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Sunday, Apr 24, 2016 - 18:36 SGT
Posted By: Gilbert

And So It Begins

TRUMP: Why do we fall?
So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.

America: You still haven't given up on me?

TRUMP: Never.

- adapted from Batman Begins

Got ham? You betcha!

Have you ever seen TRUMP and Batman in the same room?
[N.B. Artistes support TRUMP too! Also, more walk-in theme choices]

And the TRUMP TRAIN rolls on (behold this certified dank shitpost by a Singaporean admirer). After Lyin' Ted swept all 34 delegates from Colorado - courtesy of The Establishment stooping as low as to not hold a public vote, before blatantly rubbing it in - the misunderstood billionaire and supposed-playboy retreated to his place of power, the city where it all began, home to his sprawling conglomerate, and waited.

And NOO YAWK delivered.

Cruz would belatedly discover that denigrating "New York values" was probably not the best way to win the Big Apple over, and he got completely shut out from the state's bumper crop of ninety-five delegates. TRUMP claimed about ninety of them with an astonishing 60% of the vote, with Kasich getting thrown some scraps because, well, he's not Cruz.

The result means that Cruz is also mathematically eliminated from reaching the 1237 delegates needed to obtain the GOP nomination outright, and guess what "TrusTed" said about Kasich before? Of course, there are no indications that he will follow his own advice, which makes TRUMP's sage observations more and more prescient in hindsight.

From Slovenia, from Poland, from Stanford,
the wall-building legions of the GOD-EMPEROR grow.

Unlike Ted, the polls generally don't lie - while the out-of-touch establishment loyalists and online intelligentsia continue clinging to faint consolations such as "women won't vote for TRUMP", it turns out that ladies might not behave as they say after all (I mean, who's keeping those shelves of generic bodice-rippers in business?). Not only that, the latest surveys show TRUMP owning the rest of the Northeast, well ahead in Indiana, and almost with an outright majority in California; even Rubio is seeing the light and coming around, which would see him next in a long list of GOD-EMPEROR converts (tep).

Speaking of converts, the TRUMP campaign is accepting applications, as Bernie falls further and further adrift. USA's own communist sympathizer, upon witnessing his glasnost come apart, responded by quite shamelessly barging his way into a five-minute audience with the Pope, while barraging the New York airwaves with canned ads (TRUMP remains, as always, immune); of course, he still got run over by Hillary, which at least got the more sensible amongst his supporters to get on the train. The most severe headcases have however suggested emptying out their life savings to make a hopeless last stand, and unlike TRUMP's CENTIPEDES, they actually seem serious. Fine, I sort of sympathized at the start, but this is why Bernie shouldn't be let near any actual finances.

Increasingly, it looks as if TRUMP's final obstacle to presidenthood will be Hillary, who has duly switched from shadowing Bernie's positions, to shadowing TRUMP's. Accordingly, TRUMP has been trialling his linguistic killshot, labelling her as "Crooked Hillary", again vindicating this election cycle's Nostradamus Scott Adams. In response, Hillary has pledged to... hide, or at least that's what it will look like. Well, as TRUMP reminded, that's why Sanders was right when he said that Hillary is unqualified to become president - the POTUS doesn't hide, ma'am.

...Dad is kind of a a-hole, but if you need someone to take care of some trouble, Dad's gonna be the one you call, y'know (not Mom)?

A Vote Too Far

Me: And Herr Ahm is here! You're late, Ahm.

Herr Ahm: I'm an in-demand Master Political Analyst, human. Am late on my commissioned study of China's economy, as it is. Let's see, they set a 6.5% to 7.0% target last month, before reporting 6.7% in Q1. Now where's that top-secret cheat sheet from Dr. Chang... *rummages about cheek pouch*. Oh dear. Oh dearie me.

Me: Well, Our Most Successful Investment Firm may be ahead of the curve for once, with portfolio company and perennial underperformer Standard Chartered finally up to cutting its losses, dumping some US$4 billion of Asia-based assets.

