reflections on a self help book

"energy is 75% of where you want to be. if you don't have it, be nice."
-self help book

the book has a part on how the people who do well academically don't end up far in life. because we all know that studies and the ability to memorize facts only take you so far. of course, it's all very depressing for someone who feels that they are precisely good at memorizing facts.

don't despair. i am sure the other aspects of your personality can be worked on, as long as you undertake sufficient humility to learn them. of course, reading a book where you're clearly not the target audience (not even the direct target of criticism) isn't that entertaining. but perhaps i'm missing something.

reading rousseau for my essay (see, what use is a university education, how obscure!), you see the same romantic fervour. don't let boys touch books till they're 15. better they be peasants and school in gymnasiums where they wrestle in the nude, to promote love of competition, and imbue in them the spirit of a nation. books serve only to acquaint men with artificial passions, which only make them idle and soft.

there are intelligent and lazy people. i wonder though, if their intelligence is a curse, or if removing the intelligence from otherwise lazy people would merely make them stupid and lazy people. it is apparently true, to rousseau at least, that peasant and barbarian farmers and soldiers are imbued with virtue and a sense of duty and discipline, while "civilised" peoples grow corrupt and weak.

surely then that is what they mean. giving up your intelligence is no use if you're only going to use your knew found stupidity to waste your money on horses and drink. so, in addition to intelligence, have other attributes as well. otherwise you would just be substituting laziness in menial duty to laziness of thought.

what rousseau fails to see is that intelligence is sometimes at odds with society. voltaire always reproached him for preaching his spartan education with emphasis on sports, but abandoning his children to a nursing home. his response: "i would have made a bad father anyway." perhaps it was his erratic temperaments and need to write and complete his ideas which made him someone who would care less about his duties to others?

that is the seduction and temptation intelligence offers, that it is the key to unlocking the secrets to the universe. i have kids, but oh wait, i'm unlocking the universe. take care of my kids for me will you. so many creative minds have abrogated their duties in the belief that what they have is of worth to the human race.

so perhaps rousseau is right. you are worth nothing. better try to make it as a scientist or academic, but don't let your intelligence corrupt daily life. best leave it to people who get things done. the skepticism of rationality (why do this? why believe in god? why challenge yourself?), a necessary tool to the scientific method, only gets in the way of human vision.

perhaps i still have anachronistic values. i try to convince myself of the energy, but sometimes i'm resigned to being nice. of course i've the same worries as many yuppies. will i be happy, will i be rich, here's what they say to me. wanting to be financially independent, and despairing of alternative routes. failure of vision. i think the sweetest thing i heard today was "i hate christmas, because everyone is so happy", said in a very innocent voice (or so i think). totally unrelated, but it reminds me of my younger days. i'm such a realist nowadays (hate christmas? whatever for? positive thinking!!!) end with happy thoughts.

"i know, size can be daunting. but don't be afraid. i love you! i luuurve you!"
- happy feet

"it's okays. my philosophy's is profounds. i not expectings you to understands its easily."


come to think of it, london is a nice place.

i say this because technically i'm bored, sitting here in my expensive, small home in london, wondering why things cost so much here.

what i like about london

1. 6 different premiership clubs to watch soccer at
2. if soccer's not your thing, a range of sporting events from horse-racing to wimbledon and the ashes
3. musicals from avenue q to wicked
4. the sheer number of races and thus different kinds of food here
5. the depressing weather
6. the ability to shop at endless shops.
7. city comforts such as many pubs, clubs and films
8. more than one queer market: camden, spitalfields, portobello, borough etc
9. the mother river and its many bridges
10. the incongruous architecture
11. the sense of history
12. random events, guy fawkes, new years eve are celebrated with big fireworks
13. romantic
14. big shots stay here, which comforts my celebrity obsessed self.

what i don't like about london

1. housing is expensive
2. everything else in "what i like" is expensive
3. a tad unfriendly
4. things are small
5. no air-con
6. so quite during xmas
7. cost of transport
8. no singaporean food or hawker style food which is cheap and good.


after the endless christmas dinners and boxing day sales, i guess i have to resign myself to the fact that life is getting a bit boring. that means taking out the dusty textbooks and flipping through some of them.

i thought i had my fill of travel in italy, but no sooner then life settles down to a tepid routine that i start flipping through brochures dreaming of where i can go next. of course, i won't be going anywhere because the sales have absorbed my pounds.

i am such a consumer.


the world's first consumer boycott was against slave-produced sugar in the west indies in the 18th century. i find the scale of it amazing.


i used to think beyond university lay an endless amalgam of events known as adult life, which consist of various episodes of slaving until retirement if you're lucky, and spending the rest on keeping yourself alive.

now that adult life is here i guess i have to accept that life doesn't end after university. there are proper jobs which are supposed to provide challenge and fulfilment, stuff to buy for the very first time etc.

now that i stare at applications it is very difficult to trick my mind that life hasn't ended, and that i haven't been sent to hell already. either

1. nobody likes doing applications

the question is, why doesn't anyone like them?

a. maybe the job is not right for you
b. you're just lazy to write another 500 words on the greatest experience/failure of your life, so you convince yourself the job is not right for you.
c. you don't like to bullshit

[you don't have to bullshit if you have the goods don't you?]

to employer: read my blog

*horror* no better not. then blogs will become templates of working in teams overcoming obstacles and challenges and being good fits for organizations.

i blame corporations for all my negativity. boo. how did i ever do my scholarship applications.

Ford worker on assembly line: screw in 10th bolt on front left tire repeat x1000
Me: Do applications.

what do they have in common? do something, get dough.


why blog personal thoughts?

"i don't really want to know, too much detail aside", i think, done well, it makes you more human.

it's more than the holidays you went for, what you did over the term. i'm really starting to appreciate what a holiday is, by my standards i've been a little too focused.

why do personal thoughts make you human?

because they show me what it means to doubt.

in the stories, it's not all about doing good. it's not even about the process. it's about the characters.

the arno, and ponte vecchio

florence bored me to bits. i have good memories of who wants to be a millionaire though. to be fair, there was a lot of renaissance art which i wished i understood better. and i don't think tuscany is famous for winter. i preferred the countryside in the south.

the arno by night

vesuvius smoking

pompeii with vesuvius in the background.

we also visited rome, but it's the usual suspects. the colosseum, the mother church, spanish steps etc... the mother church did awe michelle and i had great fun making noises of angelic revelation. also, i return with an elaborate fantasy of how iraqis flee their country. i met a kurdish guy on the train from bari to rome with no baggage, and i thought how he must have riden on a camel through cappadocia, swam across the bosphorous and hiked through montenegro and albania before being a castaway on a freighter bound for brindisi. he then had a ticket to bari, rome, and onwards to paris and london. BIG language problems, but it gave me great pleasure to attempt to relieve the boredom of this 18 year old hero.

the sassi of matera. we took three trains, pissed off michelle by running down the main street in naples only to catch a delayed train, had to stay the night over in bari. we were expecting a poor, impoverished town in basilicata, but it's much richer now. it's claim to fame are its sassi which are basically cave dwellings, and the fact that mel gibson filmed the passion of christ there because the entire town dows look like jerusalem. we went into a restaurant twice because we loved the way they cooked beans. enjoyed watching the local christmas fair and what teenagers do in a quiet town. they gather in the town square to talk to each other and eat gelato and down shots. it is the kind of town you improve your italian in, although i was amused to find a bunch of chinese merchants. also, hard to find atm, and don't hang around small italian towns on sundays, they close the train station and make it very hard for you to get out so that all of you have to fall on your knees and praise the lord.

it's set in a ravine.

our other favourite place is venice, but everyone knows about that.

murano is where they make glass. it looks like a nice retirement town. boats, water, colourful facades. if i'm not mistaken though, norwegian boating towns do look like that too and maybe a little prettier. if only we all spoke the local language.

shakira sounds like an electric guitar. also, i am starting to like bruch's concerto more than mendelssohn's.
let me start by an astute philosophical justification of travelling by michelle. it goes something like this (my recollection):

"i am here travelling to the most remote places precisely to get away from society. i quite enjoyed meeting the californian backpacker, but it wasn't fun anymore when i realised i had to entertain him. this whole notion of a traveller's community can just go to hell."

i like that, especially when you are really looking for that whisky advertisment moment, alone on a mountain somewhere or fishing in some remote ravine/village, or caught three trains to get to it. of course, when you're going to rome or something, you're bleeding asking for it, and travelling alone can get boring anyway.

and it's true, not reading fiction a long time makes you worry. reading generation x obviously never rings true anymore, it's so obviously wrong and juvenile, (oh we all hate tobias cause he's rich and sexy), but i'm also mostly obviously wrong and juvenile and much fun to laugh at myself. i need my weirdness back. i'd like to say that fiction is like santa claus, except that i have more faith in santa claus at the moment.

"why people are so lazy" it seems so obvious. usually, you get some form of reward for working hard. you get even more when you pack your days with activities, fun and laughter. so why do people sit around and choose to do nothing? fiction, love songs, and religion (and even those oh-so emotional moments when life does seem like a story with a beginning an end and countless chapters for forgiveness and revenge), they all need contemplation. that is why you shouldn't rush. that is why noisy churches don't work for me, everything is so obviously fake to me, that i need time to convince myself they are real. shakira is real, the tv says so.

there is more than one way to feel alive, thank you.


oh my god almond thin crisps (spekkuk?) are the most addictive biscuits ever.
4 guys idea of a Saturday night out ended up in trocadero at piccadilly, because everywhere else is godforsakenly crowded on saturday night

i enjoyed it very much, because it ended up being a nostalgia trip on me. we took part in the veritable british institution, the trivia, albeit in arcade format. we had great fun pissing off a few brits, who must have thought, "those damn chinese kids." after we let them win a few rounds, we'd go in for the jackpot, and i'm sure it was all smiles at the end.

omg i miss cobratrivia and geog challenge etc... i love all these games lying around for people who have nothing much left in their lives but regurgitate all the useless knowledge that they had cause they surfed the net too often. that's me.

now i have enough tickets to get my girlfriend a nice prize.


i highly recommend anyone who's suffering from depression or burnout a regimen of 12+ hours of sleep followed by random lazing around on the 3 square metre area that is your bed.

once you've had enough sleep, way more then you need, you will find out what i mean. because you're perpetually half asleep, it's like you're always in a dream. that's just fantastic because you can start conversations with people in the underworld. that was orpheus' secret.

in the underworld, you're constantly peppered with visions of what you've not done, and what you could do. you think you're talking to the devil, when it's just your conscience speaking. i'd think it was divine intervention but i somehow suspect god does not work through sleep, though he does work in mysterious ways.

in a dreamlike state you think things like "i need water" and you go out and get it and you go back to sleep. was that my handphone's low battery? ignoring it a few times, checking and realizing it was a message. checking a website. going back to sleep...and then the morning comes, it's all cold and rainy, and you decide to skip today's lecture because it will make it all better.

then you finally wake up, check your email to find out you've received some articles, that you've got an appointment with your personal tutor in 20 minutes which you arranged because you thought you'd be at the lecture, and suddenly what everything they said to you in the underworld makes sense. you've got things to do, and it's as if they told you beforehand how to get through the entire week, and you've finally got a plan, contingent on the fact that you're not supposed to turn around or eurydice will disappear forever. then the rush to school, and adrenaline takes care of the rest.

i've never felt so awake and ready for a week on monday morning. and the rest of you, never underestimate the power of sleep.

i dreamt another strange thing, or was told. it was that not everybody deserves love, because they occupy themselves with other things.


i'm a christmas whore

i'm one of those who believe you should put up the christmas stuff waaay before christmas is ever remotely near. what's the use of spending all that money on baubles if you ain't gonna use it, besides, we sort of decided when christmas was supposed to be anyway, it was supposed to be in the dark dreary winter when we need as much artificial lighting we can get.

i think i have adjusted worse to the lack of lighting this year. after the adrenaline-filled essay week, i find myself sleeping more and more. not just that, when i wake up, i listen to christmas songs waiting for christmas to come.

scarily, a kid on my msn just changed his nick to "who's going to 3-6 with me tomorrow?" so a sec 1 kid i once taught is now sec 3. oh my god teaching has got to be the worst occupation ever imagine seeing batches and batches of kids graduating and chewing up the years until you can no longer distinguish the individual years. then you're truly old and you're truly fucked. (tongue in cheek guys/gals, i don't want letters to the forum defending your occupation. you know we all luv ya.)


reading hume and rousseau, and wondering how things got as they are, i always wonder sometimes whether there is a point to civilization? why don't we simply submit to our dreams and our passions and our instincts. why all this guilt, chastisement, all these fetters of civilization and reason? why all my reverence of stoicism?

i came across this checking up stuff for the italy trip again... and about this history of rome, which rousseau speaks much of. it's a confusing amalgam of myth and history, and virgil has made aeneas out to be one of the forefathers of the roman empire (he did get a vision of its future greatness).

just like my favourite passage in alice of wonderland is the knight bidding alice goodbye, this is one i like from the aeneid. i told ms rachel tan one day that in my spare time, i wouldn't read greek literature, but hey, people change.

setting: venus got her son cupid (who happens to be aeneas's half brother) to shoot dido with some love arrows. dido falls madly enough with aeneas, and during a hunting expedition a storm drove them into a cave where they had sex (wow, what a convenient storm). but then aeneas has a destiny, as is typical of most greek heroes, and has to leave. dido, queen of carthage has burned herself at the pyre after the heartless bastard aeneas left for the fertile lands of italy. aeneas, being the clueless guy he was, had no idea that dido was that into him. aeneas finds an opening to the underworld at cumae in order to find his father's spirit and encounters the dead. there he runs into dido.

it's so nice because here was crazywoman dido who burnt herself at the stake for this fucker, and when she gets to meet him again in hell she is able to detach herself, see everything stoically, replies with silence and returns to her ex-husband sichaeus, who she broke her vow of fidelity too in making off with aeneas.

Not far from these Phoenician Dido stood,
Fresh from her wound, her bosom bath'd in blood;
Whom when the Trojan hero hardly knew,
Obscure in shades, and with a doubtful view,
(Doubtful as he who sees, thro' dusky night,
Or thinks he sees, the moon's uncertain light,)
With tears he first approach'd the sullen shade;
And, as his love inspir'd him, thus he said:
"Unhappy queen! then is the common breath
Of rumor true, in your reported death,
And I, alas! the cause? By Heav'n, I vow,
And all the pow'rs that rule the realms below,
Unwilling I forsook your friendly state,
Commanded by the gods, and forc'd by fate-
Those gods, that fate, whose unresisted might
Have sent me to these regions void of light,
Thro' the vast empire of eternal night.
Nor dar'd I to presume, that, press'd with grief,
My flight should urge you to this dire relief.
Stay, stay your steps, and listen to my vows:
'T is the last interview that fate allows!"
In vain he thus attempts her mind to move
With tears, and pray'rs, and late-repenting love.
Disdainfully she look'd; then turning round,
But fix'd her eyes unmov'd upon the ground,
And what he says and swears, regards no more
Than the deaf rocks, when the loud billows roar;
But whirl'd away, to shun his hateful sight,
Hid in the forest and the shades of night;
Then sought Sichaeus thro' the shady grove,
Who answer'd all her cares, and equal'd all her love.


So i had an essay to do and micro 2 undone, and I went to go watch Jet anyway. I'm pretty pleased I went, they had fantastic stage presence. Great stamina, long set, and I liked the backdrop and setup.

I had lots of coffee recently, and it's surprising that once you don't have it for a long time it really can keep you up. Maybe it was also the adrenaline of reading up on kinda new, not so boring stuff (like the insanity defence), and of solving micro 2.


sometimes i think, it's the girlfriend or jazz.

maybe it's because i'm have a little more to do this year, i haven't been able to kick back, stay awake till late and just listen to songs from my selection.

it's an inevitable sacrifice, but it was something i enjoyed. it gave me happiness. it was called smelling the flowers. it's a different thing now. but it's absurd to compare the two! then the question would be, which state would you choose. and i would choose this state, because it is my choice now.

sometimes though, jazz must have its revenge. this is one of those nights.
on my wall are pasted many photographs. photographs are misleading things, especially at one in the morning.

for example, one photograph has the rolling hills of wales in summer. what i would give to be on a hill in wales in summer on this cold night.

right before i went to wales, i thought, "i must get out. i must get out now". seeing photographs always make you think you can drop everything and find forever. that girl with the facebook photo, that place to visit. that's how i think, occasionally, anyway.

i'd like to say i'm happier because of that, that i've seen more places, for example, but the realization strikes you that photographs are forever, film is forever, but happiness isn't (duh), but i think it's actually let me down. i wish someone had explained to me what discipline was, what it did, what it was for, explained it in terms i understand, like i think i do now.

not in the 'monkish ascetic' sense of discipline bringing happiness, but the constant reminder it brings that wishing to be happy doesn't make me so. maybe i've let myself get too caught up, though i still find myself instinctly revolting at maxims such as "save more", be "financially secure". i try not to go into debt, but at the same time i can't kid myself, i save only to spend, and spending on finding that next happy place no less. i am blessed or cursed not to like drink, which means less money spent on that but less fun in social situations, had a previous (haven't smoked in a bit) weak spot for the comfort of cigarettes.

but yet i don't want to be a complete bore! just a partial one. but i'm pretty afraid of letting it all go to shit again.



need to blog for about 20 minutes
dumb microeconomics. dumb dumb dumb. it's so dumb they have help sessions for econometrics when micro 2 is the real problem. didn't take enough multivariable calc or real analysis? sucks to be you... sucks to be you... it makes me groan in defiance.

but then again it's not dumb because it's mathematical, its's just shit boring. everyone has cobb-douglas preferences, the answer to this guy's preferences builds on last weeks work, and when they don't have cobb-douglas preferences, they are some straight lines or leontief. can it really be this easy? GIVE US SOME REAL FUNCTIONS, THEN I WILL WORSHIP YOU.

warmth. breasts. water. sun.

there is always a temptation to live as if there were no tomorrow, which is strange, why we lose it as the number of tomorrow's gets scarcer and scarcer. so living like there's no tomorrow is more an acknowledgement that there are many tomorrows for you to waste. but it probably is a convex quadratic function of tomorrows and temptation.


jesse's writings for make benefit of his friends

evil borat has started to make everyone speak like him, an evil testament to the insidious powers of comedy.

went for a guy fawkes celebration last night. i was left so unsatisfied. the fireworks were marvellous and lasted for a good half hour, and from the top of the hill at alexandra palace we could see fireworks simultaneously launched all over london (and all the way to canary wharf). still, i came to see effigies, and whereas last year i was in the company of dedicated pyros and arsonists, this year we were all good sweet fireworks lovers. all the same, there was a big funfair in the kitschy interiors of alexandra palace.

i will be spending the next few days working on my philosophy essay. the good thing, however, is that the specific topic does involve lots of reading on criminal law (specifically the insanity defence), so i won't be reading the same arguments over and over again. yay!


it was date night tonight, which turned out very enjoyable, and very american=p.

the first chills of winter is coming and the clocks have been turned back. now we wait around to have our asses frozen off. still, though the sun is all but gone by 5 it's nice on friday evening to have no more meetings, no more work... for now.... for now....

went off to watch avenue q which i thought was delightfully irreverent, and comedy is so hard to write... pretty much stereotypical characters and almost predictable plot, but there were so many clever twists and turns inside... and i thought the way they wrote the lyrics was so contemporary. many many sharp comebacks and turns of phrase too. to complete the american evening, we went for peanut butter milkshakes and burgers at ed's accompanied by jukeboxes playing elvis presley while i was dressed in my 70's shirt.

it was also nice, given that i'm not longer staying south of the river, to walk down the strand and see the lights. it was so cold you could see the moon.


i had no idea fran?oise hardy looked like that!

tous les gar?ons et les filles de mon age
se promenent dans la rue deux par deux
tous les gar?ons et les filles de mon age
savent bien ce que c'est d'atre heureux

et les yeux dans les yeux et la main dans la main
ils s'en vont amoureux sans peur du lendemain
oui mais moi, je vais seule par les rues, l'ame en peine
oui mais moi, je vais seule, car personne ne m'aime

mes jours comme mes nuits
sont en tous points pareils
sans joies et pleins d'ennuis
personne ne murmure "je t'aime" a mon oreille

tous les garsons et les filles de mon age
font ensemble des projets d'avenir
tous les garsons et les filles de mon age
savent tras bien ce qu'aimer veut dire

et les yeux dans les yeux et la main dans la main
ils s'en vont amoureux sans peur du lendemain
oui mais moi, je vais seule par les rues, l'ame en peine
oui mais moi, je vais seule, car personne ne m'aime

mes jours comme mes nuits
sont en tous points pareils
sans joies et pleins d'ennuis
oh! quand donc pour moi brillera le soleil?

comme les garsons et les filles de mon age
connatrais-je bienta't ce qu'est l'amour?
comme les garsons et les filles de mon age
je me demande quand viendra le jour

òu les yeux dans ses yeux et la main dans sa main
j'aurai le coeur heureux sans peur du lendemain
le jour ou je n'aurai plus du tout l'ame en peine
le jour ou moi aussi j'aurai quelqu'un qui m'aime

this is one of those "when will someone love me songs"
"all of the boys and girls my age are walking down the street 2 by 2"


they know me so well

"I hope you are having a lovely weekend and enjoying some of the crisp, autumn weather. In case you feel like snuggling up with a nice, 600+ page book this evening, here are the questions for this week’s seminar."


The same persons who cry down Logic will generally warn you against Political Economy. It is unfeeling, they will tell you. It recognises unpleasant facts. For my part, the most unfeeling thing I know of is the law of gravitation: it breaks the neck of the best and most amiable person without scruple, if he forgets for a single moment to give heed to it. The winds and waves too are very unfeeling. Would you advise those who go to sea to deny then winds and waves -- or to make use of them, and find the means of guarding against their dangers? My advice to you is to study the great writers on Political Economy, and hold firmly by whatever in them you find true; and depend on it that if you are not selfish or hard-hearted already, Political Economy will not make you so.
-- J.S. Mill

went for a lecture by dr charles bean today, director and chief economist of the bank of england, just to take notes, take photographs and generally cover the event so i'll be clued in as to what is going on and not be hoodwinked by my journalist.

professor pissarides stepped up to introduce him, and soon enough a woman got up and heckled something to the effect of "this is england, speak english". whyever she did so, i can't figure out. pissed off at economics professors? ultra-nationalist? couldn't here or over-hassled by ushers? an ex-mistress?

in any case, it was a pretty clear lecture replete with statistics and interesting indicators you wouldn't consider normally from your average macroeconomics course. not excessively complicated, mind you, but common sense indicators which go beyond interest rates etc. this is diagnostic economics, something like house (yes that crazy doctor), and what i think distinguishes economics today, an empirical approach to things from looking at data. that's why i don't like my macroeconomics principles course that much because there doesn't seem to be much necessarily stable or "principled" about the economy, you should always keep one eye on the data. and anyway, it is something like sach's recommended approach (to development economics) in "the end of poverty", where he suggests going around to the countries involved to collect data, understand more (kinda like talking to patients). it was interesting though, that i ran into a lady i met at summer school in beijing who's now very interested in development, and she got the impressions that charles bean had never been to china, and she was hoping more for some more insights in that regard. fair enough, but i guess his job is monetary policy in the uk (meaning he has to keep one eye on china as far as that affects inflation in the uk), but he doesn't claim it's his field of interest or expertise.

but what should i know right, i'm not an economist. but another person comes in and heckles and goes on about the voodoo banking multiplier and how all this debt hole think came about, that debt is sin etc. i must confess i was initially upset by the banking multiplier. and though the idea of money being printed by the government going straight into our pockets sounds neat and attractive, i guess people underestimate the importance of financial intermediaries in trying to push us back into the 17th century. it is difficult, though, i feel to argue with someone who doesn't try to take at least an empirical approach to data. i don't mean being able to quote statistics like "50 billion a year is wasted on... (and i didn't really get the rest of what he said)" or quoting abraham lincoln , i guess there has to be progress in the financial markets. and then i realise you need the theory to figure out that some concepts/principles are just wrong (given the world that we work with).

but the heckling made me think that some people, i think, are absolutely disgusted with economists. oh well.

also, this is another poem posted by my philosophy lecturer. yet again, a poem likes this sometimes makes me wonder if literature is not simply about weakness in all its forms, and is a desperate search by readers to find out if someone as terrible as them exists in this world. it is comforting, you know.

Why should not old men be mad?
Some have known a likely lad
That had a sound fly-fisher's wrist
Turn to a drunken journalist;
A girl that knew all Dante once
Live to bear children to a dunce;
A Helen of social welfare dream,
Climb on a wagonette to scream.
Some think it a matter of course that chance
Should starve good men and bad advance,
That if their neighbours figured plain,
As though upon a lighted screen,
No single story would they find
Of an unbroken happy mind,
A finish worthy of the start.
Young men know nothing of this sort,
Observant old men know it well;
And when they know what old books tell
And that no better can be had,
Know why an old man should be mad.

W.B Yeats

and you wonder if all these hopes you have for yourself will ever be achieved. yes, what happens to those who know all of dante?

in the end, no matter how much i claim not to believe in fate, i think deep down i must believe it. maybe it's my natural disposition, but i think sometimes that's the reason why people think i am cold/cool in certain situations, why i don't react more etc... i think sometimes that is what frustrates people most about me. i just have never had this feeling where i could control the world, and sometimes i take it too much as a given.

at the end of the term, i hope to go to italy. one of the stops will be venice, which used to be famous for the rialto and... jewish moneylenders. even in the 17th century they needed debt.


i can't wait for guy fawkes day.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,'twas his intent
to blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below,
Poor old England to overthrow:
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, make the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
Hip hip hoorah!

A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!
bother. microeconomics again tonight. i spent an hour walking around london at night. it's rainy still so my breath forms mist. yay!

the lecturer did mention brighton in lectures today as part of an example on 'akrasia'. something about being able to deliberate both paths but showing an inherent bias in reasoning towards another (i.e. surfing in brighton vs going to a proper school i.e. lse).

but he has an interesting article about how people are akratic bums (let's use the word bohemian) but hanging around other akratic bums and being akratic is all right because it increases your self-image. i make it sound dumb but if you get a chance to read 'the revenge of akratic's anonymous' it's really quite a nice read.

i was always only human!

i was at brighton over the weekend and the highlight was probably touching the sea. the arcade was forgettable, although the oriental pleasure dome called the royal pavillion was unique and dare i say beautiful. last weekend i caught the goo goo dolls in action too.

i returned slightly sick due to the hefty breeze. whenever the cold front comes there's lots of rain and today london was typically drippy. i am also feeling slightly stressed by the great dosage of mathematics in my courses and i always sit down in dread to do my microeconomics tutorials because i have forgotten so much math over the summer. also, i volunteered to do a journal-type thing, which i think i told myself never to do again. but, in start-of-term enthusiasm, i must have raised my hands, so there you go. aiyah. i think i don't like stress, and i am convinved i hate it more than the average person, which means i need to be paid more to take on stress.

i also realise how difficult it is to talk to myself nowadays. i'm not used to it anymore. how. it really feels like a second year in london. i'm starting to wait for it to end.

i can't wait for guy fawkes day. i need to see things burn.


settling down/finally have internet!

my bed is strewn with snakey the snake and crumpled duvet. the book on the right is microeconomics, left is calculus. in micro 2, the two are inseparable. highly annoying and technical.

fuck terrorist, tube maps, and my concealed bookcase. few posters of george best.
"all the bad days cannot erase the memories.

anfield and my stolen pulp fiction poster.

overcrowded desk and advertising space above...


crash-coursing spanish in library now for a placement test and interview tomorrow. let me tell you about my sad sad life in london right now.

1. my computer crashed. in london, you can't just walk up to customer services in an "apple store" and get your computer repaired. no, you have to make an appointment. and you have to make an appointment somewhere in zone 3 at least an hour away from everything, unless you've subscribed to procare and pay some more money so you come first in a queue. so you try to take the train to brent cross and the northern line breaks down, so you have to take a bus. it's ok, i passed by abbey road where you can see the pedestrian crossing that the beatles put on their album cover.

2. i faxed about 8-9 forms over to get an internet account. finally got it settled after a week of faxing to and fro. credit checks, bureacracy and the ilk

3. house has some problem with hot water. sort of fixed.

4. girlfriend is homeless. as such she is temporarily staying over at my place. hard to settle down when she isn't settled down, and me and my roommate's stuff is strewn around.

5. timetable clash. outside option clashes with core. i would have loved to take the introductory philosophy course. but well, that fucked up, and they don't really solve lecture clashes here, so i asked for permission to take PH214, which is not too bad. deals mainly with ethics through reading aristotle, kant

my house is a little small. but it's in a nice area, and they opened a new mall, the brunswick, with waitrose (the local cold storage), starbucks, boots and all other sorts of franchises. it also has a cute little renoir cinema which shows indie films, and we managed to catch finally a film by the much-hyped almodovar, who is renowned for disgusting things like filming cleavages and toilet scenes. birthday was uneventful and spent stressing over administrative details. birthday was spent watching chuckle club. and, new place of last week = southall = indian food.


*mutter* timetable clash *mutter*

now i need to think the whole outside option thing all over again.


sometimes i wonder where the insomnia has gone to. it really is quite useful sometimes!

i'm leaving for london again tomorrow. a year ago on this date i was frolicking in new found freedom in a small carpeted room in bankside. a year ago before my flight also i stuck on a little passage about steinbeck and some generalised sadness about leaving.

i think, simply, what people would say is boohoo i will miss everyone. if you strip away the general feeling that everything seems so ephemeral, that you can't guarantee that everything that was around will be around when you return. the parents will be a year older, so will the sisters, you just wish for everyone's sake it will slow down a little.

slow down? it'd be so boring. imagine living forever.

still, it wouldn't hurt if life is a playstation game that you can play till you're sick of.

and it's also not a simple case of "are you happier in london or in singapore". there are things in london i can get which i can't have in singapore. freedom, my own room, lse, the occasional soccer match or musical and different nightlife options. singapore has food, family, friends and i know where everything is. so it doesn't matter if there are 10,000 pros in london, and 10,000 cons in singapore, it's just the sickening feeling of having to give up something here for a year that makes you want it. and in the end, i could just stay here if i really wanted, and the fact that i don't is maybe the power of reason.
sometimes i wonder where the insomnia has gone to. it really is quite useful sometimes!

i'm leaving for london again tomorrow. a year ago on this date i was frolicking in new found freedom in a small carpeted room in bankside. a year ago before my flight also i stuck on a little passage about steinbeck and some generalised sadness about leaving.

i think, simply, what people would say is boohoo i will miss everyone. if you strip away the general feeling that everything seems so ephemeral, that you can't guarantee that everything that was around will be around when you return. the parents will be a year older, so will the sisters, you just wish for everyone's sake it will slow down a little.

slow down? it'd be so boring. imagine living forever.

still, it wouldn't hurt if life is a playstation game that you can play till you're sick of.

and it's also not a simple case of "are you happier in london or in singapore". there are things in london i can get which i can't have in singapore. freedom, my own room, lse, the occasional soccer match or musical and different nightlife options. singapore has food, family, friends and i know where everything is. so it doesn't matter if there are 10,000 pros in london, and 10,000 cons in singapore, it's just the sickening feeling of having to give up something here for a year that makes you want it. and in the end, i could just stay here if i really wanted, and the fact that i don't is maybe the power of reason.


leaving for london all too soon. anyway, i have changed my uk address. here it is in all its delectable glory:

36 Sandwich House, Sandwich Street, WC1H 9PR

but it's not "ah-ha, they named your street after a breakfast item."

it's named after sandwich in kent, one of the cinque ports responsible for the defense of the realm, from which the 4th earl of sandwich created the famous snack.


i stepped out of central station in hong kong this morning wondering what village i've been living in all these years. "this must be hong kong", i say to myself, pinching myself ever so often to remind myself that humans do build buildings that tall.

the country bumpkin in me spoke only chinese and english whenever they mistakenly mistake me for a native islander. i tell them i come from singapore. "singapore is a humble place", i say, and i tell them i'm not used to all the neon. "bright lights scare us", i add, also adding that singapore is a very epileptic friendly place.

hong kong, clearly is not. mongkok and tsimshatsui need to come with epilepsy warnings. also, anyone with fear of heights need not apply too, given that a 30 storey building is probably low-rise. blind people though, have it great in this place, not only do they not have to put up with all the light pollution, the traffic lights beep when you're allowed to cross. also, there is always some cantopop tune blasting which you can enjoy. also, beware of falling airconditioning units. (they just looked pretty vulnerable all that way up).

the light show was fucking hilarious i might add. it's this extravaganza (which is fantastic, i might add, i now know why singapore is rushing to build all those casinoes) where skyscrapers start spewing lasers and changing colours and patterns to amuse people. when they introduced hsbc tower, it would then start blinking pink and purple to introduce itself. and i read this about the bank of china building.

