Friday, October 31, 2014

Letting your fingers do the talking...

As I write this, it will  be my 1,341st blog entry since I penned my first post on Oct 31, 2010. I have decided to take a long break (like Killer, to smell the roses), so any future entries will be occasional and no longer daily (yes, I have managed to do so, with the exception of vacations or illness).

I think it would be most appropriate to wax on finger gestures, starting with this one involving all the fingers and thumb:

Don't you think it is very versatile? It might be a "Hello", a "Hello, in case you don't know it, I'm alive!" (if you are being ignored), and a "Bye, bye". If waved in a back and forth horizontal circle, it says "No more!" And if you are drowning, it would be a handy gesture.

How about the thumb? It is useful for hailing a taxi or thumbing a lift. While there may be other thumb gestures, the two well-known ones are these:

One-finger gestures? This one is best used when the other guy is not bigger than you...

Earlier this year, when his fortunes were riding high, F1 driver Sebastian Vettel used this not-the-middle-finger variation of the one-finger gesture....

Sir Winston Churchill made this two-finger gesture famous:

And recently, tennis player Tommy Robredo made this gesture, known as the "2-gun salute", after he lost a match to Andy Murray...

I am told these Japanese-inspired gestures are referred to as the "kawaii" -- they are supposed to make the "gesturers" look super-cute!...

The Hunger Games' three-fingered defiant gesture inspired Thai protesters (earlier this year) to do likewise:

The only four-fingered gesture I can think of is when you need to order four coffees, get a table for four, and so forth.

You can use finger gestures to represent the Marina Bay Sands building...

Finally, Usain Bolt celebrates his victories on the running track with his famous signature pose:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

As strange as Halloween...

I am sure Singaporeans were taken aback by this report (ST, Oct 29):

I can't comment on the other case -- the earlier incident involving the Australian private jet -- but I am sure the Singaporean side in this instance would have followed procedures with due diligence. So it seems strange that an interception took place at a time when all the diplomatic niceties were gushing out over the installation of the new Indonesian President, Joko Widodo.

Stranger still is this photo provided by the Indonesian air force and used by ST in its report on the aircraft's release (ST, Oct 30):


Let me put it this way: How would the Indonesian public have reacted if the situation were reversed and Singapore had ordered its fighter jets to intercept an Indonesian civilian plane, made it land and then released a photo showing an Indonesian civilian pilot, head bowed, being held tightly by the arm as he is marched away?

So, to me, what is strange is why did the Indonesian air force release the photo? And should ST have used it?

Ah, Halloween, my favourite topic of the month... I think it is beyond strange -- it is bizarre! -- that the Chinese would so enthusiastically embrace this all-American event:

There are Singaporeans who seem to have been bewitched by Halloween. But this ST cartoon (below) is beyond strange. It is silly!...


Finally, strange editing is still taking place at ST:

Unmanned rocket? Since when have rockets been manned for this report above to specifically say this was an unmanned rocket? Rockets are the launch vehicles that carry a payload. That payload might be just stuff like satellites to be placed in orbit or that payload might be a space craft -- manned or unmanned. Even the (manned) space shuttles have to be "strapped" onto two large rockets for their planned missions. The rockets fall off at some point and the space shuttle later makes it back to earth on its own using its own small onboard rockets.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Go figure these out!

I don't think the person who wrote this ST Sports page headline, or the people who cleared it, know what "father figure" means:

Djokovic is father to his son, not a father figure to his son!

Here's what the expression "father figure" means (Merriam-Webster Online):

On the basis of this definition, there are people who see Mr Lee Kuan Yew as a father figure:

There is another way that "father figure" may be used (Urban Dictionary):

A journalist has to really know what the words he or she use mean. At least that's how an old school retired journalist sees it.


Thanks to my cynicism, I learn new things. I was initially puzzled by the editorial writer's choice of the phrase "public intellectual" to describe Mr Ho Kwon Ping. Just what is a public intellectual? Are there private intellectuals then?

