Questions of natural selection

Why is it the people who buy the expensive cars with the attendant high maintenance and repair costs are the ones who drive as though they are the only people on the road, pushing into queues WITHOUT LOOKING to make sure it’s safe?

Why is it the people who behave as though they are the dog’s nuts are the ones who DON’T WASH THEIR HANDS after going to the toilet? YES, I WITNESSED IT AGAIN. I think I need to print out a sign and stick it on the wall in the bathroom, something along the lines of ‘I have noticed, on more than one occasion, that at least one dirty besom doesn’t wash her hands after weeing. Please note that it’s people like you who aid epidemics of infectious diseases like SARS and bird flu. Wash your bloody hands.’

The more you get, the more you want

Maybe because I’m the kind of Singaporean they want (except for that pesky independent thought thing), or perhaps because it doesn’t take a genius to know that welfare can be a bad thing, but I agree with workfare and disagree with any proposed introduction of unemployment benefit to help the less well-off:

“We can’t stop the income gap from widening because the wages are determined by the global competition for knowledge workers, and by the excessive supply of unskilled workers,” says Mr. Lim, the minister and union leader.

“But what we’re trying to do is to make sure that the widening income gap doesn’t necessarily translate into a widening social gap.”

When you live in a town where paid employment is a dirty word (really) and widespread disbelief abounds when one might choose not to sign up for welfare if unemployed, there’s lots to be thankful for. I’m thankful that Neil has never fallen into the cycle of unemployment benefit and was raised in the belief that one had to work for one’s money (despite the attitude of the community around him). I’m thankful that I have never been raised to feel entitled to welfare handouts.

I think Singapore would be going down a very ill-advised road if the government ever decided to introduce unemployment benefit, unless that benefit meant providing more work opportunities and/or training to those who’re having problems. And if an unemployed, low-skilled Singaporean considers themselves ‘too good’ for certain jobs, then that’s a CHOICE they have made.

The problem I see is it’s the oldies who are willing to do the work, even really crap work, if they have to. With people from my generation, we’re all Gimme Gimme Gimme while being Lazy Lazy Lazy. We don’t know how lucky we are. When it comes to senior citizens who have worked their butts off, they deserve support. Housing support, daily expense support, and centres where they can pursue recreational activities. I will gladly pay tax towards that. But not to create a society where the unemployed stay unemployed because there’s no NEED to work to feed or shelter themselves. If Singapore goes down that road, we’re going to end up with generations of dole-bludgers who have no dignity or pride.

(By the way, what in the hell is up with young women in the UK who have babies to get a council flat? What in God’s name did their parents teach them? Children are not a commodity to be exploited.)

Pretty damned stupid

Plan to list paedophile web names:

Home Secretary John Reid said he may make paedophiles put online identity details on the Sex Offenders Register.

Um. Hotmail. Yahoo! Gmail. Anonymous remailers.

This is retarded and a waste of time and money. Kids should be raised to have self-confidence in who they are, be wary of Internet ‘friends’, and to never meet them for the first time in places less public than a city centre Starbucks or McDonalds. And kids (well, teenagers) are naturally rebellious, so give up on any blanket bans.

When you get all secretive to protect something it’s gonna get out and everyone’s gonna know your shit

The leaked video has been big news all over the media. There was a retired colonel being interviewed on the radio, and his take was the refusal of the US military to release the video for the inquest was probably genuinely motivated by security issues (i.e. screens and whatnot in the cockpit being captured on video), but now that someone in the MoD has seen fit to leak it to the media, it’s in the public domain, and the Pentagon has essentially shot itself in the foot.

Now THAT’S what I call friendly fire.

When life gives you calamansi

Note to self: lie to Neil whenever we need to be anywhere on time — subtract 20 minutes from our actual projected departure time. This morning I was to drop him off at the train station, and we somehow managed to leave the house later than I usually do when only I am in the car.

Of course, it was seriously frosty overnight, and in the few minutes I had the car sitting outside with the engine off while waiting for Neil to grace us with his presence, frost settled on the car and the windshield was… not so easy to see out of. No scraping though, we were late!

I did manage to see a glorious sunrise this morning while on the motorway (the ice had melted by then). It was a layered sky, with a very uncloudy light blue top stack containing a cratered moon, fading into a pink stripe and back to blue, the closer it was to the horizon. If I wasn’t driving, I would’ve whipped out the camera for a shot.

Then the sun came up and shone straight into my rearview mirror and blinded me.

(Neil’s just texted to say he just spotted Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead fame in Newcastle!)

The ‘civilised’ nation

Sadly, so true: “At present, the same global coffee bar chain has cleaner forecourts in the US than it does in the UK because, in the UK, dropping trash is a yob’s right.” — Keeping up with the Jameses

On our very unhealthy trip to McDonalds yesterday, we sat by the window, and Neil expressed his disgust at the ned who spat a great hunking wad of saliva onto the floor outside (the puddle — yes, it was enough to be a puddle — was larger than anything I’d ever seen in China). The room was not as clean as any McDonalds in XIAMEN (yeah, in China where most people have no social etiquette regarding cleanliness).

