Monday, December 29, 2008

Two-pin plug in three pin socket

Use a sharp object (e.g. screwdriver) and insert it into the neutral port (bottom-left). Simultaneously, insert the right pin of your two-pin plug into the live port (bottom-right). Then, remove the sharp object while inserting the left pin of the plug into neutral port as usual.

CAUTION: Do not insert any sharp object into the live port (bottom-right) as you may be electrocuted. Turn off the switch before attempting any of this.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Art Deco

Art Deco was a popular international design movement from 1925 until 1939, affecting the decorative arts such as architecture, interior design, and industrial design, as well as the visual arts such as fashion, painting, the graphic arts and film. This movement was, in a sense, an amalgam of many different styles and movements of the early 20th century, including Neoclassical, Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Art Nouveau, and Futurism. Its popularity peaked in Europe during the Roaring Twenties and continued strongly in the United States through the 1930s. Although many design movements have political or philosophical roots or intentions, Art Deco was purely decorative. At the time, this style was seen as elegant, functional, and modern. Art Deco experienced a decline in popularity during the late 30s and early 40s, and soon fell out of public favor. It experienced a resurgence with the popularization of graphic design in the 1980s. Art Deco had a profound influence on many later artistic movements, such as Memphis and Pop art. Surviving examples may still be seen in many different locations worldwide, in countries as diverse as the United Kingdom, Cuba, the Phillipines, and Brazil. Many classic examples still exist in the form of architecture in many major cities. The Chrysler building, designed by William Van Alen, is a classic example of this, as it is one of the most notable examples of Art Deco architecture today.

A sea change

A radical, and apparently mystical, change.

From Shakespeare's The Tempest, 1610:
ARIEL [sings]:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell


From sea to shining sea

From one coast to another.

Taken from a line in 'America the Beautiful', the patriotic song written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1893. She wrote other versions later, in 1904 and 1913.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

She wrote the song following an inspirational visit to Pikes Peak, Colorado, USA, which she later described thus:
"One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse."

The phrase is also frequently associated with Canada. The Canadian national motto - "A mari usque ad mare", translates as "From sea to sea". This has biblical origin:
"He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth." (Psalm 72:8)


Through a glass, darkly

1 Corinthians 13:12 contains the phrase

βλεπομεν γαρ αρτι δι εσοπτρου εν αινιγματι
which is rendered in the KJV as

"For now we see through a glass, darkly."
which refers to mirrors, not lenses. It has inspired the titles of many works.

Keynesian economics

In economics Keynesianism (pronounced /ˈkeɪnziən/, also Keynesian economics and Keynesian Theory), is based on the ideas of twentieth-century British economist John Maynard Keynes. According to Keynesian economics the state should stimulate economic growth and improve stability in the private sector - through, for example, interest rates, taxation and public projects.

The theories forming the basis of Keynesian economics were first presented in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, published in 1936.

In Keynes's theory, some micro-level actions of individuals and firms can lead to aggregate macroeconomic outcomes in which the economy operates below its potential output and growth. Many classical economists had believed in Say's Law, that supply creates its own demand, so that a "general glut" would therefore be impossible. Keynes contended that aggregate demand for goods might be insufficient during economic downturns, leading to unnecessarily high unemployment and losses of potential output. Keynes argued that government policies could be used to increase aggregate demand, thus increasing economic activity and reducing high unemployment and deflation.

Keynes argued that the solution to depression was to stimulate the economy ("inducement to invest") through some combination of two approaches:
- a reduction in interest rates.
- Government investment in infrastructure - the injection of income results in more spending in the general economy, which in turn stimulates more production and investment involving still more income and spending and so forth. The initial stimulation starts a cascade of events, whose total increase in economic activity is a multiple of the original investment.

A central conclusion of Keynesian economics is that in some situations, no strong automatic mechanism moves output and employment towards full employment levels. This conclusion conflicts with economic approaches that assume a general tendency towards an equilibrium. In the 'neoclassical synthesis', which combines Keynesian macro concepts with a micro foundation, the conditions of General equilibrium allow for price adjustment to achieve this goal.

The New classical macroeconomics movement, which began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, criticized Keynesian theories, while New Keynesian economics have sought to base Keynes's idea on more rigorous theoretical foundations.

More broadly, Keynes saw his as a general theory, in which utilization of resources could be high or low, whereas previous economics focused on the particular case of full utilization.

Some interpretations of Keynes have emphasized his stress on the international coordination of Keynesian policies, the need for international economic institutions, and the ways in which economic forces could lead to war or could promote peace.
This is obvious in Singapore, where our Government builds overhead bridges, disabled-friendly walkways etc. to stimulate the construction industry. So, yes, Marina Bay Sands IR will be built at all costs.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stoke City 0-1 United

Another tough nut to crack as we struggled to break down 10-man Stoke. The irony is that we should've been down to nine men by the time Stoke were a man down - Rooney for a stray elbow, Ronaldo for a moment of pure idiocy. Hasn't he learnt not to kick out at opponents? He was even trying to stomp on the fingers of his opponent.

Dare I say it? Fergie has lost control of their discipline. Those two don't listen to him anymore. Some bench splinters on the butt will certainly help.

The problem is they are mixing with the wrong company - each other. They should follow Tevez's example - get sent off for your country so you save yourself for your club.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Angry Arsenal blasts former referee Poll

Arsene Wenger has launched a scathing attack on former referee Graham Poll and has described him as an embarrassment following comments made this week.

Speaking on Setanta Sports on their Football Matters, Poll backed up Howard Webb's decision to send off Emmanuel Adebayor against Liverpool - but it was his analysis of John Terry's red card at Everton that angered Arsenal manager Wenger.

Poll, a former FIFA referee who retired in 2007, suggested that referees could be influenced by the furore that comes with sending off the England captain.

"For me it was embarrassing when you listen to that," Wenger said. "They ask whether it was a sending off or not. He says you have to consider that you are sending off the captain of the national team.

"What has that got to do with the rulebook? The rulebook doesn't look at passports. When you listen to that it is embarrassing for the referees.

"Is it a sending off or not? Are you from England or not from England? Are you 17 or 30? It has nothing to do with that.

"It is a big concern when you here the national number one referee talk like that."

Wenger admits his faith in referees has been tested by Poll's comments.

"I do not think (they are taking reputations into account) but when I hear statements like that, it makes you change your mind," he added.
Totally agree with Wenger. The presumed impartiality of referees is not something you should even question, But then again, this is not the first time "rent-a-quote" Graham has put his foot in his mouth.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Phantom of the Opera

Flixster Plot: Based on the hit musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the tale tells the story of a disfigured musical genius that haunts the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera, waging a reign of terror over its occupants. When he falls fatally in love with the lovely Christine, the Phantom devotes himself to creating a new star for the Opera - exerting a strange sense of control over the young soprano as he nurtures her extraordinary talents.
My take: I appreciated it much more having watched the musical.


Pastrami is a popular delicatessen meat made from lean red meat, chiefly brisket.

