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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Shim Sham! -vvv

As part of the celebration of living legend Frankie Manning's 95th birthday, Lindy hoppers around the world video themselves doing the Shim Sham. It's a pleasure to join these talented, fun-loving people in making Singapore's contribution (and also getting burnt in the Sun on the steps of City Hall).

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Yiheng made
7:58 PM


hey!! i see you in the clip!! must be tough dancing on the steps though.. nice!!!
By Anonymous Serene Wu, at 8:03 AM  

Wah, nice video!! I see you too!! Hehe!
By Blogger fEatHeRs, at 10:21 AM  

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Sunday, March 29, 2009
Swing Shift -vvz

Here's a short chamber concert that I attended a fortnight ago, featuring the I-Sis Trio. I had heard them perform before so I knew I probably wouldn't be disappointed.

The programme consisted of popular tunes from reasonably diverse genres of music. Surprisingly, I recognized most of the pieces, or at least the composer was familiar to me. There was a Piazolla slow tango, well-known Spanish tune Malaguena and also the happy music of Fats Waller. The harp was played like a flamenco guitar for Malaguena, which I thought was really cool. They also played Take Five, although it sounded a tad too classical for me. The cello solo for this was rather interesting though; parts of it were played like two voices instead of one.

Overall, it was a reasonably enjoyable concert. Suitably light for a Sunday evening.

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Yiheng made
11:38 AM


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Good News! -vwv

Technology has brought us many wonders in this modern age but there are still many things that are beyond its capabilities. We can not, for example, resurrect a dead man or regrow entire limbs. But fret not, there is good news.

A world-renowned miracle healer (whose name sounds like rain hard bonkers) is coming to Singapore. This guy supposedly converted millions and brought a dead man back to life! It's as if he's trying to outdo Jesus!

So bring your amputee friends or recently deceased relatives to give it a try. According to the website, his rallies are always followed by miraculous healings.

The only thing I can't wrap my head around is, if the healing sessions work all the time, where does the miraculous part come in?

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Yiheng made
10:28 AM


They have been advertising quite heavily. I wonder who would go man. Supposedly its free but there should be a catch somewhere...
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 2:09 AM  

Can he resurrect dead parrots? Worth a shot...
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 2:10 AM  

oh ya... i saw the ad on the train.
Says "God might descends on you!"

By Anonymous Jiangzheng, at 9:38 AM  

Resurrect dead parrots from ashes? How's that for some challenge.
By Anonymous yiheng, at 7:47 PM  

Jiangzheng, you sure it's not "God's might descends on you"? The former sounds like I have to duck for cover
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 11:49 PM  

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Was The World Made For Man? -vwv

Here's an essay I was searching for a long time ago and just stumbled on it recently. It's Mark Twain's humorous take on Man's significance in the grand scheme of things. It's long but make sure you read it to the last paragraph.

Was The World Made For Man? - Mark Twain 1903

"Alfred Russell Wallace's revival of the theory that this earth is at the center of the stellar universe, and is the only habitable globe, has aroused great interest in the world." -- Literary Digest

"For ourselves we do thoroughly believe that man, as he lives just here on this tiny earth, is in essence and possibilities the most sublime existence in all the range of non-divine being -- the chief love and delight of God." -- Chicago "Interior" (Presb.)

I seem to be the only scientist and theologian still remaining to be heard from on this important matter of whether the world was made for man or not. I feel that it is time for me to speak.

I stand almost with the others. They believe the world was made for man, I believe it likely that it was made for man; they think there is proof, astronomical mainly, that it was made for man, I think there is evidence only, not proof, that it was made for him. It is too early, yet, to arrange the verdict, the returns are not all in. When they are all in, I think they will show that the world was made for man; but we must not hurry, we must patiently wait till they are all in.

Now as far as we have got, astronomy is on our side. Mr. Wallace has clearly shown this. He has clearly shown two things: that the world was made for man, and that the universe was made for the world -- to steady it, you know. The astronomy part is settled, and cannot be challenged.

We come now to the geological part. This is the one where the evidence is not all in, yet. It is coming in, hourly, daily, coming in all the time, but naturally it comes with geological carefulness and deliberation, and we must not be impatient, we must not get excited, we must be calm, and wait. To lose our tranquillity will not hurry geology; nothing hurries geology.

It takes a long time to prepare a world for man, such a thing is not done in a day. Some of the great scientists, carefully deciphering the evidences furnished by geology, have arrived at the conviction that our world is prodigiously old, and they may be right, but Lord Kelvin is not of their opinion. He takes a cautious, conservative view, in order to be on the safe side, and feels sure it is not so old as they think. As Lord Kelvin is the highest authority in science now living, I think we must yield to him and accept his view. He does not concede that the world is more than a hundred million years old. He believes it is that old, but not older. Lyell believed that our race was introduced into the world 31,000 years ago, Herbert Spencer makes it 32,000. Lord Kelvin agrees with Spencer.

