vive the low-resolution turkey! what happens when you combine cmos image sensors with photo-taking excitement.

had a small gathering of the boys who happened to be in london, jr came over from mannheim, chan lek brought port from cambridge, alex provided the house and most of the ingredients and i provided an empty stomach. at least it was good, home-away-from-home stuff on christmas, where there's absolutely nothing to do. everything is closed. except the great west doors of st paul's cathedral where we attended evensong.

boxing day is a different story. most of the shops open and start offering massive discounts, and it's quite uncomfortable shopping with some of the crowds. covent garden was quieter because i was there insanely early so i could concentrate on buying teas and gifts. with only a limited budget, i had to settle for half-priced stuff from lilywhites. i've held the urge in for quite long now, but i really enjoy shopping now. bought a casual blazer from zara, 39.99. (details.)

26-29th was spent with my relatives in belgium, who showed us around pretty comprehensively (ok, flanders mainly). we were supposed to visit dinant in the ardennes for some hiking/scenery but it kept snowing in the south and it was difficult without proper chained tires. on the last day i had the fortune to be caught in a nice big snowfall in brussels.

so we visited brugge, antwerp, ghent, leuven and brussels. i stayed in a county home in st-lieven's esse, eating nice huge loafs of country bread with all sorts of spreads and the best pain au chocolat ever. weather was miserable, always below freezing, snowed across most of europe (they said it would snow over london too, though there was no evidence of that. it's supposed to snow today.) alex and jianrong tried 6 types of beer which leaves over 600 to go. even visited the headquarters of imbev, largest brewery in the world and the stella artois factory. highlights were the nice belfries, cathedrals and places in virtually all the medieval looking cities, the comic museum (tintin! asterix! iznogoud!), belgian waffles, belgian chocolates, and the university at leuven which is half-decent and looks a nice place to study. i will put up pictures soon.


snowboarding was the most fun i had in a long time. you get your ass kicked by the slope when you start but there's something about learning something new that takes your breath away (as does the ride up the ski lift and the accompanying scenery). importantly, i enjoyed myself with the icss people, acquitted myself well in the many late night games of poker and am able to go down slopes at reasonable speeds with reasonable technique. what a feeling! i'm coming back, i love the mountains. and the clear blue water of the is�re river. and there's an immense feeling of satisfaction when you feel ready to try further, more difficult pistes with better scenery.

now, who's for a life of teaching horseriding in summer and skiing in winter. there's something different about france especially (tempted to draw links with the bedevilled CAP). the rolling hills of bourgogne and saone-loire slowly give rise to the alps, and you can tell the countryside is really important to these people. and food too, i had so much cheese, many different trypes of bread and lasagne, and many many types of meat and sausage. mmm.

the french alps. mont blanc (according to an instructor) does that look like 4807m to you?

beginner's piste. i would give up my ass to it many times on the first day.

albertville, host of the 1992 winter olympics. one of the stops on the paris - bourg st maurice tgv route, and not far from where i'd be skiing. would finally get there in 30 minutes, after panicking and trying to find gare de lyon in paris at 6 in the morning.

the white cliffs of montserrat

the sagrada familia (still under construction)

'And Peter said, "Man, I know not what thou sayest." And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.' -
Luke, 22:60

A sculpture by Subirachs on the Sagrada Familia. This person does simple but moving sculptures, and the whole facade was an immensely ambitious attempt to narrate the story of Christ's passion.

valencia had many nice cathedrals and a good view of the mediterranean sea but i didn't find any of the pictures nice enough.


i'm off! and although there's now an extra stop at gay par-eeeee, who could mind?
"i am sitting in my room in london smiling to myself. after leaving my friends in spain i travelled and nearly got lost on the way back from barcelona to luton because i thought i was god of spanish (and realizing the barcelonetans speak catalan) when i actually only know how to say "tickets?", "here?", "there" and "please." after finally figuring out the train system and arriving back in london, feeling all pleased about myself, i realised i missed a connection because i thought it was one day later.

so now i have to figure out how to get to lyon and then la plagne from here in the next 24 hours. so instead of fretting about it, i decide to waste time in front of the computer."


the parts when you're alone always threaten to upset the entire balance. i know i asked for this, i know i wanted some time alone, but not this much! every coach ride, 4, 7, 10 hours imperils my sanity as the mind wanders over previously sanitised parts of the brain. my neighbours are back home. most of my friends are in singapore. the remainder is spread out over parts of europe being back for christmas or skiing. once i get moving again (in 2 hours time, maybe), i know i'll feel alive again, but i can't stand this waiting. especially when there's no one to bitch to. in 24 hours! i will see people other than the ticket girl again!


i should put up pictures, especially of the friendly people in barcelona. perhaps when i return from france. when i actually walked down the hill i missed a hostel for once. maybe because it was that it was eons away from civilization and a painful climb every time i returned. but it was not just the location but the defiance of the place. people with one form of disability or another continuing their life (at least outwardly) happily and with joie de vivre. and i enjoyed being around them because i didn't have to worry, and they couldn't seem to care less about the world.


Liverpool is gorgeous! It took me something like 10 hours to get there, because I wanted to save 15 quid each person, so i opted for a 5 hour layover in Manchester. I am now getting very familiar with Chorlton St Station. The stay confirmed my suspicions about Manchester though, they do have pound a pint beer and at 3 in the morning the city centre is covered with sloshed students in their fine miniskirts in the freezing night. it's amazing to such a huge density of them.

got into liverpool just as the sun peeked out of the horizon. The city is distinguished by its ude of red brick (red, liverpool, jersey? get it?), giving the city its own identity and flavour. The architecture is gorgeous, they have their share of large, grand city halls and museums, especially on the banks of the river Mersey, where old warehouses and buildings belonging to what-used-to-be huge shipping corporations make up the skyline. The river Mersey is wide at this point, as it almost meets the sea. It is thus not spanned by bridges, but by an underground tunnel. Gazing out into the river was one of those moments where I felt like shouting into infinity. Albert Dock is also really cute, gives everything a 19th century port city feel, so it succeeds in transmitting that part of history. In the maritime shops they sell all sorts of maritime memorabilia, there was of course the Beatles Story and Tate Liverpool which can rival the Tate Modern for its reverence of straight lines and vastness in architecture.

The highlight was to be the Liverpool-Middlesbrough game in the afternoon. Finally, Anfield! The footballers I wanted to be when I was young! Although they're mostly gone/retired now, but the current batch is pretty good too (am I kidding myself, they're much better than the crap side I grew up supporting who never won anything but were fantastic to watch). I ooohed and aaahed as I walked through the Paisley gates, saw the Kop, rushed to empty the merchandise shop and take my seat at the Main Stand. I was to be pretty close to the anfield road end where the boro supporters were.

pre-match music featured a mix of what's-being-played-at-most-clubs now, a few beatles/lennon songs (especially merry xmas, war is over) as it was lennon's death anniversary 2 days previous. you'll never walk alone! cue scarves and much bellowing. it wasn't the most powerful rendition i think i've heard (how it must be like in istanbul), but yay, i've sung it at anfield!

match got off and the first half saw us having most of the posession and chances with nothing really incisive. the boro supporters were superb throughout, singing and cheering. we were a little nervous and everyone really was waiting for some sort of spark to get going. there were jibes directed at them "you can't even beat sunderland" was one. 2nd half was rather more fast paced given that they were now attacking the kop end, gerrard played really wide and often found himself the extra man on the right wing. sissoko had an okay game disrupting play, his passing and final ball often left much to be desired, but he's improving. kewell had a decent game running at defenders, almost beating schwarzer with a lob. they still sometimes give him stick for not pressing enough. crouch was still winning balls in the air but the boro defence was eating up the 2nd ball comfortably. he wasn't going to get as much headway against southgate and ehiogu as he did during wigan, and the many headers we had on target were pretty tame. many times where a chance would come by almost teasing us to score but our shot would be weak or the striker would fail to get there in time.

sissoko made a pretty late tackle on matt bates i think, which led to some retaliation. this led to both sets of supporters chanting "off, off, off" in gladiatoral fashion. garcia came on for crouch and we got back to 5 in midfield, with more pace and width. hyppia had to come off for stitches in the 2nd half, during which time garcia put in a teasing cross, i though gerrard missed it completely (turns out it was a dummy) but the ball ran free to morientes and the entire stadium jumped up and down as the deadlock was finally broken. we broke into "10 men, we only need 10 men" and "we've won it 5 times, we've won it 5 times, we're gonna win it 6 times." A mistake by the boro defence put nando through again and he lobbed the keeper this time for his 2nd. i was going to go back a happy man.


i will be leaving for valencia tomorrow so i won't be around for some time. i'll work my way up the spanish coast to barcelona. will be back in london 17th but on the same night i'll take a bus to la plagne in savoie to ski. wanderlust! no it's just a holiday, and i feel really guilty that i'm going to overrun my expenditure and not have time to catch up on work. when i told my dad i was going to spain he gave me a song, spanish boots of spanish leather. listening it reminded me of the wonderfully lucky people who are going back somewhere to see their loved ones. but as with any dylan song, the twist is in the last 2 stanzas, and i think its just a nice song for any traveller out there. if you're confused, dylan alternates between the "male" and "female" voice starting with the "female" in his version, though i'm listening to the nanci griffiths one which assumes everything makes sense.