The raw meat is salted (through immersion in a thick brine), then partly dried, seasoned with various herbs and spices (such as garlic, coriander, black pepper, paprika, cloves, allspice, mustard seed, and others depending on the specific recipe, and smoked. In Canada and the United States, pastrami is made from beef and the meat is kept hot on a steam table before slicing for serving.

The English word pastrami is derived from the Yiddish: פּאַסטראָמע (pronounced pastróme). Both the dish and the word were brought to the United States with a wave of the Jewish immigration from Bessarabia and Romania in the second half of the 19th century; it is a signature dish of the local Jewish cuisine of these regions. The word, however, as used in Yiddish and various languages of the Balkans (e.g. Romanian pastramă, which entered the Russian language as pastromá), is likely of Turkish origin, spread during the period of the Ottoman domination of the region. The dictionary of Yiddish gastronomic terminology and the official Romanian etymological dictionary both derive the term from Turkish pastırma.

An analogous dish is known as basturma in Armenian cuisine and as basterma in the Arab World. Early references in English spelled "pastrama", while its current form is associated with a Jewish store selling "pastrami" in New York City in 1887. It is likely that this spelling was introduced to sound related to the Italian salami.

Unlike its Jewish and derivatively modern American counterparts (where pastrami is exclusively a beef dish), in the Romanian tradition, mutton was used and over time pork became the prevalent choice. Romanians distinguish between different kinds of pastrami, depending on the meat used. When not specified, pork is implied. Romanian pastrami is usually served as a cold cut in sandwiches, but it can also be heated and served as a side dish with various foods. One such example is fried pastrami, with corn mamaliga (similar to the Italian dish polenta) and green onions.

In North America, pastrami is typically sliced and served hot on rye bread as Pastrami on rye – a classic New York deli sandwich, sometimes accompanied by cole slaw and Russian dressing. Pastrami is also commonly found in the popular Reuben Sandwich. Traditional New York pastrami is made from the navel end of the brisket, which contains considerably more fat than the chest area. It is first cured in brine like corned beef, and then coated with a mix of spices and smoked. In recent years, this version of pastrami has become hard to find, due to the scarcity of old-fashioned Jewish delicatessens.

Turkey pastrami is made by processing turkey breast in a fashion similar to red meat pastrami, simulating the corresponding red meat deli product. Turkey pastrami, and the closely related chicken breast pastrami, are very popular meat products in Israel, mainly because of their low fat content and undisputable kashrut status. Israeli pastrama (stress on the second syllable, as in pastrami) is typically served cold in sandwiches on a variety of rolls and buns, including individual-sized baguettes, pita pockets, focaccia breads, and even croissants. It is also a standard ingredient in platters of cold cuts. Beef and pork pastrama is also available in Israel, but on a more limited scale due to health and dietary considerations.

As with corned beef, pastrami was created as a method for preserving meat from spoilage in an age before modern refrigeration methods. This technique is now unnecessary, but its unique flavor still attracts many aficionados worldwide.

Funicular railway

A funicular, also known as a funicular railway, incline, inclined railway, inclined plane, or cliff railway, is a type of self-contained cable railway in which a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a very steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other.

The word is from the Latin funiculus, a diminutive of funis, "rope".

Red-eye flight

A red-eye flight is a flight operated by an airline departing late at night and arriving early the next morning, typically between the period from 9:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. The term red-eye derives from the fatigue symptom of having red eyes, which can be caused by:
- Dehydration from the low humidity environment of aircraft cabins
- Insomnia
- Jet lag
- Insufficient sleep the night before the flight
- Alcohol consumption and/or the increased effect of alcohol at altitude

For example, a flight from the West Coast to the East Coast of the United States might take five hours. If the flight leaves at 10:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (06:00 UTC), it will arrive at its destination at 6:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (11:00 UTC) the next day, thereby taking the passengers' entire night.

In the United States, Canada, and Australia, red-eye flights fly from the west to the east coast, capitalizing on the timezone changes and the rising sun. But the term can refer to any overnight flight which travels in the opposite direction of the Earth's rotation, i.e., east to west. The term may also be used to refer to many long-distance international flights which are long, even though the aircraft may never travel through a time zone that is in darkness.

In addition to allowing passengers to have a full day at both the departure and destination city and travel by night, red-eye flights operate for the following reasons:
- Repositioning aircraft and flight crew for the following day's schedule
- Increasing the utilization of aircraft in a company's fleet
- Providing additional service to lower cost markets
- Allowing the airline to advertise lower fares to some destinations
- Allowing passengers to connect to morning flights

In the 1930s and 1940s, red-eye flights were not possible, as most airports did not have the equipment necessary to work at night. There are still airports that do not function after certain hours, so red-eye flights can take off only from those airports that are operational after midnight.

Flatter to deceive

If you flatter someone, they're more likely to be in a mood to believe you when you sell them a con.

Selasih (basil)

I'd always wondered what selasih seed was, the one that you find in certain desserts and wonder who put the frog eggs in your ice jelly cocktail. Apparently it's actually the humble basil seed, though the herb is more noted for its leaf in Italian cuisine.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day originated in England in the middle of the nineteenth century under Queen Victoria. December 26th, or Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries. It is spent with family and friends at open gatherings with lots of food, fun, friendship and love. Boxing Day is so called because it was the custom on that day for tradesmen to collect their Christmas boxes or gifts in return for good and reliable service throughout the year. Boxing Day is also St. Stephen's Day. St Stephen was a little known saint who achieved eternal fame by being the first Christian to be martyred for his faith by being stoned to death shortly after Christ's crucifixion.

The traditional celebration of Boxing Day included giving money and other gifts to charitable institutions, needy individuals, and people in service jobs. The holiday may date from the Middle Ages (A.D. 400-1500s), but the exact origin is unknown. It may have begun with the lords and ladies of England, who presented Christmas gifts in boxes to their servants on December 26. Or it may have begun with priests, who opened the church's alms (charity) boxes on the day after Christmas and distributed the contents to the poor.

Some say the tradition stems from Roman times when money to pay for athletic games was collected in boxes. Amongst the ruins of Pompeii, boxes made out of earthenware with slits in the top full of coins have been found. Later the Romans brought the idea of collecting boxes to Britain, and monks and clergy soon used similar boxes to collect money for the poor at Christmas. On the day after Christmas, the priests used to open the boxes and distribute the contents to the poor of the village. Thus this day came to be called Boxing Day.

While government buildings and small businesses are closed, the malls are filled with people either exchanging gifts or buying reduced priced Christmas gifts, cards, and decorations. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day is classed as the Christmas Season with Boxing day falling on the following Monday if December 26th falls on a Saturday or Sunday.

Hoarding (castles)

A hoarding was a temporary wooden (shed-like) construction that was placed on the exterior of the ramparts of a castle during a siege.

The purpose of a hoarding was to allow the defenders to improve their field of fire along the length of a wall and, most particularly, directly downwards to the wall base.

The latter function was capably taken up by the invention of machicolations, which were an improvement on hoardings, not least because masonry does not need to be fire-proofed. Machicolations are also permanent and siege-ready.

It is suspected that in peacetime, hoardings were stored as prefabricated elements.

In some castles, construction of hoardings was facilitated by putlog holes that were left in the masonry of castle walls.

