Archive for June, 2007

Today’s humourist URL

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

…is here–our lives will be all the poorer for their loss.

Today’s Hymn

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

…well, actually Palm Sunday’s hymn, is “All Glory, Laud, and Honour”. This hymn was written by Theodolph of Orleans, who lived from 760-821. I have recently discovered that there is a verse that we never sing, the last one below.

All Glory, Laud and Honour

All glory, laud and honour,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord

There is nothing like having the service manual around…

Saturday, June 30th, 2007

I’ve been having trouble with the fan in my Dell Inspiron 8200 laptop. This is the one that I normally use when training, as it’s one of those workhorses that usually just keeps on ticking,

Today’s Anglican Communion URL

Friday, June 29th, 2007

…is a blog entry by MadPriest. As usual, he gets right to the heart of the matter. An Archbishop who can sanction a return to colonialism in the Communion could certainly encourage a gay bishop to attend in disguise…

Today’s Ticklebox Repair post

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Today’s funny, courtesy of our former flatmate Nguyen:

A 45 year old woman had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she had a near death experience. Seeing God she asked, “Is my time up?”

God said, “No, you have another 43 years, 2 months and 8 days to live.”

Upon recovery, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face-lift, liposuction, breast implants and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair color and brighten her teeth! Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it.

After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was killed by an ambulance.

Arriving in front of God, she demanded, “I thought you said I had another 43 years? Why didn’t you pull me from out of the path of the ambulance?”

God replied: “I didn’t recognize you.”


Thursday, June 28th, 2007

…and I don’t mean “public display of affection”.

It’s been clear for a few months that the battery is starting to give out. While there is no little door on the back through which the battery might be replaced, there are instructions available as to how to do it. So, I’ve ordered a replacement battery, a replacement USB cradle (as mine crapped out a few months ago and the USB cable is not really up to the job), two replacement screen protectors, and a wireless infrared keyboard. This should keep it going for a while.

When in Singapore I was looking around for a replacement, and was offered a Palm Treo 750 at a deep discount–Sg$840 as opposed to Sg$1200 (

Back at work…

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Looks as though I’ll be on a client site next week. Finally. Won’t mention the client, but I’m still torn between giving notice and going for my ISTQB Advanced certificate in software testing and then doing courses, and just waiting to see what comes up.

Today is Return Day + 2. Last time I returned from Singapore, on Return Day + 2 I had my heart attack. I’m waiting with bated breath. So far I’ve only been very tired.

London, Day 1

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Well, we’re back. The flight was a bit bumpy, and HWMBO was held up at immigration by some people in front of him who took an unreasonably long time to clear. Meanwhile, I took about 10 minutes in a queue to get to immigration, which was a real annoyance. We pay good tax money for this, and they don’t seem to be able to get it right. So I then had to cool my heels at the belt because we had three cases, so i couldn’t drag them over to the trolley line to get a trolley, so I just had to stay with them and wait for HWMBO to get down there. Half an hour later he did. Staff kept asking me if I was missing a suitcase.

Heathrow Express, and then a taxicab home (

Monday Night in Singapore

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Well, this is possibly my last post from Singapore this trip. I have just about finished packing, have written my thank-yous, and just need to wind down.

I went downtown to Vivocity today and nearly took the monorail to Sentosa Island, but decided against it. Sorry I did now, as it seems to be interesting (at least from what I’ve read of it). Bought two luggage tags and another luggage lock, and then came back home to rest until dinner.

Dined with at an Indian Fusion restaurant at Millenia (sic) Walk called Devi Fusion. It was quite good; I had a spicy chicken korma and had some tandoori chicken. Very nice. A little coffee (decaf) in Starbucks, and then home. What a lovely man is: I am really blessed with great lj friends in Singapore and I hope that I will be able to see them again next time I’m here.

Back home and now to bed until daybreak and the long trek back begins.

London Minus 1

Monday, June 25th, 2007

I am almost all packed now. I just have toiletries, medications, books, and some bags and dirty clothes to pack. I do hope that everything fits. However, I think it’ll be OK, judging from the weight of the bag.

I’d just like to say again how lovely these last three weeks have been. Meeting my lj friends, being footloose and fancy free here, being able to do what I liked, have so much of a variety of lovely food, has been wonderful. I am really grateful to everyone who’s been so kind, including my host BK and Anker, who I will get a card for later today and make a donation to her charities in gratitude.

Back to London, my dead-end job, and all the worries I left there when we flew here. Something in me is screaming to just tear up the ticket, go find a job and a flat here, and stay. I know it’s not possible, but dreaming is still important to me.

So I’ll dream on, while flying back and picking up my life where I left off. Best of wishes to you all, and thanks again!

And a special thanks to <lj user=”thoburn”>

Monday, June 25th, 2007

…for the lovely Singaporean specialty jams he gave me last night. I apologise for not mentioning them in my previous post; getting traveling fever, I suppose.

I’m certain that HWMBO and I will have some on toast in London and think of Singapore, just for breakfast.

Sunday in Singapore

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

Well, my antepenultimate day in Singapore began with lunch with Leslie, Louie, BK, and HWMBO at a dim sum restaurant downtown. It was very nice; we enjoyed the company of each other and Leslie and Louie are just such dear people. Then off to coffee with Tjo, at Paragon downtown. We haven’t seen him yet this trip so it was nice to catch up. He has the loveliest smile. CB, back from Shanghai, joined us.

Then, off to City Hall to meet , , and for dinner. I have pictures, but can’t upload and get them ready for publication until I get back to London. They are all wonderful guys: of course I have known for a couple of years, but and I just met tonight. We ate at a soup and salad place at Raffles City Marketplace. I ordered Caesar Salad, but it bore little or no resemblance to any previous Caesar Salad’s I have known and loved. Tasty, but not Caesar. Also something called “Mushroom Stroganoff Soup,” which I think was cream of mushroom tarted up with some sour cream. Again tasty, but odd.

Then to the coffee shop for some talk and some coffee. Back home and soon to bed.

I am going to hold to his promise of throwing a party for me the next time I’m here and inviting all my Singapore livejournal friends. I think this would be a marvellous idea, and would love to meet not just a few of you (as wonderful as those few are), but all of you.

You have been warned: Chinese New Year 2008 is our tentative date to return here. I will do my utmost to ensure that it happens at a time before the actual New Year celebrations so that you won’t have other obligations intruding.

Thanks again guys. is bringing me to an Indian restaurant tomorrow night for my last dinner in Singapore before returning to London.

Singapore Saturday

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

My foot continues to improve, I think. Still will need dressings for a while yet, tho. Caught it in time, I hope.

