Sunday, September 21, 2014

PM at Singapore Summit vs Nikkei Conference




I am happy the PM show a good grasp and clarity of pressing issues compared to his unimaginative and predictable speech in the Future of Asia Conference in Tokyo by the Nikkei paper.

I had criticized him then in an earlier post that peering many years into Asia's future he could missed an elephant in the room: the rise of global militant Islam.


What should we do about the evil form of Islam like the ISIL? There is no quick fix. We will have to conserve our energy and resources and battle them for a very long time until they have given up on their evil interpretation of Islam. We will challenge them on every front in all sorts of ways ranging from the peaceful to the armed. Ultimately we hope the rest of peaceful Islam will rise, condemn, educate and if necessary bear arms under national flags against these evil movements.

In the end it is a family quarrel of the people in the Middle East that is spilling out all over the world. They have hijacked Islam for their violent political agenda. The less results they get the more desperate and violent they become.

We can't interfere in other people's quarrels but we must insist on rules of conduct and enforce them as all people outside the region have legitimate interests to safe guard. When they are ready for the world's help, we will help them. Right now they remain an impossible mess. I suppose things must get worse before there is a chance to make them better.

Surprise $117K bill from unknown doctor



Whenever I write about medical costs here the logs inevitably suggest that there are not many people interested. I am worried about where healthcare cost will end up give that we already know it is outpacing inflation and probably wage rise. Will we end up no far from America? In the NYT story, doctors were incredibly rapacious. Would ours be different?

Han Fook Kwang wrote this earlier on the 14th of this month. He was studying and responding to a letter to the Forum by a doctor criticizing the growing greed of doctors. Such doctors now serve as a restrain on their overly money minded colleagues but can we expect that there will always be enough such doctors? I don't know.

The problem with healthcare cost now and the near future is that basically there is no problem. That's why people are so blasé. They will worry and complain when it is too late. Meanwhile doctors keep asking for more money and never pay attention to reaching the ceiling of unaffordability. It is critical that we cap the rate of medical inflation. To continue to allow it to grow faster than wages is a sure road to misery. Universal medical insurance will only serve to quicken our journey there because the silly patient often fail to connect the dots that ultimately this will come back to him as higher premiums and much richer doctors.


Disaster if we get a PM like David Cameron


I have been busy to the point that I just couldn't spare a few minutes to post anything for the past few days. A real pity because these posts are like photos and they become valuable as they age.

Jon Eyal article published on the 18th about the Scottish attempt to secede from the UK, note the words in the red box. These remind me of another person: Yeo Ning Hong. He had basically told Maersk to go away to PTP if they are no happy with PSA charges. The giant container line left and Yeo Ning Hong was also shown the door. I didn't expect a veteran minister to be so muddle headed.

British PM David Cameron isn't a knave but I wonder what had gotten into him to make a dangerous date with fate? How could he be so foolish to allow the secessionists a blank cheque? There are some things you just don't risk no matter how confident you are. Oh, this must be a real Black Swan for him. I wonder what if one day Singapore has a PM as careless as Yeo Ning Hong or David Cameron. For now I am sure LHL is much more careful and able than David Cameron. Well LHL is paid a lot more.  Nevertheless a bad PM is too expensive even if he comes free and a first class PM is never paid enough. That's life.

I think David Cameron deserves to be booted out. That would at least provide an excuse not to deliver on all the promises to the Scots needed to keep them in the UK fold. I hope London is not so foolish to over play this until the English murmur that it is better for Scotland to leave. They have navigated themselves and it is all their fault into a very difficult situation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ISIL the ME version of the Taiping Rebellion?

It was 5 in the morning and I was reading this stuff?

By the time I got to the end of the story I have decided how ISIL should be labeled. I will stop seeing them as deviant Muslims and call them a Muslim cult.

These are early days but Taiping Rebellion in China could potentially be a lens we could use to understand the attraction of the ISIL phenomena.

In the Middle East begin by substituting China in late Qing with Islam. You will begin to see parallels. The Muslim governments in the region are like the feckless and corrupt Qing government of the 19th century.

Just as Hong Xiuquan distorted Christianity for his nefarious ends, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is doing the same. Both were from the scholar class too.

Far too many Muslims are seeing how their leaders are failing them. History had been priming them for this moment. They are looking for a truer and purer Islam. That vacuum should be filled but it looks like Baghdadi got there first. Militarily and politically destroying ISIL will not only not solve this problem but make it worse. Don't forget ISIL is the result of a failed Al Qaeda. Only a peaceful, confident and successful Islam would.

Until a spiritual solution is found, ISIL should be kept in check but not defeated or destroyed.

