School of Rock is about a wannabe rocker (Jack Black) who spends a few weeks with a bunch of kids at Horace Green Prep. He discovers that they are hugely talented musically, and recruits them to compete in Battle of the Bands, all in the name of getting back at his old band that kicked him out.
Much of the comedy stems from Black’s face, or rather, his very malleable face (Rowan Atkinson, look out). The eyebrow-powered Mexican wave is particularly impressive. I giggled and made faces throughout the viewing.
This is not a smart movie. It is not a movie that makes you screw up your face and wonder what the hell that was all about. It’s a good kids movie with only a little bit of swearing. Nothing worse than what kids use these days, anyway.
And more importantly, it was a far better movie than either Formula 51 or Snowboarder. Neil claims he selected this movie in his mind several weeks ago but never picked it out, so he should claim it and thus break his streak of poor film choices. I disagree: I physically picked it out and said I wanted to get it. It was my choice. Neil continues as King Picker (Plucker? Fisher?) of Bad Films.
A White House official said Cheney’s assertion, which he repeated this week, that the ousted Iraqi leader had long-established ties to al Qaeda, were based on “facts.”
Show us these ‘facts’, if you please.
To make that case, his office provided reporters with a list of U.S. officials and lawmakers who made similar statements about Saddam’s alleged ties to al Qaeda.
“We have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al Qaeda members, including some that have been in Baghdad,” Tenet said in an Oct. 7, 2002 letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Sen. Clinton was quoted as saying three days later: “He (Saddam) has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members,” according to the list compiled by Cheney’s office.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared in September 2002: “We know that al-Qaeda is operating in Iraq today.”
Members of Jemaah Islamiyah live(d) and work(ed) in Singapore. Does that mean Singapore is linked to Jemaah Islamiyah, and therefore, al Qaeda? Donald Rumsfeld was seen in Iraq in 1983. Does that mean the US had ties to Saddam Hussein‘s atrocious government?
These are only statements and allegations they’re putting forward to sound convincing. Just because it’s been said doesn’t make it true. If Cheney’s right, he must be able to back it up properly. Show the world videos, photos, documents – something – that presents concrete evidence of links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. Saddam Hussein is no longer President and is wallowing in prison somewhere – what national security risk can there be?
If he can’t, he has no business saying these things.
Bush also has no business making these claims, citing a rather tenuous link. Saddam Hussein’s government may have been pretty friendly with terrorist groups in general, but it does not mean he abso-fucking-lutely worked with al Qaeda.
While higher frequency of sex was associated with higher levels of happiness, the researchers said the cause and effects were unclear: “working out whether sex causes happiness or causality runs in the reverse direction will be particularly difficult here,” they said.
Let’s welcome Ken Goh to the world of the Interwebnet. I’ve known Ken for almost a decade now, and this is his first foray into Web publishing.
Ken has been dabbling as a photographer for a while, and I’m not sure if this is meant to be just a photo album or full-on this is his portfolio site. I really like the panorama he’s used for the index page.
Folks, I’ve already taken him to task for using FrontPage, let’s hope he sees the light and tries another, less bloating WYSIWYG editor.
And he’s using tables for positioning! Heh.
(There are no photos of Ken – that I can see – on the site. I find this odd, since he used to work as a model. He’s a bit of a cutie. Maybe he’s trying to not let his beauty detract from his work. Or something. I’m making this up.)
(Correction: there is a photo of him on the About page. I didn’t look there, since I know him. Oops.)
I don’t mean to be parsimonious with praise (and effusive with criticism) for my mate Ken – he is, after all, only now learning about Web design. My hopes for the Ken Goh site: a standards-compliant web-based photography portfolio (his design concept is perfect for what he needs, I reckon) and then marketing the hell out of it.
In an old post (June 3), Gareth Parker asserted that Australia was in danger of being attacked by terrorists purely because it is a secular, non-Muslim country. His opinion stems from a statement by a judge sentencing Jack Roche to prison for terrorist activities.
In the Asia Times this week, Speaking Freely contributor Rich Bowden considers that Australia’s close commitment to following US foreign policy on Iraq could have made Australia more vulnerable to an al Qaeda-led attack:
Dr Rohan Gunaratna, head of terrorism study at Singapore’s Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies, said to reporters at the 2004 Conference of Commissioners of Police of Australasia and the South West Pacific Region, “Australia continues to face a certain level of threat. This scale of threat has increased since Australia’s high-profile participation in Afghanistan and in the Iraq campaigns.”