Yesterday I did little or nothing until the early afternoon, when I went with C.B. and HWMBO to the house of their classmate, G, where we had lunch at about 2 pm. It consisted of traditional dumplings (wrapped in leaves). Once unwrapped, they were doughy and various bits of meat and prawn inside. Very nice. We watched TV for a while, and then some Will & Grace episodes. Of course, the three of them were conversing in Chinese so I had to content myself with the TV.

Once we were about to go, I stood up and had the most severe positional vertigo I’ve ever experienced. I nearly passed out. I had to hold on to HWMBO for fear of falling. Oddly enough, this may mean that my blood pressure is down enough to allow this to happen.

Off to the MRT Commonwealth station for the trip into the centre of the city for dinner. Life here revolves around the computer and meals, it seems. At 6 on the dot I met for dinner. We went to Suntec City and ate in a very traditional Chinese restaurant just called Soup Kitchen. We overordered (as Chinese often do at meals) and I still was kind of full from lunch. So I ate much less than I normally would (thanks, K!) but had a little of everything. Hainanese chicken rice, pork patty with water chestnuts, kai lan with Chinese herbs, bittergourd soup, braised tofu. It was quite nice. Afterwards we watched the fountain show at Suntec (which uses some sort of laser projector to show pictures and patterns on the backdrop of spray from the fountain: about 5 minutes but quite interesting) and then had a coffee. K was one of the first people I met other than HWMBO’s and my friends when I arrived here three trips ago. I really enjoy seeing him.

Home and to bed.

Singapore meal update

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

I am now taken for Sunday lunch and dinner and Monday dinner. I think that should be about it then. Thanks to , , and for stepping up to the plate! Love you all!

To all my Singapore friends…

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

…especially the guy who suggested dinner over the weekend but whose number/contact details are buried somewhere in his lj.

I’m free for dinner on Sunday and lunch and dinner on Monday. Any takers? There can be more than one of you at any or all of these.

I want to see you all! My Singapore phone number is 91612414 and SMSes and phone calls welcome!

Singapore on Friday

Saturday, June 23rd, 2007

Toe update: it seems to be healing relatively well, with little or no leakage yesterday. This is a very good thing. I shall use it as a reason for not going into work until Friday next–it still needs to get used to being in a shoe, I think.

Yesterday I met HWMBO for lunch downtown with C, our friend CB’s ex (CB was our host in Shanghai, if you can remember that far back). He was a bit late so we went upstairs in Bugis Junction to buy a new battery for my handphone. It was Sg$48, which is a touch under GBP 16. You can’t beat that with a stick. (in case you wanted to do that).

C is doing well; I had fried dumplings and a coffee, which was a terrible cup of coffee. But I needed to finish it anyway. Then we went off to a dessert shop where I had Mango Sago with Pomelo (all mised with ice–it was delicious and not very sweet).

Then I had to persuade HWMBO to part with some cash for luggage. On the way back from Shanghai, the rolling handle broke: it wouldn’t extend, so HWMBO had to kind of crouch while holding the carrying handle to roll the case along. I insisted he needed a new suitcase, and we bought one that included a carry-on bag. I will use the carry-on bag and he will use the large suitcase, and maybe we will return to the UK intact.

Back home for some R&R before we went out for dinner with our friend VV and his partner, E. We were going to go to a Japanese restaurant in the Paragon Centre downtown (very posh merchandise on sale). But there was a huge queue. So, we went to (wait for it!) a Lowry’s Steak House in the same building. The cheapest steak on the menu was Sg$55 (about GBP 18, or US$36). I had that, and it was good, but the whole thing was a performance and quite a complicated one at that. Spinning the salad around in a bowl of ice was supposed to do something or other that I couldn’t make out (it tasted fine). The wine was good (wish I could remember what it was–I was the only one who partook). The conversation was interesting tho.

We began with money-laundering, as E has a professional interest in detecting that (which I will not be specific about) and I of course worked for a company that produced software to detect money-laundering in financial transactions. Singapore has a (partially-deserved) reputation as Southeast Asia’s money-laundering haven. There is a thought here that money, whatever its source, is money and it’s not polite to enquire how your customer made it. This will have to change eventually, as money-laundering, besides being a criminal activity in and of itself, aids and abets lots of other criminal activities such as drug dealing (imagine Singapore, where drug smuggling is a crime punishable by hanging, helping drug dealers store and launder their cash!) and terrorism (it takes cash to mount bombings and terrorist acts). I wonder how long it will take for the government here to crack down hard on the banks who are allowing money-laundering to happen.

Then we talked about the inequalities here. I have noticed a rise in the number of street beggars here. They rarely just ask for money: they sell something small like a packet of tissues, but it’s still begging. Disabled people play musical instruments in the subways under the streets (not to be confused with the rapid transit system), young people in wheelchairs hold placards asking for donations. It’s rife.

Yes, there is begging in London, New York, and the like. I admit that. But how many of them outside of Singapore are elderly people who have no pension and no means of getting support (as there is no government social safety net here, to speak of). The government had to pass a law requiring children to support their parents, on pain of imprisonment. That springs from a sense that children were neglecting their parents because they didn’t want to waste money on them. There is also a sense that raising a family is so expensive that parents have to take second place (I think). There are some people who never had or couldn’t have children. Who is going to support them here? So they go out on the streets and beg.

One of our dinner companions volunteers for social welfare charities connected with his church, and he felt that if people didn’t want to beg, they would go to those charities for help. But, I pointed out, there is no central place where people can be referred to charities for their needs. They have to find these places themselves. Many of them aren’t equipped to do that (for language reasons, or reasons of pride). Until Singapore comes to grips with the question of how it treats its weakest and oldest people, it won’t be able to state that everyone is participating in its economic boom.

I’m troubled by this situation: so much so that I gave Sg$2 to a woman who was selling tissues at Somerset MRT station as we went home after dinner.

Remembrance of things past: Madeleine Department. I found in Shanghai that our host used Dettol shower gel (not available in the UK, I believe). My first Singaporean partner, Tom, also used that particular shower gel. The scent drew me back 12 years and I think I might buy a bottle or two for use in London. Not to remember Tom, but to remember Singapore.

We are thinking of coming back at Chinese New Year 2008 (January/February time). We are hoping that my host, BK, will come to visit us in London in September.

I am also thinking that there would be worse things than to have to come here with HWMBO to look after his aged parents. But I will probably change my mind when I’m back in London. At the very least the weather is normally pleasant and there aren’t many natural disasters like earthquakes or typhoons to deal with. They had a waterspout a few months ago, but it didn’t touch land.

