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.