this is someone who gives a shit

(tap tap tap)

"would you all please remain seated please, i've yet to turn the seat belt signs off."

it was the penultimate economic history lecture today, and the last one with new material. today was on deindustrialisation, one which i've actually done an essay and presentation on, and without the benefit of what dr leunig's pov would have been. it was good, because i was freed from the constraints from already knowing what the "sensible" view would be, and able to be a little original.

thank god, my views were relatively sensible. formal training in history does inculcate a sort of skepticism (well, as would any formal training in science). more accurately, it perhaps inculcates a strong sense of conservatism. "things haven't changed in the past 500/1000/million years, the human race is still here, so why should they?" taking the long view of things usually means little aberrations are not viewed with the overexuberance which accompanies the reporting of daily events. so, don't ring the alarm bells just because manufacturing employment is falling, it's just structural change, and just because my 3 year old daughter isn't growing as fast as other girls doesn't mean she's not growing.

"the plane is taxi-ing along the runway now. on behalf of the staff and crew at the lse economic history department, i woud like to thank you for flying EH. if you do fly enough courses with us, you get a BA frequent flyer piece of paper, still more, maybe an MSc and Phd. And we do hope you'll fly again with us soon. This plane has 2 exits, one on the left and another on the right."

we were of course guinea pigs at U8, this new lecture theatre at Tower One. But he gave a shit from the moment he stepped in. Does everyone have visible sightlines? Can everyone hear me? Just so that I can feedback to the powers that be on how good (or bad) this room really is. Going through the topic with characteristic animation, picking up the mouse to prove that it was made in china and going on about �4.25 keyboards (shipping included). Slipping in subtle jokes about S&M (i.e. services dominate manufacturing) ("thank god someone got the joke, i put in a lot of effort you know!"). haha. i could go to war with him.

but he ended on a relatively more serious note today. he did ask that one day when we got our relatively higher paying jobs, in which we'd learn more in the first 2 weeks than he ever would as a lecturer (aaah, characteristic modesty) and if we felt at all in any way that it was attributable to our education here as lse, that we should donate �10 a month, or whatever amount we won't notice. if that happens to be �10 million, well then the library gets named after you (someone apparently offered �5 million, but the school is holding out for 10). that way the eh dept would be good for �1 million a year, maybe for more studentships, or to hire more talented lecturers, or to sponsor more research. it's especially poignant because eh is hardly the most popular subject in the world now. it happens to be fine in lse because the year one course is run with such verve and maybe it is making a comeback in other schools, but it is increasingly under pressure from more quantitative approaches to the subject. in fact, that's how my cambridge economic history of modern britain began:

"in their gloomier moments, academics are prone to predict the demise of their subject. as the tastes of students change, as the economy waxes and wanes, and the number of academic subjects fluctuates and the average age of academics increases, so it is easy to discern a long-term decline in the attractiveness of any subject.

economic historians, above all, ought to be wary of such speculation. after all, if there is one single thing which is taught by study of the subject, it is that change is continuous and usually slow. 'change is at the margin', it proceeds by tiny increments or decrements and the end, or even the direction, is rarely to be seen by those living through them. but change is always with us, a lesson that should be learnt particularly by those eminent economic commentators who, at each stage of the business cycle, confidently predict that that stage, whether by boom or bust, will go on forever. but it must be learned also by those who predict that an academic subject is in terminal decline."

yes. we at lse probably need more funding. despite the amounts we pay for education (or is paid on our behalf), we are increasingly having to compete with universities with far greater histories and endowments for the best lecturers and students, and as state funding decreases, this is going to have to come from alumni donations. so mental note. if there's one thing us universities do well, it's with branding and commanding loyalty. and so it must be this way as well. so the next time i bitch about why the rooms are so shoddy, i must remember that they can be made less shoddy.

i was a bit down earlier in the day, but after writing through this yeah logically it makes sense. "i won't be blue always." things change. sometimes i look at the lecturer who sees the connections, sees the metaphor of the plane and the lecture theatre, and the more easily swayed part of me (the part that likes to curl up in bed with a book) thinks how wonderful, but the skeptic goes yeah so what's the point. as mm lee said "i think history is useful insofar as it serves as a guide to the future" (i need to verify this, it's from memory and i don't want to misquote the man) maybe there really isn't a need to study or to think anything more. and maybe it would really be more useful for me to walk to the devil and strike a faustian bargain: "ok el diablo, here's the deal. you can have my thoughts, my intelligence, whatever. could you just give me good results for the coming lse exam. oh and while you're at it it wouldn't be too inconvenient just to give me the charm of the devil, you know, for the chicks and stuff. and in case that doesn't work, why don't you just give me a packet of happiness. something like prozac. even a bundle of joy maybe."

but there is no faust, and there is maybe no devil. so what's left is only perhaps discipline, and if you're willing to allow more fuzzy concepts in, words like "inspiration" and "motivation." yet at the same time, i'm really glad some people just see the absurdity in day to day life, and are willing to laugh at it. and bundles of joy come in difficult personlike packages which make you unhappy every once in a while because they refuse to conform to the little cages you place on them. (why did she react like that? well she's a person you know). so you ask, okay, exams are here, you speak of discipline and blah blah so why the hell are you writing on your blog. haha, ok i give myself some time every day then. a little exorcism perhaps before the preparation for war=).

"one more cup of coffee for the road,
one more cup of coffee 'fore i go
to the valley below"

ok. so the world just "is", there is nothing in the air except atoms, and no trees do not have a life when you personify them, they just have leaves. and stop telling everyone what they feel. (or what you do, for that matter). no more links are required, no invisible lines of metaphor, and the human race will go on. there is not secret spirit that dances in the air or makes the surroundings move with a beautiful intensity.

as galileo whispered under his breath as the church told him what to say : "eppur si muove" "but it does move."

emotional release over, study time!


we londoners are a very welcoming people

oh look. another member of the flock coming to visit us in london.

maria was in london for a grand total of 6 hours today. i tried to find her in paris, but she was somewhere in florence, and finally deigns fit to come check on us.=p

anyway. she did raise a pertinent point. it's been 5 years. we were 01s70 after all, and it is now 06. somewhere out there we missed a 5 year reunion (albeit there were many unofficial ones) and we have to get to work to plan a 10 year one. when we can start all bringing out our beaus, belles and babies.

how do you catch up a year (must be more) in 6 hours. but it's one of the best feelings in the world just to catch up over much walking and beer. in any case, there she is, graduated, off to work in hong kong. so haha there we go the diaspora spreads itself yet again.

so yes it was emotional sending her off at leicester square tube station. weird but true.

p/s the old man is just a friendly londoner.


gotta love economists

"world war 2 was dealt with in a highly stylized way in the model. namely, it was completely left out."
r.c. allen, "the rise and decline of the soviet economy."

i like how economists can say this with a straight face. i went out today and it was raining basically so cleopatra got drenched. and go marathon runners. yeah was just on my way to ryman's and london bridge to feed my printer and get birthdar cards. it gets hungry so often nowadays. not much to say. i think i will include my father's pov today.

>Elsewhere in Jogja or Semarang it is not a pretty picture though. Poor is
>still abundant and it sets me comparing the current condition to some 20+
>years ago. Indonesia seems to be standing still for a long time and it may
>be sad contrasting this to China. 30 years ago China was behind Indonesia
>but now they have forged way ahead, at least economically. Should be
>interesting for you to see this side of Indonesia.
>In Semarang we tried the usual favourites, soto, sate, bakmie. And yes, we
>tried a new invention in Semarang, nasi padang on conveyor belt (ala shushi
>on converyour belt concept). The concept is ok but the food, unfortunately
>was junk.
>We went to Easter Sunday mass in Semarang at the old chappel that used to
>Mama's school. There was this charismatic priest from Menado that really
>engage the audience. He was asking the audience if they prefer being rich
>poor, being healthy or sick, the answers from the audience was obvious.
>he asked why then Buddha (Shidarta Gautama) gave up his princely priviledge
>and materials to live a life of no attachment or for that matter Jesus. He
>said we live in a world which put emphasis on knowledge (the whats and
>but not enough in wisdom (philosophy, the whys).
>Anyway, coming back home to comfortable home in Singapore, Bonnie was
>watching a replay of the forum between young Singaporeans and MM Lee. This
>forum created some controversies recently with the older generation
>the young as being rude and ungrateful to MM. But to me being rude or
>aggressive is ok (anyway MM is used to that through out his life) but being
>shallow in their thingking and ungrateful is a concern. The questions and
>some responses from the youth are quite shallow and dissapointing.
>Especially after coming back from Indonesia where I have the glimpse of the
>life there I can't help feeling how lucky (or perhaps unluckily spoiled )
>young Singaporeans are.
>Some asked MM why he hang around so long. They do not realize that
>he goes to Indonesia, China, India or Middle East,he brings back multi
>billion dollar deals that create jobs for future Singaporeans. And they ask
>him to quit?. He can quit for he has nothing else to prove, but the fact he
>is willing to continue to help as business ambassador at this age shows he
>loves Singapore, not because he wants to cling to power. Let me ask a
>question. If you are 80, would you rather retire and enjoy your remaining
>years doing things you would always like to do or continue to work. So,
>like the Semarang priest asks, why does he do that? Clinging to power to
>preserve it for his son or does he do it out his care and concern for
>Singaporeans? Why does people so negatively jump to a conclusion that he is
>clinging to power? Why not look at his actions and track records of many
>years of service to conclude more positively and rationaly that he does it
>for the concern of the people? Are young Singaporeans complaining for the
>sake of it and to look fashionable with the crowds?. If they do have
>convictions, surely they must have the guts to stand up as opposition and
>provide viable alternative. Are they prepared to give up the comfort of
>their careers to serve the cause they believe in? Walk the talk, I mean,
>then I respect.
>In the Singapore context, I think a more productive role is that of
>rennaisance man, one who speaks up for the right or wrong of policies and
>issues regardless the color of the political party.
>Anyway, I have a plan to go back to Jogja and Semaranf in June with mama,
>Ardina and her family.
>Do you want to join. It will be about 5 days kind of thing. If you want I
>can rearrange to fit your schedule. If you don't is OK, no obligation.

OK! I think I shall go.


margins (or how not to study economic history)

decided to blog something about studies in the hope that it'll be easier to remember. bear with me. i wanted to write poetry about margins but i thought this was more productive.

when i go to the library i usually like to pick the most pristine copy off the shelves. it's a trade-off sometimes. the older books are usually red label while the newer ones blue, and i think, do i really need a week? not now when i'm trying to rush through 2-3 topics a day.

today i chose the most vandalised ones. yeah stuff with thick red underlines drawing your attention to what everyone else thinks are the main points. i thought it would be more productive. it's also amusing to see "WOW!" and lots of excited arrows pointing to a wonderful conclusion. it's nice to know that people still get excited=).

i do that too though i annotate less religiously. i always look at some books and say "that is not what a highlighter is supposed to be used for. it is not meant to give black text on white pages black text on pink pages (or yellow, or blue, you get the drift). but i fail to understand really the need to have something at your hand, something to "do" to the paper to make it yours. cause i went through my readings a second time, and i found myself inserting comments in blanker spots just so they wouldn't look so blank, as if i had not done it well enough the first. it's always this feeling that you can improve.

i have given up trying to make a new set of notes. i try to read the readings with a special emphasis on the exams, you know, pick up figures to memorize, concepts i missed. did a few chapters and i gave up because i wasn't absorbing anything and 33% can mean a whole lot of things. the rate of russian growth from 1928-1945. the proportion of british exports to gdp. percentage of brazilian coffee going to us, or how much sri lankan gdp will increase if you moved it to eastern europe (these are all made up by the way, i mean the figures, the questions are real, i take no responsibility if you wanna mess up your eh exams by quoting me). i do remember though that the german mark inflated by a million million times (yes, 1,000,000,000,000) in the hyperinflation of the 20's because that was a "wow" moment for me. they said you should pay for coffee before you get it because the price would double in the next hour. (of course that's inaccurate hyperinflation occurs in spurts). imagine carrying around a suitcase of marks. so i'm reading history the way it's meant to be read now. and hopefully everything will fall into place. after all, i hope the exams aren't about how many figures you can quote because figures are important but if they really are so important then we shouldn't be doing this in a 3 hour exam and we should just go grab books, read them and do a dissertation or something. it helps that i'm on eichengreen now and i'm just enjoying how he narrates everything and weaves things into a nice narrative with cartoons even (yes! humour!) about the great depression.

oh. according to my dad (and i have now verified this), apparently the straits times reported that a boy from vjc killed himself because he was convinced his private parts were too small. one of the state coroner's verdict was that 'the importance of sex education to our young people in schools cannot be over-emphasised.' maybe it was a bit too one-dimensional but it did seem from the evidence that this was a genuine problem to him 'despite his girlfriend's and family's emotional support'. people used to jump off because of schoolwork. priorities have changed? anyway, i treat all newspaper articles with a degree of skepticism nowadays. who knows what they ain't telling.


they played this at eat today as i was waiting for my coffee

"Trouble in mind, I'm blue
But I won't be blue always,
'Cause the sun's gonna shine
In my backdoor some day."

in fact, the sun will shine in my backdoor in exactly 1 month, 5 days and 18 hours.

i won't be blue always...


something is terribly wrong with me

I am doing personality tests. godhelpme.

You scored as RON WEASLEY!

If you went to Hogwarts you would be screwing Ron Weasley. Now don't let the fact that he's Harry Potter's side kick discourage you, there is a lot more to Ron than meets the eye. And thats what you love about him. He's sweet, sensitive, quirky, and not to mention a firey red head. You know what that means? It means he'll fuck your brains out if you let him! He had you on your back the second you heard he stole a car! So go head girl go head get down.

from miguel's blog

Estaba hablando con michelle mientras insa pretendia trabajar.
Bajo Jesse.
Insa, por fin se dio cuenta q no podia estudiar en esas condiciones
y decidio que lo mejor era incitarnos a fumar un porro.

ma, pa, i want to be an economist

parent: "got any homework today?"
boy states blankly at his "gao zhi", little square boxes that are begging to be filled by eager chinese characters.
boy then takes out little blue notebook, to prove that there is indeed only one piece of homework
in the little corner scrawled april 19 2006, there's a little sentence:

1. My Ambition (Wo De Zhi Yuan)

pa: "ok... you look like you really need some help. are you stuck? or are you just really bad in chinese? coz if you are you know i can't help. you can go ask buxilaoshi when she comes next week."
son: "it's not that. i'm not really sure what i want to be when i grow up."
ma: "it's ok... most boys don't. but you like to play with fire trucks don't you. what about being a firefighter? they save lots of people everyday."
pa: "why doesn't he become a doctor? then he can save people and earn loads of money at the same time. don't be like pa."

son thinks.
son replies with mock bravado.

"pa, ma, i've been giving it some thought. i want to be an economist."
parents are stunned by the child's precocity
ma: "isn't economist the magazine daddy always reads. is it a proper job?"
pa: "hmm, ya. why can't you be normal like other kids?"

son: "i worry about it too. i mean, to me, normal is just a distribution."

pa: "why not banker or something. they do roughly the same things right? there's plenty of time to make up your mind, no need to rush you know. ok... go call your best friend, find out what he wants to be."

son dutifully calls. he finds out his best friend wants to be a teacher.

ma: "teacher. such a good idea. you can be like buxilaoshi. you like buxilaoshi don't you?"

son: "but i see jesse kor-kor and he is training to be an economist. people who like to shoot will take gun and go join the army. people who like plans want to be pilot. i like doing nothing with my life like jesse does and i've always been good at math. he solves first order linear differential equations in his head and inverts matrices for fun. whenever i tell him i like something, he tells me to draw my indifference map for it. and whenever there are troubles in life, he always tells me "assume the troubles are not there. we then draw 2 axes x and y...." i want to be like him pa, i want to be a beacon of solace and hope to man. when i grow up, i want to be just like jesse. i want to solve prisoner's dilemnas and draw imaginary edgeworth boxes to solve robinson crusoe economies. aren't you proud? i remember you brought me to watch a beautiful mind and i was amazed how he got the girl by pointing out constellations to her in the sky and asking her straight for sex when he wanted it. game theory helped him get the girl and the big nobel too."

pa, distressed: "it also helped him see imaginary characters in everyday life and go crazy. i brought you to watch initial d, why don't you want to become a racer, or something more manly. do nothing! why don't you be a lawyer. at least lawyer's learn how to talk and get away with doing nothing. and they earn so much! you cannot be an economist. otherwise you will end up sweeping the road. and i cannot show my face to my friends"

so son, aged 7 and a half, never gets to grow up to be like jesse.

good thing, bad? how many of us knew what the fuck we were doing in primary school anyway.

why live life from dream to dream?

�Curiouser and curiouser!� Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).

seriouser and seriouser, say i.

i should maybe start using my spanish more. but yes you know it's just the inertia and the lack of effort to take out those words from my vocabulary especially when i learn at such a slow pace and iget lost.

i've been meaning to write a "serious" post for a long time because i have felt quite "serious." but then, what is there to blather about? plenty really. sister wrote back again about how my words made her "self concious" and so she's gonna check whenever she bitches next time. oh no. is there any worse thing you can do then making a teenage girl self concious? but then there was more cheery banter about singaporean politics and about how mm lee was shredding people to bits with his intelligence in a tv show. i miss singapore, and especially as my mom would be like "alvina teh! she used to be from st ignatius last time." yeah she was in my catechism class. i remember we got into a debate on contraception and i (and another girl) was for it while the teacher was against it and we were bringing in all those theories about runaway population growth, and she coolly replied that "we should perhaps not be so worried about what humans will do, after all, if there is a god then surely he will solve the problems."

i know, perhaps logically, rationally it doesn't hold water, but i remember it being an appropriate answer at the time. anyway, the memory fails me. but i was impressed not so much that the answer made sense, but it was an appropriate answer at an appropriate time. why bother about contraception you're not using anyway? ok, i shan't. ok, like ok wow she's in smu in her 3rd year now. how little acquaintances have moved on. i just want to say i miss being a couch potato and being forced to sit around and watch politics and national day rally speeches.

so even if you cause people to cringe when you speak up, i guess sometimes you just will. but i can't be brimstone and hellfire now. i mean i remember how i would ramble on about dido and aeneas in gp class and have to stand to read my essays. urgh. but at the same time all those times i was rambling on about james joyce when i clearly understood little of what he said i was having a whale of a time. because then a friend would ask me to read finnegan's wake and we would all be happy.

so friend was talking about lse, how the intellectual curiosity has been sort of deadened here. how maybe we should all not do masters. personally i feel my classes have been quieter than they were in jc. because you know in jc they pamper you. i can not do my econs mcq and when asked to do question on the board have a little laugh and smile sheepishly. seems so long ago now!

we're all mature adults now, and i guess we have to depend on ourselves for intellectual curiousity. and after all there are so many other things out there in the world to discover hehe like how to make shitloads of money and spend it all on wine. haha. there's so much wine in the world!

then i got an email about a dying girl with tongue cancer and her whole life laid out for her. if you really want to look there's probably a tragedy round every corner. so you know, you're usually desensitised, or go "aww..." unless it's someone close, where surprisingly enough, the way you worry about it is not psychopathic sadness. it's some vague form of anxiety even curiosity. like cruel tough i know. but here we are smoking. and they say on the cigarette pack, smoking causes cancer, etc etc. and here was ms model girl, didn't set too much of a foot wrong, just struck down like that, never touched a stick in her life. kinda made me feel bad. you wish there was something out there that would just equalize anything (is it any surprise that the temptation to be socialist is so strong, especially among the young?). i remember once the simple explanation in sophie's world about children. when they pull the rabbit out of the hat, it is of no surprise to the baby, because maybe rabbits come out of the hat. and it's something knew that they learn. but we've already been brought up, we have all these concepts, that post hoc, ergo propter hoc is a fallacy. so when we see a rabbit coming out of the hat we ask why? how did the magician do it? and then we accept that fact that maybe rabbits come out of hats but because it is magic or caused by some trick.
being a teenager is a bit like that. why? why is life unfair? is there anything we can do to change it? some of us retain that, and others still go on accepting the fact that life is unfair. sometimes goes under the guise of "conservatism", and you know, not all conservatives are bad people. they don't deserve the bad rap they get. they just ask different questions. as debi pointed out... this quite from strianti:

"This, moreover, assumes that the question why people should accept a particular social order is the only legitimate question to ask. It can be claimed that an equally legitimate question is why should people not accept a particular social order?""

conservatism in 3 lines.

i have not much fondness in making decisions for other people, asking their questions or etc. and then i am confronted with friends for whom things have not gone well. so what phrases can you pull out of your bag of tricks? que sera sera? don't worry, everything will be fine. yes, i like the inevitability of fate sometimes, you know, a sort of "god will provide" answer like miguel says. even though so much shit has happened? how can you continue to have faith? but somehow the next day still comes and things go on.

sometimes i worry people are talking behind my back or something. but i think i should worry about it less. because even if they are, i don't think there's much i can do. just hope they're not secretly thinking i'm weird or something. because sometimes i think that. the title. oh yes. when we're disappointed, should we just try to find something else to fill that gap or ought we persist. pertinent question, raised by someone. and the worrying thing is that maybe i am a latter sort of person. dream to dream. another country. another school. another future, another person, another place.

i tend to go so off tangent when i try to attempt something like this and my friends always remind me hey you can't reduce life into an analogy or try to sort things like them. sometimes things just happen you know.
yeah they do.
sorry. serious enough?


poetry on demand

there's a guy who comes ever so often underneath blackfriar's bridge and writes love poetry (or any other theme on request, for that matter), puts it in a little envelope, and you get to choose from his selection. he's old-ish, and probably does it as a hobby to earn extra cash.

a friend asked me to edit and look through some poetry and i ended up generating my own. no they weren't classics, but they rhymed and sounded pretty ok and i still threw in some allusions and cheeky lines. but i can't post them here because they're effectively "sold". i mean written for a purpose, like for something, so they're not mine.

but yeah. it's so much easier when it's not about you, you and you alone. when it's utilitarian, in fact. and i'm glad i still have a little bit of it. maybe that's what i do when i'm unemployed in the future. write poems for 2 pounds each. only takes me 15 minutes anyway.

and yeah. to the people out there who have exams getting them down. don't let the night make you think too much. *patpat*. now go study.


easter weekend

run. jesse is going to blog about contentment (cf. previous post on challenging boundaries etc etc.)

i am convinced fast food and convenience meals exist for a reason. they are there to feed the shapeless masses who really prefer to have a book beside them while they are eating. don't knock me, i actually cooked yesterday only because statistics was far worse than thinking about how long to leave the potatoes in and chucking random things into soup and running all the way to another kitchen to cook rice because my kitchen only has a single powerpoint. i need a new flat. soon. preferably somewhere without fire alarms so i can burn in my sleep (saves hell the trouble). parents called from semarang... i could hear the dog in the background. living it up in indonesia... but yeah it was nice hearing from them on easter, all the way from indonesia too.