Today’s Unfortunate Package Wording URL

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Thanks to MadPriest, we get this picture of Ainsley Harrot’s Sausages, including instructions below. Ainsley is camp as tits (for you USans who don’t get UK TV) so the instruction wording is, strangely, reminiscent…

Back in Singapore

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

We did indeed get back Tuesday evening, and have been back for two entire days now. Wednesday was fairly fallow for me, as HWMBO was going to be with his parents the entire time. So, I decided to take the MRT someplace I’d never been: Marina Bay, which is the end of the North-South Line.

Well, it’s barren. The park over there is nice, and there is a public toilet which is probably cruisy when there are people around but no one except me was there at the time and I had real business to which I needed to attend, but I had to walk back to the station as there was construction going on that kept anyone from going anywhere useful. I went to the next station up, Raffles Place Interchange, but that’s the business and financial district. Nothing of interest there except tall buildings. So I walked to a very old bridge that went over a canal of some sort and got pics of some monuments and the like, until I finally discovered the underground passageway from there to City Hall and Raffles City shopping centre. Got a sandwich for lunch and also a book called The ASBO Show, by the same gentleman who wrote Refusal Shoes, which I enjoyed immensely. The book was so funny that I finished it that afternoon. I recommend it, especially to British readers, who will appreciate some of the political takes in it.

Then off for dinner with Yawning Bread, aka Alex Au, premier of the gay community in Singapore, edgy mover and shaker, and all-round nice guy. He and I are contemporaries, so it’s always nice to compare notes. We had dinner together at an Indonesian/Thai restaurant which had absolutely delicious rice, salads, green beef curry, and chicken. We then joined HWMBO and his brother for coffee, which was terribly difficult to find a place to get at 9:30 pm on the main tourist drag. Very troublesome, as HWMBO would say.

Thursday was a busy day. HWMBO and I had lunch with our friend T.H. downtown at one of a local chain of Chinese restaurants. I had some delicious dumplings and beef brisket over noodles. Very nice. Then we wandered around in bookstores. T.H. is a Chinese teacher here, and he convinced me that I should buy two books and start learning Chinese again. We will see whether HWMBO will talk with me in Chinese at home. Anyway, I bought the books, so he’ll have to try.

This evening I participated in a most interesting event. Alex Au is a photographer, and he is doing something called The Kissing Project. Singapore has in the past banned erotic photos of same-sex affection. What Alex is going to do is to take pictures of same-sex kissing and try to get a license for an exhibit. Otherwise, he will post them on the Internet or give an illustrated talk (for which he doesn’t need a permit), or both. There was one male couple there, and two other guys besides me, both of whom were much younger than I. Xavier and Lester were very nice about being photographed kissing someone twice their age. I, of course, viewed it as a Platonic event (play for them, a tonic for me). It’s edgier than usual as Xavier is Muslim, Lester is Chinese, and I am (natch!) white. So all of the picture Alex took of us three are interracial as well as inter-generational. No spit or tongues were swapped (at least between myself and the other two). I bought Xavier a bratwurst and beverage afterwards and we shot the breeze for a while. He is a philosophy student here and I encouraged him in that as Singapore has too many capitalists and not enough philosophers. Every bookstore (and we went to several today) has a large business section devoted to parting people from their money in return for a book that promises that they will be able to become rich by following the example of the book’s author. The bratwurst stall on the Food Street in Chinatown is run by an Austrian who has been here for 10 years and loves it. More power to him. I’m glad I asked whether he was German or Austrian before talking to him as the wrong answer would definitely have offended.

I happened to mention that I am a Freemason, and Xavier turned out to be interested in that from the point of view of a philosopher. So I’m hoping to get Alex to give me Xavier’s email address so I can chat with him further about it. Off home (stood all the way, almost) and now to bed.

Toe update: It looks better than it did and it seems to be weeping much less. I hope that it’ll be completely dry and healing over by Sunday.

Today’s thought-provoking URL

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

One of my LJ friends, , posted what may be the most original, thought-provoking LJ entry I’ve seen in a while. Go there and read it.

My blog’s rating

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

What's My Blog Rated?

Last two days in Shanghai, and Singapore again

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Well, I’m back in Singapore again, tired but seemingly OK. No jetlag now, as Singapore and China are in the same time zone.

Monday we decided to meet Jane for a trip to Shanghai Zoo. We met her downtown and went to a food court, where we had real Shanghainese food. Most of it is dumplingesque, with large dumplings very similar to what we would have in The Well at the Elephant, plus some wonton-like dumplings in soup, and round dumplings, all of which were filled with beef or pork. Very nice indeed. Then we taxied out to Shanghai Zoo. Thirty RMB to get in, and, I tell you, it was quite sad, really. The zoo has lots of open space, lots of places to sit down, and a great variety of animals. However, the smaller primates were in relatively small cages with little in the way of amusement. They sat and stared, for the most part. The elephants were bored–I’m told that when an elephant stands and sways back and forth, swinging its trunk, it’s bored. These three elephants were bored stiff. One was a very cute 7 month old baby elephant, but it’s learning to be bored. We went to see the sealion show. but it was just the usual toss the ball to the sealion and watch him balance it on his nose.

HWMBO got more and more excited as we got close to Da Xiong Mao. On the steps leading up to the enclosure Jane discovered a cute little kitten, just wandering around. Apparently people, thinking that a zoo is where animals are, drop unwanted pets over the fence. Jane wanted to take her home (she couldn’t have been more than a month old or so) but we convinced her that it probably wasn’t a good idea (she already has a cat, and various feline disorders might be brought into the house with the kitten). Then we got to see Da Xiong Mao, in all her glory. She was sitting in the corner eating not bamboo, but apples and various things that looked like cake but probably weren’t. Her white patches of fur were yellow, as though she were a heavy smoker. Bamboo was being noisily piled up behind her by an attendant, but she took no notice. Apples were the order of the day.

We had to make our way out then so that we could get home for massages, but some observations about the zoo are in order:

  • This zoo is really a golden opportunity going to waste. There are lots of interesting animals here, but they are all bored stiff, most are in unsuitable habitats, and while they seem well-nourished physically, mentally they are quite unfit (in my opinion).
  • The physical plant needs urgent attention. It’s clear that in its 52 year history it hasn’t been improved much. In the Singapore Zoo, you wouldn’t even know that the animals defecate or urinate, it’s so clean and well kept. The plant is up to date. The habitats are appropriate to the animal. Not so in Shanghai. It needs money desperately and a plan to improve the facilities to be humane to the animals.
  • There is a great opportunity here to make the zoo a destination not only for tourists but for the local population as well. With a Metro station either soon to be opened or already open, good bus service, lots of open space, and interesting animals to see it would be a natural draw and could make lots of money and a worldwide reputation. It’s a shame the place has been left to fester. Very few locals and even fewer tourists were there–it would benefit from the revenue bigger crowds would bring.

