Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 29

Advice for Tourists in London...

If you're getting on the Tube this summer in London, especially non-white tourists, please note this sign reportedly posted at Notting Hill Gate station:

Sad but true. Paul, from whom this link came, thinks it might be a joke making the rounds but I'm not so sure. He adds, 'Yes, no one wants to be shot eight times in the head as that Brazilian was last week! Of course this photo which is making the rounds on the internet may just be a joke, Let's hope so, but it is a sad comment on the state of affairs in London nevertheless...'

One fellow commented, 'It's spelt correctly. Must be fake.'

another said, 'Our current debates are that some joker may have written it on an empty board, then did a quick photo and legged it. However, we think that's unlikely at Notting Hill Gate as it's quite a busy station and you'd be likely to be seen. Also one of my colleagues was suprised that it says "Thank you" at the end.'

Πέμπτη, Ιουλίου 28

Two Quotes

Am I good in bed? You bet - I can sleep for days! - from a fridge magnet I have.

Men are like tiles - lay them right the first time and you can walk all over them for years - Anon.

I am Marius!

You are - Marius!
You're full of intrigue and mystery. You're seen as
a wise person, always there to help people with
their problems and always the first to forgive
and forget.
You enjoy the good life, which you share with your
close companions.
In other words, you're everyone's best friend.

Which Anne Rice Vampire are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Meritocracy is Discriminatory!

Bernama News Agency ran an article yesterday over UMNO Johor’s incredible claim that meritocracy is discriminatory. I kid you not. Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman claimed that meritocracy was hindering Malay students from performing and constituted a form of oppression by creating an unequal playing field. The fact that such unbelievable statements could be uttered in all seriousness depicts a state of affairs which one Dr. Cheah, M.D., is spot on in commenting that:
The reality in this world is that there is never an even competitive field. Take a look I think top politicians have to rise up to the challenge and move away from your comfort zones. They should instead be spurring the people on with taking the challenges ahead rather than lamenting on the lack of protection.
- from E pur si muove

The news article is quite interesting, and the title 'Scrap Meritocracy If Malays Are Losing, Says Delegate' really says it all...


Truly eBay doth sell everything... look here.

Τετάρτη, Ιουλίου 27

The Blessing of the Horses

Charlie was a regular visitor at the racetrack. One afternoon he noticed an unusual sight. Right before the first race, a Catholic priest visited one of the horses in the stable area and gave it a blessing, while saying some Latin prayers into the horse's ear. Charlie watched the horse race very carefully, and sure enough the blessed horse came in first!

Charlie followed the priest before the next race, and again the priest went to the stables and performed a similar procedure.

Charlie played a hunch and put a couple of dollars on the blessed horse. Sure enough, the blessed horse came in by two lengths and Charlie won close to £50. The priest continued the same procedure through the next few races and Charlie won each time. He was now ahead £1000 so between races Charlie left the track and went to the bank and withdraws his life's savings, £20,000.

The biggest race of the day was the last one. Charlie followed the priest and watched carefully which horse he prayed over. He then went to the betting window and put his whole £21,000 bundle on that horse to win. Then Charlie went out to watch the horses race. Down the stretch they came and as they crossed the finish line, the horse Charlie's fortune was bet on came in last, fell over and died on the race track.

Charlie was crushed. He located the priest and told him that he had been watching him bless the horses all day and they all became winners except the last horse on which he had bet his life savings.

Charlie then asked, "What happened to the last horse you blessed? Why didn't it win like the others?"

"That's the trouble with you Protestants," sighed the priest, "you never can tell the difference between a blessing and the Last Rites."

9,000-Year-Old Beer Re-Created From Chinese Recipe

A Delaware brewer with a penchant for exotic drinks recently concocted a beer similar to one brewed in China some 9,000 years ago. Sam Calagione of the Dogfish Head brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, used a recipe that included rice, honey, and grape and hawthorn fruits. He got the formula from archaeologists who derived it from the residues of pottery jars found in the late Stone Age village of Jiahu in northern China. The residues are the earliest direct evidence of brewed beverages in ancient China...

Visually, Gerhart described Chateau Jiahu as gold in color with a dense, white head similar to champagne bubbles. Calagione said the beverage most closely resembles a Belgian-style ale.

According to McGovern, the brew is "very intriguing" with a taste and aroma of the grape and hawthorn fruits. To better match the 9,000-year-old beverage, however, he said it should probably be sweeter.

"Sugar is relatively rare in nature, yet we're very much attracted to it. We're also attracted to alcohol—all animals are attracted to these substances. They [the ancient Chinese] would have wanted to retain as much sugar as they could. They would have had a sweet tooth," he said.
- Full story here.

Honey, grape, chrysanthemum flowers and hawthorn? Burnt and caramelised? That sounds quite tasty... Must check it out sometime...


The Expatriate

Achtung! You are 38% brainwashworthy, 40% antitolerant, and 28% blindly patriotic

Congratulations! You are not susceptible to brainwashing, your values and cares extend beyond the borders of your own country, and your Blind Patriotism ("patriotism" for short) does not reach unhealthy levels.
In Germany in the 30s, you would've left the country.

One bad scenario -- as I hypothetically project you back in time -- is that you just wouldn't have cared one way or the other about Nazism. Maybe politics don't interest you enough. But the fact that you took this test means they probably do. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.

Did you know that many of the smartest Germans departed prior to the beginning of World War II, because they knew some evil shit was brewing? Brain Drain. Many of them were scientists. It is very possible you could be one of them, depending on your age.

Conclusion: Born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would not have been a Nazi.

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 50% on brainwashworthy
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 67% on antitolerant
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 36% on patriotic

Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Radio's playing last movement from Dittersdorf's Oboe Concerto. Yum, gorgeous early classical.

Was musing on the current predicament of Japan's Imperial House, which has not had a male child born in the direct line of succession since 1965. The ruling emperor only has a daughter married to a commoner, and thus becoming one herself. The closest male relative in the line of succession is not too young, and if rumours are to be believed, unsuitable for the throne. The only solution is to amend the law, enabling the princess to inherit, making her the first ruling Empress (regnant, as opposed to consort) in over 200 years.

Of course, I would not be at all sorry to see their line and name die out. For their crimes against humanity (wartime Emperor Hirohito was never prosecuted for his role in Japan's aggression), this would be a judgement meet and just. I'm sure the millions of Chinese murdered by Japanese would not object. Harsh, to be sure, but noble lines have gone extinct for less- look at Korea's Chosun dynasty.

This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net

Iran Executes 2 Gay Teenagers

This is truly appalling:
"Members of Iran’s parliament from the north-eastern city of Mashad, where a minor and an 18-year-old man were publicly hanged yesterday, vented their anger on Wednesday on foreign and domestic news outlets for reporting the ages of hanged prisoners...Ultra-conservative deputy Ali Asgari said that the two deserved to be hanged in public, adding, 'Whatever sentence is decreed by an Islamic penal system must be approved, unless proven otherwise.' Asgari complained of foreign and domestic reporting that the two were mere boys. 'Instead of paying tribute to the action of the judiciary, the media are mentioning the age of the hanged criminals and creating a commotion that harms the interests of the state,' the member of the Majlis Legal Affairs Committee said. 'Even if certain websites made a reference to their age, journalists should not pursue this. These individuals were corrupt. Their sentence was carried out with the approval of the judiciary and it served them right"

"In Iran, Homosexuality is illegal and those charged with love-making are given a choice of four deathstyles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch. According to Article 152, if two men not related by blood are discovered naked under one cover without good reason, both will be punished at a judge's discretion. Gay teens (Article 144) are also punished at a judge's discretion. Rubbing one's penis between the thighs without penetration (tafheed) shall be punished by 100 lashes for each offender. This act, known to the English-speaking world as 'frottage,' is punishable by death if the 'offender' is a non-Muslim. If frottage is thrice repeated and penalty-lashes have failed to stop such repetitions, upon the fourth 'offense' both men will be put to death. According to Article 156, a person who repents and confesses his gay behavior prior to his identification by four witnesses, may be pardoned. Even kissing 'with lust' (Article 155) is forbidden. This bizarre law works to eliminate old Persian male-bonding customs, including common kissing and holding hands in public." And Outrage, in its release about the gay teens' execution, noted that, "according to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. Last August, a 16-year-old girl , [Atefeh Rajabi] was hanged [in the Caspian port of Neka] for 'acts incompatible with chastity,' [i.e., sex before marriage]."