Oh, I'm sailin' away my own true love,
I'm sailin' away in the morning.
Is there something I can send you from across the sea,
From the place that I'll be landing?

No, there's nothin' you can send me, my own true love,
There's nothin' I wish to be ownin'.
Just carry yourself back to me unspoiled,
From across that lonesome ocean.

Oh, but I just thought you might want something fine
Made of silver or of golden,
Either from the mountains of Madrid
Or from the coast of Barcelona.

Oh, but if I had the stars from the darkest night
And the diamonds from the deepest ocean,
I'd forsake them all for your sweet kiss,
For that's all I'm wishin' to be ownin'.

That I might be gone a long time
And it's only that I'm askin',
Is there something I can send you to remember me by,
To make your time more easy passin'.

Oh, how can, how can you ask me again,
It only brings me sorrow.
The same thing I want from you today,
I would want again tomorrow.

I got a letter on a lonesome day,
It was from her ship a-sailin',
Saying I don't know when I'll be comin' back again,
It depends on how I'm a-feelin'.

Well, if you, my love, must think that-a-way,
I'm sure your mind is roamin'.
I'm sure your heart is not with me,
But with the country to where you're goin'.

So take heed, take heed of the western wind,
Take heed of the stormy weather.
And yes, there's something you can send back to me,
Spanish boots of Spanish leather.


warm fuzzy feeling

i've always been thrilled by images of snow falling somewhere (let's take rockefeller square for a start), or maccaulay culkin sitting in the church hiding from bad guys, lost in a foreign city and watching the choir do carols in a church. i wanted that warm fuzzy feeling.

so i went to the christmas concert by held by LSE at St Clement's Danes. That's the RAF church on the Strand just opposite in the little island in between the Aldwych traffic. It's so close it feels like our church, but it's really the RAF's. You can tell because there's statues of Arthur Harris (wasn't he the guy who came up with firebombing Dresden? Ok I guess I shouldn't judge, it was a difficult time in difficult circumstances) and Gladstone. Oh everyone loves Gladstone for being such a good prime minister. They always worship him in my history readings.

We have a good choir and orchestra, and they did nice pieces like Ne Timeas Maria, excerpts from Handel's Messiah (yes, Hallelujah!), and I was reminded of how different in tone the old testament is from the new, and how revelations was probably the only one similar in grandeur (different message i guess). I thought I would die of emotion looking at the huge christmas tree and thinking about spending a cold lonely winter in a foreign land (sure.)

but then they did mendelssohn's violin concerto which was honestly so moving because they had a good violinist for one who had proper facial expressions, and he looked really natural. plus, the violin is such a nifty instrument. it can go from very happy to very sad.

ended with beethoven, symphony no. 8. anyway, i headed back with miguel and i learnt how to say "sonofabitch" in spanish! finally. spanish practical usage. true to form, i am the rain man. after some major event going back from lse you can expect it to rain on me. cold. so cold. by the way, miguel was the person who claimed god was on lsd, and i could just see that his mind was wandering during the religious parts of the ceremony, and true enough, he told me he was figuring out indifference curves again. this man thinks indifference curves for everything. pretty women, short women, he has them going northeast and southwest, thinks whether something is a bijection or not. at the same time he likes latin music and as we were in subway listening to the dance song they play at every club nowadays he told me it means "gasoil, gasoil". what? "gazoy, gazoy?" what does that mean in spanish? no "gasoil, petrol, petrol". that's really dumb i said. why are we dancing to the lamentations of a car mechanic?

and on the way back we continued our discussion on what was interesting in mathematics. no, not why did god pick 3 (theology is the lack of faith, so said popper), but he said he was "risk-taker" so he wanted to do courses in pure probability, not the fuddy-duddy ones offered in dept of statistics. ok. and topology, and real analysis, and etc... and going to nepal to work. cool. interesting. i didn't have the heart to tell him i like argentinian soccer but i had just studied argentina's multiple debt failures. but he was the closest i got to honesty today. which was refreshing=). i suspect he would try to find some subject starting with D so that he could call LSE the LSD instead. he's funny like that.


LSE was all over the papers and radio today. Not for any laudatory research or accomplishment, it went something as follows:

"Drunken LSE Mob Storms Kings"
"Holborn students on drunken rampage."

after our annual barrel run some students saw it fit in their alcoholic stupor to smash the glass windows of a rival college, run through the corridors disrupting classes (causing the king's people to cower in their classes) and taking the ceiling fittings along with them. 30,000 pounds of damage and much bad publicity later, i think i need to start telling people i'm from another school=).

naughty boys.


when all i ever wanted was to be a beatle

i've just recovered from a deep slumber. the only thing i remember from the morning is the cleaner whom i usually say hi to when he pops in on thursday and i'm supposed to be at one the maths examples sessions.

had a poor, poor 48 hours (but it gets better). i had a bit too much to drink at metra and i enjoyed it but i'm sure it wasn't good for me. returned at 4.30 in the morning half afraid someone would jump on me from the middle of one of the wonderfully lit bushes along the thames. i actually bothered waking up in 2 hours time to freshen up and head for my morning class without feeling too bad.

tea, coffee, tea, later, i'm on the underground towards victoria. i'm waiting for the bus to manchester and jingxiang, who was late. so the bus driver slammed the door shut in front of me as i tried to get the bus off its inevitable routine for just a couple of minutes. true to form, he arrived a couple of minutes late, we missed the whole damn bus and we'd to book more tickets.

depart 1 pm instead (oh lost sleep!). got onto the bus with not much in the way of lunch and i somehow have a fascination with the riveting english countryside (no, there is not much to see) trying to see if there were sheep somewhere amidst the power lines and the houses. same featureless post-industrial blend of faux-countryside (as we're all taught to believe happened to england after all those years of industrialisation), sort of the same as on the way to nottingham, perhaps because it was the same motorway. foggy fog fog.

arrived at manchester, had barely time to look around the city square, look for toilets and other creature comforts we had missed out on in the cramped confines of the bus, we took a packed metrolink stop (almost got on at the wrong stop) towards old trafford, which was situated in a quiet part of town, except for match days, poor residents.

i'm not a united fan, so i put on my best smile as eager friends trawled through the MEGAstore (just begs capital letters doesn't it) rushing to see who could empty it first... it was nice to see so many people giving away their jerseys or having nice tokens of appreciation to put at the "george best shrine" outside the east stand, as policemen on horses surveyed the maddening crowd. george best scarfs and t-shirts started at around �5 each.

got to our seats (ticket said :warning, lots of climbing involved), got overpriced burger again (with onions) a free george best poster (which was supposed to come in handy later). it's breathtakingly exciting not being a fan but seeing stadiums with bright red neon lights as they show them on prem saturday, going into a stadium hearing noise and bright lights and immaculate pitches. they got back some of the wba team which best had his debut against, including the fullback who got sold a nutmeg, bobby robson was back of course, as was bobby charlton and alex ferguson. they had an elaborate wreath-laying ceremony of sorts.

the whole pre-match crowd tired their hands by raising their best posters and then observing a minute of silence. moving sight. public exercise of elegy, mourning and grief always is, even if you felt nothing for the person, you sort of felt it was something important, like a soul had really disappeared somewhere.

match got on... i was disappointed whenever there was an offside and there wasn't a replay. to be honest, west brom let ud have the game and ronaldo, saha and o'shea punished them. i loved it when the stretford end kept chanting "no 1 is georgie best, no 2... georgie best until 11... georgie best" and then jumping up and down thumping their feet congratulating themselves for "living in a georgie best world." it was especially moving when you see some physically disabled people do their best to, and again a reminder that something as unimportant as football is actually really important every wednesday and saturday, if only as a nice little way to let go of your emotions. they also had shouts of "there's only one keano", no telling who else they were missing. must be nice for the youngsters making their debut.

