Tuesday, August 31, 2010


First time we had dinner at Sakuraya Jap restaurant. We visited the outlet at West Coast Plaza. The food was very good. Better than Sakae and Ichi-ban which we frequent nowadays.

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Tracking my vPost package

I am getting a thrill from tracking my package on vPost. Let's see if the package arrives within 6 days. I am optimistic.

Slow vPost

vPost is really slow. Look at how efficient Amazon.com is. They delivered the goods to the destination and only a few hours ago did vPost processed it and hasn't sent me the request for payment yet. If I didn't sent them a chaser, it might even be slower.

Ship Carrier:FedEx
Tracking Number:447644412731
Status:In transit
Order #:102-1626791-0822622
Shipment Date:August 26, 2010
Destination:PORTLAND, OR, US
Estimated Arrival:August 30, 2010

Track your package  
DateTimeLocationEvent Details
August 28, 201003:58:00 AMPortland OR USArrival Scan
August 28, 201002:44:00 AMOakland CA USDeparture Scan
August 27, 201007:04:00 PMOakland CA USArrival Scan
August 27, 201005:30:00 PMMemphis TN USDeparture Scan
August 27, 201006:24:00 AMMemphis TN USArrival Scan
August 26, 201011:43:00 PMIndianapolis IN USDeparture Scan
August 26, 201009:34:00 PMIndianapolis IN USShipment received by carrier
August 26, 201004:14:43 PM---Shipment has left seller facility and is in transit
- Show quoted text -

VPost only acted after TWO DAYS, which is how long it took for Amazon to deliver the goods to them. 

Order No : 52963210216267910822622Shipment No : VS001547795US
Country : USA
Merchant : AMAZON
Product Value : USD 139
Volmetric Weight : 0.4 kg    Actual Weight : 0.5 kg
Dimension : 20.0X 24.0X 5.0 cm
Sender's Name : AMAZON
Product Type : OTHERS
Invoice NoOrder Image(s)Payment StatusProcessed Date
[Image]UNPAID2010-08-31 03:57:19.0

Selling Apartment

Not us, but I met my neighbor upstairs at the elevator last night while I was rushing to visit a friend's mom at NUH. He told me he has recently sold his apartment for about 740K and bought a maisonette at Sunset Way for about the same price. He explained why financially it made sense. That gave me pause and perhaps I also better make some calculations. We really have no need to be here any more. My in laws were gone long ago. Very soon none of the kids would need to go to the school near by.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Teacher's Day Presents

One of my kids told me she has made extra presents for Teacher's Day celebration tomorrow. This is not to give to teachers but sell to forgetful classmates who had missed preparing a gift for their teachers!

Dubai Mop

Finally I took a picture of the mop I used at our apartment in Dubai. I didn't plan to bring it back but the packers in a hurry had made the decision for us. I suppose mops all over the world look the same.

Unlike many, we didn't hire a maid in Dubai or use a part timer. We do the cleaning and ironing ourselves.

Back home in Singapore, our part time cleaner decided to retire a couple of months back, so we are DIY now too.

Continuous Chest Compression

Just watched this video and try to remember what to do. I hope I never need to do it but in life you never know.

Not enough talent here

Despite efforts to encourage more Singaporean couples to have more children, there were fewer babies in 2009 than there were in the year before. -AsiaOne

Right! I have to agree to this but I think to meet this talent shortfall through local births is impossible. It isn't the education system that is primary in creating top talents. It is the families that is mainly responsible. If they have too many kids per family, there is probably insufficient resources to groom top talent. Talent the government persistently refused to acknowledged is not born but the combination of the extreme passion with the minimum of 10,000 hours invested. Nobody explains this better than Malcom Gladwell in "Outliers".

The local system is first class at saving those from prematurely failing and so enter society without an adequate education. This is something most Singaporean families should be very grateful for. The ITEs are first rate institutions.

Government objective regarding real estate prices

Our purpose is to make sure in the long term, Singaporeans can own their homes and afford it and it will be a gradually appreciating asset which will grow as Singapore grows.” PM Lee

This is simplistic. It will be anything but this. Property owners, buyers and sellers, i.e., pretty much everyone except children need to intelligently manage the price risk of properties. There is no other way than looking at this issue holistically. He was talking to the stupid ones. I hope we don't have too many of them.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The PM's Rally Speech

First impression, it is a lot of spin. He gave beautiful examples but I doubt they are representative of what goes on out there. E.g., he shared about how mature local workers team up with young foreign workers in a hotel. That is excellent and worthy of emulation by other companies. I am just skeptical that it is happening in the majority of work places.

