Thursday, May 31, 2012

As long as the spirit and mind is not defeated...

Experience informs me that I am not afraid of the big tests, my weakness are the little foxes that run all over and ruin the vineyard. There are so many little irritating things bugging but I have trusted him and not allowed it to spoil my day. I could easily have snapped at others and spoil their day too.

As I settle down to start clearing my emails, I came across this one from Lorraine. It really makes my day. My kids should see this. If the spirit and mind is not defeated, nothing is defeated. Look at how with such severe disabilities this Japanese girl has grown up so beautiful with such a lovely voice :-)


And something that normally don't happen to help me along. An SMS from someone I rarely communicate with; and early enough in the day too as it gets more tiresome.

Blessing you with this...  Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings as eagles, They shall run & not be weary, They shall walk & not faint... Isaiah 40:31   Blessed day!

Thanks [redacted], a timely message for me.

Felt led to bless you with this verse...God's unfailing love

Unfailing and always surprising. Do you know that the only way for a man to understand how a woman felt loved is for him to be loved by the Lord. I suspect many don't know this.

Whaa, that's deep indeed!

Not sure about out being deep. It's the Lord's grace through faithful obedience. The pre lessons came from Mother Teresa. Watch the love between our Lord and her and add God's personal intervention. I am sure He does this to many people but lots more are not in yet.

I know what you mean... It's one personal, intimate relationship with the Lord. I love because He first loved me.

Yes! And any woman who discover this before she gets married might no longer want to. It's up to God to arrange. It's a gift.
So it's kinda if you know what it means but you always also find more meaning to it as we live by faith.

Yes, it's this love relationship with Him that compelled Mary to pour expensive perfume on Jesus' feet & wipe them with her hair. It's this kind of relationship that compells one to say "I LOVE YOU, LORD" from one's inner spirit. Thank you, . God bless your day.

And it's so much easier for a woman to identify with Mary than a man. God's surprising and incredible grace to women because of Eve. Who would have thought of this! So how are men to understand? He needed to be loved by Christ like a woman so that he will learn to love his wife, and men to stop seeing women as sex objects. With a richer flavor we just got back to where we started.

It's a love of the highest order, perfect & unconitional, a love way above all, so full, pure & sacrificial to die for us so that we can be with Him forever to enjoy His presence & riches.

I feel a little sad. She didn't get it. Christians who are good students of the Bible always have answer to anything you throw at them but their answers is causing them to miss it!

I must be patient. If they do not have experience analogous to some of us, how would they know? It is all in the Lord's hands. Most of all I pray and wish that the one the Lord had used to teach me this would also share the same gift. I was utterly shocked it didn't pan out as expected. In a way it was like Paul believing the Second Coming was very near but it has been two thousands years since. What Joseph story? We haven't gotten to the end of it yet. Why I asked why, I was given Job's story. We are not given to understand so that he will make all things beautiful in His Time.

Every believer cherish Romans 8, but as they grow it is Romans 9 you will get to. Looks like many refused to get there.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gen Y or the Millennials, their promise

I became of this of  this from John Mauldin's regular letter. What a gift of hope and praise to the Millennial generation. My observation concurs with his findings and the older generation often misunderstand and complain too much about them.

Here is the transcript of Neil Howe's speech

To the Class of 2012

Neil Howe delivered the following commencement address at the University of Mary Washington on May 12, 2012.

At a commencement address, speakers often go on too long. This I won't do. I may not succeed as well as Salvador Dali, who famously delivered the world's shortest speech, only four seconds long. He announced at the podium: "I will be so brief I have already finished," and then sat down.

Commencement speakers also like to intone about "today's youth generation." And this is fine. Except that they then go on to talk at length about their own experiences in their own youth and tell you: Because this worked for me in my generation, it will work for you in yours. This should alert you that these speakers have no idea what a generation is.

Let me clarify. A generation is a group of people who share a basic outlook on life shaped by their common age location in history, their common "generational setting." The renowned sociologist Karl Mannheim called this "eine Generationslagerung," which I promise you is both the longest word—and the only German word—that you will hear from me.

"Youth," on the other hand, is just an age bracket. It's like an empty hotel room that different generations move into with their own baggage, and then soon leave. Sometimes that room swells with sweet music, sometimes it throbs with death metal, and sometimes it's utterly silent. But it's never the same.

Bottom line: All of you Boomer and Generation X parents are essentially unlike your children—and were not the same even when you were kids. And you Millennial Generation graduates are essentially unlike your parents—and will not become like them as you grow older.

