Friday, November 23, 2007

You die your business

I was on my way home after buying lunch when I was stopped by an asian girl who was wearing a T-shirt with the symbol of the red cross printed on it. She seemed to sense my aversion towards her when she asked me if she could have a moment of my time. (Aversion towards the Red Cross symbol, not towards the girl. Don't anything think ok?)

"Don't worry. I'm will not ask you to donate blood." she said.

I thought to myself : "Shit! What else can a person donate? Only organs and money! That's even worse."

My guess was accurate as it could get. She was trying to get me to donate some money to the red cross to help bush fire victims on a monthly basis. I had actually decided not to donate any money to any charity whatsoever with the NKF scandal and possibly RenCi at the back of my head. However, I eventually succumbed to her power of persuasion nonetheless (hehe) and hence had to pledge a dollar a day to the Red Cross foundation.

While filling up the "part-with-your-money" form, she introduced herself as a student from Indonesia, who had previously spent 10 years studying in Singapore before having to leave after O'levels because of her poor results for Chinese. Then, she asked me this very interesting question: "Why is it that the Singaporeans living in Singapore are so unfriendly, snobbish and kiasu compared to the ones here? My Singaporean friends here are all so friendly and nice." ( I do not live in Singapore, in case you can't make sense out of what's going on.)

I took a moment or two to think about her question, and realised her observation was spot on. Singaporeans living in Singapore are generally unfriendly, perhaps snobbish and definitely kiasu. It's not necessary to give any examples for Singaporeans ought to know themselves very well.

But the important question is : What is the root cause of the ugly Singaporean?

Before we going into identifying the root cause of it, let me list some of the traits that ugly Singaporeans, as a whole, possess.

1) Kiasu

2) Generally rude

3) Reluctance to help victims of crimes

4) Un-cooperative

5) Special ability to fall asleep immediately on MRT seat when elderly/pregnant lady appears

6) Blasting their ipods in public places

All in all, Singaporeans generally lack social grace, public spirit and civic mindedness. It seems that Singaporeans are systematically skewed to exhibit such undesirable behaviour. By the looks of it, someone has been teaching the whole nation to be rude and nasty people. Guess who? :)

Here's some lessons taught by the culprits

Lesson 1
What did you learn when they told you "We raise GST to help the poor "?
This is what you have learnt: The poor, being rather stupid and helpless, deserved to be screwed harder. But screw them in a politically correct manner, otherwise they might not vote for u next time.

Lesson 2
What did you learn when they told you "No welfare for all of you. It will lead to the development of a clutch mentality"?
This is what you have learnt: Helping the poor is bad. Not helping the poor on the other had is good. In fact, try not to help anyone.

Lesson 3
What did you learn when they told you "Competition is good. Let's have cheap foreign labour competing for low-skilled jobs with you."
This is what you have learnt: When someone is already down and out, earning low pay as a cleaner, add on to their misery by allowing the influx of cheap labour to drive their already low wage even lower. They only have themselves to blame for not being able to snag a cushy job as a million dollar minister.

Lesson 4
What did you learn when they told you "NS is for Singaporeans and university places are for foreign talents"?
This is what you have learnt: Never ever help your classmate with his work. His results might one day surpass yours and there will be no place for you in a local uni. (SIM doesn't count) Then, you would end up as a road sweeper and will have to refer to lesson 3

Lesson 5
What did you learn when they told you "The solution to lack of supply of taxis, traffic jams and the lack of hospital beds is to raise prices (means testing)"?
This is what you have learnt: Money solves all problems, especially problems with supply. There is no need to increase supply to match demand. Just jack up the prices, it's the panacea to all problems.

Lesson 6
What did you learn when they told you "Eat fish if chicken is expensive"
This is what you have learnt, which is the salient point of all the lessons: You die your business. It's really nobody else's business.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


ST Nov 13, 2007
Herbal sex pill alternatives pose hidden dangers

LOS ANGELES - MANY of the pills marketed as safe herbal alternatives to Viagra and other prescription sex medications pose a hidden danger: For men on common heart and blood-pressure drugs, popping one could lead to a stroke, or even death.

'All-natural' products with names like Stamina-RX and Vigor-25 promise an apothecary's delight of rare Asian ingredients, but many work because they contain unregulated versions of the very pharmaceuticals they are supposed to replace.

That dirty secret represents a special danger for the millions of men who take nitrates - drugs prescribed to lower blood pressure and regulate heart disease.

When mixed, nitrates and impotency pharmaceuticals can slow blood flow catastrophically, leading to a heart attack or stroke.

An investigation shows that spiked herbal impotency pills are emerging as a major public health concern that officials haven't figured out how to track, much less tame.

Emergency rooms and poison control hot lines are starting to log more incidents of the long-ignored phenomenon.

Sales of 'natural sexual enhancers' are booming - rising to nearly US$400 million (S$ 582 million) last year. And dangerous knockoffs abound.

At greatest risk are the estimated 5.5 million American men who take nitrates - generally older and more likely to need help with erectile dysfunction.

The all-natural message can be appealing to such men, warned by their doctors and ubiquitous TV commercials not to take Viagra, Cialis or Levitra.

James Neal-Kababick, director of Oregon-based Flora Research Laboratories, said about 90 per cent of the hundreds of samples he has analyzed contained forms of patented pharmaceuticals - some with doses more than twice that of prescription erectile dysfunction medicine.

Other testers report similar results, particularly among pills that promise immediate results.
An elderly man in a retirement community north of Los Angeles took an in-the-mail sample and landed in the hospital for four days.

Tim Fulmer, a lawyer representing Spontane-ES, said the pill did not contain any pharmaceutical and was not responsible for the stroke.

Mark B. Mycyk, a Chicago emergency room doctor who directs Northwestern University's clinical toxicology research program, said he is seeing increasing numbers of patients who unwittingly took prescription-strength doses of the alternatives, a trend he attributes to ease of purchase on the Internet and the desperation of vulnerable men.

He said he wouldn't be surprised if there'd been undetected deaths from bad herbal pills.
Some herbal labels warn off users with heart or blood-pressure problems if they have taken their medicine within six hours; some doctors say 24 hrs or more would be safer.

The AP often couldn't determine from records whether incidents reported to tracking systems of the federal Food and Drug Administration and state poison control centers involved mixing herbal alternatives with nitrates.

Some men in their 30s who went to emergency rooms after taking herbal sex pills were presumably otherwise healthy, but they showed the transitory side effects of the active ingredients in regulated impotency pharmaceuticals, such as difficulty seeing clearly or severe headaches, records show.

While public health officials don't know the extent of the problem, they agree that incidents are vastly underreported, with national tracking systems capturing perhaps as little as 1 percent of them. Victims may be embarrassed, and doctors rarely ask about supplements.

Since 2001, sales of supplements marketed as natural sexual enhancers have risen US$100 million to US$398 million last year, including herbal mixtures, according to estimates by Nutrition Business Journal.