With its height of 131 metres this would make an impressive building in a lot of cities,
but not in Hong Kong. On the list of tallest buildings of the city, it ranks somewhere near to #360...

i also spent my annual pay on shopping, which doesn't go far in hong kong.

queer village, this hong kong.

summer school photos!

the cold war. cox vs arne westad, pakistan, central asia and mongolia vs korea, taiwan, s.e. asia and india. no contest. underneath a banner saying "long live the party and the may our ideology stand proud for 10000 years". well no, but typical pompous chinese banner.

look who's paying attention.

class teacher brendan

cox talking cock.

the 201 and 202 classes. observe the banner again.


all the chinese students are returning to schools now. the trains are filling up. beijing west station was a madhouse. it's an immense train station and there are 50 ticket counters. its a sight to behold. each one had queues in the tens of peoples.

xi'an. probably not.

i will end up in hk.
what is globalization?

globalization is fucking semantics.


司马台的万里长城, 密云县,北京市东北的郊区。

司马台离北京市有150多公里,需乘三个多钟头的巴士。可能是因为距离较远,来这部分的长城来看的旅客较少。城墙也是原始明代,而不像八达岭,居庸关,以 被重建,翻修的部分。可是,卖礼品的小贩越来越多,特别是从附近河北的农民。至少美国的 《星巴克》(Starbucks)还没攻打到这边的城门外!

北京大学。共有三万多人在北大留学。每年中国的《高考》给学生们不少的压力,烦恼, 是为了考上中国的名校。这就是其中的一个奖赏, 你的学院内将含有一个美丽的湖畔。LSE规模可能比这个湖还要小呢。





the economist has in it this week an article on the 'mismeasure of woman.' after lawrence summers dared to suggest that there were not so many women professors in math and science because there were fewer intelligent ones.

what i learnt from it:

female is the default brain setting! testosterone makes the fetus male.

men masturbate much more than women and had more liberal attitudes towards sex in a casual relationship.

men and women, though, reported the same degree of sexual satisfaction (80, 50, 30 anyone? that's got to be conditioning!)

men are more likely to be geniuses and idiots. variance of intelligence is higher.

when participants thought they were being observed by the experimenter, men dropped more bombs to destroy a target in a video game. when the identities were unknown, women dropped more bombs.

they had a related article on "la diff�rence", on how women won the sex war:

let's count the stereotypes:

1. "take map-reading. the female tendency to call for five right turns while holding the map upside down"

2. "men, studies show, are exceedingly good at rotating 3d shapes in ther head. perhaps women once stared open mouth in wonder as their mates juggled pyramids of imaginary polyhedra."

3. "but now that the rich world has about as many tunnels and bridges as it needs, and the large bits of machinery which aren't made by computers and robots are made by the Chinese, their usefulness is limited."

I'm Chinese. does it mean i'm still useful?

4. "modern professional life is dominated by management, which sets high store by emotional intelligence, empathy and communication. wise chaps seeking professional advancement should therefore spend their free time with groups of women, boning up on how to undermine somebody's confidence while pretending to boost it, and how to turn an entire lunch table against an absent colleague without saying a mean word. such skills are likely to have a greater influence on their lifetime earnings than the abilty to spin an icosahedron."



i am very proud of my blog.

despite its rather default template and absolute lack of photos.
despite its lack of controversy or motivation the change the face of singaporean politics
despite not telling you anything useful about how to cook or which is the best aluminum rim for your car.
despite its rather childish entries dating from 2002.
despite its lack of stories of conquest and sex.

i am proud because i read some of the entries and think, 'damn, what a damn fine blog'.


four letter words and other symbols of rebellion.

i remember watching once sinead o'connor perform. well, i didn't remember the circumstances until i was reminded of it tonight, but she had 2 weeks earlier ripped up a picture of the pope saying "fight the real enemy". she was supposed to perform dylan's "i believe in you" but she came on stage to a chorus of boos.

well, look at it yourself, you can find it on youtube, search for "sinead booed"

shaved head, hands behind back in a plain blue dress she then rips into an version of bob marley's "war".

the following is from wikipedia:

On September 22, 1997, O'Connor was interviewed in Vita, an Italian weekly newspaper. In the interview, she asked the Pope to forgive her. She claimed that the tearing of the photo was "a ridiculous act, the gesture of a girl rebel." She claimed she did it "because I was in rebellion against the faith, but I was still within the faith." She went on to quote Saint Augustine, by saying, "Anger is the first step towards courage."

this is a horribly complex post to write.

dylan :
"who booed me last night?"
"did you boo me last night?"
"i want you to find all the people that booed me last night."

i used to try that kind of self-avoidance of shortcomings and i used to infuriate people with out of point answers and arguments. what happened to it.

i have sold out, i think. i'll be honest. to most definitions of "selling out", i have sold out. bravo. i applaud all my free-spirited friends.

i don't know what crazy impulse leads me to think that now. what crazy impulse wants me to be a pubescent again, and not younger in a "life was simpler then" sense, but 14 year old two fingers to your teacher, how uncool all the other earnest, eager little kids were. no matter how stupid it looked, i miss the conviction that i was cooler than everyone else. yes, i want to be the hottest thing since sliced bread. =p everyone else is from camatotz, as far as i'm concerned. i think i idolised myself. i saw my idols in me. even atticus fucking finch. don't matter that you don't see nothing.

i was so cool i didn't need to say much. in fact, i want conversation with me to sound like strawberry fields forever again. i don't want to know how your day was. fuck off. but i hate confrontation of course, dad knows best. dad always thought i was the "quiet rebel"

and then growing older is about learning new things. but then you convince yourself that there are limits. and people come along and tell you not to sulk so much. you convince yourself that happiness is attainable. and it very well turns out that it is. you work hard, you get good results, generally. smile more, and you make friends. "the love you take is equal to the love you make". so you try to be a more wholesome, well-rounded person. girls like wholesome, well rounded boys who are sweet and caring. well, anything to get a wholesome girl.

but i find myself wondering what kind of life i would have had i not gone to jc, or not gone to a particular class in that jc. somehow i felt a part of that community which prevented my full don't give a flying fuck self from taking hold. nobody allowed me to brood in the corner as i would have liked and even on my off days someone would always tell me to snap out of it. plus, life become more of a responsibility have to get things done kind of life as we all strived to prove what fantastic interpersonal/managerial/leadership skills we had. it's quite easy to turn on really. i think i would have drifted aimlessly (until a need for change took hold and then we're back where we start today)

maybe i just don't do interpersonal. make me.

don't get me wrong. i think i'm happier. but i've sold out. my blog reads like a fucking carousel now. which is a shame really. it was the blog or me.

i feel like being a petulant spoilt brat now.

this can be sung to a tune to your head. it's quite profound anyway, most of the best pop choruses are simple and catchy.

don't know much about middle east
don't care much about no third world peace
all i know is that i love god.
and i can tell you that god loves you too.

when you find only a little piece
of the carcass that was once your niece
tell yourself she's in a better place
"members only" membership by race.

who loves me
who loves me
the whole world's fucking crazy
who loves me
who loves me
you're never gonna find me

they say that love is just a four letter word... i used too many four letter words today.

"dear ms oeni,

Thank you..."

They never learn!


