vanilla.

Other than that piece of completely useless digression, I love the book!


Cricket tomorrow at the MCG, home to Singers the day after to change suitcases and then off for NYE (+10 days) in Bali. Hoping to catch up with Madame Chiang, with or without her cats.


My mate Nick (whom I will meet in Bali too) sent a great Christmas email - I haven't actually received his permission to reproduce it here yet, but once we meet in Ubud in Bali after NYE he can let me know if I have overstepped any boundaries by quoting it in full below - in lieu of me writing anything at length of any interest.

He says at the end it should be a blog post -I think it should be a newspaper column or something. Some great observations!


When did sending Christmas messages get so difficult?

Back in the good old days, you took up pen and paper and started writing cards and accompanying letters. Family first then friends. After about 5 letters you ran out of enthusiasm for writing the same thing over and over to different people. So you gave up. Alternately you ran out of money to buy cards, envelopes and stamps. More often than not you ran out of time as you should have started in November but it is now December 23. Stuff it! the card and letter won’t arrive on time, why bother! After all there is always next year.

Later the quality of reproductions got better and you could type or even word process the one letter, copy it multiple times and add a written personal message at the bottom before signing. This saved the time component but didn't address the cost component (or timing).

Later still you had e-mail and web sites. So for me I created a Christmas Message on a web page and then e-mailed a link to friends. The heyday of “Nick’s Newsletter” was 1998 – 2001. (Suspiciously this is very similar to what you have just received.) Unfortunately most of your friends were not on e-mail or the web and you still had to resort to manual means.

With time most people got an e-mail address and you could quite happily send Christmas messages by e-mail with only the odd one or two missing out.

More recently we have social networking sites. It has all got very complicated again. Now you have friends on Facebook, LinkedIn, e-mail, mobile phone, the blogosphere and other places besides. Suddenly you have to send the same message to multiple people on multiple communication channels and that is just sucking into your time once more. Christmas is getting complicated once more. (This is flowing, I may turn this into a blog).

So here we are in 2009, no we are at the end of 2009. You are receiving this e-mail because:
1) I love you; or
2) I like you; or
3) at some stage you have been an impact on my life and I still cherish that memory;


I still have some record of an e-mail address for you.




On a housekeeping note, I've had to remove the Blogroll temporarily (I hope) from the sidebar. Some of you may have been getting a warning from Google about my site being linked to a site that had "Malware" on it. Don't panic - I have not been hacked (again) but there was a hidden link in my blogrolling widget from 7 months ago that led to a site that allegedly contained some trojans. It's an old blog-site, now defunct I guess, that I once had linked to...

I've no idea how to clear this list to remove the offending link. I HAVE removed the website from the blogroll widget but can't erase that troublesome old link.

Any help from Blogger experts would be appreciated.


Also, 2010 is the last year of the decade, not 2009.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

India - Reality Check

If you want to find out about the shaky lower storeys upon which India's skyscraping supposed economic boom is built --

More about Listening to Grasshoppers.
Listening to Grasshoppers

Even if you don't, it's still a sobering (shocking even) look at how that sacred cow (ha ha) of Globalisation, the word 'Democracy', can hide a multitude of sins... and crimes.

The discussion in these essays, while specifically about how India's various warring religions, sects and tribal/racial groups are able to commit atrocities and gloss them over afterwards with 'an election', thus soothing international concerns, speaks of lessons not learned that could be applicable pretty much everywhere in the developing world; don't be corrupt, don't hate those you falsely see as Others, don't rape (gang-rape), pillage (historical sites) and burn (people), even if you can easily get away with these crimes against humanity, don't think elections are the panacea they are promoted to be by the globalisation buffos.

Democracy = two lions and a lamb deciding what's for dinner.

The lions have to be caged.

For example, despite (or because of) the alleged boom, the disparity of incomes in India has actually increased in recent years, and that is not only because of the obscenity of two of the world's 10 richest men being Indian, are shooting the top level so high, but also because the poor really are getting poorer and less well fed.

They have less access to grains and cereals available than they had in the Second World War. As those lions of industry Mukesh Ambani and Lakshmi Mittal dine on fine lamb cutlets in their private jets, "Forty seven per cent of India's children below three suffer from malnutrition... an average family eats about one hundred kilograms less food in a year than it did in the early 1990s." (Roy, p31.)

I've spoken about the Indian famine in Goa before, when million of tonnes of grain were in trains passing by the starving farmers who had grown it all, bound for the profitable markets of Europe and England. In the current situation, that grain is actually destined to feed livestock, which are more important than humans it seems.


However, what are you going to replace democracy with? A benign dictatorship?

NNNNOOOOoooooooo...! Scary!


Quote De Jour

"The degree of intellect necessary to please us is a fairly accurate measure of the degree of intellect that we possess." Helvétius, De l'esprit, 1758.


More of Helvétius' Utilitarian opinions - according to Wikipedia:

1. All man's faculties may be reduced to physical sensation, even memory, comparison, judgment. Our only difference from the lower animals lies in our external organization.

2. Self-interest, founded on the love of pleasure and the fear of pain, is the sole spring of judgment, action, and affection. Human beings are motivated solely by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. "These two," he says, "are, and always will be, the only principles of action in man." Self-sacrifice is prompted by the fact that the sensation of pleasure outweighs the accompanying pain and is thus the result of deliberate calculation. [Harsh... but fair.]

3. We have no freedom of choice between good and evil. There is no such thing as absolute right – ideas of justice and injustice change according to customs. [e.g. murder is wrong, but Abraham sacrificing Isaac is OK.]


Apologies - Not That I DID Anything

I believe that some spam email may have gone out from my old blog account. I got a flurry of spurious comments today which I thought I had deleted, but maybe some hacker has got in - I'll try to sort it out.

Heartfelt apologies if you have been in any way inconvenienced or confused (I realize some of you are more prone to confusion than others).


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pitch 'n' Putt with Joyce 'n' Beckett

"Pitch and putt? It's bitch and slut, slithering in their wetness, glistening like a peach, peach and... peach and... [sees golf booking shelter] peach and hut!"

"...he put it in the river on the 18th the last time. In the river, all rivery was it. ... This is never an 8 iron, it's a fucking 5!

"No, not a Milky Way you arse! A Topic(?)... all feckled in its nuttiness."

Oh, so funny...


Netbook - Anger Management

I just tried to do some work on my relatively new Samsung Netbook, running (HA!) Windows7. The plan was to take this creature, which is only slightly lighter and marginally smaller than my Fujitsu work laptop, on my multi-location holidays which are commencing at the end of this week.

I have a lot of training to give the day after I get back from the Bali leg of my holidays. It's just a rerun of the training we did in Bangkok a few weeks ago, but you see, we have been having CODEC issues with our AVI files (the video files from our U/S machines).

For some godforsaken reason they won't run in Powerpoint 2007 on Vista, i.e. mine and my colleagues' work 3 year old Fujitsu laptops. I found out that they WILL run on Powerpoint 2007 on my personal, home, not-work's, private, I-paid-for-it Win7 Netbook (and on the iMAC and PPT2008 for Mac).

Does our company's budget extend to us getting Win7 installed? No. Stupid question - we are flying someone in from Sao Paulo for this training, but buy urgently needed software? Not a chance. Can I put in a pirate copy ("hey I am Bangkok", or I was at the time, "people are thrusting Win7 DVDs at me from every corner of Fortune Tower or Panthip Plaza")? No, um, we are being audited in January, must show receipts for everything, lah.

