Monday, March 29, 2010

Where the hell is Matt in South Africa

I know this is just a commercial, but...

Cute lah.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chien-Shiung Wu, 1912-1997

Today, 24 March, is Ada Lovelace Day, is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science.

I'm dedicating this post to Chien-Shiung Wu (aka Wu Jianxiong), a Chinese/American nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project and the first female President of the American Physical Society.

Her 1965 book, "Beta Decay", is still a standard reference for physicists. Oh, and she was a prof at Columbia, too.

Someone called Lara Eads has set up a very readable biography of Chien over here - much more fun to read than the Wikipedia article.

Among the intriguing facts:

"During her years at high school, and later on during college years, Wu was the leader of the national student underground. The underground was the Chinese voice of nationalism. She was recruited because she had the highest grades in school, so the other students figured she would never get expelled. Plus, her dad was a former revolutionary during the Manchu dynasty, so he could be counted on to support her activities (McGrayne, p. 259)."

"Many believed that Wu’s beta decay work was good enough to win her a Nobel Prize, but it did not fit the rules of the award, because she did not technically discover something. As one of her former students and the later dean of Rutgers University put it, “She had straightened up a big mess in physics quite elegantly, but it wasn’t quite a discovery” (McGrayne, p. 268-269)."

"In 1956 two other Chinese-born physicists, Chen Ning Yang and Tsung Dao Lee, came to Wu for help finding out if an idea of theirs was right. They had suggested that the law of parity, a belief that physical reactions would be the same whether particles involved in them were “right handed” or “left handed”, would not hold true in interactions of weak nuclear decay (Yount, p. 216).

To do this experiment with 1950 technology was difficult. The National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C. had one of the few laboratories that could cool material to an absolute zero, which was necessary for the experiment, so this is where Wu would conduct the experiment. For the next several months, she averaged four hours of sleep a night, going back and forth between classes at Columbia and Washington. But, after nine months, it was all worth it when Wu and the rest of the research team were able to announce that they had disproved the law of parity (McGrayne, p. 274-276). (see law of parity sub page)

Ten months later Yang and Lee won the 1957 Nobel Prize for physics. Wu was not included, because Yang and Lee had originated the theory (McGrayne, p. 277)."

Next year maybe I should talk about Assoc Prof Ong Soh Khim, the first Singaporean engineer to receive an Emerging Leader Award in Academia from the US-based Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Unfortunately, her Wikipedia page mostly talks about how she used the word "shit" in Parliament while serving as an NMP.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Do NOT Support the Mandatory Death Penalty

There's a Facebook group. You should join it, provided you agree.

Here's a brief explanation of the cause:

The mandatory death penalty leaves the judge with no discretionary power to consider the mitigating circumstances of a case before sentencing.

This "one size fits all" sentencing flies in the face of human rights.

It's time for Singapore to change.

I.e. this isn't just about the death penalty per se. It's about the fact that a court is pretty much forced to sentence a 19 year-old kid to death even when it looks like an illegal amount of drugs was planted on him so he could serve as an unwitting courier. I'm not making it up. Read about Ikuwuchu Tochi.

Better yet, read my boyfriend Mohan's explanation of the issue, here. He's been helping M. Ravi with the defence on the Yong Vui Kong case.

The group I linked to, by the way, is a photo group, where people are submitting signs of themselves standing against this cause. Mail your photo to them at antimdpphoto AT

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Cycles" by CYRIAK

Gorgeously surreal.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Silvina Ocampo

I'm reading a bunch of Latin American writing now in preparation for my visit. Really enjoyed "With Borges", a memoir by Alberto Manguel, available from the National Library. Check out this description of Silvina Ocampo, a real life Argentinean modernist who almost sounds like a creation by Borges himself:

"During the conversation, in which she did most of the talking in a sort of incantatory rhythm that haunted one for many hours afterwards she would keep her face in the shade and her eyes behind dark glasses, because she felt that she had ugly features, and would try to draw one's attention to her beautiful legs, which she crossed and uncrossed incessantly."

"Her stories describe an everyday supernatural: a dying woman is suddenly confronted with all the objects she has possessed in the past made to realise that they constitute her private hell; a boy invites to his birthday party the seven deadly sins in the guise of seven little girls; a child is abandoned at a lovers' motel and becomes the unwitting instrument of a woman's revenge; two schoolboys exchange their destinies and nevertheless can't escape them. In most of her fiction, her heroes are children and animals, in both of whom she recognised an intelligence beyond reason. She loved dogs. When her favourite dog died, Borges found her in tears and tried to console her by telling her that there was a Platonic dog beyond all dogs, and that every dog was The Dog. Silvina was furious, and told him in no uncertain terms to go stuff it."