But this term has come to be accepted in intellectual discourse. Here is an interesting expose on the subject by MIT physicist and essayist Alan Lightman:

The Role of the Public Intellectual 
by Alan Lightman

The only question that remains is whether Mr Ho is so eminent that he deserves to be conferred the sobriquet "public intellectual".

Going back in time, what is Ancient History? This ST story below says Ancient Singapore is that period from 1300 to 1818!...

My goodness! The Industrial Revolution is said to begin around 1760 but that's all ancient history. What is wrong with calling that period in question Pre-colonial Singapore?

Finally, this is a great photo, with a very nice headline given by ST...  

For a clearer resolution of the photo, see this Wall Street Journal story:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Behemoths, bloopers, and ball kids.

The RSAF's tagline...

..."Above All" is being given a new twist -- in the form of a radar-fitted unmanned dirigible with an eight-man (ground) crew and kept aloft at a height of 600m! Now that's "Above All, 24/7":

The details are on the RSAF's Facebook page...

So the next time you look up the Singaporean sky, don't panic when you see this blimp -- a behemoth of the sky. Alien invaders have not arrived (unless they come disguised -- a la Trojan Horse -- as the RSAF's aerostat)!

Did you notice the unfortunate blooper in the story text above?

Now that I have "blown up" the text (haha!), I am sure you did (hint: something that is "highly valuable" may also be referred to as "invaluable").

Here's a clutch of four more bloopers I spotted in ST recently:

It is a common layman's error. Battleships (a category of warships) no longer exist in all navies, with only the US Navy now using its remaining behemoth of the sea, the Iowa, as a naval museum.

As for this one below, part of an advertorial, it is also a common grammatical mistake. I don't think I need to say what the correct form should be...

One might be forgiven for thinking there's nothing wrong with this headline below:

But the story is NOT about the rising cost of staging cyber attacks. It is about the rising cost of preventing cyber attacks!

This one below -- it keeps happening -- is totally unacceptable by the angmoh in question!!...

As we say in Singlish, "Sorry no cure".

Finally, we all know what are ball kids...

They are the youngsters deployed at tennis matches like the recent WTA event held here in Singapore. This quote from one ball kid should have been tweaked by the sub-editors:

C'mon, don't you guys have enough balls to change the unfortunate wording to something like this:

"...So we must make sure the ball kid on the right has enough tennis balls on hand." Wordier, but one that's not at risk of creating a double entendre.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Body-part idioms.

Organ Recital

This thespian's performance, according to ST, is so stellar it is BOTH heart-stopping (electrifying) ...

...and gut-twisting, all in the same play!

But I have a problem with "gut-twisting". I am not sure what it means. The idiom I am familiar with is "gut wrenching" which means "causing mental or emotional anguish" (Merriam-Webster).

I think, while Mr Adrian Pang would be flattered by any reference to his "heart stopping" performance, I doubt if he wants to be known for a "gut twisting" or "gut wrenching" performance. Maybe he might if he is playing the part of Lecter Hannibal.

Sub-editors should be careful with their choice of idioms.

Anyway, I think many of us do pepper our conversations or writings with such so-called "body-part idioms".  Run through this list of 90 such idioms and you will likely spot several that you have used lately...

I like some of the interesting interpretations of body-part idioms I found online:


Glaucoma: Be like Bono, and keep those sunglasses on you?

I have glaucoma too and I wear sunglasses only when I am outdoors and the sun is out. If Bono wears his shades even when indoors, am I missing something?

It seems that Bono has a point. This glaucoma website says that:

Glaucoma can make eyes highly sensitive to light and glare, with some glaucoma medications exacerbating the problem even further.

Well, until I feel discomfort indoors from the artificial lighting, I won't be doing a Bono. I won't want to knock into the furniture or step on the dog!


Still on sunlight's glare, I love the way this guy (Zach Galifianakis) has a way with words:


Finally, if you want some more tombstone humour, check this out!...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Funny tombstones.

