Grrr! Gnash, gnash

rugops dinosaurNew Dino Reveals Ancient Land Movements:

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.

It’s dead fun to dig stuff up, though, I reckon.

130% of 0 is 0

I’m amazed at consumers’ abilities to dig themselves very deep holes: Personal debt on brink of £1 trillion.

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.)

Bill Cosby still rocks

bill cosby This Cosby show is undeserved:

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.

Where’s the news?

I almost dismissed this story, MPs endorse DPM Lee as next PM, as yet more pap from the Straits Times, especially with the opening paragraph:

In a precedent-setting move, People’s Action Party (PAP) Members of Parliament have given their unanimous support of the ministers’ choice of Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as their next Prime Minister.

Why is this news, I thought. Everyone knows that Lee Hsien Loong is going to be the next prime minister, it’s been pretty much set in stone for at least as long as I’ve been alive.

Here is what makes it worth printing:

Although there was only one name put up and MPs ‘unanimously supported’ the choice, as the party statement said, the MPs were pleased with the process.

They said it gave them the chance to participate and gain a sense of ‘ownership’ over the selection process. Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Charles Chong said that a leader selected by MPs as well as ministers ‘has more legitimacy’.

It may be Singapore-style ‘democracy’, where the conclusion is foregone, but I think it’s hopeful. If people feel their opinions are more likely to be heard, more people may be willing to venture them. It’s a long way in the future, but something is better than nothing.

Warning – durians can kill

durianStinky fruit heralds a sticky end:

Thavin was the second durian-related death this month, after a diabetic Thai civil servant from the central province of Singburi died during an eating binge on four durians.

The ministry advised eating no more than two segments of durian a day, warning that the fruit’s calorie content posed a threat to people with high blood pressure, heart conditions and diabetes.

Every time you eat a durian, a kitten gets killed, folks.

Finally, hard facts!

Handjob Parlours™ are not just tales told in hushed voices on Face to face with a sex worker.

“Do you want Qiao Da Bei (body massage)?” Xia asked soon after she, with her boss’ nod, showed the reporter into a small backroom off the shabby salon and began massaging the reporter’s arms somewhat unskillfully.

To Xia, Qiao Da Bei can be more profitable than fondling or Da Feiji (helping customers masturbate) which are supposed to be done in the backroom which also doubles as a dining room for Xia and her co-workers.

But Xia is not entirely satisfied with the job. “It’s really boring staying all day in here,” she said. Apart from when work walks in from time to time, Xia and two other sex workers – who are 17 and 18 – spend the days chatting and watching an old TV in the salon.

Well, at least Shanghai and Xiamen are not so different in one aspect.

I find it very difficult to spell ‘manoeuvre’

It sure sounds like China would like more economic concessions from the US.

“Due to the support and connivance of the United States, Taiwan authorities have gone further down the road toward ‘independence’ and the United States is responsible for the current worsening situation across the Taiwan Straits.”

It’s hard to say how serious the Chinese government is. To employ the cliche, they are not above stabbing and hacking their nose off with fishing hooks to spite their face.

There are a huge number of Taiwanese expatriates working in Xiamen. I wonder what would happen to them if hostilities were to break out over the Strait. At that point I’m sure I wouldn’t give a monkeys since I’d be more interested in hightailing it out of here myself.

Neil had to get a job in Xiamen, didn’t he?

We all get along. Really!

There is a post on Living in Singapore where I made a comment, saying that ‘racial harmony’ in Singapore is not all it’s cracked up to be. The author, based on her personal experiences, begged to differ, stating (and I paraphrase) that

  1. there are hardly any incidents where racial slurs are directed toward an ethnic minority
  2. race is not used as a political tool, and
  3. there is a lot of racial tolerance in Singapore.

I also respectfully begged to differ, and stated my reasons in the comments. It got me thinking about race issues, though.

For full disclosure purposes: I’m born and bred Singaporean, of Chinese ethnicity. I went to a Chinese (Catholic) school. I must say that my social and school life did not tend toward a mixing of the races (but! My best mate in junior college was mixed Chinese/Indian/Malay! Therefore I must be okay!).

My instinct is that Singapore society is not, on its own, particularly enlightened when it comes to race relations. We take orders from our leaders, and they say, “You will all get along, regardless of race (language or religion).” Luckily most people are nice, so we all, generally speaking, get along anyway.

But (there’s always a but), how many Singaporeans have heard or told stupid racist jokes? My father’s a die-hard hater of anyone who’s non-Chinese (and ‘hate’ is not too strong a word to be used), so I’ve heard far too many. When he learned how to use e-mail, I learned how to reflexively use the ‘delete’ key. Others I know profess to not be racist at all, but then turn around and say, “Well, you know Indians / Malays are all lazy (or any other fairly similar comment).”

I don’t think any person is insulated from forming discriminatory opinions based on ethnicity, it just depends on how we deal with them when they come up. We grow up listening to our parents, relatives, and their friends. There are more than likely to be a few bigots among them. I am lucky that I am part of the ethnic majority in Singapore, and I think it makes many Singaporean Chinese blind to the casual racism Malay, Indian, and Eurasian (and all our other racially-mixed) people face.

The fact that Singapore’s racial harmony requires governmentmandated programmes indicates, to me, that all is not well, all has not been well, and all will not be well for a while.

Further reading: