Monday, October 30, 2006

A fairy tale that is not that far-stretched

So, you thought Pinocchio was just all fairy tale?

Well, think again. According to a book called "The Definitive Book of Body Language", liars have a tendency to touch their noses whenever they tell lies. Apparently, neurologists and psychiatrists who did an extensive analysis of Bill Clintons's testimony during his trial on his affair with Ms Monica Lewinsky discovered that when he was telling the truth, he hardly touched his noise. However, whenever he lied, he gave a split-second frown before he answered, and proceeded to touch his nose.

Evidently, liars do this because "chemical known as catecholamines are released" when they lie, "causing tissue inside the nose to swell". They called this the "Pinocchio Effect". The book added that the increased blood pressure inflates the nose and causes the nerve endings in the noise to tingle, resulting in a brisk rubbing action to the nose with the hand to satisfy the itch.

So, if you look yourself in the mirror, and somehow found your nose looking longer than usual, you know what you've been up to :P

Oh, there's something else that's even more intriguing then the revelation about our nose. According to the book, the nose is not the only body part that expands when one lies. Apparently, body-imaging cameras have revealed that a man's penis also swells with the blood when he tells a lie. Hmmmm.... no wonder some of us men are incorrigible liars... Heh.

Category: Musings

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Would you spend $20,000 to save your pet?

I'm not an animal lover - never have been. In fact, I'm at times fearful of dogs, and sometimes cats (man, it takes courage to say this). This fear probably stems from my experience while growing up in Club St. I was almost bitten by a stray dog once. I said almost because the dog had my ankle within the reach of its jaw, just that for some reason, it didn't snap! Maybe it was trying to scare me? Then there were those darned stray cats on the roof, making lots of din in the middle of the night, keeping me (and my family) awake with their fighting and love-making. Cats are proud creatures - you give them a hard look and they seem to stare back at you with a look of defiance that sometimes unnerves me. And to top it all, they sometimes urinated all over our house, on the rags and sometimes on our school bags. Their urine stinks for days!

Lest I appear to be callous in my above statement, let me put on record that though I don't fancy animals, I don't abuse them either. It just that, well, I keep my distance from them (and they better keep their distance from me).

When I commented to a colleague once about my dislike for animals, he quipped, with a hint of sarcasm, "Luckily, the animals don't need YOUR love."

Why, he's absolutely right. The animals don't need my loving. They get plenty of love from pet lovers with heart of gold who were reported to be willing to spend between $4000 - $8000 on their pets' medical bills. There was a gal who forked out $20,000 to have a stem cell transplant performed on her cat.

My first reaction to that was: "Wow, that's a lot of money to save a pet." But you know what they say about man's best friend? To many people, they are the 4-legged kind. So, I'm not entirely surprised at the attachment some people have of their pets. I guess what they say about a dog's life being better then that of a man's is true.... I mean I'm sure people have died because of their inability to afford medical care (well, maybe not here in Singagpore, but it happened). So, it does seem kinda odd to me when you read report like this.

So, to answer the above question: Yes if I'm very rich (and single, or married but childless), or even borderline rich so long as I have some savings left for a raining day; but No if I'm poor and trying to make ends meet and constantly worrying about when the food is gonna arrive on my dining table.

Category: Musings

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Wonder called Fish

No, it's not quite a Fish called Wanda. It's a Wonder called Fish.

This is probably old news. We've read much about the benefits of eating fish, for instance, it's good for the foetus, for our brains and at keeping heart diseases at bay and blada blada blada....

What I didn't know is that eating fish can actually make us mere mortal happy!

Well, for the uninitiated, the Omega 3 fatty acid found in oily fish such as mackerel, lake trout, sardines, tuna, and salmon has the attributes to make people less prone to depression. Indeed, scientists conducted a survey across the continents and concluded that the Japanese has the lowest rate of depression in the world. The reasons? They eat large amount of fish. On the other extreme, scientists are saying that people who are aggressive and unhappy probably have very little Omega 3 in the body system. The study implies that killers, murderers and psychopaths behave the way they do because of a lack of Omega 3 in their system!! Dig that. Yes, Omega 3 is believed to have the ability to make us less irritable, and is very likely to make us happy individuals.

We already know Omega 3 is good for the human brains, ie; it makes us clever. So, if you want your kids to be smart and ace the exam, make them eat fish! This is not a joke. It's been scientifically proven. Why? I see living examples of this everywhere. Not just on kids, on old men as well.

A case in point is Victor. Now I know why he's such a smarty, always so clever with his retorts. And we don't make him a consultant in the office for nothing, you know.

Yes, Victor is a fish lover. Man, you should have seen how he stripped a decent size fish to the bones during lunch time with a look in his face that reminds you of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland - satisfied, happy and shiok! He probably has more Omega 3 in his brain than most of us. The fact that Victor is mild in temperament and is always cheerful is further proof that Omega 3 is good for the development of our brains.

Sad to say, I'm the exact opposite of Victor. I'm mostly a meat-eater (I tried being a flexitarian but it didn't really work out) - bakwa, kway chap, pig trotters - you name it, I'd eat it. I'm just not that fond of fish. Which calls into question my level of intelligence (or stupidity?), cheerfulness (or moodiness?). But hey, things are about to change. With all these evidence right in my face, the chief of it being Victor, I've decided to mend my way. Yes, I’ll opt for fish henceforth. So instead of the Big Mac, it's gonna be fillet; instead of beef steak, I'll have fish 'n' chips, instead of Bakwa, I'll have ... well.. BBQ cuttle fish? Why, I do realise eating fish could make a BIG difference whether I'd become a psychopath or a normal law-abidding citizen, and I rather be the latter. Heh.

Category: Musings

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Resolve that's as hazy as the region.....

The haze annoys me. It irritates my eyes, causing them to smart easily, and makes me and my family coop up at home most of the time, instead of enjoying the out-door. It is also making me spending more time then necessary in front of my computer, and making me blog more than I normally do. Victor is right on this score.

So, the Indonesian authorities are reported to be dragging its feet in ratifying the Asean anti-haze pact. Why am I not surprised? From Megawati to the current SBY, the Indonesian leaders have never really exhibited any sincere resolution to tackle the haze problems. What they did so far is to apply lip-service.

In refusing to ratify the pact, the Indonesians have talked about the need for a "balance of benefits". Did I hear wrongly? Are they saying that measures to bring the haze down would benefit only its neighbours? Are the Indonesians not suffering from the effects brought about by the Haze as well? How could the issue of the haze be linked to non-environmental issue such as the extradition treaty with Singapore? Personally, I find it incredulous that the Indonesians should think they are in a position to negotiate with our government.

Not too long ago, there were reports that the Indonesian government was toying with the idea to acquire nuclear energy to serve its population of about 222 millions. If they can't clean up their backyard and solve the haze problem now, what makes them think they could manage if ever there is a nuclear fall-out in their country? If this happens, the ramifications to the countries in the region would be far worse than what we are experiencing now.

Category: Policies

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Does being religious and compassionate go hand in hand?

An article in the ST today caught my attention. On page S13, the headline screams: Does God get in the way of social cohesion?

The article reports that Singaporeans today seem to be more religious. According to a survey done in 2000, 85.2% of Singaporeans said they have a religion. Granted, having a religion does not equate being religious. But is having a religion, or rather being religious equate to being compassionate? I would think the answer is an affirmative, but what I see happening in our society is at odds with the report.

Many mid-lifers or the elderly would agree that there has been a general degree of deterioration in the level of civil-mindedness in our society today. On the MRT or public buses, people, especially the youngsters no longer bother to give up their seats to the elderly or the needy anymore. At the shopping malls or even right at the flat you live in, nobody bothers to say “thank you” when you hold the door or the lift to you anymore. Indeed, our society has degenerated to one with a “me, myself and I ” culture. The human race today is sorely lacking in basic human courtesy. Where’s the compassion? How can one who is religious on the one hand is so devoid of compassion on the other? What has gone wrong?

Have the educators in our schools missed out on something fundamentally crucial in the social development of our kids? In the past, we used to have moral education or 好公民. I heard that these are no longer being taught in school. Of course, one would argue that one can’t depend on our educators to teach our kids everything. Parents must also play our role in molding our child into an up-right, sensitive and social being.