John Pistole, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s executive assistant director for counter-terrorism, agreed with this analysis in an interview on Sydney’s Radio 2UE. “I would agree with the statement that an attack is likely inevitable. Any Western nation that is not an Islamic state is a terror target for al-Qaeda … any country that allies itself with the US, unfortunately, is a target.” (Emphasis mine.)
If nothing had been done after the day the World Trade Centre was destroyed, al Qaeda would have felt emboldened and carried out more plans to terrorise more ‘infidels’. Sure. No argument about that. What I do believe, however, is countries that have allied themselves unquestioningly to the US’ ‘War on Terror’ have pushed in to make sure they’re now at the front of the target queue.
This is not bad or good; even if I thought US policy was the opposite of short-sighted and poorly thought-out, becoming a top target is a natural consequence of fighting terrorist groups. The question is, Is / Was the current policy worth sticking our necks out for?
went to Louis’ and Megan’s joint birthday party (didn’t leave until almost dawn – I’ve got to stop doing that)
ate Hainanese chicken rice at the Miramar Hotel (not bad, not bad)
watched Formula 51 (Robert Carlyle and Samuel L. Jackson in a very unentertaining excuse for a film)
watched the first season of The Office (I can’t laugh at this F.A.B. programme when it fills me with skin-crawling fear and recognition – except for Tim, I can laugh at Tim)
watched Snowboarder (French film. No subtitles. Seemed quite shite. Floppy-haired good snowboarder is taken for a ride by buzz-cut bad snowboarder, or something. Neil couldn’t bear to let it run any longer than it had. He’s three for three on picking films that have turned out to be complete bollocks.)
watched the second season of The Office (see above)
watched the Wallabies beat Scotland (I had to move away from Neil when I said I supported the Wallabies to win)
Teenagers who read a large amount of fiction tended to score highest in literacy tests, although those who read a lot of non-fiction or read from the internet also tended to perform well above average.
Since I read fiction, non-fiction, and stuff from the Internet almost every day, I must be pretty fucking literate. Good for me.
I just answered an e-mail from someone worrying about culture shock, should she move to Xiamen. Answering in the capacity of What’s On Xiamen‘s webmonkey, I was pretty positive about the whole thing, saying, Yes, it will be very different from what I reckon you’re familiar with, but hey, it’s not so bad.
I haven’t told her about the spitting, littering, peeing, cussing, triads, mad driving, or bad techno yet.
(Was on a little bus trip yesterday, a mate and I visited Quanzhou. Found something there that even Singapore lacks. And I mean something good.)
A link from SixDifferentWays brought my attention to Skatestoppers, a company that makes ‘anti-skating’ devices (plenty more where they came from). Pieces of metal or plastic are affixed to pavements and other places to prevent skaters (inline and boarders) from grinding.
At least grinding is what we called it when I was skating.
I can understand why property owners wouldn’t want people to grind their trucks or whatnot all over the place, and skaters shouldn’t be destroying other people’s property, but this only looks like lawsuits waiting to happen. Especially since they’re American firms. Will they (or these aggrieved property owners) pony up when someone hits one of these things, flies onto the road and gets hit by a car? From what I’ve read, skaters can pry them out with screwdrivers, causing more damage to the property they’re supposed to protect.
Maybe there should be more skate parks or ‘skate-safe’ areas. Maybe people should stop trying to make the world perfect and pleasant according to their image, because that goal is clearly not the same for everyone.
In a nutshell: you’re always going to have people who disrespect other people’s property, no matter what you do. Unless, of course, you live in a castle, then you can sic archers and musketeers on them or something.
Apparently, lawyers for the Bush White House decided back in March 2003 that Mr Bush and his top officials are above the law.
The March memorandum, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday, is the latest internal legal study to be disclosed that shows that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the administration’s lawyers were set to work to find legal arguments to avoid restrictions imposed by international and American law.
All these pesky laws! How can we expect a great leader like President Bush to obey such anachronisms when they’ve got an enemy to fight. Sure, they can’t see the enemy, but it’s here, it’s everywhere! Only by ignoring the law can they keep your family safe. Anyone who opposes Bush and his pals hates freedom, democracy, and human rights!
This sure explains a lot. Why bother with war films with special effects and even more special premises when we have one that should come with the disclaimer, “All events and characters featured are fictitious and are in no way meant to resemble any thing in real life.”
Except it is real life. Box office ratings must be massive.
People are upset? It must be about the economy. The solution is to find ways to give them more prosperity. If people are busy making money they will be happy and not agitate for political reforms.
Economic security in exchange for personal freedoms and democratic reforms. Give up any rights to speak out, demonstrate, gather, organise, and they’ll make sure you prosper. Sounds familiar? Sounds historical?
