Monday, February 27, 2006

On India

I found this article quite interesting. Its writing style is also a good example of The Blundell Technique -something my former boss, Oon Yeoh taught me about feature writing. The writer begins with 2 paragraphs (The Lead) which gives a cute little description of a mall in India. This is followed by a one paragraph-long sum up of what the piece is essentially going to be about (The Nutgraph). The last paragraph (Conclusion) ties in with the nutgraph. If you're interested in some good writing tips, it's available on Oon's site, right here.

The article basically talks about the US's potential diplomatic repositioning from Europe to Asia. The US is desperately seeking out new political alliances in Asia (especially China and now, India) because its relations with Europe is waning. The Atlantic Alliance, a term referring to the partnership between the US and Europe is clearly coming apart. As the EU is being dominated by France and Germany, both clearly anti-American, the US needs to find new friends.

I think that development of India's IT industry may also be one of America's motives in cultivating friendship with India. I read an article the other day about Bangalore being India's version of Silicon Valley. A few years ago, US companies were India-bound to outsource mostly mundane programming jobs. Now, firms are going there in search of dynamic, young Indian software experts to develop new programs.

Random facts:
1. According to the piece, there's a sign at the escalator of the Indian mall saying: 'Be careful of your sari while riding the stairs'.
2. I turned down dinner at Tao's place tonight (green curry) for vegetable curry at my hall. I basically tasted a lot of turmeric, I think. I feel like banana leaf rice. With curry that's so spicy it makes you sweat. Oh yeah.

Defending Liberties?

Tony Blair defends some of his policies (namely accusations of Labour being an authoritarian party, ID cards and anti-terrorism legislation) which have come under critism in The Observer today.

"I am from the generation that I would characterise, crudely, as hard on behaviour, but soft on lifestyle, i.e. I support tough measures on crime but am totally pro gay rights. I believe in live and let live, except where your behaviour harms the freedom of others. A society with rules but without prejudices is how I might sum it up."

I agree with this. I think that a 'live and let live' ethos is the best way to govern by.

"The question is not one of individual liberty vs the state but of which approach best guarantees most liberty for the largest number of people."

Wouldn't that indicate discrimination of minority groups? If it is true that there is power in numbers then isn't Mr Blair only strengthening the already powerful and weakening the weak who are exactly the ones who need to be liberated from their repression.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Superficial Busybody

The editor of The Economist, staple reading for many LSE students, resigned today after 12 years of holding the post. Bill Emmott has been credited with doubling magazine circulation (to 1 million copies a week) and was also behind the redesign in 2001 in which the magazine went into full colour format.

The Economist is famous for its non-existent bylines; which means that you don't know who wrote what you just read. This bit of news is interesting because it's the first time I've seen a face representing this publication. The anonymity does bring a level of professionalism to the magazine but I feel that sometimes its facelessness causes it to lack character.

I also find this a little annoying sometimes because I like finding out about whose work I'm reading. I often do a Wikipedia search on writers' and columnists' names. So many good writers have studied at Oxford. Incidentally, Mr Emmott studied PPE at Oxford too.

Check out a recent interview with Bill Emmott here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

tinpot fanatic

Here's an article by Simon Jenkins from The Sunday Times. Funny how he calls Osama a "tinpot fanatic".

"On any objective measure, terrorism in the West is a trivial crime. True, New York and London saw outrages in 2001 and 2005 respectively. Both were the outcome of sloppy intelligence. Neither has been repeated, though of course they may be. Policing has improved and probably averted other attacks. But incidents genuinely attributable to Al-Qaeda rather than domestic grievances are comparable to the IRA and pro-Palestinian campaigns. Vigilance is important but only those with money in security have an interest in presenting Bin Laden as a cosmic threat."

On September 11, nearly three thousand innocent people were murdered by Al-Qaeda: over the same twenty four period it is reported that 30,000 children worldwide died of preventable diseases. I read something in yesterday's Observer (I'd link to it but it's this chart-graphic-like thing which isn't available online) about the US defence industry going through a boom time. In Bush's 2007 budget, $550 billion out of the $2.77 trillion will go to military purposes.

Winners include Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon (all in line for a slice of the defense budget pie)

Losers: Health services (cutting back on Medicare expenses), education and environment sectors. The President.

I suppose spending so much and placing so much emphasis on counter-terrorism is uncalled for when comparing the magnitude of the situation with other pressing needs. Clearly the whole Islamophobia trend may have began on 9/11. But clearly the West has exacerbated this fear by isolating Muslim regimes and repressing Muslim communities.