i started on economic history today. i gave up on stats because there was no computer around, i couldn't do all my minitab analysis etc. so i thought it would be fun to do economic history. you know. read about how a bunch of neanderthals learnt to start making tools. migrated through the known world, ended up in britain and sparked off sustained economic growth. a tad anglocentric, although that's really the start of the course after that the course loses itself in the details of s. africa, soviet russia, china etc etc. but anyway there's a shitload of reading. all the notes i've taken through term occupy 130 pages. and thank god i am in britain the readings are full of dry humour. on malthus advocating moral restraint to curb population growth : " moral restraint against the desires of sex. is it any wonder malthus came to the conclusion he did?"

yah i walk around with my liverpool jacket nowadays cause it's warm enough prompting comments from arsenal fans hoping it'll be their year. good for you. the sun sets late, i'm beginning to love london (the brick and mortar shit again) and my exam stress borders on a kind of resignation that i'll have to go through it anyway. maybe it's the eye of the storm kind of thing but last week has been pretty good.

and you know... just thought why don't they save all the trouble and just give prizes away like they do for ms world. like ms hardworking, mr attendance at lectures until i realised no one gives a shit like they do about ms congeniality, ms personality etc. so we have exams which have all those factors and then imagine (for a marker), like i was once a long time ago, how faceless these people are. ok, occasionally an exam script shouts effort!, but so many apparently ill-conceived answers were the product of blood and toil too. but in the end, it's easiest just to decide on ms world. but it's just my little tribute to the hardworking people out there. the faceless nameless people who dwell in shadows behind table lamps better suited for interrogation purposes, creating their own sunlight. the world remembers. be thankful, this is my nice thought for the day.



proof (that spring is here, for all the inexperienced unbelievers like me.)

and that i went to church.

the daffodills are a bit miffed that i compared them to tiny young shrubs that are gonna get eaten by the frost. "damn it, spring is here, and here it is to stay. is it any fault of mine that i don't wanna stay in my bulb." ok. if you say so. william wordsworth certainly did. don't get me wrong, i'm not a fan of romantic english poetry. plus, not quite. we're in london not lake district you know. and. guess what their scientific name is : "narcissus". damn right. yep, insect-pollinated, as suspected. dying to spread their wild seed, beckoning to the hungry bee. but monocots, grow from bulbs.
I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

westminster cathedral. part of it.
ok. a member of my watchful audience has accused me of censorship. i am always very mindful of what people like and do not like. so that i can please them and make them happy.

anyway. i need to share a joke that's been on my mind. well, it happened in a conversation with chan lek a week ago or so, and he has one fine (and i must say quick) sense of humour.

conversation starts with me wanting to go to wales.
"what for?"
"to look for space lah. i need some place where i can't find anyone in a square mile. it gets too claustrophobic in london sometimes."
"wouldn't speaker's corner (in singapore) do?"

sorry i can't exactly remember the exact words. i hope i got the gist right.

so. i start to think. what shameful things have i done today. (and i should be careful with this in case i have really done shameful things and they get brought up). yes i acted really stupid in a video this afternoon. is this what you are speaking about florrine? i have nothing to hide.
I ACTED STUPID IN A VIDEO. I ALSO SAY A LOT OF STUPID THINGS NORMALLY THAT I TRY TO FORGET=). but maybe it's not what you're talking about. then i better shut up cause it's probably really shameful=p. thanks for dropping by, and see you in brunch bowl.

in addition. i was a goodboy today. i went to church. cause it was maundy thursday, and it's one of the most memorable masses usually. because i can remember the music and i guess i remember being at st ignatius either a year or 2 ago in singapore and listening to "pange lingua" and told myself. it is one of those moments i must can in a bottle and take with me. whereever i go. at least then i can remember where i came from, in case things get too different or lost.

i got my ordnance survey maps. the daffodills are blooming. we came across a field of daffodills. well that happened in paris, but you know, london's kinda like that. always following in paris footsteps, fashion, flowers, whatever.

i also dreamt about overturning a steamboat at a racist comment and leaving my maths notes behind because i was running away from strangers. signs of stress. 1. you have nightmares. 2. the nightmarish part is not bullies chasing after you, but the moment of realisation that you have left your maths notes behind. but well i heard dreams are caused by refiring of neurones to reconfigure them to adapt to stuff you've learnt or to convert stuff from short to long term memory. so not too bad.

back to study. and listening to "all i want for christmas is you." ok, wrong season. but i just borrowed the song. ok!


looked at the expiry date on my milk today. 12th April 2006. As they said somewhere, "someday, somehow, everything started having an expiry date."

15 - 12 = 3... or if you're calculating across months then it's a month + 3. that's... 4 weeks. wait. didn't i have 3 weeks left. no, i have 4! so i basked in the newfound glory of having an additional week which i thought i didn't have.

that's why i took half day today... left after lunch=)

Cadair Idris: Inhabited by a mythical giant, the 889m summit of this peak in Southern Snowdonia is known as the Chair of Idris. Sleep on its slopes, and you'll end up either mad, blind or a poet!

COOL! 1 in 3 chance! Of turning mad of course. whoever wants to be blind or a poet.

whoever in the hell writes this stuff.


also watched loose change 2 on lip's recommendation. actually i heard 2 guys in lse talking about it too, about how 9/11 was staged by the american government. it's on everyone's friend (youtube) and i watched it with a skeptical mind. it's amazing how conspiracist theorists work. how do you know it wasn't itself carefully edited to brainwash you. i was hooked, because just like i was watching 2000 bush vs gore elections during o levels and how we would walk to school on 10/11 for gp class knowing that, hyperbole aside, history just happened, and we would have a whole hour to discuss about who's brother was in new york and what it meant, i like watching people being whipped into a frenzy. i still remember my dad shouting out to me that a plane had crashed in new york. 4 years now! in 70 i can be hobsbawm commenting how i remembered hitler rising to power on one of the headlines.


