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Archived Posts for May 2004

Please note: The posts on this page are at least 3 years old. Links may be broken, information may be out of date, and the views expressed in the posts may no longer be held.
May 04

Another day…

… another year.

May 04

More on the Barker St murders

Ram Puneet Tiwary, the “sleeping flatmate” of the two Singaporeans murdered last year on Barker St has been refused bail. Tiwary is himself a Singaporean. What I find vindicating, is that when the murders were reported in Singapore, the media there were up in arms and many Singaporeans questioned the safety of sending children to study in Australia. How ironic it is that it’s a Singaporean who could be responsible for the murders.

Bright Lights

Denise linked to this article which has a blurb saying, “People move to Sydney seeking fortune and opportunity in the bright lights. But many leave despondent, friendless and fed up with living a shallow existence.”

I found it peculiar to read Sydney being described as a “hard city”, full of superficiality, materialism and hard knocks. After all, Sydney is still Australian, and the Aussie lifestyle is generally laid back and less rushed than most other industrialised countries. Shops still close at 5pm.

I haven’t spent a significant amount of time in a foreign city, but I would say that Sydney doesn’t approach anywhere near the “hardness” of other “global cities”. New York, for instance, emasculates Sydney in terms of this. Property prices are extreme, people there are snappy, and it’s a pretty intimidating city that unmistakeably means business. A friend who attended Columbia Uni there told me of how when he first moved to NY, he had to rent out a small one-bedroom apartment while waiting for campus accommodation. He shared the apartment with a friend, paying US$700/mo for a hole in a ghetto area.

Even Singapore, which is smaller than Sydney, projects a “harder” lifestyle. Life is faster, people stress more, and status is a key part of society. Singaporeans ooze materialism. Few Sydney-siders would brazenly ask questions like “How much do you earn?” and “Is your family rich?” to people they’ve just met. There’s even an age old apothegm there which dictates what every Singaporean needs, called the “5 Cs”: credit card, cash, car, condominium and country club membership. (Well, that’s actually 7 Cs, but who’s counting?) There’s superficiality for you, and it’s a product of the city’s culture.

Judging how friendly a city is can be misleading. You only meet a handful of people when you’re in a city, and you have good and bad days. Although the article claims it’s hard to make friends in Sydney, Sydney proved it could be friendly during the Olympics. A small city isn’t necessarily friendly. Another friend claimed that Adelaide, which is really just a really big country town, “freaked him out” because the people there were pretty rude. I didn’t find that the case. But then again, I found Parisiennes helpful and the Swiss obnoxious. It’s just a matter of personal experience.

One overriding factor is that you’re normally going to feel more at ease in a city you’ve grown up in. If you’ve moved from another city, then you’ll feel more comfortable with people who have also come from your home city. You grow up feeling attached to a city’s character. The densely packed crowds and constant hustle and bustle of activity in Hong Kong is an endearing part of the city for its residents. It’s something they’ve got used to, and Honkies who have moved to Sydney may understandably find the relative quiet here quite boring. Conversely, the opposite is true.

However, I would agree that Sydney is probably becoming more materialistic and consumerism is more pervasive. Fashion is a bigger issue than it was ten years ago. Cuisine here has blossomed. Perhaps it’s just the natural process of a city becoming more “global”, and thus by extension, more “globally aware”. I love Sydney, but that’s not a revelationary statement coming from a Sydney-sider.

(Shrapnel, I know you’ve been in Sydney for a few months now – how do you find it compared to Vancouver?)

The Day After Tomorrow

I love global disaster flicks and what-if scenarios. This is a good disaster flick. The computer graphics are gorgeous and the action is enough to keep the interest levels up. Nothing like seeing twisters ravage LA, or a tsunami decimate NYC.

Its most frequent criticism is that it is sorely lacking scientific accuracy, but you’d have to be in a real bad mood to rubbish the film completely because of this. Sure, climate change takes years to happen, but that wouldn’t make for a very exciting movie, would it? (Anyway, like any decent scientific-movie-with-a-message, it spawns a lot of magazine articles and web posts from people scrambling to point out the inaccuracies and thus people learn the “truth” anyway.)