C.B. had booked us a masseur to make a house call that evening so we hurried back. He is a 40-ish rather short guy but, wow, what strength in his hands. I was screaming in pain as he did my calves and legs. I think my back is a bit better, so we’l see whether the muscle spasms come back. The masseur did 1-1/2 hours on me then 1/2 hour each on HWMBO and Jane. He told HWMBO (he only spoke rudimentary English, so I needed HWMBO to translate) that I was scared of pain so he went very easy on me…it sure didn’t seem easy when he was doing it.

That night we had Taiwanese porridge. Quite a performance. It was billed as “Grandmother’s Gruel”, which doesn’t have quite the same sense of flavour as “Grandmother’s Porridge” would. There is a burner in the middle of the table, and on the burner is placed a pot of thin rice porridge, mostly water really. A costumed waitress then cooks the food you ordered in the porridge, and ladles each item out in turn. They started out with fish, which I didn’t eat. Then there was something that looked suspiciously like liver…I asked, and it was. So I didn’t have any of that either. By now I was ravenous as I’d only had a few cucumbers and various other bits.

She brought out the beverage. I asked whether it was tea, and HWMBO replied, “It’s chestnut water.” Dubious, I took a sip. It tasted like water chestnuts. Ick. I asked for some mineral water to take my pills with.

Finally there was some chicken, which was quite bony but tasty. There was some tofu, which was nice, and finally various vegetable bits that were OK. At the end of it all the server put some more rice in the porridge and we each got a bowl of that. I felt as if I would lose lots of weight on such fare.

This morning my foot was better. We had toyed with the idea of going to the art museum before going to the airport, but I feel that on the travel day it’s best to concentrate on packing and getting to the airport rather than going elsewhere and maybe introducing some complication into the equation. So we went to a Western style caf

Shanghai, Day III

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Well, there were no disasters today. I woke up, looked at my toe and it has already improved. And, jumping ahead, this evening when I undressed it after walking and standing all day, it was still improving. So, fingers crossed this will continue.

We went out and took a taxi to the Metro. I haven’t mentioned much about the taxis here, I believe. They are ubiquitous, clean, and well kept. Unfortunately, I’ve not been in one yet that had a functioning rear seat belt. This makes me majorly nervous, as the traffic here is wild, wild, wild. People just walk in front of cars, they jaywalk with impunity, I’ve only seen one motorcylist wearing a helmet (and I will bet he was foreign), and running red lights is the norm. Anyway, we got to the Metro in one piece. We went on an elevated train one stop to Line 2, which is below ground, and took that to Nanjing Road East. There we met our friend Jane for a walk to the Bund for some pictures.

Now, I won’t be uploading pics from the camera for a while, so no pics here. However, I did take some down there. The buildings are all 1930’s or perhaps turn of the last century, and every last one has a Chinese flag on it. The tourists are bunched like flies to honey over there, so the touts are out in force. Every few yards, a guy or (more rarely) a girl will sidle up to you (if you look like a tourist) and mutter “Watches?” As a tourist, you throw them when you answer “Bu yao” which means “Don’t want.” They then go away convinced you speak enough Chinese to understand them. There were no touts for girls, boys, or massages, which somewhat surprised me.

We walked up the main drag until we got to an (ahem!) Pizza Hut, where Jane thought we should have lunch. This was, um, interesting. There was no diet soda, so I had to have a Kiwi Mango drink, which tasted neither of kiwi nor of mango. It must have come from Zaphod Beeblebrox’s spaceship “The Heart of Gold,” where the tea machine spat out something that was almost but not quite entirely unlike tea. The pizza was OK, but I long for a US pizza, with a thin crust, oodles of peppers and onions on it, and lots of tomato sauce and mozzarella. I shall have to learn to make one, I think. I banged my head on the ceiling as I walked upstairs to the toilets. Saw stars for a moment or two. The “Mind your head” sign is parallel to the staircase and only becomes obvious as you descend.

Then we taxied to an older part of town, where there were shops galone. I bought a finger painting in blue that I felt was absolutely stunning, a name chop (Chinese signet stamp), some socks for my poor feet, a Beijing 2008 neck chain (I wish they’d take it in 2012 as well), and HWMBO bought a panda to accompany the one I bought him in 2006. We saw a traffic accident at the end of the road we were walking on, and a fistfight broke out between a taxi driver and (we believe) his passenger. The passenger’s girlfriend tried to break up the fight, and didn’t succeed. I took some pictures. The crowd was growing, and turning ugly, before we taxied away to the restaurant.

The restaurant is very substantial, with lots of very heavy wooden tables laid out as if around a courtyard. There is a grand staircase up to the balcony, which will figure later. We ordered a lot of stuff (again, no diet soda, so I had to order a bottle of Evian with which to take my pills), including some brown sticks of solidified tofu, which tasted almost but not quite entirely unlike cheese, asparagus with black fungus (the fungus was chewy, but the asparagus was OK), some steamed pork belly which seemed quite fatty to me (so little of it was consumed by me), a whole braised spicy fishhead (of which I did not partake but which HWMBO demolished–these are huge, about the size of dinner plates), Szechuan chicken, which had more chili pods than chicken pieces (but tasted quite good–your mouth didn’t burn after eating it, it tingled), some chicken and mushroom soup that was fabulous, fried rice that is the closest I’ve ever had to fried rice in US Chinese restaurants (I gobbled it up), Szechuan spicy noodles which were good, sweet potato puffs and a corn bun, which were also both good.

Then, at 7:40, the performance began. A man in costume jumped out on the balcony and began to caper about, robes and fan swinging in the air as he jumped. Wonderful; I got some pics which will, unfortunately, have to wait. Then he came around the balcony and descended the staircase. I posed with him as HWMBO was in the background and Choo Beng took a picture. That one came out really well.

Back to the balcony for some fire-eating. It was really great; got one picture which probably will need lots of Photoshop before it’s presentable.

Now in London, you’d probably pay 25 pounds a head for something like this, maybe more. We paid 295 renminbi, which is approximately 20 pounds. For the entire meal plus performance.

Then home to unpack our goodies, watch a Chinese version of Pop Idol (good looking boys), and make this entry, and thus to bed.