nice to see after the game banter between albion and united fans, with chants of "albion, albion" in the metrolink, speaking of cyril regis as "paul scholes in disguise", and a weird inexplicable chant of "john lennon, john lennon." perhaps lamenting the fact that he wasn't given chants in a stadium when he died?

as i sat in the burger king afraid of the cold outside, they started "happy xmas, war is over." oh no, it's that time of the year again, to get excessively sentimental at piped christmas songs. of course, it was by john lennon and yoko ono.

so many role models, or not? there's been a big argument about whether george best ought to have a minute of silence or applause, whether he should be considered a role model or worshipped in view of his dubious personal life. in any case, i don't think morality is a key determinant in worshipping heroes (although some character inevitably is, honesty, directed rebellion, being able to fly past 20 defenders for example), and i think we do know that all of 'em have some fatal flaw buried somewhere (which makes us love them more). in any case, one of the editors of the guardian said it best "we love george best because we wanted to play football like him, not carouse like him."

all this talk, it's never going to stop kids growing up to want to be someone. its what civilisation is founded on maybe.


when my body clock shows some semblance of cooperation and sends me to bed early, something desperately unlucky (like a fire alarm at 2.30 in the morning) seems to think otherwise.

mother of pearl. nothing like fraternizing outside the hall in the cold waiting for the go-ahead to go back in. i officially have something now against people who smoke in their rooms.


oh look it's dinner time already!
i arranged the laundry into neat piles (go jesse!) and i realised that i am horrible at applied problem solving.

i need to vastly increase the collection of socks i have to keep my laundry cycle from going out of sync.
i just realised my ear is black... so that's what happens when you get smashed into the wall of a street soccer court.

i always wonder how those american hockey players enjoyed sandwiches.

aches and pains

it's nice to have some full-blooded competition to have your mind focus on something else. although i was rueing the prospect of waking up at 4 in the morning and taking a 4 hour bus ride to nottingham to play football.

honestly, it was a morale-sapping day. gray day, with temperatures hovering on both sides of zero, and having to wait long periods in the cold for our turns to play. when we did play, our inexperience did get shown up, and nobody can honestly claim to be happy when you lose (especially through a penalty when you've been throwing your bodies around all day). our 1st team ended up winning the competition, but for the rest of us, we were left with damp bodies and sand and bad tempers. like when one of us slid into an opponent (beautiful tackle, though not very legal in street, but in any other football match it would have been brilliant), and he fell flat on the floor, their entire team rushed over and started yelling at us, and we started yelling back... and we were ready to... and especially when it rains as you are playing... more yelling when we realized organisers could have misplaced our lunch and although some said that with their hunger it was the best chicken rice they've ever tasted, honestly, it was close to freezing and the chilli was like frozen bits without the fluid. miserable, but i felt better than i did in days watching other people's suffering. also ran into alex who was with the imperial contingent, as well meeting plenty of old friends at other uk unis, and seeing the relative character of their teams.

lse did quite well in the other sports too but i think they still lost to a greater-sized nottingham contingent with home-court advantage. especially gripping was the basketball finals, as basketball always is. now it's back to work and worrying about trivial things in life=).


have you seen the curve f(t) = (x y) tranpose = (cos t, sin t) tranpose?

it's a helix, and right now it's in the direction of -t.

as if the day couldn't get any worse, sonia read the morning breakfast news from the financial times. a guy is going to hang in singapore (many people do, but this one just touched me particularly).

i have never seen a man being killed (except in the movies.) indeed, my memory of capital punishment is perhaps a written one from orwell (was it burmese days?) where he described a prisoner being dragged away. (he peed in his pants probably, or did i get that from a channel 8 drama serial?) even way back our teachers (well mine at least, i don't know about yours) were keen to emphasise that capital punishment was morally ambiguous, and even way back we had already learnt that punishment has a retributive (cathartic) and utilitarian (keep undesirables from society) element.

forget proportionality. forget comparing different cultural attitudes towards punishment. there is probably some fallacy somewhere about wanting to make the law correspond to my own ethics. yet something is gravely wrong here? has anyone watched maria full of grace? has it transpired that not every drug dealer or mule is not evil? if i don't know the reality "on the ground" i don't care, does it not occur to you that taking someone's life in this occasion is gravely disproportionate. especially when the masterminds are sipping tequila on a beach somewhere laughing as yet another pawn is sent to the grave. and i just can't help feeling that i'm killing this person because he's being killed to make me safe. because these are OUR laws, meant to protect us.

calculate the statistics (i doubt they even exist anyway) and throw them at me. so, drugs take lives and kill children. social cost = xxx. of course, we could have the price of a human life (and i won't be so inane to claim it's infinite, although i can sense some disgust already). the arithmetic probably fails us when it comes down to singularities, but why are we not keeping them in prison for life? is that insufficient deterrence? or would it just cost us more than we're comfortable to pay? have we tried it? isn't it worth a try? would more people smuggle drugs if it were life instead of death? we don't do ourselves justice keeping on regurgitating formulaic answers. if something important happen, doesn't it warrant a review (even if you do decide in the end what you did was right). is it right we spend so much time debating a casino and its effects on us while we take capital punishment for granted? (especially if it's a foreigner, who likes them anyway?)

i don't need answers like "we need to keep singapore's reputation as a clean city tough on crime" because surely we could think of a way to do that that isn't just convenient, but humane. of course it's easier to err on the harsh side. explain it to me. or is it just because there's some law somewhere that's too difficult to change? what if we're wrong? oh of course complete knowledge is impossible and would probably hinder judgement if we kept waiting for it but it occurs to me we're crossing a line. killing someone is irreversible. i don't want to go into capital punishment for other purposes (ok, to be honest, i have never really felt sorry for a murderer) but i feel really sorry in this case. and guilty . shamed perhaps. at ineptitude.

"now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
are free to drink martinis, and watch the sun rise
while ruben sits like buddha, in a 10 foot cell
an innocent man, in a living hell"
-dylan, "hurricane"

obviously out of context but i think actually thinking in pictures sometimes makes things clearer. and i think its a great crime i haven't been able to be more eloquent in my argument. my mind's messed up now see.
i'm staying awake just reading the comic strip again and again. it's remarkably beautiful, and i think the only reason i'm reading it again and again is because it calms me. all in 4 panels too. i wonder whether lucy will ever take out her machine gun and kill every other bitch on the planet. come on, take a risk, it can't be that hard being a psychopathic serial killer.

the things we do for love =). who taught me how to use smiley faces anyway?


i admit to shamelessly stealing these pictures from somewhere but i find schroeder so adorable. he has slightly ruffled hair, is always slouched over a piano and does not have much luck with girls, which is charming in itself. the grand piano always seems to be in the middle of nowhere which always made me wonder how he brought it around, or what nice and rich parents he must have. judging from his name, they are perhaps german emigr�s which explains the liking for classical music.

"Schroeder, who idolizes Beethoven, brought classical music to the Peanuts strip. Reserved and usually unruffled, Schroeder reacts only when Woodstock tries to make his grand piano into a playground, or Lucy seeks to make it her courting grounds. The latter can lead to minor violence."

i remember apart from the daily runs in the newspaper someone actually got me snoopy comics for one of my birthdays (the ones i celebrated when i was really young, which weren't many considering they were always during the exam period.) my sec 1 chinese teacher was also very crazy over the entire "peanuts" strip, because she would always have some merchandise lying around.

i thought of schroeder because i went to a concert at QE hall today. before you go off mumbling "jesse" and "toff" in the same breath behind my back, let me make things worse (as i only know how.) 1. it was a petit reward for finishing this week's work 3 days early (WHAT!) and 2. i watched this performance alone. it wasn't for lack of trying but i'm sure everyone just wanted to get their work done and probably would have preferred whatever they were doing that night (eg. lion king. *grin* ) anyway but it was fine, beethoven and beer for 4 quid. nothing to lose.