He spoke about well equipped schools. If so, my daughters in different schools must be lying to me about the facilities and equipment they are getting at school.

Previously SMRT insisted that they could not do any more to increase the capacity of the train system. That is correct within the constraints they have to work with. The government is stepping in outside the train management limited mandate. The problem will be solved, I think because the electoral costs would be too high otherwise.

He described the Singapore Spirit but it is just the effective attitude and problem solving approach we bring to overcome problems and make life materially better. Each of us must decide on why we are Singaporeans because as the late S. Rajaratnam rightly put it, for us it is not ancestry but a matter of choice and conviction. We are left on our own to decide. It is hoped that for those of us already here our different convictions would lead to the same choice and also expressed as the Singapore Spirit. I believe superficially and for a limited time this is achievable.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Lessons from Failure

Singapore's elite do not get the chance to fail like this. It is a very bad idea as failure teaches like nothing else does. There is a heavy price to pay tomorrow. I hope that some of our failures would be around to rise to the occasion when it becomes needful.

Prelims over

Took the kids out for their favorite ice-cream last evening. She gets the weekend off to play as much as she wants. Problem is, she is so capable of self-sabotage and so run the extreme risk of all this privileges getting clawed back :-( Almost happened this morning, had I not helped her, barely in the first hour of  her coveted games playing marathon.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Kindle Ships

Finally after weeks of waiting, the Kindle reader is on the way. Folks at home will find it more convenient to read my growing collection of Kindle books.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Philippines Malaise

Philippines policemen enjoying a photo memento in front of the of the hijacked bus of the botched rescue? This is gross insensitivity. Now I understand why they get the government they deserve. There is little hope for the good ones except to leave their beloved land. No more restrain influence from them, they will sink into the abyss. Truly the sick man of Asia.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brand's Essence of Chicken

Our PSLE girl just had her maiden taste of Brand's Essence of Chicken. In her own words, "She almost puked" as she sat beside me while I was writing this blog entry. There are five more bottles left. I wonder if this is going to be problem. I would also ask if it was necessary to let her have this "tonic". It wasn't my idea to let her use this, but I guess can do no harm. May be even some good.

This is the product:http://www.brandsworld.com.sg/main.aspx?sid=114

The urge to save humanity...

Someone posted this on Facebook,

 ‎"The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it."-- H. L. Mencken
(1880-1956) American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic

She added: I think Mencken is referencing those who not only have the urge but the certainty that they have been born to rule. And they know exactly where to start.

My thoughts?

Substitute humanity with Singapore and it sounds like my first class government - no sarcasm here. We believers of the Liberating King prefer to allow ourselves as new creations to be of use to our neighbors and according to the faith given to us, scale it up as necessary. We think small and let it grow big as needed. They think big and leave the small guys behind.


Then they realized their mistake and come back to drag the small guys along in case they don't get their vote at the next GE. And that my friends is a first class government because most others wouldn't even bother.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Many friends suffering

Too many of my friends are suffering.

1. Mother in hospital for the fourth time this year.

2. Another friend's mother was found forty eight hours after she had fallen, very dehydrated, bleeding at the mouth, practically on her last gasps of breath. A horrifying emergency and on life saving dialysis now.

3. Nephew was a victim of a hit and run accident. Five emergency ops done and not out of the woods. The damn driver got away.

4. A distant relation, only in her twenties and planning to be married next year. Suffered a shock spinal stroke, which is extremely rare. Now lost any sensation below the hip. I remember I took her when she was a small kid and some of her sisters to shop for computers years ago.

5. An old friend's daughter in her late thirties or early forties also suffered a stroke. Not much younger than me.

All these happen within the month of my writing this. :(

Too good to be true

If this place is too good to be true, then it can't last. In fact the more perfect it is, the higher the risk that it would come to an end sooner?

