Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Christopher Nolan does The Matrix (via PKDick?)

Worth a little look no doubt... (*drools*)


Just don't get in E@L's way when this hits the torrents Big Screen...


Monday, June 28, 2010

Singapore Hypocritical? Never!

OK maybe this once...

“Singapore is in danger of appearing hypocritical as it promotes its commitment to sustainability while simultaneously driving demand in an industry that is wreaking havoc on Cambodia’s coastal ecosystems,” said George Boden of Global Witness. “Global Witness has repeatedly asked Singapore to regulate its sand trade to prevent an ecological disaster. We hoped to see action ahead of the summit, but nothing appears to have changed.”

One wonders who stands to gain from all these sand imports required to feed the immense need for concrete in the hyper-manic 40 storey apartment-block building frenzy that has been going on here for the past two/three years?



Nice Music - Total Babe!

Kina Grannis - how HAWT is this talented lady? Some more professional videos and some of the homemade ones here, on her YouTube page: the song that should come up is Valentine


I was listening to some chill music at the beach bar on Samui, when Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours" came on, and I realized how much I have been blasting my ears with quite loud rock of late (Audioslave, Powderfinger, Staind) with only the occasional dip into more laid-back stuff (the surfie stuff of Jack Johnson, some Cinematic Orchestra, Nitin Sawney). Izzy left a few chill-out CDs when she headed off for more Norwegian climes, so I might have one of them playing when I am reading/snoozing on the recliner in the evening, but only then. When there are yrics to a song and I am reading, I get subconsciously conflicted and end up taking in neither, and have to reread a page or so...

But as I am used to be a bit of a guitarist, I once only listened to great acoustic/blues artists (just as I only read great books, ^cough^). Guitarists like the early Ry Cooder, Leo Kottke, Brownie McGee, Buddy Guy, some flamenco stuff by Paco De Lucia, etc... I was also a fan of the lady singer-songwriters for a while, those of the Michelle Shocked, Suzanne Vega, Lisa Loeb and Shawn Colvin variety in my 30's/40's. That has dropped off over the last few years I have now noticed. Also my son has tried to get me listening to more ambient stuff. (I thought he had left the clothes-drier running in his flat but no, it was music.)

But it was the nice guitar intro from Jason as I sat on my beach-lounge reading some Gabriel Garcia Marquez that got me thinking about music like this... also thinking about growing old and impotent while falling in love with a sleeping, naked, 14 year old virgin - [from the GGM book, man!]

[It was the Casa Nova Session Mix I heard on the beach - much better guitar intro than this]

I'm not exactly sure how I got to Kina Grannis (oh from the Leonard Cohen video) but she's a great find IMHO, and I don't mind the guy who wrote that first song as well, Iron and Wine.

[Remember from a blog last year or so, I also like Kidd Bowery's version of Zevon's Desperados Under the Eaves

So I need to bump up my knowledge of current guitar music, acoustic or otherwise, is all I am saying. YouTube is a great place to blurf your way into something you really like and have never heard before... Now all we need is an iTunes store in Singapore!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kopi Talk

My taxi driver from the airport tonight was very fond of conversation / the sound of his own voice. Like most taxi drivers you ask and probably many other Singaporeans (only 66% voted for the monotheistic PAP last election) he had some very negative and probably seditious things to say about his beloved home country...

- first 20 years of LKY, very good, it work, but last 20 years very bad - just make money for Lee family.

- everybody think [know? I can't recall exactly what he said] Lee Hsien Long [current PM, on $3.8 million a year] is an idiot.

- Singapore people no talk politic in kopi shop, people listen. Never talk politic. You talk politics in kopi shop, man follow you out, take you away for two days. Is true, everybody in Singapore know this.

- there no transparency in Temasek - (see note 1) money come in from our CPF [superannuation] where it go, where it invested? [Keep your hands on the wheel, Uncle!] We cannot see. We have no say. Temasek it lose money in crisis, invest in Citibank [actually it was Merrill Lynch and Barclays], and that Thai Shincorp [don't start him on Thaksin]...

- Hong Kong is much better, so much freedom, do what you want, say what you want [I did not prompt him on this, I swear!]

- people, you live here in Moulmein [where we at the time], they know how you vote in election, next year you in other area, change change, you in Moulmein but vote for other area... [gerrymandering]


Australia did not escape unscathed either, in a backhand sort of way.

- Australia, what going on? Everything good, best of all country in Asia, no problem after finance crisis. So why you change Prime Minister? You crazy people. Nobody else would do that!


All in all an interesting ride home.


Regarding the Stasi-like eavesdropping in the coffee-shops, I notice that "Emma Larkin" has a new book out. Her last one, Finding George Orwell in Burma (US title) was a wonderful and frightening look into the ongoing oppression in Burma, reported through non-conversations in tea-houses of Rangoon and Mandalay, etc... (She refuses to use the new names as she feels that this legitimizes the current military regime.)

I saw a copy of her next book in the Ko Samui airport Bookazine. It's called Everything Is Broken" and is about the corruption and arrogance during the least reported (suppressed even) enormous human tragedy in Asia* since the killing fields in Cambodia, the hurricane Nargis that devastated the Burmese coastline in 2008, leaving 140,000 dead.

* You can't say that news of the 2004 tsunami was suppressed or went unreported!


That (to cheer an old man up), and David Mitchell's latest are on the list.


Friday, June 25, 2010

The Answer To The Mysteries


Ko Samui Grub

One of the surprising things about this un-taken-leave soaking-up trip to Ko Samui has been the presence of so many girlie bars quality of the cuisine and, um, cookin'.

Four standouts, only one of which is Thai.