adolescence and identity

was back at brunch bowl today. i hummed the opening notes to "little blue girl" (which i received from crystal some time ago) because it was stuck in my head. they're the notes to good king wenceslas, which is why they're so catchy. so i was humming and jonathan hummed back. "are you just copying what i'm humming or do you really know what i'm singing?" "course i do, it's good king wenceslas."

it's amazing when 2 people are thinking the same thing. contribution of art and culture. of course it begs the question of whether one actually needs to think to hum.

well, it was basically the same configuration as all the other days. i received a mail from my sister too who is thinking what to do with life. it's amazing that she's thinking about universities and everything given that she is a good 3 and a half years younger than i am. but �a y est. that's how things work. but i had an enforced 2.5 year gap year of sorts, and she's having to grapple with many issues that face (faced) the typical adolescent.

she is a good writer. a bit too dark for my tastes, but i think writing is what she really enjoys and is something that runs through the family. especially since she was brought up on my leftover books plus whatever she has the curiosity to read. and louis armstrong's truism applies here. "they'll learn much more, than i'll ever know."

it's the same questions. should i study english? should i study sociology? or mass comm? law? at the same time a vague dissatisfaction running through how stressful life in singapore is, a dissatisfaction with being in multiple ccas (but staying in them anyway), the "i am a car but i am running on empty" syndrome that our young bodies are regularly subjected to. and through it all a sense of identity (i am a good writer. i am not a conventional run of the mill person. what a mugger (implication, i am not a mugger)).

they may very well be questions i am facing now. except they may be different ones. should i write in my free time? should i even bother going out, or take part in more activities? where should i further my studies? should i do more math?

but i think the moment you define yourself too strongly, you pigeonhole yourself. there are so many reasons why people do things, and why people have to. i think you can't judge them nor can you blame them for making life stressful or whatever it is. because you can and you should opt out if you can't take it anymore, or look for a feasible alternative. maybe you need to be crazy and hate everyone to believe in yourself to be successful. but maybe there is another way. if you need to, take a gap year. relax. look for what you want to do (but pls look and not slack away the whole year).

here is a quote from mathematician turned writer (well, turned is the wrong word he was always still a mathematician), bertrand russell.

"in adolescence, I hated life and was continually on the verge of suicide, from which, however, I was restrained by the desire to know more mathematics. Now, on the contrary, I enjoy life; I might almost say that with every year that passes I enjoy it more. This is due partly to having discovered what were the things that I most desired and having gradually acquired many of these things. Partly it is due to having successfully dismissed certain objects of desire . . . as essentially unattainable. But very largely it is due to a diminishing preoccupation with myself . . . . I learned to be indifferent to myself and my deficiencies; I came to center my attention increasingly upon external objects."

well, i hope he doesn't mean external in the sense of being overtly materialistic. maybe it's people to love or just observing things in life. but you don't have to put so much pressure on yourself to look for the answer "within you". literally, smell the birds and the bees. eh, but of course easy to say lah in the end knn lan lan must study still aiyah wtf. but fuck up then fuck up lah. maybe fate is trying to lead you down a different path. (oh sorry, stop believing in fate! you can change things).

oh my god i hate being preachy. it makes things seem like all is well with my life. but with a bit of humour you can get a lot of places. but, i must learn to be more coherent with my moral philosophies sometime. cannot talk too much cock.

and if you're too pissed off, there's always jazz.

Paul McCartney once sung

" for the things you do,
endear me to you,
girl you know i will..."

have to reward myself somehow (astonishing how i can say this with a straight face. how can i be said to be "making sacrifices" when i am blogging more than ever before. but men need excuses.

so far... i need to get a proper cd. i have not purchased a cd from a record store in ages and i miss looking through them alphabetically. i think i will look for nina simone's debut.

i need to get those ordnance survey maps to plan my cycling route. perhaps guides to wales/ireland better than what i have.

Get a big fat work of fiction. Maybe I should even try detective novels.

Start claiming money I am owed. I have many receipts but no money.

Take a fun course next year.

And, leave thoughts of what can be done afterwards to... afterwards.

At least economics questions have a sense of humour. I just laughed reading his "tips on taking the exam." Kind of like a GP question which came out all those years ago in Hwa Chong.

"Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs..." -McCartney
blah blah comment on pop music/ music blah blah the details fail me.

and i think if you were mccartney you'd start the essay with:

"and what's wrong with that."

well thank god mccartney decided to write songs and join a band and not take a levels.


satiated singaporeans and one argentinian

"bliss point." elliptical indifference curves about x0,y0, where any x,y > x0,y0 gives disutility but is a normal good where x,y < x0,y0. this is when we had not started bursting.

top picture's a little blur. you can tell when i've been using my handphone camera.

it has been 7-8 months since i blogged about the old man frying char kway teow at st margaret's drive (you can check under august/september 05). never did i think i would find char kway teow for less than 5 pounds in london.

first... the build up. i rushed through labour economics and the economics of time today, being not very interested in them. when i reached welfare econ though i started drawing the boxes and curves properly, following each logical step. it's amazing what actually being interested in a topic does to your pace and quality of revision, and i forgot how much it mattered.

it helped that jonathan was there and was willing to listen and trash out ideas with me. i love discussion and finding out where i went wrong. which is really hard to do when you're just orthogonalizing matrices.

so i got stuck on the last question. well i answered it well enough, but there was a teasing little part at the end of the solution which said (actually, this applies even when A has an absolute advantage in producing both X and Y.) Yes, I'm supposed to know that, isn't that Ricardo's principle of comparative advantage? didn't we all illustrate that in JC with numerical examples? But now we're trying to shift to more formal analysis and it just didn't seem to make sense trying to analyse it the conventional way.