CC sent this, for a good laugh just before the work week...

A  truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while travelling and enjoy detouring to browse through old cemeteries. There are some fascinating inscriptions engraved on old tombstones...

Harry Edsel Smith of Albany , New York :

Born 1903--Died 1942.
Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.


In a Thurmont, Maryland , cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up and no place to go.


On the grave of Ezekial Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia:

Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102.
Only the good die young.


In a London , England cemetery:

Here lies Ann Mann, who lived an old maid but died an old Mann.
Dec. 8, 1767


In a Ribbesford, England , cemetery:

Anna Wallace 

The children of Israel wanted bread, And the Lord sent them manna.
Clark Wallace wanted a wife, And the Devil sent him Anna.


In a Ruidoso, New Mexico , cemetery:

Here lies Johnny Yeast.
Pardon him for not rising.


In a Uniontown, Pennsylvania , cemetery:

Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake,
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.


In a Silver City , Nevada , cemetery:

Here lays The Kid, We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,  But slow on the draw.


A lawyer's epitaph in England :

Sir John Strange.
Here lies an honest lawyer,
and that is Strange.


John Penny's epitaph in the Wimborne, England, cemetery:

Reader, if cash thou art in want of any,
Dig 6 feet deep and thou wilt find a Penny.


In a cemetery in Hartscombe , England :

On the 22nd of June,
Jonathan Fiddle went out of tune.


Anna Hopewell's grave in Enosburg Falls , Vermont:

Here lies the body of our Anna,
Done to death by a banana.
It wasn't the fruit that laid her low,
But the skin of the thing that made her go.


On a grave from the 1880s in Nantucket , Massachusetts:

Under the sod and under the trees,
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here, there's only the pod,
Pease shelled out and went to God.


In a cemetery in England:

Remember man, as you walk by,
As you are now, so once was I.
As I am now, so shall you be,
Remember this and follow me.

To which someone replied by writing on the tombstone:
To follow you I'll not consent,
Until I know which way you went.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More medical-related stuff...

Big Male Genital Discovery. I Mean The Discovery Is Big. And It's About Male Genitals.

Listen carefully... towards the end of the video, did she say "elective surgery" or "erective surgery"?

Thoughts on Ebola

Dr. Ben Kim's Natural Health Newsletter
October 14

Dear Reader,

Many have asked for my views on the Ebola, so I'll share
a few thoughts here.

My understanding is that Ebola is more transmittable than
most world health authorities are generally leading people to

It's true that the current form of the Ebola virus is not
airborne, which is to say that the Ebola virus isn't capable
of traveling through the air without fluid encasing it.

Chickenpox and tuberculosis are examples of airborne germs
that are capable of traveling through the air from one person
to another without transfer of body fluids.  Put another way,
airborne germs travel from the lungs of one person to the lungs
of another without exchange of blood, sweat, or other body

The point that isn't being made strongly enough is that
the Ebola virus counts as a droplet-borne disease.  Droplets
of secretions that are generated with coughing, sneezing,
vomiting, and even some routine medical procedures that are
done around the upper respiratory tract can transmit the Ebola

These droplets of secretions that contain the Ebola virus
can infect someone nearby if the droplets come into contact with
any of their mucosal linings, like those that protect the
eyes, nasal passageway, and oral cavity.

So if you are within several feet of someone who is infected
with the Ebola virus, even if there is no exchange of body
fluids, it is possible for you to become infected if that
person releases enough droplets of virus via secretions that
occur with coughing, sneezing, and other involuntary contractions
around the upper respiratory area.

The latest data indicates that approximately 70 percent of
infected people are dying.  This is confirmation of how
debilitating the Ebola virus can be, but it is also confirmation
that even if infected, some people are capable of recovering.

My opinion is that in coming weeks, more infections will be
confirmed in multiple countries.