Some legitimate herbal mixtures claim to work gradually over weeks; it's the herbals marketed for immediate trysts that often are the problem.

Tight budgets, weak regulations and other priorities limit the FDA's ability to police the products, often promoted via blasts of e-mail spam and fly-by-night websites.

Linda Silvers, who leads an FDA team that targets fraudulent health products sold online said, ' a website can look sophisticated and legitimate, but actually be an illegal operation.'

In many cases, the ingredients used to alter herbal pills come from Asia, particularly China, where the sexual enhancers are cooked up in labs at the beginning of a winding supply chain.
The FDA has placed pills by two manufacturers in China and one from Malaysia on an import watch list.

Spiked pills have turned up in Thailand, Taiwan, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States, according to testing done by Pfizer Inc., the New York-based pharmaceutical giant that developed Viagra.

The company said that 69 per cent of 3,400 supplements it purchased in China contained sildenafil citrate, the main ingredient in Viagra.

Pfizer didn't check for the patented ingredients of its rivals.

While herbal alternatives often contain exact copies of the patented drugs, some makers tweak the molecules to keep the effect of the original pharmaceutical while avoiding the scrutiny of the FDA and outside testing labs.

During the past year, the FDA has orchestrated eight recalls of 'herbal' pills that contained the ingredients found in Viagra, Cialis or Levitra, or their unregulated chemical cousins. -- AP

A perfect example to illustrate why "herbal" remedies that are marketed as natural and safe can be the exact opposite of what they are suppose to be. How did the manufacturers of these remedies know that their products are safe? Did they run tests on them? Maybe Pfizer did so on their behalf.

To add insult to injury, the herbal sex pills were not even "natural". There were in fact pirated versions of the real thing.

Seems like the lines between alternative medicine, quackery and fraud is starting to blur. Oh, was there even a distinction between them in the first place?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

IMBS's War on Everything: Satire on ST forum

Nov 12, 2007

We should consider having our own Anti-social Behaviour Act to deal with ugly S'poreans

THE Scottish Parliament passed the Anti-social Behaviour Act (ABA) in 2004 with the original intention of curbing noise nuisance.

This Act, which empowers authorised officers and the police to take summary action against an offender by imposing a fine and even confiscating the offending equipment, is effective in curtailing the noise problem.

We should have a similar Act in Singapore modified and expanded in scope to deal with the various anti-social behaviour problems here.

Here are some anti-social behaviour problems which can be corrected by this Act.

>>On MRT trains and public buses, it can be used to catch and fine those who fail to give up the designated seats for the pregnant, disabled and elderly. It can also be used to nab those who assault bus drivers when asked to produce their passes for identification.

>>On the road, it can be used to punish those who grab the oncoming taxi without consideration that another person is there earlier waiting for it. The cabby can be reminded that if he picks up the queue-jumper, he will be reported to the police for action to be taken against him under this Act.

>>In crowded car parks, it can be used to fine inconsiderate and discourteous drivers who go against the directional sign to occupy the empty lot, ignoring those who were there earlier.

>>At various places, it can discipline people who display anti-social and repugnant behaviours such as queue-jumping and spitting.

>>On the Internet, it can be used to punish and discipline irresponsible bloggers who are quick to insult a person by their libellous remarks or foul language. The police can fine the errant bloggers who usually operate under the cloak of anonymity and ask them to apologise and reveal their true identities including their photographs on their blogs.

This Act is all-embracing and can be applied in some way to eradicate any anti-social behaviour displayed by the ugly Singaporeans. Should there be any future anti-social behaviours, the ambit of the Act can be enlarged to deal with these new problems.

The ugly Singaporeans are a bane to society as they destroy our efforts in building a gracious society. They also tarnish our image as a First World country by their Third World behaviours.
National campaigns in the past have not yielded much results and we should not discontinue these ongoing programmes aimed at changing their values, attitudes and behaviours.

We should also seriously consider having our own ABA to reform those hard-core anti-social elements who cannot be changed by the persuasive approach of national campaigns.

Nelson Quah

I am of the opinion that since the Straits Times is the premier newspaper of Singapore, satire must not be allowed to be passed off as constructive suggestions on the ST forum. How can? Straits Times must be serious and not joke around, otherwise it will drop further down the newspaper rankings! Then again even if the Straits Times switched to reporting jokes, it's ranking can't go down much further.

Still, in line with my war on everything, I must not allow this letter go scott free since it's too funny.

"On MRT trains and public buses, it can be used to catch and fine those who fail to give up the designated seats for the pregnant, disabled and elderly. It can also be used to nab those who assault bus drivers when asked to produce their passes for identification. "

Mr Quah here suggests that we fine those who occupy the designated seats for the pregnant. But that is not the root of the problem because everyone else must had refused to give up their seats to the pregnant, disabled and elderly, that's why it is a problem. Mr Quah must be trying to be funny here by solely laying the blame on those who occupy designated seats. I mean how is it enough just to fine such a small number of people who sat on the designated seats? EVERYONE MUST BE FINED! Have can we let the rest go scott free?

He also suggests that we nab those who assault bus drivers. I don't this such a display of naivety is funny. We already have laws to throw such people into jail. I suspect Mr Quah here is a bus driver, trying to push the bus driver agenda. First they want extra protection while on duty. Next, they will want to have special protection after duty. How can taxpayer's money go to pay personal bodyguards for bus drivers?

"On the road, it can be used to punish those who grab the oncoming taxi without consideration that another person is there earlier waiting for it. The cabby can be reminded that if he picks up the queue-jumper, he will be reported to the police for action to be taken against him under this Act. "

On this, Mr Quah is trying to punk those poor old taxi drivers which he perceives to be a competitor to the bus drivers by putting them in a damned-if-we-do-damned-if-we-don't position. How would the taxi driver know who's the queue-jumper? Then when the taxi driver gets fed up and refuses to pick up both of them, they will complain him to the authorities.

"In crowded car parks, it can be used to fine inconsiderate and discourteous drivers who go against the directional sign to occupy the empty lot, ignoring those who were there earlier. "

Hmmm....... how can a mere fine be sufficient? I say we jail that bastard!

"At various places, it can discipline people who display anti-social and repugnant behaviours such as queue-jumping and spitting. "

Come on Mr Quah, it is very unSingaporean to jump queues and spit. Where's your sense of national identity? At least he did not mention fining people who refuse to speak up against such behaviour. I mean it is so totally Singaporean NOT to speak up when someone cuts into your queue. We need to preserve our national identity at all costs!

