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(no subject) [Oct. 2nd, 2015|01:00 am]

My main blog Balderdash is at http://gssq.blogspot.com. Most of my substantive content is posted there.

You can also find me on Twitter, @gssq.

From time to time (well, almost never nowadays), I may have friends-only entries in this LJ. You know the chant; comment here if you want to be added.

"Agagooga is working in an unspecified job (which is why he doesn't update this blog as often as he should).

He likes to think of himself as a Renaissance Man and is a student of the Misery of the Human Condition.

He is currently working towards his long term plan to achieve his 3 dreams by working and learning French.

His current motivational slogan is: "君子报仇,十年不晚""

(Description from Balderdash)
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Bishan Gay Judgment [Aug. 18th, 2015|01:59 pm]

Public Prosecutor v Cheng Hoe Huat
[2015] SGDC 188

Case Number : DAC 918630-2014, Magistrate's Appeal No. 9058-2015-01
Decision Date : 08 July 2015
Tribunal/Court : District Court
Coram : Lee-Khoo Poh Choo
Counsel Name(s) : DPP Amanda Chong for Public Prosecutor; Accused in person.
Parties : Public Prosecutor — Cheng Hoe Huat

8 July 2015

District Judge Lee-Khoo Poh Choo:


1 The Accused, aged 52 years, claimed trial to the charge that on 13.11.2013, at about 3.20 p.m., in the male toilet on the first floor of Bishan Junction 8 Shopping Centre (“Junction 8”), used criminal force on the Victim, a 12 years old male, knowing this would outrage his modesty, by touching the tip of his penis and tickling it 3 times. This was an offence punishable under section 354(2) of the Penal Code, Cap 224.

2 At the conclusion of the trial, I convicted the Accused and sentenced him to 12 months’ imprisonment. He has appealed against sentence and is on bail pending his appeal.

Read more...Collapse )
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Enrich or die? [Dec. 15th, 2014|01:18 pm]
Formerly at: http://blogs.straitstimes.com/2010/12/2/enrich-or-die, archived at Enrich or die? — The Straits Times Blogs

Enrich or die?
December 02, 2010 Thursday, 08:37 PM
Ng Tze Yong ponders a dilemma that has come too soon.

At a recent reunion with primary school classmates, one of us asked our former form teacher a question, half in jest.

'Are you one of those parents who sends her kids for endless tuition and enrichment classes?'

Now a full-time mum of 4, Miss L paused for a moment over her Teochew porridge, before replying: 'Actually, I'm not, you know,' she said. 'But I'm forced to.'

When her third child came, Miss L explained, she had resolved to give him a more relaxed childhood. The boy was spared the blitzkrieg of enrichment classes his elder siblings went through.

But barely two weeks after the boy entered Primary One, Miss L received a phone call from his Chinese teacher.

Of the 30 students in her class, the teacher said, 28 already knew Hanyu Pinyin (the romanisation system for Mandarin), even though she was only supposed to be teaching it in the months ahead. Miss L's son was one of the two that didn't.

The teacher said she couldn't hold 28 kids back for the sake of two.

Miss L promptly bundled her son off to an intensive Hanyu Pinyin class that cramped 6 months' worth of curriculum into 8 sessions.

The best part, my old classmates and I learnt, was that this took place not in an elite school, but in a neighbourhood school, somewhere in Tampines.

The moral of the story, at least to me, is as clear as it is sad.

It is: If you don't believe in the system, you'd better get out of it. If you choose to remain, you better play along.

That evening, Miss L's story weighed on the minds of her former pupils - now young adults, some recently engaged, some already young parents.

It was a picture so stark, so uncompromising, for our unhardened minds.

I recalled Miss L's story last week while watching the evening news about the release of the PSLE results.

The coverage focused on the students, as it always does.

But I couldn't help but wonder if it must also have been a day that both affirmed - and shaken – many a parent's beliefs about childhood enrichment.

Did the years of investment finally pay off that morning? Have the mad days of shuttling between Math tuition and ballet class, the lost hours at the playground, been worth it?