Some medieval hoardings have survived including examples at the North tower of Stokesay Castle, Shropshire, UK and the keep of Laval, France. The inner citadel at Carcassonne, also in France has reconstructed wooden hoardings.
Now you find it around construction sites. =]

End-of-year hols 2008

My plan for the end-of-year hols:

So here's my to-do list:

1. Plan Pros Retreat in early-2009
2. Long-term plan for Students
3. Get credit card [UOB/POSB Everyday/DBS/Maybank]
4. Buy semi-SLR @Funan [Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX3 @$799]
5. Download songs
6. Watch borrowed movies [I Am Sam, Pursuit of Happyness, Pulp Fiction, Aviator]
7. Plan for wedding [plan brothers & sisters' New Year's Day party]
8. Read Spencer Kagan's Cooperative Learning, JK Rowling's Harry Potter, Neil Humphreys' Be My Baby, Gary Chapman's Five Love Languages, Bill Hybels' Axiom

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

DeBarge - Rhythm of the Night

Tony Adams on Lassana Diarra's move to Real Madrid

"It's a message to people who can't get into the Chelsea team, the Arsenal team, the Man United team. Come to Portsmouth, be on a big stage and you might get the chance to go on and play for Real Madrid." - Tony Adams
I can't believe Tony Adams said that! So much for continuity. He's practically begging players to use Pompey as a short-term stepping stone, and he'll probably get his wish. Watch Defoe & Co secure big-money moves in years to come while Pompey remain content being the biggest club on the South Coast.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Golden Girls


Who's the Boss

Family Ties

Melrose Place

Beverly Hills 90210



Knight Rider


Perfect Strangers

Three Degrees - When Will I See You Again

Girl takes pic of herself every day for three years

James Taylor - Carolina in My Mind

James Taylor - Your Smiling Face

Donald Fagen - I.G.Y.

Rockwell ft. Michael Jackson - Somebody's Watching Me

Remedial is an adjective!

It is incorrect to say, "Do you have remedial?" What we actually mean is "remedial class/lesson", since it is an adjective. Alternatively, you can nominalise it to say "remediation", though that would be a unnecessary mouthful.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Paint My Love

The Red Earth feature wall has gone up and it doesn't look too bad at all. Just a matter of getting used to it.

The painting was finished on my 25th birthday. I was born on 13-12-83. Remarkably, the total bill came up to $1312.38!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

God's way to grieve by Vick Phipps

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4, NIV)

1. Just be there -- Sometimes it is wise to say less and just be a physical presence. Human beings need other human beings when grieving. It is an instinct to reach out, but when we are grieving we often forget how, so just show up and be there to make them aware that you care. This, all by itself, will most likely be enough to get them through the most tragic time of their life.

2. Don't assume that your way to grieve is the best way for all -- People grieve differently, so don't assume that you understand grief more than a they do. Some people refuse to grieve as a way to retain control. Remember that sometimes denial can be comforting too. Don't try to force the tears as a way to relieve someone else's grief. Be patient with grief and allow others to grieve in their way and in their own time.

Try not to judge what others believe at the time of grief. It is wise sometimes to keep your lips closed and listen instead. "You baby is in a better place," isn't comforting to a mother who is grieving any more than those words would be for you. Allow people to say how unfair it is, because it is. To say, "Life can be unfair, but we have to have faith," is true, but it doesn't remove the pain of unfair things, so allow a mother to grieve, unfaithfully, until she is ready to believe the truth. Grief takes time and needs to get angry for a while before it can move onto acceptance. Don't worry about the soul of a grieving soul. I promise you that God will protect it, so you don't have to.

3. Never deny the needs of the one who grieves -- Some people need to grieve in ways that may not agree with your religious views, but I believe that in God's eyes, He sees our grief as a way to release the pain we feel inside. If we grieve improperly, He will be the one who decides what improper is. Even in grief, we all have free will, and no one else has the power to change it, but the person who lives within it. Try to trust that they will find God's way to grieve, eventually.

A parent's grief for the loss of a child is like no other. Unless you have experienced it, you cannot understand it. Just try to accept whatever they need to do, and in the process you will be a great comfort too.

4. Don't forget the surviving child -- If the grieving parent has a surviving child, remember that child is grieving too. One way to support someone who is grieving the loss of a baby is to spend time with the child who is still alive. Children will feel abandoned, otherwise. Grief is something that includes the entire family, so do not forget the youth.

5. Hold onto the grieving soul, and don't let go -- There is nothing more healing that you could do, but to hold onto the one who is grieving. The human touch works miracles and can heal even the deepest wounds. When someone grieves, it isolates that person into a place where they feel alone. When you put your arms around someone who is grieving, you are reminding that person that they are never alone.

To conclude, if you have taken the time to read this article, God bless you. Any soul who cares and feels for a grieving soul is one of God's earthly angels which I believe He designated for reasons such as these. We all must grieve, eventually, but it does not have to mean that life is not fair and God does not care. It only means that there is a season for everything. Acceptance takes time.

Appreciate your parents while they're still alive & well

Terminal velocity

A free falling object achieves its terminal velocity when the downward force of gravity (Fg) equals the upward force of drag (Fd). This causes the net force on the object to be zero, resulting in an acceleration of zero. Mathematically an object asymptotically approaches and can never reach its terminal velocity.

As the object accelerates (usually downwards due to gravity), the drag force acting on the object increases. At a particular speed, the drag force produced will equal the object's weight (mg). Eventually, it plummets at a constant speed called terminal velocity (also called settling velocity). Terminal velocity varies directly with the ratio of drag to weight. More drag means a lower terminal velocity, while increased weight means a higher terminal velocity. An object moving downward with greater than terminal velocity (for example because it was affected by a downward force or it fell from a thinner part of the atmosphere or it changed shape) will slow until it reaches terminal velocity.

For example, the terminal velocity of a skydiver in a free-fall position with a semi-closed parachute is about 195 km/h (120 mph or 55m/s). This velocity is the asymptotic limiting value of the acceleration process, since the effective forces on the body more and more closely balance each other as the terminal velocity is approached. In this example, a speed of 50% of terminal velocity is reached after only about 3 seconds, while it takes 8 seconds to reach 90%, 15 seconds to reach 99% and so on. Higher speeds can be attained if the skydiver pulls in his limbs (see also freeflying). In this case, the terminal velocity increases to about 320 km/h (200 mph or 90 m/s), which is also the terminal velocity of the peregrine falcon diving down on its prey. And the same terminal velocity is reached for a typical 150g bullet travelling in the downward vertical direction — when it is returning to earth having been fired upwards, or perhaps just dropped from a tower — according to a 1920 U.S. Army Ordnance study.

Competition speed skydivers fly in the head down position reaching even higher speeds. The current world record is 614 mph (988 km/h) by Joseph Kittinger, set at high altitude where the lesser density of the atmosphere decreased drag.

An object falling on Earth will fall 9.81 meters per second faster every second (9.81 m/s²). The reason an object reaches a terminal velocity is that the drag force resisting motion is directly proportional to the square of its speed. At low speeds, the drag is much less than the gravitational force and so the object accelerates. As it accelerates, the drag increases, until it equals the weight. Drag also depends on the projected area. This is why things with a large projected area, such as parachutes, have a lower terminal velocity than small objects such as cannon balls.