One of the more romantic reasons why intelligent/talented people get so depressed maybe consists of them asking questions like "Why is there so much sadness in the world", which presents itself like a sword of Damocles as an intractable problem to be solved, cured or debated away.

until perhaps you realize that depression is in no way correlated to intelligence or talent, simply that they had a more eloquent way of putting it across other than "sian", which is why they make such appealing case studies.

take, for example, nirvana's "all apologies"


do you remember annette benning in american beauty? playing carolyn burnham. kick-ass real estate agent extroadinaire.

i am considering how wise it is to be rhapsodic about the state of the property market now given that a. i've yet to find a house and b. i'm really pretty inexperienced. but forgive me, considering i've spent quite some time on it, and i've managed to go around exploring islington, hackney, london bridge, lambeth, bermondsey etc.

you can tell because i've learnt how to judge real estate agents by how much of an asshole they are. take today for example. i was driven around by a nice blue-eyed boy (really!) with blonde hair. fumbled with the keys, didn't know where any of the addresses was, but really polite. puts on his seat belt. wore his suit out in the summer heat. now, i've been looking for houses myself. and unfortunately that has turned me into a bit of an arsehole too. i just kept thinking "this boy won't survive long in this business" and the clincher came when he couldn't park his mini. a fucking mini. and he was really really nice but i just didn't feel compelled to like or make any decisions. i enjoyed talking to him, and learnt that he'd been in the business for 2 and a half months. already he was starting to hate the 12 hour days and disgruntled house seeking assholes. which is why the theory that investment bankers are paid more because they work longer hours is of course economic fallacy 101. these people eat sandwiches between clients but i can't blame them after all time really is fucking money to them.

compare this with typical hard-bitten real estate agent. absolutely hates the job, but does it cause he pays the bills. one which i spoke to lost his previous job but is earning tons more now. he will typically go from saccharine enthusiasm to acerbic sarcasm as the session goes along. "this is what they call an easy let mate." "oh... i'd like to see you get better for 250." "do what you want mate, it's cool man, not a problem, i'm telling you that tons of people will be on this flat, maybe you don't understand cause you haven't had a house you really like taken away from you." go on, work the fear. that's what it takes to sell houses. that you won't get one because there are 30,000 other students looking and you'll end up sleeping on the streets. work it deep man, twist the knife, and maybe i'll give in. and then they call you the next day asking if you still want the "easy let." then the bitch in me awakens and say "no thanks, and i hope you sell the flat quickly." but they've worked their way up the food chain, and are used to taking pain. i'm innocent newbie look for flat for the first time meat to be devoured, and they probably test their crap unsaleable flats out on me. "like it?" it seems like the wonderful flats you see online are "all taken" by the time you call, so don't be mislead by them. yes, advertised �230 at clerkenwell, but then they tell you you'd be a fool to try for �230 at clerkenwell when you start looking.

to the economist, the rental market is rather asymmetric. the agent has most of the information about the other variables, he is the one that can draw up the demand schedule, and the supply, and the landlord and tenant are left grasping air. one more disadvantage of the tenant is the "lemons" problem, see "the market for lemons" by akerlof, to understand the implications of asymmetric information on the markets.

i do feel that as a tenant though, you can get a good deal. many flats are crap, or are fantastically furnished, but because they violate the rule of "location, location, location", their valuation gets massacred. these flats are a steal, if you're flexible. you hold all the cards, you get to bargain till the landlord starts crying and goes "take it, before nobody does!" to stay in covent garden, bloomsbury, you are paying for agglomeration externalities. you may not even need them, depending on how you view a house at. to be honest, a nice suburby area like islington is fantastic if you ask me, lots of groceries around.

yeah. so there i was. i wondered if it was right to be aspire to be an asshole, to walk around most days with my cock hanging out. like yeah man, i'm a fucking Adult, nobody fucks with me. it can get to your head, especially when you're thinking everyone's out to screw you. add that to a bit of conventional economics (don't give to beggars, it distorts their incentive to earn) and you've graduated with BSc. dickhead, all ready to swing (literally) into the adult world. and the marxist that was once in you died a horrible death. take all those che guevara shirts and paste fcuk over them.

the way i've written it though, is unfair. most people simply don't want to end up on the short end of the stick, and the motives of capitalism are in fact noble. i just felt like that esp when i was at sainsbury's and they were scanning my groceries. i always give my weakest smile to checkout girls, and i'm always reminded of "fast car" by Tracy Chapman (bless her bleeding heart). I always think they're dreaming, would rather be colouring in vowels, or running of with a guy to some tropical island when they've saved enough. well this girl smiles back. good she's human. so i strengthen my smile. oh made someone's day didn't you, don't it make you feel better. it takes you a bit sometimes to remember that they are human. for example, the foxton's receptionist had a lovebite. someone had an enjoyable night last night i imagine. probably explains why she was the happiest person i met today. scanning groceries is the fucking most mind-numbing thing ever. well, so is screwing in the 105th screw of the right front wheel in ford's production line. so why should i EVER be entitled to a job that i like. fuck just pay me to clock in 12 hours and i'll FUCK OFF and do something i really like. i don't see why people should expect more, and most of the time they don't. some people do, and the key to making it is not to accept that you have to do this shit and run a business or a larger organization where at least things aren't that mundane. people have the opportunity to progress, no one is keeping you as a checkout girl. i can't help thinking though that things aren't that simple. maybe with new technology checkout girls won't be necessary. and that's good (one less boring job in the world). but yet again it's bad (one less job in the world). economically it's good (at least you're not unproductively using labour). i like small convenience stores for example, but something tells me (maybe it's economic intuition) that life would be better and cheaper if everything was sold in tescos and sainsbury's but i just don't want that to happen, but i think someday it will, and nobody will mind.

i think it was just a particularly hot day where i was a bit pissed off. especially when you can't reconcile lalaland to reality. just one of those days where i think i don't have a god given right to be where i am, nor to get a flat for less than 250 quid. a humbler day.

in a world where logic works... i can go back now and use ito's lemma...


for my betting friends

hi there. world cup season's over, so maybe all of you are taking a break from bookie busting.

with knowledge of probability and the strong law of large numbers, i personally don't find it that attractive to gamble anymore. however, this is not to say there is no money to be made in the short run! after all, gamblers are risk lovers, and the utility you get from winning is much higher than that which you have prepared to lose.

and i was preparing to sleep thinking of what i'd learnt over the past few weeks so i've decided to write a few pointers for my brothers out there. it's still pretty sketchy and i will flesh it out over the coming weeks.

lesson 1: risk neutral probabilities.

Let's assume that a bookie doesn't set arbitrary prices. He looks at the total volume of bets coming in and then he prices accordingly, i.e., prices are set by demand for a certain bet on the market.

This means that the market has already priced implicitly it's expected probabilities that each state will occur. let us take the simplest case, asian handicap, where there are two states in the future: eat ball win, or give ball win. we will consider half ball first, and we will take actual probabilities. data is taken from ladbrokes.com

Example: Arsenal (-1.5) 1.94 vs Aston Villa(+1.5) 1.9

let's play around with the numbers.
with probability p, arsenal clears, with probability (1-p), aston villa clears.
sum of probabilities has to = 1. let's see if we can figure out the bookie's spread.

ok. in a fair bet, we should have the following two equations.
1.94p = 1
1.90(1-p) = 1, where 1 is the initial outlay of the bettor.
solving, we get p = 0.515, (1-p) = 0.4736. p+1-p not equal to 1.

what should be the fair price to play the game? clearly one in which the risk-neutral probabilities (implicit in prices quoted) sum to 1, as in real life. call this price x.