As the author says, this approach cannot last forever; “… inevitably it will lead to further blow-ups.”
(I’m clearly not talking about China.)
I find myself torn.
One the one hand, the time is long overdue for my government (and I use the term loosely) to give power back to the people. They say we’re a democracy. We’ve got good infrastructure, a well-run (I think) financial system, lots of players in the market, a noisy and relatively fun social scene – all in all, hallmarks of a modern country. Many young Singaporeans are chafing at the bit to do more, to strike out on our own and be independent minded, both in thought and action¹. Government-mandated initiatives in ‘innovation’ pen us in, it’s their way or the highway, since they’ve decided that this is the path to further economic prosperity.
On the other hand, I’m not sure Singaporeans are ready for any real power. We’ve been nannied (what’s the masculine term, Lee’d?) by the state for so long that I reckon most of us either can’t remember or have no knowledge of what life was like before the all-powerful PAP ruled the roost. Even if completely free and fair elections were to be held next week, with no difficulties faced by opposition parties, I doubt any superstars of the Singapore scene would quickly join up with [insert name of opposition party here], and so they will not field any new, household name candidates. Voters would then go with the ‘safe’ bet.
(You know, this might actually be a good strategy for the PAP.)
It would be wonderful if the Registry of Societies relaxed, if the National Trades Union Congress was broken up into unions that were independent, if libel suits were decided by a panel of international judges, if I actually had to vote at the next general election because my constituency didn’t get redistricted yet again to ensure the safe political retention of an important neighbourhood.
¹ I don’t know this for sure, but certain individuals I have become acquainted with recently (online, so about as acquainted as I can be in that respect) inspire a lot of hope that Singaporeans are not doomed to just seek out monetary wealth.
It’s all over the news, stories about and tributes to Ronald Reagan. He died at 93, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for many years.
There are many political weblogs out there, venerating and criticising his legacy as 40th President of the US. This will not be one of them.
My grandmother had Alzheimer’s disease – we found out when I was about 17 or 18 years old. My ah ma, as we called her, was all about the grandchild-coddling – none of her five granddaughters ever missed out on a fabulous home-cooked meal, nor a hand-knitted jumper. She was the lady we turned to when we (okay, I) did something stupid and needed some uncritical hugging.
So we were all quite upset when we found out that she was ill. For a while, my grandfather would bring her over to our place when he got too aggravated dealing with his increasingly-forgetful wife (he was a hard-headed bastard, but was also good in the ‘spoiling grandchildren’ department).
She always forgot to shower, but insisted she had even as she started smelling rather ripe. She would refuse to bathe, so one afternoon, after being deposited at our place, my sister and I put her in the shower and bathed her. During this time, she kept apologising for getting old and sick and not being able to take care of herself.
Not long after this, my mother managed to get a place at a nursing home for ah ma. Then there was this huge feud between my father and grandfather, and a good couple of years passed before we were ‘allowed’ to visit her at home. By this time, I was already abroad, studying at university.
My cousins live in Canada. My sister lives in the US. Visits to the grandparents were, to say the least, extremely depressing. My grandmother no longer recognised any of us, and my grandfather had had a series of small strokes and was now suffering from dementia (and it appeared, paranoia), too.
She was bedridden, and she had sores. What was left of her muscles were all stiff and bent. She looked as though she was in a constant state of befuddled shock.
I’m not proud to admit that I didn’t visit her as often as I could, simply because I couldn’t really deal with seeing her like that. Finally, in 1998, I received a call in Australia, informing me that my ah ma had passed away after breaking her hip in a fall, and no, I wasn’t to go home for the funeral.
My father, however, is a ghoulish freak. He sent me a whole album of photographs from the wake and funeral (as a bonus, I also received photos of my dead great aunt who sadly passed away in the same month). Words cannot adequately describe the skin-crawling revulsion experienced on opening that special delivery.
History repeated itself a little over a year later when my grandfather succumbed to his dementia and failing health. Also bedridden, also covered in bed sores.
“While it is an extremely sad time for Mrs Reagan, there is definitely a sense of relief that he is no longer suffering and that he has gone to another place,” said his chief of staff Joanne Drake.
I don’t care if Reagan was a good or bad President. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease. My grandparents are no longer suffering. I have no interest in mourning their passing (the anniversaries are right about now), only in remembering:
traditional Chinese herbs taste terrible, but the candy afterwards is worth it
learning to play basketball on Saturday mornings
playing Barbie in the one-of-a-kind styrofoam house
Filet-O-Fish, plus toy, at McDonald’s
Novenas on Saturdays
being chatted to sleep every weekend
I miss them, I wish I could have done more for them, but this is life. We only get one shot.