Full story here.
Via a post by Rus.

P.S. A related link on the murder of the girl mentioned earlier- Symposium: Why the Mullahs Murdered Atefeh Rajabi.

Incest Killer

V.C. Andrews getting a little too much for you?

Never fear.

These days, you can buy just about anything from the mall.

Retailing at a mere $39.00 (with GST), this incest killer will squash all attraction you may have for your brother or sister. It even comes with a 1 year warranty.

Link from Mel C.

Third-World Proof

And I don't mean Martians.

People wonder why I call Britain a Third-World country when it comes to efficiency and common sense. Sumei, who is going to read Engineering in Aberdeen, thought I was exaggerating and being rather cynical. 'So they’re a little disorganized at times', she thought.

Then THIS happened to her, before she's started University or even stepped foot into Britain.

Ha. Longtime readers of this blog will recall the fiasco with my bankcard last year (see Post I and Post II).

Τρίτη, Ιουλίου 26

The Joy of Mozart

Having just finished fencing, while waiting for my ride, am listening to the Allegretto from Mozart's Piano Concerto 17, played by Jos van Immerseel, with the orchestra Anima Eterna.

As I listen, I'm suddenly struck by how achingly beautiful Mozart's melodies can be. Bach, the Master by far, has melodies that are bitter-sweet, and even his happiest music has that tinge of gravitas- a slightly grave and stately sturdiness about them.

Mozart, on the other hand, is characterised by levity. There's a joyful lightness that transports one to a realm of sheer bliss. One can almost imagine the angels frolicking to Mozart. Mozart, a former child prodigy, never lost that childlike sense of innocence, wonder and play.

Some quotes on Mozart:

It may be that when the angels go about their task praising God, they play only Bach. I am sure, however, that when they are together en famille they play Mozart. - Karl Barth

Mozart's music always sounds unburdened, effortless, and light. This is why it unburdens, releases, and liberates us. - Karl Barth

Mozart is the highest, the culminating point that beauty has attained in the sphere of music. - Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Mozart does not give the listener time to catch his breath, for no sooner is one inclined to reflect upon a beautiful inspiration than another appears, even more splendid, which drives away the first, and this continues on and on, so that in the end one is unable to retain any of these beauties in the memory. ~ Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf

Mozart began his works in childhood and a childlike quality lurked in his compositions until it dawned on him that the Requiem he was writing for a stranger was his own. ~ Will and Ariel Durant

Mozart is sweet sunshine. ~ Antonin Dvorak

Mozart is happiness before it has gotten defined. ~ Arthur Miller

If any fault had to be found in Mozart, it could surely be only this: that such abundance of beauty almost tires the soul, and the effect of the whole is sometimes obscured thereby. But happy the artist whose only fault lies in all too great perfection. ~ unknown music reviewer

And my personal favourite:

Mozart makes you believe in God because it cannot be by chance that such a phenomenon arrives into this world and leaves such an unbounded number of unparalleled masterpieces. ~ Georg Solti

This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net.

Δευτέρα, Ιουλίου 25

And People Wonder Why I Call Them Savages

The newest addition to my list of linked blogs is Narcissus' Echo by Ben. How'd he make himself noticed enough to get added? By this blog entry he wrote - Time to own up to a dysfunctional subculture. Extracts below:
A subculture which encourages men to address their women as "bitches," "hoes," and worse. A subculture that glorifies engaging in drive-by shootings and murder. I went through my phase of teenage angst too: listened to heavy metal, speed metal, trash metal and death metal. But ask yourself, how many Metallica, Testament, Iron Maiden, Slayer fans engage in drive-by shootings? When was the last time you read of Heavy / Trash / Death / Speed Metal artists shooting and killing each other?

This is no longer a "wounded culture." This is a dysfunctional and malignant subculture that needs to be eradicated; to be put down; erased. Ask yourself this: prior to gangster rap, did we have music artists shooting each other? Not Jimmy Hendrix, not B. B. King, nor Ray Charles, or Harry Belafonte, not Louis Armstrong, nor Sammy Davis Jr., and certainly not the Platters, etc. But, with the appearance of gangster rap, we have this unprecedented social phenomenon occurring. Why? Because we have the commercialized glorification of the ghetto lifestyle. Where young impressionable African-American kids are taught that the coolest--or bling bling--role models are not the likes of Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, or Tiger Woods (yes, yes, he is only partially African-American), but to be some braindead drug-dealing, gangbanger zooming around in his tinted SUV, with ghetto music waking up the dead, beating his women, pimping them out, and wearing pants 10 sizes too large.

Check out the proportion of African-Americans in prison versus other races. What music do you think they grew up listening to? Classical? Blues? Hardly.

The time of politically-correct moral relativism and cowardice must come to an end. Society should put its foot down and declare, "Enough is enough! This subculture is a bane upon humanity!" and take concrete steps to blot it out. The defence, "Oh, this is our culture," is no defence.

You scored as Sacrament model. Your model of the church is Sacrament. The church is the effective sign of the revelation that is the person of Jesus Christ. Christians are transformed by Christ and then become a beacon of Christ wherever they go. This model has a remarkable capacity for integrating other models of the church.

Sacrament model


Institutional Model


Herald Model


Mystical Communion Model


Servant Model


What is your model of the church? [Dulles]
created with QuizFarm.com

Κυριακή, Ιουλίου 24

Reasonable Pipe Smoking

Soundtrack: Kikuchiyo To Mohshimasu by Pink Martini, from their album Hang On Little Tomato. This group is fabulous - they're so versatile, I urge everyone to look out for their albums - the song 'Sympathique' from their first album of the same name is to die for.

An 11-year-old piece in Reason Magazine on the connection between pipe smoking and reasonable liberty.
... An article in the Summer 1990 issue of The Compleat Smoker describes an interesting longevity study conducted in Pennsylvania during the late '60s and early '70s. An organization called No Other World performed the research with the assistance of the Northwestern Pennsylvania Lung Association and regional chapters of the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association. "In the study," reports The Compleat Smoker, "pipe smokers attained an average age of 78--two years older than their non-smoking male counterparts." This may say something about the stress-reducing benefits of pipe smoking. At the very least, it suggests that moderate pipe smoking is not a significant health hazard....
Full story here.

For more information on the health issues related to pipe smoking, take a look at this calm and measured article.

- both links from fellow pipe-smoking blogger Fr Jim Tucker.

Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 22

Two News Nuggets

Via Andrij:

Italy PM prints books of insults

Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi has published a book of insults thrown at him by the left-wing opposition. Berlusconi ti odio (I hate you Berlusconi) is an apparent attempt by the PM to show his critics in a bad light, correspondents say.

The 500 entries include megalomaniac, extremist, bandit and drunken hooligan. He has also been nicknamed "Premier Pinocchio" after the wooden puppet character whose nose grows longer each time he tells a lie.

Rare Pompeii dinner set unveiled

A set of ancient silverware has been dug up from Pompeii, the Roman city destroyed by a volcano 2,000 years ago. The hand-crafted goblets, plates and trays had been bundled into a wicker basket by an inhabitant fleeing the erupting Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

The tableware, well preserved in ash and mud, was discovered five years ago and archaeologists have used the latest techniques to separate 20 pieces. Experts say it is the most important find of this kind for 70 years.

More London Terror

Dear Lord, when will it end?

Through a combination of the mercy of God and the incompetence of the would-be suicide bombers - yesterday's blasts had only injury and no casualties. Reports indicate that the bombers intended to repeat the events of a fortnight ago, but that only the detonators went off and not the explosives themselves.