"In the last years of her life (she died in 1993, aged eight-eight), she suffered from Alzheimer's and wandered though her large apartment unable to remember where or who she was. One day, a friend found her reading a book of stories. Full of enthusiasm, she told the friend (who of course, she didn't recognise, but by then she had grown accustomed to the presence of strangers) that she would read him something wonderful which she had just discovered. It was a story from one of her first and most famous books, Autobiography of Irene. The friend listened and told her she was right. It was a masterpiece."

Ooh, the Wikipedia article says she was married to Adolfo Bioy Casares. I loved his "La invencion de Morel", which has only recently been translated into English. Will try and pick up Ocampo's books in Buenos Aires.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I'l be in the Western Hemisphere from 29 March to 6 May!

And I say the Western Hemisphere because my itinerary is pretty damn complex. This one isn't an NAC-sponsored reading tour; it's just my dad wanting to climb Machu Picchu while he still can. He's taken a month off work, and asked me to organise an itinerary. Well, here goes:

29 MAR SINGAPORE Dep Singapore 2350, SQ26. Stopover in Frankfurt.
30 New York, USA Arr JFK 1055. Dep JFK 2345, LA531.
31 Lima, PERU Arr Lima 0640.
2 APR Good Friday Lima/Buenos Aires Dep Lima 1235, LA4641. Arr Buenos Aires 1855.
5 Buenos Aires /near Zarate Morning: take probably hired car to Estancia Dos Hermanos. Activities. Spend night.
6 Near Zarate/Buenos Aires Return from Estancia Dos Hermanos. Dep Buenos Aires evening, bus. 15-18 hour journey
7 Puerto Iguazu Arr Puerto Iguazu, afternoon.
9 Puerto Iguazu/ Foz do Iguacu, BRAZIL Cross over to Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls, taxi. Dep Foz do Iguacu, evening, bus. 11 hour journey
10 Curitiba/Sao Paulo Arr Curitiba, morning. Dep Curitiba, afternoon, bus. 6 hour journey. Arr Sao Paulo, evening.
11 Sao Paulo Dep Sao Paulo (GRU) 2305, JJ3746
12 Manaus/Amazon Arr Manaus 0205. Dep Manaus 1330, Packtours boat.
14 Amazon/Manaus Arr Manaus 1730, Packtours boat.
15 Manaus/Rio de Janeiro Dep Manaus 0035, JJ3251 Arr Rio de Janeiro 0540
17 Rio de Janeiro/ Petropolis/ Rio de Janeiro Take hotel shuttle or bus to Petropolis, visit Museu Imperial, Cathedral Sao Pedro, Casa de Santos Dumont. Return.
18 Rio de Janeiro/ Santiago, CHILE Dep Rio de Janeiro 0800, LA 757. Arrive 1315 in Santiago de Chile. Dep 2130 LA632
19 Lima, PERU/Nazca Arr Lima 0030. Dep Lima time 0430, Go2Peru bus. Arr Nazca 1130. Dep Nazca 2000, Go2Peru bus.
20 Nazca/Cusco Arr Cusco 1100.
21 Cusco/Machu Picchu/Cusco Dep Cusco 0650, Perurail backpacker train. Arr Machu Picchu 1051. Dep Machu Picchu 1703, Perurail backpacker train. Arr Cusco 2119.
24 Cusco/Puno Dep Cusco 0800, Perurail train. Arr Puno 1750,
25 Puno Visit Lake Titicaca: get a group tour of Uros and Taquile.
26 Puno/Lima Dep Juliaca, Puno 0905, LP123. Arr Lima, 1040.
27 New York, USA Dep Lima 2355, LA530.
28 New York Arr JFK 0835.
29 New York Dep for Father JFK 2125, SQ25
1 MAY New York/ SINGAPORE Arr for Father Singapore 0630.
4 New York Dep for Yi-Sheng JFK 2125, SQ25
6 SINGAPORE Arr for Yi-Sheng Singapore 0630.

Yeppers. Have fun while I'm gone!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pinkdot's Fundraising Tea Party

For a bigger Pink Dot, come have some tea!

What: Pink Dot 2010 Tea Party
When: 28 March 2010, Sunday 3:30pm to 6:30pm
Where: House / Barracks Café
8D Dempsey Road, Singapore 249672
Wear: Pink
Who: You, Hossan Leong, Emma Yong and Voguelicious.
How: Tickets are at S$50.00, but please feel free to give more if you can.

