Archive for February, 2005

More of the same

February 27, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

Once again, courtesy of the brilliantly demented Warren Ellis:


Let them live

February 26, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

Cruel, cruel bird squeezers.

Bad for my health anyway

February 25, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

So the Straits Times Interactive decided to start charging for access to its online content — see Mr Brown’s post and comments thread here for the announcement letter they sent to registered users. I didn’t get it because I was using bugmenot to bypass the registration system (kindly providing me the username “stisucks” on my first try).

My unwillingness to pay for a poor business decision (it seems to me ST is either attempting to salvage readership for their print edition, or milk the perceived 280,000 subscribers for what they could be worth), coupled with the lack of access to free printed copies in the office when I start clearing leave (April!!!), just means I don’t have to be subject to the ST’s nonsense any more. The ST has a knack of printing the most annoying articles and forum letters, and I’d really rather not subject myself to this routine torture any more.

Case in point, from today’s edition:

WE REFER to the letter, ‘Is bond contract fair to would-be teachers?’ (ST, Feb 12), by Mrs Ann Tee Chye Hoon. All trainee teachers are required to sign a Teacher Training Agreement with the Ministry of Education (MOE) before they commence training at the National Institute of Education (NIE). The terms and conditions are explained to them individually by MOE officers before they sign the agreement. The agreement states that, in return for the tuition fees, bursaries and salaries paid for by MOE during the course of the training, the trainee teacher is obliged to complete the course in NIE and thereafter serve out a bond as a teacher. MOE and NIE have in place a graduated process for managing trainee teachers who do not perform well during the training. Weak students who fail modules are given academic warnings by NIE after each semester and may be placed on academic probation. Through individual counselling and coaching, they are given adequate time and opportunity to improve. Those who still fail the modules despite repeating or have exceeded the maximum duration allowed to complete the course will be refused re-admission by NIE. One of the most important modules at the NIE is the teaching practice module (referred to as ‘practical attachment’ in Mrs Tee’s letter). The teaching practice module gives trainees the opportunity to put into practice what they have learnt, and assesses other critical attributes such as work attitude and commitment, before they begin their careers as full-time teachers. Trainee teachers must pass this module in order to graduate from NIE and be appointed as trained teachers. During the teaching practice, trainee teachers are assigned cooperating teachers, who are experienced teachers from the school, to provide guidance and support. The performance of the trainee teacher is evaluated by supervisors from NIE, the cooperating teachers and the school principal, through a series of discussions, assignments and lesson observations. The passing of the teaching practice module is taken very seriously by NIE and MOE as teachers impact the learning of generations of students. Trainees who do not pass the teaching practice module are counselled on the areas for improvement by their NIE supervisor, the Associate Dean of Practicum and School Matters in NIE, and the school personnel involved in the teaching practice. They are then given another opportunity to repeat their teaching practice module at a different school with different supervisors. Only trainees who fail the module a second time will be refused re-admission by NIE. In the event that trainee teachers are unable to meet the requirements of the course, MOE will conduct a thorough review of the peculiar circumstances and reasons for non-performance before deciding on the appropriate course of action. We will examine closely the performance records and other reports from NIE and the school. Only a very small number of trainees are unable to complete their training in NIE after the extended coaching, guidance and support process. For these non-readmission cases, MOE will have to recover the training costs incurred. However, in the recovery process, it will work with the individuals to derive the appropriate alternative arrangements. We are indeed saddened by trainee teachers who are unable to successfully complete their training in NIE. However, MOE and NIE have an obligation to all students and parents in Singapore to ensure that teachers who have gone through NIE are qualified to teach in the schools. We would like to invite Mrs Tee to contact our officers on 6879-7185 so that we can address the specific case that she has encountered to explore how we can further help the affected individual. Lu Cheng Yang Director, Personnel Ministry of Education Assoc Prof Cheah Horn Mun Dean, Foundation Programmes National Institute of Education

This two-strikes-you’re-out policy for teacher trainees — no matter how they try to soften it with claims of an “extended coaching, guidance and support process” — is awfully inappropriate for the Ministry of fucking Education, no? I suppose that’s what they mean by “Those Who Can, Teach.” Those who cannot, kena sai, pay back your bond and live in poverty having wasted up to four years of your life.

See what I mean? The ST annoys me so much. Good riddance.

To fill the non-posted void

February 22, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

So a mini-update because I haven’t posted in, what, five days.

Friday morning to Sunday night in KL and Putrajaya. I only recall being destroyed by the scorching sun and sweltering humidity, hence Wei’s blog will have to suffice for a tale of the adventure. Photos on my flickr page once I sort them out a little.

While on duty today, I went out to catch Constantine with a group of equally ORD-mood (holy shit, 4 months left!) colleagues. Yes, while on duty — life really is that relaxed around here. Verdict: interesting, but ultimately disappointing. I do like the way Constantine manipulated everyone to his own ends, much like he would have in the Hellblazer comics, but the movie seemed lost most of the time — wandering along and stringing together subplots while introducing awfully one-dimensional characters (including, unfortunately, the title character). Not helping were the uncomfortable seats and my inclination towards falling asleep every five minutes for the first hour. Also, where the hell did that slamming-forearms-together Ultraman-esque move come from?!