So how, exactly, are you different? Well, start with the obvious: pop culture. Believe it or not, parents, your kids have never known that America, Chicago, and Kansas are the names of rock bands, not just places. Or what about technology? Ever notice the blank stares when you tell them roll up the window, turn the channel, or dial a number? Or what about current events? For as long as Millennials can remember, NATO has been looking for a mission, China has been peacefully rising, Brazil has been building shopping malls, and Boomers Bill O'Reilly and David Letterman have been hating on each other in plain view of millions.

Now these markers are interesting, but if there's one big idea I want you to take away from my remarks, it's that generational differences go much deeper.

Consider. You Millennials grew up in an era of rising parental protection, never knowing a time without bicycle helmets, electric plug covers, Amber Alerts, and fifteen different ways to be buckled into your minivan seat. We, the parents, grew up in an era of declining parental protection: Our moms and dads told us, "We don't care where you go so long as you're home for dinner." As for seatbelts, we were told if there's an accident to just throw up our hands to protect our heads. As kids, we never saw a "Baby on Board" sticker. "Baby Overboard" would have been more appropriate.

You Millennials were raised to be special—very special—and to trust your counselors, support groups, and smart drugs to keep you feeling pretty good about the world, like a Sims character having just the right digital balance. We, the parents, knew we weren't very special, didn't trust anyone to advise us, and thought staying away from counselors was a sign of toughness. When you came to college, there were long orientations and immersions, and many of your parents clutched teddy bears and wept. When we came to college, we jumped out of the car and tried to grab our suitcases before our parents sped off.

You Millennials were raised to be team players—and you are, with community service, group projects in the classroom, and clubs for everything. And, above all, you are team players with digital technology that connects you all to each other on Facebook, and smartphones that you take to bed with you. We, the parents, were a lot more into competition, rebellion, and defying the mainstream. We did not "friend" each other. Our generation invented the "personal" computer. Personal, as in "mine and not yours," and certainly not part of the corporate mainframe our own parents bequeathed to us. Growing up, our biggest fear was that Big Brother might someday install cameras in our rooms. Our biggest joy was hearing Steve Jobs announce that " 1984 won't be like 1984." And now, our biggest surprise has been to see our kids connect with each other by installing their own cameras in their own rooms!

As a generation, you Millennials have a surprisingly conventional outlook on life. Surveys show that as you grow older you wish to become good citizens, good neighbors, and well-rounded people who start families. Violent youth crime, teen pregnancy, and teen smoking have recently experienced dramatic declines, and for that we congratulate you.

Most startling of all, the values gap separating youth from their parents has virtually disappeared. You watch the same movies as your parents, buy the same brand-name clothing, talk over personal problems with them—and, yes, feel just fine about moving back in with them. When I travel around the country, I often ask people now in their 40s or 50s how many songs on their iPod overlap with what's on their kids' iPods. The typical answer is 30 to 40 percent. Let me tell you, back in my days on campus (later known as "the days of rage"), we did not have iPods, but if we had, the overlap would have been absolutely zero. Everything about our youth culture was intentionally hostile and disrespectful of our parents. That was the whole idea.

People sometimes ask me, "What does it mean that one generation is different from another—that Millennials, for example, are different from the Boomers or Gen Xers who raised them? Does it mean that some generations are better than others?" And I say: No. There is no such thing as a good or bad generation. Every generation is what it has to be, given the environment it encounters when it enters the world. History shows that whatever collective personality a new generation brings with it is usually what society needs at the time. As such, youth generations tend to correct for the excesses of the midlife generation in power, and they tend to refill the social role being vacated by the older generation who is disappearing.

To avoid speaking in code, let me rephrase this as follows. The Millennial Generation is correcting for the excesses of Boomers and Gen Xers who today run America. I need not remind you what those excesses are: leadership gridlock, refusal to compromise, rampant individualism, the tearing down of traditions, scorched-earth culture wars, and a pathological distrust of all institutions.

The Millennial Generation is also reprising many of the hallmarks of the original G.I. Generation, the so-called "Greatest Generation," who are now passing away. Like the Millennials, the G.I.s grew up as protected children and quickly turned into optimistic, consensus-minded team players who, in the dark days of the 1930s and ‘40s, saved our nation from turning in the wrong direction at the wrong time.

Igor Stravinsky once wrote that every generation declares war on its parents and makes friends with its grandparents. Yet again, that has happened.