Or, at the risk of sounding judgmental, is it a result of a generation of kids being looked after by maids? If you have a maid who picked up after you or do practically everything for you, including buttering up a piece of bread for you since you were young, don’t you think, in all honestly, that such an up-bringing will have a bearing on how you would eventually turn out as an adult? In the past, having maids was almost unheard of, and is limited to the upper class strata of our society. Is it any wonder why that the past generations of Singaporeans seem to be more sensitive to the needs others?

Category: Musings

Glimpses and reflections of a President

I've read our former President's Wee Kim Wee's book Glimpses and Reflections not too long ago. A friend of mine once quipped that the role of or President is mainly ceremonious. They exist to “safe-guard” our national reserves, pardon the hard-core criminals in their appeal to escape the gallows, and yes, to soften the otherwise hard and cold image of the government.

Well, I don't absolutely agree with the above statement. But I've noticed, as had my friend, that incidentally, all our presidents, past and present, tend to be men of grace and poise, both in mettle and character. Of all the presidents that I've known, President Wee strikes me as being the most benevolent, with Mr One Teng Cheong a close second. They are quite unlike our Prime Ministers who are usually made of steelier stuff making hard decisions in the world stage.

In his book, President Wee reflects on the influences in his childhood that were to shape his life in later years. He shares many snippets of his childhood life - his family, his love for his mother, and how poverty put paid to his dream to further his studies. President Wee never had a university education. Indeed, he once quipped that his "university is society" (I call that "University of Hard Knocks"). From being a humble clerk to a diplomat and finally the head of state, President Wee demonstrates that there's no such thing as free lunches (Victor, you're absolutely right!) and hard-work is the key to successes in life. Not that President Wee coveted the presidency. In fact, he was thrust into the limelight not without resistance from himself. A simple man with simple taste in life, he declined, albeit unsuccessfully when he was appointed High Commissioner to Malaysia. He again declined when his name was mentioned in the government's search for a candidate for the Presidency. But that was not to be.

President Wee also gives his take on several issues that effect our society – filial piety, the danger of borrowing on credits, punctuality and service standards. On the world front, he writes about Malaysian relations, and could hardly contain his low regard for the UN. He also narrates how he cheated death twice - once when he was just a boy trying to reach for some fruits atop a tree when he fell into a well. He was a non-swimmer and thanked his lucky star that the water in the well was only ankle deep. The other time was when he was beaten to a pulp by a Japanese sentry for no apparent reason during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore.

It is clear in his book that President Wee was not a believer of the Christian faith, or any religion for that matter. Rather, he worshipped his ancestors and sought their help and guidance whenever he ran into problems in his life.

He is also not without a sense of humour. He describes his harrowing trip to a "quack" dentist (I reckon that's a dentist without proper qualification?) when he was a boy because his mother was too poor to afford a qualified dentist. The quack dentist had a hard time trying to extract the boy's decayed molar and resorted to breaking up the molar into piece to the boy's scream. President Wee wrote that he came out of the clinic "more dead then alive" and was "amazed that he “did not pass out or become the subject of a coroner’s inquiry". He also talked about his brush with astrology, about how he was told by a Mdm Kim (a friend of the Korean Ambassador to Malaysia) in Seoul that he would eventually be Head of State upon his retirement from the diplomatic services. When the prediction came true, President Wee was stunned but nevertheless advised against giving too much credence to this business of fortune-telling.

In a way, the "story-telling" manner in which President Wee wrote the book reminds me vaguely of Chun See's blog. The book does contain several chapters on nostalgia. But the humour, intentional or otherwise, in the book can certainly rival that of Victor's. But of course, President Wee NEVER wrote about the stuff that are not quite indecent, unlike Victor. Hehe....

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just how wet can a blanket get?

What a damper. A wet blanket. A spoil sport. All rolled into one.

