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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Friday, May 30, 2008

To be versed in history is to cease to be Protestant.

So wrote the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman.

The following are the collated posts of a good friend's response to a video of young Catholics yelling, shouting, screaming on top of their lungs during a so-called "Prayer and Worship" (PnW) outside Mass:

Names have been removed.

If you find Protestant forms of worship spiritually inspiring, well and good.

Just don't try and call it Catholic. Be intellectually honest.

There is an old saying - lex orandi, lex credendi. "The law of prayer is the law of belief." The way you pray is the way you believe. Pray and jump about like Protestants, and you will believe as Protestants.

If one finds that one's prayer life is best expressed and edified using forms of prayer that were invented and developed outside of the Church, outside Sacred Tradition, and hence outside the guidance of the Holy Spirit, perhaps one might do well to reflect if one really belongs in the Church.

It's about being intellectually honest - to oneself and to God. If you need to ask, "What exactly is not "Catholic" about this video?", then the answer is — everything. If you claim to be Catholics, start acting like Catholics. This video is nothing more than Catholics (allegedly) behaving and worshipping as Protestants.

Why label the video as Catholic or Protestant? Intellectual honesty. There are people claiming this as Catholic.

It's quite simple. Take, for example, the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, composed entirely of ethnic chinese. They play mostly Western classical music, on exclusively Western classical instruments, dressed in Western clothes. Their genre is Western, not Chinese. it would be intellectually dishonest to call them a Chinese Classical Orchestra when they play Mozart, even though they're ethnically Chinese.

Likewise, even if the people in this video are Roman Catholics, their tone is Protestant, their attitude is Protestant, their form of worship is Protestant. Therefore, what's happening is Protestant.

Certainly there are things in non-Catholic religions that Catholics can learn from. However, Protestantism is a degenerate heresy of Christianity, and is the product of schism. The father is schism is the Devil, and nothing good can come out of something inspired by the Devil.

The Charismatic movement began outside the Church — outside the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Churches, which are the only bodies to keep the Apostolic Succession and keep the majority of the Apostolic Faith. Only the Apostolic Churches have anything close to the fullness of the faith — the Protestants do not come close. There is nothing good or admirable that the Protestants have in their faith and worship which is not derived from us: all else is error and darkness. If the Charismatic movement is such an essential and wonderful gift, why did it not arise within the bodies which have the Sacraments, which are how the Holy Spirit works?

I believe I hardly need remind all those taking part in this discussion that Protestantism is not a Church, but only a multiplicity of heretical sects. Where the Sacraments are, there is the Church. Following the practices, ethos and scriptural misinterpretation of those outside the Church is a sin against the first commandment.

All I do is state what the Church teaches. This is not what *I* have decided, but what the Church, in her wisdom, guided by the Holy Spirit, has taught unchangingly since the earliest days. This is a solemn teaching of the Magisterium, and those who differ, do so at the peril of their immortal souls.

The fullness of the Holy Spirit may be definitely found within the Church — outside, we cannot be certain. to seek and receive blessings from those outside the Church (as Protestants are), is a sin against faith and against the first commandment. Saint Basil the Great points out that the "blessings' of heretics are not blessings, but rather follies" ("ou eulogia all' alogia"). As the "Catholic" Charismatic movement began with some Catholics seeking to "receive" a "blessing" from those outside the Church, it thus springs from a sin against the first commandment.

This is fraternal correction, not a generalisation or judgement. We haven't called anyone here demoniacs or heretics. The use of the term "heretics" in reference to Protestants is nothing more than the plain and simple truth, an objective statement made without derision or rancour. You're a university student — who should be able to read a text objectively, paying attention to what the writer actually says, and not what the reader thinks the writer is saying. You should also be able to understand that precise terminology and categorisation is necessary for any sort of philosophical discussion, and that these serve to clarify and structure. Clarification and structuring is not derision or judging, merely a prelude to being able to discuss things objectively. Objective discussion is impossible if the parties involved cannot agree on the definition of terms.