the conductor was gorgeous and could he shake his ass. he had this really dark look. i must point out that i don't go near violins or stringed instruments for fear that the strings will snap and cut me, neither can i blow, or even carry a decent tune, which leads me to be very inept at music. i shan't pretend to be really smart about it... though i think how everything fits together is marvellously fascinating. it was particularly telling that i was wearing jeans and after dr leunig pointed me out together with the 9 people in the same row as evidence of "homogenous tastes and mass production" it was particularly refreshing to see most of the crowd wearing old-fashioned pants and not have much hair. the only other people who took advantage of the student deal were a few chinese students from somewhere. don't accuse me of ageism, i have immense respect for these people for actually being able to finish the times crossword. (and i had some sausage roll , "brut" in dutch?, and it reminds me of my favourite pastry, courtesy of my grandma)

lively evening from the start, revolutionary music generally, they played a symphony for 2 violins by davaux which was a hodgepodge of revolutionary music of the day, including bits of the marseillaise. the violinists were a father and the son, very different characters, father probably has friends everywhere in the orchestra while the son is probably quite unpopular, with his bored looks and smirks. many questions. who does the orchestra take the tune from? (it was one of the woodwinds in this case). would it depend on whatever they were playing? those of you more educated than i am in this regard can enlighten me. and they put on beethoven's eroica symphony next (which i actually thought was something like erotica minus the t some years ago?), but this time i wasn't expecting sensual music=). it was lively, it got me skipping back home in the cold (my god, the winds today) and humming the finale on the way back. it wasn't life-changing music by any means (like the stories about beethoven losing his hearing and realizing he wouldn't marry), but i guess that was the point of the music=) to forget for a little while=]


i'm glad "why did god pick 3" sticks in someone's mind enough to make it their msn nick=).

i couldn't get this sentence out my head today too because it's one of those which begs imagining (like all those dimensions)

it's unusual because a word like "panamanian" would usually trip over itself with its 5 syllables and it adds nothing to the meaning of the sentence but try finding another 5 syllable word which fits there.

"Where I can watch her waltz for free
'Neath her Panamanian moon."


20p/freeplay/permanent press

what a nice garden. with nice seats for the 3 of us. (4). but no one's going to sit down because they don't want to have their butt stuck to the chair.

visited oxford where there was frost in the air and everywhere. the lakes caked over with ice which was really fun to break. crystal showed us around where i finally got my guest pass back c/o faiz c/o michelle but in the end c/o her and acquiescing to her evil plan, we watched harry potter and anything was welcome to get away from the cold. plus, the dining hall is that of christ church college which we had just visited earlier in the day.

oxford is pregnant with knowledge and the occasional evangelist. i gritted my teeth and i nodded as i acknowledged how i was doomed for eternal damnation. tinglin had the energy to argue (oh, the joys of being young) but there is no way to argue when people do not see eye to eye. this i have learnt and well. this after a moving debate with tinglin and benita in the bowels of the oxford university press on theology and philosophy.

i am glad to have enjoyed myself over saturday because i was honestly rather burnt out last week. i spent so much time on marginal points to my presentation and my essay, being wracked by anxiety, and refusing to leave tutorials until they were finished and looked approximately right (which, not having the solution sheets, meant having to spend more time determining if the answer made sense, and of course those questions involving proofs were self explanatory). it was this that made the end of the week slightly bearable, that i felt i did contribute to knowledge by spending so much damn time on the contribution (and the acknowledgement of peers, a potent drug), and finding that what you had done matched the solution sheet. and once again, jesse has triumphed against his utter uselessness.

modesty aside, i don't think i can keep up all this under the pretence of "learning". i haven't learnt if i haven't done it well, i say, but i think all this effort will kill me. i needed something completely unrelated to my studies.

For JR, translate this: "Da k�nnen S' mi' frag'n was Sie woll'n: ich weiss alles."
There is no way I could understand a formal philosophical text in my relative ignorance so I stuck with what (many) people do, read autobiographies. this was not so much a biography than a history of a person's thought and random digressions. I found "unended quest" by karl popper in the library, and it was nice because he actually taught philosophy here.

and i revelled in reading about how experiences shaped him, how, as a child he grew up reading, and from his uncle who knew everything he knew learning more would only succeed in making him more aware of his ignorance, because knowledge only leads to questions. and that explains why common sense tells everyone, don't think too much, don't learn so much, learn what you need to know otherwise you get embroiled in thinking and forget how to act.

and it is important to live with action as well as taking things positively, and having to write happy story-like accounts of your day, so that you don't have to constantly remind yourself of the self-criticism that goes on in your head. and it also gets you actually doing thigns instead of sitting around and moping the whole day.

but this dr. popper, who spent the early years of his life as a carpenter, grade school teacher etc, before becoming an academic at 35 (hey... early life is a carpenter, finding vocation in mid 30's... sounds familiar.) life isn't demarcation. it isn't telling yourself to think one moment and not to the next. in any case, how can one control it? (why with a little bit of discipline of course).

it's so easy to get lost in a world like this. so many people, with different dreams, different forms of receptiveness to humour. watching harry potter with all those teenage sexual tension innuendos scripted in made me miss being in secondary school, made me miss being na�vely stupid (versus being passionately misguided, made me miss and relish the occasional moments where i could be a little more honest, bore people with my earnestness etc. and i think i'd just sound stupid preferring to read karl popper in the library than attending an internship fair with all sorts of lovely job opportunities and i know i go through something like this from time to time. why? whywhywhywhywhy? and i fail to function for a while until i get it out of my system. maybe taking philosophy would be the beginning of a cure. but i think it will only succeed in making me worse than i am. but if it's possible to be worse in a more satisfying way, i don't know it yet.

i miss having someone to bitch to. i realise this after sitting down in caf�s so much escaping the cold and talking to keep warm.

in the grand english tradition of unintelligible song titles.

my laundry is currently bouncing around in the machine.

i'm sorry i've been such a bore. i could sense you were getting tired of the vanilla descriptions of my life, and yearning for some chocolate descriptions of my inner soul *munch*. in any case what did you want me to talk about. YOU?

===random aside===

funny things have been happening in bankside. skulking around at 5 in the morning i overhear juicy scandal between a girl and our security guard that she got locked out of her room by a drunk guy who really liked her and wanted to f*** her. (can you dream this up?) and she was bitching about how bad guys was (not forgetting to slip in the occasional self compliment).

and on the bus ride back, guys talking about milfs and fit girls and how they ought not to use teeth (don't they have the slightest inclination it may hurt?)

you see, when you say something like "if i knew what a guy thought, i could probably never be friends with him", you're just being intolerant (and you're being funny because you know you still are friends with them, ha ha.) the key thing is, girls are cockteases too anyway, it just takes many guises.

the next time you walk through a lingerie department with a guy, don't expect him to think normal thoughts. don't care what he thinks. we all think rather too much anyway.


the drunk guy bumps into me. "sorry, he's just had a couple too much to drink."
i smile back "just a couple? i had 2"

one never knows the straw which breaks the camels' back. nor the drink which kills you. the satin dresses in harry potter are killer (yes, better than the scgs ones)

i miss singapore. i miss claret blue uniforms and all i know. and temperatures in the high twenties. but i know as soon as i teleport back there that i'd miss here too.


where do all the actors go for supper? what time do they sleep?

more questions from the 40 minute walk back from the west end back to my hall in the cold.

finally did catch guys and dolls tonight with mel. now i can take out my big fat list of "things to do in life" and tick off "watched ewan mcgregor in the flesh". yes, it's one of those routine checklists where you tick everything off (and you're more concerned about getting the items ticked off than enjoying the item). and of course, looking at all the unchecked items of "things to do in life" (i think austin powers had "sex with japanese twins", that would be nice), alongside with trivialities of great importance? like EH101 essay due tomorrow (alarm bell).

it was a clever, feel-good show, with all the lovey-dovey songs and all that which the chicks always love. witty script though, but honestly jane krakowski was magnificent as ms adelaide (she's the singing girl in ally mcbeal). she put on that wonderful accent... entertainment. ewan mcgregor seems to have boundless energy, after seeing him in all those star wars movies wielding lightsabers and escaping from island prisons, he has time to motorbike around the world and write about it, and act in musicals (inspired by moulin rouge no doubt). for all his fame, did you know he actually acted in "nick leeson: rogue trader" and other dodgy films of that sort? things you learn staying in hmv.

and it's not easy being an actor isn't it? especially in a musical having to sing every night to a crowd. tiring. i'd get hungry. so where do they eat? at the late night chinese restaurants on gerrard street? do they really sleep at 4am every night? things i'll never know until i turn into a star overnight...


i don't believe it. i have no exams but i'm feeling stressed.

during maths lecture today, they were introducing extensions of whatever we have learnt so far to n-dimensions. you usually can't follow much during a maths lecture so i decided just to let my mind wander. i came up with the best question i had in years.