Adonit Jot Pro stylus

I am using the Jot Pro l bought yesterday to write this post on my Galaxy Tab S. This stylus cost me only $33.60 at Popular after multiple discounts. It was listed as $49.
I chose blue just in case the daughter finds, it good for note taking in school. If so, she can have this.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Skills that get you hired

This post is for my children. The nine skills that get your hired. I wouldn't agree they are the top but they are important and CNA had done the hard work to put them nicely together.


These nine skills deconstructed is quite different when they are playing together as an orchestra. The conductor is your faith and value system which was completely missing in the clip.

It takes many years and most people never achieve it to exhibit the nine skills. Sure in your mind you could think you have come close after working for many years but there would be many people especially your bosses who thought otherwise. Never mind they could be wrong but they are more than often right.

Young people should bear in mind the following.

1. These nine skills are not complete. They rank highly but not necessarily the top nine.
2. It is wiser to note (I didn't say identify) three to five skills you are already better at  to develop.
3. Grow these skills and extend them to possess the other skills.

I repeat, it is not possessing these nine skills but how they reinforce each other uniquely in a person.

Really in this short life you don't have the time to be good at all of them. You don't really need to unless you want to be a top leader.

Many young people are going to mimic these skills than truly possessing them. A lifetime in school gaming the an exam based system for As, ending up with more form than substance, which international test systems ranking us highly cannot surface.

The test of the pudding is in its eating, and our first class school performance regularly do not yet end up with world class performance. Just compare ourselves with Israel. They don't make the academic ranks like us but they are world class innovators and entrepreneurs.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Winning by not destroying ISIL


I think the president is well aware that he is involving America is basically a family quarrel which outsiders should stay out. Unfortunately the region just have a knack of sucking you back inside. You just have to limit your cost and involvement. There is too much enmity and hatred in the region in a very complex web. Friends or just partners sharing common interests and enemies switch sides frequently. That is why it would be hard to forge a steady coalition against ISIL.

Moral principles are strained to the limits when you operate in this region. Containing rather than bringing peace to the region may be the only achievable objective. A lot of thought would be spent on how to avoid further entanglement and not allowing the situation to deteriorate further. Again this is a matter of luck because the situation is basically unpredictable. You can destroy ISIL but what will come after them? Might be better to just degrade them and let them fill a limited vacuum. When children fight and you can't stop them, the best option might just be let them exhaust themselves completely. You will need infinite patience. Let them use their resources, not yours. Your focus is achieving the best possible humanitarian outcomes. You wait for these impossible circumstances to evolve to one where you can do something helpful. That is why the Americans are giving themselves three years to work on this and that is an eternity in US politics. In between now and then there is plenty of wiggle room from crossing the stream by feeling the pebbles underneath. Sure you have to pay ball with the media but what is public and popular which is often naive will not be the true strategy dealing with the situation in that region.

Meanwhile Israel only care about its interests with no regard of anyone else. I don't think they are selfish but they recognize that at the end of the day they are on their own. They are totally familiar of the shifting alliances and loyalties in the region. So they are clear minded that the most dire threat to the region is a nuclear armed Iran. Destroying ISIL and an Iraq under the influence of Iran is a more dangerous set up on the chessboard than a balance of terror between the forces.  The Shias running Iraq can never be trusted to treat the Sunnis and other minorities right. ISIL or any Sunni deterrence would be needed to get the Iraqi government to behave and check the Iranian power ambitions. The Kurdish though a minority will have an out-sized role eventually.

Of course my analysis would likely be short lived. The circumstances could change rapidly and a new way to think of the situation would become necessary again.


I think David Brooks and Thomas Friedman are among the few writers who gets it about Obama. I always feel more secure with a reluctant leader in charge. In fact closer to home, I wish I do not have to wonder if my leaders were such types or they were enticed by the high pay.

The situation in Iraq will remain fluid and unpredictable but at least I think I have a fair grasp of what Obama meant by, "don't do stupid things".


Update: 10:10pm

Just came from reading Thomas Friedman latest piece in the NYT: What's their plan?

Friedman has loftier objective to my more modest even somewhat Machiavellian one. The difference is he writes for all of us and I blog for myself. He doesn't have my licence to write as I wish.

I don't think the feuding and conspiring parties will easily allow America to be the air force of the decent against the troops and assets of the barbarous. Reality is you would have to cajole and threaten others and constantly keep a clear mind of American interest only. You want to stop the inflow of foreign jihadists and if you can't, they must be destroyed. Containment rather than defeating ISIL from becoming a threat to America and her allies is all we could ask for. Talk to these Arabs and Persians is cheap. They are only willing to grasp the tangibles of carrots and sticks.