Prior to that Bangkok training, way before I bought the Netbook, in the depths of frustration, I determined that the only way to get my PPT videos working was to convert all of those nice AVI videos into something that would work using my genuine $50 Blaze Media Pro conversion software. Trying out different AVI CODECS had only screwed up the frame rate while maintaining the size format, so I had to cop a hefty resolution compromise and go with some shitty small MPG format, but it was the only one that kept the frame rate OK. I had tried about thirty different CODECS and file types... (Hey E@L, what do you do in the office all day?)

One of my colleagues had used the "Run In Full-screen" tick box for his presentations, but the trainees really needed to see the text that goes with the videos to make much sense of them. In my opinion, anyway. Damned if I was going to let this defeat me!

Then, after the training was completed and people had finished commenting on my crappy small videos, we trudged home to Singapore where someone in the office (not me, The Boss!) worked out, in a fierce bout of guesswork, that merely changing the file extension to WMV and reinserting the video back into PPT would enable them to run flawlessly and losslessly!

SIGH! (That's three years of frustration escaping there.)

So the plan was simply to change the extension names on just a coupla dozen files for this training, and then rename every AVI file in my 40GB archive of training presentations, and do the same in future for every file we get from the machine or from the head office in Tokyo, where they use Windows 2000, or so I believe. (The irony of this is the our U/S machines run on WinXP Embedded) No, this changing of file extensions is much better use of our expensive time than upgrading our laptop software and letting us get on with our work (see below).

And of course for CUSTOMERS who just might have Vista and PPT2007, they'll have to do the same thing! At no extra charge!

Well, today, after wasting half the afternoon changing file extensions when I could have been writing emails to pen-pals - *ahem* - I said bugger this... I'll bite the personal use bullet and just use the Netbook for this lot of training and run the original AVI files! No need to change extensions, just replace the crappy MPGs in my PPTs with the old AVIs!

Well, the idea was to take the back-up HDD with me this weekend and play with the PPTs on my spare moments of my 3 week holiday, like maybe lying by the pool/beach/forest/volcano in Bali, just to make sure they all worked.

YAY! Netbooks are cool!


Tonight I brought the HDD home just to check out how the PPT videos and PPTs would play...

This is the first time I have used the Netbook for serious computing. Other than a bit of blogging from a pub a few weeks back, I haven't needed to get it out. (Not that it's IN anything.)

In the meantime, while doing the PPTs, I'd surf the web, check out some cool YouTube stuff, my do my personal email, get into Facebook, play chess, etc... all on the Netbook, just as if I was at work (see above)...

But I ran into a wall of molasses...

It is so DREADFULLY slow! A windows take 5 seconds to refresh. Trying to scroll down a YouTube page in iE while a video is downloading freezes that tab for over a minute! Finally I got the video loaded (Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke playing in the change room prior to or after a show, see below) while I fiddled, slowly, updating the PPT files with the AVIs...

Everything took forever (for everybody, just to hyperbolate completely)! I gave up on the touch screen because the W7 multi-gesture thing kept picking up the edge of the finger that was clicking on the LMB, so I took out the mouse from my iMac and plugged it in. 2 1/2 years later, sigh, I could use the mouse to do things like resize the videos, then wait, and move them around the PPT page, then wait... Obviously this ATOM chip is way underpowered to do anything serious!

But that's not all. When the YouTube finally came back to life and I tried to listen, obviously the tinny (ENHANCED BOOST) speakers were horrible. So I unplugged the Bose speakers from my iMac and tried to plug them in - it went all funny, loud then soft, it was crazy, like the cable was bung. I changed it for a superfluous one on the HiFi. No better. Then I checked the headphones insert area on the Netbook. It has this nasty bloody recess; it only take small plugs, like iPhone shit. Holy toe-fucking hell!

Sigh... Turn off Netbook. Plug mouse back into iMac. Plug speakers with original cable back into iMac. Go to YouTube...


[Addendum: to put these guys into perspective...]


And just to remind you, as the music soothes my anger and the night fades down towards beddy-byes for E@L, NetBooks are a WANK! Fucking worst Sin$900 (why so expensive one, lah? I had to pay extra for Win7 {at least the videos run} and a bigger HDD) I ever spent. Not happy. Seriously thinking of passing it on to some other geekoid sucker if it doesn't get smashed and tossed out the window before they get the chance.


Monday, December 14, 2009

OMG We Can't Believe We're Telling You This

E@L has gone insane! He is unrecognizable! There can be no other explanation!

For the third weekend in a row E@L has been spending Sundays at...

... no, not church! We said he'd gone insane, not become stupid.

Anyway, this is WORSE!

Aaaargh... E@L cuts out his tongue and flings it to the flesh-eating zombies after divulging this information...

He's been playing Dungeons and Dragons!

Yes, with Mercer Machine as Dungeon Master... Let us tell you, MM has a history of being mighty mean, AND he has this spooky, guttural, evil laugh (so much so it broke E@L up into fits of laughter, completely...)


Dearest Readers, please forgive us...

... but as a red-bearded, smelly, 4ft Dwarf, E@L is forever screaming in a thick Scottish accent: (think 'Shrek' - OK, E@L's the Australian dude playing the Canadian dude who plays the ogre dude.)

"I hut ut, wi' ma axe!"


On a brighter note: Unnamed sources reveal that E@L has dropped 4.2kgs in this last week. Expectations for this rapid rate of loss to continue are not high.

But it's fruit in the morning, veges and some meat for lunch and dinner: no rice, no bread, no potatoes. Fewer, and smaller size Spinelli's Hazelnut Choc-Spins and ONLY ONE oatmeal cookie (the will-power! Where does it come from?).

That was, until he hit the D&D game and its associated feast of rich and thick*, fat-and-carb-enhanced junk-food today.



BTW: conversation at Spinelli's.

E@L: A small hazelnut choc-pin, please.
She: Sir, we don't have small, only medium. (She indicates two cups - ostensibly Medium and Large)
E@L: It that the small one? (He point to the Medium cup)
She: Yes.
E@L: Then I'll have a small one. (Why didn't he just say that the first time?)
She: Thank you. (calls to the, ahem, "barista") Medium hazelnut spin!
E@L: And an oatmeal-raisin cookie, please.
She: Just one?
E@L: (sighs) Yes, just one. A small one.
She: They're all the same size, sir.
E@L: Then I'll have a medium one.
She: (smiles, gets cookie)
E@L: (YES!)


Also, E@L thought that the "new Blair-Witch Project", the infamously $15k budgeted and famously $100m+ earning Paranormal Activity, was pretty freaking scary!

But on his version, the bit in the trailer where somebody is sort of flying backwards into the bedroom straight towards the camera, well it didn't happen... WTF?

BWP itself was a crock of shit however.


* a Thai bar-girl's ideal man. Yuk yuk...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Excercise In Self-Aggrandisement or In Futility?

E@L has been receiving a lot of hits to this blog coming from his old one. Any idea why? Maybe someone mentioned E@L in a post but used the old address, who knows. One supposes he could look up the hits stats to the old blog. Nah, that would involve remembering the old password!

E@L got a twinge of panic, thinking what would happen if it all went down! He therefore spent hours last night transferring some of his old blog posts to a Word file before the whole thing collapses - the credit card linked to his old host,, has expired, for example. Just in case, you know. There is backup they offer that gives you a MySQL database, but sorting that out into intelligible format? Fuggedabardit!

So instead he went through the old blost, post by post; Cmd A, Cmd C, Cmd V.

He supposes he could make a PDF of it all and sell it for a huge amount of money, or... give it away for free.