A meme to Internet friendship

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

If there are one or more people on your friends list who make your world a better place just because they exist, and who you would not have met (in real life or not) without the Internet, then post this same sentence in your journal.

Today’s might-have-been disaster

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Well, I’m in Shanghai. It’s quite smoggy, a bit overcast, but our host, Choo Beng, is very gracious. We went shopping last night and the prices are quite reasonable. We haven’t bought anything yet, but DVDs and the like, even licit ones (as opposed to illicit pirates ones) are very cheap.

What isn’t cheap is medical care. My toe got to the point yesterday where I decided I needed to see a physician. So today we found ourselves at the Expat Doctor’s office. It’s quite posh, very up to date care, and a very nice Chinese woman doctor. Yes, my toe is slightly infected. They dressed it for me, gave me loads of stuff to keep it dressed, gave me an antibiotic to take for two weeks, and a bill for 2035 yuan. That is about GBP 130. Not that my toe is not worth 10 times that amount.

I took the opportunity to ask her why I seem to be prone to this problem when I come to the tropics, and she thinks that, even though I bring the most comfortable shoes I have, my feet swell up enough in the humidity to make them too tight to wear. So, it’s diabetic crocs for me from now on.

We went to a Hong Kong restaurant for lunch, and had duck, chicken, tofu, and broccoli, with rice. A bit of mango ice to end with. It was quite nice, even though the rather sharp-faced woman at the next table was chatting away at her mobile phone all the time while eating, which was kind of distracting. They also had a very bizarre kind of rack, which I will be showing you all later on and asking for a guess as to what it is.

I’m staying at home keeping quiet, while HWMBO and Choo Beng are traipsing around. Tonight we’ll be dining with their friends Jane, her husband, and their family. Should be nice. Then another antibiotic pill, and to bed.

I have discovered that LogMeIn works from China as well. This is interesting, as I cannot access my livejournal directly.

Today’s minor disaster

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Got up this morning and discovered that a blister on my right big toe had burst. I find it difficult to understand why I have such trouble with my feet when I am here. Could it be that the heat makes them swell and that chafes in the shoes which fit perfectly in the UK? Anyway, bought some special blister plasters and will try to get some proper dressings while I’m in Shanghai. I’m certain that someone will be able to assist. I shall keep it clean and as dry as possible. If it’s still weeping when I get back, I shall see a doctor here and get some antibiotics as well as proper dressings.

Next time I come I shall take advice on good shoes to wear so that chafing will be kept to a minimum. I’ll probably look like an old man on his last legs, but I don’t care…I am so tired of my feet.

In other news: didn’t do much today. I went to Bishan shopping centre and had a MosBurger. For those not familiar with Singapore, MosBurger is a Japanese burger chain. Their burgers are small compared to McD’s and Burger King, but they are very tasty. I had that, small fries, and a diet Coke. Bought a book to read during lunch, and found it so riveting I came back home and finished it. The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld is a murder mystery set in 1909 New York, with Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and various other real people as part of the plot. Really good. , I’ll try to bring it back as I think it might be something you would like (although not a serious book).

This evening I met for dinner and a drink. He is so nice and sweet and funny that if I weren’t married to HWMBO, I’d propose immediately. He will be a great catch for someone as he’s not only good looking, but great company. We then went to Tantrics and I met for the first time. Also a sweetheart, and I’m so glad that I can meet all these people on my travels. Then home, packed, and now to bed.

Today’s Golden Shower of Death URL

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

If you’re a German train driver, and you feel the need to relieve yourself, do not do what this gentleman did. Thanks to Ron’s Log for this one.

No disasters so far today (but it’s still before midnight)

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Well, I went off downtown and decided to ride the East-West Line to Boon Lay, as I’d never been to that end of the line. Very boring at the end, really. Nothing special. But now I can say that I’ve ridden the entire system except for the two stations toward Changi Airport. I doubled back to meet HWMBO and T.H. for lunch and a trip through the National Museum of Singapore. Lunch was at a cafe at City Hall that’s best forgotten. The service was slower than molasses running up a hill in January during a cold snap. I had linguini with bratwurst sliced on it. It was spicy and I enjoyed it. Had an apple tart for dessert and Macadamia Nut coffee. Figured I’d need the calories for the walking in the afternoon.

The National Museum is interesting. They have an exhibition by Bjork’s husband going on now. It’s movies, and one adapts the story of Hiram Abiff, the legendary Master Mason who supervised the construction of Solomon’s Temple. Hiram Abiff is beloved among all Freemasons as the first Master of the Craft, so I’m sad that I won’t be able to see it, as all the tix were sold out.

What we went through was an exhibition of Singapore history from the 14th Century to the present day. There’s certainly a lot of history about…it’s just lying on the ground, waiting for people to pick it up. You get a “companion” which is a rather large screen guide that has interactive video as well as audio in it. It also has (probably) a Bluetooth receiver so that when you get close to a video screen in an exhibit you hear what’s being said on the video. Very ingenious, and seamless.

There was a lot about the Japanese occupation, still fresh in many minds. Not a lot about Japan’s surrender to the Allies after the war. Quite a bit about the Changi concentration camp. Lots of household goods exhibits and the like. It gave you a flavour of what Singapore was like before it became so Westernised in recent years.

There was also a lot about Lee Kwan Yew, the father of modern Singapore, who is still alive and active more than 50 years after he first ran for the Legislative Assembly in the early 1950’s (he’s in Russia this very week, talking about trade and promising to come back yearly to review the state of trade between Singapore and Russia: he’s 84 years old or thereabouts and still looking toward the future). His current title is “Minister Mentor”; former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong is “Senior Minister” and the current Prime Minister is Lee Hsien Loong, LKY’s son. There was a fair bit of information about Singapore’s joining Malaysia, but not as much about Singapore’s leaving Malaysia a few years later. Very very interesting. I recommend it, but save an entire day for it and go through slowly. We went through rather quickly, and I lost some of it in the rush.

I then went to Tampines (pronounced TAM-pin-ees, not tam-PEE-ness) in the East to meet LC, who is a member of Signel and who wanted to meet me and have dinner. We ate in a food court; I had the Chinese version of what I ate for lunch: spicy noodles with meatballs and chicken broth, with a Diet Coke. Very nice, and the company was good as well. Back home at 9:30, after having to stand on the North-South train from City Hall to Bishan. You’d think it’s rush hour at 8:30 pm. And no one has any respect. They jostle, push, and prod you to get into the train, but resolutely stand in the door when it’s time for you to get out. Back home to look at email ( is still going and really great too. You really have to look into this program if you ever travel away from home for more than a day or two.) and then, after concluding this entry, to bed.