The rollerblades have been bought. The Grand Master, who has offered me lessons FOC, has also spoken. Yes, we have agreed to have some rollerblading good time at East Coast Park, barring worsening of the haze condition, and immediately after my son finishes his exam. Friends who blade swear by it. They say it's much better then high-impact exercises like running which is detrimental to the knees and joint. And I'm not really fond of jogging. I was told I could have a good work-out with just the rollerblades. An hour is all it takes to make me sweat out like pigs, so they say. At long last, I've put thoughts into action for one of my 2006 resolutions - to learn to roller blade. I was most happy. And excited.

But Victor, the Grand Master, like the evil covetous step-sisters in Cinderella, just couldn't wait to try his hands feet on his new pair of rollerblades. Having learned how to roller-skate (note: it's SKATE and NOT blade) when he was many moons younger, Victor naturally thought that he would take to rollerblading like monkeys to trees ducks to water. So, off he went on a solo trip to the East Coast Park last Friday, to have some fun with his blades.

Today, he text-messaged me to tell say that he was on MC for a day or two. He had sprained his ankle while rollerblading last Friday, but woke up this morning and felt the pain. Poor Victor; I feel for him, cause I suffered a hair-line crack on my right foot years ago and was out of the office for two solid months. Let's just hope that Victor would not suffer the way I did, even if the 2-month MC sounds rather appealing....

But Victor seemed to be trying to tell me something in his next text, "Is your son wearing a size 8?" When I replied no, he texted that he would put it up in Yahoo auctions. Obviously, he was trying to get rid of his new pair of rollerblades. It's also quite obvious that he is no longer in the mood to blade or coach me. And to think that I was almost on the verge of kowtowing to him and calling him 师父。


Category: Musings

Sunday, October 15, 2006

My birthday "rewards"....

Enterprising merchants and establishments never miss the opportunities to make money out of us. On my birthday, Metro sent me discount vouchers, subtly disguised as "birthday cards", and cleverly designed with the hope of making me part with my hard-earned money.

Look at how pretty the card is. It tells me that "I don't need an excuse to shop (since) it's my birthday".

On close inspection, the card is really a sleeve in which several discount vouchers from various merchants were enclosed, all aimed to squeeze money out of me. One of the vouchers calls out:

This is what was written on the overleaf of the voucher.

What a minute.... SK-II? Isn't that the company whose products caused a health scare recently in the region for having potentially harmful chemical? Besides, why should a grown man like me be using facial products? Did Metro think that I'm a Metrosexual? A male super model? How presumptuous!

If this is not bad enough, the next voucher with its attention-grabbing shiny and luminous background tells me that "I got to look great on my birthday", (and implying that it's okay for me to look shabby for the other 364 days.)

On the overleaf is a sales promotion for, horror of horrors, a make-up session and a Personal Make-over session at Sisley Paris.

I was angry with the first voucher. But now, I was hopping mad! Did Metro think that I'm a transvestite? Or worse, a transsexual? I've nothing against men who dress as fairies, nor fellow human beings who have opted to go under the knife for some very personal reasons. But Metro has all my personal details and particulars, and has no reason to think I'm a female. Unless Metro presumes that I either have a girlfriend or a wife and that these cards are actually meant for them? In which case, Metro should have rephrased the wordings in those vouchers to reflect as such, rather than using statements which are all politically incorrect!

I don't like these cards one bit. They're presumptuous and downright "sexist" and probably are the product of "mass production". Whatever happened to "personalised service"? Metro should have something for the male species on their big days. Say, for example, a discount voucher to the gym? (not to say that the females don't use the gym, but the incidents of the males going to the gym is statistically higher). Or perhaps a discount voucher for lessons on rollerblading? That would be nice, and it would mean that I don't have to depend on Victor to coach me...... considering that the last time he rollerbladed skated was DECADES ago?? LOL.

Category: Musings

Friday, October 13, 2006


Why do we men need women?

  • A simpleton would say, "Women are sweet, pretty things we men should love and protect."

  • A poet would say, "Without women, my world is all grey."

  • A song-writer would say, "Without women, I wouldn't have composed all these nice songs."

  • A practical man (READ: A Male Chauvinist Pig) would say, "Without women, who's going to do my cooking and washing?"

