Sunday, January 15, 2017

Over invested in rental cars and taxis

This happen because these businesses were overly optimistic in the future and over invested. It could not be avoided because it was impossible to get timely data plus investing in vehicles involved some lead time. Where is the regulator who is tasked with seeing the big picture and guiding this? LTA regularly get blamed and they must be very sick and tired of it.

Regulators are scared stiff about getting this wrong and guess what? They are likely to get it wrong. You cannot bring your academic models and theories to understand road transport issues which are complex and constantly changing. In the end the least evil approach from the perspective of protecting their careers is to react to problems than the terribly difficult task of avoiding problems and never getting credit for it, the same "mistake" Obama made in foreign policy which actually showed him to be more patriotic and courageous than most presidents. Of course Kissinger is unhappy with him for that: a foreign policy of avoiding problems and "don’t do stupid things" which his detractors took advantage to ridicule him. He inherited the stupid things Cheney-Bush and the neo-cons got America into in Iraq.....but the Iran deal and TPP were bold moves, which is being undone by the feckless Trump. 

LTA must be motivated even more to work to avoid problems. They will be praised for upgrading the intelligence of the transport system but nobody feels motivated to overly invest themselves in the thankless task of avoiding problems. 

Creator of Hanyu Pinyin dies

As the creator of the now ubiquitous hanyu pinyin his contribution was phenomenal. I would think he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Without his contribution I wonder the Chinese could even enter the modern age because it would be too hard to achieve high levels of literacy. What is the use of Deng's opening up then? As a counterfactual, may be the lots more Chinese would have picked up English without the aid of hanyu pinyin to learn their own tongue. The world would have been a completely different place. 

Zhou Yougang would probably had remained on Wall Street if he knew the suffering he was destined under Mao. He is a believer in democracy and after living to a ripe old age of 111, democracy is not even a distant goal for China. 

"Ordinary people no longer believe in the Communist Party anymore," Zhou said in the interview. "The vast majority of Chinese intellectuals advocate democracy."

The biggest takeaway from him to survive in a unpredictable and may be brutal world is to always remain optimistic. The NYT article concluded with this line from him:

“When you encounter difficulties, you need to be optimistic,” he said. “The pessimists tend to die.”

Saturday, January 14, 2017

SG crisis of foresight?

Even as Kerry visits Vietnam, their party chief is having a brotherly conversation of a fellow communist in China.

Vietnam is shrewd to strengthen its ties with all key parties. Unlike us they do not need to re-calibrate but they show us that it is possible to stay as friends with both the US and China for now.

I think every medium and small Asian states would want to keep as many options as possible. The Philippines and Malaysians have re-calibrated but we have not and may even be wondering if we need to.

Our edge and survival strategy cannot change because as a tiny island state we have no choice. We just have to understand what is happening much better than every other player. Big powers act to defend and promote their interests, tiny states like us do not have that option but park ourselves at the right spots ahead of time. What I do not know is without LKY and Raja are we able to pull this off. The capture of our Terrexes by Hong Kong suggest that our early warning radar failed. The Chinese national now Singaporean William Zheng Wei, suggested we ought to have imitated LKY was spot on. We better buck up.

Without securing our external space every good thing we have domestically cannot be sustained or protected.

In that red box, Ng Eng Hen identified three antagonistic pairs of forces at work today. They are Globalisation versus nationalism, global rules versus the regional order, and collective good governance versus individual rights.

To me they appear remarkably like those scenarios I used to work on and they are probably from PMO scenario planning outfit. The problem with that approach is that they are only good at describing what is going on in a limited way and quite useless at suggesting appropriate course of action. For example, it is tantamount to saying we need to find a way into the future but is incapable of suggesting that you need a compass and a map or even those aren't good enough and a GPS is required. They are impressive for those who can't do better but useless when we need to go above and beyond that. We need to rearrange the facts to form pictures beyond what such scenario planning methodology can produce. They do not offer enough insight to support foresight because to paint the big picture in neat concepts is had to leave behind what was ill fitting to building their models. What was rejected would often proved to be absolutely critical. 

Shell invented scenario planning and it failed to help them stay on top. ExxonMobil with Lee Raymond and Rex Tillerson had done much better than Shell. 

I fear we might have a deficiency of foresight among our present generation of leaders because they could not make sense of the present situation as well as LKY could, which was alluded to by William Zheng Wei. Foresight as my daughter pointed out in an essay a few years back is founded on superior understanding of the present. In the Terrex case, our leaders failed to understand better what it meant for the KMT to lose to DPP in Taiwan's presidential elections. In other words had the KMT controlled the presidency and stuck with the 1992 consensus, the Chinese would not have detained our Terrex vehicles. 

Finally raspberries

Raspberries after a very long time. I last had them when we were in the US in late 2014. Bought these at $3.75 for only a measly 80g of them. When we were living in Dubai, I had raspberries ice cream with raspberries every day.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Xiaomi Mi Band pulse 1S arrives

Ordered on the 8th, delivered today all the way from South Korea.

Special price: $9.90 but shipping was $4.90

This is not for me but I am looking forward to feedback on how well it is working.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Obama's farewell address

Why does God in his inscrutable wisdom decide Obama should be decided by Trump? That is why he always asks us to respond with faith and not insight. Obama just did that earlier today in his farewell speech as the 44th president of the United States.

Those who hate him, they do so because metaphorically this man had chosen to "heal on the Sabbath". They have their pet moral and social issues which is elevated beyond loving God with all your heart, mind and soul; loving your neighbor as you love yourself. These sort of hypocritical professing Christians are a threat to America's democracy which America's enemies have tapped into with shocking effectiveness. From this lens, Russia and Daesh are enemies but surprisingly China is not. The Chinese will not be your enemy unless you make them yours. Fear and suspicion will make enemies out of the US and China but trying the hardest to understand and accommodate each other will usher in the brightest ever future for humanity. On that Trump cannot but be starting off on the worst possible foot. Having answered the prayers of the Christian to make Trump president, may God the producer of Joseph stories now help us.

Update: 4:20 pm

This is the story as carried by our ST

and there were a fair number of Obama's detractors (their right of choice) and some like this some pastor put in as his comment.

If it weren't ST but some US media, there would be lots more vitriol and hate toward Obama and liberals.

And now to inject some realism as a counterbalance to some idealistic writing about the US-China relationship in the main post, the outgoing US trade representative in a written statement as reported by NYT.

Suspicion and fear is the default. To ask for and build trust you need to really dare to hope and have faith. "Yes, we can" is the hardest thing in the world.

Suck it up Christians, just as Obama was God's gift to you which you never asked for, Trump is his gift to you too after much prayer (sic). Not many people will understand where I am coming from but I am blogging for myself. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Temperature records

Extreme of temperatures on either end has often caused me to whip out my phone to record the event. Today isn't the hottest I have seen of our thermometer but this is not a good sign when it is only January.

The hottest I have seen here was 31 Celsius, which happened on April 19 last year. Here is a sample of previous 30.7

June 14, 2013 when haze was a factor.
November 9, 2014
June 21, 2014 but a 0.1 Celsius less

Now if it doesn't rain perhaps we will see 31 Celsius tomorrow? If so, that will justify another blog post on our indoor temperature.

Our apartment is South East facing. Just imagine what my west facing neighbours must be enduring.