How do you know if it is too good to be true? When it cannot be replicated or adapted elsewhere. When it is not coveted and at best only admired. A few foreigners may envy it and wished their countries are more like us but have no chance of making it happen there. That is why it is important that America proselytize their version of freedom the world over. Grow or perish.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I don't know about tomorrow

Thanks Pearly for sending me this. Learnt this song as a teenager. Timeless and very meaningful. It will be for all my life. The song is an old classic: I know who holds the future.

Bike stolen outside the library

Shot this with my E63 a while ago outside Queenstown Library. Your guess is as good as mine: A nice bicycle just got snitched.

Really careless of the owner to bolt the bike this way. These days the thieves can be very determined and this was certainly no deterrence at all. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tuition Teachers

David Gan isn't a divine hairstylist is he? I think there are many other who are as good as him. I think he is extraordinarily successful because he combines his craft with being a therapist and even a soul mate to his clients. When she feels good after the hair cut, she looks better than any other can work on the celebrities hairdo right? Ditto tuition teachers. Many are competent but only the rare few can inspire their students to outstanding performance. Most will have to live with the untapped potential of their pupils. Therefore the informed and aware parent is more suitable and successful at helping the child succeed. Since a fortunate few are self-starters and achievers they have prevented us from seeing the truth of motivating kids.

The development efforts are focused on turning the talent for motivating and teaching kids into a science. I am noticing new and innovative tuition centers now value adding their services with new fangled systems. Not sure if these systems can truly add value.

America's problem in a word

They made it sound so complicated. America's problems today is just one word: Debt. Debt is wonderful as a servant, but it is a terrible master. All that we are seeing now is how they are trying to prevent cute Gremlims from morphing into monsters because they have discovered water. They are not solving the problem. 

The Americans are just a people overflowing with optimism and doing things to wasteful excess. Now it is pay back time for them. The first step to recovery is stop being so wasteful. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being a Lefty

And this of course is for my lefty girl.

She told me there aren't any shop selling stuff for lefties here. Even Malaysia has one.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Local businessman loses $26m at RWS over three days

Have never been comfortable with having the two IRs here. Sometimes I wonder if the queue to enter aren't mostly locals. We prefer foreigners to come and play but again the whole idea of helping them lose money, though gambler's willing is a bad idea. In the extreme it is like offering a suicidal person the rope to hang himself. This is madness. Why are we in this business?

ST Pocket Money Fund coin bank for every pupil.

A secondary one pupil from my daughter's school bought the ST Pocket Money Fund coin back for every student in the school. Now we must continue her good work by filling out our single coin bank and bring it to OCBC for the kids who can use it.

Exemplary way to remember her late aunt.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

East Coast Park

Took a short walk with the family after a dinner of our weekly "bad food". The sky above was threatening to pour and in the distance, the sun was setting. When details aren't important the E63 is credible. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Economics 2.0

Just started on this book which I had earlier placed a hold on in the Library. This might be among the very few books on Economics that is optimistic. It explains how knowledge and know how creates wealth. All the usual economic reports you get ignore this and assume a zero sum game.

The discipline of economics is not what it used to be. Over the last few decades, economists have begun a revolutionary reorientation in how we look at the world, and this has major implications for politics, policy, and our everyday lives. For years, conventional economists told us an incomplete story that leaned on the comfortable precision of mathematical abstraction and ignored the complexity of the real world with all of its uncertainties, unknowns, and ongoing evolution. What economists left out of the story were the positive forces of creativity, innovation, and advancing technology that propel economies forward. Economists did not describe the dynamic process that leads to new pharmaceuticals, cell phones, Web-based information services-forces that fundamentally alter how we live our daily lives. Economists also left out the negative forces that can hold economies back: bad governance, counterproductive social practices, and patterns of taking wealth instead of creating it. They took for granted secure property rights, honest public servants, and the willingness of individuals to experiment and adapt to novelty. From Poverty to Prosperity is not Tipping Point or Freakonomics. Those books offer a smorgasbord of fascinating findings in economics and sociology, but the findings are only loosely related. From Poverty to Prosperity on the other hand, tells a big picture story about the huge differences in the standard of living across time and across borders. It is a story that draws on research from the world's most important economists and eschews the conventional wisdom for a new, more inclusive, vision of the world and how it works.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Con Job at my place?