1. Red Pepper Schnapper Bar and Grill. Just a few doors down from where I was staying. Amazing high class charcuterie, open grill area. Even more amazing is how empty it was. a) The BEST pumpkin and cinnamon soup, with a coriander foam on top. b) Steak perfecto. c) Red-pepper (duh!) and strawberry creme brulee with basil ice-cream and crunchy peanuts. Drooling still... Awesome. They made an off-menu (why?) Black Russian for me too. Only complaints, the salad bar is mediocre and the steak came too promptly after the soup - what's the rush?

2: Duomo Italian. Just another almost empty Italian place I thought, until I heard the bald waiter speaking Italiano to the lone pair of diners. Free crosti and a delicious tomato sauce hit the table first. The Napoletana pizza was just terrific, not overdone with excess ingredients like a family restaurant or underdone like some art-house place, just some stylishly laid out anchovies and a few olives. The thin base was crisp and non-greasy all the way though the meal. The only Hefeweizen Bier I could find on the island (not that I've looked that much) was the perfect accompaniment to a long day of frustrating golf on my birthday, seeing as how I don't particularly think champagne goes with pizza.

3: Mad Greek. The best Greek food I've had for ages, certainly better than that place I went to in Little Bourke St. in Melbourne earlier this year - at about 25% the price. For once the food was handle with relative subtlety too. I took the mezze plate. The standout on this was the marinated squid - a just wonderful spicy, sweet marinade and squid like you only get in the best sushi bars. The pita bread was freshly baked, crisp yet... soft - 'yielding' is the word I'd use - if I was fucking nutter. Lamb kebabs, flamed in ouzo, with the marination and nice herb flavour preserved through the grilling, something that rarely happens - tender, juicy, just superb.

All of these are within a stone's throw of each other on the main strip of Chawaeng Beach Rd, towards the west end of town.

4: Santiburi Golf Course: for golf course grub, this has to take the (prawn) cake. The sweet-chili dipping sauce for the donut-shaped(!) tod mun goong (the prawn cakes) was top notch. Typically for Thai it was both simple and sophisticated. I could see how it was done too. Take your boring sweet chili sauce from a bottle in the supermarket, add small wedges of super-thin sliced cucumber and some red-onion, add small bites of extra red chilies and top with finely chopped peanuts. Taste is out of this world. The plate of potentially boring sate sticks were well laid out, some lying down, some vertical in a small glass (amazing how these small touches make the difference) with an excellent peanut sauce. I waited the rain-storm out with this. I wish I could say the rest of my golf was up to par with the food.

Compared to Phuket, I'd have to rate Ko Samui tops for farang food. MomTri's in Kata Beach is the closest to Red Pepper in food style, but this was both cheaper and more adventurous! Plus, I didn't see anywhere in Chawaeng that looked like it would treat the local food the way the chef at the golf-course did.


p.s. Best if you Google these places yourself, my internet connection may not last long enough for the tedious task...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Birthday Wishes

1: a living wage for the Bangladeshi strikers and all other exploited workers around the world. Armchair socialists unite!

2: peace in the Middle East, as this would mean a lot more peace in the world. Everyone with eyes to see recognizes that the Israeli treatment of Palestinians is the root cause of the resurgence of militant Islam. Armchair Bono's unite!

3: the person who invented the jet-ski had never been born. Deck-chair loafers seeking peace and quiet unite!

4: Evernote would work the same on my PC as it does on my iMac! Typing this, and the ten times longer first draft has been a royal pain. No drag and drop, useless windows everywhere... Frustrated typists unite!

5: I break 100 on the golf course today. Yes the old days of trying to break 90 are long gone. Golf Buggy riders unite!

6: End of world hunger - Room Service have brought in a birthday cake; anyone want a slice? Carbohydrates unite!

7: several unpublishable things from here to wish #10. Someone pretty unites with...


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Buyers' Paralysis

Everything was better when everything was worse.

Great book as well...

More about The Paradox of Choice

Secret of happiness - low expectations.


[Like low expectations of E@L's editing skills! Sorry about the incomprehensible first edition of this post!]

Rakish Angle

I was asking the other week about the correct degree of tilt to make a hat "rakish". My take was here...

But obviously I was mistaken, as this epic "Big Hat" effort shows...

via Joanne, via Tony - via...

I needed to show more hair, viz: this thespian dude, but of course with my MPB, that was always gonna be a problem - unless the photo was of my well-bristled arse... (and I have a story about that let me tell you! Another day.)

(no photo)


Friday, June 18, 2010


In my fifth decade I had begun to imagine what old age was like when I noticed the first lapses of memory. I would turn the house upside looking for my glasses until I discovered that I had them on, or I'd wear them into the shower, or I'd put my reading glasses over the ones I used for distance. One day I had breakfast twice because I forgot about the first time, and I learned to recognize the alarm in my friends when they didn't have the courage to tell me I was recounting the same story I had told them a week earlier. By then I had mental list of faces I knew and another lists of the names that went with each one, at the moment of greeting I didn't always succeed in matching the faces to the names. Gabriel Garcia Marquez Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Fortunately I have friends who will let me know straight away that I am losing it. And instead of not telling me that I've told them a story before they'll say, "I read it on your blog."

And now I'm into my sixth decade and it's not getting any better.


When I came back from the hospital late this afternoon, where I had been helping a Japanese Doctor do some advanced ultrasound stuff, I turned the house upside down looking for that VERY important flash-drive on which I had stored all the images and videos of the procedure. I was in a panic! Had I dropped it from my pocket on the walk home from the hospital (it's only 1K away), or did i put it on the table when I was talking with a colleague at Spinellis café?

Five minutes of getting ready to go back and redo the back-up, thinking of excuses for not sending the files on to Tokyo immediately...

And there it was. In the USB port.

I had already plugged it into to the computer and then become distracted by emails which had taken me to my online chess games!



OK, off for POETS day drinks. Now, where did I place those keys?