"The result is to cripple America’s effectiveness as diplomat and power broker. Take Iran. The emergence of any new nuclear power is alarming. Yet it was tolerated in Israel, India, Pakistan and Korea. Partly because of its isolation, Iran now seems certain to develop a nuclear potential. To respond by increasing that isolation and thus the paranoia of Iran’s turbulent and unstable rulers is daft. The sensible realpolitik must be to give Iran no reason to turn potential into actual power, let alone to want to use it."

That's a good point. The current approach towards Iran is based on distrust. Intolerance of its nuclear program is intolerance of its sovereignty and will give Iran more reason to utilise nuclear power for security purposes.

"In desperation British and German leaders turned last week to the new “multi-polars”, Russia and China, for help with Tehran. This suggests a world moving towards new axes, seeking new leadership and distancing itself from American myopia. The spectacle is similar to the free world’s isolation of the Russian Comintern in the mid-20th century. "

"Such a recourse is fool’s gold. China and Russia are no more likely to exert sustained influence on the world stage than did Europe’s fragmented diplomacy over the past quarter century. Both have trade interests in Iran and much to gain as brokers of power in the region. Neither is a substitute for America. Neither carries the moral suasion of open and competitive democracy. Both face rumbling insurgencies on their frontiers. Yet the West turns to them in its hour of need. That is the measure of America’s collapse."

Good stuff.

Friday, February 17, 2006

On Malaysia...

I was flipping through The Guardian before going to bed and stumbled upon this op-ed article. The writer read Modern History at Oxford and he's one of the professors there or something now. He talks about inter-cultural marriages, the Syariah law and how Malaysia's exterior looks like a multi-cultural Shangri-la.

Monday, February 13, 2006

What Would Jesus Do?

Have I mentioned that Heather is the shape of a drinking straw, with added silicone?
'I just lost 25 pounds!' she exclaims. 'I had to. For the ministry.'
'Yeah,' Lori confirms gleefully, 'She was a fattie.'
'God told you to
lose 25 pounds?'
'Yes, because no one would listen to us unless we looked
like this.'

This is a good article about an ex-stripper who's been evangelising to prostitutes and porn stars at a porn convention in Vegas. Only in America.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Check out Jeff Ooi's post on political parties sponsoring student events overseas.

I picked up a copy of Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue. This magazine always has really great photos. The story goes: Tom Ford told Vanity Fair editors that their covers were "getting old". So they put him in charge. It was originally supposed to be Rachel McAdams, Keira Knightly and Scarlett Johansson on the cover. As you can see, Rachel McAdams is not there. It's Tom Ford. Apparently she opted out, Tom Ford had to step in because as he explained, “Three girls in a bed is a bedful of girls, but two girls in a bed are lesbians.” There's a really good shot of George Clooney and Dakota Fanning (the twelve-year-old keeps her movie scripts in a lil' pink cute) as well somewhere inside and a good piece extolling the virtues of


I googled "war of ideology" and found a transcript of one of President Bush's speeches published on Here's an excerpt:

We've seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before. In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism and freedom prevailed. And today, Germany and Japan are democracies and they are allies in securing the peace. In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a democratic movement that freed the nations of Eastern and Central Europe from Soviet domination. And today these nations are allies in the war on terror. Today in the Middle East, freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom. And as democracy spreads in the Middle East, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace.

It is interesting to note that while the US evangelises democracy in its so called endeavours to foster world peace, it is friends with authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, it disregards the democratically elected Hamas party in Palestine as well as Mahmood Ahmadinejad in Iran.

What's the war about?

Here's something I read concerning the Danish cartoons controversy. Reza Aslan writes in

"And that is why as a Muslim American I am enraged by the publication of these cartoons. Not because they offend my prophet or my religion, but because they fly in the face of the tireless efforts of so many civic and religious leaders—both Muslim and non-Muslim—to promote unity and assimilation rather than hatred and discord; because they play into the hands of those who preach extremism; because they are fodder for the clash-of-civilizations mentality that pits East against West. For all of that I blame Jyllands-Posten. We in the West want Muslim leaders to condemn the racial and religious prejudices that are so widespread in the Muslim world. Let us lead by example."

I think that the degree of Islamophobia in the world today warrants extreme care when it comes to freedom of speech.

People got really offended when Prince Harry dressed up in a Nazi costume. Respect and acknowlegement for such a horrendous event has dictated societal norms such that there is a common consensus that people just don't do things like that.

Why isn't this the case when it comes to these Danish cartoons?