All I am doing is pointing out that the event here filmed is not a Catholic act of worship. I haven't generalised or judged anyone. No name-calling has occured. No generalisation has occured — I have been nothing but precise and to the point, and it is you who have been fudging the issue. I've answered every single one of your questions with step-by-step explanations, and you've ignored all of them, preferring instead to accuse us of name-calling and generalisations and lack of love. Our act of correcting you is fraternal charity that springs from love. You asked questions, I answered them point by point, and you now scream, "Inquisition!" and refuse to carry on the thread, calling for "tolerance, love and understanding." There is to be no tolerance for error, for error has no rights.

Back to [the] first point, "Catholic" does NOT mean universal and all-embracing. It's from the Greek, "kath' holou," meaning, "according to the whole." The Church is therefore not "kath' hekastou" (according to the individual), but rather, "kath' holou" (according to the understanding of all within her unity). This, "all within her unity," includes all the past generations of believers before us.

Your question, "How do you best express your love and adore him?", is answered simply — "In the way countless generations of saints have expressed it before us." It's not a matter of, "Oh, it's not for me," or, "Oh, this is for me." We are to worship God in the way God wishes. If one feels that the way of worship, which God through the Church has decreed, is lacking, and one needs a boost from ways of worship formulated by heretics, then the problem lies not with the Church's way of worship, but with one's own attitudes. We are to conform our attitudes to that of the Church, not the other way around.

_____ has made a very relevant point with his statement that this PnW [Prayer and Worship] stuff isn't done in Britain and he misses it very much. This Protestant, clearly un-Catholic import has obviously become like an addictive and poisonous drug. Worship is not a matter of feel-good highs.

No, a Catholic cannot worship God in a Protestant, nor in a Hindu, nor a Buddhist, nor a Taoist fashion.

It is not about *my * worship being more correct than anyone else's. It's about what the Church herself teaches, which _____ and you appear not to grasp.

If you think my comment about knowing what "Catholic" really means was pompous, I am sorry for you. If you, professing yourself a Catholic, say you can't say what being Catholic really means, I suggest you learn.

If you think the video "in no way suggests that these people are doing something that is either 'Catholic' or 'Protestant' — these people are simply worshipping God," then perhaps I ought to label a Nyingmapa Tantric Buddhist initiation video as "Catholic," and if anyone objects that the video is of Buddhist ceremonies, I should answer that it "in no way suggests that these people are doing something that is either "Catholic" or "Buddhist" — "these people are simply worshipping God."

Your statement, "as if the way in which one sings or moves or praises defines his religious orientation!" is very strange. Try telling the Mahometans that they can offer incense sticks, chant prayers in Sanskrit, blow trumpets, spin prayer wheels, and still remain Mahometans. Try telling Baptists that they can sing Gregorian chant, light candles, wear vestments and have processions with statues/icons and crosses and still remain Baptists. Historically, members of the Apostolic Churches have been distinctly identifiable by the way they sing, move and praise. While you are certainly right that these externals do not define the religious orientation per se, perhaps you might agree that it is the religious orientation that defines the way one sings, moves and praises, in which case, perhaps Catholics might start behaving and thinking like Catholics.

As for an "insidious slide from dialogue to debate to discrimination" — dialogue was attempted, and _____ ignored the reply. No debate then ensued. regarding the point about discrimination — "discrimination," means the act of being able to clearly identify and separate right from wrong. I believe what you are trying to accuse us of is "unfair discrimination," but what unfair discrimination has occured? It is no unfair discrimination to discount Protestant views. It is no unfair discrimination to say that Protestants have no right to comment on matters of faith and worship of the Church. It is no unfair discrimination to say that the worship styles and ideas of Protestants are inferior to those which the Teaching Authority of the Church, undoubtedly guided by the Holy Spirit (whether Protestants have the Holy Spirit is debatable and to believe they certainly have it is also heresy), has seen fit to prescribe for the salvation of souls.

Christ prayed "that they might all be one," but in Truth, not through the fudging of error. Let God judge? That's exactly what we do when we let the Church, which speaks for God, judge. He who hears the Church, hears God. yes, the CCC says that Protestants are fellow Christians, but it does not dispute that they nevertheless remain heretics. just as we are called to hate sin but love the sinner, likewise we should love Protestants, but we cannot remain indifferent to the heresies and errors of Protestantism, and recognise that Protestant ideas are dangerous heresy. No need to talk till kingdom come — this is not about us arguing on an intellectual basis. This is about what the Church solemnly teaches, and it is either for us to accept it humbly (even if we don't understand it) or leave.

Those of us defending Tradition speak not for ourselves, but for the Church. The rest appear to prefer individualism to Catholicism.

A form of worship certainly does define a person's religious orientation. This is what the Church has always taught, a teaching that has become muddled and confused in the last 40 or so years within the Roman Catholic Church (fortunately the Eastern Catholics and Orthodox have been spared this confusion), with the result that many Roman Catholics, such as yourself, do not see the inherent schizophrenia of believing in one religion and worshipping like members of another.

[I]t *is* important that Roman Catholics of today learn more about their own traditions.

Roman Catholic "culture" is many things: music, literature, spirituality, art, architecture, Every Roman Catholic has a duty to learn as much about these things and pass them on to the next generation. The Jews are fiercely loyal to the Hebrew language and Jewish sacred music, taking pride that all their children are taught to pronounce their sacred language. Mahometans who are not able to pronounce Arabic or pray the basic obligatory prayers in Arabic will admit so with shame. Hindus all over the world take pride in building temples in ancient style, praying in Sanskrit as their forefathers did, and rejoicing in the antiquity of their rites.

Eastern Catholics and Orthodox take great care in being able to pray and sing the traditional chants of the services in the liturgical languages of their churches, be it Koine Greek, Church-Slavonic, Romanian, Aramaic even Arabic; and zealously pass on the entire culture and mindset of their religion. To take a personal example, _____ and I are of the Byzantine Church — we take delight in learning the prayers and chants in Greek, Church Slavonic, Romanian, English and various other languages, as well as about our traditions. We would be aghast if someone suggested we attempted to learn to worship as Roman Catholics before we learned to worship in our own tradition.

In contrast, how many Roman Catholics here can honestly say they know even the, Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, in Latin? Gregorian Chant inspired composers for over a thousand years — can any of you sing the Creed, the Gloria, the Kyrie, the Sanctus or Agnus Dei, to any traditional melody, in any language?

The Roman Church was largely what kept knowledge of the Latin language through the Middle Ages; it produced the gems of sacred music and art; it civilised the last barbarian tribes of the West and gave them law and order. In the last 40 years, there has been a movement to trash and forget all these things. Brothers and sisters, these things are your heritage. To take but one example, the Roman Church produced so much glorious sacred music, ranging from Gregorian Chant to Mozart. Most of this is rarely heard within Roman Catholic churches, far more frequently without, with the knowledge, love and performance of it kept up by non-Catholics. More than one conductor of Renaissance sacred music has commented that if it were left to the Roman Catholic Church, these treasures would have been lost to humanity, and that the Roman Catholic Church is not a fit guardian of these priceless heirlooms of human culture, nor is she to be trusted to preserve these for future generations. For shame!

If you speak of the need to be charitable and love Protestants and Protestant things, I would urge you that charity and love begin at home — you must first learn to know and love Catholicism in its historical reality and Catholic things.

The Church is not comprised primarily of the clergy, with the laity being the stragglers. We cannot say, "It is the duty of the clergy to lead us and teach us," and claim ignorance. The Church is every single one of us, and every time any of us are lax in learning about our traditions, we collaborate in their destruction. Already since the 1960s, so much tradition has been lost in the Roman Church due to cultural vandalism by her own believers. Please, if not for yourselves, but for the richness and diversity of human culture — do not be the generation in which Roman Catholic culture is lost.


