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Sunday, January 27, 2008
What is Love? -vvw

This entry is not about what love is. It is, in fact, about teachers who try to tell me what love is.

In my secondary school days, teachers used to conduct classes about love, sex and stuff like that. One of the big topics was the difference between love and infatuation and in some way, defining what love is. Now that I am about the age my teachers were back then, I wonder, who are they to tell me what love is? Did they have some spectacular insight into the subject?

The way they listed the properties of love and mere infatuation, you'd think it's some psychological condition with distinct symptoms to check against. Personally, I think it's more grey than black and white. One of the teachers told us, "think not whether you can live with that person, instead, think whether you can live without that person because you can live with anyone if you force yourself to". Well, I think you can live without anyone too if you really have to. In any case, the teacher told us that she broke up with her boyfriend upon comprehending that. Poor guy!

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
8:35 PM


Sounds more interesting than my class. Our teacher flashed two slides on the transparency, one with male genitals and one with female genitals
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 11:57 PM  

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How Black Can It Get? -vvx

Darkest Material Ever Made

Scientists have created a material that absorbs more than 99.9% of the light that hits it, or something like that. I wonder if it looks the way I imagined it.

I think it will look really weird. If there is a wall made of this stuff and I stand right in front of it, wouldn't it be strange that it will look exactly the same (i.e. pitch black) whether or not I shine my torch at it? Maybe they can make a ninja suit with that material. You won't be able to make out the 3-dimensional shape of a person wearing it. He will probably look like a black 2-dimensional silhouette, literally like a walking shadow. In fact, if you make anything with this stuff, it'll be really hard to judge how far away it is since you can only guess by trying to focus your eyes on the outline.

I can already imagine some pranks you can pull with something like that.

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Yiheng made
8:16 PM


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Sunday, January 20, 2008
Aspiration vs Pragmatism -vvw

I recently had a chat with a friend about his brother who is a secondary school student. His brother excels in a certain sport, so much so that the school is willing to overlook his less than desirable test scores.

If I were my friend, I would be in a dilemma. On the one hand, one should support one's brother in the pursuit of his dreams. On the other hand, building a career as an athlete isn't exactly very practical in Singapore, especially if you have no safety net should your athletic career ends abruptly.

I think it was rather irresponsible for schools to constantly reward students who can win trophies for the schools but not pass exams for themselves. These students will grow up thinking that their athletic abilities will continue to bring them success regardless of their academic results. A day may come when they sustain injuries so severe as to end their sports career, they will be left jobless and without any qualifications. Where then will they go for help? Certainly not the schools.

It is not easy to pursue one's aspirations especially if they are not pragmatic in nature. The choice between aspiration and pragmatism is often more than a simple matter of courage. Perhaps a person who opted for the former lacks foresight to see the implications of his decision. Or maybe he has no responsibilities holding him back.

One should not be hasty in dishing out advice or in judging the choices of others. Many who chose the safe route regret it later in life but so did those who fought for their dreams and failed miserably.

p.s. There is a loosely related article that I think is worth a read at this link: Prime Movers and Second-Handers

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
12:43 AM


It's a painful choice having to decide between aspiration and pragmatism. You seem to place great emphasis on the disutility who would feel if he would one day be robbed of the means to live his dream.

Just like a singer who lost her voice, or a disfigured actress. Well, you can either take it easy and start life over, or as I would prefer, agree that you have tried your best in living your life, and commit suicide.

But would this pain be comparable to the kind where you live life taking the safe route, with full knowledge that you ought to have done better with your life?

I dunno man, most of the people I know who followed their dreams seem quite content with life, regardless of being success or not.

By Blogger Soqcrates, at 11:28 PM  

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
On the Rate of Horizontal Acceleration in Trains -vvw

One of the things really pisses me off is people stepping on my shoes. Unfortunately, it happens a lot more often than it should.

The reason is that many of the commuters who share the train I take to work have problems balancing themselves. Everytime the train jerks, they have to shift their feet and step somewhere else to regain their balance.

This reflects certain inadequacies in the train system. In my opinion, a well designed train should have an upper bound on the rate of change of horizontal acceleration (relative to the train carriage) that is manageable for an average human. Or in simple terms, one should not have to move one's feet to remain in balance while standing in the moving train.