"As international human rights law recognizes, in any democratic society freedom of the press must be properly balanced with civic
responsibility, particularly at a time when the world seems to be engaged in a "war of ideology," to use President Bush's words.

WWII was seen as a clash between fascism and democracy -fascism was eliminated. The Cold War, a clash between communism and democracy -communism was eliminated. So what kind of war is it now. There is a need to define that this is a war against religious extremism and not a West vs all Muslims one.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


One of my readers suggested that I might consider removing pictures from my last post. If you didn't manage to see the post, they were basically a digitized version of the Jyllands Posten cartoons.

I realised that in criticising print media for their lack of respect for their audience, I myself fall in the same position by publishing these pictures. Although an entire country (Note that Jyllands Posten only has a readership base of less than 60,000) does not read my blog, I suppose the whole world does have access to it.

I'm removing these pictures for three reasons:

(1) Aretha Franklin: R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (Sorry I couldn't resist the Zamir-style joke)
(2) Example. (I checked out Jeff Ooi's blog today and noticed that he's reported extensively on the issue but has not published any cartoons. So if he isn't doing it I guess I won't. By the way, I did a mental somersault when I found out he commented on the Simon Jenkins piece as least I'm doing SOMETHING right)
(3) I suppose if you're curious enough, you should just do a Google Search and check the cartoons out on your own.

Can I just mention that sometime last year, that the French fashion house, Girbaud was slammed for using a bunch of supermodels to portray Da Vinci's The Last Supper. Again, refer to (3) above.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bad Jokes

The bottomline: This Danish journalist, Kare Bluitgen, who's written a biography about Muhammad wanted to write a kid's book about the prophet. Problem is, he couldn't find anyone who'd draw pictures for his book because artists feared violent attacks by extremist Muslims. So Flemming Rose, cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, responds by asking 40 artists to draw pictures of the prophet. 12 of the illustrations were published in the newspaper on September 30, 2005.

Note that there have been drawings of Muhammad by Muslim artists before. The problem isn’t particularly with the fact that you’re not supposed to draw God. Its basically because the cartoons seem to imply that all Muslims are terrorists.

From CNN :

In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono denounced the cartoons as insensitive.
But "as religious people, we should accept the apology extended by the Danish government," he added.

Simon Jenkins wrote in the Sunday Times that governments should not be obliged to apologise. Check it out, his writing style is amazing. Many media publications frequently criticise the governments of their countries. This is freedom of speech.

If the government were to take responsibility of everything that was published in the media, this priviledge would cease to exist and censorship would abound. We would all read politically-correct propoganda and use words like: sanitary engineer (one who cleans toilets), deferred success (to fail), womyn (spelling the word 'woman' differently do distance the gender from man), etc.

Barriers are only imposed when people cross the line. By abusing their freedom, the media in in danger of future constraints on this priviledge.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bon Anniversaire!

The nice French waiter guy sings Happy Birthday to Tao in French. He sang quite softly. And I think I laughed a bit too loud. Anyway.

Oh no! We forgot Kwang Ming!!

It was Wen Tao's birthday and we went to Gordon Ramsay's restaurant on Royal Hospital Road. I only just realised that I have absolutely ZERO proof that Lim Kwang Ming (Singaporean dude who likes Spongebob) was actually there! So to set the record straight, he WAS present. I swear!He had foie gras twice -as a starter and for his main as well. I think if there was foie gras ice-cream he would have had it too.
We are cam-whores I
We are cam-whores II
Pear tatin with some cheese ice cream and some mousse thingy.

We love maths and food and Stef (C'mon Nicola...I know you do)

Dinner Party

Yi, Nicole, Tock and Tao watching Scrubs

Tao and Mr Miyagi with the pineapple Tock brought.

Qi Zhen and Tao with the pineapple Tock brought.

Being stupid.

Dirty Diners

Sorry for the long absence. I've been bogged down with some journalism application. Anyway, I picked up a free Lite Standard today and there's an article on page 9 titled, "Chinatown Restaurants Dominate Hygiene Hall of Shame".

There are a dozen restaurants mentioned and most of the are located in Chinatown. Here are a few excerpts of inspection reports by City of Westminster food safety officers obtained freedom of information laws:

London Jade Garden: "Mice droppings evident in food" [22.11.05]

Mandarin Kitchen: "Risk of contamination due to cockroaches" [30.11.05]

Golden Dragon: "Cockroach found on meat slicer" [7.11.05]

Mawar Restaurant: "Raw meat stored above ready-to-eat foods" [11.10.05]

At least there wasn't any dirt on TPT (Ngau Lam Tong Mein - Beef Brisket Noodles in Soup).