Monday, May 31, 2004

The Purpose of Education

Wrote this for my application to MOE.

Some, today, question where the ultimate responsibility of educating a person should lay – whether with the state, parents, educators, or mentors in life – but none dispute its importance and value. However, beyond the state’s appointed educators, few people ponder about the real purpose of education and to ask thoughtfully about the objectives and values that underlie Singapore’s education system.

Martin Luther King Junior offers in his 1948 speech that the function of education for man and society concerns utility and culture. More specifically, to educate is to impart and imbue a person with information, knowledge, skills, character, attitudes, and values, all of which are necessary towards preparing today’s youth for tomorrow’s life challenges. In particular, the latter part of this grand and all-encompassing statement is significant in implying that educators should adopt an open and forward-looking stance in anticipating challenges to be faced by the leaders and forgers of the future. Another implication is the need to provide diverse paths with sufficient opportunities and resources for the young person to discover his abilities and interest as he seeks his own aspirations in life.

Formal education thus begins in the formative years with developing a child’s intelligence and mental faculties through imparting skills such as communication, arithmetic, problem-solving, science, and spatial visualisation. These are taught through the familiar subjects of languages, sciences, and humanities, initially at a rudimentary level and then at progressively advanced levels at later developmental stages. A well-rounded education also consists of creative, physical, and moral development through programmes such as co-curricular activities. These would aid in sparking the young person’s interest in life beyond the classroom, his textbooks, and his computer games, and also to foster an awareness of current affairs, and personal and social responsibility. A crucial yet historically neglected objective at this stage is to aid the young person in developing a curious and critical mind, capable of probing for and weighing information. Also, the tacit development of life skills – specifically, psycho-social and interpersonal skills – although compensated by group project work and student leadership positions, is often eschewed by educators and even parents.

The next logical question to ask is who are to be educated. For this, there are two arguments. The first is of egalitarianism: to provide equal opportunities for all – from the disadvantaged to the elite – to gain the requisite knowledge and skills to survive and hopefully prosper in life, and to be provided the opportunities and resources to realize his full potential and to develop his talents in various fields. Hence various programmes, i.e. streams, have been deemed necessary in schools to cater to differing learning abilities and needs. The second argument is of economy and concerns the elite: it states that the system should focus its energies and resources to groom and nurture only the best and the brightest to produce leaders who will maximise their utility in society. For this reason, youths who excel academically are identified as being gifted and are further challenged to encourage their mental growth. With unlimited and perfect resources, an ideal education system would be able to satisfy these two fundamentally opposed arguments, but clearly this is not the case in reality.

Education is also necessary for adults. Singapore’s declaration in 2003 of its aim to become a global education hub strongly attests to the need for the modern day adult to continually educate and update himself by rethinking his paradigms and acquiring new skills and knowledge as he pursues and builds his career.

That the state should ensure the education of its people may appear to be a noble and altruistic objective; however it holds significant repercussions at the collective level, namely economic, socio-cultural, and political ones.

Firstly, the intellectual capital of its people is particularly important to resource-scarce Singapore; it is a key determinant of the country’s attractiveness in today’s global knowledge-driven economy. The unpredictability and instability of the shifting global economy dictates that the state must readily tackle the challenges of adapting the educational infrastructure to meet the manpower and intellectual needs of the economy. In this respect, lifelong learning has been heavily touted as an important attitude to possess. The emphasis on entrepreneurial and creative thinking also motivates the need for diverse educational paths. Secondly, as Martin Luther King Junior reminds us, “intelligence is not enough”. It is thus imperative to inculcate our young with a uniquely Singaporean identity to keep them rooted and also a set of values that will act as an internal compass to direct actions that are responsible and ethical. Failure in this department will impair nation-building and even breed intelligent but immoral mind capable of unimaginable evils. Lastly, Singaporeans possess an infamous apathy towards the state of political affairs at home. Attributed mainly to the self-interest and material possessiveness that afflict our youths today, this worrying trend indicates a potential future dearth of passionate and selfless leaders to govern the country. For this reason, education strives to facilitate and increase the young person’s awareness of current affairs and politics.

Through highlighting main points and arguments, this short essay has only briefly addressed the big question of the purpose of education where philosophers and educators alike have not presented a definitive response. But it can be seen that the responsibility of educating a nation is an important and weighty burden that has be shouldered appropriately.

Bibliography

CNN (October 13, 2003). “Singapore hopes to become global education hub.” CNN.com.
Retrieved May 23, 2004 from, http://...