Shit, he had only put in the first six months of posts (26 of 1,481 entries) and already the word-count is at over 20,000 and 58 pages, all from before he even started living in Singapore! Does E@L waffle on or WHAT! Some of what he thought were reasonable sized posts are filling 3-4 even 6 pages when the text is formatted to the default layout.

AND - those of you with long memories might recall that this is the THIRD incarnation of Expat-At-Large blog. He lost about 100 posts from prior to October of 2004 when his first host, Yahoo's Tripod kicked his arse off for uploading a photograph of the cover of a pirated DVD of "The Passion" - which said, incongruously, "Absolutely Hilarious." Most people thought the cover was absolutely hilarious.

He managed to rescue any posts that had comments from his email notifications.

Anyway, the point is there would have been a lot more from those first six months, but already it's a lot.

Then there was the time (TWICE!) that the old E@L website was hacked and used to send out phishing emails! Holy hell, the ride has not been easy. You cannot log onto E@L's old site from many locations (the Business Class lounge of BA in Heathrow for example) as the address is screened due to the phishing accident.


Is this a worthwhile enterprise? Should E@L persist with the remainder of the 1,465 posts? At 20 per night this could going to take a long time - 2 years in fact. Perhaps he should just select a "Better Parts Of E@L" sort of thing. Technology stories, Restaurant Stories, The Mouse Stories, Taxi Driver stories, Disaster and Cooking stories, Bruce Stories... Ah fuck they're all good.

Or should E@L be doing something else?

Is this yet another a deflection?


Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Canadian science fiction writer and Hugo Award nominee Peter Watts was bashed by US border guards, pepper-sprayed and charged with assaulting a federal officer for the crime of ... what? ... sitting quietly in car and looking suspiciously like a science fiction writer who is driving back to Canada?

Yet another case of Homeland Insecurity.


The incident made it to BoingBoing.


Rodney King copping it in 1991. Reassuring to see things haven't changed - I like predictability, things you can rely on.


I seem to recall a case of a writer who was refused entry to the USA from Canada because he put "Blogger" as his occupation.

(Hat-tip to Whatever, who links to some site where you can contribute to a fund for Dr Watts's legal costs.)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Dialectical Present Under the Essential Christmas Tree

Quote Of The Day

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use. Kierkegaard.

IMHO your typical Singaporean doesn't have one and doesn't use the other.


So... Christmas is coming to Denmark, back in 1820 or thereabouts...

Mrs Kirkegaard leans toward her 7 year old son, who is attempting to bite the head off the family whippet: "What do you want for Christmas, young Søren?"

Søren Claus*

"Aesthetically it is quite in order to wish for wealth, good fortune and the most beautiful of damsels; in short, to wish for anything that is subject to an aesthetic dialectic. But at the same time to wish for an eternal happiness is doubly nonsense. Partly because it is at the same time, thus transforming an eternal happiness into something like a present on the Christmas tree; and partly because it is a wish, an eternal happiness being essentially relevant to essentially existing individual, not related by an aesthetic dialectic to a romantically wishful individual."

Mrs Kierkegaard, nods, smiles, rescues the dog, takes Mr Kierkegaard aside: "We need to talk about Søren..."


Now *I* consider myself free to think, but my brain is of no use to me here, it is hurting from the effort. I can't wrap my thoughts around Kierkegaard's jargon. WHY do I persist in trying to read such impenetrable stuff when I have hundreds of perfectly readable/understandable books everywhere in the flat? Is there anything of Kierkegaard which is understandable and useful?

In my quest to fully understand life, the universe, and Starhub Box programming, I am finally having some luck with >Slavoj Žižek, whom I once could only understand if I snorted a kilo of coke and then read it out loud with a lisp and an outrageous East European accent. "The Puppet And the Dwarf: The Perverse Nature of Christianity" seems to be going down relatively easily compared my assaults on his "On Belief" and the book on Lacan.

I am following his arguments, at least I think I am as I read them. "Zhe Fall ISSHhh zhe RedempSSShun": I understood that as I read it this morning in the waiting room. I'm thinking WTF just now, but hey.


In the meantime, as a Christmas present to myself (or maybe such self-flagellation is more appropriate for Easter), I've semi-started another diet (not counting beers tonight with Indy) as recommended by a friend who has lost 10kgs and kept it off. Just fruit in the morning with NO muesli or even my favorite wholegrain/rye/sourdough toast (not sure how long that restriction is going to last!), salad/coleslaw with some lean ham or chicken for lunch and NO rice (if I can get around to preparing such the night before and not blog inanely). Normal meal for dinner, but limit the size and try to avoid potato, bread and rice. Pretty much a low Glycemic Index diet, apart from the fruit. I'm not going completely vegetarian as I know some people have done in my situation, as I just do not have the WON'T power for something that strict.

I have been double dosing the medication (on Dr's orders) for the neuralgia and while it's not doing much for the pain, it IS boosting my appetite! The scale tipped over 130kgs on the weekend! Holy fuck! In 2005, I had slimmed down to a svelte 115kgs (The Mouse was cooking diet meals and me exercising 3 days a week) from about 125kgs, and I need to get back into that zone. At least I need to re-stabilize it at around 120kgs. 110kgs would be nice.

There is a new drug I read about today called Liraglutide which sounds like it might help with weight control and prevent the encroachment of diabetes, which is always a risk for someone bordering on the metabolic syndrome like me. Unfortunately it is not available in Singapore yet.

Fuck, I can't do exercise which requires me to use my feet and I am on drugs that increase my appetite - motherfucker... Mind you I was a fat ((!)) before all this drama, too.

Meanwhile, and yes I know I've tried and started before... and failed, but wish me well on this diet attempt anyway.


* Now you see why I don't have a job that requires Photoshop skills!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Human Rights In Singapore - FEER

"...the Singapore High Court ruled that "[human] rights should be subjugated to executive-determined community interests."

In other words, in Singapore, human rights are whatever the PAP say they are.

Human Rights, Singaporean Style
by Garry Rodan

Posted December 4, 2009

While there has been a lull in the debate over "Asian values" since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, the concept never disappeared. The development of a regional human-rights commission constitutes a fresh battleground where competing views are playing out. As in the past, the main interlocutors on the side of cultural relativism are Singaporean leaders and officials, but this time, opposing voices within Southeast Asia have grown louder and more self-confident. ... [Full text of this interesting article at the soon to be defunct FEER]

A nice blast at Singapore in what I presume is their final issue. The fact that the Wall Street Journal (a Murdoch company) group removed Far Eastern Economic Review (FEER) from publication in Singapore after being sued for an article in which the leader of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party was interviewed and called the government "corrupt" may be the reason for its demise. The main English reading public for FEER would be in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore, so loss of perhaps 1/4 of their sales over the last 2 years or so may have topped it over the line for Rupert's bean counters.

The result of the FEER libel case was all publications in Singapore must put up a bond of $200,000 and must have an employee resident in Singapore - someone they can sue.

Murdoch effectively said "fuck that" to LKY's cronys and pulled FEER out of Singapore.


"Freedom" of speech -- if you register.


Monday, December 07, 2009

What Am I Expected To Do?

One across the bows in the eternal war of the sexes, this great song from 1985 nearly blew conservative people to smithereens back in Australia at the time.

DO RE MI - Man Overboard

I try not to stand too close to myself
I try not to listen to the things that I say
They say there's no such thing as self abuse
But you wonder how I can be trusted
If I'm finely tuned and well adjusted
Oh pity about you
Oh pity about me
More's the pity about her
Every time she comes inside you have to run
You wish that crush would go away
You're not the only one

Squinting at broad daylight
Drumming up a conversation
Parsons brass is pealing appealing
Drumming up a congregation
Hands reaching for a glass of water
Dry socks and razor rash
Your shoes under my bed
Dandruff doona cigarette ash
I've tried to play it open handed
I've tried to make a fist of this
Even when the questions are candid
My arrows miss
I've heard about your fragile ego
Your shield, your sword
What am I expected to do?
Shout man overboard?