This shop, just downstairs of my place took over from the electrical appliance shop about three months ago. Nobody had wanted to use the space and it was empty for many months before. It is completely changed now. Lots of elderly people will sit on stools queuing to get in before it opens. On the same row are two clinics. Guess who is more promising and believable in helping old people deal with their pain issues. Sadly, in the end most of these enthusiastic old people would have spent their money to no avail.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A virtuous cycle from Luke's Gospel

Here is how the Gospel writer Luke see the life of Christian according to Thomas Cahill in "Desire of the Everlasting Hills". It is a picture of a virtuous cycle between prayer and showing kindness to your neighbor.

Kindness doesn't spring from having a lot of wealth or resources to share. In fact for many, the habit of preserving or even hoarding wealth make them selfish according to Luke's Gospel. Well, this is another perspective and a very old fashioned one on the widening wealth gap isn't it?

Inevitably the divide between the rich and poor will narrow. The question is would it be achieved peacefully or violently. Will we do it ourselves or test God's patience to the point that he intervenes on the side of the disenfranchised.

Indonesia's widening wealth gap

A yawning wealth gap is given under current circumstances. Below is an excerpt from today's ST on the situation in Indonesia. Unless the rich can get richer helping the poor come up, they have no incentive to do so. Eventually this will force the government to redistribute wealth. Typically the rich will try to control the government before this happen. Under the Washington Consensus, they usually succeed.

While the elite is benefiting from the boom and the middle class is growing - recent figures put around 35 million people in this category - life for the ordinary Indonesian has not improved much.

The first study, a 119-page report by the Harvard Kennedy School Indonesia Programme, points out that Indonesia is probably becoming 'more unequal'.

7th Month Dream

Last night in a dream I saw my father's funeral. There was a lot of yellow. The wake has been going for several days but nobody came. I felt the urgency to tell those who had know him to come and pay their last respects.

Why did I have such a dream? Who knows, but the Hungry Ghost Month began a couple of days ago. Last night we were teasing each other about it on Facebook.

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Religion in IC

My daughter had her IC done a couple of days ago. She told them to put down her religion as "Free Thinker" instead of Christian as per my advice. Not sure to feel sad but it is realistic. In the society we now live, what difference does it makes if you are a Christian? None.

Don't say you have faith. Show me your works. When that happens, you will read your Bible differently and much simply too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

China: corruption and the wealth gap

Nothing is new here. The same script was used in Chinese society when the KMT was running the country, and before than the Manchus and before that the Ming dynasty etc., People should be very vigilant against an overboard optimism of this giant country.

Excerpts from a WSJ article I just read.

Most of that extra wealth lies with the already-rich, widening income inequality beyond that suggested by official figures. This crowd is often supplementing its earnings with 'gray' income which can include kickbacks, bribes and the like.

and more...

Behind this official underestimate of Chinese household wealth lies what Wang terms 'gray' income, such as government and party officials receiving outsize cash gifts when their offspring marry, or benefiting from a bit of insider trading in the property market, or receiving under-the-table payments in return for favorable treatment. Such items contributed to total hidden income in 2008 of nearly $1.4 trillion, equivalent to roughly 30% of China's GDP.

Lessons from Toyota

Toyota was right after all. Unintended acceleration was never their fault. They must be feeling so wronged now. What a terrible run of bad luck. The lesson to take away is that as our systems get increasingly complex, we must always develop a way to explain it simply and correctly. Many of us think just because we are educated and have at least a college degree, we have the knowledge and experience to judge? These people haven't been humbled by the financial markets yet. Truth is, we know nothing when what we know is compared to what we do not yet know. These days, life has the habit of thrusting into our face, what we do not know.

No evidence of Toyota throttle faults
A preliminary US government investigation has found no evidence of defects in Toyota’s electronic throttle control systems, pointing instead to driver error as the main cause of accidents blamed on unintended accelerationhttp://link.ft.com/r/QM42II/6VE75U/A45XE/26DUTM/TPG95C/HK/h

Escape from Dubai

I thought this escapee from Dubai didn't followed up with a book as he had promised. I am glad he did but disappointed that the book isn't available in our libraries or in Kindle.