I am asking for people to realize that dialogue will be a waste of time if one of the two partners to the dialogue states beforehand that one idea is as good as the other.
         (Marcello Pera)

You and I are of a single mind in rejecting a pacifism that does not recognize that some values are worthy of being defended and that assigns the same value to everything. To be in favor of peace on such a basis would signify anarchy, which is blind to the foundations of freedom. Because if everyone is right, no one is right.
         (Pope Benedictus XVI, in a letter to Marcello Pera)

For all the "Feelings, nothing more than feelings" emos

Anyone who denies the law of non-contradiction should be beaten and burned until he admits that to be beaten is not the same as not to be beaten, and to be burned is not the same as not to be burned.

Feelings, wo-o-o feelings!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Curry surprise

After riding all night, this is not the kind of gastronomical treat one expects upon settling down for dinner at 5 AM. Yes, 5 AM. The only meal I had before this was breakfast. If anyone talks to me about (religious) fasting now, I'm gonna go religious on his friggin' numbskull with my Craftsman 1/2" Flex Ratchet aka Breaker bar of Gawd and grant him religious visions which rival Joseph Smith, Jr.'s.

Oh, I'm sorry! Yes, back to the gastronomical treat. I think it's terribly sneaky to fill 1/2 a can with chicken bones; 1/4 with chicken skin; 1/8 with a quarter potato; fill whatever remaining space there is with bits of unidentifiable flesh and gravy; and call it a can of "Premium Chicken Curry."

You just can't pressure-cook a pile of bones and honestly expect to pass them off as meat. This stuff looks like roadkill scraped off the road and tastes worse. Not even stray dogs in SAF camps will go near this. Perhaps someone at Yeo's marketing department slipped up and marketed animal-repellant as food?

I never thought this was possible, but this crap actually makes the overpriced pig-swill at Rail Mall seem palatable.

PETA-folks (Please Eat Tasty Animals), don't gloat. Fruits and vegetables have their own surprises too.


Oww, I don't feel so bad now.

(After reading this post,) NicIz2HardKore wrote:

reminds me
it seems they stopped using chicken thighs
or drumsticks
i bought half a carton
and all 12 cans had chicken breasts ONLY

:-P   :-P   :-P

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Anything to breed, eh?

An excerpt from a Straits Times Shitty Times article on Mother's Day, 2008. My comments within the text of the article are enclosed in brackets [ ] and in red.

Love to love you baby

No money, no kids? I'm disconcerted when materialism creeps into what should be about matters of the heart.

Radha Basu, Senior Correspondent
The Sunday Times [The Straits Times]
May 11, 2008

We have one precious shot at living, so juggling career and kids and finding joy in the journey are just the way life should be.   ["Should be"? Says who? And to who?]

[ . . . ]

My kids make me feel rich in this land of millionaires — and often make me wonder why more women here are unwilling to give motherhood a shot.   [In other words, if you aren't a millionaire and desire to feel what it is like to be one — make babies. Engage loins, disconnect brain.]

Last week, Singapore gave itself a premature Mother's Day gift when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long announced that the total fertility rate (TFR) here has crept up to 1.29, its highest since 2002.

TRFs map how many children a woman can expect to have during her child-bearing years.

Richer countries traditionally have lower TFRs. But even after the recent good cheer, Singapore's rate languishes among the lowest in the world. The United States' Central Intelligence Agency puts it a few notches below most European countries — and more than 80 notches below the world's biggest economic powerhouse, the US.

Singapore is safe and cosmopolitan, school education is free, taxes are low and we have an abundant supply of affordable and efficient domestic help.   [This sort of efficient domestic help?]

While my friends in the West struggle to change diapers, juggle feeds, cook dinner, carve out a career and bond with their kids, I can leave the domestic drudgery to my helper Judith — who has over the past seven years become a part of my family — and concentrate just on kids and career.   [Here comes the retarded East-versus-West generalization again. As if Singapore represents the East. Such pomposity! As for Juidth: lucky you! Poor Judith!]

It's a luxury, I know, that few places in the world can afford.

The Government hopes the stork will soon make more frequent appearances here. It made public a study last week that showed more people want to have kids. But will the chasm between intent and reality be bridged? I am not sure.   [Anyone noticed that "government" is capitalized here? A mere typo, you thunk?]

