Friday, March 24, 2017

Fake Christians supporting Trump

An excellent article by Sarah Posner explaining how the religious right i.e., to be practical most evangelical Christians in America have now been exposed as fake Christians, something which Pope Francis had pointed out more than once at Donald Trump.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Structural Unemployment: "Plug-and-Play employees"

Many of the out of job PMETs I have read or come across are increasingly cynical of the many initiatives the government have introduced to find them jobs. They said it is mostly for show, to inform the public that the government is doing something.

To me this is just a very difficult nut to crack and the right thing to do is to keep trying to understand the problem better and more important afterward have the will to solve it. It is best if unemployed PMETs can find their own solutions but after many years of failure we know this is not realistic. If we cannot do much more with the unemployed, it is time to work on the employers. It is good to finally read from Lim Swee Say, and I quote him.

"Don't keep looking for Plug-and-Play kind of workers. Don't keep looking for workers that can fit your kind of jobs 100 percent."

Imagine if we have not curtailed the import of foreign talent. Spoiled employers will continue to insist on hiring only those who fit the job like a glove from the global market. Meanwhile our own displaced workers do not even get a chance to adapt or retrain.

I hope it is not too late for this former banker and others. I do not know what he used to do but I suspect he could be from the back room. A lot of those work have left the country and unless he went with the jobs, his experience is not in demand any more.

If only he could take 25 yeas off his 48 years eh? Employers must be educated and perhaps even be threatened with punitive measures to make the necessary transformation. There is too much ageism out there.

Businesses seeking their own narrow interests often create negative externalities which fall on society. They are always looking for free or cheap inputs. As they used to pollute our air and water until laws were passed to stop them, we might have to go down that road with labour as well. However this is not easy as businesses can always relocate. We would have to increase our value proposition to make it sufficient for them to stay and some industries we simply have to let go.

Related post:  Local business: Solving a problem maestro Yeo could not

Friday, March 17, 2017

China impatience over Taiwan

Nobody publishable in the media wants to talk about it, but North Korea provides an example of how to defend yourself against a super power. Go nuclear.

Taiwan needn't consider that option yet but in the not too distant future military power in many more contexts do not belong to the biggest and most powerful always prevailing. Alternatives to nuclear weapons that do not include biological agents or chemical substances would be developed. The Israelis would probably get there first and Taiwan would be motivated to go down that road as well.

No wonder the Chinese are anxious to get Taiwan back. Strategic patience is extremely risky to achieving the return of the island to the mainland. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

MS Designer Bluetooth keyboard/mouse set for $61

When I asked the sales rep if the Bluetooth keyboard also came with the mouse she said yes. I reminded her they were selling the mouse for $45 standalone for $45. How could this be? But she insisted. I bought the set!

Late last year I bought the same thing for my daughter for about $118 after a 20% discount. At $61 they are giving a 56% discount! I must be stupid to say no and now I felt like I ought to have bought several sets. This is a very very good keyboard.

Something tells me if I were to visit them again, it wouldn't be $61 any more.

Meanwhile I just damaged another keyboard (HP K400) from simply hard and honest use.

The letter D no longer works properly. I have to strike it hard or slowly and firmly for it to register. I have been running through several keyboards and mouse recently. I am definitely working a lot harder these days. It has become much harder to be regular with blogging as well.

Local business: Solving a problem maestro Yeo could not.

An opinion piece by the chairman of the Singapore Business Federation. 

Our local businesses are addicted to asking for help all the time. They have had too much leverage as employers for too long. Instead of enabling our future they are hobbling it when they get help to entrench old habits which must eventually lead to sad endings.

If weak businesses with no future are not cleared out, new businesses of tomorrow cannot surface. What is stopping us thus far is the fear of rising unemployment if we let Darwinian adapt or die produce the next generation of businesses. 

So we make workers skills more fluid, adaptable and less dependent on employers as much as possible. It is a slow and painful process which is quite rare in the world. The buzz word is being "future ready" but it can be very meaningful if we are serious minded about it. 

I saw this the day before.

Many SMEs are forced by their small size, lack of critical mass to be fighting fire and chasing sales continuously. If the environment is good they do well and if the trend last long enough perhaps some will grow big and finally take off. It is the in-between that is a problem. They have achieved medium size, hire quite a few workers and struggling to maintain sales and margins. You don't want them to fail but neither could they grow. In aggregate they caused productivity numbers to look bad and their workers also cannot hope to do well over time. The longer they remain with such firms they less valuable they become and harder to retrain later. 

Once we are able to make more workers less dependent on the companies they work for by getting them future ready, we are ready to break the back of this yoke, a problem Philip Yeo could not solve. 

Update: March 18 1:50pm

The good professor hit the nail on its head (ST yesterday). Local businesses here never wanted to change or adapt if they can help it, always asking the government to help them preserve the status quo or else workers lose their jobs. 

Update: March 18 :10:10pm

Now I am hearing the same shrill and familiar message from the SMEs club.

and I agree with these people comments.

Really, how long is this going to last. It is an endless cycle of these SMEs using the tax payer as a crutch. Time we let some of them go to the wall and retrain the people displaced. This is also trying to release their employees from a "poverty trap". 

Our new Epson L605 printer

Bought this at the IT show for $409 (saved $40). Our current Epson (Office 900WD) has served us almost five years.

The girls especially the one heading to university soon would be printing more freely because of the much lower running cost. I discover in the e-manual that users ought to flush the ink tubes if the printer isn't used for a month or two. What dreadful waste of ink right? Shouldn't buy an ink tank printer unless you print often.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

From engineers to data scientists

If you do not have passion for engineering and most students would not, then they would opt for Data Science aka Big Data work over engineering. That is the new growth area. That is how the daughter is thinking at the moment. She is confident that she would find engineering studies very doable but what do engineers do after they graduate? The more she researched and what she discovered from talking to people at the various universities open houses, the surer she becomes that engineering is not for her.

The information she gathered from the media e.g., like this story Lim Swee Say shared as far as she is concerned did not help her to choose in favor of engineering.

Many of our high performing students are interested enough in their school work to do well in exams but the usually do not have clear passion in areas leading to obvious university courses and jobs. Most will end up applying to the schools that help them find a good job with good pay and career prospects.

For now Data Science would be much more popular than Engineering.