Hull, G. (January 11, 2004). “Egalitarianism: The New Torture Rack.” Capitalism Magazine. Retrieved May 23, 2004 from http://...

King, Jr. M.L. (1948). “The Purpose of Education.” The Seattle Times. Retrieved May 23, 2004 from http://...

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. (May 24, 2004). “Education.” Retrieved May 24, 2004, from http://...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Health Freak: The Broccoli Incident

Have you ever steamed broccoli before?

On yet another domestic culinary escapade, I decided to have steamed broccoli for lunch. Uncharacteristically, I didn't even search for any recipes online.

So I got out a stalk of broccoli and handled it awkwardly for a moment, wondering if this was a good idea. Finally I mustered up my confidence.

Washed it, chopped it, laid it out on a plate, and garnished it with whatever condiments I found lying about. Popped it into the wok, put the lid on, and got the heat going.

Next came the wait and the nail-biting.

Gee, I've absolutely no idea how long to steam it. After about 7min of watching the steam escape from the sides, I hesistantly opened the lid, careful not to drip condensation off the lid into the broccoli.

And there it was, a wonderfully steaming plate of broccoli. Glowing a healthy green and soaking in its clear juices, a warm, savoury bouquet of garlic and olive oil beckoned me.

I began to feel good about myself.

With a fork, I tested how the soft the broccoli was. It yielded a lot more easily than I thought it would - a good sign!

I lifted the entire plate out of the wok and placed it on the table, and tucked it immediately.

I've to admit, I was a little sceptical about how it would taste at first, expecting it to taste quite bland and... vegetable-like.

But I was pleasantly surprised as I popped the first morsel in. It was hot and quite fragrant. A tad crunchy at the stalk but flaky at the ends. And the garlic and pepper added a nice brilliance to it.

As I took another bite, I felt immensely healthy. The thought of all the antioxidants I was getting only hastened my meal.

Mmmm... Steamed broccoli...

Friday, May 21, 2004

System.out.println("Hello World");

(for the un-programming-initiated, "Hello World" is the very first program that the programmer is taught to write in a new programming language)

/**MY TRIBUTE TO LIFE IN SCHOOL OF COMPUTING, NUS
  ******************* D I S C L A I M E R *******************
  * This blog rehashes the life and opinions of just one
  * individual and is not meant to be representative of
  * the life of all who passed through SoC or, for that
  * matter, NUS, no matter how your sad, lonely, and
  * pointless existence parallels the collage of experiences
  * reflected here.
  **********************************************************/
public static main (String [] args) {

Come 25 May, both my School of Computing (SoC) Unix account and my SMART card access will be deleted.
System.out.println("Goodbye, SoC.");
Do I miss school? Right now, as a professional bummer, java.lang.NullPointerException, no :)

Will I miss school? Perhaps.

As any working graduate would say, I miss being a student: living my own student life; staying up late, and waking up late (and still never sleeping enough); missing lectures; letting assignments and projects pile skyhigh till the day before the deadline; referencing other people's tutorial answers and Java programs; enjoying student prices & privileges; relishing the NUS science canteen spicy, exotic Indian food (woe on you if you've never tried it) and thick and milky 'tea with milk and less sugar'; hanging out with friends in the canteen or club office... java.lang.StackOverflowError

Of course, all that's just the good stuff. There are the other memorable moments: banging my head against the computer monitor in frustration because my program refuses to run correctly; trying in vain to decipher the Java API; staying up late at night, rushing to complete the group project (10 times the stress and sleepless nights in school if it's a programming project but not for Unix command shell programming because I'm just doing the documentation); project-group bitching about the group mate - either a slacker or a public enemy - who has cost the group a grade; bitching about the lecturer or tutor who thrives on our misery; cramming for exams; bawling over my terrible exam results; flipping through my 10,000 word honours thesis to studiously check for typos... java.lang.StackOverflowError

Well, it's been a tough fight but I've survived! It's interesting how we collectively tend to first recall the most stressful and dreariest of times... (the power of shared experience).

*recall June-July 2000* fresh-from-NS, naive, horny, enthusiastic, blur 20yo entering LT27 to meet other fresh-from-NS/JC, naive, horny, enthusiastic, blur 18yo's/20yo's on day 1 of SoC orientation camp under the guidance of cynical, battle-worn, and seasoned seniors who were abt to teach us what they knew of the way round SoC and NUS - in many respects - and whom us freshies come to trust or distrust, like or dislike.