"On the Internet, it can be used to punish and discipline irresponsible bloggers who are quick to insult a person by their libellous remarks or foul language. The police can fine the errant bloggers who usually operate under the cloak of anonymity and ask them to apologise and reveal their true identities including their photographs on their blogs. "

Of course, I'm not here to pick on every single point Mr Quah has raised. I do support this suggestion of his to curb wayward bloggers. Bloggers like Mollymeek, the epitome of Irresponsible Blogging, bloggers like Luckytan whose sarcasm is so sarcastic that it is insulting, bloggers like Rockson who is so unrefined and vulgar. This is where my examples end for it is libellous to suggest that a fellow blogger makes libellous remarks and being a responsible, polite and refined blogger that I am, I will have to reluctantly give it a miss. As for posting their photographs on their blogs, I think Mr Quah is too caught up with the NPNT (no picture no talk) nonsense on Hardwarezone Forums. Surely he must know that our great leaders have said something to the effect that the identity is not important and that it is the message that is important. To be fair to bloggers, perhaps we can have 2 catagories of blogs: The NPNT kind and the GPGT kind.

Even though Mr Quah has brought up one valid point, I think take offense with his remark that "The ugly Singaporeans are a bane to society as they destroy our efforts in building a gracious society."

Come on Mr Quah, to turn Singapore into a gracious society is so unSingaporean. Where is your sense of national identity? Having a gracious society is a western value. Are you suggesting that we erode our unique Asian values and embrace foreign interference?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

IMBS's War on Everything: War on pots and kettles (Alternative medicine)

Nov 11, 2007
No cane, no gain?
Many flocked to Jurong West last week for an offbeat treatment for aches and pains: caning

By Debbie Yong

THEY sat on red plastic stools in a loose circle at an HDB void deck in Jurong West, waiting for their turn to be caned.

They pointed, whispered to one another and occasionally cringed as they watched an elderly man in the middle use a slim wooden rod to repeatedly strike at a bare-bodied man until his flesh turned red and raw.

Some passers-by stopped to stare before continuing on their way with a shudder.Mostly middle-aged and complaining of backaches and muscle soreness, the crowd of about 25 who had gathered at Block 987C in Jurong West Street 93 on Thursday afternoon believed caning to be a form of physiotherapy.

'My shoulders used to be very stiff but after my first caning session four days ago, I feel much better,' said bus driver Chua Cheng Hui, 55, who was on his third visit.

'I want to catch Master Goh one last time before he leaves,' he added, referring to physiotherapist Goh Seng Guan, 72.

Mr Goh, a Malaysian, was on a one-week trip to visit friends in Singapore from last Saturday to Friday.

But he ended up working throughout his holiday after a Shin Min Daily News report on Monday on his unusual form of therapy sent readers knocking on the door of his Singaporean hosts, Mr Png Peng Siah, 60, and Madam Qui Em, 56.

He promptly set up a makeshift shop outside their ground- floor flat, with Mr Png and Madam Qui taking turns to record customers' names and issue queue numbers.

Over the next three days, he whipped a steady stream of about 50 to 70 customers a day, working from 10am to 10pm with short breaks in between for meals.

He charged about $20 per person. The cash was discreetly pocketed at the end of each five-minute caning session.

Mr Goh, who runs two orthopaedic centres in Betong, southern Thailand, and Penang, Malaysia, with his wife, said he learnt the skill from a Tibetan lama when he was 20 and has been doing it for the last 50 years.

He claimed to be a certified Chinese physician in Thailand, but did not have his certificate with him.

His work tools: home-brewed medicated oil with his portrait on the label and 11 wooden rods of varying lengths and thickness laid out on a small wooden table.

The caning helps to loosen up muscles and improve blood circulation, he explained, as he pointed out black bruises that had appeared on clients' skins, indicating 'toxins that were being purged from the blood circulation system'.

Madam Qui, a cleaner, first met him in 1996, when she sought treatment for a pain in her shoulder at his Thailand centre, on a friend's recommendation.

His first visit here was with his wife last December, when Madam Qui invited them for a holiday.

Many of his customers, an equal mix of men and women, said they were trying it out of curiosity.

One resident of the same block, painter Ramdan Sardon, 45, who complained of a chronic backache, said: 'I see so many people here queueing from morning to night, maybe it works.'

Maintenance officer Vincent Loh, 35, said the pain was bearable, but acknowledged that he would have to wait a few days to know if the caning was effective, by which time Mr Goh would have left.

Insurance agent Raymond Goh, 53, said he came because the acupuncture treatment he had received for his sore calf in the past year was not working.

'It's more painful than death - this is the first and last time I'm doing it,' he said as he hobbled away with a swollen calf.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners interviewed were sceptical about the effectiveness of this treatment.

Physiotherapist Simon Toh, 55, said there used to be a shop specialising in caning therapy at People's Park Complex run by a Taiwanese woman, but it shut after less than a year.

He said: 'Singaporeans prefer to play safe with conventional methods of treatment. People might try it only as a last resort, after taking Western medicine or seeing TCM physicians.'

Retired TCM practitioner Liang Ming Na, 60, said it was a 'very ancient practice' which originated from rural villages and is not orthodox.

Thye Shan Medical Hall's Madam Tang Eng Hua said: 'It does not have any scientific basis. The bruises could be a result of repeated hitting and anyone can rub a sore muscle to make it loosen up and feel better.

'Furthermore, it must be done with skill and care. If not, you could end up hurting someone, especially when it's the elderly.'

One passer-by at the scene, interior designer Wendy Goh, 41, saw the queue and quipped: 'Why should I pay someone to beat me?

Wow! 50-70 "patients" per day at $20 each, nets Master Goh $30,000 a month at least if he works on weekends as well. T_T I DON'T WANT TO STUDY ANYMORE ALREADY!!!!!! I might as well go cane someone as well!

On a more serious note, can the caning treatment work? Apparently, it could very well "work", according to the
Gate control theory of pain and depending on your definition of what is considered effective. An simple explanation, without all that jargon on wikipedia of how caning is supposed to help relieve your pain goes like this: If you hurt your foot, pinching you arm will "distract" your attention from the pain of your foot, thereby making you feel less pain from your foot. This means that you might was well go cane yourself. You don't need a "Master" to cane you. You could even pay me $10 to cane you!!!

But this is not the main point of this post.

This is the main point

"Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners interviewed were sceptical about the effectiveness of this treatment. "

What were the reasons given by TCM practitioners?

"Retired TCM practitioner Liang Ming Na, 60, said it was a 'very ancient practice' which originated from rural villages and is not orthodox. "

"Thye Shan Medical Hall's Madam Tang Eng Hua said: 'It does not have any scientific basis. The bruises could be a result of repeated hitting and anyone can rub a sore muscle to make it loosen up and feel better. "

Orthodoxy has got nothing to do with the effectiveness of a treatment. A treatment is effective because it works, not because it is orthodox. By the way, I sure the rest of the TCM practices are damn orthodox. :) As for Madam Tang's claim that caning doesn't have any scientific basis, I would say caning is likely to have as much scientific basis as acupuncture. :) Talk about pot calling kettle black!