And they've shot dead a man in the Tube, just today. It appears he was wearing a bomb belt with wires sticking out. 5 bullets into the fellow seems a wee excessive to some, but who knows what the fellow was up to - he might've been about to detonate something. I wasn't there, so I can't judge the appropriateness of the police actions. Angela tells me that apparently instructions are to shoot suspected terrorists in the head rather than the body so they can't explode any bombs concealed on them. It'd have been useful to interrogate him though, and THEN execute him - method outlined below.

As it turns out - the suspects involved are all of Pakistani descent, though British subjects by birth. Now, according to the law-books, it is high treason "if a man do levy war against our Lord the King in his realm" or "if a man be adherent to the King's enemies in his realm, giving to them aid and comfort in the realm, or elsewhere." These act certainly qualify as treasonous, and the suspects therefore as traitors. With this in mind, I suggest reviving a penalty that is now no longer practiced:


This was once part of the penalty ordained in England for treason. It is considered by many to be the epitome of "cruel" punishment and was reserved for traitors because treason was deemed more heinous than murder and other capital crimes. You will note that in effect there are three symbolic deaths here: hanging, evisceration, decapitation. It is said to have been decreed that treason was a triple crime: against God, against man, and against the King. Hence the triple death sentence.

Until 1870, the full punishment for the crime was to be "Hung, drawn and quartered" in that the culprit would be:

  • Dragged on a hurdle (a wooden frame) by a two horse, through the filthy streets for the public to mock and stone (this combining education with entertainment), to the place of execution.

  • Hung (hanged) by the neck, but removed before death, while in a swoon

  • Stripped of his clothes, put on a rack, disembowelled, and the genitalia and entrails burned before the victim's eyes. Then the beating heart is pulled out and displayed to the assembled public with the cry 'Behold the heart of a traitor!'. It was considered a manifestation of the hangman's skill that this should still be beating while held in the hangman's hands.

  • Beheaded and the body divided into four parts (quartered).

    Typically, the resulting the quartered body and the head were gibbetted (put on public display) in different parts of the city to deter would-be traitors. The head would be stuck on a pike on Traitor's Gate on London Bridge - to be pecked at by crows.

    Gibbeting was abolished in England in 1843. The sentence itself was last carried out in 1820 (though it was passed as late as 1867). In 1870, both attainder and hanging, drawing and quartering were abolished; the sole punishment was hanging. Burning at the stake had previously been replaced by hanging in 1790. By 1965, capital punishment had been abolished for almost all crimes, but was still permitted for high treason (as well as piracy with violence) until 1998. Since 1998, the maximum punishment for high treason became life imprisonment.

    This, I think, is a splendid time to bring this penalty back. For the current scenario, I think we may add two very pertinent details:

  • The pelting of the criminal as he is drawn through the streets of London may be accomplished with pig's blood and entrails, and the eventual quartered body and head may also be liberally doused with swineblood. If they are to be buried at some point, this ought to be accompanied with pig entrails.

  • As the traitors are British subjects and their families have been located, we ought to then send the bill for the whole procedure to their families. This, of course, is in imitation of the Chinese, who bill the families of shot criminals for the bullet.

  • Πέμπτη, Ιουλίου 21

    Foil Grips: Italian, French & Pistol

    A new acquaintance from my fencing salle in Singapore, reading my post about some teenaged foilists eyeing my sabre, and was surprised to see that I called them, users of Pistol (or anatomical) grip, wimps. He was also surprised that I said I preferred French grip to Pistol grip and Italian to both. He was under the impression that the Pistol grip was proven to have better point control.

    I pointed out that while the Pistol grip makes basic point control easier for beginners, it tends to encourage a death-grip situation where one ends up controlling the point with wrist and arm movements, not at all conducive to subtle fencing, which should be about skill and speed, not brute strength.

    I have a penchant for things Italian - I address my fencing teacher in Singapore as 'Maestro', whereas everyone else seems to call him merely 'Coach'. I quote from Maestro William Gaugler:
    The argument favoring the Italian grip and wrist strap was succinctly put by Maestro Nadi in his book, On Fencing, published in 1943. On page 44 he wrote:

    Its outstanding advantage lies in (the Italian foil’s) superior power. The handle is bound to the wrist by a leather strap…which insures a strength and firmness of grip…More important, it lightens the burden of the fingers, thus permitting most of their effort to be employed in directing the point (offense). Furthermore, the strap increases effectively the power of the parry (defense).

    Maestro Nadi’s lessons embodied everything that was characteristic of traditional Italian fencing: efficiency, speed, and mobility. He demanded extraordinarily tight point control, a light touch, firm command over the opposing steel, rapid execution, and dynamic attacks accomplished with a step or jump forward. Above all, he stressed economy of motion.

    How different Aldo Nadi’s fencing was from the wild and inelegant swordplay we are confronted with today. Maitre Leon Bertrand, on page 119 of his book, Cut and Thrust, published in 1927, quotes the celebrated Italian master, Candido Sassone, as saying “that the attack should succeed eight times out of ten.” In the recent Olympic Games at Los Angeles it was not uncommon for a fencer to make three or four attempts before a touch was scored. And more often than not, the hits arrived by chance. With the fencers twisting and turning, effecting acrobatic contortions, and rushing together to jam their weapons into one another, all vestiges of organized fencing disappeared; nearly every movement seemed to be improvised on the strip.

    That there exists a relationship between the style of weapon and school is inescapable. The design of the arm favors the execution of particular actions, and prompts a specific tactile approach. In this respect, the French school provides an excellent example. Until the latter part of the 17th century there was little difference between the Italian and French schools. The crucial factor in the separation seems to have then the introduction of a practice weapon without the crossbar. An early version of this may be seen in Labat’s text, L’art en fait D’armes, published in 1696. The straight handle permitted good point control, but was not well suited to effecting actions on the blade.

    By the beginning of the 19th century the French foil was fitted with a figure-eight shaped guard, and required a large padded glove to protect the armed hand. With the stuffed glove actions on the blade necessitating sensitivity of touch became a problem, so French masters placed stress on actions such as the cut-over which avoided blade contact. Expulsions and transports, though still in the repertoire of movements, were relegated to a secondary position. Emphasis on separation of parry and riposte may also have resulted from use of a weapon without a ricasso or crossbar, since it would tend to be less sensitive to blade contact. Opposition parries linked with gliding ripostes, as commonly practiced in the old Italian school, could not have been as easily effected with the French foil. Even today, with the modern French bell guard and abolition of the padded glove, French masters often show a predilection for actions without blade contact, and are prone to adopting a defensive rather than an offensive posture. The relationship of grip and school in France can be traced in La Boessiere, Traite de l’art des armes (Paris: 1818); Louis-Justin Lafaugere; Traite de l’art de faire des armes (Lyon: 1820); Cordelois, Lecons d’armes (Paris: 1862); Camille Prevost, Theorie practique de l’escrime (Paris: 1818); and Georges Robert, La science des armes (Paris: 1900).

    The same bond between weapon and school prevails in Italy where fencers, regardless of the type of grip they employ, favor a form of swordplay that is derived from their traditional weapon. Certainly, no 17th- or 18th-century Italian swordsman would have felt secure in a duelling situation if he could not sense his adversary’s blade; and a riposte accomplished by releasing the parried steel would have been regarded as sheer folly. In similar fashion, contemporary Italian fencers continue to work along the blade when possible, and to rely heavily on offensive movements. Radaelli is said to have summarized the Italian tactical approach by stating that the parry does not exist; in other words, if the offense is correctly executed, there is no defense.

    It would appear then, despite talk of an international school, that there still are distinct Italian and French schools, and that these are closely tied to their traditional weapons. The orthopedic grip, popular largely since the advent of electrical foil fencing, is used by fencers of both schools, and has been adapted to suit the peculiarities of each of the systems. But it has also deprived swordsmen of the advantages that the traditional arms have to offer in point control and sensitivity. And these are unquestionably major factors in fencing safety. With the Italian and French weapons greater precision and delicacy of touch are possible. If thrusts are executed in the orthodox manner using either of these arms, the hand is generally in supination and the sword arm fully extended, so that the point fixes firmly on the target and the blade bends consistently in the same direction.