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Thai With Bon

I'm off to Koh Samui on Sunday (you know, where the Fockers were going to send the newlyweds for their honeymoon), so I thought I'd better brush up on my Thai pick-up lines for those times when I am not playing golf or lying on the beach thinking about writing a pretentious art-house novel about my escapades in Hong Kong, Singapore and of course Thailand.

Pom chob Angelina Jolie I guess, but I reckon Bon herself is damn cute too!

via Dan


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

UlyssesSeen / BloggerNotSeen

Dublin, June 16th 1904.

A comic book version of James Joyce's Ulysses hits the ether/cloud...


Apart from being free on the triple-W, this awesome effort is also available for free download from iTunes to the iPad and other iProducts... but only now that Apple has rescinded its directive to remove all images containing nudity from the comic book version of the novel. Apparently (in an updated version of the NYT article which I've only seen on the TimesReader edition), it now seems that Ulysses is "not obscene" after all.

There's a revelation.

Prior to its publication as a comic for the iPad, Joyce's stately, plump book was more often carried ostentatiously through university campuses than actually read. Now just carrying a iPad around is all that is required to evoke mixed feelings of jealous rage and supercilious dismissal in their fellow university layabouts.

Some would no doubt say that Ulysses is more famous for being banned than for being best-sellers - a la The Girl Who Really Knows How To Treat Rapists. Also in this category are that good gardening guide, Lady Lovely's Chatter and that medical textbook, The Topic of Cancer, amongst others...

Can't argue there. Nothing like a controversy to boost sales.

There is a fascination tale behind the publishing history of Ulysses.

First published in Paris in 1922, it was banned until 1933 in the USA and in Australia until 1937, only to be re-banned in 1941, which tells you something about how we do over artistic creativity down under.

One wonders if Steve Jobs' asshat morality guerrillas used the same criteria to assess the comic that Judge James M. Woolsey used in his famous overturning of the USA ban:

-- It did not give him an erection, therefore it was not pornographic, therefore it was not obscene. --

Fair call in those heady(npi!) pre-viagra days of course.

Didn't fuck up the sales too much either.


These too are the guys who temporarily popped an "Adults Only" rating on the iPhone book-reader Eucalyptus because you could download the Kama Sutra to it. That fact that the Kama Sutra is available for download to ANY book-reader or computer because it comes from Project Gutenberg appears to have been neither here nor there. This version doesn't even have the highly illustrative, um, illustrations with it.

Arbitrary, inconsistent and often contradictory are most people on the extremes of the moralistic universe.

Of course, Eucalyptus then became THE $10 eBook reader to have on your iPhone after this.

Controversy = cash.


And please don't ever forget the case of the immensely amusing David over at his once obligatory site for farangs in Thailand, MangoSauce. He lost his GoogleAds account for no good reason at all. Many of his posts are as classics in the expat genre, and thankfully his site is still up.

Oops. Controversy = no cash.


Speaking of arbitrary and unjustified censorship of free speech (no, not here in Singapore - we love Big Brother, and I don't mean the TV show), over the last week, Blogger and Google had taken down both Canadian blogger MJ's site, The Infomaniac (and locked her out of her Gmail account) and Spanish blogger Leni at Escritora y peligrosa (not a debilitating skin disease). For about five days MJ was in cloud limbo until Google apologised and reinstated her account. Leni was knocked out for most of Sunday.

WTF? The shivers have been going up Blogspot bloggers' spines.

A lot of Southern Kerfuffle was righteously raised by one of E@L's bestest blog-friends, that sweet person and ever-popular Savannah, her support bringing this unjustified and unjustifiable (to coin a phrase) injustice to blog-light.

Mago chased up Leni's case as well and it all came to a head!

Their efforts at raising online awareness of these cases presumably helped Google/Blogger to right their wrongs.

[Sav mentions in the comments here that eros den was the main guy to push Blogger in these cases.

As Leni reports, the procedure for getting one's blog back seems complicated enough - a 5-step process that calls for a review request, an appeal, etc... but I imagine it would be even worse if you no longer have an email account, as in MJ's case!


Why did this happen? Neither blogger is outrageously controversial or frankly obscene (not telling you what happened to my willy) though there might be a bit of flesh here and there or some stories about bits of flesh there and here.

Hell, nothing outrageous. Nothing to explain it at all. Leni talks about being slightly harassed by some religious nutter, but that may not have been the case. Blogger have not told her what happened, and same for MJ, although in her case they did apologize.

Interestingly, Leni's, MJ's, and even Savannah's (!!) blog now have the Blogger "Content Warning" when you go there, as you have should have seen.


There is a hesitancy with which many people are viewing the seemingly arbitrary censorship. Hell some people are blocked just for fucking swearing!

Like both Savannah (personal communication) and Mago (new site here), I have taken the anti-conspiratorial precaution of backing up and (half a day's work!) exporting all my posts and some (but not all, it seems) of my comments over to a mirror blog using my Wordpress account. I'm not migrating completely just yet, but I'll let you know if I decide that I will.

Depends how skittish we all get with the arbitrariness of the Hidden Ones at Google.

[Addendum 2: Don't foget that I lost MY old blog TWICE - when hackers used it to send phishing emails out. You still can't read my old blog in some places, like the BA business lounge at Heathrow. ]


Oh, yeah, where did this rambling post start? Happy Bloomsday.


Don't get yourselves banned without a back-up.


Monday, June 14, 2010


Whilst on a mission to purchase some filets de bouef at the venerable meat purveyors in the basement level of Great World City (having broken from his reverie in the British India store at Raffles Shopping Centre, only to find another outlet here) E@L chanced upon, in the window of the wine and cigar shop opposite, an impressive display of Dunhill pipes (two).