Mathematically, terminal velocity, without considering the buoyancy effects, is given by


Vt = terminal velocity,
m = mass of the falling object,
g = gravitational acceleration,
Cd = drag coefficient,
ρ = density of the fluid through which the object is falling, and
A = projected area of the object.
On Earth, the terminal velocity of an object changes due to the properties of the fluid, mass and the projected area of the object.

This equation is derived from the drag equation by setting drag equal to mg, the gravitational force on the object.

Density increases with decreasing altitude, ca. 1% per 80 m (see barometric formula). Therefore, for every 160 m of falling, the terminal velocity decreases 1%. After reaching the local terminal velocity, while continuing the fall, speed decreases to change with the local terminal velocity.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to do business

Father: I want you to marry a girl of my choice.
Son: I will choose my own bride!
Father: But the girl is Bill Gates' daughter.
Son: Well, in that case... OK.
Next Father approaches Bill Gates.
Father: I have a husband for your daughter.
Bill Gates: But my daughter is too young to marry!
Father: But this young man is a vice-president of the World Bank.
Bill Gates: Ah, in that case... OK.
Finally Father goes to see the president of the World Bank.
Father: I have a young man to be recommended as a vice-president.
President: But I already have more vice- presidents than I need!
Father: But this young man is Bill Gates's son-in-law.
President: Ah, in that case... OK.
This is how business is done!

World's worst music video

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Birthday surprise

They did it again. I thought I was just bunking at Yew Hock's place for a night, but so many of them were there and we slept at 6am like the old days, playing a hilarious PS3 game called Little Big Planet. Ah, bless! Thanks a million, guys. Every year you never fail to surprise me, although I'm easily surprised. =]

Bolt 3D

Flixster Plot: The canine star of a fictional sci-fi/action show that believes his powers are real embarks on a cross country trek to save his co-star from a threat he believes is just as real.
My take: Have not seen something this hilarious for a while. Rhino steals the show here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tatonka Andro 30L

Finally bought my dream backpack. Fell in love with this leaf-green beauty the moment I set eyes on it. Its many compartments, thoughtful design & compact size just blew me away. All for only $139 at Chop Chip Huat, Army Market.

Singapore 2-0 Indonesia

It was all hands to the pump for a while, but in the end dogged defending won through against a determined Indonesia. Raddy Avramovic's gameplan worked like a dream, two early sucker punches from Baihakki Khaizan & Shi Jiayi respectively in each half rendering Indonesian dominance useless and shredding their confidence.

The Lions do need to be careful, as this soak & strike strategy can easily come undone against a more clinical team. Thailand & Co await in the semis.

Singapore 3-1 Myanmar

Myanmar walk out again. More damningly & embarrassingly, Myanmar FA officials prevented the players from returning to the field despite the efforts of their own coach. Will they ever learn? Not unless AFF kick them out as a lesson to the other nations. They obviously haven't learnt their lesson four years ago as they weren't punished at all for a similar shameful episode. AFF better act tough & act now or history will repeat itself - in the final perhaps?

As Singapore's John Wilkinson put it, do we just walk out whenever we are tired and unhappy a-la Roy Keane? For the sake of teaching respect for officials and basic sportsmanship, I say the Myanmese need to be sacrificed NOW.

On a separate note, Agu Casmir's goal was really of the highest quality. It was a volley with his weaker foot, with defenders closing in. Yet he hit it through a crowded penalty area, just inside the post. If Deco'd done it, everyone would be waxing lyrical.


Demagogy (also demagoguery) (Ancient Greek δημαγωγία, from δῆμος dēmos "people" and ἄγειν agein "to lead") refers to a political strategy for obtaining and gaining political power by appealing to the popular prejudices, emotions, fears and expectations of the public — typically via impassioned rhetoric and propaganda, and often using nationalist or populist themes.

Uses and definitions
Athenian democracy relied upon Demagogues in its political system. "These impractical [political] schemes reflect at once Plato's discontent with the demagogy then prevalent in Athens and in his personal predilection for the aristocratic form of government" The Demagogues learned their Rhetoric and Law from the Sophists.

The early 20th century American social critic and humorist H. L. Mencken, known for his "definitions" of terms, defined a demagogue as "one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."

As George Bernard Shaw said:
But though there is no difference in this respect between the best demagogue and the worst, both of them having to present their cases equally in terms of melodrama, there is all the difference in the world between the statesman who is humbugging the people into allowing him to do the will of God, in whatever disguise it may come to him, and one who is humbugging them into furthering his personal ambition and the commercial interests of the plutocrats who own the newspapers and support him on reciprocal terms.

Max Weber:
Political leadership in the form of the free 'demagogue' who grew from the soil of the city state is of greater concern to us; like the city state, the demagogue is peculiar to the Occident and especially to Mediterranean culture. Furthermore, political leadership in the form of the parliamentary 'party leader' has grown on the soil of the constitutional state, which is also indigenous only to the Occident.

Though this definition emphasizes the use of lying and falsehoods, skilled demagogues often need to use only special emphasis by which an uncritical listener will be led to draw the desired conclusion themselves. Moreover, a demagogue may well believe his or her own arguments (for example, there are good reasons to assume that Adolf Hitler - certainly one of the most successful demagogues in history - sincerely believed his own anti-Jewish diatribes.)

A famous usage was by the aging Erich Ludendorff, who was for a time a strong supporter of the early rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. After learning of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, he expressed his disappointment to German President Paul von Hindenburg:
"By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich, you have handed over our sacred German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for this action."

Hitler indeed would become regarded as perhaps the epitome of a demagogue, having successfully risen to power through appeals to the ethnic and nationalistic prejudices and vanities of the German people.

Apples and oranges — mixing of incomparable quantities. For example, "our government has increased social spending by 5 billion dollars, while the previous government increased it only by 0.4 percent." The latter sounds like less, but one cannot be sure without an absolute value.

Half-truth — making statements that are true only in a strict and relatively meaningless sense. For example, "the opposition have accused us of cutting foreign aid, but actually our government has increased foreign aid by 500 million dollars," not mentioning that (adjusted for inflation) the allocated funds have in fact gone down.

False authority — relying on the general authority of a person who is not proficient in the discussed topic. For example, "the professor read my book, and liked it very much," omitting the fact that it was a professor of chemistry who read a book on history.

False dilemma — assuming that there are only two possible opinions on a given topic. For example, "You're either with us or against us...," ignoring the possibility of a neutral position or divergence.

Demonization — identifying others as a mortal threat. Often this involves scapegoating — blaming others for one's own problems. This is often advanced by using vague terms to identify the opposition group and then stereotyping that group. This allows the demagogue to exaggerate this group's influence and ascribe any trait to them by identifying that trait in any individual in the group. This method can be aided by constructing a false dilemma that portrays opposition groups as having a value system that is the polar opposite of one's own, as opposed to simply having different priorities. This method was incorporated by the Nazi regime to gain the general support of the public when it began to initiate its anti-Semitic policies.