Friday, November 9, 2007

IMBS's War on Everything: Homeopathy

After reading about Angrydr's self-imposed fight against alternative medicine, I felt inspired by his quest and so I've decided to give him a hand in fighting the rubbish that alternative medicine is, even though I am stupid :(.

So for today, I shall pick an easy target =======> Homeopathy. I shall launch a preemptive strike against homeopathy before it gains popularity in Singapore, like how USA bombed the daylights out of Iraq just in case..............

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a form a alternative medicine conceived by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician who lived between 1755 to 1843. The follow excerpt from wikipedia describes how Hahnemann "discovers" homeopathy

"After giving up his practice he made his living chiefly as a writer and translator. While translating William Cullen's A Treatise on the Materia Medica, Hahnemann encountered the claim that Cinchona, the bark of a Peruvian tree, was effective in treating malaria because of its astringency. Hahnemann realised that other astringent substances are not effective against malaria and began to research cinchona's effect on the human organism very directly: by self-application. He discovered that the drug evoked malaria-like symptoms in himself, and concluded that it would do so in any healthy individual. This led him to postulate a healing principle: "that which can produce a set of symptoms in a healthy individual, can treat a sick individual who is manifesting a similar set of symptoms." This principle, like cures like, became the first of a new medicinal approach to which he gave the name homeopathy."

In essence, homeopathy is the idea that if eating shit can make you sick, eating shit will also cure your sickness?! What?! Don't ask me how that is going to work, go ask Hanhemann.

Alright, to be fair, that's not all that there is to homeopathy. Homeopathic remedies are diluted. The more dilute the remedy is, the more potent it is apparently.

Here's how homeopathic remedies are created

"In producing treatments for diseases, homeopaths use a process called "dynamization" or "potentization" where the remedy is diluted into alcohol or water and then vigorously shaken by ten hard strikes against an elastic body in a process called "succussion". Hahnemann thought that the use of remedies which present symptoms similar to those of disease in healthy individuals would only intensify the symptoms and exacerbate the condition, so he advocated the dilution of the remedies to the point the symptoms were no longer experienced. During the process of potentization, homeopaths believe that the vital energy of the diluted substance is activated and its energy released by vigorous shaking of the substance ..............................

Three potency scales are in regular use in homeopathy. Hahnemann pioneered and always favored the centesimal or "C scale", diluting a substance 1 part in a 100 of diluent at each stage. A 2C dilution is one where a substance is diluted to one part in one hundred, then one part of that diluted solution is diluted to one part in one hundred. This works out to one part of the original solution to ten thousand parts (100x100) of diluent. A 6C dilution repeats the process six times, ending up with one part in 1,000,000,000,000. (100x100x100x100x100x100, or 1006) Other dilutions follow the same pattern. In homeopathy, a solution is described as higher potency the more dilute it is. Higher potencies - i.e. more dilute substances - are considered to be stronger deep-acting remedies."

In other words, your homeopathic remedy is just a very, very, very, very dilute solution of the substance that causes your illness.

"Hahnemann advocated 30C dilutions for most purposes (a dilution by a factor of 1060) and a common homeopathic treatment for the flu is a 200C dilution of duck liver, called Oscillococcinum in homeopathy."

Does homeopathy work?

Ok, so the cure for the common flu is a dilution of duck liver. A 200C dilution to be precise, which is 1 part of duck liver in 100^200 parts of water. Now assuming that there is 1 molecule of duck liver, how much water would you need to achieve that degree of dilution?

No. of mols of water required = 100^200 / 6.02 x 10^23
= 1.66 x 10^376 mols

Weight of water required = 1.66 x 10^376 x 18g
= 3.00 x 10^377g
= 3.00 x 10^374kg

How much space would that amount of water fill?

Answer: 3.00 x 10^371 metres cube of space

That's the amount of water needed to fill a sphere with the radius of 4.15 x 10^123 metres. To put things into perspective, the greatest distance possible between the sun and Pluto, our furthest planet (or ex-planet) in the solar system is 5,906,376,272,000 metres. That's 5.92 x 10^12 metres. Wow! A sphere the size of our entire solar system is not sufficient to hold the amount of water needed to create a 200C homeopathic remedy for the common flu! Essentially, this means that there's no duck liver in your homeopathic remedy at all! Not even a single molecule of duck liver.

And for those who still attempt to defend homeopathy by appealing to have an open mind, how's this for a dose of reality from The Lancet?

"110 homoeopathy trials and 110 matched conventional-medicine trials were analysed...............

Biases are present in placebo-controlled trials of both homoeopathy and conventional medicine. When account was taken for these biases in the analysis, there was weak evidence for a specific effect of homoeopathic remedies, but strong evidence for specific effects of conventional interventions. This finding is compatible with the notion that the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects. "

So dear readers, it should be obvious to you by now that the only claim homeopathy can live up to is the claim that it is safe and has no side effects. This is because a homeopathic remedy is actually water. Do not think that just because a form of alternative medicine is very popular, has a long history, or is endorsed by the government means that it's effectiveness for in the UK, homeopathy is funded by their National Health Service.

Let them eat cake

ST Nov 9, 2007
Parliament to debate inflation, Medishield issues

By Keith Lin

THE rising cost of living will be high on the agenda when Parliament sits on Monday.
Two MPs have tabled questions linked to concerns that fast-rising food prices are causing a dent in Singaporeans' wallets. The price of wheat, for example, is at global historic highs due to droughts in Australia and crop failures in the US. This in turn has pushed up cost of animal feed and meat.

MP for Jurong GRC Halimah Yacob, who will quiz Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang on what the govenrment is doing, said more can be done to promote alternative food sources.
'For example, the price of chicken may be rising fast, but we can encourage Singaporeans to turn to alternative sources of protein, such as fish,' she told The Straits Times.

Issues relating to the MediShield scheme are also expected to receive a prominent airing, with three questions tabled on the topic.

One is from MP for Jalan Besar GRC Denise Phua, who wants Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan to clarify whether special-needs children are covered under the health insurance scheme.
'Many families with such children have told me that commerical insurance providers do not provide medical cover for those with mild disabilities, such as Asperger's Syndrome,' Ms Phua said.

She hopes the Government can help reduce their medical bills, which may stretch over their lifespans, by including their illnesses under Medishield coverage. '

I hope that the Government will give these children a chance to have their medical problems covered,' she said.

Five new Bills will be introduced, while another five Bills introduced earlier are up for debate.
One slated for debate is the National Registry of Diseases Bill, which calls for the setting up of a national disease database to collate data on common illnesses. Other parliamentary questions include three by Ms Ellen Lee (Sembawang GRC), who will ask various ministers for measures to combat cyber-addiction, and one by Madam Ho Geok Choo (West Coast GRC) on ways to prevent the property market from over-heating.