Herr Ahm: Good on them, but that's not what I'm here for. Rather, it's the Bukit Batok by-election, which has been set for May 7, and should feature the incumbents' Murali Pillai, and the SDP's Chee Soon Juan, as the main contestants.

Me: And your call is...

Herr Ahm: Nope, not seeing it happening. I have Pillai winning and retaining the ward with 65±3% of the vote.

I don't think there's much to fault the SDP on effort, with their team having laid out detailed plans, but it's all too easy to trot out the array of negatives stacked against them. While opposition doyen Chiam remaining lukewarm on his former protege won't help, the biggest problem is that Bukit Batok is simply strongly incumbent-leaning to begin with; Lee Li Lian's celebrated by-election victory in Punggol East involved a roughly twelve-point swing, but the same in Bukit Batok would merely turn a 73-27 into a 61-39, far from enough.

In a way, the contest is not set up ideally for Chee personally - as the leader of the opposition party that handled the constituency in the last general elections, he had to fly the flag this time round, all the more as their previous candidate had returned a relatively poor performance. However, if he is likewise kept to around 25% of the vote, it would be hard to see this as anything other than a blanket rejection... but then, this might also be a silver lining, if it forces Chee into a more ceremonial role, and allows more baggage-free talent to drive the SDP's brand of democracy forward.

Following on this, the projected 35% would be more or less status quo, while approaching 45% could be considered a moral victory for the SDP - though it could be best not to dwell on it overly, lest we enter Berniebro territory.

Me: It's unfortunate that we haven't had a star advocate of more liberal democracy locally - on the one hand, we have those that actually get some publicity such as Chee, Roy Ngerng and Amos Yee (apparently in Melbourne, Down Under), but let's just say that they have quite a bit to do about their popular image - which quite often, is down to themselves. And then, there are the more measured and responsible ones - and that's right, you haven't heard of them either.

Herr Ahm: Well, if they need a consultant, they know who to call. What more is there... *flips through files* Hong Kong agitating for independence? Meh, good luck, Uncle Sam's not meddling in this one - lucky break for us, maybe. I suppose the new commander-in-chief of the PLA will sooner see Central in desolation, than entertain separatist notions - and he'd probably much prefer Shanghai/Shenzhen as a permanent replacement for China's premier financial hub, anyway.

Me: Okay, on to other topics...

Here Cut There Cut Head Cut

Budget cuts are hitting higher education everywhere, with several of Chicago's state universities having their credit ratings downgraded, as Australia scales back on "blue sky research" - and quite literally, given that studies into climate change will be among the hardest hit. However, on the other hand, universities are hardly what they used to be, having morphed into "safe space"-ridden factory lines, instead of the bastions of muscular free discourse that they used to be.

My Curie can fatality your Einstein!
[Play online now!]

(Source: nerdist.com)

If we aren't careful, the peculiar disease of the American education system might silently infect our institutions, with a modern-day apostle rallying support for creationism here. Fortunately, there's some real pushback going on.

Concurrently, a fairly large group of former Muslims is floating the possibility of setting up an official council of ex-Muslims, which could get very interesting, given the nigh-impossibility of doing so in neighbouring countries. Definitely, it's not at all uncommon to be a non-practising adherent who quietly partakes of alcohol etc, but actual renunciation appears to be regarded as a hostile act technically punishable by death - which does however have real implications, given Sharia law.

Now, I can't see any legal reason why this can't be done, but I'd imagine that some would be eager to sweep it under the bulging carpet, if at all possible. And thus the eternal struggle for ideological dominance continues...

Tree Cut

They didn't even prove it was minimum spanning!

With new developments inserting themselves into previously-vacant lots in the housing estates I'm familiar with, the environment's becoming noticeably more cramped, which can't be good for overall health, however our compliant mainstream media try to spin it. But, mah GDP...