Notably, Alan Moore’s creations are now 0-for-3 in successful translations to the silver screen. From Hell, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and now Constantine (Moore introduced him in his remarkable Swamp Thing run)– this doesn’t bode well for V for Vendetta. Which isn’t that big a deal, as long as they never defile Watchmen.

Superhero Thugs

February 17, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

A post before I leave for the weekend:

Superman, Spider-man and Batman caught on CCTV attacking 23-year-old man [BBC News]

 Media Images 40791000 Jpg  40791129 Burgercrime2 203

Also, my braces have ORDed. My turn soon enough…

Chortle at Joker’s boner

February 15, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

From Warren Ellis‘ Old Comics Zen:


Ticking towards obsolescence

February 14, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

The title refers, of course, to the ORD counter on the right of this page, ticking its way towards glee-inducing uselessness.

I rarely write about National Service because I really don’t find many interesting things to write about at work. There’s the usual inane routine (wake up, avoid roll call, avoid PT, avoid random arrows, work off random arrows that I didn’t manage to avoid, avoid roll call again, sneak off home without boss noticing) which isn’t the most inspiring subject matter. I haven’t even gone outfield since I re-enlisted, so I can’t complain about how siong my week was, unlike some of my less fortunate re-enlisted buddies in real combat vocations*.

After a year and a half of re-enlistment, though, I must admit I’m quite happy where I am in NS. What’s to complain about? I don’t have to stay in (I can’t even figure out when my branch just, well, stopped staying in despite no such “privilege” having been granted to us, as far as I know). I do some mildly interesting work that has, admittedly, expanded my tech know-how a little (writing silly little VBA scripts to handle my laughably messy “database” of personnel information; working with M$ Excel really freakin’ fast; learning a bit of M$ Access). Furthermore, I haven’t worked for more than three full days a week for the last 2.5 months, a statistic I’m working very, very hard to keep up for a couple more months. That’s partly why I write so little about work — not much to complain about.

Also, I can’t blog diary-style. I can’t write something along the lines of “today I went to work and did some paperwork and we went for a run and it was great yay and then I went home and I had dinner and after that I beat off to duck porn**” because that wouldn’t interest me. There’s a post waiting about what I choose to write about and the nature of my posts’ subject matter (things I find interesting vs. things I find interesting to share), but I have to sleep because I have to go to work tomorrow and be bored and not blog about it.

  • For real NS stories, there’s the Singapore army stories blog — some awfully inane stuff, but mostly morbidly interesting. Agagooga‘s archives have some great accounts of real NS life too.

** Uhhhh… puppet duck porn?

Droopy pants

February 11, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

The reason I visit so often is because they put the funniest “news” ever on their front page. Case in point:

Virginia Senate drops droopy-pants bill

Virginia lawmakers dropped their droopy-pants bill Thursday after the whole thing became just too embarrassing. The bill, which would have slapped a $50 fine on people who wear their pants so low that their underwear is visible in “a lewd or indecent manner,” passed the state House on Tuesday but was killed by a Senate committee in a unanimous vote.


The article also helpfully provides the following image to illustrate droopy pants:




February 10, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

Some nonsense to provide some balance for the previous ranting post.

(1:54:55) eek: so are you actually going to watch constantine (1:56:56) me: i might (1:57:00) eek: woah (1:57:09) me: i dunno, i havent seen a bad review yet (1:57:18) eek: but it’s ted theodore logan (1:57:21) eek: fighting hell (1:57:21) eek: again

If you get it, you score major geek points. Hang your head in shame.

Oh no not again

February 10, 2005  |  Tags:   |  

NUS beats Princeton, Cornell in social sciences ranking [the ever-annoying Straits Times Interactive: free registration required, gone after three days]

Summary: NUS 10th in social sciences ranking while Princeton 11th, Cornell 13th, Columbia 14th (Wonder who’s 12th?). NUS 17th in arts and humanities ranking while School of Oriental and African Studies in London (?!) 18th, UPenn 19th. Reiterates previous rankings (18th overall, 9th in engineering). Passing mention of NTU. Shih Choon Fong expresses his joy. Ra ra ra.

Great, once again with the chest-beating over the Times Higher Education Supplement‘s rankings. It’s absolutely great recognition for some undoubtedly hardworking academia and university staff at NUS, but why does it have to be reported like the rankings are a bloody horse race? Somehow, our reporters feel the need to emphasise that NUS beat Princeton and Cornell — doesn’t being 10th say enough? Why do our news writers feel they have to help us fellow Singaporeans feel good about ourselves by pointing out some random Ivy League school that didn’t rank as highly as our national university? Flashback: “NUS beats Harvard in engineering”, December 2004; note also how they go out of their way to find the next highest ranked Ivy League school for the arts and humanities ranking.

I feel like I’m listening to a typically Singaporean parent ramble on about how his child has done so well in school, better than this kid who excels in sports, and that other kid who did really well for his PSLE but now not doing so well lah, eh, my boy 10th in the level leh! Not bad hor?

I’m sure we’ll be constantly reminded about these rankings in future ST articles on higher education, so I shan’t belabour my point any further. Well, not until the next THES ranking comes out and the ST proudly declares that NUS is ahead of the India Institute of Technology in basket-weaving.

With my apparent low tolerance for this kind of thing, I’m probably going to implode when I start teaching. Can you tell?

Oh, and happy lunar new year.