Cast your minds back, gentle blog-readers, and remember those heady days of manufacturing monoculture, before they started making pens, clothes, aftershave, watches and suitcases, when Dunhill used to develop and deliver cigarettes and other tobacco related products? Ah, how the Brand has taken over, diffusing the legitimacy and honour of good old reputable expertise and specialisation across a plethora of divergent OEM product lines purchased on the open market and which bear no distinguishing features from competing products other than the embossed or adhesive brand-name.

As E@L has mentioned on several occasions, he would no more buy a watch branded as Dunhill, as he would a cigar (or a pipe) allegedly from Bulova (or Timex).

Now, one of these distinguished pipes bore a remarkable resemblance to the hooked bent curly model so favored by Sherlock Holmes. A severely serious model in dour dim brown wood (one hoped), it was not quite the exotic Meerschaum model that the apocryphal amateur logician favored. But it looked cool, with the attractive aura of the carcinogenic, that suggestion of risk-taking, of extreme smoking...

Hmm. E@L contemplated rewarding himself with one of these venerable handheld hookahs. He ruminated over checking the price, but one shock per day is enough.

He humorously imagined himself suffimigating his friends, colleagues, acquaintances and a quadrangle of strangers in the designated smoking area with the wafting miasma from some noxious shag or other (such was Holmes' mix, so irritating to the good Dr Watson) from his kudos-earning micro-incinerator.

Smoking. What a distinguished history!

And the fiddling about with the mechanics and rituals of pipe smoking would give his hands something else to do on those long lonely Singapore nights when the CPAP machine (promising a wonderful night of complete rest) keeps him awake. It might help him loose weight and therefore lower his risk of heart disease. Of course it would also RAISE his risk of heart disease. And cancer.

Nicotine bad.

Plus, there is a downside other than the promise of a painful and protracted death; he might start talking like an arsehole.

Like maybe a senior-high English teacher. As a completely random example, say. No reference to "Jock" McM, St Josephs, 1975.

Non whatsoever.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Shopping For The Obvious

What is the point of going shopping when you don't want anything, don't need anything, yet can afford pretty much everything. You cannot make a decision. You can't even decide on something to make a decision about.

E@L decelerated slowly, eyes focused on nothing in the distance, until he gradually came to a complete halt in the middle of one of the foyers of the Raffles Shopping Centre (n.b. for the nth time, *not* at the Raffles Place MRT).

He didn't know where to go or what to do with his money. His life was without Singaporean meaning unless he could find something to purchase. There MUST be an article in this vast centre that could stir his *Will to Buy* from its paralysis. Not even the passing thought of lunch in Double Bay could stir him. He sighed. "In a sense, I am Jacob Horner", he thought.

The British India clothing store entrance was just there. [Presenting an era of racism, oppression, injustice and nice outfits.] Just as he could find no reason to enter, neither could he find a reason *not* to enter.

Clothing. Shirts. There must be space in his closet to squeeze in another British India shirt that he will never wear. He wandered in and started to look around. A helpful sales-person smiled and steered clear, which made her even more helpful.

Every shirt he looked at was fine, was nice - in a British India sort of way. But there was nothing that called to him, "Buy me!" For a start, it had to be 3XL before he would even hear it scream.

From rack to rack; the collarless, the embroidered, that funny material that itches, the earth hues. Everyone of them, while fine in itself, would make EL look like an Sri Lankan construction worker (or maybe the fat foreman) dressed up for his half-day off per month.

At the back of the store E@L came to a shirt that wasn't completely mute to him. One that could have been in any other store. Maybe even a fashionable store. It had a faded-blue pattern of leaves all across an off-white soft cotton material. Light, short sleeves. Tropical. Hmm, he could consider wearing this. If he was what he had on when his flat exploded, burning everything else in it. No, joking. He could see himself in this shirt in a dark dance club, eying off the 20-something babes who looked back at the disgusting old man in the corner, the one with the nice shirt.

Actually, the more he thought about it, it was quite a nice shirt. Damn, it was a VERY nice shirt. He was psyching himself up to the prospect of being interested in something. He was talking himself into buying this article. He looked at the size tab of the one at the back of the rack - 3XL!

He looked at the price.

He turned towards sales-person who was still hovering a few paces behind him on his tour around the store. He widened his eyes in shock - "Four hundred and sixty five dollars," he mouthed at her. She smiled.

He put the shirt back. SGD$465 for a light cotton shirt. From British India for crying out loud. Even with a shit-load of cash in the bank earning 4.2% interest, he balked at that.

Trust E@L to find that the most expensive item in the shop was the only one that he felt in anyway interested in. He wondered if he should ask the sales-person what she thought the salary of the Indian/Malaysian/Filipino worker who made this shirt might be; indeed, how much he or she would have been paid for making this one shirt; whether he or she should have been in school... He patted the copy of Raj Patel's The Value of Nothing" in his man-bag and he let the issue slide.


E@L once saw an ad in a Hong Kong newspaper for 10,000 plain white tee-shirts. The seller want $100. That's 1c a tee. Maybe the seller was taking a hit, but Jesus...

E@L went to an installation by a "capitalism artist" who had documented the making of 600 self-designed shirts in a Korean owned sweat-shop situated in a "special industrial park" (i.e. no worker's right and no pollution regulations monitored) in the Philippines - he sold the shirts for $250 each. The entire cost of production, including bribes, was, shit I can't remember (Izzy?), about $6 per shirt, something disgusting like that.

You buy clothing, you're paying for the design, distribution and marketing.


The great discoveries are usually obvious.
Philip Crosby



What are Malls for?
Malls are where we live.
We come, they shake the coins out of us
Time and time over.
They are to feel crappy in:
Where can we live but Malls?

(Apologies to Philip Larkin)


Friday, June 11, 2010

Why Books Get Thrown Out Windows

The French suffered more grievously during the period 1622 to 1646. In contrast with the situation in England where the most serious epidemics occurred later, between 1620 and 1666.