Come around when I'm asleep
Roll around and try to wake me
That's alright you've got to go now
Words overtake me
Your pubic hairs are on my pillow
Your stubble rings the sink
Your words under my skin
Your table manners stink
I paddle in the things I love
You wallow in a swamp of trivia
In a vase with insincere I love yous
Next door's Camellias
I'm sick and tired of this position
Hatched underneath an arm
Your crutch under stress
Your rudder when it's calm
I'm bored of staring at the ceiling
While you point out my flaws
I've watched the wallpaper peeling from slamming doors
You talk about penis envy
Your friends applaud
What am I expected to do?
Shout man overboard?

Come across to other girls
Look around and start a rumour
Jealous wife scenes raise a smile at parties
Like anal humour
Are you addicted to attention?
Do you do it for effect?
Your wit out of control
Misunderstood and henpecked!


The lead singer with the massive voice (and large mouth), Deborah Conway had a coupla great album as a solo artist - I saw her in 1995 or so at a REALLY SMALL venue in Sydney somewhere. She was massively pregnant, and she sang a song about her ultrasound scan! String Of Pearls is still an album I listen to. Bitch Epic not so much as look at the cover: Conway topless and smothered in chocolate... Awesome!

Bit of trivia - my mind wallows in a swamp of it - "In 1991, Conway played Juno in Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books, singing a setting of William Shakespeare's masque from The Tempest to music by Michael Nyman." (Wikipedia) She was the only one wearing clothes in the scene. Damn.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

How Was Your Day?

Late for work...


Intergneck caretaker Joanne is an excellent source for us (we?) plagiarists - she comes up with such brilliant stuff!

p.s. It's Sunday morning, 10am. Guess what's going on upstairs.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Divorce Ban Proposed For California

If the sanctity of marriage means no gay marriage in California, then logically divorce should be outlawed as well...

Movement under way in California to ban divorce

By Judy Lin Associated Press
Posted: 11/30/2009 11:41:40 AM PST
Updated: 11/30/2009 01:41:34 PM PST

SACRAMENTO — Til death do us part? The vow would really hold true in California if a Sacramento Web designer gets his way.

In a movement that seems ripped from the pages of Comedy Channel writers, John Marcotte wants to put a measure on the ballot next year to ban divorce in California.

The effort is meant to be a satirical statement after California voters outlawed gay marriage in 2008, largely on the argument that a ban is needed to protect the sanctity of traditional marriage. If that's the case, then Marcotte reasons voters should have no problem banning divorce.

"Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more," the 38-year-old married father of two said.

Marcotte said he has collected dozens of signatures, including one from his wife of seven years. The initiative's Facebook fans have swelled to more than 11,000. Volunteers that include gay activists and members of a local comedy troupe have signed on to help.

Marcotte is looking into whether he can gather signatures online, as proponents are doing for another proposed 2010 initiative to repeal the gay marriage ban. But the odds are stacked against a campaign funded primarily by the sale of $12 T-shirts featuring bride and groom stick figures chained at the wrists.

Marcotte needs 694,354 valid signatures by March 22, a high hurdle in a state where the typical petition drive costs millions of dollars. Even if his proposed constitutional amendment made next year's ballot, it's not clear how voters would react.

Nationwide, about half of all marriages end in divorce.

If you keep reading the linked article, you'll see that some people are taking it seriously. Catholics, I'm guessing.

100% of my marriage ended in divorce.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Google OS - Doomed to Niche-dom

Despite the fact that practically nobody is reading this or any other blog as the Noughties draws towards its close (in another years time!), and that no-one who does come to this blog expects reliable comment or timely advice on things geekish, except in the negative sense of following the discontinuous narrative of my reports on things that are fucking up on me, I am going to make a brief comment about what I understand of the upcoming Google OS.

Doomed. To. Niche-dom. Why?

a) no-one trusts 10% cloud computing let alone 100% cloud computing. I use Evernote for writing things like this these days as everything I scribble on one computer is automatically backed-up on up in the clouds (or so I believe), plus on every piece of physical hard-ware I have - iMac, Laptop, Netbook, iPhone. Hard-disks crash. Even big ones. (I'd use OneNote, but it doesn't work on the iMac.)

b) not everyone can connect to the internet all the time. We are NOT all living in Amerika! I can't use Windows Live for example unless I am hooked up, and even then it is SSSsssoooo slow as to be unworkable. Even more crucially, if you are not connected to the net when you use Google OS, nothing will work. Nothing at all. If you're sitting on some lonely beach at Koh Samui (lonely? ha!) trying to pen the next "The Beach" or "Losing The Plot" on your little screen, trying will be the operative word. You'll have nothing to do.

If you love paying for everything all the time (and who doesn't?) and you can you can keep forking out WiFi or 3G expenses, presuming that there is WiFi or 3G coverage where you are (on the beach in Koh Samui? - maybe WiFi from the lobby of your hotel, but there is no 3G in Thailand), then, and only then, can use your tiny Google NetBook to write your thesis, create your masterwork, or surf for suitably ejaculogenic porn (not on the beach in public, please!).

If you want to just type, forget it. You'll have to buy a real OS. Or keep the one you've got.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Why Men Can Read Maps And...

You Are Here
28 November 2008 at 10:58

Any good map would already have that information printed on it.
28 November 2008 at 14:57 ·

A map cannot tell you where you are (except for those talking ones in the car) - the map moves around with you. How can the map tell where you are? Map-reading, it's an ancient interpretive arcane art-form and a relative thing. Motion, position, directional vector, velocity, acceleration; these things come into play. If the map was a picture affixed to a fixed position, then yes, it should have "You Are Here" printed on it, such as you find all too infrequently in labyrinthine places like Vivocity to aid one in their retail orientation, but not a fold up map you put into your pocket. A person could be anywhere on the planet and pull out that dinky map of Sentosa, and if he read the words "You Are Here" on it, he would think there had been a printer's error, or maybe someone had written the words on as a joke in poor taste, because in actual fact he is somewhere else, like in Kuwait, or in Chicago, to give merely two hypothetical examples. If he was in Chicago and for some reason and saw the map saying he was in Sentosa, it could provoke an existential crisis, a geographical conundrum, a metaphysical paradox, a psychological dissociation, cause a slight moment of disquiet to flutter in his breast and, until he realized that the words there were either due to the aforementioned printer's error or jape, he might rip all the warm clothes from his body run screaming with misplaced joy from his conference venue of McCormick Place into the swirling snowflakes on whatever that road outside is that goes past Wrigley (or whatever) Field, to get ready for a game of beach volleyball with some 97% naked teenage girls, or he might not if he was more shy type of person.

Which is why women can't read maps - they don't have "You Are Here" printed on them.
28 November 2008 at 15:44 ·

... are you making fun of me? I'm not sure
28 November 2008 at 16:11

Surely I'd have written "I Am Pulling Your Leg" if I was pulling your leg...
28 November 2008 at 16:46 ·

So basically you were lost on Sentosa and hoped the useless tourist map would help?
28 November 2008 at 19:37 ·

funniest thing i've read in a longg long time i can barely tyupe thru the tears
28 November 2008 at 22:21 ·

Funny? I was lost and serious!
29 November 2008 at 00:58 ·

the two of you are a regular comic duo. you should charge!
29 November 2008 at 16:38 ·

Anon Friend
I am lost. Where were we?
29 November 2008 at 20:44 ·

There's a map around here somewhere. Oh no, it's upside down!
01 December 2008 at 21:53 ·

E@L's Facebook profile pic from last year.

