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.
A society bingeing on fear makes itself vulnerable to far more profound forms of destruction than terror attacks.
William Greider goes on to explain how things have changed in the US since the ‘War on Terror’ was proclaimed. On the other hemisphere, Robert Corr provides some latest news on hate crimes in Australia. This from Perth:
Another Kenwick resident who would only be identified as Paul, had “no Gooks”, “War on Iraq” and swastikas splattered over his van, car, garage door and front wall.
It’s just great when racist pigs co-opt the stirring ‘us against them’ patriotic hubris.
From faithful reader TuTu, a heads up (pun completely intended) on a special product known as the Men’s SOM:
He reckons my interest (purely sociological) in Xiamen’s Handjob Parlour™ scene more than calls for special attention to this product. Thank you, TuTu (and Ossie), for yet another reminder that those Japanese sure are kinky.
Ben, Neil and I are on his new deck. Ben has fed us a shot of tequila and a margarita. Bad Ben. Ben and Neil are talking about something, which ends with Neil saying something about ‘spanking the chicken’.
“No, no,” say I. “It’s ‘spanking the monkey’ and ‘choking the chicken’.”
I am also aware of the term ‘visiting Mrs Palmer and her five daughters’. But I am at a loss to think of any more. Any other suggestions would be most appreciated, and will contribute to the fight against terrorism.
had dinner at Le Mezina (the food’s all right, but they’ve really got something special with those Nutella crepes)
finished watching the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (*sniff* Spike; and boy, does Alyson Hannigan look and sound like a completely different person – still hot – when she’s not Willow or band camp girl)
watched Starsky and Hutch (did they really have dance-offs in the Seventies – and David Soul has not aged well at all)
stayed up till dawn at a birthday party (where the host and hostess share the same birthday – and are dating, to boot)
had dinner at Havana (after sleeping all day and suffering a killer hangover)
watched Mystic River (what a depressing film; Neil reckons Sean Penn is going for a Robert De Niro persona – not pretty, but arresting enough to be a leading man)
Found in Niger in 2000 in Cretaceous-age rocks that yielded a treasure trove of new dinosaurs, including the 40-foot-long crocodilian Sarcosuchus, also known as “SuperCroc,” Rugops’ skull belonged to a group of carnivorous dinosaurs called abelisaurids.
It would be so cool to be a paleontologist. See the world, dig up rocks and bones, wear khakis and big hats… I do wonder why we have such a great interest in looking at the past. I think it’s fascinating to see creatures that are long extinct, recreated according to our rules. We can guess how the earth became what it is today.
(Lord knows I spent an afternoon tearing around New York’s Museum of Natural History back in the summer of 2000 while my mate Jeff tiredly looked on – those dinosaurs are cool!)
In examining our planet’s ancient flora and fauna, we hope to be able to gain some insights into predicting the future. That’s the noble goal.
The predicted debt levels were described as alarming by Citizens Advice Scotland. Last February, it said a record number of Scots were now so seriously in debt they would never be able to pay back what they owed.
Can you imagine – to never, ever be out of debt? To never, ever save anything you earn because it all goes to interest payments? It boggles the mind. I’m boggled. Wow.
(‘Splains all those advertisements about managing and consolidating debt, though. Too bad it only means being beholden even more.)
Though Cosby’s comments were harsh, they are also right on target. And if some blacks are upset with the comedian, it’s probably more for telling tales out of school – airing the community’s dirty laundry – than for launching an unjust diatribe.
Hear, hear. I’m all about dirty laundry that needs to be aired. It’s a good thing in my book that he stands by what he said.
Otterman commented in an earlier post, “I realise we tend to critique only our own race,” and rightly we should, since we are the only ones who will keep us from falling into an abyss of self-complacency and -importance.