Very well. According to Kelvin's figures it took 99,968,000 years to prepare the world for man, impatient as the Creator doubtless was to see him and admire him. But a large enterprise like this has to be conducted warily, painstakingly, logically. It was foreseen that man would have to have the oyster. Therefore the first preparation was made for the oyster. Very well, you cannot make an oyster out of whole cloth, you must make the oyster's ancestor first. This is not done in a day. You must make a vast variety of invertebrates, to start with -- belemnites, trilobites, jebusites, amalekites, and that sort of fry, and put them to soak in a primary sea, and wait and see what will happen. Some will be a disappointments - the belemnites, the ammonites and such; they will be failures, they will die out and become extinct, in the course of the 19,000,000 years covered by the experiment, but all is not lost, for the amalekites will fetch the home-stake; they will develop gradually into encrinites, and stalactites, and blatherskites, and one thing and another as the mighty ages creep on and the Archaean and the Cambrian Periods pile their lofty crags in the primordial seas, and at last the first grand stage in the preparation of the world for man stands completed, the Oyster is done. An oyster has hardly any more reasoning power than a scientist has; and so it is reason ably certain that this one jumped to the conclusion that the nineteen-million years was a preparation for him; but that would be just like an oyster, which is the most conceited animal there is, except man. And anyway, this one could not know, at that early date, that he was only an incident in a scheme, and that there was some more to the scheme, yet.

The oyster being achieved, the next thing to be arranged for in the preparation of the world for man, was fish. Fish, and coal to fry it with. So the Old Silurian seas were opened up to breed the fish in, and at the same time the great work of building Old Red Sandstone mountains 80,000 feet high to cold-storage their fossils in was begun. This latter was quite indispensable, for there would be no end of failures again, no end of extinctions -- millions of them -- and it would be cheaper and less trouble to can them in the rocks than keep tally of them in a book. One does not build the coal beds and 80,000 feet of perpendicular Old Red Sandstone in a brief time -- no, it took twenty million years. In the first place, a coal bed is a slow and troublesome and tiresome thing to construct. You have to grow prodigious forests of tree-ferns and reeds and calamites and such things in a marshy region; then you have, to sink them under out of sight and let them rot; then you have to turn the streams on them, so as to bury them under several feet of sediment, and the sediment must have time to harden and turn to rock; next you must grow another forest on top, then sink it and put on another layer of sediment and harden it; then more forest and more rock, layer upon layer, three miles deep -- ah, indeed it is a sickening slow job to build a coal-measure and do it right!

So the millions of years drag on; and meantime the fish-culture is lazying along and frazzling out in a way to make a person tired. You have developed ten thousand kinds of fishes from the oyster; and come to look, you have raised nothing but fossils, nothing but extinctions. There is nothing left alive and progressive but a ganoid or two and perhaps half a dozen asteroids. Even the cat wouldn't eat such. Still, it is no great matter; there is plenty of time, yet, and they will develop into something tasty before man is ready for them. Even a ganoid can be depended on for that, when he is not going to be called on for sixty million years.

The Palaeozoic time-limit having now been reached, it was necessary to begin the next stage in the preparation of the world for man, by opening up the Mesozoic Age and instituting some reptiles. For man would need reptiles. Not to eat, but to develop himself from. This being the most important detail of the scheme, a spacious liberality of time was set apart for it -- thirty million years. What wonders followed! From the remaining ganoids and asteroids and alkaloids were developed by slow and steady and pains-taking culture those stupendous saurians that used to prowl about the steamy world in those remote ages, with their snaky heads reared forty feet in the air and sixty feet of body and tail racing and thrashing after. All gone, now, alas -- all extinct, except the little handful of Arkansawrians left stranded and lonely with us here upon this far-flung verge and fringe of time.

Yes, it took thirty million years and twenty million reptiles to get one that would stick long enough to develop into something else and let the scheme proceed to the next step.

Then the Pterodactyl burst upon the world in all his impressive solemnity and grandeur, and all Nature recognized that the Cainozoic threshold was crossed and a new Period open for business, a new stage begun in the preparation of the globe for man. It may be that the Pterodactyl thought the thirty million years had been intended as a preparation for himself, for there was nothing too foolish for a Pterodactyl to imagine, but he was in error, the preparation was for man, Without doubt the Pterodactyl attracted great attention, for even the least observant could see that there was the making of a bird in him. And so it turned out. Also the makings of a mammal, in time. One thing we have to say to his credit, that in the matter of picturesqueness he was the triumph of his Period; he wore wings and had teeth, and was a starchy and wonderful mixture altogether, a kind of long-distance premonitory symptom of Kipling's marine:

'E isn't one O'the reg'lar Line,
nor 'e isn't one of the crew,
'E's a kind of a giddy harumfrodite [hermaphrodite] --
soldier an' sailor too!