Toilet Humour

Wash your arse, wash your hands - same same.

Some Malaysian hospital, 2008.


More Politico-Economic Surrogate Venting

I was going to write tonight about Schopenhauer's* demolition of Kant's categorical imperative** and how that makes it OK for people to go to strip joints and to visit rather disreputable "world famous" soapy-massage parlours that involve bath-tubs and soap-suds and baby-oil and as many girls as can fit in that bath with you***, but I found this on Alvin's FB page...

In a capitalist system, investors make money not despite hiring workers, but because they hire workers who, if they are adequately managed, create value in excess of the wages and benefits they are paid. This value is called "profit," and the business' owner gets to keep that, after paying taxes.

In a properly functioning capitalist economy, rich people don't "create jobs" for workers; workers, upon having jobs, create rich people.

That's how the system works, in theory.

But the reality is different from the theory. In today's marketplace, the super-rich have become richer in large part by destroying jobs.

They amass staggering wealth by gambling, and fraud, and they depend very dearly on government policies (especially very low taxes on so-called "capital gains") to protect what they have and allow them to grab more.

In "capitalism" as it is actually practiced today, jobs really are a kind of charity, often superfluous to the amassing of multibillion dollar fortunes.

Today's millionaires and billionaires make their money by creating contracts—and a lot of those are, at their core, tax dodges. Baltimore City Paper. [Empharsis mine. I read it every day, don't you?]

Just love that pleasing sound when someone hits a nail directly on the head and slams it home into the wood.


* Yes, I was reading Schopenhauer in the pub tonight, literally too shagged to head out for yet another session at the soapy. Need sleep, and this tome should help induce it.

If you read the Wiki about this book, "On The Basis Of Morality", it tells fascinating story. Schopenhauer was the only person to enter some Danish Society philosophy contest back in 1839, offering this long essay debunking Kant (and Ayn Rand presciently and incidentally - 'morality' is based on compassion), but they refused to give him the prize! They later said he had not answered the question they had posed (don't ask). LOL. Sucks to be Schopenhauer!

** You can't justifiably base a moral system on your subconscious religious values! For God's Darwin's sake man, this is the nineteenth century!

*** Schopenhauer himself would be in there in a flash, all viagra'd up and ready to rock! He was quite the despicable cad rumour has it - copious detailed diaries were destroyed by family after he died. I hope someone clears out the internet for me as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Forget All That

I'm the target demographic here in BKK...

(Even with the same dorky sandals, no ear-ring and still no tattoos.)


I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer. (Nietsche)


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Report #345 from The Planet of Sad Lonely Old Men

A friend was trying to set me up with a girl back at home recently. Someone to grow old with, she was thinking presumably, for each of us.

What would I do with a girlfriend, apart from the obvious? Me, the quintessential lonely bachelor, fated for an alcoholic expiration round a flaming rubbish-bin under a bridge somewhere decayed and post-urban, with someone? Ya gotta be joking!

Sure, I occasionally get those maudlin flushes of regret whenever I get in that mood where everyone I see is coupled up.

Pairs of ideal lovers shopping for their Ikea (self-constructed, temporary, half-arsed furniture symbolic of the relationship according to ex-blogger in HK, Hemlock), ordering complex frappuccinos together, pushing their spawn around in perambulators that cost more than any car I have ever owned. Grandma and Grandad sitting silently in the restaurant as all unnecessary words have been spoken. I see laughing school-kids holding hands and though I know there is nothing coming except the serial disappointment of adulthood, I smile for their wicked innocence. I watch ironically mismatched couples departing from Nana Plaza at 2am and wonder who judges me. I kick at dogs fucking on the sidewalk, smash the gnats/flies copulating on the food scraps on my desk.

Everyone is paired up. Love is on the streets. In the stars, futility and self-deception, but shit to all that, I'd be nice to see someone smiling at me in a special way. (Someone like Sookie Stackhouse preferably. If you could read my mind, not get caught up the negatives of the external me, oh Sookie, ever since you were playing piano on the misty New Zealand beaches... OK enough fantasy.)

Everyone has someone to fuck, except me, I sometimes feel. Someone they are itching to get away from, no doubt and at the same time, that they can't bear to be away from in case they start fucking somebody else. But even that sensation of clinging/pushing away, of hatred/possession, of jealousy/forgiveness - the glorious ambiguity that is love... I sort of miss it sometimes, wonder if I am still capable of interesting someone in the correct way, fooling them and myself into a hope it could work for a while, long enough to call it something. The R word. The L word.

I guess it's because the decade is coming to a close, and the noughties has been a girlfriend-free timezone. No-one special in E@L's life for coming up to 10 years. Yes, I had several interesting and complex relationships in the 1990s... about which, more never. And there are people who have been interested in me over the years, one or two probably reading this blog, but I have not had the required reciprocal interest in them, nice people though they may be. And I have never been prepared to have a relationship just so I could fuck someone. Am I Robinson Crusoe on this?

I have had heaps of great sex in C21, mind you. Just check my credit card receipts for the details.


What's Not Like About Peaches Geldof?

I think I like this clip.

You've all probably seen it already at Joanne's blog, but here it is again.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Another Austrian-Made Sugar Water Energy Drink

Found a new sugar water on sale in Singapore today. Made in Austria, it says on the can. It's called "Naughty G Cola". Also comes in "Original" (WTF? do they mean Red Bull?), Green Tea and "No Sugar" flavours.

It has a rather insipid cola taste IMHO, and is very low in fizz - no Schweppervescence here. But I noticed my hands shaking about 15 mins later.

"Makes you powerful", said the sales lady, which is the usual Asian way of not-saying that it is an aphrodisiac and will give you wood. The name of the stuff, the web-site and the promotional material in general are highly unambiguous about the sexual benefits of this sugar-water for both Men and Women. You're going have "Stamina and performance" in your Naughtieness-

For men that means you will obtain and maintain an engorged penis for the purpose of sustained sexual intercourse and you will have the mindless energy (from that insulin rush basically) to keep going until she tells to for god's sake stop.

For women, the "G" in the sugar-water's name implies enhanced sexual receptivity and arousal at the mythical G-spot which is allegedly about 4-8cm into the vagina on the upper (front) wall just behind the internal urethral sphincter (which is probably what the G-spot actually is, anatomically), to keep her secretions coming (as it were) while the C&I rush will also give her the "stamina" to stay awake during the man's repetitive "bit of the old in-out in-out" performance with his persistently rigid John Thomas.

Just remember True Blood's Jason Stackhouse and his V-induced priapism, how it required several fat needle aspirations of his bloated cock to remove the blood clots. I'm just saying... Maybe Naughty G DOESN'T cause your dick to explode, but... I'm just saying... But be warned...


Why does it allegedly do all this? L-arginine.

The L-arginine they call the Miracle Molecule in this drink is a left spiralling isomer of an amino-acid that in combination with oxygen, reacts with the precusor vasodilator e-nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) to create actual arterial vasodilation, a rush of blood, after some stimulus such as physical activity which will cause an increase of the flow-pressure (the shear stress) on the healthy arterial wall, followed by this simple sequence of events:-

O2 + L-arginine + eNOS (produced by shear stress) -> L-citrulline and NO -> guanylyl cyclase -> guanosine 5'-triphosphate -> cyclic-guanosine monophosphate and then... 'abracadabra' the arterial wall muscle relaxes which increases blood flow. And there's a rush of blood to the sexual organs requiring their immediate and complete satisfaction with whomever happens to be within 6 inches of you at the time.