Straw man — mischaracterizing the opposing position and then arguing against the mischaracterization.

Loaded question — posing a question with an implied position that the opponent does not have, e.g. "When did you stop taking bribes?"

Unrelated facts — bringing unrelated facts that sound in favor of the speaker's agenda. For example, marking a vegetable or cereal product as "cholesterol free". Since cholesterol is only found in animal products, such labeling does not actually distinguish this product from similar competitors.

Emotional appeal or personal attack — attempting to bring a discussion to an emotional level. For example, "Everyone is against me!", "Can't I be right just once?", "You're stupid!", or just the classic retort "Shut up!"


A portmanteau is used broadly to mean a blend of two (or more) words, and narrowly in some linguistics fields to mean only a blend of two or more function words.

"Portmanteau word" is used to describe a linguistic blend, namely "a word formed by blending sounds from two or more distinct words and combining their meanings".

Such a definition of "portmanteau word" overlaps with the grammatical term contraction, and linguists avoid using the former term in such cases. As an example: the words do + not become the contraction don't, a single word that represents the meaning of the combined words.

The usage of the word 'portmanteau' in this sense first appeared in Lewis Carroll's book Through the Looking-Glass (1871), in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky:
"‘slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy’... You see it's like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word"
"‘Mimsy’ is ‘flimsy and miserable’ (there's another portmanteau ... for you)".

Carroll uses the word again when discussing lexical selection:
Humpty Dumpty's theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious." Make up your mind that you will say both words ... you will say "fumious.".

Carroll suggests here a double metaphor. The original meaning of the word 'portmanteau' is a form of suitcase containing two separated hinged compartments; thus: two distinct words, packed as one. The word 'portmanteau' is itself a 'portmanteau word', deriving from the French compound "portemanteau" consisting of the conjugated word porter (to carry) and the word manteau (coat), meaning a coat hanger.

Many neologisms are examples of blends, but many blends have become part of the lexicon. In Punch in 1896, the word brunch (breakfast + lunch) was introduced as a "portmanteau word". In 1964, the newly independent African republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar chose the portmanteau word Tanzania as its name. A spork is an eating utensil that is a combination of a spoon and fork.

"Wikipedia" is itself an example of a portmanteau word because it combines the word "wiki" and "encyclopedia". Sysop is an example as well, combining "system" and "operator."

Blaxploitation is a film genre/style, whose name derives from a portmanteau of "black" and "exploitation", reflecting its main theme of social problems and crime amongst African American people.

Portmanteau words may be produced by joining together proper nouns with common nouns, such as "gerrymandering", which refers to the scheme of Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry for politically contrived redistricting: one of the districts created had the semblance of a salamander in outline. Two proper names can also be used in creating a portmanteau word in reference to the partnership between people, especially in a case where both persons are well known, or sometimes to produce epithets such as "Billary" (referring to former United States president Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton) or TomKat (referring to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes). In this example of recent American political history, the purpose for blending is not so much to combine the meanings of the source words but "to suggest a resemblance of one named person to the other" and the effect is often derogatory, as linguist Benjamin Zimmer notes.[ Portmanteaux (or portmanteaus) can also be created by attaching a prefix or suffix from one word to give that association to other words. Subsequent to the Watergate Scandal, it became popular to attach the suffix "-gate" to other words to describe contemporary scandals, e.g. "Filegate" for the White House FBI files controversy. Likewise, the suffix "-holism" or "-holic", taken from the word "alcoholism" or "alcoholic", can be added to a noun, creating a word that describes an addiction to that noun. Chocoholic, for example, means a person who is addicted to chocolate.

Portmanteau words can be used to describe bilingual speakers who use words from both languages while speaking. For instance a person would be considered speaking "Spanglish" if they are using both Spanish and English words to voice a complete thought.


A Rolodex is a rotating file device used to store business contact information (the name is a portmanteau word of Rolling and Index) currently manufactured by Newell Rubbermaid. The Rolodex holds specially shaped index cards; the user writes the contact information for one person or company on each card. Many users avoid the effort of writing by taping the contact's business card directly to the Rolodex index card. Some companies have produced business cards in the shape of Rolodex cards, as a marketing idea.

The Rolodex was invented by Arnold Neustadter in 1958. Neustadter also invented Autodex, a phone directory book that automatically opened to the right letter, Swivodex, an inkwell that did not spill, Punchodex, a paper hole puncher, and Clipodex, a stenographer's aid that attached to the knee.

Rolodexes are still common, despite many computer applications that perform the same function.

The name rolodex has become somewhat genericized for any personal organizer performing this function.

The addiction affliction by Dale Johnson

Addiction is no laughing matter, it's a cause for concern and needs understanding. You shouldn't mock the afflicted.

Sometimes a person finds themselves locked into a situation from which there appears to be no hope of salvation. There is a chasm of emptiness which only seems to grow deeper and deeper.

Yes, it's fantasy football.

Gone are the days when watching a football match was just about 11 v 11, one team against another and nothing more. Ever since comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner thrust it into the living room of millions of homes through their BBC TV show Fantasy Football League in January 1994 there has been no turning back. Newspapers, television shows and, of course, glorious websites have embraced the concept and we're all hooked.

There are those that escape the clutches of the assist, the clean sheet and the frustrating feeling of despair a long term injury or a three match ban brings. But for many football fans they cannot run or hide. The fantasy football bug is one that will not go away.

Rationale goes out of the window and even the most insignificant of Premier League games can mean everything as you look to climb another place in the table against your friends.

Once nothing more than a player who shares a name with his country of birth, except maybe questionable follicle treatments, Stephen Ireland now grips many neutrals as they sit on their sofas watching what should be a pointless game between Fulham and Manchester City. Unmistakable with his new shorn bonce, Ireland can be seen scuttling around the pitch. The pointless is now the opposite. Every forward move could have a point to it. A fantasy point.

"Give it to Ireland!", "Have a shot!", "Go on son, hit it!".

The sad thing is you don't support Manchester City. To be honest, you don't even like them that much at all. But it pales into insignificance where fantasy football is concerned.

There are those managers who do hold a grudge. QPR fans tend not to put Chelsea players into their squad. The same goes for the Manchester and north London rivalry. Hated players are given a wide berth. Cristiano Ronaldo was a leper after the 2006 World Cup following his antics with Wayne Rooney. But that summer of discontent has since been forgotten, courtesy of 30-odd Premier League goals. There is redemption for anyone when it comes to goals and assists.

Some have managed to kick the habit, turning their back on fantasy for fear of it ruining their enjoyment of the game. The desire for the likes of Grétar Rafn Steinsson to shank another into the top corner can become so great some are actually willing an opposition player to score against their own team. Believe it or not it happens, providing a silver lining to a desperate moment when your team has conceded to, of all teams, Bolton.

For others it's a life sentence. The weekend highlights can never again be about catching up with the action, it's about catching up with your fantasy total.

Ashley Young nets in the final minute at Everton... it's not only Villa fans who jump up in celebration. That's not just three points but six. Six points! Another rung up the ladder in the mini-league beckons.