    By insisting on use of the Italian foil grip in its examinations, the Council of the National Academy of Fencing at Naples has taken the first step toward a return to classical fencing; in other words, efficient, elegant, and safe swordplay.

    Τετάρτη, Ιουλίου 20

    Discussion about where to sup within ten minutes of travelling, we contemplated Thai, Chinese and Indian. We then settled on Turkish and drove a few minutes over.

    Arriving, we took a stroll around and discovered a place selling Japanese Ramen noodles, so we popped in and gave it a try. It turned out quite, quite good. Upon reflection, there aren't many cities where so many cuisines (authentic taste being the key) may be found so easily in such close proximity.

    It's true, the average Singaporean man-in-the-street isn't sophisticated enough to appreciate or want such a range of gastronomic choice, but for the wealthier classes as well as an increasingly affluent and sophisticated middle class, there's a bewildering variety available.

    This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net

    Q & A

    3 names you go by
  • Edward
  • Ed
  • Eddie

    3 screen names you've had
  • InfernoXV
  • Sprezzatura
  • Galliard

    3 physical things you like about yourself
  • My eyes
  • my smile
  • my hands (which I use to play lute and other fun things)

    3 physical things you don't like about yourself
  • My insufficient supply of facial hair
  • the fact that I tend towards corpulence
  • my huge head (which makes finding hats, sunglasses and spectacles that fit quite a pain)

    3 parts of your heritage
  • Cantonese
  • Shanghainese
  • Hainanese

    3 things that scare you
  • Not knowing when or how I shall end
  • the fact that some things in my life are out of my hands
  • trusted friends who upon leaving your heart, slash their way out and make ribbons of you

    3 of your everyday essentials
  • my mobile phone
  • music (either live or iPod form)
  • wine

    3 things you are wearing right now
  • boxers
  • spectacles
  • uh, Armani Mania

    3 of your favorite bands or musical artists
  • Europa Galante
  • La Chappelle Royale
  • Les Arts Florissants

    3 of your favorite songs
  • "Fly Me to the Moon" (Jazz standard)
  • "Everytime we say Goodbye" (Jazz standard)
  • "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (Annie Lennox)

    3 things you want in a relationship
  • Laughter, lots of it
  • Love, heaps of that too
  • One hotttttt dude

    2 truths and a lie
  • I'm actually a lot more introverted (well, part of me is) than people think.
  • I'm a lot less calm and calculated than I appear.
  • I can dance anything other than ballet and tap.

    3 things about the preferred sex that appeal to you
  • They way they hug and feel when cuddled
  • The sparkle in the eyes
  • The look that makes me feel like my lungs forgot how to breathe

    3 of your favorite hobbies
  • Singing (anything really)
  • Reading (books will be my downfall)
  • Fencing (pretending I'm Zorro, really)

    3 of the things you really want to do badly right now
  • SLEEP!
  • Take a nice long soak in a tub of citrus-scented water
  • Get a footrub

    3 careers you have considered
  • Biologist (flirted with the idea back when I was 18)
  • Professional Chef (when I realised I loved cooking)
  • Writer (I'm still considering it)

    3 places you want to go on vacation
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • China

    3 kids' names you like I'll cheat and give 3 of each
  • Sophie, Clara, Eugenie
  • Nicholas, Alexis, Constantine

    3 things you want to do before you die
  • Visit all the places I've always wanted to
  • Sing a solo role in a fully-staged baroque opera (I've done Carmen, but that's romantic and I was in the children's chorus)
  • Publish a book that becomes a standard reference work among scholars of my ilk.

    3 celeb crushes
  • Alexei Nemov (Russian gymnast)
  • Can't think of any others!

    3 people that I would like to see take this quiz
  • Anthony Lim
  • Natalie Yap
  • Glen Tan

  • A Solution for Britain?


    While I'm not a supporter of racism, the revelation that the terrorists in the London attacks were British subjects of Pakistani origin means that the term of abuse 'Bloody Pakis' has never rung quite so true as now.

    I had an idea for a simple test for entry into and residence within the United Kingdom. This test will be administered to every person residing within and attempting to enter Britain - failing the test means either expulsion or refusal of entrance. The test is quite simple and takes less than a minute. It will immediately reveal one's suitability for Britain. What is it?


    This, of course, will get rid of all the Muslims. Other undesirables this might weed out includes Jews (consider this collateral damage) and vegetarians.

    Simple no?

    Dad had a suggestion the other evening.

    Given that the Americans interned all American citizens of Japanese descent during WW2 (do I hear someone crying 'Land of the Free'?), and that the British rounded up and fenced off the Chinese in Malaya during the Communist Insurgency of the 1950s, and that this was effective...

    May I propose that Her Majesty's Government round up every single Muslim in Britain, march them away and settle them in some remote, bleak and uninhabited part of Scotland (sorry to my Scottish readers). Fence them away and put them under lock and key. While you're at it, you might also want to revoke your welfare grants and unemployment payouts to these lazy, ungrateful bastards. Let the Sunnis and Shiites kill each other.

    If they don't go fast enough, MI5 could then incite them to fight each other from within. They can all bomb each other to their Muslim paradise, solving the problem.

    Sovereign Hawaii

    Soundtrack: Lover's Tears (情人的眼淚) by Sandy Lam.

    from Katolik Shinja:

    Given the Federal Government's history of managing the affairs of Indians, Native Hawaiians have every reason to agree with this woman and oppose the Akaka bill, however well-intentioned it might seem:

    Kelikina Kekumano of Waianae, Hawaii, stands in front of a anti-Akaka
    Bill sign on the hightway in Waianae, Hawai, Friday, July, 15, 2005.
    Kekumano was leaving for Washington, D.C. where she spends much of her
    time lobbying for Native Hawaiian rights. She and other native Hawaiians
    are objecting to the Akaka bill siting the loss of Hawaii as a sovereign
    nation and the classification of Hawaiians as native Indians.

    [from Senate to Vote on Hawaiian Self-Rule Bill]

    Here is a site that should be of interest to monarchists and those who agree that the 1893 overthrow of the constitutional government of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States was a despicable travesty: Hawaiian Kingdom Government.


    1893! I hadn't realised American imperialism went that far back, but then reflecting on her actions in the Philippines, I ought not be surprised.

    Naturally, I support the independent Kingdom of Hawaii.

    If the native Hawaiians wish for independence from the occupying forces of the USA, perhaps they might turn to China for help? I suspect that given America's constant and annoying support for the Taiwanese independence movement and hence meddling in Chinese internal affairs, Peking would gladly arm the rebellion. Of course, in this case, China would be helping a rightly-independent Kingdom regain her independence. The case of Taiwan, on the other hand, is that of a integral part of China, being encouraged to leave by the Americans - far less justifiable.

    If the Americans don't like my idea of support for Hawaiian independence, perhaps they ought to rethink their support for Taiwanese independence (though not quite the same thing). After all, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.


    Found online:

    Oh we are sabre fencers and we all adore bloodshed!
    Come in striking distance and you'll leave without a head!
    And someone with a foil is about as good as dead!
    And not just that, we out perform the epeeists in bed!*

    We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the sabre team!
    We love, we love, we love, we love to hear our victims scream!
    We slash, we stab, we cut off limbs, we maim and kill with glee!
    If you have any wits at all when you see us you will flee!

    The foilists are a wimpy lot who've never seen blood drawn!
    And then those dolts, the epeeists, they make us want to yawn!
    But we true men who want a sport packed full of blood and gore,
    Have drawn our mighty sabres and dealt death at every door!


    Get your daughters off the street, we are the sabre team!
    Foilists we mutilate and epeeists unseam!
    And any man with any sense would run away and scream!
    Women take care, you'd better beware, we are the sabre team!