"why did god pick three? was it his favourite number?"

of course. you'll all have your smartass answers about how it's a human construct and everything. very well done. a friend decided it merited an answer given its strange randomness and they offered this to me:

"because god was not on lsd."

it would be fun having a 732.7 dimensions just cause he felt like it.

why do we have 2 sexes? would having a 3rd confuse us all? is having 2 sexes in a 3 dimensional world purely coincidental, or is it just the right number of equations in the given vector space.

once you start thinking like that, you know you are hopelessly lost. you confirm that when the lecturer goes "now, we know you're all very good at solving linear systems of equations, but what about non-linear ones? how're we going to solve them?"

"you pray", came the response from the person next to me (unnamed to protect anonymity). there. why did god create 3 dimensions? 2 sexes? and is he there to solve systems of non-linear equations for you? riveting questions. inextricably tied to the idea of a supreme being. and for a moment we knew we were in the wrong course for those questions.

there's also a death curve, defined by variables of height, weight and of course life expectancy on the vertical axis. the stationary maximum is probably somewhere around 6 foot 6 and i don't know what weight. apparently we have the norwegians to thank for creating this huge database based on their military records. yes. death comes to us all. *cough cough*

i have loads of work. and it's the middle of the 7th week and i think we need a holiday. i never thought i said that, bitching about the term being so short. but the mind is worn dedicating itself each day to the solving of great problems. i think i am falling behind slowly, especially as this creeping indisicipline is slowly sneaking up giving its excuse :"term's ending".

but it's not. and i still have deadlines to meet=(


my god. i spent my weekend playing soccer again and going to camden. sounds familiar? and then of course promptly lying on my bed complaining of fatigue. of course i had an excuse, because crystal came over from oxford, and i was supposed to buy something for my sister anyway, and... what's wrong with liking the food and drink in camden! and hot mulled wine...

and not doing my essay. i think my bad mood coincides with whenever i have an essay due. yes, cause i'm trying to be diverse i borrow tons of books. which is great cause then you don't know when to start. when you do you end up having a disorganised mess which has all the bits you like but are unnecessary, and not enough of the essential bits. oh but don't worry. come 6 hours before the deadline i'll be at my most ruthless. cut cut cut. oh this letter from the s'pore high com is not going to help my mood. it's a bit vague right now but basically i guess it means: problem with passport extension application. why? i don't know. because i guess the official renunciation letter i have is actually unofficial and i need to promise to give them the official one. all this paper. how is one to know? and hanging in the balance all my holiday plans, some of which have already been paid up.

and guilt. oh the guilt. you're not studying hard enough. and when you do. god, why all this studying anyway. it's going to count for naught. must... slay... demons.

i am unhappy. i like the cold. but it is very cold. it is about 2 degrees, and i can never get over the fact my breath leaves vapour trails. yes! "so swaku". wait till it freezes your ass off. oh but london has mild winters. no. i will still walk to school. nothing will force me to the bus. but already i am eating in subway instead of walking and eating in the same time, because i'm always trying to find an excuse to duck into a place with a heater now. but i guess because i'm always so fantastically underdressed because i don't want to feel puffy. i am a ball of contradiction. i need things to go for me for once. and that includes question 5 of my bleeding stats tutorial.

god. now that i cleared the mess of the problem up i will attempt stabbing into it again. for gods sakes. please.


the quotidienne and the banal!

i was sitting in wright's bar eating brunch with jolyn on wednesday after economic history class. once againe i was eating brunch (good way to save money), once again i was to be drinking oversweetened tea the way only the people at wright's do (it is closest you can get here to teh with condensed milk), once again i was doing this because i never fail to wake up late on wednesday and have no time to make breakfast. and once again i thought, well isn't this nice. some semblance of a routine. and i like the way you can bring your hot drink into class and sip it. aren't we all adults now.

it's easy to forget that this is only my 7th week here. to be honest it has all gone by really fast. but i think i've settled in enough to start having these routines... like grocery shopping at elephant & castle on wednesdays, etc...

of course i am constantly amazed by what's on offer here. (though definitely not the standard of pedagogy). oh, the peacock theatre, where i have my economics, maths and stats lectures in particular, shows this really dodgy show called "kung-fu masters" at night, and passing by i actually saw the bald headed shaolin wannabes troupe into the theatre. omg. i am enriched by the vast variety of public lectures here, whether it be finance from its practitioners, or someone who came back from north korea. i am starting to like these talks organised by the department of international history because it's really interesting to see copies of the pyongyang times with kim jong il photoshop-ed into random settings and headlines going : "Kim Jong-Il gives on the spot advice to duck farm" and "Kim-Jong-Il gives on the spot advice to industrial plant etc"... as the speaker said, "man of many talents." He was someone who was imprisoned in Burma for over a year, and it always amazes me how any personal statement of religious belief is likely to rankle anyone here, inviting questions like (why do we have to look to a greater power to know what is good etc...) which invited a very good retort, if you're going to suffer or be moved to do something, i hope it's not for some abstract declaration of human rights that the politicians of 160 nations decided to sign after consensus. the most memorable line was "the government would have more money for crime and foreign policy if they wouldn't sponsor half the students in the uk to go to university and take some mickey mouse courses that employers don't respect anyway." he was a tory mp, and he made sense. and here, i think it is anathema to even suggest war is an answer to anything. everyone agress, or takes as given, that iraq was a mistake, and any suggestion which may lead to war is a no-go. given that it was remembrance day, i don't know so much about it. on the one hand we hope that we no longer have to wear all these poppies for dead soldiers in war... but i don't know. i don't want to speculate and comment on these abstract things, but there is a sense i feel that people no longer accept that there is evil in this world and it must be fought. oh no, i'm sounding dodgy again.

was supposed to watch guys and dolls today and catch ewan mcgregor and jane krakowski! but it's friday night, so it's impossible to get tickets, so i settled for next wednesday instead. just had a nice japanese dinner, before the rain got so impossibly strong. the cold's never too bad, it's just so wet! mel and i ended up wasting time in hmv looking at every conceivable dvd from a-z and going through film history (and ending up not buying anything!). so many films they have here. i wanted to grab a copy of "the secretary" cause it was just 3.99 and the trailer said "a perfect way to wind down after a hard day at work (school for me)" "(hyperbolic adjective) erotic." and i wanted to watch maggie gyllenhaal crawling around the floor with a rose in her mouth. alas, i dithered, and i thought i ought to save every last pence. we walked out, until i promptly reminded her of an abba song which would be stuck in her head so we went back to try to find an abba cd so we could get it out. but luckily it closed before we could do real damage to our wallets.

i walked back via lse, for the umpteenth time walked back to bankside. and i got this entire "routine" thing again. lse on friday nights looks more like a club than a proper school with people walking around houghton street with bling and bouncers standing outside the clare market building. and yeah. oh my god. the last time i went to crush was way back in week 1. i was so n00b then. and wow. it's week 7.

and here i am blogging. good, and i have so many replies to emails to catch up on because i tried to convince myself i was in a productive mood and tried to finish all my work. good boy.
now to start on next week's essay.

the fire alarm just went off. fuck.


what is one to do?

today there was lots of trivia on offer. in my spanish class, the last half hour was spent on a history lesson (in spanish) on how the sephardic jews were expelled from iberia in 1492, following the Spanish Inquisition. (oh, the excesses of the catholic church then.) In france, there have been 9 days of riots, and the whole french lesson was spent debating the plight of those in the H.L.Ms in the banlieu. And I guess I'll try to find a copy of La Haine which is about this sort of subject matter.

So I definitely have views on immigrants and integration into society, and what should be done, but I think they are not very well-formed. And on jews, today as I was walking into school along Houghton Street, someone put up a booth where they had mock soldiers dressed up as Israelis bullying Palestinian refugees. I thought it was distasteful. Distasteful why? Because you don't want the truth shoved in your face?