If the answer was no, it would have been hard to admit.

Great sacrifices sometimes result in self-denial.

Certainly, I have older friends who have proudly told me they have never sent their children for tuition classes.

They don't believe in it. And they have no regrets. Look, they say, my children are all grown-up now, and they're doing reasonably well.

But the right question to ask, of course, is whether they would still have no regrets if their children ended up missing out on realising their ambitions by, say, a couple of points at the A-levels.

Would they forgive themselves? Would their children forgive them?

It's a fork in the road I'm heading towards, after becoming a father four months ago.

Primary One is still seven years away, but I have found myself - incredulously - staring at this dilemma, as if it was right in front of me.

To enrich or not to enrich. That is the question, one that once carried good intentions, now twisted logic.

A walk around the Baby Meccas of HarbourFront and United Square, where there are $400 enrichment classes for 3-month old infants 'to increase their awareness of their surroundings', leaves you cold with their unequivocal answer - and none-too-subtle sales pitch.

Enrich… or die.

It would be laughable, not anxiety-inducing, if only the system offers viable alternatives.

Efforts by the Ministry of Education to make the education system more holistic is a start. But changes of this magnitude don't happen easy.

There will be a period of time when the changes are mere cosmetic before they become real, when new values take root in the teachers and parents who knew only the old ways.

How long will that take? A decade? Or two?

That would be too late for me.

I don't want my daughter to run the rat race. But neither do I want her to suffer for my lofty ideals.

What's a daddy to do?

Get out? But where to?
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If you can't compete, allege discrimination [Nov. 11th, 2014|11:29 am]
From Mirror:

"Speech for Junoesq Literary Journal’s Launch:
"The Silencing of Gender

I apologise for my absence tonight at the launch of a literary project I have given birth to not only through imagination but sheer determination, with the help obviously of my fellow women writers.

In light of yesterday’s Singapore Literature Prize for Poetry in which I was shortlisted, along with Tania De Rozario, a female poet whose work I have read and admire, I find myself silenced into shock.

For a few days now, I had resigned myself to not winning, for I had heard via whispers that one male poet would be taking the prize. For whatever reason that the judges have decided, the ones who are left out have to console themselves that this is not their time.

The fact that the prize has been given to two co-winners who are BOTH male poets is deeply informing of choice, taste and affirmation. A prize so coveted that it has been apportioned to two male narratives of poetic discourse, instead of one outstanding poet – reeks of an engendered privilege that continues to plague this nation’s literary community.

In short: male poets win awards, women poets are token discourses best paraded on the side or better yet, hidden at the back to shine the light brighter for their supposedly “superior” counterpart.

I find my speech useless at this point. I find my body politic, and that of Tania’s, for which our exposure of our naked cultural, psychological and physical selves a vain plea for understanding of engendered writing. If awards are political, then so is my silence, and my anger."

— Grace Chia, founder of Junoesq Literary Journal"

And Followup
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Mixed reactions to the Singapore International Festival of Arts 2014 [Sep. 23rd, 2014|10:54 am]
Singapore International Festival of Arts 2014 is cutting-edge

The rebranded Singapore International Festival of Arts won praise for the high standards of its avant garde productions, though a few shows divided audiences
Published on Sep 23, 2014 10:50 AM

By Corrie Tan

After a year on vacation, the grande dame of Singapore arts festivals has gone from paunchy to punchy - with a third of its shows sold out and praise from audience members bolstering its return.

While the line-up appeared to favour the cutting edge and avant garde over mainstream blockbusters, avid artsgoers and new audience members who attended the renamed and rebranded Singapore International Festival of Arts told Life! it was far from esoteric, even if some productions were more difficult to appreciate in terms of presentation.

The event came to a close on Sunday after an expanded six-week run and a leaner but focused menu of 12 international productions. This was akin to a selective multi-course degustation compared to the usual buffet of 25 to 40 events compressed into two weeks.

The nearly $7-million festival drew 22,000 people, including audiences at its pre-festival programme, The O.P.E.N., and sold 86 per cent of tickets in total. The last time the festival was held in 2012, it had gross sales of 72 per cent. Its ticketed performances drew 16,000 and its free events, 220,000.

The reduction in scale is largely due to a shift in identity for the festival.

There were no concurrent free fringe-type events or a Festival Village this year, and productions were held in more boutique-type venues, such as the Victoria Theatre and the School of the Arts Studio Theatre. The Esplanade Theatre, which seats 2,000, is closed for upgrading.

Prior to a review of the festival last year, which turned it into an independent entity, the former state-run Singapore Arts Festival had come under criticism for its lack of identity and how it seemed to have become increasingly irrelevant in a burgeoning scene of arts and cultural activities here. There are now more than 3,000 performing arts productions a year and at least 80 festivals organised by independent presenters and groups, such as the Esplanade's Huayi - Chinese Festival of Arts and The Necessary Stage's M1 Singapore Fringe Festival.

Festival director Ong Keng Sen's stance was that the festival could not and should not replicate the work of others. He believed the experimental and the crowd-pleasing could mix, and hoped to cater to an expanding group of arts lovers hungry for something beyond the mainstream.

The theatre director and Cultural Medallion recipient, 51, tells Life!: "I think it was a festival in which we had to pluck up our courage and jump into the unknown.

"I do feel gratified that there is an audience out there who really were engaged... That's where I'm taking heart, that we've managed to smoke these people out to come to the festival and that their curiosity and hunger for something different was satisifed."

Ong had selected a palette of classics-inspired but also spikily avant garde works for his first year at the helm of the 37-year-old festival, giving it the overarching theme of Legacy And The Expanded Classic to give it a certain cohesion.

He also wanted to hook first-time audience members through diverse topics that one might not immediately associate with the arts, such as bioethics.

Hence the decision to bookend the festival with the deeply challenging Michael Nyman opera with a scientific bent, Facing Goya; and The Wooster Group's controversy-laden and unabashedly postmodern Cry, Trojans!

But this seems to have worked. Four productions sold out this year: Japanese traditional arts showcase Sambaso; Amid The Clouds, a meditative piece focusing on two Iranian exiles; the Berliner Ensemble's exuberant and surreal Peter Pan directed by Robert Wilson; and a South Korean musical adaptation of classic Greek tragedy, The Chorus; Oedipus.

University graduate Delia Pak, 23, who caught two shows, loved Peter Pan, a visually spectacular production that carried the edge of the experimental due to its director Robert Wilson, known for his genre-bending and occasionally baffling work.

She said: "I enjoyed the production immensely. It was so surreal, I felt like I was in dreamland, or rather, Neverland. The cast, costumes, music by the live band, props and stage effects were amazing."

Public servant Joel Tee, 27, bought tickets to five shows even though he did not recognise many of the featured artists.

He says: "Part of the attraction for me was a bit of a fringe element to some of the works - they try to push conventions. Some of the artists may not be as well known but I approached this in the sense of looking for something new."

There were productions, however, that did not do as well as the others. Listen To The 20th Century, a series of four concerts by the London Sinfonietta which took audiences on a journey through 20th-century music, had concert halls about two-thirds full.

Ong felt that music audiences here seemed "less heterogeneous" than their theatre counterparts, noting that audiences were more "resistant" to experimental new music, being more accustomed to the classics of the 17th to 19th century.

But a generally bolder approach to choosing shows to watch seems to be a reflection of the increasingly sophisticated tastes of the Singapore public, who are not always opting for more straightforward linear narratives or Broadway-type musicals.

Theatre director Alvin Tan, 51, founder of The Necessary Stage, felt the festival was "very well curated, with a sharper artistic focus that made it more relevant to the arts community".

He adds: "It had things that were adventurous, but somehow also had cachet with the arts community. In the past, people always talked about how the festival should have something for everyone. But it was still not thematically tight, whereas this festival had a target audience for more experimental and more arty stuff which was accessible as well."

He cited arts giants such as Robert Wilson and The Wooster Group who would reel in those who had followed their works as well as new audiences drawn by their name and influence.