    PS: I would just like to say that the proper term for one who fences sabre is a sabreur, not a saberist, as many people like to call it.

    The Backstoke of the West

    That's how the title of latest Star Wars* installment was rendered on a pirated DVD made in China, reported on by a fellow in Beirut in a post, Backstroke of the West, which was in turn picked up by Lida of Veritas. Quid est veritas? in San Francisco.

    The English subtitles are a direct translation of the Chinese translation of the original English script. Here are examples:

    obi wan grows impatient with r2.

    the general fires off a snappy comeback. I can only guess that the Chinese subtitles had 臭小子.

    yoda: "premonitions? premonitions?"

    anakin gets frustrated with the jedi council.

    "Jedi Council" was perhaps translated into the Chinese as "長老會" (elders' meeting), and then translated back as "Presybterian Church."

    I am told that at this point Darth Vader is shouting 'Noooooo', so obviously the Chinese subtitles must have been 不要!

    - via Katolik Shinja.

    Music leads pianist to a life of Catholicism

    Classical pianist Jacqueline Chew rebelled against her Christian upbringing and became an atheist while attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in the 1970s. But her love of music eventually led her back to a spiritual life.
    Full story here. (via Dappled Things)

    Kitchen Adventure!

    A recipe for:



    from Eve-Tushnet.

    Τρίτη, Ιουλίου 19

    I so hate technical support numbers. They take forever to answer- one has to get through endless computer voices saying press one for whatever. I'm convinced 24-hour helpdesk means it takes 24 hours before one gets to speak to a real person.

    This post was made with a trial version of BlogPlanet, a photo blog client for mobile phones. For more information visit www.blogplanet.net

    Δευτέρα, Ιουλίου 18

    Bishop Who Defied Hitler to Be Beatified in October

    ROME, JULY 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal August von Galen, who dared to defy Hitler, will be beatified Oct. 9, according to the Münster Diocese Web page.

    The cardinal, who lived 1878-1946, would become the first German to be proclaimed blessed in Benedict XVI's pontificate, the page said.

    In a letter addressed to Bishop Reinhard Lettmann and dated June 29, Benedict XVI announced von Galen's beatification for "this year."

    The diocese stated that the beatification will be held in St Peter's Basilica, with a papal decree to be read by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, who will preside over the ceremony. The beatification is taking place after a miracle occurred in December attributed to Cardinal von Galen.

    While bishop of Münster, during the Nazi regime, Clemens August Graf von Galen spoke out in defense of the rights of the poor and the sick, protesting strongly against euthanasia, the confiscation of monasteries and convents, the persecution of Jews and the expulsion of religious.

    To avoid uprisings resulting from Bishop von Galen's protests, Hitler gave orders on Aug. 3, 1941, to officially block the euthanasia program. Euthanasia continued, though on a much smaller scale.

    During von Galen's process of beatification, it was discovered that Pope Pius XII read his homilies and presented him as a "hero" to German priests of Westphalia.
    For those of my readers not familiar with how the Roman Catholic Church's traditions work, beatification (declaration of Blessedness) is the first step towards being declared a Saint.

    This particular case is important because the candidate was German, and some quarters have been giving the Pope grief for having been a member of the Hitler Youth once, while others accuse the Catholic Church for collaborating with the Nazi regime (a vicious lie).

    Those of use who are Eastern Christians, of course, recognise no distinction between Beati (Blesseds) and Sancti (Saints) - if someone's in Heaven, they're in Heaven!

    So... Άγιε Αυγούστε, ευχών ύπερ ημών! Sancte Auguste, ora pro nobis! Saint August, pray for us!

    Bring Back The Breakfast Drink!

    via Katolik Shinja:

    American Provinciality

    Also from Singapore Angle, two links:

    "AMERICANS ANNOYED BY "ALL THIS INTERNATIONAL SHIT" ON INTERNET: Web's Increasingly Worldly Flavor Threatens Americans' Worldview"
    (Oct, 2000)

    "HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DEMAND WARS IN EASIER-TO-FIND COUNTRIES: "How Come No One Fights in Big Famous Nations Anymore?" They Ask" (Jan, 2002).

    The Chinese Philosophy of Swearing

    Soundtrack: In the Tiki Room by The Birds of the Tiki Room.

    Found this article on Singapore Angle:
    Found this article: Lin Siyun 林思雲, "探討中國與外國的罵人哲學 Inquiry into the Chinese and Foreign Philosophies of Swearing" while surfing for something else totally unrelated and thought it too good to pass over without a mention. The writer, a columnist then in Japan (or so I gathered), compares the case of the Chinese, the Japanese, and English speaking people, and attempts to draw conclusions about the cultural characteristics of the three. Those who can read fanti Chinese should read the original, but I've translated a large chunk below for your reading pleasure.
    |...read the rest of the post...|
    This is, of course, quite fascinating to any interested in comparing cultures.

    "Maybe 80 per cent of the people don't like Saddam Hussein, but 99 per cent don't like George Bush."
    - Iraqi born Jala Mastfa who served 15 years in the Iraqi Army fighting against Iran, whose brother-in-law was killed by Saddam's police when he, a lawyer, dared to suggest to another man that Saddam was a dictator.

    "Good evening and welcome to the 6 o'clock news. I'm your anchor, Oswald that Endswald.

    Our top story today...convicted hitman, Jimmy "Two Shoes" McClardy, confessed today that he was once hired to beat a cow to death in a rice field using only two small porcelain figures.

    Police admit this may be the first known case of a knick-knack paddy-whack."

    What do Indonesian and Korean Burglars have in common?

    Soundtrack: Classical Gas by Mason Williams, from his album Phonograph Record.

    The other night, Devin and I were having a conversation. I told him the joke about how one can tell one has been burgled by Koreans - the answer being 'the dog is gone and your child's maths homework is finished'.

    His answer raised an eyebrow 'you find a turd on the floor?'

    Just a few days before that, Dad had been telling me that the calling card of Indonesian burglars in South-East Asia is that they leave a turd in the middle of your floor. Apparently they never fail to do it - there's a superstition among them that doing this somehow ensures their safe getaway and never getting caught.

    I mentioned this to Devin, and he was quite surprised. He said his mum (who's Korean) has always told him that Korean burglars leave a turd on your floor after they've burgled you.

    Now, who'd have thought Indonesian and Korean burglars would have THAT in common?
    Postscriptum: I'm now informed that Japanese burglars do the same. Is that crazy or what?

    Your travel type: Travel Yup

    The Travel Yup likes exotic and adventurous travel, but prefers big cities with fast paced life. He has a keen interest in other cultures and always brings home a few souvenirs.

    Shopping in Bangkok, getting a tailor made suite in Kuala Lumpur, that's the kind of thing the Travel Yup is into. Even though he likes to get away, he prefers his travels to be comfortable.

    top destinations:

    New York

    stay away from:

    Ciudad Perdida
    Darien Gap
    get your own travel profile

    Σάββατο, Ιουλίου 16

    三國演義 Continued

    Soundtrack: Hai un paraiso from Luar Na Lubre's album of the same name. Very interesting Celtic-Spanish folk band from Galicia (the one in Spain, not the one in Ukraine).

    So here I am reading 三國演義... about halfway through volume 1 of 4 volumes... and already I'm getting a headache from the number of characters. Imagine all those characters in the Iliad who get mentioned in a few lines just as they're being killed, and now imagine them ALL being involved in the plot at some point or other. This adds up, quite literally, to a dramatis personae of thousands.

    Meanwhile, for a laugh, one may take a look at the Three Kingdoms Comic - a completely irreverent and quite funny in the cutesy and annoying mou-lei-dow way that Chinese (and Jap) comics can be. They manage to work in references to Hello Kitty, Lord of the Rings, Sony Playstation... Not, perhaps, the best place to start with the Classic if one is a complete stranger to it...

    Then and Now

    Celebrities Then and Now - link from Andrij.

    Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 15

    Strange Teenagers and My Sabre

    So there I was on the bus home, minding my own business, seated, listening to Suzanne Vega on my beloved iPod, with my sabre in a golf-club sheath (I have no idea what it's called).