1.94p =x, 1.9(1-p) = x => x/1.94 + x/1.9 = 1

solving, x = 0.959. you are charged �1 for a 95.9 pence game. bookie's spread = 4.28%

let's try another game, man utd (-1.5) 1.92 vs fulham (+1.5) 1.92

this is simpler, 2x/1.92 = 1. x= 0.96, charged �1 for a 96 pence game, spread = 4.167..%

lastly, chelsea (-1.5) 1.88 and man city (+1.5) 1.96

x/1.88 + x/1.96 = 1, x= 95.9 pence. bookie's spread = 4.28% Again! for a different set of prices.

let's try two conjectures:

the closer the prices quoted (by the market), the less premium a bookie has to quote.
this is because demand for both sides is likely to be more symmetric, thus the likelihood of an extreme payoff in one direction is less.

conversely, the more asymmetric the prices, the higher the spread, to compensate for risk.

therefore, a three-state game should have a higher spread as it should have higher variation.

we are also assuming that interest rate earned(foregone) by the bookie(bettor), is negligible, but this is hard to estimate unless i work inside the betting company. after all, you leave money in your account which accrues interest which lowers your payoff and increases theirs. but assuming it's a really short period of time it's negligible.

ok. i need more data, and maybe i will work on the ones with more states. until next time, remember, you lose 4.xx% of your bet on average! gamble wisely!


needed a weekend break

weapon of choice. volkswagen golf gti 2.0 Mark V. hatchbacks don't carry extra ass around. these slim, mean machines reach 60 mph in 6.9, 100kmh for the imperial-units-challenged. (just the other day girl asked me how hot 37 degrees was in fahrenheit, yes, it got that bad in the uk. i tried multiplying 37 by 9/5 and adding 32, but wait, there's a boyband called 98 degrees. and that's body temperature! and haha so i answered 98 degrees! the actual quoted to 3 d.p. is 98.6) yes they love talking about the weather here. i love how red the car is. according to a certain uncle charles , "handles like a tank", but it's size should be perfect zipping around the "just enough for two cars, or one and a half and a cyclist" back roads of the west country. after all, we're not talking about the autobahn or route 66, for which other choice models are perhaps more appropriate. i swear his skill in countryside driving is unparalleled for someone his age, the way he flashes the high beam on and off and takes it round the bend. unfortunately, we were only in a vw polo. but see, i'm realistic, and you people can dream about your maseratis and convertibles, i guess i'll have to settle for mean ol' hatchback. it's sgd 126,000 though, attainable but still not cheap. also, not much space in the car for much else but driving =).

zipped us from bristol to his house back in shepton mallet, quiet village in somerset. this though is bath, and the river avon. the springs there are actually warm. uncle charles is my friend zhenliang's uncle-in-law, who calls the west country home and who has at different times apparently been in the royal navy, british american tobacco and likes to regale me about tales of hong kong during the revolution and malaysia.

stonehenge is in wiltshire, a bit to the east... rolling hills give way to rolling plains, and the sarsens suddenly rise up from the downs.


" a thing of beauty is a joy forever" - keats

the sun was out today, the sky was completely blue, and more proud people graduated. lectures reached their absolute nadir today, and i swear that then the lecturer said "now that we're moving on to the next topic, it would be a good idea to wake up", he was referring to me.

so we were supposed to eat outside for lunch but we bumped into kelvin who'd skipped lecture and came all the way to lse to eat (whaa...?). watched the graduation video play to infinity and i actually caught adrian walking up. fabian's brother was here too. but we ended up sitting inside discussing paulo coelho. i personally think he's crapped, but to be fair some stuff was probably lost in translation but he's really just to zen and spaced out for me. also pretty boring.

you see yah as the italian guy went over how to miss someone in italian, i remembered:

in french, you say "elle me manque", for i miss her. now that is ten times more appropriate i feel, because it is her missing that is doing stuff to you. you are the object and she's the subject. "i miss her" is so totally bland and misses the point. who are you to miss her? so yeah stuff like that gets lost in translation.

so, what's in : sitting in patch of grass reading a novel. good thing about novels is that you can't finish it in a day. i love the tumult of world war 2, i love french writers, i love how they thought germans were just prussians re-enacting the franco-prussian war, and i love it when they say

"a thing of beauty is a guilt forever"


"trezeguet must be a really good footballer to hit the bar on purpose".

dad's response : "no, zidane was supposed to hit the bar on purpose with his penalty, but age withered his accuracy, and alas, he struck the underside of the bar instead. fearing that he had failed to execute the mafia's orders, he got himself sent off later, after materazzi had given him the signal, and threatened zidane's family. trezeguet, himself being an accomplished footballer, did what his captain couldn't."

did you know klinsmann told klose to turn his light on by using his football to slip the switch for practice? so you never know...

and there's a video of ronaldinho hitting the bar thrice, though we all know that's fake.
just checked blogpatrol and i saw the egyptian flag.
go alex! are you in alexandria?

god speed

do you remember those idealised replications of the 1950's in films? where there were hoover washing machines and a drawn ditzy blonde sitting atop them.

well, there's a hoover washing machine at my place. apparently now hoover is a division of whirlpool. but i like the way there is a space age bubble for you to peer into to check on your laundry from time to time.

clearly this doesn't have the industrial efficiency of bankside's ones, it takes an hour 48 minutes for the same load. still, even back home i could never peer into my laundry. the water fills up slowly, ominously, before it runs off like a hamster wheel. 1400 rpm, it says, it doesn't look that quick.

oh, you don't really need a tesco's and sainsbury's near your place. a good off-license with a shopkeeper who knows where everything is is sufficient.

it was also commencement today. we were unceremoniously dumped into the old theatre. selena remarked "i can't believe they can choose to wear anything". well, they can, and they looked pretty cool in whatever they were wearing underneath plus their mortar hats. i was also trying to see if i could distinguish classes of people based on how they knotted their tie. it's a happy occasion, on par with watching the seniors graduate from ocs only this time the torture begins after commencement and not before=) i'm glad i won't be graduating soon. wai lam and mingwei were busy snapping away. good luck to the graduating couple. caught a few other people too.

so i finished this letter yesterday. you see i used to love writing. so it came as somewhat as a surprise that it took me so long to get off my butt. and when i finished it i couldn't stand the fact that i had to hand it over to some impersonal bloke at royal mail, get collected at 2 in the afternoon and sent to a sorting room at mt pleasant before being dispatched to the relevant corner of the globe. i've been to a parcel sorting place before, at dhl, because the student fare meant i had to lug the whole jumbo box there myself. i remember myself being impressed by the sorting line and told myself that this was what men are made for. (i'm speaking figuratively, forgive me ladies).

god speed the courier. at least airmail wasn't the adventure it was many years before. well... you've sent so many letters, how many of them have not reached the recipient? oh err wait, i recall those letter-napping incidents all those years ago...=)

no, i don't think it's easy to be as emotionally naked again. but i think the other extreme won't work. i, can, after all, just talk about zidane and materazzi and flowers and other objects to avoid drawing attention to myself. or, do enough calculus or something, where there are right and wrong answers. it isn't so important to be understood, or that what you've written is the appropriate length, because it's not an academic essay, it is writing to pass the time.

in the end, sensitivity can't be switched on and off like a tap. you do need time to get in the mood of things. there are more and more moments where i am simply brusque, and you need to stop that. compassion is in short supply.

always need to remember what it was like to lose, what it's like to be unwanted, what it's like to be weak and not be ashamed of it.


on a more positive note. some of you may be wondering what i've been up to. i've just finished the valuation part of the finance course, and i'm now onto corporate finance. finance is interesting from an economists point of view. but other than that it's really boring. why?

ok, i must confess i find things like calculating earnings before interest and taxes, balancing assets and liabilities, etc boring. not to say there is no value in doing them, i think it's only interesting if you're already a practitioner in the field. so if i were an accountant, i'm sure i'd find accounting interesting, because you're more well placed to understand the problems and challenges. which is just that there's probably no way i'll become an accountant, and i don't know how to study for something that i'm only going to do in the future. i prefer learning on the job.

but from an academic point of view, finance is where markets are most efficient. transactions costs are minimal, there is almost perfect competition, and it makes it generally mathematically tractable and easy to prove results. well, if you look at the number of nobel prizes in economics awarded in this field, there's markowitz, sharpe, modigliani, miller, scholes, merton to name a few. it's a popular field. and if you went through the markowitz-miller paper for example, it's amazing how simple it is, and how restrictive the assumptions are. but that's the way the field works, start from perfection and go into reality because reality is always harder. almost the opposite of what we try to achieve everyday!

even then it's not very interesting, capital structure and everything. except when it comes to valuation. especially options and derivatives. because then you're on shaky ground, the math is different, there's brownian motion which has a lot of interesting properties and it almost makes you want to be a physicist. (i want to be a physicist!) it is one of the simplest random processes.


actually, this is not very good, maybe i will soon scan in some processes and what they look like when simulated using Brownian motion, they look very similar to say stock market graphs. But of course the eye deceives, because they simply look similar, but there are actually minute differences due to the frequency of large standard-deviation processes. By the way, Brownian motion is my official suggested name for Brown University's dance club (if there is one). hmm. let's see. whether you scale it up or down infinitely, a brownian pattern still looks like a brownian pattern. it's a fractal. it's actually continuous (with probability one, which doesn't mean it's ALWAYS continuous, but just that as it goes to infinity (Event A occurring)/(Total Events) approaches 1). It will eventually hit every single real number. Once it hits a real number, it will then hit it again infinitely often. And it's graph with time has dimension (3/2).

