Saturday, April 30, 2016

Set of WMF kitchen knives

Bought this set of WMF knives for $99 yesterday at Isetan. We had gone looking for them at Takashimaya without success. Since we were already in Orchard Road and as we hardly come here any more we decided to go over to Isetan just to look around. It turned out to be a good decision.

This morning BHG is also selling the same set but for $118.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SG Property: Learning from London's example

Besides using this to commemorate that my subscription of the Economist is ending soon, I have a more serious purpose: London property prices as a cautionary tale for Singapore.

A quote from the the article is in order:

Increasing inequality is bad for the city economically. Costly rents and mortgages transfer wealth from poorer people, who tend to spend whatever money they have, to richer folk, who save it. As a result there is less overall demand to support the local economy. 

Decreasing diversity is another loss: if different sorts of people do not cluster together, they cannot exchange ideas and innovations so readily. In 2012 and 2013 productivity per worker fell in London, though it rose in the rest of the country. The proportion of total employment that comes from startups is falling, and small firms are currently closing at a faster rate than more established outfits.

One day I saw a much appreciated and needed stationery shop in the neighborhood disappear. It was replaced by a hair dresser. There was a hardware shop which made way for yet another hair-do enterprise. Afterward a decades old Chinese medical shop gave up which was replaced by yet another hair dresser! Elsewhere it could be something else, e.g., banks in Holland Village.

All of these are years old stories but they mimic the London experience and at a time before we moved to arrest the inexorable rise of real estate prices.

The government might from time to time be blinded by ideology but it is not stupid once it realized its mistake. The real estate sector should recognize facts on the ground before they press the government to make their lives good again. Being wishful is not a virtue in business but it also makes me wonder the sort of reprehensible relationship they might have enjoyed previously.

The quick and dirty economic growth from property bubbles are not worth it and only serves to make us poorer in the long run.

Beware of dentists suggesting fillings

This is a horror story and it is far away in France. It is amazing he got away for so long. The story here is more mundane but painful especially to the pocket and your health. A lot of dental fillings these days are probably unnecessary. Sadly the majority of patients do not know and trust the dentist's opinion and get unnecessary fillings. It is a quick and dirty way for the dentist to make as much money as possible. As the healthcare sector becomes increasingly commercially focused it is also becoming harder to find a dentist you can trust. One way out is to go to a dental hygienist. They have more experience doing routine maintenance and are cheaper as well.

Reading Admin Officers promo dinner

65 admin officers were promoted like they do every year in posh settings at some hotel. This year they have chosen the Shang. I am not suggesting this is wrong but the yearly choice of venue and luxury is more than a little interesting. Also don't envy them but be sad for ourselves. Here is why.

The ministers are always telling the these admin officers they need to spend more time on the ground in order to write meaningful policy papers and craft policies that are sensitive and suitable for conditions on the ground. How we ought to understand this with greater precision is this: You need to spend enough time on the ground to make your policy making useful to the ministers. But how much time is enough? If you are not sure you ought spend more rather than less right but that is not how they have been doing. In other words, policy makers will always remain out of touch until they are periodically publicly humbled. This is the cycle of arrogance and meekness we can expect. The cycle of out of touch and getting back in touch.

The elite-hoi polloi divide is an issue all over the world which we prefer to remain as an issue as well. Civil society should take note, continue to develop and keep the government on the ball and relevant.

Monday, April 25, 2016

SMRT new trend: Tragic accidents

The report is out stating what is obvious for people with work site experience. This is in order that the the public would also know. Think of the dumbest reason possible and that is the reason why the tragic accident happen. Compare it against all other headline grabbing accidents they all have the same underlying cause: Negligence and "not so suay one" attitude toward safety. I complained earlier in another blog post a couple of days ago.

What the public cannot see or understand are where all the monkey business goes on, and there is plenty we are not privy to.

Given SMRT dismal track record do not be surprised more workers will die on the job. They are starting a new trend. There is no need to review safety procedures. The hell just comply with them and it will be alright. But what is the cost of compliance? Missing deadlines and dollars and cents leading to the stock price and the senior executives comp. Safety issues are the same all over the world. Remember BP's Deepwater Horizon? That is one huge example. You can have your pick anywhere anytime.

For failing to ensure a safety culture some pretty high up executives in SMRT ought to be booted out. Now they are busy trying to pass the buck with improving safety systems. It is not the system idiot, it is the behavior and the attitude that keep repeating unsafe actions. Until that change, wait for the next accident and big apology. Afterward it is business as usual for what the public cannot see.

Go look for someone working on maintenance in SMRT and hear, "Please don't quote me stories..."

Update: Apr 27 9:15 pm

I didn't have to wait very long for just the next example to prove the point in my main post. If I had waited perhaps just weeks for another death at work site accident story, the common features of why the tragedy happened would still be the same. Do people wonder why we never have bomb disposal officers getting killed while trying to defuse/dispose bombs? They follow safety procedures. 

People give short shrift to safety here. I do not know how many more need to die before they would wake up their idea. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dr Naik: Half right is most dangerous

It is easy for me to understand Dr. Zakir Naik by comparing him with the Christian equivalents I have come across. He is a dangerous man but it is not easy to tell. If you must listen to him, do not trust him too quickly but listen with a critical mind for a very long time. Once you trust him, you will stop checking his ideas and then you are sold.

Dr. Naik is excellent for preparing Muslims to be radicalized turning them eventually into candidates for terrorism (such types won't use the label on themselves) part way. He will not take you the whole journey but makes it easy for others to pick it up and complete the trip. The Malaysian government is naive, more likely it may already be too late and they find it all but impossible to stop him preaching in Malaysia. Many imans are probably already sold on his theology.

Dr Naik preaches and is an apologist for the superiority of Islam over other faiths. We have many Christian preachers who are also like him defending Christianity. If you think your religion is superior keep it to yourself or in private discussions over a meal with those from other faiths. The public square is not the place for such things. These are dangerous acts that can potentially bring about misunderstandings and divisions in societies.

What sort of Islamic theology is this which threatens the peace than protects it? Like those Christian preachers I come across doing us a disservice, Dr. Naik have failed the Muslims. Unfortunately the rank and file adherents of any religion are also often too gullible and easily misled.

Waiting to be "Amazoned" by Uber

The taxi industry and consumers are simply sitting ducks waiting to be "Amazoned" by Uber. Long term greedy just like Amazon is the approach Uber is taking. Once they have become dominant they will raise prices and their stock will go up big time. That is their pay day. However they could never execute their plan like Amazon and so their strategy is more obvious.

People are naive given the money faced characters behind this business if they are across the world's cities to do good for you. It is an amoral business pure and simple. If we do not learn to look after ourselves eventually we will become Uber's hostages.

As for our taxis companies they deserved the pressure and competition they are getting from Uber. Truly reveals the extent of their complacency and parochialism.

Good luck and please vote public transport.