    Onto the bus hop three teenagers - two girls and a boy, all giggling in the way one does at seventeen. They're ostensibly fencers, as they have three foils between them. Pistol Grips, I notice with a look askance. Wimps. Naturally I favour French Grip to Pistol Grip, and Italian Grip to both.

    After this brief summation of the trio, I turn back to my music and zoning-out (as one does on a bus). Suddenly, I'm aware that the trio keep turning their heads back to look at me and buzzing with conversation betwixt them. Letting my curiosity get the better of me, I turn the volume down on the iPod.

    To my amusement, I catch 'sabre' whispered several times as they're darting glances at my very basic practice sabre. Low and excited tones. This continues for the 20-minute bus ride, and very nearly to the point where I get home.

    Gee, kids, thanks for the reverence, but I'm still a beginner on the sabre for the most part...

    What is it about the sabre that gets so many teenage fencers all excited? I get the same thing from the épée and foil fencers at the place where I'm taking fencing lessons. The idea of swashbuckling heroes no doubt (probably the reason they got started fencing anyway), and the fact that sabre bouts are fast and far more exciting to watch than foil or épée.


    Soundtrack: Protect, O Most Glorious (Kalophonic Sticheron for St Demitrius, Plagal of the 2nd Mode) by St Ioannes (John) Koukouzelis, sung by the Greek Byzantine Choir, directed by Lycourgos Angelopoulos. (This makes a bit of a bizarre contrast with the following contents of the post but oh well..)

    Inspired by this post, I have finally begun reading 三國演義, usually translated into English as 'Three Kingdoms' or 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms'. This, for my readers who are unaware, is a Chinese historical novel, written by Luo Guanzhong in the 14th century, about the turbulent period often referred to as the Three Kingdoms (220-280). It is acclaimed as one of the Four Classics of Chinese literature.

    While written in the closing years of the Yuan dynasty and the opening years of the Ming dynasty, the work is a painstaking compilation of various chronicles, histories, folk legends, plays and ballads about the Three Kingdoms period, and is often described as three parts fiction to seven parts history. No other period has produced as many subjects for painting, theatre, song and dance - nor has any other saga given rise to so many Chinese proverbs and literary allusions. In a nutshell - the Romance of the Three Kingdoms has the same place in Chinese culture as the Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid have in European culture.

    I've managed to plough through the Iliad and Odyssey in Greek, and have plans to do the same for the Aeneid in Latin. Yes, my friends... I confess I haven't *actually* read the Aeneid from cover to cover in Latin. I'm actually not *THAT* keen on Vergil. Shocking confession for a classicist to make, I realise, but anyway... I felt I had to read the Three Kingdoms.

    Going through the thing, I'm struck by how some of the passages echo Homer. They would sound pretty good in Latin or Greek, I imagine. Now, the only problem is Hellenising or Latinising the Chinese names...

    Δευτέρα, Ιουλίου 11

    Bela Lugosi plays Jesus in 1909 Passion Play: Photos

    In 1909, Bela Lugosi played the role of Jesus Christ in a theatrical Passion Play. Here's the photographic evidence. (via Boing Boing)

    London Stands

    Boy finds snake in breakfast cereal

    A two-foot snake found its way into a packet of breakfast cereal, it emerged today.

    Five-year-old Jordan Willett, from Dawley, Shropshire, discovered the live reptile inside his box of Golden Puffs on Bank Holiday Monday.

    His mother Theresa, who was having breakfast with her son at the time, said she initially thought it was a free gift for children. full story here.

    Σάββατο, Ιουλίου 9


    Soundtrack: Credo from Missa Ave Maris Stella by Tomás Luis de Victoria, sung by the Choir of Westminster Cathedral, London.

    So years ago, while working as a journalist in a now-defunct (through no fault of mine, I hasten to add) magazine, I received a copy of a novel for review. I looked at the title:

    The Road to Jerusalem
    by Jan Guillou.

    and I thought, 'Hmmmm'...

    'The Epic Tale of a Crusader Knight' it said.

    It turned out to be an excellent bit of historical fiction, set in 13th Century Sweden. Translated from the Swedish, apparently. Focussing on the human side of significant 12th century events, the first two novels range from the consolidation of the Scandinavian kingdoms and the growth of Christianity in the region through the monastic orders and the Cistercian movement, to the victories of Saladin against the robber barons of Outremer. The plot centres around Arn, our warrior-monk hero, and his sweetheart Cecilia, 20 years after they were sent to Jerusalem and a nunnery respectively for breaking local traditional law against having sex with sisters. Sounds saucier than it is! Nevertheless, a great read for any lover of historical novels, and you don't need a degree in mediaeval history to enjoy them.

    As I got towards the end of the book, I thought 'hang on, we're nearly at the end and we've still no signs of going to Jerusalem... what's going on?'

    Then the book ended, and I noticed the bit on the blurb at the rear that said 'the first part of the bestselling Crusades trilogy'.

    Ah. I should've known.

    So then I eagerly await and devour the second volume when it comes out the same year (2002):

    The Knight Templar
    And it turns out equally good!

    Then amazon.co.uk tells me that I've got to wait until June 2004 for the publication of the 3rd part: The Kingdom At The End Of The Road (which has the name Riket Vid Vägens Slut in Swedish - stop sniggering you two with filthy minds at the back of the room). WHY publish two in 2002 and then force me to wait another 2 years to find out what happens? Nevermind. All things come to him who waits. So I wait.

    By June 2005 I get fed up of waiting and decide to email the publishers - Orion Books UK, to ask when/if they would be publishing the third and final instalment in the trilogy. The bad news is that they won't. From the sound of it, the first two weren't profitable enough.

    How very annoying.

    If I want to find out what happens in the last book, I have 3 options:

    1 - Learn Swedish and read the final instalment in the original language. This is not very likely... my knowledge of the Germanic languages so far is hopeless: I have practically no German aside from singing and listening to Bach, and only a year of Gothic (a now completely dead language) in the form of 8th Century Bible translations. I can do a pretty good impression of the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show, but I suspect that will not be a great help. Besides, Swedish is not the most useful language unless I plan to move to the Nordic region anytime.

    2 - Buy a copy of the Spanish edition from amazon.co.uk at £25 (do I hear someone screaming 'daylight robbery'?) and hope to read that. This is not impossible, given my knowledge of Latin and smatterings of Italian. I'd have to constantly refer to a Spanish dictionary, of course. This does not sound very pleasant, and considering that's a hardback edition, not very portable or comfortable either. Of course, I might end up learning functional Spanish by the end of the novel. That, of course, would be very amusing, and at least Spanish would be quite useful...

    3 - Contact the translator (a Scottish academic, apparently) and beg her to let me have a copy of her translation to read. Of course, this is hoping that she doesn't charge me an arm and a leg for it.

    *grumble grumble gnash teeth*

    Παρασκευή, Ιουλίου 8

    Chaos in Ukrainian Parliament

    This is starting to sound like the regular disgraceful brawls in the parliament of the pseudo-government of Taiwan:

    7 microphones broken yesterday.

    Dear, oh dear.

    Needed: idiot's guide to sex

    Soundtrack: 1er Concert from the Concerts Royaux by François Couperin.

    BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese are more ignorant about sex
    than any other subject, the official Xinhua news agency quoted
    a sex expert as saying Thursday.

    "In the survey we conducted, not only youngsters but many
    grown-ups are sex idiots, which is really dangerous and
    woeful," Xinhua quoted Xu Tianming, president of the China
    Sexology Society, as telling a seminar.

    "More Chinese are ignorant about sex than about other
    knowledge, even including those having received higher
    education and experts of other fields," he was quoted as

    Xu himself demonstrated a unique understanding of the
    subject, saying people could only enjoy a normal sex life until
    the age of 25.
    Full er story here.