So all of you parents out there: Be proud of this new generation. They aren't like you, but they are what America now needs. They don't complain about the storm clouds looming over their fiscal, economic, and geopolitical future; they try to stay positive. They don't want to bring the system down; they're doing what they can to make it work again. They worry about you a lot. And they want to come together and build something big and lasting, something that will win your praise. Beneath their tolerant, optimistic, networked, and risk-averse exterior lie attitudes and habits that may prove vital for our country's healing and for our country's future.

No one knows what challenges this Millennial Generation may eventually be asked to bear. Hardly anyone expects them to become America's next "Greatest Generation." But someday you can say you heard it from me: That is their destiny, to rescue this country from the mess to which we, the older generations, have contributed, perhaps a bit more than we ever intended—and, in so doing, to become a great generation indeed.

Thank you.

Developing Android Apps

Time for me to get cracking with learning to develop apps for Android. Due to my impatience, I had lost the excitement for software development long ago. I must learn to recapture that joy by taking it easy. Make the journey reward. The wear of the years have taught me that we play very little role in our success. Also since I can't sub this to others so I must do it myself. Giving other this job are for losers. Innovators must play with their creation and keep reworking it until right. Only when the right form has emerged can he pass it on to others to continue working.

Will this be a very long journey? What a dumb question.

21st Century Illterates

I am afraid there are lots of them and that's why we have sick economies everywhere. This is the root cause of the widening wealth gap.

In fact you need to go beyond Toffler's insight and add "quickly". We take too long to learn and so corporations find it more practical to lay off and rehire than re-train. You might be a fast learner but it is no use if there isn't enough of your kind to give management the incentive to retool their processes. Just like ores that contain too little gold is thrown away.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Investors conned over $10m in start-up scam

Stupid fools, I have no sympathy for their gullibility. I only hope you all didn't lose too much. It was a valuable lesson.

Lots of successful people are just lucky. To be more precise they have some helpful skills and contacts but luck was decisive in their success. Few successful people are honest enough to admit the large role that luck had played getting them to where they are. You know them, they are not humble.

I bet now they realize how gullible they were. I am afraid they are still as easy to accept silly suggestions. How so? Why are they posing for this photo in this manner? This is a pose for kids or when you want to have some harmless childish fun. This is a serious matter, completely inappropriate.

A few months ago a friend kept persuading me to participate in some start-up. I kept telling her it was one big lie and con-job. Tried as I might, I couldn't persuade her to stay out. I have forgotten all about it until now. I bet I have been right because this enterprise was supposed to be a Google killer (laughable, how can you achieve that over night), and it succeeded in attracting a lot of support.

Please you suckers, do yourself a favor. You can begin by reading "Willful Blindness" by Margaret Heffernan, or for a more complete education, I recommend Daniel Kahneman, "Thinking Fast and Slow".

Specifically the psychologists could identify these folks as having been deluded by the "halo effect" abetted by the irresistible seduction of the false low hanging fruit.

Don't be lazy, always do your own homework.

Update: June 1, 2012 from the WSJ

Lazy people. Never change, and many including institutions are just letting fund managers have fun with their money. Lots of people simply do not do their homework and this is a key reason why we have financial crises. Don't you wish investors would be as divided as economists?

DPM Teo the loser

Just read this on AsiaOne today. I wonder if DPM Teo is capable of changing for the better. Doesn't he understand that the first guy who calls a truce is the gentleman and the winner? He should have taken the opportunity to do just that. Instead he added to the fire by provoking LTK to consider legal action. In this way, the ball returned to LTK's side of the court and he wisely suggested that we should move on.

DPM Teo, I wonder if he knows he is a loser, a real loser here. You may be a good technocrat but a lousy politician even after so many years in parliament. I think he better go to Khaw Boon Wan for some coaching.

Double Up at our Libraries

First time we borrowed books from the Central Library. We took home so many the bag almost gave way. Welcome to Double Your Loans time at our libraries. To me this is the most wonderful service the government have provided. More than the schools my kids go to, our public libraries are the places they really get their minds expanded. For the subjects they did well, it all started at our libraries.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

WP wins 62.1%

If you live outside Hougang and watch the hustings from a distance, you would be surprised the WP won 62.1%

I thought the WP would win but have no idea about the margin.

I think the PAP because a defeat like this hurt so much is learning all the wrong lessons, which can only serve them with more defeats. The PM says they will win back Hougang (win back?) in a future election. Why not make it the next one?