Surveys after all are not always foolproof. Even as the government survey signalled the potential success of Singapore's pro-baby incentives, another smaller survey, this one by the National University of Singapore, yielded very different results.

While nearly seven in 10 married people interviewed said that Singapore's pro-baby incentives would raise the TFR here, less than three in 10 said these would affect their personal decision to have a child.

Both surveys put money as a big factor influencing married folk on how many children they should have, if any at all. I have met qualified women in well-paying jobs who dismiss the thought of having kids with a cavalier, "Not enough money, lah!"

Such comments are ironic, since Singapore already has one of the highest concentrations of wealthy households in the world.

In any case, I'm disconcerted when materialism creeps into arguments that should be essentially be about matters of the heart. My husband and I were not rich when we had Rhea. But we were young. And happy. And in love.   [So were Romeo and Juliet.]

Possibly the biggest obstacle to having kids is if you don't find the right partner. Singapore is full of intelligent and educated women who are single. Referring to them, Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew said last year that maybe their having children on their own was better than them not becoming mothers at all.   [In other words, out with morals when national interests are at stake. The same thing has happened with gambling, so why not babies?]

Perhaps it's time to destigmatise single motherhood.   [Nice try, but the contextual meaning here is "promote."]

[ . . . ]

(Basu, Radha.  "Love to love you baby".  The Straits Times [Singapore] 11 May 2008:  31)

One could have a field day deconstructing this  :-P

Regarding "this land of millionaires," Madam Basu should edify herself with the Gini Index:

Despite sporting a first-world GDP per capita of $29,000 -- second only to Japan in Asia -- Singapore has an income inequality profile more in line with third-world countries.

Singapore's Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has worsened from 42.5 in 1998 to 47.2 in 2006, and is now in league with the Philippines (46.1) and Guatemala (48.3), and worse than China (44.7), data from Singapore's Household Survey and the World Bank show.

Other wealthy Asian nations such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan have more European-style Ginis of 24.9, 31.6 and 32.6.
         (De Clercq, Geert and Jacqueline Wong. "Singapore's economic boom widens income gap."  Reuters 9 Nov 2007.  13 May 2008 )

One wonders if Carol John, 27, with her three children, "feel[s] rich in this land of millionaires."

If "matters of the heart" are all that matter in bringing forth a child into the world — and "materialism" has no place in it — then why quote the total fertility rate (TFR)?  Note that Madam Basu never explained what TFR has to do with a woman's personal choice to bear a child. Perhaps the correspondent is dimly aware that TFR ultimately leads back to materialism, albeit on the macro (national) scale?

Perhaps Madam Basu should be more disconcerted that the government has crept into the utilization of her womb? Or, perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise, given past social programs regarding an individual's kidneys, liver, heart, and corneas: "'No' to being a hangar queen. Part I," and "Part II.")

Postscript — awaiting re-verification.

Related post
Within the reality distortion field
Amour propre

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday laughs


Hilariously ruining other people's pictures.

Cary has loads more here.


Ain't that the truth!

From Yehuda Moon and the Kickstand Cyclery.


Vatican gives Latin online boost

Father Reginald Foster, an American priest who is the Pope's official Latinist, praises the virtues and the clarity of the Latin language.

"You have to say something and move on," he says.

"It's not like French and some of these philosophical languages where you can write a whole page and say nothing - in Latin you can't do that!''

Sacra bleu!


Ah, nothing like a round of French bashing.
(It's so fun, the French even do it themselves!)

Here's another for the cheese-eating surrender monkeys!

It was the day after Creation, and God was admiring His handiwork.

Then the archangel, Michael, went up to Him and said, "Look at this country — France — You have created. She is perfect. The best climate, the best geography... She's got forests, lakes, beaches, great fields, meadows... Perfect for growing the best grapes to make the best wine in the world. And look at the sweet grass! It feeds the cows to produce the best cheese in the world. My LORD, You have made this country too perfectly! It is not fair to the rest..."

So God made French people...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Pinchy takes over for a day

hhi! i cant type vrey wel wid mye two big calws so heers sum piktures.,..