Got it? No? Maybe this diagram will help.

(New England Journal of Medicine)

Or maybe this one from Da Vinci is easier for my artistically inclined readers to follow.

As you all are no doubt are aware, normally you have enough L-arginine in your system already and the problem with poor vascular function is the lack of supply of eNOS, as it is snaffled up by free radicals or maybe the endothelium itself is damaged and doesn't produce enough eNOS (which is what happens with high cholesterol and smoking and diabetes), etc... so I'm not sure how adding extra L-arginine will help.

So really nothing happens except the usual caffeine and sugar hits.

But as they used say about a glass of water in Get Smart: (shrugs) It wouldn't hurt.

Same goes for the Horny Goat Weed. Maybe this IS what they were drinking at those True Blood Bacchanals.


And after my lunch-time can of this Austrian Zhong Hua Niu Bian, I've been sitting here typing this post (instead of working) and I have not had even one inkling of any malignant penile tumescence and engorged bloating requiring needle aspirations. Not once. Thank fucking cheeeeerist!


Honest Haemoglobin

Fuck, totally suckered in deeply by True Blood. There's no point in waiting for the Singapore release, it'll be about 3 minutes per episode. (The Singapore version of "American Beauty" cut all but the shooting scene from the last 15 minutes. Singaporeans must still be wondering WTF that movie was about.)

The Number One Son started me on this show on my previous trip down to Melbourne with a couple of episodes from Series Two. Now, for the last week or so, Izzy and I have been on our respective couches watching two episodes a night, working our way through Series One and most of Two. (I have a lot of it on my laptop but I also grabbed DVDs of the complete show in Bangkok the other week. The way I am moving across computers these days, best to have a hard copy.)

Except for the fact that every now and then Izzy goes out to get a human to feed upon and that she is scared shit-witless by all the "spooky scenes", we both seem to enjoy it in the same way. We dig the great production qualities, the fun characters (Ooh Lafayette! says Iz), the great blood and guts special effects, and the subtle (sometimes) piss-taking of the vampire and horror genre (I enjoy trying to predict the next line, which must drive Iz crazy), the satirical jibes at prejudice against gays and the church, of course the lashings of sex and completely gratuitous (but welcome) nudity and the general celebration of (eternal) life and (never-ending) lust in this Louisiana garden of fleshly delights.

We're both addicted, need our fix each night like it was V.

And I need to gets me invited to one of them there Dionysian orgies, they look like fun, unless you're the one getting your heart ripped out by a powerful eternal maenad to be made into a "bloody, delicious" souffle I guess.

Me, I'm the kind to sit up in his room still waiting for The Rev Newlin's hot wife Sara to flash her tits at Jason Stackhouse.

And I'm sure I'm not the only one.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Red Shark Bull

Shark is a Thai energy drink, made in Austria, sold by Thai company.

Red Bull is a Thai energy drink, made in Austria and Thailand, sold by an Austrian company and a Thai company.

Note the difference?

So what is going on here? Actually I am not sure, but here is what I can work out so far. Enlightenment is welcomed from those more knowledgeable on this than myself.

Shark is a true competitor of Red Bull I believe, but it is difficult to sort out from the information available on the web who EXACTLY makes (as in manufactures) Shark.

History: both the Thai original of Red Bull, Krating Daeng (Red Guar - looks like a bull IS a bull in my book) and Shark are allegedly based on the health drink Kilane, first created by a chemist in Bangkok over a hundred years ago during a severe crisis of Bangkok Belly.

Osotspa is the Thai company that devolved from the original producers of that drink, but it imports the product they call Shark from Austria: significantly, hmmm? Osotspa also introduced into Thailand Lipovatin, one of the other direct precusors of Red Bull, from Japan in the mid 1960's.

However the Thai drink Red Guar (Bull) is not made by Osotspa but by the Thai company T.C. Pharmaceuticals. Significantly, there is no mention of Red Bull in the Osotspa or Shark websites. T.C. Pharma get 49% of the world-wide sales of Red Bull BTW. Sigh. And they thought they were doing pretty well in Thailand up till that time...

Also there is no information to directly connect Osotspa with now-billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, the Salzburger who took Red Bull from Thailand to the world. He made his deal with T.C. Pharma. Or is it just hidden in a buzz of caffeine, taurine (NOT from bulls' testicles), choline bitartrate and arginine - not to mention all that vodka?

So why is Shark made in Austria, if it is not being churned out by the Red Bull factories?

Is everything joined in one great headachey-spinning conspiracy in this world or what?


Sources: (check the Heritage section) (in Thai, the T.C. Pharma product)

Friskodude started me on this epic research effort (which has forced me to skip [delay] dinner), by linking to ThaiPulse who raised the question about Shark and Red Bull being exactly the same drink.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Updates Are Available

Hands up if you are sick of computers and programmes updating all the freaking time.

I lost 3 hrs of important work a few weeks ago because I went to lunch and left the pewter running - it automatically downloaded an update and rebooted while I was gone. Tofo! I learned my lesson (twice - for some reason I had Powerpoint's auto-save feature turned off, what a dumb-ass) and have restricted the Austomatic Updates to notify but NOT to download until I confirm, so that I have to press a button before it installs the updates. At least that's how it's supposed to work on my Laptop. However once it's installed the update, it automatically reboots in 10 minutes unless I tell it to wait.

It's just that these updates are SOOoooo frequent! And being a fucking idiot with too much money, I have a) my work laptop, b) my home iMac, which also is running c) Vista under Parallels, and now d) my little Netbook. That's four operating systems that are constantly in need of tuning up, not to mention all the other programmes and bejesus, mother-fucking iTunes which updates everytime someone cracks its security features which is at least once a week. I have three installations of that prick of a programme.

Everytime I turn one of my pewters on it will be after a certain period of hibernation, right, because I've probably been using one of the others, say I haven't been in the office for a few days as I've been out with customers, so when I tuen on my work Laptop... it's PING "Updating You Software - system will need to reboot after intallation!" And other 20mins goes by.

And then I go home, boot up Parallels (I use Microsoft Money on it but only once or twice a month to update my financial comedy) and it happens again... PING "Udpates Are Being Installed"... Something on the iMac will need updates once or twice a week as well, often iTunes!

On the weekend I grab my Netbook to sit in a coffee shop in order to write the Great Expat Novel... PING "Updates Are Available"... and it starts all over again.

It's a constant cycle. Neverending. You just wish they'd got it right first time.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Dr Lim Hock Sie, Nearly 20 years a Political Prisoner in Singapore,

Dr Lim was a political detainee in Singapore, held uncharged and often in isolation, for 19 years and 8 months... and Singapore has the gall to criticize others on human rights issues?

This is him speaking out at a book launch (by Said Zahari, another long-term detainee) in Johor Bahru on Saturday, I believe.

Shot and subtitled by Martyn See at SingaporeRebel.


From a statement Dr Lim released in 1972, when being offered release if met several unreasonable demands:

Special Branch - You must concede something so that Lee Kuan Yew would be in a position to explain to the public why you had been detained so long. Mr Lee Kuan Yew must also preserve his face. If you were to be released unconditionally, he will lose face.

Dr Lim Hock Siew - I am not interested in saving Lee Kuan Yew's face. This is not a question of pride but one of principle. My detention is completely unjustifiable and I will not lift a single finger to help Lee Kuan Yew to justify the unjustifiable. In the light of what you say, is it not very clear that I have lost my freedom all these long and bitter years just to save Lee Kuan Yew's face? Therefore the P.A.P. regime's allegation that I am a security risk is a sham cover and a facade to detain me unjustifiably for over 9 years.