Of Foxes, Warriors, Devils and Stags

Leicester City remain on course to win the EPL title, with a five-point lead and just four games left, and speaking as a United fan, I'm rooting for them (United were long out of it). It's not often you get true fairytales in the top leagues these days, and as with Isaiah Berlin's foxes (which as it happened inspired FiveThirtyEight's logo), Leicester have shown that they know many things. It goes without saying that they'll be thoroughly raided by richer, more glamorous clubs in the off season, but it remains an achievement for the ages.

Much has also been said about the Golden State Warriors' record-breaking 73-win regular season, powered by a ridiculous 402 three-pointers by the red-hot Curry; this was 116 more than the previous record of 286 (set by himself), and is the kind of stat worthy of ushering in a shift in the NBA's metagame. As the WSJ article explains, iconic players and teams can influence the landscape of a sport, and Curry is inspiring a new generation of 24-foot chuckers, like no one has done since the heyday of Hisashi Mitsui (and by the way, Curry's secret sauce: an ultra-consistent quick release)

So, Manchester United. I was pleasantly surprised that they had made it to the FA Cup finals, given that indifferent performances seem the norm nowadays. That said, the current setup's not inspiring much confidence in the longer term, which largely rests on the future of four men at the club: De Gea, Rooney, Martial and Van Gaal. And, it goes without mentioning, a Special One hovering around...

Finally, Tampines Rovers. Three months after it was remarked here that hiring Jermaine Pennant on S$40000 a month might not be a wise top priority for the Stags, it transpires that they have been hit by cash flow issues, and are headed to the Football Association of Singapore, cap in hand. Maybe they do deserve some plaudits for at least daring to take risks and think big, but when the club chairman is insisting that they have not overspent against all available evidence, what's stopping, say, Hougang United from luring Emile Heskey with S$50000 a month and claiming responsible management?

Eh, gotta keep a sense of humour to enjoy sports...


Shoutout to a new party game app from Ellen, and one of those that just happens to be naturally suited to smartphones. Basically, participants are shown a random question, and have to make up answers that they think will fool the other players. Points are scored both for getting the right answer (mixed in with all the player-supplied alternatives), and for successfully psyching opponents out with crafty fakes.

Odds And Ends

"And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads... that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

- a very perceptive reaction to Japan's new fingerprint currency initiative

  • Wallet Ninja - never be without a screwdriver, or ruler, or hex wrench, or bottle opener... perhaps it's not quite on the level of a top-end Swiss army knife, but it'll at least get through customs. Actually, no, my brother's got confiscated at Don Muang, but still worth it if you can get one for a couple of bucks
  • Myopia: latest evidence is that it's not mainly down to genes, or to reading too much, but to kids not spending enough time outdoors. That does make some sense...
  • Diabetes: reduce risk by drinking full-fat dairy. Lactose-intolerant like many Asians? Too bad...
  • Big Data Actuarial Science: lifespan prediction
  • Your printed material is probably being tracked by invisible patterning. Got a problem with that, citizen?
  • Blind portrait artists seem fine with it though...
  • Transparent wood. Huh
  • Before: fingerprints. Now: brainprints
  • The State's Times comes up with some fairly creative commentary for once: A.I. and Ai
  • Not I want to say, Google, but there has got to be a smoother way to discontinue Carousel, than to have Android throw up annoying non-informative errors every few minutes until I get the message?
  • Then again, app developers can make a million in ten minutes (government contract, duh)
  • 4chan one-ups by calling airstrikes on ISIS
  • While you're eating burgers and stoning on Netflix, grandma's yanking 225-pound deadlifts, and grandpa's running 875km - in Wellington boots, over six days, and without sleeping at all (kids these days)
  • And the burger looks better than you
  • Wealth management pitfalls
  • Sharing salary info? Know your rights
  • General LOL GIFs, top derp

And So It Ends - Lost Northern Star

[Studio version]

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