Come July 2004, I'll get to don the graduation gown. I imagine eager graduates and families, tense and impatient, waiting to go on-stage to officially receive our degrees, and to symbolically throw our mortar boards in air (never to get the same one back again), yelling "Thank God!". This is then followed by a month-long, island-wide photo shoot with fellow graduates, tirelessly and shamelessly flaunting our newly awakened hopes and dreams, temporarily oblivious to the foils of the labour market.

While some may lament that the past four years has been a necessary waste of time, I see more of myself now - and yet perhaps less of what is to come. Over a gathering a few days ago, a long-time friend remarked how he still feels young and inexperienced despite being 25 years old. I couldn't agree more; I feel like a fish fry that has been set free into the ocean - finally free to roam wherever I choose, however I choose, whenever I choose. Having spent a major part of my life merely chasing after pieces of certificates, it is finally time to embark on the real journey in life.
System.out.println("Hello World");
} //end method main

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Quit for Our Sake

Every time my brother lights up at home, I get immensely pissed. Even though he shuts himself up in his room, the moment I smell tobacco burning, I stomp round the house to open the front door and windows and to turn up all the fan speeds. Then I finally seek refuge in either my bedroom or the kitchen and try not to breathe too hard.

He puffs, I huff... lightly.

I once hankered after a pack of cigarettes myself. That was during NS, that other awful, blackhead-filled period of self-discovery that every S'porean male must go through. Perhaps it was rebellion, perhaps I believed I actually looked cool... whatever it was, I would eventually find myself toying with another pack of Marlboro Menthol Lights. After half a stick, I would get so sick, I had to lie down. Promising never to smoke again, the rest of the pack would remain in my drawer for a week or so, till I decided the tobacco had gone too soft. And this is why I never picked up smoking as a habit. *cough loser*

Back then, my brother was still in secondary school, and he started coming home, reeking of smoke. Confronted by my parents, he claimed he didn't smoke and it was because of the places where he hung out. I even defended him and blamed his ah beng friends, clinging on to the sweet bully-able innocence in him that I once believed was uncorruptible.

Yeah, talk to him, I try. And ignore me, he does.

Well, we all know why people smoke, but have you personally wondered why you shouldn't smoke? I submit that the most compelling reason not to smoke is that if the smoker or someone living with him or her contracts a smoking-related disease, his or her family will be heavily burdened, be it financially or emotionally.

Is this worth it, I ask? As selfish as this sounds, I don't want to pour my hard-earned money into paying somebody else's medical bills; I have bills to pay, parents to take care of. As G says, we aren't just living for ourselves, but others as well. I also take care of my own body, and I don't want my health to be at the expense of another person's nicotine addiction.

Round the region, Asian countries are making it tougher for smokers to puff, even in Australia. Just as legislative changes are occuring in Japan, I fully agree and support that this is the way to go in Singapore too.

Here are some information and statistics for you:
  • Respiratory disease is the world's number one killer
  • Smoking really kills

  • Passive smoking really kills

  • Nicotine is a poison

  • 90% of lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking

  • If you have or had cancer, employers don't want you

  • British American Tabacco kills 750K a year but here are what they acknowledge and say:
  • Smoking causes health problems

  • Passive smoking causes health problems

  • BAT justifies selling cigarettes

  • BAT's Business Principles
  • Tuesday, May 18, 2004

    The Art of Self-Prostituting

    *deep strong voice declaring boldly* "I am an able-bodied, attractive, intelligent, well-spoken, creative, challenge-seeking young male adult with a honours degree from a respectable university. With 24 years of life experience, I have accumulated much knowledge, skills, and qualities to offer your organization. I am deeply interested in this job. And I am idealistic, enthusiastic, and ready to take up any challenge life throws at me!"

    So why won't anyone hire me??

    To be fair, I've sent out only about 30 plus applications, with only 2 measly interviews. Once my exams ended, I started sending out my painstakingly crafted cover letters and resumes, each pasted with a digitally enhanced picture of my smiling self guaranteed to attract and impress! jobsdb.com.sg... monster.com.sg... jobscyclone.com... jobstreet.com.sg... asia1careers.com.sg... ST's recruit section... The list goes on and on.