To me the stinging defeat sends the message that what the government had done since GE 2011 is not enough. Simple as that.

I always worry when governments creates complex solutions to problems and challenges. It is a sure sign of paradigm exhaustion. It is an evil trend as the complexification eventually turn the solutions themselves into problems. On this the Americans and Europeans are ahead of us. They will fall into the hole sooner and I hope this government pick up some useful lessons from them. Unfortunately I can't find reasons to be optimistic yet.

Complex solutions are also impossible to communicate and sell. It is simply not just bad but stupid politics. What is the use if you can't sell it to us? Despite rising levels of education, the complexity grows even faster than our cognitive capabilities and bandwidth. Law of Diminishing Returns in public policy eh?

PAP Apple Polishers

I am often irked by the public apple polishing of PAP assistant branch secretary Lionel de Souza on facebook. I come across him again reading the Sunday Times this morning. Fortunately Khaw Boon Wan responded correctly. Grow up! Everyone works very hard. Hard work only qualifies you to play, not victory. Grassroots leaders like Lionel are not helpful to the PAP's cause. Why don't they get rid of him? What is stopping them? They have too many? To difficult to act? These are dangerous people. Listening too much to their repeated their nonsense eventually leads to belief.

I am glad Png Eng Huat won and won convincingly. The PAP is still in denial and will keep losing. They are learning all the wrong lessons from this defeat. For too long they have been protected, have become complacent and taken us for granted. Very sad they don't learn very quickly. PAP leaders do not lack brains but they are caught in their paradigm and lacks the courage to overcome the Innovator's Dilemma. Didn't help too that they are such poor communicators. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

MRT COI and "Safe to Fail"

This is good. If we know how to, let's not do it like elsewhere: a COI for finding fault and assigning blame.

I have been skeptical of the PM's "Safe to Fail" approach but I prefer to be wrong because I have misunderstood him. This is for all our sake.

The opportunity to be uniquely Singapore will often start with us being misunderstood and allowing a policy time to bear fruit. This is in the same spirit as our early days. A nation draws its strengths from its history. Make that history rhyme, go deep so that you have the confidence to adjust and adapt without losing it. This is how you build a nation from shared experience that is lived rather than taught or in the traditions and rituals of religions and creeds. Simply there is no other way to overcome these more powerful pulls.

Leadership is the ultimate hard truth for Singapore and leadership is about taking a people to a place which they would not on their own go. True leadership must win by successfully persuading the people to vote for you. Only leadership can turn incoherent light into coherent laser. Forget about Wisdom of the Crowds. It is over used and abused, applied to situations where it don't make sense.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bookmarks from my daughter's teacher

I thought the gold tray contained candies. It looked attractive and inviting but I was more eager to get on with the business of talking to the teacher.....

"Please have these" as we were about to leave. She had made them for parents and students. Thank You! You are my daughter's favorite teacher.

Taking my daughter home in the car, she told me that her teacher also makes Angry Birds toys in paper origami. I like the game, but can't afford to make time for.

A heart warming Presidential Story

This picture makes my day! :-) I loved those stories about Abe Lincoln, but this one came from Barack Obama.

A friend from Seattle just shared this with me.

Boy who touched Obama’s hair: Story behind White House photo is probably in your inbox (view link)

In May 2009, the child, Jacob Philadelphia, was visiting the White House with his father, a former Marine who was leaving his 2-year stint working for the National Security Council as part of the White House staff. The father asked to take a family photo with the president. Jacob said he had a question for Obama, who was then in his fifth month in office.
The Times recounts the rest:
"I want to know if my hair is just like yours," he told Mr. Obama, so quietly that the president asked him to speak again.
Jacob did, and Mr. Obama replied, "Why don't you touch it and see for yourself?" He lowered his head, level with Jacob, who hesitated.
"Touch it, dude!" Mr. Obama said.
As Jacob patted the presidential crown, ... [White House photographer Pete] Souza snapped.
"So, what do you think?" Mr. Obama asked.
"Yes, it does feel the same," Jacob said.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Exams and Major Train Disruption

Sad. My daughter just pointed this out to me.


I know this will pass. They will fix this and that's good and right. A reminder that the government had become complacent and it was sure hubris when the PM think they know enough to practice a policy of "Safe to Fail".