Related posts
A new suit of armor for Pinchy
Pinchy growls... umm, grows
Lobster dinner
Rescue me

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Varietas delectat!

I'm so amused by the latin news website, Nuntii Latini. They had to latinise Condoleeza Rice's name, but, instead of deriving it from Italian, "con dolcezza" ("with sweetness"), which would, in Latin, be, "cum dulce," they decided to latinise it to, "condolentia," which translates to, "bitter / intense sorrow / grief / suffering." [Exemplī grātiā: (1), (2).]

Gotta love these educated snarky Europeans. What a delightfully subtle and obscure (not to mention erudite) insult =p

(From Inferno Ed)

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Tagged by Constantine the Younger.

The rules

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about himself.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What was I doing 10 years ago
Learning how to handle my stick-shift around San Francisco.

Five things on my To Do List today:
1. Lubricate and re-assemble a circa 1996 Shimano RD-M950 rear deraileur.
2. Install said deraileur and tune it.
3. Go for a test ride.
4. Find some solitude.
5. Get enough sleep

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
* Take 1/3 and buy my own island-country
* Install cell phone jammers across my territory
* Invest the rest.

Three of my bad habits:
1. Suffering fools too gladly.
2. Contradicting my actions due to compassion.
3. Pushing myself too hard.

Five places I’ve lived:
1. Malaysia / Singapore
2. America
3. Indonesia (if you count long tours)
4. New Zealand (ditto)
5. Australia (ditto)

Five jobs I’ve had:
1. waiter at a bar
2. bicycle mechanic
3. dive shop staff (later, divemaster / assistant SCUBA instructor)
4. teaching assistant (TA)
5. documentation company staff

Five books I’ve recently read:
1. Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, Samuel Beckett
2. A Retreat with Gerald Manley Hopkins, S. J. and St. Hildegard of Bingen, Gloria Hutchinson
3. Hitler's Women, Guido Knopp
4. The Silent Cry, Kenzaburo Oe
5. Zinn's Cycling Primer, Lennard Zinn

The five I tagged:
1. I break rules all the time.
2. I don't do tags.
3. See 1.


Saturday, May 03, 2008

Breed! Lemmings! Breed!

There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.
         (Bertrand Russell)

A Different Kind of Homework for Singapore Students: Get a Date

Seth Mydans
New York Times
April 29, 2008

SINGAPORE — It was like a college mixer, a classroom full of young men and women seeking a recipe for romance.

They had assembled for the first class of “Love Relations for Life: A Journey of Romance, Love and Sexuality.”

There was giggling and banter among the students, but that was all part of the course as their teacher, Suki Tong, led them into the basics of dating, falling in love and staying together.

The course, in its second year at two polytechnic institutes, is the latest of many, mostly futile, campaigns by Singapore’s government to get its citizens to mate and multiply. Its popularity last year has led to talk of its expansion through the higher education system.

“We want to tell students, ‘Don’t wait until you have built up your career,’ ” said Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, the minister of state for community development, youth and sports, at a news conference in March. “Sometimes, it is too late, especially for girls.”

The courses are an extension of government matchmaking programs that try to address the twin challenges embodied in a falling birthrate: too few people are having babies, and too few of those who are belong to what Singapore considers the genetically desirable educated elite.

Over the past 25 years, the mating rituals organized by the government — tea dances, wine tastings, cooking classes, cruises, screenings of romantic movies — have been among the country’s least successful social engineering programs.

Last year Singapore’s fertility rate fell to a record low of 1.24 children per woman of childbearing age, one of the lowest in the world. It was the 28th year in a row Singapore had stayed below the rate of 2.5 children needed to maintain the population.

But even a replacement-level rate would not be enough for today’s planners. The government recently announced that it was aiming to increase the population by more than 40 percent over the next half-century, to 6.5 million from the current 4.5 million.

“Teaching our youth in school how to fall in love” is a good solution, wrote Andy Ho, a senior writer at The Straits Times, a government-friendly newspaper that does its best to help out in Singapore’s many campaigns.

In 1991, for example, when the government began offering cash bonuses to couples with more than two children, the newspaper printed tips for having sex in the back seat of a car, including directions to some of the “darkest, most secluded and most romantic spots” for parking.