There are those who perhaps go too far in the quest for glory. It's not enough to check out upcoming games, who's doing well for your team and who needs dumping. There are countless websites dedicated to the phenomenon where people spend hours pontificating about the pros and cons of Brade Hangeland over Gary Cahill or Michael Turner.

Others spend hours crunching the stats trying to find reliable points magnets. Who has the most shots in a game? What percentage of shots are on target? Who provides real value for money? Who's in? Who's out? Who's on the verge of a ban? You have to wonder where people find the time.

The real addicts are now coming out of the woodwork. We're reaching the point in the season where the early season enthusiasts are starting to drop away, leaving the true experts to make their mark. This is where the competition truly starts, where long term tactics come into play as managers try to pick up unique players rival managers do not have.

Managers will try to second guess their rivals. Those assists will mean more and the merest flick off the backside could be the difference between success and failure. There will be more tears before the end of May, but will they be tears of success or failure?

From now on there's no hope. Every game is vital. Every final third pass can make a difference. If only Phil Neville could actually shoot...


Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (pronounced /ˌsuːpɚˌkælɪˌfrædʒəlˌɪstɪkˌɛkspiːˌælɪˈdoʊʃəs/) is an English word in the song with the same title in the musical film Mary Poppins. The song was written by the Sherman Brothers, and sung by Julie Andrews and Dick van Dyke.

Since Mary Poppins was a period piece set in 1910, period sounding songs were wanted. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious sounds like popular folk songs "Boiled Beef and Carrots" and "Any Old Iron".

Based on the word's usage in song form, it can be inferred that it's an adjective.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is a nonsense word. The critics' belief that the word itself has obscure origins has created some argument about when it was first used historically. According to Richard M. Sherman, co-writer of the song with his brother, Robert, the word was created by them in two weeks, mostly out of double-talk.

Roots of the word have been defined as follows: super- "above", cali- "beauty", fragilistic- "delicate", expiali- "to atone", and docious- "educable", with the sum of these parts signifying roughly "Atoning for educability through delicate beauty." This explication of its connotations suits the nature of Mary Poppins, who presents herself as both extremely beautiful and also supremely intelligent and capable of great achievements. However, it should be noted that although the word contains recognizable English morphemes, it does not follow the rules of English morphology as a whole. The morpheme -istic is a suffix in English, whereas the morpheme ex- is typically a prefix; so following normal English morphological rules, it would represent two words: supercalifragilistic and expialidocious. As one word, it also violates the rule that the letter c cannot sound like a k when followed by an e, an i or a y.

Additionally, according to the 1964 Walt Disney film, it's defined as "what you say when you don't know what to say".

In the 1942 movie "The Undying Monster" (directed by John Brahm), the character Rob Curtis (played by James Ellison) says of character Christy, "She has an overactive supercalifragilis." He goes on to define the word as "female intuition." This passage does not appear in the 1936 novel by Jessie Douglas Kerruish. The screenplay was written by Lillie Hayward and Michael Jacoby.

In popular culture
When Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC remarkably beat Celtic FC in the Scottish Cup 3-1 in February 2000 The Sun reported the story with the headline "Super Caley go ballistic, Celtic are atrocious".

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Franciscan Blessing

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. Amen.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. Amen.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection,starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. Amen.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.

And the Blessing of God, who Creates, Redeems and Sanctifies, be upon you and all you love an pray for this day, and forever more. Amen.


'To aid memory'. Literal translation from the French.

'Aide-mémoire' has become absorbed into English, although it isn't especially old. The term is used to refer to notes, or memoranda, that are taken in order to jog one's memory later. The name was used particularly in the UK diplomatic service. The first known use of it for an English audience was in 1846, in G. Lewis's book - Aide-Mémoire to the Military Sciences. The term had been in use in France for some years by then. The Catalogue des livres de la bibliotheque de feu M. le duc de La Valliere, 1784, has a reference to:
Aide-mémoire ou Chronologie abrégée. Nancy, 1766

The single word memoir, which derives from the middle French memoire, has been in use in English since at least 1494, when it is cited in Loutfut's Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue. This had virtually the same meaning as 'aide-mémoire'.

In recent years the term has also used as an alternative to the term 'mnemonic aid'. An example of this is the rhyme 'Richard of York gave battle in vain' - the initial letters of which are the same as those of the colours of the rainbow - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Chris Rock - How not to get your ass kicked by the police!

Y'know, when I hear him talk, I just see Marty the Zebra...

Choosing the gown, dress & suits - all in six hours!

An eternity, but totally worth it to see a happy bride, made-to-measure suit notwithstanding. =]


The cravat is a neckband, the forerunner of the modern tailored necktie and bow tie. From the end of the 16th century, the term "band" applied to any long-strip neckcloth that was not a "ruff." The ruff, a starched, pleated white linen strip, started its fashion career earlier in the 16th century as a neckcloth (readily changeable, to minimize the soiling of a doublet), as a bib, or as a napkin. A "band" could indicate either a plain, attached shirt collar or a detachable "falling band" that draped over the doublet collar. It is possible that cravats were initially worn to hide shirts which were not immaculately clean.

The modern cravat originated in the 1630s; like most men's fashions between the 17th century and World War I, it was of military origin. In the reign of France's Louis XIII, Croatian mercenaries were enlisted into a regiment supporting the King and Cardinal Richelieu against the Duc de Guise and the Queen Mother, Marie de Medici. The traditional Croat military kit aroused Parisian curiosity about the unusual, picturesque scarves distinctively knotted at the Croats' necks; the cloths that were used, ranged from the coarse cloths of enlisted soldiers, to the fine linens and silks of the officers. The sartorial word "cravat" derives from the French "cravate," a corrupt French pronunciation of "Croat" — in Croatian, "Hrvat".

Considering the interdependence of many European regions (particularly the French) with the Venetian Republic, which occupied most of Croatia's coast, and the word's uncertain philologic origin, the new male neckdress was known as a cravate. The French readily switched from old-fashioned starched linen ruffs to the new loose linen and muslin cravates; the military styles often had broad, laced edges, while a gentleman's cravat could be of fine lace. As an extreme example of the style, the sculptor Grinling Gibbons carved a realistic cravat in white limewood which is now on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

On returning to England from exile in 1660, Charles II imported with him the latest new word in fashion:
"A cravatte is another kind of adornment for the neck being nothing else but a long towel put about the Collar, and so tyed before with a Bow Knott; this is the original of all such Wearings; but now by the Art and Inventions of the seamsters, there is so many new ways of making them, that it would be a task to name, much more to describe them". (Randle Holme, Academy of Armory and Blazon, 1688.)

During the wars of Louis XIV of 1689–1697, except for court, the flowing cravat was replaced with the more current and equally military "Steinkirk", named after the Battle of Steenkerque in 1692. The Steinkirk was a long, narrow, plain or lightly trimmed neckcloth worn with military dress, wrapped once about the neck in a loose knot, with the lace of fringed ends twisted together and tucked out of the way into a button-hole, either of the coat or the waistcoat. The steinkirk was popular with men and women until the 1720s.

The maccaronis reintroduced the flowing cravat in the 1770s, and the manner of a man's knotting it became indicative of his taste and style, to the extent that after the Battle of Waterloo (1815) the cravat, itself, was referred to as a "tie".