Khaw Boon Wan resonates

As I write this, Desmond Choo is speaking over the live stream in Teochew. Khaw Boon Wan had just finished his speech. He didn't disappoint. This is the way to talk to the people, not the negative approach which Teo Chee Hean has been persisting.

An excerpt from Khaw BW speech:

"Voters in HG. I believe you are no different from Singaporeans living elsewhere. You have your dreams, just as we have our dreams. We all want our children to grow up in a safe, peaceful country, with opportunities aplenty to stretch their potential. We want others to respect us, Singaporeans, as decent rational people. We want to carry our Singapore passport proud.

Look around you, and match it against the negative messages that you have heard from WP in the past 21 years. Their rhetorics are effective in arousing anger but are they fair?

It is easy to criticise but it is hard work to come up with solutions. And there are no solutions which can satisfy all. When I volunteered to be the Housing Minister, many urged me to bring down property prices. I received even more emails warning me against bringing the prices down! We are building more studio apartments and nursing homes because there is a high demand. But we encounter local resistance when we try to build them near their blocks.

This is the difficulty of being in Government and to do the right thing for Singaporeans. Fortunately, Singapore has made progress because the vast majority supports a good responsible Government. And we always stay united as one people. The world we live in is getting tougher, more competitive. We wish our life can be less stressful, but the world marches on, regardless of our preference.

If we do not also move on, we get left behind. This unfortunately is the truth.

Tomorrow is Cooling Off Day, let’s take a pause and reflect on our achievements, despite the odds. How far we have come. Living in the little red dot is not easy, but this is our home." – Excerpt from Minister Khaw’s Speech @ PAP Rally

Campaign rules do not allow singing, so Khaw BW took the chorus of Kit Chan's "Home" to recite with the audience. People are not Vulcans, you have to reach them at the heart level too.

Kindle Touch at the Park

The confluence of a pleasant morning weather and opportunity to get away for a while: half an hour of reading with my Kindle at the park bench - Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs.

Kindle displays like paper under natural light. Wonderful device.

COI on the trains breakdowns

As the COI on the major breakdowns in the MRT system draws near to the close, I am forced to conclude that the guys simply didn't know their system as well as we all had hoped. Fortunately they were  not running an airline or we might have planes falling from the skies.

I am amazed how they were more concerned about following maintenance schedules and programs than questioning and understanding how the system work and might change with time and use. Well, this makes them no different from the folks dealing with complex derivatives in the financial markets.

You have the right to not know your system well if train systems have advanced so much in reliability as motor cars have. The reality is train systems must be lovingly taken care of and understood.

Many learning points here. Lots of people were at fault starting from the very top. At least even as the COI was ongoing, the LTA and the transport companies did not wait but went ahead to rectify and improve the system as quickly as possible. Can't fault them for this. Overall it was an expensive and valuable lesson which cost the government much credibility. But we shouldn't be surprised. In one of the PM's early Rally speeches, he said Singapore will move from taking few risks to have a never fail environment to one that is safe to fail. It was not a wise credo. Who knows what is safe to fail? You need to know your systems well first to be able to make such judgments. In a culture where people watch their behind and work to avoid blame, where nobody bothered to truly understand and feel responsible about their work and the impact elsewhere, we shouldn't be surprised we had arrived at such a sorry state. We can expect major failures elsewhere since "Safe to Fail" has been with us for quite a few years now. Except for the surprise floodings, we just don't know where and when.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Replacing Petrol Cap

The silly plastic cord holding the petrol cap broke a couple of days ago. I got it fixed today. As usual they don't supply you a new cord. A brand new cap had to be purchased setting me back by almost $60. Good money for the car companies.

Last time at Ichiban Boshi

Last evening dinner would be the last for us at Ichiban Boshi @ Suntec City. Their last day of operation will be this Sunday. The crew will move to Nex. Practically all the eateries at the Fountain Terrace will go as Suntec City undergoes a massive renovation.

Roystan Tan on last night Hougang Rally

The film maker Roystan Tan posted this to his facebook page. This is just awesome.

This is not about support ANY parties but tonight i experienced one of the most moving things in hougang that will last for a long time! what is amazing is that when it started to rain, those with umbrella started running around , sheltering strangers without umbrella, aunties tearing plastic bags into 2 to give to others, family of 5 gathers under one tiny umbrella, uncle taking off their shirt and shelter older folks and kids. Singaporean placing others before themselves, ! Respect! Tonight Hougang residents, i salute you for your giving spirit!