Not all was rosy at first for the festival. Its future was momentarily cast in shadow following a tumultuous public spat in March between Ms Lee Chor Lin, chief executive of Arts House Limited, which organises the festival, and Ong. He had criticised the way she operated as CEO, compounded by disputes over the format of the festival brochures. This seems to have blown over as the festival proceeded smoothly.

During the course of the festival, which opened on Aug 12, there were also some questions raised over its format and programming.

A review of Sambaso by Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao expressed the disgruntled opinion that the festival seemed to be heavy on "foreign traditional arts" and too light on the "local or Chinese traditional arts", and challenged the festival to take a stand on the matter. It added that Sambaso brought "a calm and forceful Eastern wind" into a festival that "seemed to favour Western work".

In response, Ong says: "One of the big questions is - what is the relevance of the festival today? For me, it may not be about providing a diet, not something along the cultures of Singapore, not so much along the lines of a mass spectacular. But maybe something more introspective, something quieter.

"It's like wanting to have a reading room, or a place where you can sit down and chat with a friend and not necessarily go to a very loud and noisy bar. The festival allows that kind of possibility, a much more intimate space that audiences come to and they can find themselves in this material rather than just being dragged along by the public."

He feels such an approach sits well in a busy period that also saw the crowd-pleasing Singapore Night Festival - which drew 500,000 people over two weekends in August - and the Esplanade's Pesta Raya - Malay Festival of Arts competing for the attention of artsgoers. In that vein, he does not think the Singapore International Festival of Arts should be duplicating the work of existing festivals.

He says: "I think there's something for everyone, but maybe the issue is that we have to continue to communicate with more Singaporeans to allow them to cross the border, to realise that, yes, art is there as a unifying factor."

All things considered, the festival seems to have been egalitarian and careful to check the boxes across genres (dance, theatre, performance art, music), mixing the traditional with the cutting edge. It included countries whose work does not frequent Singapore as often, such as Belgium, South Africa and Iran, with big names (Berliner Ensemble and The Wooster Group) featured alongside smaller outfits and less familiar artists. It also made sure to give the marginalised a voice, such as those with mental disabilities, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and political asylum seekers.

Regular festivalgoer Jean Tsai, in her 50s, who saw 10 out of the 12 shows this year, felt "the dance category offered fewer choices than in the past and the works were not as spectacular".

But the marketing consultant felt the curatorial direction was strong: "The selection of performances brought us back to the earlier years of the festival, which put on cutting-edge works by excellent companies. We're getting, for example, one of the biggies of theatre, The Wooster Group, which was never seen here before."

New York-based The Wooster Group's Cry, Trojans! was one of several works that severely divided audience members. Dozens walked out during intermissions, while others stayed to wrestle with its content. Festival opener Facing Goya, which Ong directed, was also a polarising work.

"The less said, the better," the Wall Street Journal wrote after the opera's Spoleto Festival debut, adding that the text was "set to stupefyingly banal music that sounded like bad Philip Glass and came to the far-from-original conclusion that the art gene cannot and should not be identified, quantified or reproduced".

The Financial Times, however, which attended the show at the Victoria Theatre, heaped high praise on the production in a five-star review, declaring that the opera "has found an entirely new level of resonance".

But even if audiences and critics differed over the presentation of a work, there was no doubt that production standards were high. Performing arts academic Charlene Rajendran, 50, caught 11 of the 12 productions and says: "The quality of the shows was good. Even if I didn't like everything I saw, they were of high professional standard and had an interesting approach to art-making."

The revamped festival's lengthier six-week run prompted remarks from some that the festival buzz had been dissipated; the creation of a Festival Village or fringe-type events running concurrently in previous years had given the festival a more obvious downtown presence. But there were others who appreciated the calmer pace of the festival, which gave them the space to watch multiple productions without missing out on others.

Ong says he was looking for a different festival model that would allow busy Singaporeans to carve out time for shows. He says: "In many older festivals that I attended, many friends would say, 'there are so many things I had to miss because I just couldn't get there'. I know that the work space of Singaporean life is very intense."