but of course, we start small, and we are still using the binomial method to model. but makes you realize how much there is to know! and 3 more weeks just focused solely on different valuation models, (although how much you really need to know is clearly not that important). they have nice names for them like martingales. and it is nice to know finally some asian mathematicians


well i apologise if i bored you. but clearly i must find it interesting to subject myself to this.

oh hah i think my dad was surprised with my results. i'm not the kind of guy who thinks he could have done better anyway. i always take and grab whatever i have. but yeah, time to slack off and be complacent in year 2. these things only ever work for me once every 2 years. i'm cyclical like that.

i will now scutter off and try to finish a novel. "suite francaise" by irene nemirovsky. french emigre jew type... european novels are always so nicely written and can keep you awake until 4! but it's rare to find a good novel nowadays. there are 3 more parts to this novel, for the unprepared, but they are as yet unpublished.

yes! back to my normal length again.


oh it's the family honour now i see. the godfather, ala siciliana. well, bravo. 10 points for cojones.

Check this out: Materazzi: "Zidane is my hero and I have always admired him a lot."

OMG are you shitting me?
according to my dad, the final was fixed, just like the whole serie a is. zidane was bribed to headbutt materazzi. trezeguet missed because he plays for juventus and wishes to avoid getting shot by the italian mafia. or is it just the ongoing rumour in singapore?
the french were pioneers in so much, especially aviation.

every time you stick on "par avion" it's worth noting many french aviators died setting up mail routes.

and "mayday" is an english translation of "m'aider", which is "help me!"

passed by a falun gong protestor today outside the chinese embassy. after reading so much jung chang, although i am skeptical about the whole issue i must confess china is a big country. it is impossible to know exactly what is going on. cut to images of silent crying. it's like the other day i was wondering if my neighbour was a wife-beater. or he could just be desperately needing to pee.

i think i need a dog. i wish i knew the breeds. the black one downstairs is always milling about me.

also, old man with suitcase. looks like he's fainting. why is nobody around reacting?

compassion is becoming a scarcer commodity these days.
i think i am turning bulimic.

i stared at my greasy noodles today and despite not having had breakfast i couldn't finish it. in fact, i felt like throwing up.

and when it comes to dinner time, i prepare large servings of variations of ravioli and tortellini drowned in some variation of pesto (tomato pesto, normal green-herbish pesto) or siciliana sauce and eat it straight from the pot. i then have large servings of ice cream.

i think i have a problem. i think i am sick.



i thought the way the french compressed the field yesterday was amazing. while watching the match and expecting france to win i wanted to hold up the example of how you change a game by moving your two central midfielders 15 metres up the pitch. managers do make a difference. there!

alas. i wasn't the only one screaming "what the fuck!" last night.


i came back home today at night and i just felt that i was somehow making my way back to coronation road. it was that peaceful feeling of walking through a quiet neighbourhood at night with the streets lighted by amber aureoles of sodium lamps.

and when i returned to masefield court there was a rose blooming in the garden. the old granny in charge of it did win the "bloom islington" award after all. it is not that big a deal to live in a quiet place, it is really all pretty quaint.

and there's nothing like a deep red rose to gather all those thoughts together. thank you granny!


3.00 pm. Before the match

Innocent high school girl in shrill voice: "Go Bjorkman!"
Voice of reason (similarly aged male compatriot) : "You kidding? That other guy hasn't dropped a set yet all tournament."

One set later.

Genial old woman : "How's the swedish guy doing"
(Everyone turns around sheepishly, as if too embarassed to answer)
Me : "Not too well I'm afraid." Decided to add a qualifier. "He is playing the best guy in the world after all."
OW: "Oh it's just that I used to come from Sweden so I am really hoping he will do well. Well, win or lose, it's great anyway that he gets this far."

According to the commentators he was "possibly the best player who ever lived." A bit of an exaggeration. But where I usually love underdogs, I always love more Federer spanking everyone into submission. Yes, I'm a little ManUtd ohmyteamissogreatandthatmakesmebetterthanyou moment. I am safely in London, watching Wimbledon. So sad I had to leave Singapore so soon been not updating because otherwise it'd be the same emo shit over and over.

bonds are sexy bonds are sexy bonds are sexy bonds are sexy repeat until true.

and so federer will wrap up the match faster than i can finish my tutorial. oh look there he just broke serve again. ok time for badminton. need a good spanking.


poem of the day

Love Again

Love again: wanking at ten past three
(Surely he's taken her home by now?),
The bedroom hot as a bakery,
The drink gone dead, without showing how
To meet tomorrow, and afterwards,
And the usual pain, like dysentery

Someone else feeling her breasts and cunt
Someone else drowned in that lash-wide stare,
And me supposed to be ignorant,
Or find it funny, or not to care,
Even... but why put it into words?
Isolate rather this element

That spreads through other lives like a tree
And sways them on in a sort of sense
And say why it never worked for me.
Somethingt o do with violence
A long way back, and wrong rewards,
And arrogant eternity

Philip Larkin


singapore musings

the flight on the way back to london seemed to follow a carefully orchestrated flight path. it was as if the pilot decided to play join the dots with european capitals, and take the plane in paths over berlin and amsterdam, and some eastern european capitals such as bucharest. i can swear you're supposed to fly straight line. no matter... it was nice to pick out berlin sprawled out and circular, city lights and all from all that altitude.

15 hours, plane delay and long wait at klia later, the plane was about to complete its short hop from kl to singapore. i too, love window seats everytime i get them, although the received wisdom is that aisle seats are better, (better access to the toilet mah). so i try not to fight over seats... if you love windows as much as i do... go ahead, i don't mind aisle too.

having once known an air traffic controller, i appreciate being stacked and made to fly circles around singapore. i swear the plane chewed up 300km in 20 or so minutes and flew circles for 25 minutes. fortunately it was turning anticlockwise, so everytime the left wing dipped down i was greeted by a view of a chunk of singapore lighted up with street lamps. the reclaimed hook of tuas, jurong island, all these new additions to our geography. the unlighted portion in contrast, the central catchment area. just like returning to see the white cliffs of dover after crossing the channel.

home is two places, it's where you come from and where you're going to.

that's why i felt halfway at home. taking the mrt from woodlands to clementi at every stop i could associate it with a certain hangout place with a certain friend who lived there. i haven't yet lived long in london for "kentish town" or "royal oak" to acquire a certain meaning, although "angel", "holborn", "euston" and "camden town" already are special tops. so as clarence told me a long time ago as we were walking through toys r us in wisma, when you turn left you see a memory, and right another one.

now, food. i was pretty underwhelmed. no the food is still great. but as i sank my teeth into the next great delicacy i realised it tasted pretty much the same as that seared into my memory. haven't been gone long enough. so it's not the food, rather the availability of cheap supper after a certain time which i miss.

people. was getting used to how tiny singaporean girls are again. once more i felt like the correct size. and of course the fashion i'm used to coats and dresses and suits but here it's the less the better. nice to hear our local lingo again. it is very affectionate and we're pretty proud of it to foreigners who wish to learn. when i was waiting at singapore immigration though i just felt a little vibe of unfriendliness. some people were always pissed off (must be the waiting) and the service staff weren't really that nice and friendly and chatty. i tried to smile to my passport officer but at least that worked out fine.

shopping is fantastic still. cheap cheap. eating on the mrt, fine 300. what the. a bit not used to it.

at the same time i know i won't be hanging around for the next few months. i barely have time to get settled and make myself comfortable, search for concerts, sit around at borders. i just have this feeling that i'm in a rush, that i have only 3 weeks, and it's the certain kind of mentality that you have when you're doing whistle-stop tours of europe i guess. don't really get to settle down to the vibe of the place. so that's the second part of being home, knowing that it's somewhere to stay.

so for the next 2 years, home is london. although that seems woefully inadequate to bleed the city dry of that which is interesting. that and wanderlust means lots of boxes and packing and laundry and cooking and generally headaches but you asked for it.