From what I understand, it surprised me to discover that technically, we currently are in an ice age. An ice age is a long-term period where there is a decrease in the overall global temperature. Within an ice age, however, there are periods (called glacial periods) where sharper temperature fluctuations cause glaciation – where the polar caps expand over the continental landmasses, like in the movie. We’re in an interglacial period now. The Wikipedia has more info if you’re interested.

May 04
May 04
May 04

Sickness sets in

Starting to get sick again. Feels like a frog has crawled into my throat and died there. And the stores are shut so I can’t get to my magical sore throat panacea.

Three and a half weeks until exams. Less than a week to enjoy still being 22!

  10:49pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Life  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
May 04
May 04
May 04
May 04


Enterprise back for a fourth season? I must say, the latest Xindi story arc (time paradoxes aside) is pretty damn good. They’ve really kicked Enterprise up a couple notches recently.

  7:46pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Star Trek  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
May 04

The Apprentice

This series is excellent (Ch 9, 9.30pm, Mondays). Two teams (initially 8 men and 8 women) face off with business-oriented challenges. The losing team has one member fired. The last person standing gets to run one of Donald Trump’s businesses. The first week’s challenge was selling lemonade. The second week was to design an advertising campaign for lear jets. This week involved a haggling exercise to buy all items on the list for the cheapest price possible. The male team has lost all three challenges and is down to five people, but at least they’ve finally canned Sam, who was a bit of a wanker.

(And yes, I am aware that this series has already finished running in the US.)

Black Out

This is an interesting concept for a restaurant. Could get messy though. Not to mention that dinner conversation would be a little weird.

Don’t waste your little black dress on this venue. At Australia’s first restaurant/bar in total darkness, you aren’t going to light anyone’s fire.

Black Out opens today, Friday the 13th, in St Kilda Road, and the A-list guests shouldn’t worry about any hideous zits rivalling Mount Etna. But deodorant is recommended because when you lose one sense, others are heightened.

That is the aim of Black Out. It sounds like a gimmick but there is an underlying altruistic intention. Without sight, the remaining senses are rewired to savour the smell and taste of food, and focus on conversation and sensation. Bibs are worn to catch errant mouthfuls while the uber-cool Buddha Bar music plays.

Link to article. No blind date puns please. Thanks Grace.

  10:38pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Food  •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment  • 
May 04


We’ve been gradually whittling away at Sydney’s three-hat restaurants, and last Saturday we went to Marque, on Crown St in Surry Hills. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Marque is easily the weakest of the three hatters (and I haven’t even been to Claude’s yet). It’s a new entry into the top tier of restaurants for this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see it drop one hat in 2005.

Marque is a very small restaurant, but its interior is quite pleasant. Lighting wasn’t dim and the seats were comfortable although the seating area was fairly cramped. I had a seat right next to the door which was not that pleasant – it was a windy night and I caught a blast of air in the face every time someone walked through it. The bathrooms were poorly maintained, which is an issue because over the course of a five hour meal with alcohol, you’re bound to make several trips to the toilet. The toilet seats wouldn’t stay up, and they also ran out of hand drying towels which meant you either had to walk out with wet hands or resort to using toilet paper!

The service was quite formal but passable. I do prefer a bit more personality in waitstaff. A few friendly smiles would have been nice. (Rockpool was an excellent example of this, where waitstaff were all too willing to join into a conversation with a snappy joke or two, and of course I am still amazed that they took the initiative to inquire whether I wanted a group photo when I merely put the camera down on the table.) Marque, because it’s so small, is a very noisy restaurant and sometimes it was hard to get a waitstaff’s attention. Their introductions of each dish were abrupt, and often not heard by half the table over the din.

The 8-course degustation menu was $125 (plus $65 for optional matching wines). The food was a bit of a hit and miss affair. Servings were consistently miniscule (even for a fine dining restaurant!). Three consecutive fish dishes were served (a raw cut of salmon, red emperor and I think some snapper which was pretty similar to the red emperor) and we were left wondering if there was any meat on the menu. After a dish of sweetbread (I don’t regard internal organs as meat), it eventually came – some duck served with licorice, which was excellent, even though I normally don’t like licorice. They also seemed to have a peculiar fascination with froth, which just wasn’t my thing. All in all, okay, but I really didn’t think it was in the same league as the other three-hatters.