Today’s disaster

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Well, it seems that I’m fated to have one disaster per day (at least) while on holiday. Today was no exception. After a nice hawker center meal with my host, I set out on the 105 bus to return to the Chinese consulate to get my passport. Waited in a queue (natch) until the gate opened and we streamed through. Paid my Sg$85, and queued to pick up my passport. The lady behind the counter ruffled through the passports in several trays, took the slip into another room (unseen by us), then returned after about 10 minutes. Those behind me were saying things like, “What’s going on?” and blaming me for the holdup.

The lady returned, said, “Sit over there” and resumed handing out everyone else’s passport. I was very upset and nervous. There is nothing worse than having to replace your passport while on holiday.

Oh, and you! Yes, you over there, the guy with the funny T-shirt and the Australian accent, who passed me sitting waiting on your way up to get your passport. You weren’t very helpful when you smirked and said, “They lost your passport, huh?” I muttered, “Hopefully not” but was imagining you getting caught with contraband on your way into China and sentenced to 50 years’ hard labour with an Ah Beng roommate with a huge member, a long sentence, and raging hormones.

Finally, after waiting for 40 minutes, and seeing everyone get their passports, the lady triumphantly pulled my passport out of the tray. She said, “Sorry, sorry,” and I said “Mei guanxi” (no problem), but didn’t mean it. Had a hard time calming myself down.

Went to town and met HWMBO, who helped me calm down. Did a bit of shopping, then met our host, our friend Leslie, and another friend Edwin for dinner. Then, oddly enough, we were invited to a gala showing of the new Fantastic Four movie. Not something I’d pay good money for but the price was therefore right. A freebie bag, a can of Coke (which I couldn’t drink, of course) at every seat, a bin of caramel popcorn (ditto not eating, though I sneaked a few kernels), and posters, notebooks, and the like. HWMBO has a friend with some young children who will probably adore the freebies, so we took our seats and went through about 1-3/4 hours of movie. Kids will love it. Adults, well, only if they have kids or are regressing. One shirtless scene by the guy who played the fiery gent. SFX were, well, special.

Home and to bed, right now!

I HATE Mondays

Monday, June 11th, 2007

This has been a gawdawful day–I got through it only with HWMBO’s help, so thanks and hugs go to him.

I woke up at 6:30 to get ready to go to the Chinese embassy to apply for my visa for Shanghai. I got showered, dressed, and then went to the kitchen to eat a bit and take my pills, which I had prepared last night. As I took the pills, I counted, and realised that there was one missing. I went back into the room and, sure enough, I had neglected to pack my beta-blocker. I blame a couple of things. First, the size, shape, and colour of the packages change every time I get a new batch of pills, due to the NHS buying its pills from the lowest bidder. So I may have mistaken them for another pill which I did pack. Second, I take so many pills now it’s easy to forget one if you’re not careful. Third, there were so many pills in the bag that it would be difficult to discern that this particular box of pills wasn’t in the bag.

So, what to do? I went over to Bishan to meet HWMBO, whom I immediately told of my plight. He was sympathetic, but we needed to get to the embassy pronto, so we did that, I all the time wondering when my heart would suddenly conk out.

The embassy is not terribly forbidding; there was little or no security presence to speak of, set against the vehicle barrier and the several guards stationed at the British High Commission next door. We waited for 45 minutes on the steps until they opened the doors. We then “took a number”, filled out the form, and waited a couple of minutes. Called to the window, the clerk took the papers and told me to come back tomorrow. I’ll be paying the equivalent of GBP 25 for this, whereas in London I would have paid GBP 75.

After this, HWMBO and I went to breakfast, and tried to find a pharmacy, only to discover that bisoprolol is only given under a doctor’s prescription so I’d have to visit a doctor. Back to Bishan we went, me in a real state. Our host took me to a clinic (they have 24-hour clinics here!) where the doctor took my blood pressure, sympathised with me about all the pills I have to take, and gave me 30 atenolol pills, which are functionally equivalent. All for the equivalent of GBP 8. We went to the local food stall for lunch, where I popped my pill with a Diet Coke.

Then back to the flat for a few hours of shut-eye and letting my diuretic pass out of my system before I moved away from the bathroom. We then took a bus downtown, on which I was embarrassed because my farecard was out of cash and the driver called me back to pay. I had to use coins to pay for the ride, and when we got to Chinatown, put Sg$50 on the card. That should keep me for a while. We wandered around Chinatown for a while, enjoying the ambiance…”You want to come for a massage?” “You want a suit made while you wait?”, that kind of thing. HWMBO had some dumpling soup, and we then walked over to the new Temple of the Tooth, mentioned in a previous entry. Very nice and new, but I couldn’t go in as I was wearing shorts. We walked down to Clarke Quay to find a restaurant, and after a lot of walking through a new shopping centre (they have so many shopping centres here it’s not funny; why do they need a new one?? Tell me again??) finally found a restaurant. I decided on a burger (silly me, but I have a lot of hawker-style food at other times so occasionally I want something else). Back home, read email, and now to bed.

Other random observations:

  • The MRT is more and more crowded, it seems. I was standing holding on to a pillar this evening and a young gentleman who was holding onto an overhead bar with both hands then leaned on my hand clutching the pillar, with his armpit sticking right into my fingers. I resisted the temptation to tickle his armpit, but also realised that perhaps he didn’t wash his shirt as often as he ought.
  • It’s very nice to see Singapore overland by bus. The one we took today went right past the first place I stayed when I came here in 1995 to visit my ex. I now have a better idea of where everything is.
  • The old Singapore is fast disappearing. The stalls where people try to pull you in used to be ubiquitous. Now you really only see them in Chinatown. The shophouses of Chinatown are falling to the developers very very quickly indeed, as well. If you do like Old Asia, and are coming to Singapore, you won’t see much of it in a few years’ time. So hurry!

I do hope that the rest of the trip goes better than it has so far. Good thoughts and sympathetic murmurs would be most appreciated.

Sunday in Singapore

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

I had a much better night; I thank your good thoughts and the melatonin, in that order.

Our host had a houseguest over the weekend other than me, and we all went out to lunch together. He’s from KL, and works in clothing design. Very nice chap, David’s the name. I conducted him to the MRT station, then turned to walk to the loo before getting on the train myself. I had one of those back spasms that will absolutely paralyse you. I managed to get to a pillar and stand against it, to the bemusement of a very hot guy across the path. I stood for a while and finally the spasm went away. Then I was off to Sim Lim Square to look around (but not shop).