We are educated, and like it or not I guess we have a responsibility. In the comfort of whereever we are learning we have a chance to read about many issues and think about broader things than when to get our next meal (which, if you ask the people who stand around selling the big issue in the cold, is quite important). and we learn all these stories, issues from history, and sometimes we are motivated to take action. you know, do something. and there's a quote somewhere from a us president to say that the worse thing one can do is to do nothing. so effort ought to be rewarded, or properly criticised, at least.

but i just found the entire booth a bit upsetting. and i think i know why. because demonstrating issues in such a way just promotes hate? look at all this evil people. something must be stopped. they torture and kill innocent kids. let's hate all these motherfuckers. i wonder how someone who was israeli must feel. was the purpose for them to feel guilt? shame? it's a sensitive subject i can't claim to know much about, but I do know there are plenty of israelis who just want peace and are willing to make it happen. but there are so many more sensitivities that go beyond who's killing who.

across the road there were people asking for bone marrow transplants. there's only a 1 in 200,000 chance of finding a match, they said. come, join us, donate a bone marrow. therein lies a possibility. donate bone marrow... hmm, okay, where do i go, what do i do? that room over there, take a blood test. sounds easy enough. if it's a match, we'll call you, and it'll just take some time and discomfort. fair enough.

life saved, or maybe not. but its what one man can do. (or send an sms or email to a local mp, etc, as the makepovertyhistory campaign is trying to do.) now, how do i end conflict in the middle east. give me a gun, i'll shoot all the people who did wrong. when there's no wrong people left, well it must be right. (thinking promoted by confrontational approach). go on hunger strike? write letters to your local mp?

so if i don't believe in your cause, don't call me apathetic. (oh, another apathetic singaporean, so the story goes.) i swear that is probably what puts me off any course in history and international relations right now. the subject matter is, if you can use the word "interesting", but i dislike all this endless debate on war, who's right, and who's wrong. i guess it gives you a good ethical framework on which to make your informed choices as a democratic citizen, or in some higher capacity in officialdom. which is lovely, but which i think more and more is not for me. passion is important, but it isn't everything. there is a little corner of the world where there exists, logic, reason, justice and rightly so. you want passion, you want revenge? that's your car in flames. even the doctors who have to detach themselves from their patients are doing good. and if you think about it, maybe we are a poorer world that charm and style do end up dominating arguments.

and in any problem. it is the players themselves who have the largest responsibility to solve them. it sounds obvious enough, but yes, there's outside help, and pre-requisites which if not existing could be made into being. but there are just some things one cannot ask of an individual, that only an individual or the group of people involved can decide for themselves, because their interests are at stake.

i am always worried about blogging over thoughts like these. it would be better if i told everyone that i like purple fireworks more than green ones, and i enjoy it much more. plus, if i suddenly told you i like green fireworks more, no one would crucify me.


its like world premiere of harry potter too over here!
the weather forecast says sleet =(

nothing lasts forever, not even cold november rain.
- guns & roses.


no, the week didn't start like this, with fireworks and all.

took my oath of allegiance at the singapore high com, and they let off a few fireworks for me. no it was really guy fawkes day, where they celebrate guy fawkes failure to blow up parliament in the gunpowder plot of 1605. (yes, 400 years on they're still that bored.) it is basically to fulfill every culture's pyromania with a pagan ritual every autumn and hopefully a big fire to keep everyone warm. The venue for this particular one was not HCJC but battersea park near the huge power station. overpriced burgers aside, it was a good opportunity for people to stand around sharing overpriced beer and wait in the cold and play with sparklers and relive childhood fantasies. "no person? they didn't burn a person?" after waiting an hour in the cold (well it was warm once they lit the big bonfire), the crowd were restless. "i'm sorry ladies and gentlemans but it turns out some naughty people have got themselves into the fallout area and are currently being removed." naughty indeed. and it turned out they were children, and the next announcement confirming the prompt removal of the children was greeted by shouts of "burn 'em!" and "let them die!" if you don't burn at least one, the raving mobs will never let you go.

until you fire your glitzy fireworks to kitschy tunes like queen, the olympic theme song and other self-obsessed tunes. all was forgiven for the little bit of light on a cold november night.

was sick earlier in the week, and although people were nice enough to drop off cookies i still sat around being unhappy. "why isn't anyone mopping my brow." "why am i taking economics?" "why can't i take all the subjects in the world." pissed me off further because i go for lectures and these people enjoy throwing paper planes in the middle of the axioms of probability. oh what an insult. lectures aren't compulsory you know. it's been cold and i'm out of munchies. because i keep going to these overpriced places on leicester square and i'm paying for it now by subsisting on nothing/crap food.

watched phantom of the opera too, first time i saw it on stage. nice soppy tragedy, bad singing. no it wasn't bad, that's just cruel, but i think i'm too used to sarah brightman on cd. the poor fate of the phantom always gets me.

another busy week ahead. i guess i'll look forward to spanish where we have a funny little teacher.


had a whale of a time at dr leunig's lecture today. this thin, gaunt bespectacled man started talking about why people wore poppies on their right breast ("because remembrance day for the Great War is coming, not that anything was Great about it, but I happen to be grateful for those who fought in it."), and how the British government hadn't had a pension scheme then, so they got all the veterans to start selling poppies. How itv was going to reconstruct guy fawkes day by attempting to blow up a scale model of parliament as it was in 1605, and how wrong it was because we're actually celebrating the FAILURE of his plot. He then spoke about someone he knew who was jumping off plans at the age of 80 and how he could never jump off a plane himself, let alone when his friend told him "that was nothing, you should try it over enemy fire over arnhem."

after barely-concealed snipes at students who chose to take something not-so-interesting as accounting 100 (more to that later), and even at us for deigning to want to earn tons of money upon graduation, ('yes, the famed services sector of britain, the numerous "quasi-financial" institutions in the city which many of you will end up earning loads of money in')he proceeded apace with the greatness of britain (the period when britannia ruled the waves). never one to call a spade a heart.

after the minute's break he explained to us the concept of variety in well-being by saying clothes could never be cleaned in the 19th century because there wasn't any persil. he then remarked how he could never sit still through all those wonderfully lovely period shows because he'd pick out all the impossible bits and very soon those around him gave up watching period shows when he was around. and the next bit of the lecture was america was great too! except for the civil war which cost 6.5 billion for the both sides, with the South in the red to the tune of 3.25 billion with which, he said, you could buy every slave's freedom in the South, equip them with a 62 hectares of land and a mule. The mule thing just cracked me up. He also said, to those proponents that "sometimes the economy needs a war, or maybe to lose one. look at how well Germany and Japan did after WWII", and he said well the best way to do that is to start civil wars, which no one wins, for it's always in the interest of the losing side simply to sell out at the start and pay settlements, but of course no one knows who's going to lose and that's the point of a war. many countries in africa has been one the major proponents of this growth strategy but they seem to be failing, again, demonstrating the great witchery of picking examples to substantiate a theory.

anyway. it is just my opinion that there is a lot of academic posturing in the school. i mean, there's always this tension isn't it? there will be people taking history and IR who go "everyone takes the same thing, accounting or whatsoever", but of course i'm judging from an ex-post sample because having taken history and IR, they would naturally be more inclined to frown upon taking accounting, and anyone remotely associated to it by association. Likewise, the mathematicians taking abstract mathematics are probably wondering how impure all these historians or political scientists or lawyers are, always debating in fields where charm wins over logic. and it goes on...

i mean, what is the point of a statement like "why does everyone take accounting and finance"?
(i need to clarify, i'm not taking it. but i feel sorry for the chaps.) if you have the foresight/wisdom/passion/interest/good sense/stupidity to take whichever most-interesting subject in the world you're taking, it's definitely interesting! there's no need to put down other subjects. it's so insecure! what's wrong with them wanting to earn loads after graduating? sure your values may not click with them... but. hmm.

i thought like this because i went for a finance talk today. it was one credit debt obligations, n-credit debt obligations, credit default swaps and all manner of exotic derivatives. exotic is the word, probably only exist in the freest markets of the world, and trades less than 500 million a year. i sat through the talk, and i came out of it not wanting to emulate these whiz traders and make tons of money. i was amazed though at the mathematics that went into some of the models, although the lecturer appeared to be a practical person who'd disdain how these abstract model works. but throughout the talk, i really did get this feeling that derivatives are really gambling. i can understand default insurance, but when you go to n-CDOs you'e not talking about insurance, really. well maybe it's a clever way to mop up unclean positions on tranches. (actually maybe i don't know what i'm talking about). but it's as if there's this dynamic, exciting world, which doesn't care what all these numbers actually mean. or, more specifically, treat money as a scorecard on which you play this game of probability and expectation (sounds like gambling?). i mean, clearly, we're not in a "inflation is sin! it's stealing from savers and giving to borrowers" world anymore, but the people that do these things do it because it's exciting and fun to them and not because they want to give people additional security. and it's really funny. because everyone wants to beat the market. and if you think about it there is no phantom money being created (you hear about people making tons of money on these things). but the rules of physics apply. no-arbitrage still applies. total amount paid for protection = total amount paid out during default. clearly, the world doesn't function without finance (ask the farmers, farmers eat the crop they grow, meaning they have a year of forgone income in their start-up year, and the same applies to most other companies). but to say that i understand or approve of all these exotic things is just stretching it. investors live in their own world. it's not a criticism because it's clearly fun and dynamic and i can clearly see how it could be itneresting.