We can only hope that the CDC and their counterparts in
other countries will be able to contain confirmed infections,
and that enough support will be given to those areas within
Africa that are being devastated right now.  With enough supplies
and trained response teams, even hardest hit areas should be
able to prevent this outbreak from killing many millions - the
current goal is to successfully bury 70 percent of those who
have died from Ebola and isolate and treat 70 percent of those
who are fighting infections, all within the next 60 days.

For those who are lucky to be living in areas that have not yet
been touched by Ebola, here are some points on prevention to
keep in mind until the current outbreak is clearly contained:

1.  If at all possible, avoid airplane travel.

2.  Ensure optimal vitamin D status.


3.  Eat foods that are rich in vitamin C.


4.  Be mindful of washing your hands with soap and warm or
hot water on a regular basis.

5.  Be well rested.

I don't believe there is much else that we can do to minimize
risk of infection, not unless we want to stockpile enough food
and water to last until Ebola goes away, and stay in our homes
until then.

Unless you are living in an area where new infections are
being confirmed every day, I don't think you need to fear going
about your regular activities.

That is all I have to say about Ebola for now.  Let's hope
that things change for the better soon.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe and peaceful week ahead,

Ben Kim


Note: This Wall Street Journal article below was published in 2011...

WSJ: Radiation's Effect Depends on Amount


Japanese authorities warned Tuesday morning that they believed that the population living in the area immediately surrounding the stricken nuclear reactors now faced a health risk from further increases in radiation leaks.

Authorities said that radiation levels there had surged to levels that will "clearly have impact on the human body."

On average, an American will receive an annual radiation dose of about 620 millirem, or 6,200 microsieverts, a dose that isn't deemed to be harmful, says the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Half of this radiation exposure comes from natural background sources, such as radioactive materials that naturally exist in rocks, soil and other sources, as well as cosmic rays.

The other half originates from human sources, mainly diagnostic medical procedures such as computer tomography scans, which emit roughly 1,500 microsieverts of radiation, or a full set of dental X-rays, about 400 microsieverts.

Television sets, smoke detectors and luminous watches can also contribute tiny amounts. Natural radioactivity even occurs in foods such as carrots and bananas, and in beer.

Radioactive materials are made of unstable atoms. Such atoms give off excess energy until they become stable; the emitted energy is known as radiation.

To put the reports coming out of Japan in perspective, the NRC limits occupational radiation exposure for adults working with radioactive material to 50,000 microsieverts a year.

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan said that on Monday morning, a radiation level of 3,130 microsieverts per hour was recorded at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, about six times the legal limit. Later in the morning, a radiation level of 326 microsieverts was recorded there.

Significant radiation exposure boosts cancer risk. Damage that occurs at the cellular or molecular level can disrupt the body's natural control processes and allow an uncontrolled growth of cells, or cancer.

Ionizing radiation can bring this about by breaking chemical bonds in atoms and molecules.

The NRC says there are no data to reliably estimate the occurrence of cancer following exposure to low doses and dose rates below about 100,000 microsieverts.

But high doses are dangerous. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says exposure to five to 10 rems of radiation will alter a person's blood chemistry, while 55 rems will also bring on nausea. and fatigue. (One rem is equal to 10,000 microsieverts.)

Vomiting and hair loss occur at 70 rem and 75 rem respectively, while exposure to 400 rem can mean possible death in two months. With even higher doses, the onset of death is quicker.

—Gautam Naik

Friday, October 24, 2014

It does not take a stroke of genius to make this story better!

A story like this needs some kind of graphic or infobox to help readers understand quickly what needs to be done if such an emergency situation arises...

ST, Oct 24
While the story is about the findings of a local study on public awareness of stroke, readers will not remember these findings after some time. But a good graphic or infobox will be long remembered and might even help save lives. It is a pity no senior journalist asked for a graphic or infobox.

My own online search threw up so many variations. Here is a sampling:

I also learnt that Oct 29 is World Stroke Day:

But please do not be like this person!!!...

Finally, I am including this really funny sign because it has "stroke" in it...