Buy tickets at the original page here.

Last year, an unexpected 2,500-strong crowd came together at Hong Lim Park to celebrate the Freedom to Love by forming a giant Pink Dot.

This year, let’s aim to create an even bigger Pink Dot to keep the message of love and mutual respect alive and strong! But in order for Pink Dot to muscle up for her uber-dramatic climactic comeback, Pink Dot needs your help!

Help us make Pink Dot GROW!
We believe that campaigns such as ours serve to foster greater understanding in the hopes of eventually dispelling social stigma. As such, we seek to build up on our efforts with each year.

If you like what we've done so far and would like to see Pink Dot grow, we invite you to donate generously. Come join us and a host of our famously fabulous friends for an afternoon of merry-making and delicious gastronomical treats, while doing your part for a cause!

We want to do a lot more to further reach out to Singaporeans, and your kind donations will go a long way to helping us spread Pink Dot’s message of Love for All, to make Singapore a better place to work, live and play.

Each ticket entitles you to one cocktail and a buffet spread of food and drinks [generously sponsored by House]

All proceeds will go towards Pink Dot 2010-2011

Ticket purchase is available via PayPal.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"70 million" by Hold Your Horses

70 Million by Hold Your Horses ! from L'Ogre on Vimeo.

According to Youtube: (help us figure this out!)

1. Leonardo da Vinci, "The Last Supper"
2. Sandro Botticelli, "The Birth of Venus"
3. Rembrandt van Rijn, "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Tulp"
4. Hans Holbein, "Henry VIII" / Johannes Vermeer, "Girl with the Pearl Earring"
5. Theodore Gericault, "The Raft of Medusa"
6. Jacques-Louis David, "Death of Marat"
7. Michelangelo Buonarotti, "Creation of Man"
8. Rene Magritte, "Son of Man"
9. Piet Mondrian, "Composition"
10. Frida Kahlo, "Self-Portrait" [they could've done much better, I think]
11. Pablo Picasso, "Portrait of Dora Maar" [looks nothing like the original; thought it was Dali myself]
12. Edvard Munch, "The Scream"
13. Vincent Van Gogh, "Self-Portrait"
14. Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe silkscreen
15. School of Fontainebleau's "Gabrielle d'Estrees and One of Her Sisters"
16. Giovanni Cimabue's "Madonna of Santa Trinita"
17. Caravaggio, "Salome with the Head of John the Baptist"
18. Edouard Manet, "Olympia"
19. Eugene Delacroix, "Liberty Leading the People"
20. Otto Dix, "Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia von Harden"
21. Gustav Klimt, "The Kiss"
22. Marc Chagall, "The Bride (La Mariée)"
23. Diego Velasquez, "Las Meninas"
24. Vincent Van Gogh, "Sunflowers"

UPDATE: Ooh, the whole list is up here. In Spanish, though.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

SMS conversation with boyfriend

Mohan: I just got home. Was in school most of the day. Quite productive.

Me: Yay. Teamy the bee has an orgasm.

Mohan: What?

Me: He was a national productivity board mascot of the 70s. Before our time.

Mohan: Got such thing?

Me: Yeah. Ancestor of Sharity elephant.

Mohan: mg bee give birth to elephant. Yuck yuck.

Me: Actually the bee had sex with the merlion and the merlion gave birth to the elephant. Unfortunately she never got over her morning sickness.

Mohan: You’re so adorable. Muakz.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Feb texts

+Mark Haddon’s “The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea”

=Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol”
+Patrick Gale’s “The Aerodynamics of Pork”
+Jane Austen and Ben H Winters’s “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”

+Chong Tze Chien’s “From PIE to SPOILT”
+Gene Sha Rudyn’s “Al-Ikhlas”
=Theatre Workshop’s “Oh, What a Lovely War!”

+Panggung Arts’ “Fewling!”
Cake Theatre’s “Invisibility/Breathing”
+Ravindran Drama Group’s “Taj Mahal”
Peter Sau’s “K”
= Jiangsu Province Kunqu Opera’s “Peach Blossom Fan”
Dramabox’s “The Next Generations”

=Asian Civilisations Museum’s “The Treasury of the World”
=Krista Nelson's "Confetti in My Eyes"
+Drama Box and the Esplanade’s “Scenes: The Exhibition”

+Adult Swim's “Robot Chicken Season 3”
=Teddy Chen's “Bodyguards and Assassins”