This makes my day. I have been so disappointed with DPM Teo. I wished he was a better campaigner and communicator helping Desmond Choo in this by-election. His suggestion that WP have not chosen their best man  for the by-election is simply inane. If I were WP and LTK, I would want to hold Hougang at all cost. Losing Hougang is like losing the Big Flag of your army. They will be completely deflated. I remember when Burger King took over the Liat Tower premises which used to house McDonalds first outlet here. Some of us thought Burger King was winning the burger war against the Golden Arches.

The DPM is not stupid, he is just blindsided by his prejudice and low esteem of the opposition. I feel sorry for Desmond Choo. He should like Sitoh Yi Pin asked his party bigwigs to stay away.

I worry about the willful blindness of the number two man in our government. I worry that he will fail to use his astute judgement so admired by LKY when we need it. It would be very costly to us. Raymond Lim, Mah Bow Tan and Wong Kan Seng have caused enough damage already. Stop at three please.

Whatever, Desmond Choo is not the PAP's best man for this election. I fear he will be just another sacrificial lamb. You are newly married, better you spend more time with your wife. Hougang can have any MP but she only have you as husband. Didn't you say at the PAP rally that your wife complained about seeing so little of you? Be wise and also careful when you open your mouth.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The "crowd" at PAP Hougang Rally

I had thought I wouldn't be working my lazy neurons over this Hougang by-elections. Now if you serve it to me on a platter, it would be impolite to refuse. This picture just arrived in my inbox. It shows the PAP rally. Kudos for the PAP for being realistic to erect their stage facing the bleaches. They know to not expect many. Probably more people tune in via Channel News Asia for the speeches. More comfortable that way.

I had hoped for more substantive speeches, uniquely Singapore but was disappointed that it turned out like most elsewhere. May be I would view the live stream tonight of WP's rally by CNA. I hope they raise the debate higher than the PAP's.

Politics: Our New Normal is Normal everywhere

I got this from "Fabrications About the PAP". They took it from Zaobao which is available online.

I imagine that most Singaporeans hate this sort of politics but we will learn that it has to be when the PAP dropped the ball and the voters tide turned against them.

As politics become more like elsewhere can the governance of this place be different?

On this issue of Png Eng Huat counting himself out of an NCMP seat, this is insufficient evidence to prove that he was untruthful. I hope the PAP gets to the bottom of this.

Fact is our politicians are no longer like the Toh Chin Chye sort. That is why even as we trust we must also verity. Good advice from Ronald Reagan.

Nothing to rejoice here. What is uniquely Singapore when Singapore is becoming like another global city with all its challenges, stress and a dark underbelly of misery?

We are losing Singapore. We don't need or want the world's praise which we are getting in spades. We want to be misunderstood as we were during the early years because there is no other way to laugh last and laugh best. When leaders lack courage, politics become obnoxious. Reading Issacson's bio on Steve Jobs explains how the great spirit was often misunderstood himself gives me a clearer idea of the sort of leader to look for even if we do not have any. To be realistic, we just have to calibrate our expectations. On the other hand we should be very unforgiving if the mediocre try to prevent the genius from emerging. Einstein had warned us that Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

Firms here to raise wages

Looks like the majority of workers can look forward to better pay this year. The happiness should be short lived because inflation will deduct their raise. Pity those who are living off their savings. Even if you have investment income, that is struggling to keep pace with inflation.

Pay rise is only meaningful when businesses do not have sufficient pricing power. Since we have locked in inflation expectation, businesses are not shy, even confident to raise prices. Of course businesses will join the herd to up pay. It will not cost them more. Workers must go out and spend their raise quickly or discover that prices have caught up.

We have no guts or ideas to restructure our economy. It could very well be that our timidity limits the ideas that we would entertain. I know we have no guts when we are afraid to eat our lunch to make a better one. I know we have no courage when leaders say the issues are complex. All these become even clearer when I read Issacson's biography of Steve Jobs.

Monday, May 21, 2012

NUS Class Reunion

My NUS class had our reunion at Lee Kong Chian Hall on Saturday. I failed to turn up and this morning I emailed my classmate for his address so that I might send him a cheque. I was pleasantly surprised but also suspicious that the department paid for the dinner. It was $60 per head.

Well the justification for the university's expense came later in the day as a solicitation for financial support in the form of bursaries. The class hope to raise $150K.

I am against this. NUS is a public university. I would support the initiative if it were a private university. This government is as usual too clever about money issues until they ended with among others, the SMRT fiasco. They have myriad ways they pick our pockets.