Next year, audiences' cravings for local and South-east Asian work will be satisfied with a festival edition dedicated to "Post-Empire", taking note of Singapore's former status as a British colony and dovetailing with the country's Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Ong has commissioned at least 12 productions, with about $2.5 million disbursed on home-grown work.

Those picked include dance pioneers Goh Lay Kuan and Santha Bhaskar's Bhaskars Arts Academy; comedian Kumar; the T'ang Quartet; theatre groups Cake Theatrical Productions, Teater Ekamatra, Wild Rice and Drama Box, as well as Lasalle College of the Arts, whose students will work with Wang Chong, artistic director of Beijing experimental theatre group Theatre du Reve Experimental.

Ong's own six-hour durational performance, titled The Singaporeans, a sprawling installation featuring 30 new Singapore citizens, will be part of the festival too.

Putting his own work in, he says, is similar to many European festival models such as Germany's Ruhrtriennale or France's Avignon Festival, where festival directors are often arts practitioners as well. He says: "For me, it's a good move to move towards that kind of transparency. You put yourself on the same line as all the other artists that you're curating.

"Once you put yourself in the mix, it also means that you are actually accountable. And you start to express with passion... and the passion starts to emerge in the season itself as well."

But he is quick to shift the focus away from himself, saying of this year's festival: "My main intention is to make art a part of everyday life for Singaporeans. We brought in the pinnacle of international art and whether you like or dislike it, you know you're watching different events of high quality."
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Affair with study mama a 'painful lesson' [Sep. 16th, 2014|12:48 am]
Affair with study mama a 'painful lesson' | My Paper | 我报

IT WAS a mistake right from the start, says the cabby who wants to be known only as Mr Wong.

He had agreed to this interview on condition that we do not identify him, as he is worried that the interview may set loan sharks on his trail.

A relative had written in to alert this correspondent of Mr Wong's story.

His life started to unravel after he agreed to a friend's request to be the local sponsor for a study mama and her 10-year-old son. A study mama is a foreign woman who accompanies her child during his education here.

Mr Wong, 48, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "My life is in ruins, my wife attempted suicide twice and my daughters no longer talk to me."

He sits on the cold floor in a two-room Housing Board flat he and his family have taken refuge in since December.

The family of four share two mattresses in the living room. The bedroom is used by a "kind relative" who took pity on them and allowed them to live with her without asking for any payment.

It is a far cry from their five-room HDB flat in the western part of Singapore.

Mr Wong says softly: "The loan sharks kept harassing us and I was afraid that something would happen to my daughters."

He estimates that his initial loan of $10,000 has likely grown to about $30,000, as his payments have been irregular.

Part of the loan, he claims, was given to the study mama, Ah Bing, when they were having an affair.

It started when the then 40-year-old divorcee and her son moved in with the Wong family after they came to Singapore in 2012.

As Mrs Wong was then working at a fast-food restaurant, Ah Bing offered to prepare the family's meals.

Mrs Wong says: "But you know, the woman's instinct in me told me that something wasn't quite right.

"By the time I found out, it was too late. My husband was sharing our bed with her and he had already emptied our joint bank account."

The $40,000 was money that the couple had "scrimped and saved" since the birth of their first daughter.

Mr Wong blinks rapidly to stop the tears, then says: "It was money meant for my daughters' education. But their terrible father gave it away like a fool."

He still feels that Ah Bing's move was a well-calculated one. It didn't help that he had been having frequent arguments with his wife over her shift duty hours.

"Ah Bing started by acting as the peacemaker and would advise me to be more patient," recounts Mr Wong.

Ah Bing was also caring and attentive to Mr Wong's needs, sometimes volunteering a neck massage when he returned home for his lunch breaks.

One afternoon, he came home and found Ah Bing "asleep on the sofa", clad only in a towel. She was "shocked" by his return and apologised profusely before hurrying into her room. The same scene was repeated a week later.

He looks at his wife, then says: "All I want to say is, I reacted like a normal man under that circumstance."

When Mrs Wong found out that the pair had carried on the affair "right under my nose for nearly a year, I went crazy". She tried to kill herself.

