Melina Waldo (right) noticed that her 19-year-old son had recently become rather distant. “I wondered what could be wrong with Craig,” she recalled. His grades were fine, so whatever it was, it probably wasn’t college-related.
She called her three daughters – Craig’s older sisters – who were then living together in Connecticut, and whom Craig had recently visited during a school break. Speaking to her eldest daughter, she asked: “Is he OK? Something has to be wrong.”
Her daughter said he was fine, but Melina wasn’t convinced.
“Is Catherine pregnant?” she asked. Catherine was Craig’s girlfriend (or so she thought). Continue reading ‘A mother’s job’
The above picture is of four women flanking a man in the centre. The women – constituting two life-long couples – were about to share their life stories at a workshop in Phnom Penh recently with about 34 gay activists from Cambodia’s Asean neighbours in the room (and about 50-60 more Cambodians).
I was among them, and I’m almost sure most of the Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) activists found it hard to see these women, hailing from the deep provinces of Cambodia, as “one of us”.
Continue reading ‘Love and survival through Khmer Rouge years’
Listen to this audio (only 1 minute 41 secs). A pastor tells this flock that when they see a limp wrist in their sons, they should “crack that wrist”.
“Give him a good punch,” he adds.
Called “a horrific anti-gay tirade”, it was featured on the Huffington Post, 1 May 2012. The recording was originally publicised (provided?) by Jeremy Hooper of the blog Good as You. The voice in it is said to be that of Sean Harris (pic at right), a pastor at Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, in North Carolina.
Harris is heard endorsing the use of physical force on boys if they show any sign of effeminate behaviour.
Continue reading ‘Pastor heard telling dads to strike sons’
Minister for Transport Lui Tuck Yew has told Singaporeans that regular temporary closures of the metro system will be the new norm. Shutdowns will occur on weekends for maintenance and reconstruction.
As Singapore’s metro system ages, such work will become inescapable.
Lui has promised that careful planning will go into these planned shutdowns, yet something tells me they are going to go about it with tunnel vision (double entendre intended). They are likely to focus mainly on providing signs and bridging shuttle bus services to move passengers through the disrupted sections. Your typical Sunday outing will soon look like this:
You will get annoyed. Nobody likes to make a five-segment journey, even if you have been notified in advance.
Continue reading ‘Time to demote some gods from the altar’
It’s getting to the point where if you find homosexuality offensive and do not wish to be “confronted” with it, you’re going to need to withdraw from the modern world. For example, there’ll be films and music videos that fill the entertainment pages that you can’t watch. If your friends talk about them over dinner, you can’t participate.
Two films with big advertising budgets now playing in Singapore cinemas will be off your list because they contain homosexual characters. One may not be such a great loss, it being rather mediocre, but if you for ideological reasons cannot watch the better of the two (and far better), then it’s your loss.
The mediocre one is J Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and rated M18 by the Media Development Authority (MDA) on account of “some homosexual content”.
Continue reading ‘Playing gay and the new normal’
Edge.org has an article in which Mark Pagel (right) presents a fresh and intriguing view of human evolution. Like all scientific work, he also speculates, if not quite predicts, that humans have reached a point beyond which we are possibly going to get more stupid — thus the title Infinite Stupidity.
Readers are advised to first read it or view the video before returning here.
In a nutshell, Pagel argues that with the emergence of homo sapiens on this planet, a process of evolution through cultural selection of ideas has become the main driver of change, taking over from the antecedent evolution through natural selection of genes. He also argues that the former has many of the same characteristics as the latter.
Continue reading ‘Homo imitato’
A short distance from our lunch table, a publicity event was going on. There was a stand with posters and several volunteers handing out flyers. Not many passers-by showed interest, but if a family had a toddler in tow, they would be compelled to stop, for one volunteer was holding a bunch of balloons and the kid would invariably want one, two or better yet, three.
What is it about balloons that small children find irresistible? I figured it was gravity.
Continue reading ‘Along came balloons’
In a throwback to the “Nation-building” age — has it ever ended? — the Straits Times headline of Wednesday, 9 November 2011 spoke of new ways to teach students morals/values/ethics, using the three terms interchangeably. Science, maths and English language teachers will be roped in to do the job, announced the Ministry of Education. A new Character and Citizenship Education branch has been set up at the ministry to oversee the effort, adding more catchwords to the already hazy concept.
Like so much spoken and written about morals/values/ethics/character/citizenship, much space was given over to “how we shall do this better”, with next to no debate about what exactly we mean by morals/values/ethics/character/citizenship. People who get on a soapbox about these things tend to assume that everybody else shares the same understanding of the matter. They also tend to assume that most of the time, the “right” morals/values/ethics and character/citizenship behaviour can be prescribed. That being the case, it’s just a matter of mechanics as to how we can get young people to imbibe them. And that was exactly the sense I got from the news report — an entire conference devoted to the mechanics.
Continue reading ‘Moral education likely to end up as immoral indoctrination’
This essay was written in February 2000 (11 and a half years ago) and published in the old Yawning Bread website. A comment-maker in the previous article was possibly referring to it in his comment, and for convenience, I am republishing it here.
I saw a man blow his nose, but the mucus just strung out, suspended half the distance from nose to ground. He was only a metre away from me having lunch at a coffeeshop. For an interminable one and a half seconds, I was confronted with this disgusting sight; time enough for me to retch up this essay about “Asian Values”.
Spitting and nose-blowing on public streets are habits that represent total disregard for the public domain. They are at the same time, among the more venerable traditions of the Chinese, yet they are never included in the package labelled “Asian Values”.
Continue reading ‘I saw a man blow his nose and Asian Values came out – republish’
Most Singaporeans will not have much idea of the economics of the foreign worker recruiting system, since our daily lives are far removed from this issue. What I can’t figure out is whether civil servants at the Ministry of Manpower know much about it. If they don’t, the question would be: But isn’t it part of your job to know? If they do, then: How have you managed to ignore the injustices, and social and economic consequences of such a dysfunctional system for so long?
This post will attempt to explain the typical path taken by male migrant workers to a job in Singapore, with a focus on money flows and consequential effects. It’s a summary of what I have learnt over the past few months talking to migrant workers and civil society experts on the matter. You will probably find it disturbing to see how loaded the dice is against the poor.
Continue reading ‘Labour churning has economic and social costs’