It suggested covering the windows with newspapers for privacy.

Singapore is known for its campaigns of self-improvement, including efforts to get residents to be polite, to smile, to be tidy, to speak proper English and to not chew gum.

In 1984, the country’s master planner, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, declared that too few of the country’s most eligible women, those with college degrees, were marrying and having children. He set up the Social Development Unit to address the problem, and since then the government has been the country’s principal matchmaker.

In addition to its tea dances and moonlight cruises, the agency acts as a lonely hearts adviser, with an online counselor named Dr. Love and a menu of boy-meets-girl suggestions on its Web site,

“Guys, girls notice everything!” the Web site offers in one of its dating tips. “Comb your hair differently and they notice. Change your watch and they notice! Skipped your morning shower and sprayed on deodorant to cover the smell — they notice! What does this mean? Well, bathe regularly, change something about yourself, be observant, and compliment the lady.

Mr. Lee himself acknowledged how silly some of this may seem.

“Never mind the hullabaloo in the press, all the foreign correspondents writing that a crackpot government is trying to interfere in people’s lives,” he said when he inaugurated the Social Development Unit. “If we continue to reproduce ourselves in this lopsided way, we will be unable to maintain our present standards.”

In other words, said Annie Chan, director of a matchmaking agency, “Our government wants smart ladies to meet smart guys to get smart children.”

But in Singapore it is impossible to get very far from thoughts of money and the workplace. These guys may have other things on their minds besides romance and babies.

“Some people say if you’re a smart guy you should marry a smart woman who can help you with your finances and career,” said Ms. Chan, whose agency is called Club2040 and who has worked under contract for the Social Development Unit.

Singaporeans quite seriously describe their society as being driven by a local concept called kiasu, a desire not so much to get ahead as to not lose out. That concept might be applied, for example, to a person who pushes ahead of everybody else to get into an elevator.

This single-mindedness, in life as in elevators, seems to leave little room for social graces or for romance or procreation.

“The E.Q. here,” said Ms. Chan, referring to an emotional quotient of social skills, “can be appalling.”

But even while working on the solution, Ms. Chan seems to be part of the problem. She is 39 and has been married for four years, but said she did not have the time or energy to have children.

It is a lot to ask of a college course to break attitudes like this. Three 20-year-old graduates of last year’s inaugural course at Singapore Polytechnic still seemed imbued more with kiasu than romance.

Despite everything their teachers had told them about multitasking work and love, none was in a relationship. And nothing they had heard in class seemed to have dented their stereotypes about the opposite sex.

“I’m not open to relationships in school,” said Wei Shan Koh, a former student who works as a teacher’s aide. “Boys in school are not my cup of tea. They are male chauvinist pigs. They’re annoying and childish. And they won’t give in to you. They’re just not mature.”

Another former student, Tian Xi Tang, was quick to respond.

“I think girls’ ideas are a bit childish, or you might say girlie,” said Mr. Tian, who hopes to become an engineer. “It’s a matter of pride. Guys are more outspoken. We don’t like a girl to be more outspoken.

Kamal Prakash, who hopes to be a lecturer in mathematics, gave voice to what appears to be the common theme here, among both young people and their elders.

“I am not interested now in love relations because I want to continue my studies,” he said. “If I concentrate on love relations, I won’t be able to concentrate on my studies.”



Sometimes it's nice not to be normal.

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Not to be tricked
Settling. Settle. To Settle.
Obey! II
(Brownshirts) in lockstep
Why breed? II
Why breed?
Paternal Instinct

Which toilet has higher security?

Toilet in Whitley Detention Center, a high-security prison which Mas Selamat bin Kastari allegedly escaped from.

Toilet at Ah Mei Cafe's 24-hour branch at Rail Mall.

So much for correlating pay with projected job performance.

Maybe the folks at this branch of Ah Mei Cafe should be drawing multi-million dollar salaries too, you thunk?

Quin custodiet custodes ipsos?
         (Decimus Junius Juvenalis)