"For example, the price of chicken may be rising fast, but we can encourage Singaporeans to turn to alternative sources of protein, such as fish" - MP for Jurong GRC Halimah Yacob

"Let them eat cake" - Marie Antoinette

"Abalone is more nutritious than fish" - IMBS

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The evolution of slavery

Charles Darwin was an English naturalist of the 19th century, whose work on evolution formed the basis of Modern evolutionary synthesis. This is the scientific theory that explains how life on Earth began as bacteria and via a long journey of random mutation and non-random selection in small incremental steps led to the diversity of life on Earth as we know today. However, evolution explains more than merely our ancestral roots as monkeys, or how dogs descended from wolves. It can explain behaviour, like why female black widow spiders eat their male counterparts after mating, why lionesses live in groups called a pride but chase away the males once they attain sexual maturity or why people ever bothered to donate money to charities, even to the likes of NKF! In fact, evolution has a wide myriad of applications. It has been used to design pipe systems, cumbersome machines that walk like real-life creatures and vaccines.

Evolution is not only confined to the realms of biology. Other things evolve too, such as ideas and weapons. Weapons that started off as rocks, progressing sequentially to sharpened stones, sharpened stones attached to sticks, spears, all the way to the nuclear missiles we have today. However for the purpose of this blog post, we shall focus on the evolution of ideas, specifically the idea of slavery.

Slavery was only more or less only eliminated from Earth sometime during the last century, or so it seems. Back in those days, slavery was profitable stuff, well it still is today but we'll talk about that later. Slavery was basically free labour and with free labour, you earn more money. This is what drives that demand for slaves. In the past, slaves were controlled using devices such as these

and these

Nowadays, societies around the world deem slavery as inhumane and a violation of human rights. Chaining the limbs of others and whipping them is also illegal now. Do that to someone and you find yourself spending some quality time in prison. However, the demand for slaves is still there. Remember slaves = more money? More sophisticated ways of owning slaves therefore must surely evolve. Perhaps these new methods of owning slaves are already in use. What? You don't believe me? Take a look at this

LTA catches another 39 errant taxi driversBy Hoe Yeen Nie

Posted: 07 November 2007 1659 hrs

SINGAPORE : Another 39 errant taxi drivers have been caught by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). 26 were overcharging, seven were touting and the rest had refused to pick up passengers. They were caught in crackdowns conducted between 30 October and 3 November at popular nightspot areas like Sentosa, Clarke Quay, Orchard Towers and Boat Quay. If found guilty, LTA said some of the offenders may have their vocational licenses revoked. Others may face suspension of up to eight weeks, depending on the demerit points accumulated from their offences. - CNA /ls

So what has LTA cracking down on taxi drivers who were overcharging, touting and refusing to pick up passengers, presumably in hope of earning the extra booking fee from the call-a-cab service, got to do with modern day slavery? It's wrong for those taxi drivers to engage in profiteering acts like those mentioned above right? Before we judge those taxi drivers, perhaps we should think deeper: Why are taxi drivers engaging in those sort of behaviours?

The below letter published on ST forum would shed some light

Look into operating costs of taxi drivers

WITH regard to the recent outcry over taxi drivers overcharging customers or rejecting short trips, I would like to explore this issue from another angle.

However, let me state at the outset that one of my family members is a part-time taxi driver and I thus have a vested interest in this issue.

Could it be that taxi drivers have genuine difficulty making enough money to get by, driving them to such behaviour?

A possible reason could be high operating costs. The rental for a regular taxi is about $90 a day. Factor in the cost of fuel, say, about $100, assuming a daily consumption of 80 litres of diesel at $1.30 per litre, and it adds up to almost $200 a day.

Assuming the average cost of a taxi journey to be $10, which I believe is a little on the high side, a taxi driver would have to make about 19 trips just to recover his operating costs.

I am not in any way providing excuses for taxi drivers who attempt to fleece their customers. Such disgraceful behaviour smacks of situations one encounters in Third World countries, and should not have a place in our society.

There will always be greedy cabbies who try to exploit the situation and they should be punished severely. But what about the ones who are genuinely trying to earn a living to support their families?

Shouldn't the authorities or taxi companies get to the root of the problem?

Cindy Low (Miss)

If Miss Cindy Low's figures are accurate, an average taxi driver would need to make 19 trips, $10 each, just to break even. Based on the flag down rate of $2.50 and the subsequent charge of 10 cents for every 210m for the first 10km and 10 cents for every 175m thereafter, a journey that nets a driver $10 will be almost 15km long. Assuming that the average speed of a taxi ride is 50km/h (after factoring in slow traffic etc.) the journey is going to take 18 minutes. Assuming that our hypothetical taxi driver here is a lucky chap who's able to get a passenger with only 5 minutes of searching, the 19 trips required to break even will take approximately 7 hours and 20 minutes. If you have a typical 9-5 job, you would already have knocked off by the time our poor taxi driver breaks even (9-5 job = 7 hours of work excluding 1 h for lunch). And in that remaining 20 minutes, you might probably have reached home. Therefore, it is nothing surprising that taxi drivers have to resort to creative ways to generate additional income.

Now, how can someone work so hard and yet hardly earn any money? Let's take a closer look at the cost of a taxi driver renting a taxi. Assuming a taxi costs $100,000 and is depreciated over a period of 7 years, whoever leases the taxi to a driver for $90 a day would be making an investment return of 18.6% a year even after factoring in the depreciation costs. If you were to be able to achieve an investment return of 18.6% a year consistently over a long period of time, you would be in the league of Warren Buffett, George Soros and well, maybe Ms Ho Ching. Hehe! Alright to be fair, I must point out that it isn't that simple to compound this 18.6% rate since the number of taxis in Singapore can't just keep growing forever. Still, a taxi driver would be far better off if he owned his taxi. Does a taxi driver needs his employer? I don't think so. There is little benefit for a taxi driver to have an employer. The booking system for taxis isn't that complicated and certainly does not require CEO to shake his leg in his luxurious office while collecting a handsome pay package at the same time.

Now that you can see how taxi drivers are exploited to the very last drop, don't you think they are very similar to the slaves of the past? The law has replaced the whips of the past. Who needs whips when you can use the law to make your slaves submit to you? The metal chains of yesterday has evolved into the chains of economics. Who needs metals chains to trap your slaves when you can use the tools of economic theories to do the same? Speaking of chains, isn't it wonderful to be at the top of the food chain where you can apply the free market mechanisms on everyone else, but yourself?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Racial harmony: The fear of your own shadows

What exactly is racism? A quick check with wikipedia yields these various definitions by different dictionaries

"According to the Oxford English Dictionary, racism is a belief or ideology that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially to distinguish it as being either superior or inferior to another race or races. The Merriam-Webster's Webster's Dictionary defines racism as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race, and that it is also the prejudice based on such a belief. The Macquarie Dictionary defines racism thus: the belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate others."