She later uncovered another secret: They were penniless and her husband had borrowed money from two loan sharks.

She tried to kill herself a second time and ended up with a warning from the police that she'd be arrested the next time.

Ah Bing had asked for $50,000, claiming that she wanted to buy a small piece of land in her home town in Chengdu, in China's Sichuan province.

She moved out two days after Mrs Wong's first suicide attempt and has since "disappeared" with her son.

There is one thing from this "painful lesson" that Mr Wong wants to share: "I hope that all married men out there will know that in the end, it isn't worth sacrificing your family for that moment of lust."

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Forget Su Doku, orgasms are better for the brain [Sep. 10th, 2013|04:00 pm]
Mirrored at Forget Su Doku, orgasms are better for the brain | Jimi Disu Blog

Two researchers in New Jersey are pioneering research into women’s orgasms. Will Pavia reports

Nan Wise worked as a sex therapist before she joined academia. She is tall and engaging; beneath the hem of her white lab coat peep a pair of knee-high leather boots. For her PhD she needed females who would lie inside a brain scanner and bring themselves to orgasm. Many women duly volunteered in the name of science, though more than occasionally, Wise stepped in herself. “I have been my own subject more times than I would like to say,” she says.

There are only two places in the world where this brave work takes place:one is in Holland, the other is the Department of Psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey. There, since 1982, Professor Barry Komisaruk has pioneered studies of women in the throes of carnal pleasure.

People often ask him why he didn’t devote his career to curing cancer. “We know virtually nothing about pleasure,” he says. “It’s important to understand how the brain produces it. What parts of the brain produce such intense pleasure, and can we use that in some way? What would that do to depression or anxiety or addiction or pain?”

Komisaruk is a solid, jovial fellow. He is 72 though he looks younger. “I guess the orgasms keep me young,” he says.

Really? “At orgasm we see a tremendous increase in the blood flow (to the brain). So my belief is it can’t be bad. It brings all the nutrients and oxygenation to the brain.”

But can it be as good for our brains as a game of Su Doku, or a vigorous crossword? “Mental exercises increase brain activity but only in relatively localised regions,” he says. “Orgasm activates the whole.” This is perhaps something for all of us to bear in mind, as we face the loss of our youth, not to mention our marbles. Put down your pencils, dear reader, and take up a more stimulating pastime.

That orgasms might stave off senility is just one of Komisaruk’s investigations. He has also discovered that the intense sensation of orgasm blocks pain — a mechanism that may also be triggered to reduce the agony of childbirth — and he has worked with paralysed women whose spines have been severed by gunshot wounds. “Their doctors told them they couldn’t have any sensation and they gave up on their sex lives.” He identified a nerve, outside the spinal cord, that was carrying sensations to their brains. However, in a white research laboratory, before a genial man in a white coat, they came to orgasm. It surprised them — and him. “It was very emotional,” he says.

He gathered the first evidence of where an orgasm occurs in a woman’s brain. He and Wise mapped the sensory pathways from the vagina and the pair studied ten women who could give themselves an orgasm merely by thinking.

We are in the brain scanning laboratory where these imaginative women reached a state of sexual ecstasy. The Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine, or fMRI scanner, is a huge white and grey beast with a circular mouth into which the volunteers are fed head first. Gregg Ferencz, a lab technician, operates it from the other side of a thick glass window in an adjacent room. “I’m the Igor,” he says.

Komisaruk began his research intovaginal stimulation in the 1960s. At the time he was working with female rats, using a new technique to listen to the neurons firing in their brains. “I tried all different kinds of stimulus. Giving them chocolate milk and water and vinegar, brushing the fur and pinching their feet. I tried vaginal stimulation too.” When he did this, using a small glass rod, the rats momentarily became paralysed and appeared insensible to pain. The pleasure seemed to block the pain.

Rats are small so the logistics of these experiments seem a little awkward to me, I say. “Well It’s a small rod,” he says.

But I think of the complaints that men have big fingers and are clumsy. I would imagine with rats it would be a lot harder.