because clearly. if you wanted a ferrari, or a good life for your family. who could fault you? (the person who doesn't have a ferrari, or that believes the ferrari is polluting the air). and i think it's fascinating just thinking about needs, wants and choices, and how they interact, and psychology is a really important part of economics.


happy halloween!

candy (why do hk girls have such cutesy names?) on left, my partner for fright night '05.
oh yes, just like candy lo!

lse sing banksiders '05. cute bunch.

some old picture of canary wharf. just put it on to illustrate how they always leave the lights on here.

yeah... so it's saturday, and i was doing my maths tutorial (i'm a week ahead now). played with maple for a while seeing all these graphs and thought. hell, it's halloween tonight, and i'm going out. my addiction to camden then saw me visiting there to buy all sorts of cute stuff. 1.50 pound pitchfork, luminous hair gel, chokers, bracers. these made-for-punks things are really lovely (nothing too expensive though). i saw this matrix t-shirt where there was a screen on the friggin tee and it gave out luminous scrolling characters just like in the matrix. 65 quid, so it was one of those i didn't get (so bloody expensive) god. it was so addictive, i bought so many of these utterly useless things to remind myself i was a kid. my friend bought a "he-man masters of the universe sword" which wasn't a he-man sword but it was laughable because it had fake red-ink bubbly blood inside. 1.99!

it was fun because i thought we needed some fun in the party. but it was just enjoyable walking around with girls and hearing them scream... hilarious. like weird people would come out of nowhere in the dark hallways of the lse (it is quite mortifying at night!), and i'd prod them with my pitchfork. candy, to her credit, tried following the storyline as had more fun trying to make the ghosts laugh. that she only keeled in fright twice was not too bad!

went to chinatown (again!) for supper and i'll always remember london nightlife. drunks puking everywhere and carrying each other. the lovely walk on bankside (do they turn off the lights?) discussion about why there's no lightning in london so you won't die even if you put up a pitchfork in the rain. finer points of the sandman. remembering gp bulletin!

and they moved the clocks back



see also.

how one uses past experience to justify present actions. excuse for nostalgia. but, ultimately, a beautifully written justification for being who he is, an economist. and i like this kind of world, a simple one, through the eyes of a child.


"toujours le mot juste"

alright. order! let's discuss something serious.

i was bitching about having to write essays the other day, because that part of my brain has atrophied. but i found salvation in the nice writing guide from nus (thanks!) and an even better one from harvard's writing centre website. "toujours le mot juste". always the right word. if i've anyone to thank for managing to turn in the essay on time, it's got to be that article, i didn't know such brevity was possible without diluting the argument or ruining the rhythm (rhythm, of course, is secondary.) i love writing again, and looking for evidence, and trawling through journals.

went to speak to my economic history tutor today, over her lunch-time office hour. she's writing a book! it's related to her phd thesis, a really interesting (apparently) leader of an african multinational, ashanti goldfields, saved from the ruins of derivative disaster. it's nice because it's illuminating listening how people arrive at the subjects they end up interested in, from a business major to studying economic history in lse. we were there to pick apart my essay. and i think this is what i expected, one-to-one, nice discussion. even the innocent questions like "how do we make the class better, more "responsive" (i prefer pliable)." sincerity and commitment to having the class do well. i have a funny stats tutor, and earnest economics one, shall reserve judgement for the maths tutor, but i think it's really important as a teacher to have a personality, to bother to speak to your students one on one (of course you could argue students ought to be proactive), but don't you think possessing a certain personality disposes one to be more approachable?

my lecturers are earnest people, of course, and being earnest is a good start. of course, you're hoping for some fantastically succesful person to come and inspire you with quizzical remarks and one-liners, and because we all thrive on celebrity we're hoping to be taught by nobel prize winners and everything. they're often different class, but are they always? or has our habit of myth making and alluding to authority make big people bigger? interesting, because i was reading about dominance hierarchies in wild mouflon sheep, and wild horse herds, and i think as humans we're exhibiting the same sort of tendencies. i'm not making a normative judgement about it, it could even be useful, and certainly the only reason we have a functioning society is because some of us are willing to accept our role, and if need be marvel at the powers that be.

another characteristic? humans love justification. they love knowing that what they do has a purpose. and i am going to recommend a paper from a rather famous economist, ariel rubinstein, who has an interesting way of justifying his trade. it is illuminating, and it is part of the myth we like to surround ourselves with from time to time. again, not a normative judgement, because i love myths and fables, because they lead us to action. the intro and conclusion are non-technical, and are the enjoyable parts=) especially for the people who thinkg economists sit around arguing all day, indulging in their intellectual fantasies... as you will see, they do=). but they do it in an illuminating way, i hope.


random fact of the day.

did you know that nus university's scholars programme has a page dedicated to keeping alive victorian traditions or something? with collections of harper's bazaar and weird trivialities! it is interesting because i'm doing some work on british history and i was hoping for some comic which would explain how woefully inefficient they were, throwing away the lead they had. of course, i don't really believe they were inefficient, they were just unlucky. more to come. it's not the most charming of topics no?


camden pictures

my previous post about the rains is so not funny. it's been raining all the time... and i think it'll just get worse, it gets really dark by 6 and maybe daylight savings will help... but still... had to take a bus back from school because it was just not funny.

yeah. what've i been up to? playing soccer for one (hopefully will be able to go for nottingham games), and inspired by that, i went to visit arsenal football club. it's really nice how it's really right smack in the middle of a residential suburb in highbury, where people hang england flags from the window, little kids play football in arsenal jerseys and it must be really nice for the residents on match day. must be quite sad that they're moving to emirates stadium now.... oh well, progress, and at least i got to catch it still standing. they're playing sparta prague on tuesday.

posted more pics of canterbury. went for some japanese society party today looking for japanese chicks (no, kidding). but nice bento set and i'm lazy to get food nowadays. i hate how i get really red when i drink a bit and start walking about london.

and i found someone who adores tony leung! haha. lent my "in the mood for love" to her. oh... and i've been going out because i think i've been studying too much, but it's really scary, i'm making a habit of it and i realise everyone is studying much more than me now. back to work! it's interesting now, doing well-being for econ history, so we get to read dasgupta, sen, etc philosophizing abouthow we should measure well-being, which type of political economy is appropriate etc. maths... interesting, but sometimes am utterly lost. systems of linear equations and taylor's theorem. econs: hicks, slutsky decompositions, normal giffen goods, consumer theory. bleargh. stats: regression. and french and spanish to come.



the october rains have arrived, and london is starting to resemble the sopping wet mess i expected it to be.

it's not that bad... when you sleep at 2 and have to wake up the next day to go for early class, you're always not really awake. until you step out and it's raining and the wind blows in your face, then you just want to keep running along. or turn back into hall, but that's a wimp's option.

occasionally you can say it's fall now, and it's just rain. the leaves are falling, and turning a bit orange.

also went for a boat party... decided it would be interesting after i have been cooping up so long trying to write ONE essay. (you really do lose it don't you). took us all the way to greenwich, where the laser curved across the thames, following the curvature of the earth. and the thing about boat parties, is once you get on, you can't get off so you might as well enjoy yourself=)

classes are fun, i have half decent tutors who'll do their best (together with their usual eccentricities). i'm done with pre and post war economic convergence comparisons. next week i've one of my favourite topics in economic history: "does geography matter?" i think i'll base my term paper on that. i started reading "guns, germs and steel" just for background knowledge, and it's riveting how 120 spanish on horses massacred 7000 incans at cajamarca (they stopped at 7000 because it was time for dinner), and would later win 4 more major battles each at odds 500 to 1. poor things, occasionally they figured that it would be better to be in narrow valleys where the effects of cavalry are negated, but once the spanish took it to the plains they were always going to be fodder. and when you listen to their offensive religiosity you can't help but think, god, no wonder they needed guns or no one would have let them be their neighbours. but that's all long ago... and isn't the world so unfair? nice guys do finish last. pizarro was a bastard, he demanded a 20 by 15 by 7 foot room of gold for king atahualpa, and the incans, having taken 8 months to fulfill his order, with much integrity delivered it to pizarro, who then took liberty to execute the heathen king! by then it was too late, bronze weapons aren't going to cleave through chain mail and i'm sorry but i have horse and swords and artillery pieces but you don't. and why? because the incans happened to be on the wrong continent(simplistic, but let's try to defend the assertion).

and i think currently research is quite hot on geography, especially as sachs and acemoglu are trying to show that geography does affect development, and of course with the bewitching power of statistics you can have interesting facts like, correlation between landlocked countries and growth, distance from the sea etc...