    Well, right after the first interview, I truly thought it went quite well. Let's see, I was enthusiastic (gesticulating & speaking passionately about achievements), I was honest & sincere (related my life-experiences), I was humourous and witty (smiled profusely and tried to lighten the mood), I engaged the interviewers (looked them both in the eye), I was different... That night my mind began festering, recalling bits of my interview... Too smart-alec (made arrogant remarks and used stupid idioms), not engaging enough (interviewers looked bored), too inexperienced (was my first interview after all).

    It feels like I just exposed myself to the scrutiny of two complete strangers, I remarked to a friend. And I don't think they like what they've seen and now I feel especially undesirable and vulnerable. It's been more than 2 weeks and they haven't called me back. Well, you'll be lucky if you actually get it on your first interview, another friend offered.

    And why shouldn't I get it on my first interview, I say?? I fit the bill, don't I? I studiously prepared for the interview - did my research, thought about answers to possible interview questions, dressed impeccably, and carried myself like a virile peacock ready and worthy to mate.

    Today, I strutted in for my second interview, confident and inflated. And blew it because I couldn't answer a simple question about the company's services. I'd read the company's annual report, clicked all over the company's website, but couldn't recall those damn services. I blame myself for being intimidated by the interviewer - this cold, stern woman who treated me rather impersonally. As the interviewer showed me to the lift, I was so blur I pressed the wrong button and she had to tell me to watch out for the red light indicating that the lift's going down. Somebody cough loser. Like a rooster with a sore throat and a doused ego, I crowed feebly, scratched the ground half-heartedly, and retreated to nest in my coop.

    On the train ride back, slumped in my seat with my eyes closed, the epiphany dawned on me - I'm not selling myself enough. Allowing the 2 interviews to degenerate into ask-&-answer sessions, I had failed to prostitute myself. You know, blow a kiss, flash a thigh, and eventually go the full monty with my best assets.

    Sigh... back to the drawing board, I say.

    Monday, May 17, 2004

    Life, Honour, and Identity

    Everybody loves a suicide - every case of suicide is clouded by mystery and intrigue. Where a human life has ended prematurely, endless speculation and finger-pointing will follow. I venture to say that this is the case even when the facts of the case were clear for all to see. Instead every sliver of news - fact or gossip - is only slurped up deliciously to add to the hunger for more salacious ones. Recall these famous suicides: Cantonese pop singer Leslie Cheung who threw himself off a building, poet Sylvia Plath who stuck her head in a gas oven, and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain who shot himself in the head. Even Wikipedia has compiled a list of famous suicides. Google for the keyword suicide and you'll find 7 million results.

    When my youngest aunt committed suicide in the midst of her post-natal depression, needless to say, the entire family was stunned and shaken. I alone had so many questions; I didn't even know my aunt was depressed! Grappling with this self-induced guilt and regret for not knowing my aunt better and possibly preventing her suicide, I wondered what would motivate me to climb up a ledge, look 20 storeys down, and eventually push myself off. Not being privy to family gossip only fueled my own curiosity and imagination.

    Lacking the stats to support me here, I can only surmise that depression and mental illness appear to be major causes of suicide. Here in Singapore, stress is probably the major social and environmental factor leading to depression. For teenagers, it's stress from family, school, or peers (remember the teen who wanted to die in Royston Tan's "15"?); for adults, it's stress from family or work. While not comprehensive, I would think these are the common causes. So as I read this headline "In the wake of a death" in yesterday's ST LifeStyle section, I expected an uninteresting article about a stressed-out housewife who fell into depression.

    In a nutshell, last September, Mdm Quek Bee Lian was suspected of abusing a toddler while babysitting him and after she was questioned by the police, she became troubled and depressed and committed suicide. An award-winning documentary explaining her death and aptly titled Innocent was featured in the recent Singapore International Film Festival.

    While I didn't watch this film, reading about Mdm Quek's death got me wondering about this lesser discussed cause of suicide: being dishonoured, or losing honour. In simple local terms, we could define it as a profound loss of face - as the well-known Chinese phrase goes, "no face left to face people". Indeed, scientist David Kelly, the chief executive of Hyundai, and the Japanese couple who ran a bird-flu infected farm were all compelled by their loss of honour to end their lives.

    What is honour? Definitions that stuck out to me were "good name", "reputation", "dignity" and "personal integrity". These are words I hardly hear on a daily basis. And the subtitle "have you no honour?" seems meaningful only in Chinese drama serials about fighting swordsmen and their pugilistic wonderland.