but i skipped, went to macro and halfway through i thought... yes... the trading line is not the one joining the vertices where they specialize (as it is in the simple illustrated case in the lectures). it's at a price favourable to both B and A until B's maximum production after which there is a kink and A then reverts back to it's old opportunity cost ratio. That price will then be determined by smth else (how powerful A or influential B is, stuff we don't need to get worried too much about) Pretty simple, but I did miss it and I was pleased when I did get it. Sorry, you probably didn't get much. But I wanted to note it down as a moment when something actually comes to you in a flash. It does happen!

thinking so much. makes you hungry. girish brought us to find much anticipated singaporean food. took the northern line to zone 4. it's not the furthest i've been on the tube, but it strikes me how little i've explored london. when i was in singapore, and particularly when i could borrow the car to drive, i remember driving all the way to changi village to eat nasi lemak, or going to chong pang, jurong etc... maybe london is bigger. still perhaps it's just being unfamiliar with the suburbs. anyway... it was a bit more "mr bean country" (i.e. expectations of what london is supposed to look like before i come, or "little britain country" for the more hip), with two-storied houses where you could actually see past the next block. then again mr bean was made 20 yrs ago when the uk was still under the conservatives so. but i've been to liverpool where i sort of sense that "british feeling" which you don't get so much in london where it's so cosmopolitan. so where is this mall going to rise out of? well it came sure enough, amidst drive-thru fast food restaurants (aaah, western suburbia!). the mall had a strangely singaporean feel. the food was even more strangely singaporean (actually quite malaysian). it was pretty close to the real thing. but. the char kway teow had no cockles. they had no teh alia. laksa also no cockles. but good enough. i was like wtf, laksa. anyway. we ate so much. i was defeated by my hokkien mee. oh, no stingray, oh jian or carrot cake. give a man some food and he wants a banquet. ok. mai hiam boey pai. singaporean food court food. quite stunning already.

the idea of living in the suburbs is quite enchanting really, considering that we may have our very own 2-storey home for 70 quid a month. maybe it's just my usual self liking wherever i am currently not staying. (actually that's not true bankside is pretty much fine cept for lack of amenities nearby but i love walking over the thames every day and we're in a pretty artsy center with large rooms). maybe i will regret it when i curse the northern line for stalling at golder's green for forever. but i don't know. i like things when they are less claustrophobic sometimes, especially when it comes to living. but. i'm sure it's who you live with that makes one a happy person (or not) at the bottom of it all.

ok. had a few discussions (i vaguely remember alberto fujimori, inflation in singapore etc etc). i tried much talked about mat�, an argentinian drink made from the leaves of the yerba mat� plant. mr mordcovich introduced it in an article in spanish class one day and i was glad to finally try it, thanks to miguel. it confirmed my taste in exotic bitter things (yes, though i much prefer it with sugar) and it tastes likes japanese green tea with a nicer aftertaste. ok. not very readable today.


if you want something to play with, go and find yourself a toy.

nina simone singing "my father." the original's by judy collins narrating how she ended up following her dreams in paris. this particular version though seems to be a barb on behalf of the civil rights movement.

my father always promised me that we would live in france. (you know you don't believe that)
we'd go boating in the seine, and i would learn to dance
we lived in ohio and he worked in the mines...
i don't want to sing this song. it's not me.
my father always promised me that we would be free but he never promised me that we would live in france.

producer: how about brooklyn?

no, my father knew nothing about brooklyn.
my father said we would live in "peace"
and that maybe i can still get
ok. we have to skip that one.

a few stanzas from suzanne, leonard cohen

Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said "All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them"
But he himself was broken
Long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human
He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone
And you want to travel with him
And you want to travel blind
Cos' you think maybe you can trust him

He's touched your perfect body
with his mind.

Now Suzanne takes your hand
And she leads you to the river (promised land)
She is wearing rags and feathers
From Salvation Army counters
And the sun pours down like honey
On our lady of the harbour
And she shows you where to look
Among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed
There are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love
And they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds the mirror

Suzanne takes you down to
her place near the river
You can hear the boats go by
You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she's half crazy
But that's why you want to be there
And she feeds you tea and oranges
That come all the way from China
And just when you mean to tell her
That you have no love to give her
Then she gets you on her wavelength
And she lets the river answer
That you've always been her lover

answers to toilet graffiti.

i must work harder

before i am chopped up and sold to make glue.

ubi caritas et amor, deus ibi est

but what of the places where it is missing?

pange lingua gloriosi, corporis mysterium

at last, they play a hymn that i like


plan 2

in calling of the kindred, section a (not the part we did for the exams), there was this poem, elegy for the welsh dead in the falklands. can't remember the author, but he quoted from the aneirin. remember michael and myself on mud years ago trying to figure out celtic. because druids was a pretty cool clan. oh. i love mythological history.

"Gwyr a aeth Gatraeth oed fraeth en llu
Glasved eu hancwyn, A gwenwyn vu."

(Men went to Catraeth, keen their war band/Pale mead their portion, it was poison)

after my examinations end, i think i will avoid cities. somehow there's always been a tendency to fly from point to point, and that usually brings me to cities. I think given that my exams end a bit earlier, and that I probably won't be able to join kevin and zl on their trip because they're going to go through the continent... i'll try to cover gaelic britain this time. it's a pity because here i am in britain but i've never realised how easy it is to get away, and i keep thinking london is britain, but it's not. maybe just 4-5 days away, then i'll come back to london when everyone's done with their exams. tentative planning.

so just for my reference. london - crewe (virgin trains). crewe - llandudno junction (welsh arriva). llandudno - betws-y-coed. (total travel time: 5 hrs, total cost: �15.60)

day 1: find my way up mt snowdonia, somehow, snowdonia national park. sit around. relax.
day 2. bus to dolgellau. cycle mawddach trail.
day 3. wherever the hell the fancy takes me.
day to infinity. have to come back one day.

space. wide open space.