Generally I have no problems over "Pay and Pay" to the government as long as they are willing to be far more accountable and transparent. This will never happen. Governments just do not act this way. Therefore no deal. Don't ever dream of having reserves like Harvard University.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Getting into P1 at a brand name school

I am glad my kids had cleared their PSLE years ago. Each time I look at the table display of PSLE assessment books in Popular, I feel tired. P1? Looks like the pressure keeps ratcheting up. I wonder when it will be beyond human limits. There is no solution to his problem until we are prepared to slaughter some holy cows. Actually we have to reexamine our whole compact as a society. Looks like we have to change trajectory which the government refuse. They refuse to admit the present path we are on is unsustainable. Increasingly people cope by not thinking about tomorrow as the weight on the shoulders is just too heavy. Sure, there will be families that are better endowed and positioned to take such pressure. After all the places in these elite primary schools are limited. What is missed are those who have given up and resigned to a more circumscribed future for their kids. Diminished hopes and the glass ceiling is a direct attack on a level playing field and the poison to meritocracy.

I tell my kids to define their own game. That is the only way to be on top of the game. It is silly to compete with others on the games handed down from above. Just like in financial markets, it is a bad idea to be part of the herd, especially at the rear.

WP Hougang Rally

Pictures of WP Hougang Rally last evening. However you look at it, there were lots of people. Nobody knows how many were Hougang voters but I surmise the interest cannot be as strong as the GE last year since this is only a by-election. 

PAP friendly sites painted an unflattering picture but they are only pandering to their own supporters. Naturally both sides have their own die hards. 

I don't even want to speculate who would win in the by-elections. Will only try to understand all these when the results are out. 

Live Pomfret

I have never seen live pomfret in a market for sale. When I was a kid my mom said no luck I would get such an opportunity, but today my daughter pointed them out to me at FairPrice Extra @ Changi Biz Hub. We ended up here because next door at Changi City Centre the car park was full and there was a long queue waiting to get in.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Singapore: a city in a garden

Nice! This video was actually made available in 2009 but I didn't know about it until now. Got it from NParks facebook page.

New StarHub Set Top Box

I thought the Starhub set top box almost never breaks down. Well ours did two days ago. Yesterday at Starhub Parkway Parade service centre I swapped it for the the new box (cost me $2/mth more) but hey it supports HDMI and HD.

Just as well Swensens was beside the service centre. Also glad that I hardly need to wait for my turn. This is quite unlike their service centre at Vivocity, which is always full of people.

We are just glad we had stayed away from Singtel Mio. Subscribers continue to rue their choice. They will long remember how Singtel let them down in the EPL finale.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ngiam Tong Dow: wealth creation or management

The good NTD caught the government short over their claim that they govern for the long term good of Singapore.

In recent years with tumultuous change, often in fire fighting mode, the government had been talking the long term but acting short term.

Wealth creation strategies are like investing in durian trees the old fashioned way. It takes years to bear fruit. Wealth management, that's is much easier.

Wealth creation ask for heroic faith. Rationality will lead you to choose wealth management instead. To be fair, NTD unlike the government does not need to face the voters.

Sometimes I think we can't help but suffer the Dutch disease (the link is for my kids). Our economic story is a succession of Dutch diseases whenever we spot a big winning industry, and creating wealth through innovation and entrepreneurship will never become a Dutch disease we can catch.

Nevertheless there is no law against anyone trying to create wealth. If schools here do not foster habits leading to entrepreneurship, those who on the steam of their own passion go ahead an begin their enterprises, many will likely roll forward like a juggernaut. We try not to put unnecessary obstacles in their way.

Entrepreneurs are in short supply everywhere and nobody knows how to make them. They are fascinating to watch especially in America, but we are clueless on how to reproduce them. Therefore in the end, NTD thesis is very interesting but could largely be academic.


Workers' Party Poh Lee Guan

This guy, Dr Poh Lee Guan from WP is a joke.

How many such jokers do the WP have? It would be a long time in the making to create a credible opposition to the PAP. Not a problem as long as we are growing one. Just be cognizant that this cannot be done quickly. I hope voters are more patient. At least I believe we have the best of the WP in parliament. Meanwhile they might have to evaluate and let go of many cadres. Quality trumps quantity LTK.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hougang By-election Nomination Day

Has been too busy to blog. Many thoughts, no time. I want to remember today is the nomination day for the Hougang by-election. Thanks TOC for this YouTube video.