maths is also riveting! finally there's a nice formal framework for everything and its fascinating when the lecturer goes on about trivial solutions and wanders off to show how leontief's input-output model works. but sometimes the students don't give the lecturers enough respect and i think sometimes they feel quite insulted by the reception.


weekend was spent fretting a bit. how the hell do i write a proper essay without any guidelines?

visited the seat of the church of england, canterbury, to breathe some fresh air... and continue my countryside journeys... it's so lovely getting fresh air, being in quaint little town... and in this case, the people in town were so friendly. we would walk into a small church (st martin's), and this group of grannies would be done with their prayer meeting, and they just invited us in although we were more curious onlookers than anything. later on when we were in canterbury cathedral, the night's opera was in rehearsal, and they really did bring out the essence of the old testament for what it was.

sunday morning was spent in the library and marvelling at a clear sky. had to go there on a weekend! because it's much quieter, it's much easier for getting services for fetches and off-prints... also fulfilled my long-standing desire to visit camden. god they have gorgeous markets, set beside the series of canals at camden lock... it's edgy, there are all these stalls with the reggae and the music... and these goth specialty stores, leather jackets... paraphernelia to smoke your stuff with (and the stuff you smoke), cheap world food (carribean, french, what not). a lovely big park in walking distance, the london zoo. 4 for a quid breakfast pastries! and cheap hot food. mmm.

i think writing letters to my parents has changed a bit of my blogging style. oh well, sometimes you just have to let thoughts slide. this is this week's song.

Bob Dylan - Shelter from the Storm

'Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood
When blackness was a virtue and the road was full of mud
I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

And if I pass this way again, you can rest assured
I'll always do my best for her, on that I give my word
In a world of steel-eyed death, and men who are fighting to be warm.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Not a word was spoke between us, there was little risk involved
Everything up to that point had been left unresolved.
Try imagining a place where it's always safe and warm.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

I was burned out from exhaustion, buried in the hail,
Poisoned in the bushes an' blown out on the trail,
Hunted like a crocodile, ravaged in the corn.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Suddenly I turned around and she was standin' there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair.
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Now there's a wall between us, somethin' there's been lost
I took too much for granted, got my signals crossed.
Just to think that it all began on a long-forgotten morn.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it's doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

I've heard newborn babies wailin' like a mournin' dove
And old men with broken teeth stranded without love.
Do I understand your question, man, is it hopeless and forlorn?
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation an' they gave me a lethal dose.
I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Well, I'm livin' in a foreign country but I'm bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine.
If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."


"Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure;
Like doth quit like, and measure still for measure."

Duke Vincentio, Measure for Measure Act V.i

I enjoyed myself immensely at the Globe today, watching Measure for Measure, and I felt a certain amount of pity at the season coming to a close, and immense pleasure at managing to catch one of the last shows of the season. By all accounts, I can't claim to have really studied Measure for Measure (I remember one line only, which T.S Eliot snuck as a motto to one of his poems "Though hast neither youth nor age\but as it were; and after dinner's sleep\dreaming of both" and I had a really dismal view of Shakespearan comedy. But presented in the informal, raucous atmosphere of the theatre with the interaction of the audience and the stage, especially during the bawdy parts, meant it was probably the most enjoyable performances of shakespeare i've attended.

immense frustration to at immigration procedures, these things wear me down. and i just got an essay due next friday because there was a change in the timetable and i happen to be the first few presenters. bother.


I've a new mobile number from O2, because t-mobile decided to be anal about credit.

New line is: +447725942979


nothing much today, just an opportunity to catch up on work (which, as soon as i spent a couple of hours on it), decided to give up on it and read 'measure for measure' instead.

oh, interesting thing that happened today was that i took the long route back because i wanted to get some shopping done and as i was walking along st paul's churchyard i was stopped by a policeman (a bobby?). i thought it was me, then i realised they were searching the double decker bus cause it had a bag on it and we weren't to pass through the area they were searching.

but i was standing just 5 metres away from the bus and my head would have probably been blown off anyway. big cities.


just got back to london and was for a bit dreading going back to familiarity and school (come on! it's only week 2!) but i had only an hour of lectures today on consumer theory which resembled a geography lesson more, with utility contours and "indifference curves cannot cross!"

was looking for a line so that I'd be contactable, and was supposed to visit the embassy to renounce my Indonesian citizenship. but i ended up being so absorbed with shopping down Oxford Street that I lost track of time=). I got my phone after I was officially declared "creditworthy" by T-Mobile, which the shop owner was rather surprised as I was a student and all.

I guess the highlight though was another public lecture, though this was more by the St Paul's Institute rather than by LSE. Jeffrey Sachs came in from New York to kick off (or continue) the awareness program for the "makepovertyhistory" campaign. He was talking under the dome of St Paul's, which we managed to get in for free today simply because he was speaking. I am glad though that I am constantly fed such morsels of inspiration studying in London and it certainly makes a difference from what the economics lectures can teach you, and it's one of those moments I was glad I was studying in London.

Ended really late, went into a kebab shop nearby on Southwark Street. Friendly chap owns the restaurant, not so friendly drunk guy comes in passing racist comments about chinese. also gave the store owner a hard time, thinking he was so cool with his rap lines on how other races are messed up and how no one would dare to mess with him. of course not, you're drunk. grr.

i am up to my neck with things to do and am very tired. have tutorials to catch up on because of my weekend sojourn and hopefully the dust will clear soon.



i've loved geography and it's really fascinating for me to find out where i'm going, where i'm heading to, trotting on places that were just lines on maps when i pretended i owned a kingdom somewhere in the world atlas. a long time ago, there were just games like civilization or one of the sim series, but i know i'll always love just sitting on the bus to somewhere.

this week, somewhere was cambridge.

wait, let me fuck with your brains a bit. if never never land is never never land, does it mean it's always land?

studying in london is one thing, but city boy like me finds things like cow and grass very alien, foreign and exotic. that's why even though there's musicals or plays to watch, my desire to always go where the grass is greener (it's easy really, london doesn't really have green grass) brought me to cambridge, where i took advantage of chan lek's humongous room.

cambridge is a really nice, quaint town, what you'd really like when you're studying and everything, and of course lovely architecture and famous heads on statues gazing down on you and reminding you how painfully pathetic you are in this great institution. (or at least that's how i hazard the students must feel, not being in this institution). all this is remedied though, when you see your name in bright gold letters on the first floor of your halls proclaiming "I stay here at XXX college in Cambridge, and I have arrived). It doesn't say that, you know, but you know how in children's books the walls of boarding schools always talk and the willow in the middle of the courtyard can turn into a monster.

but yeah it is my first experience of famed traditional english countryside, walking through the fens, sitting by the river cam, punting, watching swans, and weird random people wanting to talk to us because her friends are dickheads and the odd person on the bicycle asking if we had weed. (son, do we look like weed smokers?) yorkshire pudding, cows, yes! even the drunkards in the bar curse in verse (iambic pentameter, according to chan lek). but a pity he was calling the students opposite him lesbians for reading astrology signs aloud.

food food food food. had plenty of good food. brought some fudge back to my hall to spread the joy too. and of course, it's really grand and all sitting in king's college listening to the choir do Te Deum and other assorted canticles for the matin mass. It's always nice to re-encounter beauty especially when it is forgotten in other parts of the world. no matter how you think this part tries to be smarmy and cling onto its traditions, it understands perhaps that these things are beautiful for smarmy people along the world and you may not give a flying fuck if you're homeless and selling copies of the big issue, but beauty is beauty is beauty.

i guess i was thinking sometimes, and maybe if i took one theme out of my thoughts it was 'greatness' or 'inheritance'. maybe it's the largeness of the place. i was thinking why people are great. and maybe some you think don't deserve to be great are great. and if you look around at cambridge, i think there is a sense that environment matters a lot, place matters a lot. where you are, where you are situated does matter. occasionally, and maybe today it's easier to cross boundaries but when you think about it place does matter.

oh yeah a bottle was hurled at us by some louts. about the only time we felt unwelcome in cambridge.

and so it was back down the m11 and m25, through the east end, which really does have a certain "charm" of its own, dark streets, halal restaurants, unswept streets, and back home. must thank chan lek for the generous accomodation (and episodes of family man) and i hope to continue travelling. if anyone wants to donate to the jesse travel fund or hire me as a travel writer, fuck you! you can't be serious, but if you are, give me a ring on my now non-existent handphone. ok. i'll get a number soon.