Photos here


I notice all the “reviews” of this movie on chicks’ blogs are singularly minded. Of course, I have no wish nor intent on pausing to consider the attractiveness of Brad Pitt in a skirt (although damn, those armies were the most masculine display of men in skirts that I’ve seen since Braveheart – I didn’t even realise the fact until a fair way into the movie).

The battle scenes were fantastic, and the face-off between Archilles and Hector was very good to watch. Troy’s a pretty good movie if you decide to jettison any notion that it was meant to be based on Homer’s classic work of literature. It was a pretty big bastardisation of the Iliad.

Paris should have died. He did die in the book. But for some reason, Orlando Bloom lives. That was annoying.

May 04
May 04


E3 opened yesterday in the States. Lots expected. Fuzzy’ll probably put up all the interesting links. (Happy Birthday btw!)

May 04


I have so much piling up right now that insanity is just a few short steps away. It’s crap having to turn opportunities down because of lack of time.

What’s that tune?

Can anyone tell me what the tune is on the Pepsi Max ad where a bunch of people jump in a dumpster, go tearing down the street, off a wharf and into Sydney harbour and go rafting? It sounds like it’s from an old tv series, but I’m not sure what… And while we’re on the topic of ads, that new Nike soccer ad is pretty cool, especially the bit where Ronaldinho gets taken out by the ref at the end.

  10:28pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Music  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (3)  • 
May 04

Van Helsing

I really really liked Van Helsing. Great fun. The scenery was excellent, the music score was different but cool, the action was always there and Kate Beckinsale was in it.

May 04

Unintentional call of the month

A few friends went to CeBIT yesterday. I wasn’t there, this is a second hand account. They came across the Samsung stand, where they were instantly attracted to the massive 80 inch plasma screen they had on display there. So after a few seconds of gawking at the screen, the Samsung sales girl/booth babe comes up to them to give a spiel.

Him: Wow! This thing is huge!
Her: Yes, you’re looking at the world’s only plasma screen that’s this size.
Him: Really? How big is it?
Her: 80 inches.
Him: Oh, that’s just a couple inches shorter than I am!

There is a brief silence, before he realises his misstep. This is immediately followed by the ruckus of the guys standing behind them absolutely pissing themselves with laughter. Sales girl not impressed.

  6:30pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Computing  •  Tweet This  •  Comments (1)  • 
May 04


Pointless Fact of the Day:

The longest words in the English language (or my dictionary, at least) made up of unique letters are dermatoglyphics and uncopyrightable.

And in the process of trying to find a definition for dermatoglyphics, I came across this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unusual_English_words

– Shish

Thanks Shish. Also, here’s a resource all lawyers should use.

May 04

Gmail Idea

Someone should write a little piece of modding software so that “mailto:” links on web sites, instead of opening up a “new message” box in Outlook (or whatever email program you use), will link you to a Compose Mail page for Gmail.

Backbench Issue 6

After a pretty long bludge period, Issue 6 of the Backbench is now online. Bigger and (hopefully) better than before.

Does anyone here draw cartoons by any chance? We could use a good cartoonist.

The Memory Hole

Similar in flavour to The Smoking Gun, The Memory Hole has some excellent archives, including photos from the recent atrocities inflicted on Iraqi prisoners by Coalition soldiers.

May 04

Not Happy

My web host disabled command line PHP, which means all my cron jobs which are PHP scripts now have to be rewritten.

May 04


I made a commitment never to watch anymore horror or shock thriller flicks. I think that paying money so that I can sit for two hours in stress and fear, followed by not being able to sleep due to a hyperactive imagination and a suddenly enhanced sense of hearing, is something horribly wrong in principle. It’s worse in summer when you’re left with the predicament between sweating it out under the covers, or leaving your body parts exposed in the open to cool, but very much vulnerable to monsters.

Unfortunately my will is weak. I succumbed to peer pressure and went to see Gothika. It’s pretty funny when something shocking happens and you see absolutely everyone in front of you in the cinema jolt. Except that the humour in the moment is lost because your heart has momentarily stopped and you’re busy trying to peel it off the ceiling. Gothika is filled with more things that shock than disturb. The disturbing scenes are the things that stick around in your mind. Like that bizarre jerky walking motion the ghost has. Or seeing someone in the rear view mirror who shouldn’t be there. Joyce had to drive home alone at about 2am. I bet you she had the radio on full blast.

The movie sucked, by the way.

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