    Yet us, Asians, are supposed to espouse values such as hard work, loyalty, place collective needs over individual ones, personal and family values such as honour and integrity... what are all that??? Perhaps these are values that we only realize and then begin to hold on tightly when they become compromised or impinged upon. Meanwhile a 25yo like myself continues to muse and mull about life as I seek to discover my modern Singaporean identity.

    In Bend It Like Beckham (2002), our Indian protagonist chases after but eventually gives up her soccer aspirations for the sake of preserving the integrity of the family name. Finally, a hilarious but assuredly triumphant scene sees her scoring a penalty kick over the imagined personas of her family. While most rejoice her personal victory of being one step closer towards becoming a female professional soccer player, some would angrily ask, what of the trampled value of family integrity?

    Auntie Small Small

    Usually I write my essays within the few days that I’m hit with the "inspiration". It could have been plain laziness or maybe an urge to avoid dredging up old painful memories (the tears came as I typed this) but it took quite a bit of will power to type everything out... this is my small little tribute to my late Auntie Margaret.

    I remember Auntie Margaret carrying me on her shoulders. I was only 5 years old and she was in her AJC uniform, smiling and giggling as she always did. We were in the hospital; my then one-year-old brother just had a heart operation. I see her and myself from a third person perspective; that’s the odd thing about this memory but it’s probably because she’s told me several times about this scene. She remembered it well because someone had asked her if I was her son.

    She was the youngest of the family, hence the affectionate name "small small". Bubbly and cheerful, she was adored and doted upon by the rest of the family. It was only during her wake that I realized she was also an excuse for my uncles and aunties to go "paat tor" (hokkien for going on a date).

    I remember Auntie Margaret, with eyes beaming with pride, telling my dad that she had won an art competition in AJC and asking him to go see her prize of a tub of Hagen Daas ice-cream sitting in the refrigerator. She had a good singing voice too and I liked to hear her sing in the house.

    Once, at some Malaysian resort, we were playing in the swimming pool and she was showing me how to squeeze the pinkness out of Bougainvillea petals. We just floated at the side of the pool, watching the pinkness flow away. And she started doing this silly wind-screen wiper thing with her arms after that. I probably imitated her but got bored.

    The first thing that happens when you learn of someone’s passing away is usually an instinctive hauling up of old memories of past experiences with that someone. For some like me, a struggle ensues, a coming to terms with that person’s death.

    I remember first learning about her death from my dad. He had just received a phone call and then he told me that Auntie Margaret had committed suicide by throwing herself off a building. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard and kept asking him how and why. He said that she was suffering from post-natal depression and had gone missing from home while her husband was away. After her husband had reported her missing, he was asked to identify her body. It took a while before it finally sank in; I was sitting in front of my desk and slowly the tears came.

    I remember staring murderously at the pastor during the service conducted at the wake.

    I remember dragging my heavy feet in the funeral procession behind the van carrying her casket. A speaker on the van was wailing out some Christian piano music, quivering under the pressure of so much grief.

    I remember my eyes brimming with tears but I was gritting my teeth, trying not to cry. My throat was hurting from the effort.

    I remember boarding the bus, on the way to the crematorium. I sat by myself, staring out of the window before finally breaking down and crying uncontrollably. Everyone was either silent or crying.

    I remember staring through the glass as a man pushed her casket into the furnace. Sobs grew to cries and her mother-in-law yelled out her name.

    I remember streaming out of the viewing room. Everyone’s eyes were red.

    Some nights I lie there on my bed and these faded images and sounds creep back into my head...

    Thursday, May 13, 2004

    He's Just a Stupid Dog

    Last tuesday, just as G & I were at a cafe, happily awaiting our food when her mom called to tell her the unthinkable had occurred - G's dog was missing!

    *cue chorus of dog-lovers worldwide gasping with instant pangs of heartfelt sympathy*

    And so I was caught up in this emotional whirlwind of what seemed like mission impossible: Operation Find Doggie Dog in the sprawling estate of Serangoon with at least 1,000 houses AFTER who knows how many hours he was gone. All able-bodied and invested personnel were immediately mobilized for this operation: dad, mom, G, me, and the guilty maid who had left the gate open. First the dog-hunt, then the flyers. Day 2 saw laminated posters, newspaper ads, and notices posted online. An elaborate marketing campaign in support of Operation Find Doggie Dog.

    Yup, that's the name of this 3yo hyper-affectionate (and hyper cowardly and hyper greedy too) Papillon that has been the magnet of all love and affection in an otherwise boring household: Doggie Dog. The same name I was calling out sheepishly round the estate for almost 2 hours. Interestingly though, Doggie Dog's got a reputation as the big Papillon round the estate, probably because of all the food that he gets to eat (durian, ground beef etc) and also how he likes to repeatedly jump and snap at the hem of your shirt.