Having lived there for several months and watching them, I think Dubai deserves some of these bad publicity it is getting. It had been a master at painting a glamorous, liberal and irresistible picture of itself, but the reality could not be further from the truth. You know it when you live there.

Bluetooth problems

Wonder if my Notebook Bluetooth radio has gone kaput. Windows report that it is functioning but it failed to connect to the Bluetooth mouse and my Nokia phone. I deleted both devices and tried to pair them again but to no avail. Will investigate this further later.

Recently has been getting unnecessary computer problems (aren't they always unnecessary?). IwiSoft came back with an inane suggestion of what might cause the SWF to video converter not to work. After my detailed explanation, I haven't heard back from them. I wonder if the problem had to do with changes to some dynamic linked libraries the software uses but with the various OS updates, it has changed.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Singapore's strategy

Singapore strategy is very simple. Go for economic growth at all cost because that fuels everything in the dictum that although money is not everything, everything is money. Next we will not compromise on national security given our vulnerabilities of not just a small state but one of the smallest in the world. Besides our neighborhood always has the potential to change suddenly. After these twin objectives are satisfied, the rest of the priorities are then optimally allocated along priorities that are not always clear and often quietly changing. Investors do not mind as long as their business interests are protected, and they are very well given economic growth is numero uno.

So what is in for citizens? That hopefully the government would always have a package of sweet and bitter fruits such that you will return them to power. From here we get the disconnect that what is good for Singapore is frequently not good for its citizens. Anyway nobody discuss, much less define and agree what is good for the people. As I said earlier, "priorities are not always clear and often quietly changing" Those who aren't happy, they have quietly make plans and left.

So is there an alternative to this arrangement? Not in the past when we were very vulnerable and fragile, but as we become wealthier, better educated and more resourceful, alternatives should be possible.

How long can the current strategy last? It is quite easy to tell. When voters no longer buy into it, and hopefully when alternatives are floated and can be chosen. If they vote in protest, that is not good for anyone.

At this point, it is not clear what some of these alternative strategies might be.

It's the incentives, not the market which decides.

I quote a paragraph from the WSJ today on China's not too successful attempts to build low cost housing.

Local governments prefer to sell land to developers for middle-to-high-end apartment construction, as this pulls in more revenue for them. Private developers prefer it this way, too, as they can usually achieve better margins by selling apartments for the top end of the market.

Again and again, it is the incentives and not the market which decides. It was childishly naive to not expect the wealth gap not to narrow everywhere. I have always been skeptical of this. I recall how dismayed I was when they repealed the Glass-Steagal Act in the US. 


Just came upstairs from handing the wheelchair to a relative. How I wished it had gone to Charity because we don't need it for ourselves. I hope the young lady that would be using this chair would eventually recover from this very rare form of stroke. I saw her elder sister briefly. She looked so sad.

This is Home, Truly...

Kit Chan does this best. First composed and sung for National Day thirteen years ago. Excellent even when you don't always feel welcomed in your own country. I am glad I have this blog. Wonder what the feeling would be like when I come back here again a long time later. Perhaps I would feel more welcomed in my own country then.

Our Economy

You can become rich more easily on real estate and finance than through innovation in Singapore. What dismal things does this tell you about our economy and hence our future?

Things are good now but they are quite unsustainable. We have been very lucky, a fact which Goh Keng Swee appreciated more than any founding father. Just look up his final speech in 1984 when he retired.

We will always need more than a fair bit of luck than most countries. Many nations destroy the gifts from God with self-sabotage. Remember he clothed them before exiling them from Eden. Naturally it would appear that against other economies we have chosen wisely and worked harder. We would have drawn the poorer lesson which comes with a glass ceiling.

We need to emphasize more on innovation than we have bern doing, especially creating the right infrastructure to tear down invisible barriers and also bring down the cost of failure and production.

Man almost always waste God's gifts to him. So God uses those who are given less to teach those he had been more generous lessons about the nature of this world and himself.

The rich gets richer even as the poor become more impoverished is a temporary situation that in the time frame of man looks persistent. Now if we do not reverse this trend ourselves, he will do it for us, possibly violently.

I am encouraged that led by the Gateses and Warren Buffet, some of the world's richest have committed to giving at least half of their wealth away eventually. This is a promising beginning elsewhere, but what about Singapore and the rest of Asia?