  • A blogofriend of mine, a gal who'd sent me several "sexist" jokes making light of how stupid we men are, would have said, "Men are dumb. They need women to guide them in their lives."

I would say, all the above are TRUE (and no, I'm no chauvinist pig).

Funny how a colleague of mine used to quip that in a cold war between a man and a woman, it is usually the former who breaks the ice and starts the road to reconciliation. Her reason? We men need SEX. Aha.... that's more true than any of the above.

I'm sure Victor would be the first to agree.

Category: Musings

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Tome

Thanks to Victor, and his "connection", I managed to get hold of a copy of the Singapore Encyclopedia at half the price sold in the market. But frankly, I've no idea why I bought it in the first place.

Why would I wanna blow more than $30 (discounted price) for a book about personalities and monuments I have never heard of in all my 42 years? Do I care enough to read about them?

Well, I suppose I would, if only I could find the time. But there's another reason why I bought the book, and it does not differ very much from the people who resorted to keeping a piece of the red brick of the National Library when it was torn down in the name of "advancement", ie to own a piece of Singapore history. Such sentimental fools that we are.

I haven't really got time to go through the encyclopedia but a cursory glance yielded some surprising finds.

For instance, I was pleasantly surprised to find the place where I grew up - Club Street - making it to the list. And the book offers reasons on how the name was derived, something that I've never known before.

The cinema where the Slim Lady and I went on our first movie date is also featured - The Orchard Cinema. That sure stirs up some sweet memories.....

My favourite local food, Chicken Rice, is in there, too.

So is my favourite local singer-composer, 梁文福.

Our fore-father, MM Lee is there.

And the one that really caught me off guard is the ubiquitous monkey (I searched in vain for the word Dragon). Yeah, the monkeys too made it to the book. I said ubiquitous because the monkeys have been making a great deal of news lately, especially in areas around Thomson. Besides, we seem to be on the topic of Monkeys quite often in the blogosphere of late. We see it here, in Chun See's blog and also in Victor (notice the absence of the apostrophe 'S'). They are always up to their mischief!

Of course, how could we miss out Victor's favourite pornstar - Annabel Chong in the book? (This joke is wearing thin, huh?) LOL

Category: Musings

Friday, October 06, 2006

Lesson never learned

The past four days, I had been at Park Mall, undergoing a course on a computer software run by a private firm. The premises where the course was conducted actually belongs to or is leased to NUS. They called it NUS Extension (whatever it means). Anyway, it occupies the whole of level 12 in the building.

We were into our 2nd day of the training when the trainer, a young Australian woman, found her notebook missing after her lunch break. According to her, she was away only for 15 minutes. And the lecture room, as usual, was not locked. It never has been.

The school staffs were duly informed, and when they tried to view the tape from the CCTV, they realised, to their horror, that the CCTV was not turned on.

Remember the case of a Singapore man who was killed when he fell into the MRT track from the platform? Some people said it was probably suicide. But his widow insisted that it was not, and sought to prove so with the CCTV, thinking that perhaps it would capture the last moment of her late husband. But alas, she couldn't believe her ears when she was told by the SMRT that the CCT was not in operation at that time.

Then there was the 4-D cashier killed and robbed at the Ang Mo Kio (or was it Yishun)outlet years ago? Again, the CCTV was not turned on, and the killer(s) has never been caught.

The trainer left for Australia today, and probably did so with a bitter taste in her mouth. It's really an unpleasent experience for her, and I certainly hope she did not leave Singapore with the notion that we Singaporeans are a dishonest lot. There was so much movement in the bulding. It is, after all, a school, catering to students from all over, notably from China. Anybody could have taken that notebook - the staff, any of the local students, as well as the foreign students, etc.

If anyone's to be blamed, then blame it on human complacency. Why must it always take something valuable, sometimes lives, to make us learn a valuable lesson? The trainer should have locked the room in the first place. And the staff at the school should have turned on the CCTV and leave it running 24/7. As it happened, both did not. The trainer made it a point to lock the lecture room the very next day. But what's the point? Robbers don't strike twice in the same place, or do they? Or is that complacency talking again? LOL.

Category: Musings