    Πέμπτη, Ιουλίου 7

    London Blasts

    You've all heard about it by now. I'm safe and sound in Singapore - my mobile was ringing non-stop from people calling to make sure I was ok. You see, I happen to live very close to one of the tube stations that was bombed. As you can imagine, I was melting down the phone lines trying to get through to my friends in London. I couldn't get through (the lines were jammed), which didn't help things. Then in drips and draps news came in from friends. Paul Engeham was on holiday in Cornwall, about to bring in his crab pots from a rough sea. Mirko was on holiday in the Slovak mountains, 'where no moslem dares to go! be back 15th. xxx'.

    Everyone accounted for - Deo gratias.

    But spare a thought and a prayer for those involved in the blasts - for the injured, the dead, their families and those lending aid.

    Κύριε ελεήσον, Κύριε ελεήσον, Κύριε ελεήσον!
    Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy!
    Господи помилуй, Господи помилуй, Господи помилуй!

    Τετάρτη, Ιουλίου 6

    Ephemeris - Nuntii Latini!

    Soundtrack: Kyrie from Mozart's Krönungsmesse (Coronation Mass) K317, played and sung by the Academy of Ancient Music, dir. Christopher Hogwood.

    This is a cool website with news in Latin... it even has film/music reviews!

    Pity the recipe on Ars Viviendi et Gastronomia (The Art of Living and Gastronomy) does not begin, as do all extant Roman recipes, with the word recipe, meaning take (as in 'take 2 chickens'). So for those of you who had no idea whence came the word 'recipe', now you know!

    Mixed Delights

    And here I go on my usual regular round-up of interesting articles!

    `fai da te' - Flouting anti-smoking laws and sky-high restaurant prices, Italians are creating their own meal gatherings where they can feast undeterred! More here.

    Needed: Protestant Latinists

    The Wonderful Witch of the West - And yet, doesn’t the Wicked Witch have a valid point? Who the heck does Glinda think she is, giving Dorothy the shoes off the (disintegrated) feet of the Wicked Witch of the East? Unless the Witch of the East had indicated in her will that, in the event of her death, Glinda should inherit all of her possessions, we would expect them to rightfully pass on to her sister (the Witch of the West). (I am assuming that no one in his right mind would marry the Wicked Witch of the East, and hence there would be no widower or children to inherit the shoes.) On top of that injustice, there is also the awkward fact that Dorothy’s house happened to squash the Wicked Witch’s sister. Add the annoying self-righteousness of Glinda and Dorothy, and you can start to understand where the Wicked Witch is coming from!

    Sex, drugs and symphony orchestras - the seedy side of life as a classical musician in America. Thank goodness it's not that bad in England (unless I am very much mistaken).

    US cries foul over China fair play - America, you're a shameless bully and it's time to play fair!

    Τρίτη, Ιουλίου 5

    Book Meme

    Fr Jim Tucker has passed this fun book meme along to me, and I tried answering this a few weeks ago, but Blogger ate my post... so let's hope it gets through this time

    Total Number of Books I've Owned: Trying to do a count right now is impossible as my family's between homes, and most of my books are in boxes. However, judging by the average number of books on each shelf and in each box, Mum (who's tried cataloging my stuff) and I estimate somewhere between 1500 (my guess) and 1800 (her guess).

    Last Book I Bought: Christ the Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene. Quite interesting - it reworks the Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing for you pinyin Nazis) and gives it a Christian form. This is not syncretism - it's a Christian interpretation of the most ancient Chinese mystical and religious text. It takes for its premise that the 道 (tao/dao) of the ancient Chinese texts is the same as the λόγος (Logos) of Greek-Christian though. This is not as strange as one might think, as 道 (tao/dao) means not only way, but also logic and rightness - almost identical to the ancient Greek philosophers' λόγος (Logos). Like the Logos, 道 (tao/dao) is the first principle or ordering pattern of the cosmos, of which ancient Greeks and Chinese had a similar view. Both the Greeks and Chinese refer to the first principle as a "mystery." The ultimate goal of the Taoist is eternal harmony with the 道 (tao/dao), or first principle. This harmony is attained by living in accord with nature and therefore the 道 (tao/dao), nature's source. The three "treasures" of Taoism are love, moderation, and humility/contentment. No surprise then, that Chinese translations of the Gospels and New Testament translate λόγος (Logos) with 道 (tao/dao) - the beginning of St John's Gospel in Chinese reads almost like the Tao Te Ching if 道 (tao/dao) is used. Fuller review here.

    Last Book I Read: Just like I typically have a handful of books going all at once. The last one I finished, a few days ago, was Faith and Treason : The Story of the Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser. About the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and Protestant persecution of Catholics in England at the time. Fascinating and quite a heartbreaking read.

    Other books I'm flitting through include Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, Decadence and Catholicism by Ellis Hanson and The Art and Science of Fencing by Nick Evangelista.

    Five Books that Mean a Lot to Me: I echo Fr Jim's words 'This will be hard because my list changes based upon my mood and what I'm thinking about at the moment'. I'll probably read other people's memes later and notice things that I should've included in my list but oh well, here goes:

    1. Il Prencipe (The Prince) by Niccolò Machiavelli. Yes, I've read it both in English and the original Italian (which isn't that hard, surprisingly). Hard-hitting and scandalous for anyone who believes in traditional ethics and morality, but essential if one has to deal with the real world, in order to guard against those follow a far less strict moral code. May be read in English, but the original Italian has lovely Latin quotes sprinkled throughout.

    2. Τα Eις Eαυτόν (Meditations) by Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Stoic philosophy is something I enjoy reading whenever I'm down, and the short, pithy meditations of a n early AD era Roman Emperor are excellent for dipping into, and make great soundbites (to use a very modern word). Note that this isn't a book like anything else one may be used to - it's almost a collection of Post-It notes that Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself (the title Τα Eις Eαυτόν means literally 'Things to Himself'). Of course, they're far loftier thoughts that your average 'pick up suit from dry-cleaners', 'take out the trash' and suchlike. Example: 'the best revenge is not to be like that', 'When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.' and 'Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill will, and selfishness-all of them due to the offenders' ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother; therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading'. Isn't too bad in English translation, but naturally far terser in the original Greek.

    3. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. Realistic and very wicked. Essential - whether one is reading it to get ahead, or to defend oneself against others.

    4. The Stripping of the Altars : Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 by Eamon Duffy. I picked up and read this book on a summer holiday to England when I was 16 - the picture it created of vigorous Late-Mediaeval Catholicism in England and how it was ruthlessly suppressed and the new Protestant religion forcibly imposed upon an essentially unwilling people.... broke my heart. It was on the same trip that I saw stunning mediaeval cathedrals with gorgeous sculpture vandalised by the Protestant deformers.

    5. Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine Marie Roger de Saint-Exupery. I loved this as a child, and now that I've grown up a little, I love it even more. It's awfully deep - I now realise this book can be read of multiple levels. The insights it gives into human nature are, at times, painful, and at others, delightful. Much better in the original French, of course.

    The meme says to tag five bloggers to take up the meme. I tag Anthony Lim, Gloria Ho, Vernon Chan, Natalie Yap and Vanessa Tan.

    Behave, Edward...

    Was in an elevator today. Some ah-soh (middle-aged Chinese woman of the lower and lower middle classes) was in the same elevator, holding (presumably) her wee grandson.

    The kid looked at me, pointed and said 'Kor kor' (big brother).

    The ah-soh quickly corrected him and said 'Uncle'.

    I so had to restrain myself from saying 'BITCH!'.

    I'm still getting used to the fact that I'm no longer in my teens...

    I'm Elvish. (No, Not Preshley)


    To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
    brought to you by Quizilla

    A Hit! A Very Palpable Hit!

    In case any of my readers from outside Singapore aren't aware, Singapore is hosting the International Olympic Committee meeting to decide on the city to host the 2012 Olympics. Blair's in town, as is Chirac.

    It seems someone on the British side commented that Paris' stadium wasn't big enough or grand enough to host the Olympics, and Chirac replied that as one could not trust a country with such bad food. He also was quoted as saying that mad cow disease was Britain's sole contribution to European agriculture.