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Monday, August 9, 2010

National Day Dinner

Without fail, every National Day we will cook prawn fritters for dinner and watch the parade on TV. No matter how much we prepare there is never any left over. In fact the parents often have to restrain themselves and let the kids have as much as they want.

Singapore celebrates 45 years of Independence

This little island state turns 45 today. Economically we have come quite far. Socially and culturally we have ways to go. Our future will always be uncertain given our small size and global exposure. We will not always succeed at being far-sighted. So we shall always have to be vigilant, even against ourselves. Time to remind ourselves not to take anything for granted. The more the PM smiles and he is always doing that, the more we need to learn to look after ourselves better. We are so well educated, why then do we need so much government help?

'If I go to jail, my family is trapped here. That’s my biggest fear’

Just read this sad story of an indebted family stuck in Dubai. There must be quite a few like him. Globalization has create more opportunities but with it had come many unfamiliar dangers catching many unaware. Closer to home we had the Lehman minibonds debacle. On the surface they appear as two separate issues but they are both the outcomes of liberalization.

There are some lessons we only learn by making mistakes. E.g., seat belts had to come many years after automobiles were made, and after many tragic and unnecessary deaths. In the meantime you just have to look after yourselves.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The PM's National Day Message

I would just like to quote and comment on a paragraph from the PM's speech.

Our education system caters to all students, and not just the most outstanding ones. Our schools go beyond book learning to teach students how to solve problems, and imbue them with sound moral values. We create multiple pathways for students of different abilities and interests to progress. We help every neighbourhood school to be a good school, with its own strengths and specialities. We identify and develop each student’s talents, and give him every opportunity to excel.

The above is not true for my family and at least one other. When were overseas, they fail to live up to the requirements for the LOA scheme. We got practically nothing from both schools to help my children keep up with their work. 

They have good intentions, but their execution is really wanting.

Another place from our childhood going

Sunday Times, Aug 8,  2010

The time has finally come for yet another place of my young days to make way for more futuristic plans. We had lunch practically every Sunday when I was with the church further along Margaret Drive. Some of our favorites were the duck noodle stall and the mee siam stall. My primary classmate parents ran it, but I didn't know it until many years later. Sometimes after a hard ball game in the neighbourhood, we would drop by for sugar cane drinks. Come early next year in February, the place would be demolished.


Not the gun but the ice-cream. Bought six of Friday. Another six yesterday and just hauled back twelve from Fairprice. All because they are selling it one-for-one. It is so over priced, even with one for one, I feel it is at best only fairly priced.

Whither China?

Simon Hunt visited and researched on China and in his latest report listed the following worrying features about the huge country.

Beneath the superficial prosperity in their major cities, China has always given us many things to worry about but for the last few decades, the pessimists have always been wrong. The Chinese has a surprising ability to muddle through. How do you analyze this? You really can't because to be honest they also need enough luck on their side. In their long history, there were some very unfortunate moments and they suffered phenomenally for them. Hard to think of another country that has suffered more.

  • Home affordability
  • Leadership instability
  • A potential if not actual housing bubble
  • The rising income and wealth differential between those who have made it and those who have not
  • The country’s continued dependence on exports as its principal driver of growth
  • Cheap credit, which punishes savings and encourages investment/speculation
  • The misallocation of capital that springs from the previous factor
  • Local/provincial government indebtedness
  • A new assertiveness and arrogance at all levels
  • Policy making that focuses on short-termism without addressing structural and longer-term issues, etc.
  • Impact of rising wages
  • Energy intensity
  • Role of foreign companies
  • Resource dependability – water, raw materials, etc.

A psychiatrist links Neuroscience with Spirituality

I am always keen on unifying concepts. In this book Dr. Curt Thompson provides the link between some of our latest findings in Neuroscience and Christian Spirituality.

Rich and Poor Nations

The global economic imbalance was inevitable because it was just the reflecting human behavior. The poor, if they have any surplus will try to save, especially the women. The rich, mostly living in the first world being credit worthy would even go into debt. Now if there was a lively global trade and investments going on, aggregate the individuals, families and businesses, the result are all these imbalances. Of course governments especially in East Asia also often seize the opportunity to entrench it so that they feel more secure and better positioned to protect their political and national power.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

TS video sale

Drove all the way to Ubi for the TS Video sale. One of wifey's favorite past times. Very good deals but we had to return the next day to exchange a couple of bad DVDs. Afterward we dropped by Toa Payoh Fork & Spoon for dinner.