Fucking scary stuff. Libertarians I have met love this place; I can't for the life of me see why.



A few years ago I lost a fair bit of money. And I don't mean I mislaid it, I mean it was stolen from me. Coincidentally the thief, a greedy low-life scumbag called Charles Schmitt, was arrested the week I moved to Singapore from Hong Kong.

I gave the details of this prick in my old blog a few years ago here and here. Schmitt was low-level Madoff-type character, who was using a fund he had set up and sold to gullible saps like me as a great money-maker - for himself! It was his personal yacht-party cash-flow generator and he was able to buy a nice beach-front house in Hawaii.

I have always intended to use this scenario as one of the plot lines of one of my terminally unwritten novels.

A letter arrived yesterday from the company that is managing my meagre remaining investment accounts to tell me that another 25% of the lost funds have now been placed into my cash account, added to previous installments of 35% in Dec 2005, 10% in April 2006 and another 10% on July 2006. Hey I didn't even remember them they were so long ago! Apparently there were some other claimants who came out of the blue back in 2006 and tried to get a chunk of the realised money as well, and the legal proceedings have swallowed both time and perhaps some more of my money. They tell me I can expect to see another 3% (the final installment) within a few more months.

Initial expectations were quite gloomy, about 60-70% return post liquidation but it looks like I'm going to end up with... you do the math. OK, it's 83%. Better than nothing! Mega-salary bonuses all round for Price-Waterhouse, who were in charge of the liquidation.

And, yes it has been quite a while. By the time I obtain the last of my partial refund, Schmitt will almost be due for release from prison - he got 4 and 1/2 years.. He could be out now for all I know.

He suckered in a lot of his Christian Church buddies too. The Protestant Embezzlement Ethic I called it last time. If it's not call-girls or rent-boys, it's embezzlement when these holy rollers go off the rails...

(Ah, that's such a good line - where do I come up with this shit?)


I guess you might have been wondering why I have always been so hard against the stock market in the past. My god I hate it. Now you know why (again). But as has been pointed out by my libertarian friends acquaintances - which may or may not include frequent commenter here, ex-blogger Knobby - my understanding of this fine institution is limited and perhaps blinkered by our misfortunate history.

Well, after reading When Genius Failed (a book I bought before the GFC but never got around to reading) I have to admit that both of us are right/wrong. The stock market is OK after all, it keeps industry turning. But the DERIVATES market and HEDGE FUNDS are other things altogether. Man, here be fuckedness. Compared to the whole derivatives and hedge funds shebang, your typical stock market is a fair and equitable place such as what armchair Marxists' dreams are made of...

The hedge fund "bank" called Long Term Capital Management which boasted Nobel Prize winners Robert Merton and Myron Scholes as partners with their managed risk protocols, nearly blew up the financial world back in 1998 and NOBODY LEARNED A FUCKING THING. Amazing to think that ten years later it all happened again.

Experience is the ability to recognize your mistakes when you make them again.

The other books that I grabbed recently on these armchair Marxist friendly topics are The Predator State by James K Galbraith (yes, his son) and The Divine Right of Capital.

So it's not the stock market I hate, but more the derivatives and hedge funds and all these fancy new "products" that feed into the greed of all of us... I paid my money, I took my chance with a person's honesty and was betrayed.

Wasn't the first time, won't be the last.


Gambling has never interested me, by the way. Which is another reason I am not a stocks player. I've had arguments about this since I was 18. I thought it was all macho bullshit. ("It's a thrill, you put your balls on the line," Max Z said. "SEE!" I replied. He was not the last person to give up in exasperation whilst arguing with me.)

All I can see in a casino are mindlessly optimistic reality-denying morons sitting like they were trapped in an some vast interior traffic-jam throwing away their family's welfare cheques to organized crime and to the government's tax/revenue department (not necessarily in that order and not necessarily all that far apart.) The reason casinos exist is that governments want to get tax income from gamblers, and the conversely the reason non-casino gambling is illegal is that governments can't get any tax income from it.


Those same Governments couldn't put their tax-hungry hands on derivate trading, nor could they regulate it. In the days of LTCM at least, regulations only covered actual trades (in stocks, shares, bonds) whereas derivates, fuck, they are only 'promises' of the intention to trade. Profit on these shadow deals were called "capital gains" thanks to changes in the Reagnomics era and were taxed differently to any conventional profit made on a real trade. Because the trade hadn't actually taken place, the regulators' hands were tied.

This excess (low-taxed) money is where CEOs big salaries have come from according to Galbraith. That's why people running these companies are driving them into the ground with stupid deals. The profit goes directly to the managers as bonuses and mega-salaries...

Greed, rapacious greed.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

No Surprises AT E@L-GHQ

With the new HDTV threatening to blast us all away with its Highly Definitive stuff but not delivering, E@L gathered that as we only had an analogue DVD player the 4 gross of pirate BKK movies in the library weren't going to be all that much better, quality-wise.

There were, mmm, somewhat better but not rip-roaringly astounding.

So E@L purchased an upscaling DVD player (didn't go the Blue-Ray in case it goes that way of the 8-track tomorrow) with HDMI output and the ability to upscale to 1080dpi from the standard PAL of 720dpi. (If these numbers are wrong, blame the research assisant.)

So, being a master at audio-visual logistics, E@L plugs in the new Philips DVD player, which looks an awful lot like the old Philips DVD player except sleekly black and $140 more, and with the HDMI cable running from the extra slot at the back up to the TV he simply...

he simply...

he simply...

He simply CAN'T get any video signal from DVD player through the HDMI cable the the TV! He has to use the same freaking analogue cable as the old DVD player!





Aaargghhhh - pulling of clothes and running naked down the street, screaming all the way (clutching a Warranty Card), is a very frustrated


(p.s. - it could be the cheap TV)

Monday, November 09, 2009


All I wanted to do was raise awareness for Prostate Cancer...

So I shaved my goatee off, left myself with just a moustache and an anti-moustache on the lower lip, going for the 70's pornstar look.

Flatmate Izzy came home last night and sat down on the couch to chat. I had just shaved off my goatee but she didn't say anything. That's right. She looked at me for a second trying not to feel uncomfortable, then she looked away, and then I had to TELL her I had shaved and then she leaped into the air screaming in laughter, realizing what it was that was freaking her out...

Same thing happened at work last time.

So, OK, photo taken to show you all but there is no flash-card reader on the iMac where I am drafting this blog post, and therefore I have to drag out the Net-book.

Mmm. No picture editing software on the Net-book.

So, OK, I download Picasa and BIGTIME Whoopsie! It fucking takes over! I had my work HDD coincidentally plugged in and Picasa immediately started to read every images and video from work going back 10 years and it wouldn't fucking stop!

Finally I manage to calm it down (by unplugging the HHD, probably corrupting every file on it), but by then I remembered ANOTHER reason that I don't use Picasa is that it doesn't allow me to resize my photos before I upload them! Shit!

Ah, but that was back when I wasn't using Blogger, right? Now that I am, I can upload them to PicasaWeb which allows me to be tethered to yet another non-evil(TM) Google product and to specify a file size when I upload.

Righty-o, done. Close the Netbook, come back to the iMac and then I simply...

Then I simply...

Then I simply...

OK, so it seems to be impossible to get a Picasa-Web image across to Blogger, though the other way around sounds feasible, if unhelpful. I should have clicked "Blog This" (did I see this option? Yes, but that was before I knew that I could adjust the size of the upload) while I was running Picasa on the Net-book.

