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.


silly silly jesse

my phone got swiped today... silly silly jesse. this is big bad london, where people are going to take your handphones.

no serious, was playing soccer next to the tate, maybe i wasn't thinking straight cause i had a drink in the afternoon but i brought my phone down. well so did the other players, but we thought it was really intelligent to hide them cleverly in jacket pockets. so clever, they'll never get to them!

then this dodgy guy came along, claiming to come from france and bamboozling us with his showboating. he pretended to be tired and played keeper and he did his deed. being the friendly banksiders we are, we are trusting and naive and always want to make new friends.

silly, silly jesse. oh well, i shall go incognito now. sort of like in the tube... and as you go up the escalator the orange adverts prompt you... "whatever would you do without a signal, reception, or by god, a phone. the horror!" well i know now, the first time i did something so stupid as to lose a phone.

luckily i've got some of my contacts backed up but i think i lost my uk numbers. and lucky it was prepay so he won't get far. anyway, people like insa have survived for forever without a phone so perhaps i will give myself a break from technology.


was just getting a bit down you know, reading up on statistics and everything, but luckily, managed to find a game of stakes poker at the bar where i would put some of that mathematics to practical use=)

well i thought i was doing fine at first until we put it all in cause it was getting late, and leah, who was full of ironic self-praise won it all. not that it was a lot, laundry money i would say, couple of pounds each.

nothing like some gin & tonic and some poker to make you smile=)


It's my 21st birthday today!

Before I get down to how it feels, I must confess I am taking a break from studying. I just had this urge to dive into vectors and vector space because I didn't understand it. I think because I only started really learning what maths was about in JC when I was more switched on I have to work through a lot of things people take for granted, when it comes to understanding how and why certain results are the way they are. So I'm slower but I'll get there and I'm actually switched on for once.

So let me regale you with academic things first.

Actually, nothing glamorous. 4 lectures today! 5 if you count the international relations one i attended for fun. The economics one was woefully boring for the first lecture, because it was woefully introductory, but I'm glad the pace quickened up for the 2nd one, and in a way (you get what you wished for, and more). He tried to inspire us by talking about world inequality and the wondrous appearance of wealth in the past 150 years, but we all knew that isn't what we're going to be doing, more like utility hills and consumption bundles and stuff like that. My course on internationalization of economic growth (economic history) has one of the most interesting professors so far (not that the rest of my lectures are that glamorous) but I like how interdisciplinary the whole thing is, transatlantic wind patterns, economically efficient diseases, and oh, what a sense of humour. maths went by in a flash and i don't think i absorb much in maths lectures. IR was drier than I thought it would be but it thought me one thing. Never, never be pessimistic in an introduction to anything. No surer way to switch people off. I left with the impressions well that the benefits of this discipline of international relations are marginal at the least (not making a normative judgement it is, but that was the tone I got).

Stats tomorrow! and ministry of sound haha. make up for the quietness of today.

Anyway, got the usual calls from family, well-wishers from Singapore, emails, smses, people who bother giving me cards at econs reception (thanks!). Even those who tried sending me lighters and failed, thanks! Mich (Tan) called me up and sang a birthday song for me, which I appreciated for all the embarrasment it probably caused her (then again, maybe she feels no shame.) Was a quiet affair (reminded me of Debi's 21st birthday) where Alex kept me company and we found excuses to splurge on eating and ice-cream in the bitter cold (we are masochists) at leicester square. Insa remembered too, and I'm just touched that all these new people are nice enough to wish me well. Another birthday spent overseas, it's been London, Bali, and Taiwan now for the last 3 years. They haven't been all lonely, there was always someone for me but of course it wasn't with everyone I would liked to have shared it with. (In fact, Bali was the most fun, but damn it had to get bombed again.) But what i learnt from the IR professor is to try to be positive. Any of you who've had the (mis)fortune of watching someone die may hope for some pearls of wisdom like "this is the most liberating experience, ever, death". Whether or not it's meant or not, it does give young boys and girls who're watching you hope and at the very worst you end up looking very macho or wise.

In the same vein, I must say turning 21 is a pleasure. Ignoring the things I haven't done, or my failings, or fretting that another year has passed, I guess I can look forward to my most fertile, productive years of my life. And for all those who've given me encouraging words along the way, I must say I'm starting to believe all your hype, and yes, good things come to those who wait! And I can safely say there's been a lot of that in 21 years, and a lot of good things too!

and looking at the buskers, (there was one playing "when i fall in love...it will be completely..."), and I thought, who knows the meaning of loneliness more than these free and sometimes homeless ones.

The vagabond who's rapping at your door
Is standing in the clothes that you once wore.
Strike another match, go start anew
And it's all over now, Baby Blue.

I love the way bob dylan is so big here. must be the recent bbc documentary

one more... for those turning 22... don't turn this way=)

Now Ophelia, she's 'neath the window
For her I feel so afraid
On her twenty-second birthday
She already is an old maid

To her, death is quite romantic
She wears an iron vest
Her profession's her religion
Her sin is her lifelessness
And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah's great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row