    As we sped home along the highway, with empty and anxious stomachs, I had so many questions.

    "How did it happen?"
    "How long has he been missing?!"
    "How come no one realized earlier?!!"
    "What??? The maids were careless?!!!"

    I have to confess, I'm a wannabe dog-lover. I don't have a dog of my own and I crave one of my own. So instead I lend my affection to Doggie Dog. But I call myself wannabe because the odd thing is, as cute and lovable as many find him, I don't quite take to him as I should be, a professed dog-lover who lusts after the pedigree puppies in pet stores. I blame it on the one time that he sat on my lap and left a tidy little smudge of what looked like soft chewy chocolate.

    *cue G's mom staring into space with swollen eyes, sobbing at dinner table, and finally leaving the table to bawl in the bedroom*

    Too attached to the dog, G's brother surmised and G's dad echoed and nodded. Looking down at her plate, G added, "he's just a dog right? And let's not get any more dogs after this."

    *cue G bawling into my shoulder*

    Even G's grandma, whom I thought didn't like dogs very much, got into the act of grieving Doggie Dog's disappearance. "Hao ke lian ah..." (translated: so pitiful). She was right about this though, it was a dangerous world out there for a cute little toy dog like him who is only bred to please and entertain. Speeding traffic, hungry rabid foaming stray dogs, cute little children who maim cute little kittens, and not forgetting the bane and Lucifer to all dog-lovers: cruel dog-haters who torture and even kill any canines in their reach.

    G kept asking me whether she should give up hope. I said as long as there was a chance, however slim, we should hang on to hope. And hope came in the form of a phonecall on the evening of day 2.

    As we entered another house just 20 meters behind G's, there the little fella was, tied by the collar with a cord to the window grill. Jumping up and down and doing his balancing act on his hind feet, Doggie Dog was just as elated to see us.

    *cue profuse offerings of thanks and appreciation*

    Never mind that the mother of that household sounded like she was extorting money over the phone or that she was admonishing G for not taking care of Dog enough, we got him back and that was all that mattered. Dog's saviour, the grandma of that household, was gushing profusely to me in teochew the entire episode. All you need to know is that she called him Happy, because he happily followed her home.

    And happy we were back at G's. Out came the rare and elusive doggie treat, as the maids faithfully laid out the newspapers in his litter corner. I remember victoriously entering the house, and Dog was paraded through - smiles and tears effusing on everyone's faces. Everyone was so glad to have him back, and Dog was so glad he peed on G's dad's bed and left a huge package on the staircase within 15min of coming home. The little coward hardly pee-ed or poo-ed, say the neighbours who found him.

    Looking at Doggie Dog being fawned over, I realized he was none the worse, none the wiser. He's just a stupid dog. An object that we humans attach symbols and affection to and just have to irresistably love and adore.

    And I want one too! A salt and pepper miniature Schnauzer.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    Our Brave New World

    Well, finally succumbed to the blog-mania and started my own. But what a depressing first blog this is gonna be...

    As G & I were driving to NUS today, we heard on BBC about the beheading of an American in Iraq. On air, a voice which I thought was Bush's was quoted saying that this barbarous act shows the difference between Americans and terrorists. Both G & I scoffed - me inwardly, her verbally. This is holier-than-thou tug-of-war... whose God is greater? Allah or Democracy?

    News reports of the Iraqi prisoner abuses having been going on for a week now. Yet it's odd how I actually felt my insides churn as I read the article abt the beheading, but didn't feel much even after having read so much abt the prison abuse acts (or for that matter, the ambush and corpse-dragging of the 4 American contractors). While the typical apathetic S'porean in me shrugs it off, I mentally commented to myself tt this was a necessary by-product of war - abuse during interogation of POW's is necessary to extract important information. Gee, this severely mal-informed judgement scares me. But I wonder how many out there echo this response of mine.

    A commentary in monday's Straits Times repeated the question asked in 1945 "whether former US president Harry S. Truman would have used the atom bomb if Japan had been white". A few days ago on CNA, an Arab man asked what if the abused were Americans instead. Yeah, what if? But perhaps we'll simply get used to hearing more reports abt Americans or foreigners in Iraq getting tortured/murdered/slaughtered the way we always have to everything else. Life goes on right?