And the night before (whose excesses necessitated the visit the afternoon after), I was waiting in line at the toilets in the Dreadnaught, and there was a woman who would only visit a stall that had loo roll in it. Fair enough. But then she did what she needed to do and. Left. Without. Washing. Her. Hands.

And that is fucking mocket (mockit?).

Philosophy in nursery

Something I like hearing about! Kids as young as nursery age are being taught basic philosophy. Research has shown that it really helps cognitive ability, with the added benefit of a higher IQ and emotional intelligence. I’m not into fluffy new age things, but thinking about things and encouraging kids to think deeper about everything can only be good.

This weekend I…

Tambo went outside for a smoke and has now been Entered
  • saw The Pursuit of Happyness (mini-review: my life ain’t so bad, what an awe-inspiring and humbling film)
  • ran 10k at the Oxygen Deficit
  • went to the Dreadnaught to celebrate Neil’s friend Tambo’s birthday (and had a long conversation with the bloke who thought my URL was
  • slept in
  • did my body no end of damage by going to McDonalds and eating a Quarter Pounder with cheese meal (it was good, but the fries weren’t)
  • did a bit of shopping (buy six tubs of yoghurt and get six tubs free — I have 12 tubs of yoghurt)
  • computered till bedtime


Before the raceHere’s a blow-by-blow. Neil kept to his usual stellar timekeeping and made me stressed because we got there with a grand total of ten minutes to spare for me to register and warm up. However, the 5k was still going on so we were delayed a bit. I was actually feeling a bit nervous because there were people there in running club singlets with the word ‘Olympian’ on them.

When it came time to get in the pack to start the race, Raymond put us in the front. (Raymond had collected donations for the Beatson Oncology Centre, so he was doin’ it for charity.) Not right in front, mind you, but only three or four rows behind. That makes me uncomfortable — I in no way deserve to be in the starting pack, so when the horn went off I dashed over to the start of the actual track and slowed right down to my usual pace. Here’s a reminder of that pace:

me as a tortoise - original image from Wikimedia

Anyway, the number of people passing me was, frankly, quite embarrassing. But there was no way I was going to try and keep up as there was a next-to-interminable distance ahead of me to finish, and my goals are to not be last (I was in serious danger of not achieving this one) and to not ever slow to a walk. There were fluorescent yellow signs every kilometre completed after the 2km mark, and it seemed like 25 miles between each sign. My hip was really bothering me for the first half of the route, so I was trying really hard to keep a steady pace and not aggravate it.

It’s especially bad when two women who look like grannies pass you. And when a bloke who looked like he just decided to sign up for a lark passes you, and stays ahead of you even when he does a walk-jog thing. I caught Raymond coming back when I was close to the halfway mark, and he was about 15 minutes ahead of me at that point (I hate 20 year olds). I was constantly watching for the guy on the bike who follows the last runner, because I so did not want to be the one. (The last runner on the 5k pretty much collapsed at the finish line as his name was read out by the announcer, which was something else I didn’t want to happen, I don’t want anyone pointing me out at all!) At the halfway mark where we turned around, however, he was so close to me! There was only one other bloke and Granny #1 behind me at that point (she’d passed me then couldn’t jog the inclines, of which I’d forced myself to power through).

So there was my motivation at that point. DO NOT SLOW DOWN OR YOU WILL DEFINITELY BE LAST. I guess the runner’s (jogger’s in this case, I guess) high kicked in at about the 7k mark and it started getting a bit easier. There was another female jogger who’d slow to a walk, then run again and pass me whenever there was a race marshal about. Towards the last kilometre I guess she couldn’t do it anymore, so I managed to pass her.

That made me, what, fourth from last? The route was open to the public, so while we were running we had to dodge people walking four abreast who saw you coming but did nothing to give you a little room. It was entertaining to see the dogs being walked though, they loved the lake we were running beside. Anyways, the next person I passed was a middle-aged fellow who was walking, and the finish line was totally in sight, so I said ‘Come on!’ to him and kept going.

Got there! 66:17

When I crossed the finish line, the announcer said my name. Into the microphone. Bastard. At least most of the real runners had already dispersed in the way real runners do. Better things to do than wait for a bunch of snails! Or tortoise with a beanie, in my case.

At the endI got my finisher’s medal and a bottle of water. Raymond’s mum took lots of pictures. I forgot to mention that our other colleague, Richard, had come by to cheer us on (or rather, as I suspect, be the independent third party to confirm to the rest of the office that we had actually shown up and done the run). I didn’t bother get my ‘official’ time as I had my own stopwatch running, and at 66:17, it was 15 minutes faster than I normally managed when I was in Xiamen, definitely faster than when I did it the first time at the 2003 Biathlon in Singapore, and I didn’t stop or slow to a walk at any point. Even when it was muddy or sandy.

And I managed to be faster than a granny, a couple of middle-aged men, and walking woman. So I wasn’t last. Success!

See the full set of photos (as shot by Neil) on Flickr.