In conclusion, the education of the mind is about relationships (not just person to person sort). It is discovering those relationships. Understanding how they are formed, nurtured and destroyed. It must necessary begin with remembering, identifying and recalling basic objects, e.g., the alphabet, the numerals and/or the basic strokes and radicals of a language like Chinese. Afterward it is all relationships isn't it? And the toughest and most tested relationships I think are in Mathematics and Physics. Idle speculations are quickly put on trial and easily thrown out if they are found wanting. In other branches of knowledge bad ideas are often allowed opportunities to grow. These buildings of concepts and ideologies erected on sand eventually collapse and if they are ideas of the politics, economy and business, they bring with them much grief. A recent example? Market Fundamentalism.

Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor

I think I am going to buy this book because there are so many passages I want to mark and remember. We don't have an under class light the one portrayed in this book, but I am afraid we are getting there. One particular racial group seem to be arriving there faster than the others :-( As far as I can tell, there is insufficient commitment and imagination to arrest the trend.

Listen to a short interview with Sudhir Venkatesh Host: Chris Gondek | Producer: Heron & Crane In this revelatory book, Sudhir Venkatesh takes us into Maquis Park, a poor black neighborhood on Chicago's Southside, to explore the desperate, dangerous, and remarkable ways in which a community survives. We find there an entire world of unregulated, unreported, and untaxed work, a system of living off the books that is daily life in the ghetto. From women who clean houses and prepare lunches for the local hospital to small-scale entrepreneurs like the mechanic who works in an alley; from the preacher who provides mediation services to the salon owner who rents her store out for gambling parties; and from street vendors hawking socks and incense to the drug dealing and extortion of the local gang, we come to see how these activities form the backbone of the ghetto economy. What emerges are the innumerable ways that these men and women, immersed in their shadowy economic pursuits, are connected to and reliant upon one another. The underground economy, as Venkatesh's subtle storytelling reveals, functions as an intricate web, and in the strength of its strands lie the fates of many Maquis Park residents. The result is a dramatic narrative of individuals at work, and a rich portrait of a community. But while excavating the efforts of men and women to generate a basic livelihood for themselves and their families, Off the Books offers a devastating critique of the entrenched poverty that we so often ignore in America, and reveals how the underground economy is an inevitable response to the ghetto's appalling isolation from the rest of the country. (20060904)

Solving Problems

Left this at DPM Facebook page in response to what he said about last night MPS. I thought I wanted to capture it here as a reminder.

"Some of these problems which cannot be solved today, we hope time will change the problem enough to be solvable. We work towards an environment tomorrow which they are more easily solved. "

Daily Flash Movies

Bumped into a mysterious problem yesterday. iwisoft SWF to video converter acted strange. The converted video on my PC and my notebook produce completely different file sizes and play times. It worked correctly on the notebook but the movie played way beyond where the music ended.

Reminiscent of the time I was producing DVD versions. Never understood how I solved the problem then. It was tweaking some obscure software by trial and error. This is no way to operate.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Morgan Stanley Alumni

This just came in the mail. An invitation to me to join the Morgan Stanley alumni after more than a decade since I left the bank.

No, I don't think I am signing up. Email my ex boss earlier if she is keen to join.

Fresh grads prefer these firms

These are the most popular government and related; and private sector employers for fresh graduates. I am surprised. Perhaps I shouldn't be. These are fresh graduates after all.

I don't think these companies deserve to be the bottom, but at the top? Especially SIA and DBS? These young men and women are ill informed and inexperienced and they missed the many better employers. But not so I  believe for the children of well connected parents. This would really give them a head start in building their careers.

Top employers
  • Top 5 government or government-linked employers of choice:
    1. Singapore Tourism Board
    2. Economic Development Board
    3. Ministry of Education
    4. National University of Singapore
    5. Defence Science and Technology Agency

  • Top 5 private employers of choice:
    1. Apple
    2. Singapore Airlines
    3. Google
    4. 3M
    5. DBS Bank