Common among these definitions is that racism involves some form of belief or ideology that one races is superior over another. It is one thing to make hasty generalisations on different races of people out of ignorance and another to practice racism. For example, if one were to state the following: "All chinese love to gamble", that would not be considered racism. That's just a hasty generalisation, unless you can show that the love to gamble makes someone inferior. Racism would be something like refusing to hire a chinese cashier for fear that he/she would steal money from the cash box because "all chinese love money" for it implies that the chinese are inferior in terms of honesty.

On the blogosphere, I found a couple of examples of what people construe as racism. For example, this blogger thought that an Irish woman who voiced out her fears that immigrants were abusing the migration policy of her country was considered racism. I wonder how such a simple fear translates to a belief or ideology that her race is superior over another.

Another example would be this blogger who thought that a joke, on how the different races in Singapore choose a spouse, made by his teacher in secondary school was racist. This was the joke, taken from his blog

“Well boys, listen carefully. A Chinese lady, will not care if her man is handsome or does not have a good character. As long as he has money.An Indian lady, will not care if her man is handsome or has no money. As long as he has good character.A Malay lady, will not care if her man has no money or character. As long as he is handsome.”

At most, this joke was only about stereotyping. Hardly racist in my opinion, unless of course you consider that the love for money, the love for good character and the love for good looks fulfills the criteria of racism as mentioned above.

It seems to me that Singaporeans are a tad too sensitive when it comes to anything that has got to do with race. So much so that whenever one mentions anything related to race, he risks being seen as a racist. For example, I would be surprised if most people did not find this joke offensive

Question: How do you blindfold a chinese?

Answer: With dental floss!

Have we become so sensitive to the point that even a harmless joke on the ocular size of the chinese is considered offensive? Offensive enough to generate anger and hatred?

This begs the question: Why are we so sensitive when it comes to matters with regards to race?

I have my suspicions that the government's attitude to racial matters plays no small part in this anomalous sensitivity. The constant fear mongering that we should not take racial harmony for granted serves only to heighten our fears of racial problems, very much in the same way how an allergen sensitises the immune system of a person so that the next time that person comes into contact with that allergen, he might suffer a huge allergic reaction. This is akin to the story of how a man who wanted to hide his 300 tales of gold. He dug a hole and buried his gold, then put up a sign that says "No 300 tales of gold buried here". Needless to say, his gold was stolen.

Perhaps it's time to remove the requirement to have "race" printed on our identify card. If the government wants to reduce divisiveness in our society it seems to me that this is a very obvious step to take. After all, what exactly is a race? I bet different breed of dogs have more genetic differences than any 2 human races. All race is, is really the different amounts of pigmentation produced by certain cells in our skin. A classification based on skin colour is only as logical as to classify people based on the amount of body hair they have or their differences in height. Perhaps a course in biology would very much dispel these misconceptions people have with regards to race. After all, the root of racism is ignorance.

PAP's idea of achieving racial harmony is really more like casting shadows to scare yourself.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mee Siam Mai Hum and Phantom Trains in the CTE

PM signals tough measures ahead

He says more initiatives needed to improve health care, transport By Goh Chin Lian

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday served notice that some major policy measures which may be tough or 'painful', like means testing for hospital care and further steps to deal with car ownership and usage, are on the cards.

He cited these as some of the initiatives that will be taken in coming months to help Singapore tackle problems.

Noting that it is time to implement means testing in hospitals, he said this is one way to make sure lower-income Singaporeans get a higher subsidy than those who are better off.

The Health Ministry is studying the idea and will consult the unions when it has firmer ideas on what to do, he told some 1,000 unionists and guests at the National Trades Union Congress National Delegates Conference.

He was speaking on the first day of the three-day conference at Orchid Country Club in Khatib. The conference is held every four years to chart the labour movement's future direction.

In a speech that outlined the unions' role in economic progress and government policy-making, Mr Lee said Singapore must keep adapting to change to stay ahead, which means, at times, more major policies.

Health care is one area where many initiatives are being rolled out to improve the system and ease fears about its affordability.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, who was present at the conference but declined to speak to reporters on the issue, gave notice in April that means testing will start in a limited form in public hospitals within a year.

He said then it may include checking a patient's finances if he exceeds the average five-day stay in hospital.

In step-down facilities like nursing homes, patients get a 75, 50 or 25 per cent subsidy if their family income divided by the number of family members is $1,000 a month or less. Public hospitals have no such income criteria.

Mr Lee said yesterday the idea is to target government subsidies at the lower-income group 'who need these subsidies most'.

'It's not easy to do. It's very sensitive... How to implement it fairly and simply, without making hospital care unaffordable for the middle-income group?'

The unions, he noted, are also working towards a portable medical benefits system that it has talked of for nearly 10 years. 'It's something which we should pursue with some urgency,' he said.

Land transport is another major policy area under review.

Recounting his drive to the conference that morning, he said: 'I was watching the trains going down into town along the Central Expressway. Every carriage was packed. I think we need to improve the public transport. We've got some ideas.'

Roads also need to be free-flowing: 'Driving out from town, the roads were fine. Driving down in the opposite direction along the CTE was not so good.'

There is no easy way to improve road traffic and 'painful measures' like Electronic Road Pricing and certificates of entitlement are 'necessary and we have to do more with them'.

'We are working out schemes and I think they'll be ready to be worked out... early next year, in January.'

Mr Lee said that, on all such major issues, the Government will keep in close touch with unions. He added that ministers Lim Boon Heng and Lim Swee Say will speak for the unions and 'ask the other ministers very tough questions'.

This is another “mee siam mai hum” incident by our PM.

Recounting his drive to the conference that morning, he said: 'I was watching the trains going down into town along the Central Expressway. Every carriage was packed. I think we need to improve the public transport. We've got some ideas.'

Sometimes, these anecdotes are really getting to me as it shows how detached our ministers are from the grassroot level. If you don’t see any MRT, please don’t recount anything.

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday served notice that some major policy measures which may be tough or 'painful', like means testing for hospital care and further steps to deal with car ownership and usage, are on the cards.

Whenever our Prince has something to say, the peasants will suffer. The only positive news that we will ever get is before the elections when our Prince hands out money to buy our vote as mentioned by him in the 2006 GE. After which, we have bitter pills, painful and tough measures to endure with. Then we have our ministers deciding that they need pay raise to cope with all these and give them a 100% pay jump.

The dreaded means testing is coming to haunt the middle class soon as it is introduced for hospital. Maybe we would see another columnist get sack for ranting about it.

Why religion plays no useful role in the making of public policies

It seemed that NMP Thio Li Ann had expressed an opinion, in a special article in ST, that religion has a role to play in public policy making. If she thinks that this is for the general benefit of Singaporeans, then once again, I'm of the opinion that she isn't very bright. Not impressed at all. The reason is simple: A religion is essentially an unfalsifiable belief. Not a great idea to make decisions based on such beliefs, especially if it concerns the general public.