One thing that has become clear to me is that Singapore has gotten much more crowded of late. The malls are more crowded, the streets even more crowded (and few people other than mad dogs and Englishmen walk on the streets in the midday sun here), and the MRT is crowded; I only got a seat twice out of six trips today.

My friend George gave me a call and said that he could have dinner tonight and that as his bf is going out of town for a meeting tomorrow, tonight would be best. So I went downtown again to meet them in Chinatown. We ate at Xinmin Vegetarian Restaurant, 29 Kreta Ayer Road, open each evening except Monday. They had a very nice Ma Po beancurd, and sweet and sour mock pork. Their English is limited, so you will have to point if you have no Chinese. But the food’s worth it and not too dear.

Afterwards we met HWMBO and his brother for tea. We passed the new Temple of Buddha’s Tooth in the centre of Chinatown. Apparently the temple was built right across the square from a big Methodist Church, which has taken exception to such a heathen building springing up so near to them. They are just pig-ignorant. Most Protestants here are even more fundamentalist than coldwater Babtists, and ignorant on top of it. Some feel that meditation is the devil’s work, because Buddhists do so much of it. Tell that to the chaplain of Dunwoodie seminary, who made us meditate for 1/2 hour each morning back in the mid 1970’s.

Tea, then home again. Early start tomorrow for the Chinese Embassy and my visa. Hope it goes OK.

First night in Singapore

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

I had a rough night. HWMBO came over around 7:30, after BK and I had dinner, and they watched the French Open. I tried to stay up but when I woke up at 10 pm, they were both gone and the lights were out. I suppose I was so out of it that they just tiptoed out and shut the door quietly. I took my statin and went back to bed, but I woke up at 2 am local time (which I expected) and was extremely shaky, a sign that I needed some carbs, fast. I went to the kitchen and ended up eating two pieces of raisin bread, which helped after a while. Logged on to the computer, read some email, chatted with some people on MSN, but couldn’t get back to sleep until 4am. The alarm went off at 7 and I finally dragged my sorry ass out of bed at 7:50. Am now watered, fed, and pilled, and will probably emerge from the house around 11 or noon.

On reflection, I’m thinking that perhaps travelling east so that we arrived early in the morning wasn’t such a hot idea. I suspect that the time difference combined with the erratic eating pattern over the flight contributed to a general sense of disorder in my body clock and my sugar levels.

So if I want to continue travelling to Singapore and other points east, I need to do some research.

On a lighter note, I saw the following in MadPriest, who was channelling goodfornowt (both on blogspot):

A man and his dog were walking down a country road, when they were hit by a truck. Coming to, the man found he was still on the same road, but now there were a pair of pearly gates just ahead of him.

“Where is this?” he asked the white-bearded gatekeeper.

“It’s heaven,” came the reply. “You were both hit by a truck and killed, and that’s why you’re here. Come on in

Well, we’re here…

Friday, June 8th, 2007

…and I am knackered. The check in process was, as usually, annoying but relatively painless this time. Once we got on the plane, the problem was the food. I asked (mistakenly, I guess) for diabetic meals. The lunch just after takeoff features insipid steamed chicken with a few veggies carelessly strewn around it. Then they offered me ice cream, which doesn’t feature on most diabetic menus in any great amount. Breakfast featured a leaden croissant WITH marmalade (not really a great item for a diabetic) along with an “entree” of steamed fish. Aside from the fact that I detest fish, whatever it was had been steamed so badly that it was tough. Those who got the regular menu got an omelette or seafood noodles. I would have gladly exchanged for an omelette. Why do people think that unspiced unsauced steamed meat or fish is right for diabetics?

When we got here, we got our bags relatively easily and WL’s parents met him there. His mom looks very frail now–she has a very pronounced widow’s hump. But he went off with them and I waited for my host, BK, to get there. We were quite early due to the fact that airlines routinely exaggerate the schedule times so that they have little chance of getting there late. The result is that you’re almost always early.

So off to BK’s place, where I greeted his housekeeper, Anker, with joy: she is really one of life’s joyful people. Then a shower and to bed, fitfully. It’s now 5:30 pm and I’m still knackered. We’ll probably go out for dinner later and then back here and to bed again. I hope to feel better tomorrow.

By the way, if you’re ever about to be away from home and you want to use your home computer, install LogMeIn I was amazed at how easily it controlled the computer at home. I now won’t have the problem I had last time: not being able to download my email onto my home computer and thus having to use Yahoo!’s interface and trawl through hundreds of emails. Now I just use MailWasher as usual, download email, and then read it through Eudora. I got the free version; there is another version with which you can transfer files and stuff.

Oh, and if is reading, you may be called on to reboot my computer at intervals; I’ll send you a text (bearing the London time difference in mind) if I need to reboot.

Well, we’re off

Thursday, June 7th, 2007

…in an hour and a half. Wish us luck!

Will check in when we get there, in approvimately 20 hours.

Almost ready to go to Singapore

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

I’m almost completely packed for Singapore. We leave tomorrow for the airport around 9 am, and arrive in Singapore at 7:30 am Friday. HWMBO will be met by his parents, and I’ll be met by our friend BK.

I have installed a program that hopefully will allow me to control my home computer from Singapore. That will allow me to read email as though I were here and the like. So, we’ll see how that works out.

Will resume blogging when I’m there and unpacked.

Googling for people

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

I don’t know whether others do it, but I often, in moments of idleness, google on names of people I used to hang out with, go to school with, date, and the like.

But, it’s a real art to actually get the right person and know you’ve got him or her.

For example, one man who was a classmate of mine in 6th through 9th grade in Marblehead has a very common name. I won’t give his first name, but his last name is “Smith”. Oh boy, are there lots of XXXXX Smiths hanging around. Even XXXX Smiths occurring with the words “Marblehead, Massachusetts”. No one I’ve asked in Marblehead knows what happened to him. We weren’t bosom buddies, but I’ve always wondered what happened to him.

I have discovered that another classmate of that same time is now a teacher at a Christian Science school somewhere in the Midwest. Very easy to find him, as he has a very out-of-the-ordinary name.

Our sixth grade teacher (see him here on the left) became some sort of school bigwig in another town in Massachusetts.

Another person in that picture gained a doctorate in horticulture and is one of the world’s leading experts on rhododendrons; he’s a professor at a university in Ohio.

Several people have visited my Classmates profile–I “cheated” a bit and put myself down for Marblehead High School even though I ended up in St. John’s Prep, where I graduated in 1970. But these people are usually not the people I am most interested in tracking down.