I don't think this is asking for much, especially when trains in Japan have gone one step further by minimizing the horizontal acceleration by banking the tracks on curves.

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Yiheng made
10:10 PM


I bet you do that to other passengers yourself too so don't complain!
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 10:33 PM  

Once again, soqcrates, you are mistaken.
By Anonymous yiheng, at 8:59 AM  

There are good reasons why you can't build banked tracks inside an underground tunnel. So for the individual, rather than lose your balance and step on someone's toes, why don't you take a step back first to balance yourself throughout the ride?
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 10:58 PM  

There are indeed times when balancing yourself is near impossible.
Try taking a ride from Bukit Batok to Jurong East for instance, something I do everyday. At about the midpoint, an announcement will ring "the train is changing to the middle track soon. for your own safety, pls hold on to the rails or handgrip". About a min later, the train will do a semi violent jerk to throw the people first left, then right. Believe me, nearly everyone standing will move.
The greatest irony happens on occasions when you begin looking around for grips as per the announcement, and becos you are standing in the wrong place, and becos the super-packed train has no extra room to offer, alas you find that there are NONE to hold on to. The second irony is that theres a greater chance of this scenario happening on the newer trains, which seems to be so designed to have lesser handgrips at certain locations. I can never really totally understand this.

By Anonymous Anthony, at 4:35 PM  

I have no problems balancing myself because I use my umbrella as a third point of contact with the floor if there are no handgrips within reach. But I can't help it when other people lose their balance and step on my shoes.

From my experience, the East-West Line is a lot worse than the newer Northeast Line, at least between Outram Park and Tiong Bahru where I usually travel. I can only imagine what it must be like at Jurong East.

By Anonymous yiheng, at 11:47 PM  

I can play psp and balance myself on the train with my 3 inch heels. I get up on the train at Jurong East too, it's not so bad.
By Blogger fEatHeRs, at 1:01 PM  

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Placebo -vvx

Placebo use common, doctors say in U.S. survey

A recent survey in the U.S. found that 45% of doctors prescribe placebo to patients. That agrees with what many of us suspected all along - that doctors like to prescribe stuff that doesn't actually do anything except burn a hole in your wallet.

That is why I don't usually visit the doctor. After all, I can prescribe placebo myself and it's absolutely free. Some may argue that it wouldn't work if you already know it's a placebo but I disagree. I believe that placebo is an effective treatment, therefore it works!

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Yiheng made
9:55 PM


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Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Unexplored Destinations for Discerning Singapore Tourists -vvw

In the Life!Travel section of today's Straits Times, there's an article about supposedly unexplored, exotic destinations in China for the discerning traveller. For a moment, I thought I can learn about some really cool places to visit next. Unfortunately, the article is really one big advertisement for travel agencies. What a disappointment.

"I visit China a lot, so it's a challenge to find new tour packages," says a tourist. Very challenging indeed. On the bright side, I'm glad Singaporeans are still sticking to comfy, convenient tour packages. The last thing I want to see on my vacation is a big group of Singaporean aunties and uncles.

I seriously discourage everyone from joining tour packages if you intend to visit relatively unexplored places. Not only is it not as fun, you also destroy the very thing that makes it special. Take the Taoping Qiang Village mentioned in the article for example, ever since Erma Yina got "discovered" there, it's been swamped by tourists. I haven't been there but I bet it's no longer as appealing as it was 10 years ago.

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Yiheng made
9:02 PM


So much for unexplored places for discerning tourists. Once you start getting a tour agency to do all the planning for you, then you aren't very discerning actually.

I actually get the impression that Singaporeans don't really want to travel. They just want to get out of the country. Hence anywhere in China for example wouldn't make any difference. So long as the tour group brings you to shops where you get ripped off...

By Blogger Soqcrates, at 11:06 PM  

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Previous Posts

Swing Along 2009 -vvv

FF13 -vvx

YGBSM -vvw

Tibetan Song -vvx

Unfortunate Side Effects -vwv

Memorable News -vwv

Five Golden Flowers -vvz

Art Appreciation in Singapore -vvw

Openmindedness -vvx


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