Return Of The Black Death; The World's Greatest Serial Killer Susan Scott, Christopher Duncan Wiley, 2004. p52.

I'm sorry, I'll read that again...


"Earlier" could also be valid with dates given.

Maybe serious epidemics DID peak in England after they had peaked in France, that is to say, between 1646 and 1666, but these two sentences neither state nor support this.

There were some other ambiguous or unclear date-related offenses I had already worried over, but this one just sent me into a spin of frustration.

Rewrite. Better still, delete. Best, defenestrate.


So disappointed; wanted to read a good book that discusses whether the first wave of the Black Death was bubonic plague (from fleas on rats) or, as is more likely (for several reasons), pneumonic plague (from person to person by droplets, such as in influenza.)

Should have predicted such an assault on E@L's nerves what with the corny subtitle, eh?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

duh duh duh duh, Cocaine

They went to bed to mend his head
With Viagra and some condoms


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Bhopal (E@L Preeshent Again)

In commenting on someone's Facebook link to article in MotherJones about the worldwide implications of the BP oil fiasco on June 4, E@L made the following provocative statement, which is course provoked no-one into any further comments:

I remember the days in Bhopal where widows were at first given about $8 per month compensation. Out of the $430 million awarded, very little actually went out and now about $500 million remains.. Huh? And Dow say they are not responsible for UC.

Whereas here, BP say Halliburton is responsible. I am concerned about the financial disparity of the compensation between some oily pelicans disturbing sun-bathing locals on the beach and between 4000 and 15000 people being killed in an explosion of toxic chemicals and the toxic contamination continuing.

And just a few days later, June 7th, news reports came though on the conviction (finally) of someone over the immense tragedy. Token sentences of two years were given to eight Indian executives of Union Carbide, 26 years after the release of the toxic gases killed thousands, painfully. Only two years? And no doubt, knowing the shambles that is the Indian legal system, appeals and counter appeals will continue till the next doomsday, or at least until the 70 years olds die.

Two years is the maximum as the charges were down-graded from "culpable homicide" to "negligence."

Sigh. Check the Wikipedia entry on this bloody criminal disaster...

Dow, which bought Union Carbide say that it has no responsibilty as it was an Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide that "controlled" the plant.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The 10 Questions *I* Made Up Meme

E@L has been tagged for the "latest" (hopefully the last) 10 question blog meme, one that has been slightly twisted by the precious and well-meaning Savannah, viz: "the latest meme in blogville. the twist is that after i answer her [very good] questions, i get to ask 10 NEW questions and tag another set of bloggers!"

OK, looks out the window at the approaching storm, the bolts of lightning over Sentosa, checks his blank calendar, he's bored - he'll do it.


Her question to me -

1. is there one book that you reread with some sort of regularity? (every 2 years, once a decade sort of thing) and if so, why?
There have been several over the years. The most re-read would have to be "The Crying Of Lot 49". I find it hilarious and conspiracy-theory spooky at the same time. Pynchon used to have an awesome imagination. These days I am overwhelmed with the books I haven't read (including a couple of Pynchon's).

2. do you still watch cartoons? and if so, which ones and why those in particular?

3. what's the one thing you can't imagine living without on a daily basis?
Prescription painkillers. Don't panic, I'm not a stoner. They're anti-epilepsy drugs which work to numb (or attempt to) my peripheral neuropathy.

4. take out/take away or home cooking more than three times a week?
No take away worth a damn in Singapore. It's a different culture for food here. When I'm home I cook or make a salad once or twice. Mainly I eat in restaurants as I'm traveling or socialising..

5. which is your most favorite room in your home?
My large bedroom/office. King size bed large desk and still room for a big bookshelf. Awesome, checked out 20 apartments before I came back to this one, which was the first I had viewed.

6. are you currently following/regularly watching a tv series? which one and why?
Waiting for Trueblood Series 3. Izzy liked to look the tall Swedish guy. I like the intro music.

7. have you seen the player?
The movie? Yes. The Aussie actress, Greta Scacchi, my god how gorgeous! I was in lust with her! Or do you mean Gary Ablett (Snr & Jnr), the world's [a.k.a Australia's] best Aussie rules players ever? Both of them, father and son - amazing dynasty. Yes. No sexual feelings for either though.

8. other than your blog, do you keep a personal journal?
No. Should do, but don't.

9. do you have a favorite movie quote that you routinely use?
If someone is putting someone else down, I automatically say, "Speaks very highly of you," with Gabriel Byrne's accent(!), from Miller's Crossing. I can't stop myself. And it stops them, often.

10. will you tag 6 bloggers or will you leave this open ended and accept answers in comments?
If I can find six bloggers. Let alone those who are scared off by memes such as this.


MY questions to you -

1. Who was your 3rd grade teacher and were you in love with her? (Lesbian lust is OK, in fact even better.)

2. Is yours an examined life? If yes, did you find anything interesting?

3. How high is the tallest mountain you have climbed, skied down, or tripped over (question for Singaporeans)?

4. Speaking of storms, do you know, or DID you know, anyone who has been struck by lightning? Or indeed, by lighting?

5. What do you like most about your job/studies/unemployment cheques?

6. Men: are you Miles or Jack? Women: are you Maya or Stephanie, Jack's fiancee or Miles' ex-wife? (You haven't seen Sideways? Why am I even talking to you?)

7. Would you rather write best-selling pulp genre fiction, or an art-house novel that confirms your towering genius but that not even your most sympathetic friends would read, except MAYBE under threat of torture? Trick question, eh what?

8. Have you ever been on a cruise? On a ship I mean, not wearing leather and trying to pick up Mr Goodbar. If yes, did you fall in love on it, the cruise?

9. Other than "I think, therefore I am", can you quote a major philosopher NOW? Without having to look one up? (Descartes doesn't count, he was a mathematician.) Please share your quote, if you have one. (I'm thinking, this is a wasted question.)

