Just another ex-expatriate adjusting.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This is a link-post for my Amazon purchases.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

National Anthems

I've been on a bit of a national anthem kick recently. Call me bored, call me in need of inspiration, but there is something stirring when you hear some national anthems. That is their point, after all -- to stir some kind of emotion.

In order of stirring:
1) Hymn of the Soviet Union (Alas, no more, but bar NONE the best national anthem in itself)
2) The Internationale (the Chinese version)
3) The Marseillaise (France)
4) March of the Volunteers (China)
5) Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy (Ukraine)
6) Ha'Tikvah (Israel; you must listen to the recording on the Wikipedia page of concentration camp survivors singing it though.)
7) Flower of Scotland (well... you guess)

(Special mention for the Star Spangled Banner -- perhaps if I hadn't been too exposed to it it would stir more)

Of these, the top 5 are revolutionary anthems; more than that they are anthems of successful revolutions. It's true -- the revolutionaries get the best songs. I guess it makes up for the torture, execution and general misery before the revolution ends (successful or not).

Note that China gets two mentions -- that's because there's nothing like a massed choir for a national anthem, and no prizes for guessing who can put together the biggest choir. But the massed Red Army choir is both big and disciplined...

Those who faced the hordes roaring the Marseillaise for the first time must have been genuinely terrified. I mean, when you're outnumbered by two-to-one, it can't help hearing the other side shouting "we're coming to kill you, your sons and your wives!" or declaring (with all likelihood of being correct) that they will "water their furrows with your tainted blood" (free form translation, by the way).

I've especially been listening to Flower of Scotland, because it's short, pointed and moving. Especially when you see it on Youtube being sung at a rugby match, where there are these massive bastard mountains of men who look in desperate need of kilts and cabers with which to beat their opponents into the ground with, belting it out with real emotion. (Especially watch out for Scotland v England matches -- oh boy, do the players look like they feel something.)

Unlike most Scottish songs which revolve around some battle where the Scots got their behinds handed to them (viz Loch Lomond), this celebrates a (rare) and actual victory. And everyone loves a winner.

By contrast, the Scandinavian anthems sound terribly civilized. At least all the Youtube renditions I could find point that way...

So where does Majulah Singapura sit? Well, normally I'd say it's a bit anodyne, on par with the Scandinavian ones but perhaps more aspirational. After all, the Scandinavians have history behind them and had plenty of time to work out the "let's go kill everyone around us who has more money than we do" urges. (If I didn't respect their economic system more, I'd make snide comments about death vs taxes.)

I remember listening with horror to Majulah Singapura at the Singapore consulate in New York when Kishore Mahbubani forever drove me away from National Day functions by playing it and demanding a sing-along before food could be served.

But, but, but.

I heard it sung -- and sang along with tearing and chills down the spine -- with fervor at probably the last place you could still find some form of revolutionary fervor in Singapore. That's right, at the National Stadium on January 26, 2007 at about 7:55pm. Against our auld enemy, Malaysia, in the Tiger Cup semi-final. And just like the Scots at Bannockburn, we sent the bastards homeward. Tae think agin.

There's no better test of an anthem than its ability to move those who hear it -- and that day, Majulah Singapura did it, all colours flying.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Tears in my eyes

There's nothing that brings tears to my eyes faster than hearing jets go overhead on afterburner. I was waiting at the workshop on Saturday while my new exhaust and air filter were being installed (and now the Impresser is just that much faster) when the display team went overhead for the National Day display.

The purity of sound as the air tears overheard -- I could hear it for days. Of course, I did, once, 7 years ago; and it was among the most reassuring sounds I've ever heard. Not one I'd have ever imagined hearing on a clear blue New York afternoon sky, but they were special circumstances.

But yesterday it was almost as reassuring hearing a sound like God zipping his fly; the volume of noise reaches down into the ape part of the brain and grabs the "That's some GOOD SHIT" lever.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Time Dilation is a bitch

Ever noticed how time dilates when you are sick? It's been only 24 hours since I left work yesterday on MC, but it feels like at least a week's worth of diarrhea and fever dreams.

Not to mention the joy of nausea at the thought of milk.

If only time could slow down this much when I'm having fun...

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Gatepost Discussions

I have just had an hour long chat with housemates in front of Mugs, discussing the future of Singapore and what the gahmen can possibly do to help. Ignoring the fact that nothing significant can happen until the Old Man (an utter bastard, but without doubt OUR bastard) kicks off, I can only say that I have never been happier.

I've had these political discussions before in New York, with Singaporeans about Singapore, with Americans about America and with Singaporeans about America. I had never expected to be so glad to be able to talk in my country with my fellow citizens so plainly about the future of our country. The immediacy is excellent.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

God I love the city

Just got into the city today after a day and a half in chicago. I had no internet connection there: i'm actually blogging this through my phone as i'm too lazy to boot up my computer. What computers have become indeed...

So today i went shopping for a tie and requests from 2 people. I'm going to kill one of them. Because the tie turned into 4 shopping bags and one person's request was a bit the bulky...

Anyway have to wake up at 6am today so am going to turn in now. Later...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

On the ground in Narita

After the trials of dealing with a squeaky roller-bag (the price of going to Mustafa for your travel needs) and a moderately uncomfortable flight (thanks to the Japanese loving warmth) I am now on the ground in Narita.

Soon, I'm off to take a shower; for now I'm using as much of the 100 yen for 10 minutes Internet as I can. No free broadband?! I'm shocked and disheartened. But still, it's infinitely better than O'Hare will be.

Consider: I touched down at 7:40, have had two cigarettes, a 10 minute massage from a roller chair and a quad-shot Starbucks mocha. Soon there will be a shower and food. I will then feel vaguely human. Will I get this at O'Hare? Will I bollocks.

Maybe the Starbucks, if I'm lucky, and once I'm outside, the ciggies. Why oh why can't American airports be as comfortable as Asian ones?

Incidentally, the spread on a JPY/SGD exchange in Narita is quite stunning. 73/83! 10 yen on every SGD -- what a trade.

I am so looking forward to a shower... Flights leave you vaguely inhuman. Showers bring you back to humanity.

Later, when I reach Chicago.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Man Laws

Apart from the fact that I don't recognize anyone other than Burt Reynolds, hilarious

Friday, September 28, 2007

That's some advanced crane...

That's some advanced crane..., originally uploaded by Kaishun.

Fri 28/09/2007 17:48 28092007093 One Shenton Way is coming down. That's fine. But how the hell did they get those excavators up there to begin with?! No cranes, no nothing. Just 3 excavators.

A sudden double take

A sudden double take, originally uploaded by Kaishun.

Fri 28/09/2007 12:52 28092007092 Perhaps the angle is a bit off here but when walking by this display piece, I had a sudden double take... Advertising what looks on first glance like a severed body part (called le grand sausage no less) doesn't seem likely to boost appetites. Well, not hetero guys' appetites at least.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Product Design

I think this is the clearest example of TMI that you can find...