So what is an falsifiability? According to wikipedia,

"Falsifiability (or refutability or testability) is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment. That something is "falsifiable" does not mean it is false; rather, it means that it is capable of being disproved under hypothetical circumstances."

Yeah, so why is falsifiability important? To illustrate this, let's take a look at Pascal's Wager. Pascal's Wager is actually a simple game theory in decision making, put forward by Blaise Pascal, a 17th century mathematician, physicist and religious philosopher. In essence, Blaise Pascal posits that it is a better "bet" to believe that God exists than not to believe, because the expected value of believing (which Pascal assessed as infinite) is always greater than the expected value of not believing.

In the form of a decision matrix, the possibilities and consequences are listed out.

Basically, it means that if you lived as if god exists and god does indeed exists, then you go to heaven, a reward of infinite value. And if god does not exist, you lose nothing (or at least not too much). However if you lived as if god did did not exists, you find yourself going to hell, a punishment of infinite value. And if god does not exist, you lose nothing (or at least not too much).

For argument's sake, let's take it that the values of rewards and punishments assigned in the matrix are accurate. Then it seems like it's the smart decision to believe in god doesn't it? Well, it seems that way until you realise that the existence of god is unfalsifiable and that you can similarly come up with an unfalsifiable belief that god will send you to hell for believing in him and send those who did not believe in him to heaven. Why would he do that, you ask. Well, maybe he's trying to weed out those dummies <----------unfalsifiable as well.

All this leads to is just an intellectual dead-end. You can get no useful conclusions out of it.

Issac Newton seemed to have gotten the hang of this idea around 300 years ago.

"All forces occur in pairs, and these two forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction." - Issac Newton's third law of motion

Well, I have my version of it too

"All unfalsifiable beliefs occur in pairs, and the conclusions drawn from these beliefs are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction." - IMBS

Well, decisions must obviously based on reality and not unfalsifiable beliefs, if you ask me.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Discrimination: This time it's the cats!

Today November 2, 2007

Enact microchipping, neutering instead of banning cats in flats

Letter by Dr Tan Chek Wee

Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat owners like myself, who wrote to the Ministry of National Development, to keep cats as companion animals were given this reply: "Cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats as they are nomadic in nature and are difficult to be confined within the flats.

"Due to the nomadic nature of cats, the nuisances caused by cats such as shedding of fur, defecating/urinating in public areas, noise disturbance et cetera would affect the environment and neighbourliness in our housing estates. In view of this, the HDB has the policy of not allowing cats to be kept in HDB flats."

During the last five years, I decided to keep three cats that were rescued when they were kittens. They are now all sterilised.

I installed door and window grills in my flat to make sure that they do not venture out. However, they are happily home-bound.

They do not make noise from mating calls, called caterwauling, in fact, my neighbours have to make noise to call for the cats so that they can stretch their hands through the grills to"sayang" them.

They are also fastidiously fussy and will do their "business" in a bin filled with recycled pellets of paper or pine dust.

Responsible owners like myself support regulations instead of a ban to compel the few "black sheep" owners to be responsible.

Regulations that include microchipping, keeping home cats indoors and sterilisation will be more effective in reducing complaints about cats and in reducing pet abandonment. It is a win-win situation for all.

Letter by Dr Tan Chek Wee

So the Ministry of National Development has finally revealed the reason as to why cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats.

"Due to the nomadic nature of cats, the nuisances caused by cats such as shedding of fur, defecating/urinating in public areas, noise disturbance et cetera would affect the environment and neighbourliness in our housing estates. In view of this, the HDB has the policy of not allowing cats to be kept in HDB flats."

From their explanation, it seems that cats are banned because

1) they dirty the surroundings (shedding of fur)
2) defecating/urinating in public areas
3) noise disturbance

Now reason 1 is ridiculous. Humans definitely shed more hair than cats, given the number of bald men out there. Furthermore, there are far more humans than there are cats in aggregate. Thus if the shedding of hair dirties the environment, then humans are far more guilty in this aspect than cats. Perhaps MND seems to think that cat fur can serve as a vector for the transmission of disease, or that cats are just dirty creatures covered with pathogenic bacteria. Nothing can be further away from the truth. You have a far greater chance of getting ill by touching a human than a cat. Someone needs to explain to MND what is the species barrier when it comes to the transmission of diseases. Besides, what about the dogs? Don't they shed hair?

Reason 2 is just as stupid. The reason for not allowing cats to be kept in HDB flats is because they may defecate and urinate in public areas?! Isn't that why they should all the more be kept inside the flats? Well they can prohibit cat owners from allowing their cats outside the flat without supervision. In any case, only 10% of desexed male cats and 5% of desexed female cats urinate outside their litterboxes (spraying) and far fewer spray in public areas. They way NMD views cats is that after being couped up in the flat for the whole day, owners would let them out and spray urine at the door step of neighbours just for the heck of it. As for defecation, cats tend to defecate in places where they feel safe. As such it is unlikely that a cat living in a flat would want to rush out of the house and poop at the door step of neighbouring flats. They would rather do so in the comfort of their own homes. Besides, what about the dogs? Don't they defecate and urinate too?

Similarly, reason 3 is retarded as well. We do have the means of controlling noise pollution already in place. Remember when your tone-deaf neighbour does his rendition of a Singapore Idol contestant next door? Well you can call the freaking police if you have a problem. Besides, the problem of cats vocalising can be easily solved. You can alleviate your cat's boredom by providing it with toys, set up your flat to be stimulating to your cat by utilising all 3 dimensions of spaces (provide high-level walkways), implement a chasing & jumping exercise routine, scratching posts, companion cat etc.. In fact, just by desexing your cat, you can solve most of the vocalisation problems since most of the time it's to call out to a mate. It's really as simple as that. Besides, what about the dogs? Don't they bark?

In other words, NMD is just full of shit. Was the maker of this lame policy attacked by cats previously? Or maybe his/her dog was attacked by a cat. Or does he/her think that cats espouse homosexual values? From what I see, Singapore does have a thing for discrimination. Age discrimination, sex discrimination, racial discrimination, sexuality discrimination, now even cats are discriminated against in favour of dogs. You name it, we have it. Singapore is indeed a city of possibilities.

Typical ST forum letter

ST Nov 3, 2007

Be specific about disruption in train service

TRAIN service in town was disrupted on Thursday at about 6.30pm. I was at City Hall Station waiting for the train when I heard the following announcement:

'There is a track fault causing service disruption for trains going south towards Marina Bay Station. The service disruption will last more than an hour.'

One would logically deduce that the track fault was somewhere between City Hall and Marina Bay stations.

My wife who was waiting to take the train at Somerset Station to Tampines at around the same time also heard the announcement.

Hence, we were confused as to where exactly was the track fault. Was it between Somerset and Marina Bay or between City Hall and Marina Bay?