10. Do you pay for an online newspaper? If so, which one? (If you are about to say The Straits Times, please leave this blog immediately.)


I tag the following poor suckers ---

Skippy Sorry, dude I know you're busy.

MercerMachine I know you're NOT busy.

LoveForHeels Hah!

Izzy Delayed punishment for the carpet.

Dick Headley Thought you had escaped this, eh?

Valkyrie Who else do I know? You're it!


I am sorry to annoy you guys with this.

So now, after answering MY questions, (on YOUR blog and in MY comments section) you can make up 10 questions of your own and...

You get the rest of the drill - if you guys and gals "know" 6 (or as many as you can) bloggers who might not balk at this exercise, and Christ knows it was tough for me, pass it on.

Or not.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Conversations With Expats

A: So, what do you do here in (small island in the South China Seas)?
B: Oh I'm so uninterested in all that "What do you, How much do you earn" sort of thing...
A: Yes, I used to think the same things when I was jejune and arrogant. Fuck off you obviously unemployed child.


C: I got SOOooo drunk last night, you've no idea...
D: Umm, Maybe I do.


E: You know how little I paid for that hooker last night?
F: Not enough for her to feed her family in Vietnam this week?
E: Damn right.


G: Even if you're single you need to have sex at last every now and then. That's what the sex industry is here for. It allows unattractive, maybe old, maybe bald, maybe fat people to meet their physiological needs. We all have a sex drive, ugly or not.
H: That sounds a dubious rationalization. These girls are often trafficked against their will. Couldn't you just masturbate more?
G: More than I already do? Impossible.


I: (At noisy party - shouts) Hey dude, how long have you been here?
J: Oh aboot a month. I'm from Canada, eh.
K: Oh my god, a virgin! We have to show you the sights! Taxi to 4FoWs NOW!


L: Where did you go for your holiday?
M: Boracay.
L: Do they accept the Charisma Card there?
M: No, dammit. Nice beach, but it was the most boring week of my life.


N: Oh my god, there's a tuk-tuk full of lady-boys chasing us!
O: Don't look, don't look.
N: (looks) Shit man, check out those tits!


P: Where's (insert name)?
Q: Probably in Club Romeo.
P: He seems to like the lady-boys in there. Is he bisexual or just a fucking pervert?
Q: Dude, if someone's giving you a BJ, who really cares? Just don't tell the civilians.


Whither Goest E@L? To Hell In A Handbasket?

Several weeks of holidays due, no idea where to go and absolutely nothing to do at work - sitting in the office, dreaming out the window as the maritime movements swirl in slow motion. Ships seem to move in the time of another, more sedate, era.

Who shall have the fishy
On their little dishy
Who shall have the fishy
When the boat comes in.

OK, OK, ship.


Ah, the options for the SEA expat. An embarrassment of embarrassing circumstances in the offing should one ever be caught in a police raid.

Mmm. Ships coming in. Cruise? Why the hell not?

Taking it easy in my fish-odoured cabin (and not from the ocean), maybe do some writing (and not this bloggorhea), some reading (only four lifetimes of books to go to complete E@L's reading list), some low shagging on the high seas. Why not join the septuagenarian and octogenarians (who are as close to my age as many of my current Singapore friends) to talk about retirement plans, the benefits of Reservatol over mitochondrial drugs, hip replacements and wills? Hop on the large floating casinos cum brothels (no pun intended) that dock out my window, join the rolling-suitcased throng of said septuas, octos, with a Philippines village of croupiers and game-for-anything hookers (and after-hour croupiers) and take a slow cruise to Vietnam.

Lazy times on deck, blankets over my legs on the deck-chair as sprightly maidens and dashing young men play that quoits game? (Or they're fucking on the bulwarks at midnight, knowing that their hearts will go on, at least until they disembark.) Meeting the love of my life, promising to catch up for a skinny latte on top of the Empire State building... if I can extend my business trip to RSNA Chicago? (Never been to New York - too freaking far away.)

Jump ship at Da Nang and lie on the beach? Then what? Have a series of rub and tugs in the local "saunas" or grab a "rental" for the week, then eat spring rolls till I throw up at the sight of rice paper? Maybe hit the hill-tribes for some touro-porn (rich people taking photos of poor people)? Maybe buy one of the young village virgins from mum and dad for some sex-tourism or just bring the "rental" along, ditto?

And I could negotiate for some of those "gold" leaf lacquered plates which cost $300 each in Takashimaya here in Singapore but are $2.50 for a set of six in the village markets. Not that I like those plates, or have anywhere to put them, but some things one just has to do.

It's the expat burden.


OK, talked myself out of that potential disaster!


Or I could get married and have sex with the same person (that I love) forever... or like the people in the flat above me, at 10am every Sunday morning.

Or not. As you guessed, another disaster averted.


Or I could sit in the office playing Sudoku on my new iTouch (a.k.a. my old iPhone) and wait for that improved energy and vitality from my CPAP to kick in... ZZZzzzzzz...

Then again (and I do mean again) I could head to Kata Beach in Phuket now that it is safe to go back to Thailand for some action-adventures, maybe do some golfing stuff in the day and in the evening/early-hours catch up with Plan A (and that thing she does with her teeth... wincing just thinking about it...) Or grab a cute caddy's number and...

Ah, yes, expat life in the South Seas. It's a non-stop end-of-season sport-team trip. It's a buck night that never ends.


(In case you're wondering about all the semi-joking sex references in this post, yes, the drugs [Lamotrigine and Lyrica] I am taking for my "idiopathic peripheral neuropathy" [painful feet] no longer suppress my libido!)

Spot, The Difference

Answers in tomorrow's paper. Prizes for the neatest, correctest, bestest entries.


Bonus question: name of the Macbeth family's dog?


Sunday, June 06, 2010

"happiness through wealth"?