Singapore 5-0 Cambodia

Thursday, December 04, 2008

United 5-3 Blackburn (Carling Cup)

Civil servants have been gagged for too long

Look, Aims (Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society) notwithstanding, civil servants been doing it all the while.

Love it or hate it, government policy is something always on everybody's lips, so what makes civil servants any different? In fact, civil servants probably have even more to say about it and, dare I say it, even more entitlement to say it, given the stake that they have in the ministry they serve in.

In the purpose of fostering creative tension, it's a wonder the Government hadn't thought of this sooner, but it's certainly better late than never. Its policies are best questioned & critiqued by people in the know.

For sure, the guidelines regarding the Official Secrets Act, abuse of position etc. need to be clear & clarified, but don't let that get in the way of the long-overdue ungagging of civil servants.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

PAD's classical conditioning

The Thai court finally acceded to People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) pressure & demonstrations by dissolving the Cabinet & banning the supposed Thaksin crony PM Somchai Wongsawat from politics for five years.

What does PAD have to say? Mr Sondhi Limthongkul only confirmed their victory & fulfillment of their aims. Chillingly, he warned that demonstrators would return to the streets if people they considered allies of Thaksin Shinawatra came to power.

In other words, PAD is saying,:
Give us government we are happy with or we will protest again. We brought our international airport to its knees & inconvenienced countless of innocent people (local & foreign) of their time & money, but you ain't seen nothing yet. We don't care if the government is elected lawfully or not.

And why not? In pandering to their demands, the Thai judiciary has effectively given carte blanche to all future demonstrators.

Indirectly, what they are saying through classical conditioning is:
If you protest long enough, hard enough, violently enough, you will get what you want. We will never use force to discipline you as we are afraid of you.

Mark my words: PAD will strike again, and many other like-minded power-hungry organisations, even Thaksin sympathisers, will be inspired to do likewise. Cue widespread anarchy, that perhaps even the great King may be powerless to arrest.

en masse

Main Entry: en masse
Part of Speech: adv
Definition: in a mass; all together; as a whole
Etymology: French
[ahn mas, en; Fr. ahn mas]
/ɑn ˈmæs, ɛn; Fr. ɑ̃ ˈmas/
1802, from Fr., lit. "in mass."
For example, The activists marched en masse to the capitol. This French term, with exactly the same meaning, was adopted into English about 1800.


Roquefort (AmE [ˈɹɔʊkfɚt], BrE [ɹɒkˈfɔː], French [ʀɔkfɔʀ]; from Occitan ròcafòrt [ˌrrɔkɔˈfɔɾt]) is a sheep milk blue cheese from the south of France, and together with Bleu d'Auvergne, Stilton and Gorgonzola is one of the world's best-known blue cheeses. Though similar cheeses are produced elsewhere, European law dictates that only those cheeses aged in the natural Combalou caves of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon may bear the name Roquefort, as it is a recognised geographical indication, or has a protected designation of origin. Roquefort is sometimes known as the "King of Cheeses", a distinction that is also used for the Italian Parmigiano Reggiano, the French Brie de Meaux & Époisses de Bourgogne, and the English Stilton[citation needed].

The cheese is white, crumbly and slightly moist, with distinctive veins of green mould. It has characteristic odor and flavor with a notable taste of butyric acid; the green veins provide a sharp tang. The overall flavor sensation begins slightly mild, then waxes sweet, then smoky, and fades to a salty finish. It has no rind; the exterior is edible and slightly salty. A typical wheel of Roquefort weighs between 2.5 and 3 kilograms, and is about 10 cm thick. As each kilogram of finished cheese requires about 4.5 litres of milk, Roquefort is high in fat, protein and minerals, notably calcium.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

SMART goals

S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

On cloud nine

In a state of blissful happiness.

Whenever a phrase includes a number, like the whole nine yards, at sixes and sevens etc., then attempts to find its derivation usually focus on the number. 'On cloud nine' is no exception. A commonly heard explanation is that the expression originated as one of the classifications of cloud which were defined by the US Weather Bureau in the 1950s, in which 'Cloud Nine' denotes the fluffy cumulonimbus type that are considered so attractive. Another explanation is that the phrase derives from Buddhism and that Cloud Nine is one of the stages of the progress to enlightenment of a Bodhisattva (one destined to become a Buddha).

Neither of these explanations holds water. To begin with, both the cloud classifications and the Buddhist stages to enlightenment have ten levels. To single out the last but one stage of either is rather like attributing the source of the 'whole nine yards' to American Football, where it is ten yards rather than nine that is a significant measure. Also, the fact that nine is far from the only number that has been linked with clouds, argues against those origins. Early examples of 'cloud' expressions include clouds seven, eight, nine and even thirty-nine.

It seems that it is the clouds themselves, rather than the number of them, that were in the thoughts of those who coined this phrase. The imagery was originally of a 'cloud cuckoo land' or 'head in the clouds' dreaminess, induced by either intoxication or inspiration, rather than the 'idyllic happiness' that we now associate with the phrase. The early references all come from mid 20th century USA and the earliest that I've found is in Albin Pollock's directory of slang, The Underworld Speaks, 1935:
"Cloud eight, befuddled on account of drinking too much liquor."

'Cloud nine' comes a little later, for example, in The Oxnard Press-Courier, August 1946:
"I think he has thought of everything, unless the authorities pull something new on him out of cloud nine."

Around the same period we find clouds seven and thirty-nine, in The San Mateo Times, April 1952 and Ross’s Hustlers, 1956, respectively:
"Mantovani's skilled use of reeds and strings puts this disc way up on Cloud Seven."
"That stuff is way up on Cloud Thirty-nine."

The early favourite was 'cloud seven' and many of the oldest citations use that form, as in this piece from The Dictionary of American Slang, 1960, which was the first printed definition of the term:
"Cloud seven - completely happy, perfectly satisfied; in a euphoric state."

This early preference for seven as the significant number may have been influenced by the existing phrase 'seventh heaven'.

Since the 1980s or so, 'cloud nine' has become predominant. That has probably been influenced by the use of 'cloud nine' in popular music - George Harrison adopted the term as the title of his 1987 album and, more notably, The Temptations' 'psychedelic soul' album of the same name, in 1969.

Linguistic hype being what it is, we now hear people expressing their happiness with the inflationary 'cloud ten', which brings us back to the cumulonimbus/Buddhist theories. Eighth heaven anyone?

The whole nine yards

All of it - full measure.

Of all the feedback that The Phrase Finder site gets this is the phrase that is asked about the most often. At the outset it should be said that no one is 100% sure of the origin, although many have a fervent belief that they do. These convictions are unfailingly based on no more evidence than 'someone told me'.

This piece is quite long, so here's a summary:

Many people are convinced they know the origin of this expression, which has numerous speculative derivations, but aren't able to provide any documentary evidence whatsoever to support their belief of choice.
The earliest known citation of the phrase in print is from 1964, which argues strongly against any of the supposed mediaeval, Victorian or even World War II origins.
The weight of circumstantial evidence, based on the number of early citations, is that the phrase originated in the American military, although the context of the coinage is uncertain.