Thus my wife was uncertain if she should take a bus home or continue to wait for the train, hoping that the track fault was between City Hall and Marina Bay. By this time, lots of peak-hour commuters were crowding Somerset and City Hall stations.

SMRT could handle service disruptions better by doing the following:

Have more frequent and detailed announcements on the location of the track fault, which part of the train service is affected and which is not.

Put up signboards to inform commuters about the service disruption so that affected commuters need not go into the stations unnecessarily.

Modify entry gates to handle ticket refunds during service disruptions.

Eric Ong Leng Kee



Does it matter where the track fault was? The train service would have been disrupted no matter where it was.

Friday, November 2, 2007

10 simple steps to protect homosexuals from verbal abuse

To all homosexuals out there: Are you sick of being discriminated by homophobes? Sick of being labelled as a threat to society, a paedophile, a zoophile or a necrophile? Sick of the law that hangs over your head, threatening you with imprisonment? Fear no more! IMBS will teach you how to get around that in 10 simple steps. Yes, just 10 simple steps. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee!

So without further ado, IMBS will demonstrate to you how to protect yourself from any verbal attacks, discrimination and perhaps even repeal S377A once and for all. Then again, IMBS still wonders how come the whole lot of you failed to see this easy method of solving your problems.

Step 1: Form a support group. Let's call it XXX for the time being

Step 2: Have members of XXX gather every Saturday for social events

Step 3: During such gatherings, sit orderly in rows, close your eyes and hope that all the hatred against you will disappear from this world. (This is called TAR)

Step 4: Before you open your eyes, shout out loud the phrase "Stop hating us!"

Step 5: After opening your eyes, go pass around a container to collect some coins in order to consolidate financial power

Step 6: After collect enough money, go buy a piece of land and build a fancy building as the venue for future gatherings

Step 7: Write a book that contains the codes of conduct for the members of XXX

Step 8: In that book, invent a character, well call him gaylord or something, that plays the role of your invisible best friend.

Step 9: Worship that fellow

Step 10: Rename your group as "Faith of Homosexology" (Inspired by the Church of Scientology)

VIOLA! You have a new religion. And now, all you need to do is to use the law to your advantage. This is because IMBS found out a secret from Zuco's blog. There is a new clause added to the penal code that says

"298. Whoever, with deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person, or makes any gesture in the sight of that person, or places any object in the sight of that person, or causes any matter however represented to be seen or heard by that person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both."

By now, I'm sure you get the hang of it. So learn something from the lawyers for once. Apart from sucking your money dry, they do actually have something useful to teach you. Just kidding! :)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Religion: The limits of tolerance

ST Nov 1, 2007

Sexy women are a distraction, says PAS leader

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA'S Muslim men are suffering sleepless nights and cannot pray properly because their thoughts are distracted by a growing number of women who wear sexy clothes in public, a prominent opposition cleric said.

Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, the spiritual leader of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), said he wanted to speak about the 'emotional abuse' that men face because it is seldom discussed, the fundamentalist Islamic party reported on its website yesterday.

'We always (hear about) the abuse of children and wives in households, which is easily perceived by the eye, but the emotional abuse of men cannot be seen,' Datuk Nik Aziz said. 'Our prayers become unfocused and our sleep is often disturbed.'

He has made controversial comments about women in the past, including that women should stop wearing lipstick and perfume to lower the risk of being raped.

Women's groups have slammed his statements. They say comments like his encourage rapes because they put the blame on women.

Datuk Nik Aziz is also the Chief Minister of Kelantan, the sole Malaysian state that is not ruled by the Barisan Nasional governing coalition.

In the northern state, the Islamic party has fined Muslim women for not wearing headscarves in workplaces and implemented separate check-out lines for men and women in supermarkets.



When Datuk Nik Aziz said 'We always (hear about) the abuse of children and wives in households, which is easily perceived by the eye, but the emotional abuse of men cannot be seen, our prayers become unfocused and our sleep is often disturbed.' , i totally flipped.

So that's what he calls emotional abuse. I suppose when jewellery stores display what seems to be an endless variety of ear-rings, neckless and pendants, that's emotional abuse. Or how about someone munching on his burger, walking past you down the street. That's emotional abuse too. What about the emotional abuse you suffer when someone zips past you in a flashy ferrari down the expressway? I'm damn sure that gives you good justification to steal that insensitive bastard's ferrari. Or bar him from driving his million dollar speed machine at least.

Still on the topic on the inane and not-so-harmless things religious leaders sprout out every now and then, the Vatican surely qualifies as the number 1 clown when they say stuff like "condoms don't stop HIV" despite studies establishing

"It is not established whether the condom is as effective at preventing heterosexual transmission of HIV as it is for preventing conception. An overall estimate of condom effectiveness for HIV prevention is needed. Methods: Information on condom usage and HIV serology was obtained from 25 published studies of serodiscordant heterosexual couples. Condom usage was classified as always (in 100% of acts of intercourse), sometimes (1-99%, 0-99% or 1-100%) or never (0%). Studies were stratified by design, direction of transmission and condom usage group. Condom efficacy was calculated from the HIV transmission rates for always-users and never-users. Results: For always-users, 12 cohort samples yielded a consistent HIV incidence of 0.9 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval, 0.4-1.8). For 11 cohort samples of never-users, incidence was estimated at 6.8 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval, 4.4-10.1) for male-to-female transmission, 5.9 per 100 (95% confidence interval, 1.5-15.1) for female-to-male transmission and 6.7 per 100 (95% confidence interval, 4.5-9.6) in samples that specified the direction of transmission. Generally, the condom's effectiveness at preventing HIV transmission is estimated to be 87%, but it may be as low as 60% or as high as 96%. Conclusions: Consistent use of condoms provides protection from HIV. The level of protection approximates 87%, with a range depending upon the incidence among condom nonusers. Thus, the condom's efficacy at reducing heterosexual transmission may be comparable to or slightly lower than its effectiveness at preventing pregnancy."

Suddenly it isn't so funny anymore.

How about the creationism/intelligent design movement in USA? You can read more about it by clicking on that wikipedia link and find out how much time was wasted by the scientific community in order to debunk those clowns.

This begs the question: What mechanisms can we put in place to protect our society from the damaging effects of those lies?

I have no answer to that. It's a really tough question.

How do we balance the need to respect the beliefs of others with the realities of our world?

According to this wise man H. L. Mencken, "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart."

In other words, when you say that your wife, who looks like this

is prettier than Sonija Kwok,

we wouldn't bother shutting you up. We may politely agree with you in your presence and then laugh at your bad taste in your absence. Or we may act in the more politically correct manner and say "You are entitled to your opinion".

But if you were to attempt to take away Sonija Kwok's Miss HK crown and give it to your wife, then we have a problem. Because the fact is that Sonija Kwok is the beautiful one.