Michel says:
I read a disturbing statistic last night
according to a study done by the WHO, 9% of Americans suffer from bipolar disorder or clinical depression

Ali says:
I knew it was high but that means it’s like 1 in 10 people have severe depression
and do you know how it would be changing recently?
maybe go even higher

Michel says:
I’d assume so, since their hopes and dreams are hinged on that fickle economy
Ali says:
that’s true
in a capitalist society we invest our sense of self in the economy

Michel says:
The mythology of the country (and subsequently all countries influenced by it) arbitrarily places value on something that cannot ever be attained, happiness through wealth. This is very good for production, but very bad for emotional stability.
Through media manipulation it’s wonderfully effective to have people believe this is capable, perhaps even attaining the delusion that they’re succeeding at it
Although, success is the less likely option.
Either way, the American Dream is untenable.

Ali says:
how can a society that’s used this system for so long break from it?
Michel says:
It would need to make a conscious effort.
People make a conscious effort to see that it’s bullshit, or the system collapses and they are awakened to its fraudulent nature through suffering
Having dwelled with working class Americans, though, I am not sure the second is likely. Their suffering is so ingrained as the fault of themselves or another person’s that they don’t even begin to question the system that allows it to exist.
To suggest such a thing makes you crazy

Ali says:
maybe an economic depression will help change that?
because now, people must feel that they are suffering at the greed and carelessness of someone else

Michel says:
Maybe in the eyes of the educated, which is as good a start as any. The people that I am talking about are the people who have always been depressed: po’ folk, uneducated people who have nothing but their mythology
The average American is very limited. The exceptions are what prove the rule, as always. The difference between the average person that works at WalMart trying to make ends meet and the rural Chinese who thinks Chairman Mao could fly is much smaller than you’d imagine.


I though this was such a good conversation (real or not I don't know) from a blog I blurfed upon, The Hazy Night's Campaign Against Dawn, (what an awesome title!) that I had to copy it across for you. It is essentially a discussion that bounces around echoes Weber's "Protestant Work Ethic" with how the American Dream of self-reliance leads to self-blame and depression.

The funny thing is that most non-Americans see such dilemmas as self-evident. The American Dream might bring for a handful of lucky and hard-working people (with a heavy emphasis on the luck drawn out of one's cultural capital). It's bloody obvious, no need to philosophize about it.

And then the inevitable emptiness of chasing such ephemeral goals makes the billionaires quite miserable as they sail the world in monstrous yachts, sipping Cristal whilst getting blow-jobs from fake-titted Thai ex-hookers, basking in the eternal sunshine of their mindless spots.


I fully accept that the top section is not my work, merely my good fortune to find.


Astute readers might notice the submerged ambivalence and hypocrisy [took me eight goes to type that correctly] swimming through *my* little, inelegant rant...


Saturday, June 05, 2010

Zen And The Art Of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure

First night with the Respironics (a Philips company) CPAP machine was not so successful. I thought it would be a good idea to put some ear-plugs in to mask the noise of the pump.


All I could hear all night, all I listened to, was my breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Thus saith Guru Bob: Listen to your breathing, my pupils. Concentrate on each breath. Let everything else fall from your mind...

Very Zen. Very Transcendental. Very fucking annoying.

You know how they say you don't notice your rhythmical and regular breathing pattern until you start thinking about out it? That's my story for the ENTIRE night. At least I think it was. It's also difficult to be sure you're not asleep, as you might only be dreaming that you are awake. Or a butterfly.

I do remember having an apnoeic episode that woke me up - see, I must have been asleep. I was dreaming that I was lying under the low branches of bush/tree in my mother's back-yard, in my cave, protected, hiding away, (a Freudian return to the uterus fantasy? [Shit must call my mum, haven't spoken to her for a few weeks!]) as someone yanked me out by the leg in order to get me to breath, to break me out of this drawn-out breath-stoppage, to wake me up. I woke up.

Another thing that bugged me was that this "soft cloth" mask, The SleepWeaver, has little perforations in it to blow off the excess pressure. These pinholes shot annoying javelins of chilly air all over my face, onto my arms and shoulders. I didn't realize there were part of the construction until I read the manual this morning (!) and I was completely distracted all through the night, wondering at first if the seal was not good, but it seemed fine when I put my hands to the edges, or that the mask was faulty. I kept pinching off these jets for a few seconds until I pulled the bed-sheets over my exposed limbs.

Once or twice I opened my mouth slightly and the compressed air in my naso-pharynx sharply charged out like the scorching fire from a dragon on the attack. That was a weird sensation, as my palate fell back with the release of the pressure. I closed my mouth straight away and it went back to "normal" quickly. This was all done in a semi-real state of semi-consciousness...

I was, I suppose, fortunate that I didn't yank the bloody SleepWeaver thing off my face in the middle of the night or do the auto-erotic asphyxiation thing with the 2m of hosing as I rolled from left to right and back again. It pulled on the soft mask when I did turn in this manner, but it when I just brought more of the hose with me it seemed OK.

Eventually, at about 6am I gave up on sleeping, turned off the pump, took off the mask and removed my ear-plugs. The whine of the air-con. The swish of the fan.

I couldn't hear myself breathe. THAT was Nirvana.


Half an hour later I decided to try sleeping once again and this time without the ear-plugs. Sure enough, with shoulders and arms protected from the air-jets, I dropped immediately into sleep (deep, shallow, REM, I don't know) for two hours.

I'm not sure that I feel rested today. Indeed, it almost feels like grandpa nap time now (4pm). It wasn't the spring out of bed, leap with fervor and enthusiasm into the tasks of a busy day (buy some socks, choose a birthday card or two) sort of instant recovery that I was given to expect by a friend in Australia.

He had had a bad run with apnoea, falling asleep at traffic lights (embarrassing if you're a pedestrian), during meetings, etc... After his first night with the CPAP, he didn't recognize the new energy that was charging through him. Completely worked for him.