How was the phrase derived?
"The whole nine yards" crops up in many contexts, which isn't surprising, as there are many things that can be measured in linear, square or cubic yards - and there are also yard-arms, steelyards etc. to account for. This is the source of the variability of the many plausible, but of course mostly incorrect, explanations of the phrase's origin. Regrettably, plausibility doesn't get us very far, as the following will show. The early citations of the phrase don't in fact refer to yards of any particular material, just to a non-specific measure - 'yards'.

The most probable source of the phrase is the US military - that's where many early references to the phrase originate.

The earliest such military reference is from the 1960s, in Elaine Shepard's novel about the Vietnam War - The Doom Pussy (A narrative about the Vietnam War and the men who are fighting it). The book was first published in 1967 and recounts army life during the early 1960s.

The whole nine yards is used several times in the book, principally by the character Major 'Smash' Crandell. The first citation relates to his extracting himself from an unwanted marriage:
The story began when he had absent-mindedly gone through a wedding ceremony a couple of years before while snockered one Saturday night in San Francisco. Slipping out of the knot was expensive but Smash was eventually able to untangle what he called "the whole nine yards."

A later reference concerns a letter to a serviceman from a sweetheart, promising him comprehensive sexual favours when he gets back home. His response to this is:
God. The first thing in the early pearly morning and the last thing at night. Beds all over the gahdam house. The whole nine yards.

It is possible that the phrase was coined by servicemen in Vietnam. One possible source for this would be the Montagnard hill tribes, who were known by the US forces as 'the Yards'. In 1970, the US author Robert L. Mole published The Montagnards of South Vietnam: A Study of Nine Tribes. Some reports suggest that these nine tribes are the source of the 'nine' in TWNY; other US service memoirs claim that Special Operations Group teams consisted of three US soldiers and nine Yards. The disparity in these reports gives some cause for caution, but it could be that the phrase did originate in Vietnam and that Elaine Shepard picked it up as force's jargon while researching for her book.

The military are also the source of the majority of hearsay accounts of the phrase's source. Many of these are of the 'I was there' variety and carry more authority than the usual, and frankly unhelpful, 'I was told' stories. Having spent some time researching this phrase I have received many such reports from servicemen (usually U.S. servicemen). One such example is from a U.S. drill sergeant who claims that the phrase originated in Fort Benning, Georgia, where soldiers were trained in the 'tree-second rush'. This involved running nine yards in three seconds before diving to ground to avoid sniper fire. Of all the explanations I've heard this one seems to me to be the most believable and certainly fits the phrase's meaning, although without documentary evidence it is just another plausible story.

When was it coined?
Although the precise derivation of a given slang phrase is often difficult to determine, the date of its coinage usually isn't. Phrases that are accepted into common use appear in newspapers, court reports, novels etc. very soon after they are coined and continue to do so for as long as the phrase is in use. Anyone who puts forward an explanation of an origin for 'the whole nine yards' which dates it to before the 1960s has to explain the lack of a printed record of it prior to 1964. If, to take the most commonly repeated version for instance, the phrase comes from the length of WWII machine gun belts, why is there no printed account of that in the thousands of books written about the war and the countless millions of newspaper editions published throughout the 1950s and 60s? The idea that it pre-dates the war and goes back to the 19th century or even the Middle Ages is even less plausible.

What I am sure of is that the phrase wasn't in wide circulation before 1961 - which tends to rule out many of the suggested sources. Why? In May 1961, the American athlete Ralph Boston broke the world long jump record with a jump of 27 feet 1/2 inch. No one had previously jumped 27 feet. This was big news at the time and widely reported. Surely the feat cried out for this headline?:
"Boston goes the whole nine yards"

And yet, not a single journalist worldwide came up with that line, which is missing from all newspaper archives. The phrase may have been coined before 1961, but it certainly wasn't then known to that most slang-aware of groups - newspaper journalists.

The likelihood that the phrase originated in the mid 20th century is supported by the lack of any evidence prior to the early 1960s and the ample printed citations from the late 1960s. "The whole nine yards" was in wide enough circulation in the USA then for it to be appearing in newspaper adverts. There are many examples of this, as here from the Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, 1st May 1969:
'Four bedroom home, located in Country Club Estates. Running distance from Golf Course. Completed and ready to move in. This home has "the whole nine yards" in convenience.'

Earliest citations in print
The earliest known example of the phrase in print that I know of is in the US newspaper The Democratic Standard, 14th March 1855. The story it appeared in was a work of fiction rather than of news reporting and was reproduced in several US papers in 1855. It concerned a judge who arrived at an event without a spare shirt and decided to have one made for him. As a joke a friend ordered one with three times the required material, i.e. 'nine yards of bleached domestic and three yards of linen'. The outcome was:
"He found himself shrouded in a shirt five yards long and four yards broad. What a silly, stupid woman! I told her to get enough to make three shirts; instead of making three, she has put the whole nine yards into one shirt!"

Well, that does contain the phrase in question and it does relate to yards of material, which is one of the commonly repeated origins. This appears to be by pure chance though. After all, the individual words are common enough and have to appear together arbitrarily sometimes. This can't be accepted as the origin.

To get a more plausible source we have to come forward to as recent a date as 1964, which is the earliest date I've yet found for the 'whole thing' meaning of the expression. On 18th of April that year, the Texas newspaper The San Antonio Express and News reprinted an article headed How To Talk 'Rocket', by Stephen Trumbull. He wrote the piece for The World Book Encyclopedia Science Service and it lists and explains new jargon terms that were in use in the space exploration community in the USA. He offered the opinion that "the new language spreads across the country - like a good joke - with amazing rapidity", which suggests that the terms listed were recently coined, and he went on the write:
"Give 'em the whole nine yards" means an item-by-item report on any project.

Whether the term actually originated as spaceman's jargon is open to doubt. It could easily have been appropriated by them from another source. That source could well have been the US military, as that's where many early references to the phrase originate.

Suggested derivations
Despite being sure they are all inventions, I'm obliged to include some of the versions of the source of the phrase that are going the rounds. Take your pick, and feel free to make up your own, everyone else does:
It comes from the nine cubic yards capacity of US concrete trucks and dates from around 1970s. Widely circulated although arrant nonsense as even the largest concrete mixers were smaller than 9 cubic yards in 1967.

The explanation refers to World War II aircraft, which if proved correct would clearly predate the concrete truck version. There are several aircraft related sources:

The length of US bombers bomb racks.
The length of RAF Spitfire's machine gun bullet belts.
The length of ammunition belts in ground based anti-aircraft turrets, etc. No evidence to show that any of these measured nine yards has been forthcoming.

Tailors use nine yards of material for top quality suits. Related to 'dressed to the nines'?

The derivation has even been suggested as being naval and that the yards are shipyards rather than measures of area or volume. Another naval version is that the yards are yardarms. Large sailing ships had three masts, each with three yardarms. The theory goes that ships in battle can continue changing direction as new sails are unfurled. Only when the last sail, on the ninth yardarm, is used do the enemy know which direction the ship is finally headed.

A mediaeval test requiring the victim to walk nine paces over hot coals.