My former Singaporean boyfriend has dropped off the face of the earth. This is probably OK, but I find it hard to believe that he’s just disappeared. Our friend V.V. who was here last week, knew him at the same time we were going out together, but hasn’t heard from him in years. No one else I know in Singapore knows where he ended up either. Unfortunately, he shares a name with a very prolific professor in the United States and it’s hard to separate the dross from the actual information.

It’s quite hard to find women as they have this habit of getting married and changing their names. One woman I went to primary school with ended up as the leader of a children’s choral group in New England but unless you know her married name it’s rather difficult to find references to her.

What’s the point? I realise that people often are not findable for various reasons. I love that “Bingo!” moment when I do a search on someone and actually find them.

Does anyone else do this? I know that everyone Googles themselves, but what about other people? Do you often succeed? Any funny or interesting stories about it?

EDIT: Looking up the name of someone with whom I went to Columbia, I came up with this reference.

He has apparently done quite well. I remember Tom fondly for introducing me
to Chinese food and being a friend. Sad that we ended up not keeping in touch.

Today’s Animal House URL

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

ISTR that a food fight was part of that movie’s charm…well, these students didn’t find it so charming.

Best quote: “It was just insane,” said senior Zach Little, who was in the cafeteria when the melee began Thursday. “Things like milk cartons, full pop bottles and blue slushies were flying around. Kids literally bought the food to throw it and, to me, that’s a little expensive.”

Today’s Measurement URL

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007

Thanks to , we now have a new way of determining how many spider monkeys equal the weight of a whale’s testicle, and other great comparisons.

Today’s Capital Punishment URL

Monday, June 4th, 2007

You might say that Texas’s State Joke is alive and well and living in Washington, DC with his wife and two daughters. However, a condemned killer in Texas who is about to be executed has a different idea. As Bugs Bunny used to say after laughing uproariously at a joke, “You slay me!”

Update: Another broken CNN link; I have replaced it with his Wikipedia entry. In searching around, though, I found this link, which just strikes me as gruesome beyond belief.

Going to Shanghai too

Monday, June 4th, 2007

Well, I think we’ve finally decided to go to Shanghai to visit HWMBO’s and my friend CB, who works there, and another friend of ours who married someone who works there. I’m a bit apprehensive, as I will have to get a visa which is not particularly a great thing to do, and probably get it in Singapore, as we’ve waited too long to get one here except at an exhorbitant price.

Our friend former-Singapore Alex, lent me the Time Out Guide to Shanghai, which apparently thinks the city is fabulous. I shall be tied to HWMBO there, as I only speak rudimentary Chinese. I’m somewhat apprehensive, especially on the health front.

On the way back from collecting the book, I stopped off in Boots and bought some travel socks to try to avoid deep vein thrombosis during the trip. They don’t look very stylish. But, as it’s a 13 hour flight, I’m not taking any chances.

Tonight we’re having dinner at Kiasu restaurant at Queensway with my former Chinese teacher, Azalea. It was reviewed in the Weekend magazine in the grauniad and got 9/10 points. It’s a Straits-type restaurant, with Malaysian and Singaporean food.

So I guess we’re a bit crazy: about to spend 3 weeks in the Straits area, eating at local restaurants, we choose to eat at a Straits restaurant in London.

Terrorism and the Erosion of Civil Liberties

Monday, June 4th, 2007

I have been having a discussion with another lj’er on the subject of civil liberties and the prevention and punishment of terrorism. I was going to continue in a comment on his lj, but decided that it would be better to introduce the subject in my own journal.

I do blame terrorists for their criminal actions. However, I disagree that the best way of handling that is to intern them without trial, Guantanamo-style, while intensively interrogating them probably (given our swift descent into irrational fear-driven amorality) through things like waterboarding and sensory-deprivation.

The best way to handle terrorists is to cease giving them an excuse for terrorism, gather hard evidence, treat them as human beings not as irrational monsters, jail them good and hard when they have committed crimes, and preserve civil liberties for all of us so that we don’t descend into the same pit that the terrorists inhabit.

Conservatives tend to feel that preserving our own lives takes whatever the government can throw at it. Thus, erosion of civil liberties is justified as a good way to save lives. Ultimately, the only way to preserve lives is to remove the perceived motives for terrorism. Removing civil liberties will impact us all negatively, while not preserving lives. The criminals will always find ways to get around any measures restricting civil liberties. We then descend into a spiral of terrorism, restrict some liberties, more terrorism, more restriction, until there is no civil liberty at all. And even at that point people will find a way to commit terrorist acts. But it will then be too late, as there will be no liberty left to restrict. The government will then turn into a terrorist organisation itself, jailing people without any evidence whatsoever, keeping them there under suspicion for the rest of their lives, or torturing them until they go insane. It has already happened: Guantanamo Bay is such a place. The conclusion is clear: Unchecked, government can itself become a terrorist organisation. And we will all become its victims if we are not careful.

W.Bro. Benjamin Franklin, a Masonic sage as well as a Father of the American Revolution, said, “Those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.” Very wise words.

Today’s Chicago URL

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

One wonders whether this priest was on crack or skunk…

This seems to have gotten under the radar

Saturday, June 2nd, 2007

I haven’t seen any of this in the blogs, but Sam Garrison, Nixon defender, lawyer, and gay activist, has died. Here is a link to the obituary, which, as it’s in the Washington Post, required registration, I’m afraid. The best paragraph in it is:

In the 33 years since that summer (of the impeachment hearings), Mr. Garrison divorced, went bankrupt, came out as a gay man, served time in prison for embezzlement and was disbarred. A former business partner conspired to kill him. He recovered his right to vote and his law license, and resumed his legal career.

I guess he kept busy.

Odds and ends

Friday, June 1st, 2007

I have been meaning to post this amazing factoid: all the candy machines in London Underground stations seem to have been decommissioned, and are (I presume) awaiting removal. One less source of temptation for me.

Our friend T.H. arrived from Singapore this morning. The plane got here at 4 am but had to circle Heathrow for a while because none of the ground staff were at work yet. Then they waited for 1/2 hour while the baggage handlers clocked in and got around to unloading their plane. He’ll be here for two weeks, while we’ll be going to Singapore in a week. Very complicated.

I am going for lunch with two people from the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee to get some material for their website, which I have put up. Once I’ve finished, I’ll post the link so that you can all read about the big Olympic landgrab. I knew that getting the Olympics was not the great boon it was talked up to be. All our lives will be in upheaval for the next 5 years or so, until the Olympics and Paralympics are finished. Then we pick up the pieces and pay for it for decades, like Montr

Today’s Cinema-Related URL

Friday, June 1st, 2007

…kind of. You may remember the snappy tune “Popcorn”, beloved of segu