"and He cried with a loud voice: Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees"

- the book of revelations.

oh look. the sun is shining. the weather's getting warmer. shrubs and flowers are blooming. but the trees are still bare. are they trying to make sure? like, spring, are you really really here. how does one know? me, transplanted over here, first spring. i'm not really sure the weather's going to turn bad over the next week. but the days are getting longer. so are trees not phototropic? do they just not get it?

i have plenty of biologist friends who will tell me the answer. maybe it just boils down to the fact that trees are larger and it takes them longer to get going. but it makes me happy thinking that these cunning motherfuckers won't bloom till they're absolutely sure. they've seen too many a young plant or shrub gotten to by the frost. yes. live long, live peacefully. another winter, another spring. no rush now hush. no need for a nervous breakdown. a bit like how some of us live life. solvitur ambulando. but men are not trees and trees not men. maybe men need something different.

also met baby today. baby said hi. i said hi too. baby was highly amused. kept staring at me. made my day. it likes me! but that's just what they say about the little things in life. they distract you from the bigger things, or they're just an excuse for ambition. but the latter i was never really fond of.
it's amazing i was just chatting to cousin and cousin's family and it's amazing how incomprehensible and mangled indonesian slang becomes on msn. utterly no respect for vowels and full of short cuts everywhere.

thank god for starbucks

"company wanted. interested parties please apply. offer will be made on a strictly confidential basis to the most realistic and competitive offer."

i have to confess that bankside is a tourist area. miguel isn't that far off in saying we need to get out our cameras and start snapping away. what was once dead in winter is now reanimated in the wake of large spanish student group tours.

they come here, of course, to see art. in the tate, or maybe to educate themselves about shakespeare. well they just get to see the remnants of a refabricated wooden building. not that southwark has no sense of history. if you've walked under one of the many dripping bridges we have in this lovely borough you'll sense that jack the ripper is going to jump out one day if only you were alive a hundred years ago.

we, are, however, a hundred years since then, and a little seattle coffee company known as starbucks has now spread its insidious roots all over the world. just like anyone who says "i like mcdonalds" or "i like starbucks" is likely to be dismissed as a tasteless phillistine, i kind of like starbucks. it has sweeter coffee than coffee bean, and i know, anyone can make coffee. not everyone can make a chain with not too bad lighting and ambience where people can meet over coffee. maybe building one near tiannanmen square was not such a good idea. but whenever i'm in starbucks i do think about the many incidents which have occured to me there over the years (yes i believe alex has mentioned this before). as i ordered my coffee i wanted to sit down and just drink it there, and pay 20p more for eat in. yes, studying does things to the mind. anyway, i'm talking about the starbucks next to shakespeare's globe, which is bright and sunny and full of people, not the crummy one near the tate.

how is this relevant? i have no essay topics on :"discuss how the spread of food franchises is an indictment of the lack of creativity today." but you never know. somehow, someday, you may be running breadtalk (or at least advising them) wondering how to make the whole world eat your bread. until you realise it's not the bread that matters.

why did all fast food restaurants start serving coke? it's a remarkable feat of association, and coke is one arrogant mofo. they're not competing against pepsi, they're competing in the beverage market. yes. against water. they're aiming to be the 2nd most drunk drink next to water (i don't know if beer poses a challenge but if alcohol intolerant asians are any guide it'll probably be easier given that there are many more of them).

ya lah. anyway. cappuccino double p double c has one third foam, which is one third less drink but one third more bubbles. but we all know the world loves bubbly drinks best! yah. so. company wanted. please apply.


"cause we were raised, to see life as fun and take it if we can..."

"riverrun, from Eve to Adam, from swerve of shore to bend of bay..."
Finnegan's Wake

way back in the not-so-romantic times in primary school, i remember everyone gushing about the cranberries. the title's from "ode to my family". (rock bands have a way of reducing things to their proper perspective sometimes. i will try to see partial differential equations as fun. oooh. greek letters! we were at an impressionable age then, and i think "no need to argue" was one of the first few albums i'd listened to from start to finish. before i must not have had much experience with putting cds into the player and pressing play. i can't even remember whether the honda accord my dad had had a cd player (or tape player?), or even if he was driving a honda at that age. blame him for my taste in music, always do. i'm searching so deep into memory and maybe i'll discover what really went wrong all those years ago and why i can't remember trigonometric identities by heart even today. (getting 9/25 for the "find a pattern in joining the dots test?")

it's a customary meal break now. it's pretty difficult to digest dinner and partial differential equations together. now, the days are getting longer in london, london's still a brilliant multicultural city with all its little idiosyncracies, black cabs, and the headline on the evening standard proclaiming "tony blair's vision for london."

the brain is here for the examinations, but the heart's really in ireland. st pat's day is over, but apparently dublin is close to rivalling london in letting in more people from more countries ever to work there. well, what was the germ of an idea is now seeding. i'm closer than ever before! it's just a few hundred kilometres across the irish sea. a ferry ride from merseyside. u2, the cranberries, yeats, james joyce (and my eternal memory of reading "joyce for beginners" and learning that bloomsday and ulysses was based on the predicate that he went out with nora barnacle on that day, and that she gave him a handjob) . that and it's green! my ex-favourite colour. hi blog! you're green! green is the colour of envy.
"tread softly, because you tread on my dreams!"

so... r�ve du jour... visit ireland.


i purchased a lava lamp like thing for my room. it promises to shimmer and glow. one more thing to keep me distracted and happy for a short period of time as i gaze into its wondrous manufactured parts. that and bruce springsteen's voice live in concert as he cradles everyone to sleep. you know, whatever sends me to sleep. certainly beats our inglorious rendition of "can't help fallin' in love" by the seine, captured in video in it's shameful entirety.

"cause tonight i wanna be with you
tonight i'm gonna take that ride
cross the river to the jersey side
took my baby to the carnival
then i'll take her on all the rides

cause down the shore everything's alright
me and my baby on a saturday night
and you know all my dreams come true
when i'm walking down the street with you

sing shalalalala... i'm in love with a jersey girl
cause nothing matters in the whole wide world
when you're in love with a jersey girl."