From this time onward for nearly another thirty million years the preparation moved briskly. From the Pterodactyl was developed the bird; from the bird the kangaroo, from the kangaroo the other marsupials; from these the mastodon, the megatherium, the giant sloth, the Irish elk, and all that crowd that you make useful and instructive fossils out of -- then came the first great Ice Sheet, and they all retreated before it and crossed over the bridge at Behring's strait and wandered around over Europe and Asia and died. All except a few, to carry on the preparation with. Six Glacial Periods with two million years between Periods chased these poor orphans up and down and about the earth, from weather to weather -- from tropic swelter at the poles to Arctic frost at the equator and back again and to and fro, they never knowing what kind of weather was going to turn up next; and if ever they settled down anywhere the whole continent suddenly sank under them without the least notice and they had to trade places with the fishes and scramble off to where the seas had been, and scarcely a dry rag on them; and when there was nothing else doing a volcano would let go and fire them out from wherever they had located. They led this unsettled and irritating life for twenty-five million years, half the time afloat, half the time aground, and always wondering what it was all for, they never suspecting, of course, that it was a preparation for man and had to be done just so or it wouldn't be any proper and harmonious place for him when he arrived.

And at last came the monkey, and anybody could see that man wasn't far off, now. And in truth that was so. The monkey went on developing for close upon 5,000,000 years, and then turned into a man - to all appearances.

Such is the history of it. Man has been here 32,000 years. That it took a hundred million years to prepare the world for him is proof that that is what it was done for. I suppose it is. I dunno. If the Eiffel tower were now representing the world's age, the skin of paint on the pinnacle-knob at its summit would represent man's share of that age; and anybody would perceive that that skin was what the tower was built for. I reckon they would, I dunno.

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Yiheng made
8:16 PM


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Saturday, March 21, 2009
A Pleasant Surprise -vwv

I was clearing out some old stuff to make room for my new books when I discovered this rare painting.

I did a lot of work in poster and pencil in those days but hardly anything in chinese painting, so this is quite a rare find. I don't even remember painting this. However, the crooked calligraphy is sufficient proof that this is my work. I am left-handed but all my chinese paintings and calligraphy were done with my right hand, which partially accounts for the lousy standard and my subsequent lack of involvement in this medium.

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Yiheng made
1:34 PM


I remember this!! We spent one whole week drawing the same thing eh, the whole study room was covered with newspaper to protect the table and brushes and ink and drawings like that.
By Blogger fEatHeRs, at 3:03 PM  

Wow I want that!
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 8:39 PM  

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Friday, March 20, 2009
Cantonese Music -vvz

March 7th was one of those rare Saturdays when I don't have Tai Chi practice. The Tai Chi competition had already begun. Some of my classmates had events that night and mine was on the next day. No point tiring ourselves out. I took the night off to relax and listen to some traditional Cantonese music.

It was the second night of a two night concert by some guest musicians from China. Many of the tunes were familiar to me, such as 《彩云追月》(band people will recognize it from Moonlight Kungfu), 《平湖秋月》(I'm still looking for the piano score for this) and 《旱天雷》(the default teahouse music in Wong Fei Hong movies). It was a pity they only performed 《满江红》 on the first night; I was hoping to hear that.

The highlights of the show were the items that feature famous Gaohu player 李肇芳 and Cantonese music vocalist 梁玉嵘, who is the 4th generation successor of the 星腔 style of singing. I'm no Chinese orchestra expert but I thought the gaohu solos were very good. The singing was expressive and I enjoyed it very much. Regretfully, I didn't understand 80% of what was sung (thanks to the policies of some ang moh pai politicians who think that the worth of a language is purely based on its economic value).

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Yiheng made
10:23 PM


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Sunday, March 15, 2009
The Infamous Children's Song -vvx

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Yiheng made
12:43 PM


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Friday, March 13, 2009
Cheap Gigantic Book -vvv

Here's the latest addition to my book collection - an enormous picture book titled "Cosmos" that I bought from Borders. You can tell it's huge by comparing it with my sister's mug and handphone in the picture. And it's about as heavy as a sack of rice. At $36.95, it's a damn good deal (the printed price on the book jacket is 50 pounds!). I really should visit Borders more often.

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Yiheng made
10:49 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


Current Read


Last Three Books


The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology
Arthur Cotterell, Rachel Storm

Michael Ende

Those Before


Paycheck: And Other Classic Stories By
Philip K. Dick

Mirror Mirror: A Novel
Gregory Maguire

American Gods
Neil Gaiman

Maya 5 Fundamentals
Garry Lewis, Jim Lammers

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
J. K. Rowling