“I can perform a very fine surgery,” he says. “People said I had magic fingers because I could elicit in rats a sexual response that others couldn’t.”

In spite of his abilities, he says that it got to the point where he had to get “a verbal report. I figured that the only way I’m going to know for sure is by asking women”.

His fellow academics formed a delegation and protested that Komisaruk would give the institute a bad name. Investigating the sexual peccadilloes of monkeys or pigeons was science, doing the same thing with women was a scandal. The director of faculty rebuffed them. “He said it was academic freedom.”

They may, in any case, have underestimated his determination. In the late 1970s, Komisaruk’s wife developed breast cancer. “She was in such terrible pain,” he says. “I thought: ‘What am I screwing around with stuff that’s so theoretical? Do something useful. Focus on the pain-blocking action’.” She died in 1982: the year he began his work with women.

Beverly Whipple, who had just co-authored The G Spot and Other Discoveries about Human Sexuality, came to study with Komisaruk. “She had a lot of contact with the women who she had studied for the G Spot book, and that was how we got our first subjects,” he says.

Wise did her bit too, although she has now stopped “donating” her own orgasms. “I’m retired from active duty here.” She thinks that women volunteer “almost as a sexual empowerment thing”, making T-shirts that declare: “I donated an orgasm to science”.

Still the bare room, the narrowness of the tube in which they must lie, the presence of the scientists in lab coats does not seem remotely sexy unless you are into that sort of thing. Plus, the volunteers must be extremely still, like Victorian women dreaming of England, as the slightest movement can render the brain scan useless.

To smooth the progress of science, Komisaruk began designing dildos, heating plastic tubes in his oven at home and bending them into different shapes. I ask to see one and he produces a translucent plastic rod, bent at one end.

While the women climax, the fMRI scanner measures the blood flow in their brains and produces matrices of numbers. On the wall of Komisaruk’s office hangs a brightly coloured rendering of one set of results, showing increasing activity in every region of the brain in shades that brighten from red to yellow until the point of orgasm when everything is illuminated.

“That’s my brain,” Wise says.

The actual business of comparing brain with brain requires a lot of drudge work, however. “The thing that most surprised me is how different each brain is,” Wise says.

The Times’ photographer, arrives to take their portraits. “Are you learning a lot?” he asks me. “Will the girlfriend be happy?”

I don’t know how applicable it is, I say.


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Straits Times on Megachurches [Jan. 16th, 2013|12:38 am]
(because as usual their website is hopeless)

14th January 2013
Many from working class: Study

In contrast, members of mainline churches tend to be from middle class

MEMBERS of megachurches tend to be from working-class or lower middle-class backgrounds, a large-scale study of Christians here suggests.

It found that younger members of these churches, those aged 29 and below, tend to come from less privileged and non-English-speaking backgrounds, and live in public housing.

Megachurches in Singapore are commonly understood to comprise New Creation, City Harvest, Faith Community Baptist Church and The Lighthouse.

In contrast, members of mainline Anglican and Methodist churches, as well as independent churches, tend to have middle-class backgrounds.

Responses from some 2,660 Christians across 24 churches were analysed for the study.

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Straits Times on Singles [Jan. 6th, 2013|11:29 pm]
Why she's still single
Jan 05, 2013

SHE hopes to get married at the age of 30 and to start having children at 32.

But Miss Zoe Teh, 29, a graduate from the Singapore Management University, has been single for the past two years.

The owner of Thumbelina, a nail parlour in Bukit Timah, puts it down to the difficulty she faces meeting new people.

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An Atheist on Judgement Day [Jul. 31st, 2012|02:18 pm]
An Atheist on Judgement Day
by Adrian Barnett

The line seemed to stretch back forever. Hundreds of millions of souls, waiting patiently for their turn before the throne. The date... Well, the day is Judgment Day, so you won't find it on any calendar. The queue of people winds its way down the mountain, through the valley and off into the far distance. Everybody in the queue can see the final destination at the mountain peak. A hundred miles away, they can see it perfectly clearly. And they wait, moving forward a couple of steps at a time. Towards God, and the Decision.

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