    Δευτέρα, Ιουλίου 4

    Movie Meme

    Book Meme coming... but I'm getting prodded at for this one first, having been tagged by Anthony Lim:

    Total Number of films I own on DVD/Video

    If one includes LDs, this goes up to a total of vaguely 250 or so. Gods bless the film pirates of Asia (and Morocco).

    The Last Film I Bought

    The Machinist.

    If you mean not-pirated films... Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss.

    Five Films I Watch A Lot/Mean a Lot to Me

    Let's see now....

    A Man for All Seasons

    If you've watched it, you'll know what I mean. If you haven't - where have you been all your life? The story of a man who stuck by his conscience to the death, and who died 'the King's good servant, but God's first'.

    The Mission

    The story of a fictional (but based on real-history) Jesuit mission among the Guarani Indians of what is now Paraguay - does one take up armed resistance against injustice? A real tear-jerker, and strong stimulus to think deeply about several issues.

    The Name of the Rose

    Mediaeval Monastery. Murder. Books in Greek. Lots of monks running about the place. Perfect sets and costumes. Sufficient to confuse non-Latinists. What's not to like?


    I take it my readers know what Castrati were. This was a hit 1996 film about one of the most admired castrato singers of the Baroque era. Plot's a bit thin, but it's a wonderfully campy excuse for elaborate costumes and showy Baroque opera arias that show off the magnificent computer-melded voices of an excellent soprano and luscious male alto.

    Prospero's Books

    The crowning masterpiece of art cinema's enfant terrible Peter Greenaway. A sort of fantasia on Shakespeare's The Tempest, the film is surreal, highly artistic, often over the top, and constantly fascinating, with a splendid soundtrack by Michael Nyman. Alas, this film is unavailable on DVD anywhere at this time.

    Honourable Mentions
    These are the films that really have to get mentioned but don't quite make it into the top 5:


    Featuring the music of Mozart - 3 hours of musical bliss.

    Army Daze

    Crap acting from yours truly, but hey, it's the first and only film I starred in... so even if I'd pay you not to make me watch it again, it still has some sentimental value.

    The Sound of Music

    Again, an excuse for wonderful music... I grew up singing those songs from the film... wore a soundtrack tape out in the car tape player!

    Flowers of Shanghai

    The only film ever made entirely in Shanghainese (with the exception of a few phrases of Cantonese) - slow moving, evocative of the expensive brothels in Shanghai at the end of the 19th century, perfect in all its details.


    The tagline for the film - 'When Louis XIV ruled, but Wit was King' really says it all. Wickedly witty in that bitchy way only the French can be.

    Tag 5 People and Have Them Put It In Their Blog

    Glen Tan
    (Go on, prettyboy!)
    Paul Lew (I think I already know what he's going to write)
    Vanessa Tan
    (no idea what she's going to write)
    Vernon Chan (cos he's a film-maker!)
    Orion Seo (cos I want to know what cute 16yo swimmerboys watch these days)

    Additional Tagging

    Fr Jim Tucker (I want to see what our orthodox clergy watch!)


    So, Anthony, how does this list square with what you were expecting?

    Il Nome Della Rosa

    A friend, Justin, un bellissimo ragazzo... who deserves Aphrodite's title of καλλιπύγος, recently went backpacking in Europe, armed with some recommendations, two Italian phrase-books I loaned him and some choice Italian phrases (not to be found in the phrase-books) I'd taught him.

    While in Florence, he picked up a copy of a book I'd been lusting (yes, that is the exact word) after for ages - Il Nome Della Rosa by Umberto di Bologna. For the uninitiated, that's The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco - but in a lovely octavo hardback edition, in the original Italian. Salvatore's babelish talk is even stranger in the original.

    Grazie Mille, Giustino!

    Musing on Eco's fictional history of the book - how it was originally a Latin manuscript translated into French at some time, and that it was the French version he came across (the Latin now lost)... I'm tempted to translate the book into Latin.

    Any rich patrons out there want to sponsor me for that?

    Κυριακή, Ιουλίου 3

    Quack-Pot Dish: Cheat Duck Pasta

    Why is this a cheat recipe? Read on and you'll find out.

    Feeling fancy? Call this Tagliagelle with Shredded Duck, Chives and Freshly Shaved Parmesan. If you're modest, call this simply Duck Pasta.

    This allows you to throw a quick dinner for two together in less than half an hour and still come out looking mighty talented. It's fabulous for impressing someone one might be interested in.

    You'll need a nice bottle of wine (more about this later), one order of Chinese roast duck (deboned), butter, half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, some spring onions, a can of chicken stock, olive oil, a jar of Chinese hoisin (seafood) sauce, fresh parmesan and of course, enough pasta for two (I suggest tagliatelle).

    Most important - make sure the duck is good. Don't try making your own. Buy some from the nearest Chinese restaurant that does Cantonese-style roast meat (Crystal Jade in Singapore, for a start). Otherwise, if you live in Singapore, go to your friendly neighbourhood roast meat stall and make friends with the hawker. Chop this (the duck, not the hawker) into bite-sized pieces and place aside on a side dish. Chop up your garlic and onion into tiny bits. While you're at it, also slice up a spring onion or two. This is garnish, so keep it small.

    In a large frying pan, melt down about a tablespoon of butter (no margarine!) over medium heat. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil onto the butter as it melts. Toss your onions and garlic into the pan. Lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or till soft. While waiting for the onions to soften, you can get your pasta going. I am going to assume you can do that, yes?

    Pour half a cup of chicken stock over the onions and add a few teaspoons of the hoisin sauce, stirring for a few minutes over LOW heat and taste. If you need more flavour, add more hoisin sauce. Keep it simmering - you want it to reduce slightly and become a nicely shiny caramelised sauce.

    When the pasta is ready (don't you DARE cook it till it's mushy), drain it and set aside just long enough for you to toss the duck into the onion sauce. Stir the duck into the sauce, then toss the pasta into the pan. Mix this around so the pasta gets coated nicely. Using kitchen tongs will enable you to ensure the pasta is nicely tossed.

    To serve, plate the pasta, sprinkle the spring onions on top and shave some Parmesan over the top. Freshly-grated black pepper is a nice touch.

    Next step: pour yourseves a glass of wine. Also make sure the takeaway containers in which you brought the duck home is well hidden and enjoy the compliments you get when he/she digs in. And most importantly, keep your portions small. It's not about health. You simply don't want him/her feeling too full after dinner, now do you?

    A possible variation on this is to omit the olive oil and add a few tablespoons of cream, giving a cream sauce (natürlich).

    What wine to serve with this? If you're unadventurous, a Chardonnay. If you're not the average boring person (and I assume most of my blog readers aren't), go for a nice rosé, slightly chilled. A bottle of rosé and my duck pasta - lovely for summer evenings (or anytime round the year in the tropics).

    So Your Boyfriend's From Israel...

    Ruth is an online friend of mine - she's 40, Jewish, from L.A., and very very funny. Her boyfriend is from Israel and works on a Kibbutz. We had this conversation earlier today.

    Ruth: So my boyfriend from Israel's coming to visit me next month. I was thinking of taking him out for Chinese food... any dishes you recommend we order?

    Me: Uh. Hmm. Let me think for a moment.

    (at this point I'm wondering what on earth an observant Jew could eat in a Chinese restaurant that doesn't involve pork and shellfish)

    Me: Uhm. How strict kosher does he keep?

    Ruth: Oh please. The kibbutz Yizhak works on raises pigs.

    Me: .......

    Ruth: First time he came to visit, he brought me (or tried to bring me) a vacuum-sealed package of bacon because he says their pork is the BEST! I was waiting for him to come through customs, and it was taking forever.... we had been talking for over six months online and on the phone and I was ANXIOUS to see him already... come to find out customs didn't let him bring the bacon in..... that's what was taking so long! (he swears the customs officials must have eaten it themselves) :-)
    A kibbutz that raises pigs. Uh... something very odd about that...