Well I'm not *too* bad I guess, as I managed to stay awake on the MRT for a two stop jump down Scotts Rd. Fingers crossed for Night Two.


However I have a party to go tonight - Great Gatsby is the theme - and I might be a tad under the weather with bootleg gin when I get home. Hope I remember how to turn it on! For those interested I have a white linen suit, with waistcoat, white shoes, white hat, white socks, apricot tie. Oh and a white hat.

Something like this is the plan:

(Oh shit, he has a double-breasted vest; mine is single!)

Someting more like Sydney Greenstreet will no doubt be the result of my efforts:

Yes, mmm-mm,  well,  indeed, mmm-mm, yes, excellent... 


p.s what is the minimum angle for a hat to sit in order for it to be classified as 'rakish'?

Like A Baby

That's how E@L intends to sleep tonight. Yep, waking up every three hours, screaming the house down, shitting his pants and refusing to give anyone else any rest...

Well, no. Not that baby. More the baby who doesn't have sleep apnoea sort of thing, one who sleeps calmly (a beautiful baby) all through night, in order to wake up blissfully rested and ready to start screaming the house down and shitting and pissing its pants every twenty minutes for the rest of the day.

Because after the incredibly less than average results for his sleep test last week at last came back to the Doc, ("You're going to die, and horribly") a humbled and contrite E@L popped into the snore-shop today and picked hisself up a rental CPAP machine. After five minutes with the plastic masks and the air-pumps, E@L was wondering if that death might not possibly be related to some sort of auto-erotic asphyxiation thing...

No, not, moving right along...

Amongst the many sad things about this whole idea of having some bulky and noisy equipment follow him round the world in order to keep him alive - like some portable iron lung - the worst is that the blower-in-the-nose-machine is from Philips, which almost automatically means it is the equivalent of a Walmart brand of CPAP machines (unless, as in my old company's case, they acquired a decent producer for one/twice).

Sigh. Sorry, one means snort.

And... as this is a rental machine who the fuck knows who has been snorting their mucous into it, the first thing E@L did when he got home was dump the non-electronic parts (the hose, the water container for the humidifier - need one because he sleeps buck naked with the A-C on) into a bucket of chlorox. Better to burn the skin off your (SuperJoyce the maid's) hands than to risk getting a chest infection from some aspergillosis spores...

Yee-uck, one would rather dope up on a case of leptospirosis from rat urine on the top of coke cans.

E@L left SuperJoyce to sort that out (the cleaning, not the rat urine) while he went out for uncountable beers, copious wine and the most bella pizza in Singapore. And now he has has to follow the instructions to get it to, hic, work.

All of which means he's going to sleep like a baby. Or die in the attempt...


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Quotes Of The Century

Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wicked of men will do the most wicked of things for the greatest good of everyone. John Maynard Keynes


So the question is, do corporate executives, provided they stay within the law, have responsibilities in their business activities other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible? And my answer to that is, no they do not. Milton Friedman

There is as an unearthly, mystical element in Friedman's thought. The mere existence of a stock of money somehow promotes expenditure. But insofar as he offers an intelligible theory, it is made up of elements borrowed from Keynes. Joan Robinson, Economic Heresies, Chapter 6, Prices and Money, p. 87

Capitalism is based on self-interest and self-esteem; it holds integrity and trustworthiness as cardinal virtues and makes them pay off in the marketplace, thus demanding that men survive by means of virtue, not vices. It is this superlatively moral system that the welfare statists propose to improve upon by means of preventative law, snooping bureaucrats, and the chronic goad of fear. Alan Greenspan

Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity – myself especially – are in a state of shocked disbelief. Alan Greenspan



Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Why Am I Still Up?

Why go to bed?

Last week's overnight in-hospital sleep test shows that I have apnoeic or hyopopneic episodes on average 51 time an hour. That's 10sec plus without taking a proper breath. So at least 510 seconds, or 8 and 1/2 minutes every hour, I am not breathing. At all.

Looking at the chart, I seem to go into this mode after every 4 breaths snores.

And I wake up 23 times an hour! May as well stay up, at least I can do stuff on the computer.

I'd sigh but I don't want to waste the oxygen.

I'm dying of everything.


The best sleep I've had was in the ENT clinic; 2 hours of neck-aching snooze sitting up in the waiting room... and even when I got called in they didn't have the charts ready (Have you had your test? - Well, yes. Last week!), and had to send to the ward for them. Tin-pot organization. Tan Tok Seng Hospital.

Who sleeps at night? No one is sleeping.
In the cradle a child is screaming.
An old man sits over his death, and anyone
young enough talks to his love, breathes
into her lips, looks into her eyes.

Once asleep - who knows if we'll wake again?
We have time, we have time, we have time to sleep!

Maria Tsvetaeva, from INSOMNIA, 1916.


Back In The iLife Again

OMG. Phones! I've been using the Nokia E71 for a week. I have yet to key in a correct word in any txt message. Plus I have to drag my iPod with me for music as I don't have decent earphones with that annoying mini-jack.

The Sony-Ericcson Exaspera X10 definitely has something wrong with the battery - it was fully charged on Thursday morning and dead flat by lunchtime.  Had to fire it up this morning as it had Dr's appointment that hadn't been sync'd. (The fucking S-E PC MediaPlayer won't find the iTunes library on my HDD as its TETHERED as well.)

Had to fire up the iPhone this morning as well, because I couldn't remember my bank account number (at least I remembered the PIN).

All three on the desk, humming away, and I had to make a decision...  Which is the least annoying?

So I am back on the iPhone, with its sticky home key and all the fucking iShit that goes with it... 

Aaaaaaaand loving it!? 

Please, someone, come up with a decent UNTETHERED alternative! Soon!


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