So what do I do? Use the Link or the Embed tools on Picasa Web? No, because Link doesn't work and Embed only puts in a thumbnail. Download the picture from Picasa and re-upload it?

You guessed right. Sigh.


OK, so here's me nekkid chin. Weak, quivering, doubled, slight dimple there I notice when the light is right (since fucking when did that appear?) and no-one is allowed to say the words "Ron Jeremy", OK?


I didn't get around to setting up a charity account myself, but please feel obligated to donate to my buddy's Steve's Movember Fundraiser Team in Australia. Steve just recently had a radical prostatectomy. He is 48.

Do the right thing.


p.s. Comment from Izzy this afternoon - "You look better WITH the goatee." Well, like HELLO! Sigh.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Bruce At Club Romeo

In the pub typing this on my new NetBook, just to prove I can.

As with most 'Bruce' stories - this one is ADULTS ONLY. Be warned.

Parental Advisory!


Paralysis mode struck me earlier on today. After having a coffee with Izzy I went to get some fruit and stuff...

I stood stock still in the supermarket. Cannot move. Decisions. Buy raw foods and cook dinner? Buy prepared food and heat up dinner? Eat out? Head phones in, I listen to singing voices in my head. How to begin? I stand stock still.

The rain is teeming, tropical mid-afternoon rain. I sit in the pub for a Sunday afternoon brew and the sky has opened though the blue is still visible from my vantage and the light is high. I sweat, sip a beer and sweat some more.

The gradient of least resistance took me to the pub, where I open my tiny little computer pull up the files on Bruce.


Bruce is an enigma. The late, great Bruce; I have his disk of collected ramblings here, copied to the fresh HHD of my Samsung computer. (Who would have considered buying a Korean computer 5 years ago?)

He entrusted me to do something with it. But how should I prepare the texts? How to avoid law suits, the loss of friendships of a Thomas Wolfeian "Can't Go Home Again" nature? I am sure he doesn't give a fuck, laughing at us down from whatever stale hell he now inhabits for this time around eternity.

Sometime he writes of himself in the third person, sometimes in the first. I haven't yet determined a way of telling which of them is more likely to be true. Or, if not true then factual. Yes, factual is probably what I mean. No less true for being factual, and no more for being less so.

Sometimes he writes about himself and I realize as I continue that it is a story I have told him about myself or about another friend that he has appropriated and inserted into his personal mythology. For what reason does he need to obscure his actual history, or to embellish it?


Bruce was in town again with a group of his friends to play an expat soccer tournament. One of the many characteristics of expats is their love of playing sports for which they are completely past the use-by age. Back home, there is no way a sports club would foot the insurance bill for these high-cardiac-risk "atheletes". Living a social life week-end after week-end that is almost indistinguishable in alcohol abuse, bad food and moral disreputability from a brief end-of-season footy trip does not mean that they still have the ligaments, joints and muscles to engage in the same physically demanding sports as those partying younger selves. Yet they do. It is all about reliving a life mis-lived on first attempt, pre-expatdom. Remember living as if responsibilty meant something, how fucked was that?

Bruce called me to catch up the day before his sporting efforts were to begin and I contacted some local friends and soon enough we were on Sentosa having an alcohol-based picnic on its (appropriately) imported sands at sunset.

I knew enough of Bruce's dark side to realize that some aspects of his personal demonology had not been completely exorcised and he could be quite frightening in public. He was always fun though as well. But he was not always in control. And after his slow predictable magic of making half a bottle of vodka disappear, the conversation of the party was becoming centered around his habit of making light-hearted provocative statements at a stentorian volume, scaring the children and passing animalia.

- He is joking, right? Some of the less worldly girls from Singapore were looking at me as if I had the answer. Bruce's illness at this time was not widely known and he was nothing if not a healthy-looking, rolly polly Falstaff in the typical outspoken expat mold. If no-one successfully challenges your bullshit, you just keep pushing, right?

- Well, so what if you pull a lady-boy? What's the problem? he had been saying. Just gives you something to steer with as you fuck her. He reached around an imaginary 'girl' and mimicked the idea, making the outrageous statement even more graphic and shocking.

- You can tell if they're a ladyboy by their Adam's apple, he continued. It sticks out a lot more when they're blowing you. But by then, who fucking cares, eh?

There is are several photos of us in the archives, taken at this picnic. One of them shows me with a completely stunned expression as I stand next to Bruce listening to this stuff. I am completely horrified and amused at the same time. If I had slightly more than an inkling of where this evening would go, I was not conscious of it at the time.

When we trundled into taxis later that evening, there was no ambiguity about where we some of us were going for next drinks. OT - the 4FoWs. As there was a Scandinavian couple with us who didn't want to be too existentially shocked by the depravity of upstairs, we first went to DownUnder Bar. This is a drinks-girlie free zone where you could hold a conversation and knock a few Dutch courages down if that was the issue. But it is not particularly chic place. The Scandinavian left looking for some herring milkshakes and so just Bruce, myself and a Brit, a craggy-face Mancunian named Brian, were left contemplating the approach of the small hours by ourselves.

- Time to head upstairs, said Bruce. I grabbed his arm just before he managed to smash his beer glass into the corner.

A Flip bar called Follow Me Home (FMH, done in the font of the FHM magazine) grabbed Brian's attention as we left DownUnder. Dozens of doe-eyed Filipinas beckoned, promising to swamp us with their thick-waisted affection. They tried to remove our shirts and unbuckle our belts the instant we came through the door into the almost pitch-black room. Brian's missus back in Shanghai was a Filipina ex-hooker. He had a weakness still that married life hadn't burnt away or satiated. I said that I didn't want to lose my load so early, and he just smiled back, and we agreed to leave before we spent any money there.

- Hey, where's Bruce? he asked.

Yep, there was just the two of us in the bar. Some weapon in my head fired a warning shot.

- Club Romeo, I said without completely realizing what the implications of that were.

We crossed the foyer and parted the curtain. Instantly, a different Lynchian world of dim lights and strong shadows confronted us. Several girls called out in greeting, huskily. Large hands on long thin arms emerged from silk dresses, grasping at us. Club Romeo was almost empty of customers, as it was still relatively early. Deeper in, up the near the bar, I saw what could only be Bruce's large head turned away from us. He was chatting with several of the transvestites. Brian and I felt that it was our task to remove Bruce from these temptations. We grabbed him and tried to convince him to come out of there. He laughed and agreed, like it was all a joke. I can't recall what happened about the bill. It was timeless, surreal experience and I only have several moments of recollections from what may have taken several minutes.

- C'mon buddy, we're going to Bali Hai.

There was live-music of sorts in there and some table-top dancers in super-short shorts and flashy underwear teased you into buying more drinks without being particularly annoying. We ordered drinks and tried to settle in, but it was quite a few minutes later when it struck me that I was only chatting with Brian. Bruce was not there.

- He went for a slash, Brian said.

- When?

- When we came in. Brian seems to not really care. I wonder why I did.

I looked around. My beer was nearly empty. It must have been fifteen minutes.

- He's gone back to Club Romeo, I said.

Brian was looking down the make-up enhanced cleavage of the dancer who had leaned right over to pretend to kiss him.

- Do we go get him again?

- No, fuck him, said Brian. He slapped the dancer's denim-belt-shorts covered butt-check

Yeah, I thought. Someone will. I just hoped they use a good strong condom.


I realized, when I sobered up next day, kicked out the dancer who somehow I had ended up with, that Bruce's story about that tainted blood transfusion in China had been a complete fabrication. But sometimes when you thought Bruce was joking, he wasn't really joking.


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