I noticed Png Eng Huat was able to speak in Teochew. Desmond Choo came across quite well too. I do not know what to think about this hustings. I like everyone else will be interested in the results but not being a resident of Hougang, I have no say.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dinner at Sheng Kee @ Bedok Point

Dinner tonight at Sheng Kee Dessert @ Bedok Point.

Verdict: Wouldn't be back if I can help it. Also unlike most food outlets, prices do not include GST.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ma Chi from Sichuan brought death with his Ferrari

The dead Ma Chi was the mad and reckless driver of the Ferrari. He was a Chinese financial investor from Sichuan. What's the point? Just slightly more than a month ago I blogged about a Chinese bus driver negligently killed a pedestrian. Now we have another senseless accident caused by a Chinese.

Too many of them are not imbibing our ways. Instead they have brought their madness from China to this place :-( If I have enough data, we could calculate the probabilities and make a fairer judgement. I think this should be the responsibility of the government, but of course they wouldn't be forthcoming. It could very well add to yet another inconvenient truth.

Update: May 14
Was filling the fuel tank for my car this morning when I saw TNP cover story on this road accident suggesting there was video evidence. Here is what I have found.

This is the footage I was looking for. Makes me really angry how absolutely irresponsible Ma Chi was. The people most upset shouldn't be us but the PRCs here who will be branded for this. Too many black sheep among them.

Google Cheque

Nice! I discovered the check from Google is already in the mail box. This will be the first check I  have to mail directly to Guam after I refused Citi's offer to convert to a full IPB account.

Shopping @ Raffles City

It is all things pink shopping at Raffles City today after Mother's Day lunch. Decided to replace our placemats with these prettier ones ($4.50 ea). Bought my daughter a thermos mug at Precious Thots. Gotta to replace one that is easily more than five years old.

Mother's Day Lunch: Din Tai Fung Raffles City

We celebrated Mother's Day early with a Chili Crab dinner @ Jumbo East Coast last Saturday.

Just in case we are not able to get to an acceptable place today or worse, get fleeced by opportunists. We were fortunate, we got to Din Tai Fung early enough and got a good queue number.

This is the scene shortly after.

Saw Diana Ser, James Lye and their two kids waiting for their turn too. They brought their maid with them, which is good. Who knows, she might be a mother to some kids back in Indonesia.

Mother is best. 妈妈好。

Chen Show Mao is never superficial. I think I said this about him almost a year ago.

Today is Mother's Day.

My mom passed away when I already had kids, so I am not an orphan. After all my dad was still alive then. But I imagine what this must have meant to my dad because he was an orphan. The closest of a mother to him was my grand aunt. She passed away a few weeks ago. She outlived my father. My siblings and I were there to send her off. 

I produced this years back. A more updated version of Mother is best. 妈妈好.

Hougang By-Election: Where are the leaders?

"We should always draw voters back to local issues", an election candidate declared, thus Zuriadah opened her commentary.

How apt! It shows how out of touch that candidate is. All town councils are run well enough. There are no major local issues. Sure they need to reinstate the market that was demolished, but the land which it used to sit had been committed to private property and commercial development.

I surmise it would be judging and selecting people to serve as MPs and national issues that would be in the agenda of debate.

Forget about winning minds. That window of opportunity closed when the PAP screwed up and failed to listen to us for too many years. It would be mostly about hearts. Sadly it would not be a contest of leadership but a game of how to win votes. We used to have leaders. When will those days return?

The Armies of God

Was thumbing through this book here and there last night. There is no time to read it. It is due to be returned in a day's time.

This book cannot be found on Amazon. It was printed in Malaysia and written by a geographer from the UK. It is also anti-evangelical. Iain Buchanan attempted to expose the geopolitical agenda behind evangelical christianity except that I don't think most evangelicals think that way.

Religion that does not eschew power is bound to run into trouble. If it is man acting in the name of God, it will come to no good. Alas far more people are keen to hear from preachers promising that you can have it all than from Christ who insisted that we must be like him.

With good reasons Christianity is derided but Jesus Christ remained admired and respected. The most dangerous people in Christendom are its religious leaders.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Car Remote Black Box

I was trying to fix a problem of the remote with wifey's car key this morning. I expected to see a battery which I can remove and replace but instead got this! Completely different from what the car owner's manual suggested. Now will have to bring it back to the agent at the next service.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A local mother's day video

Just discovered at the top of my Facebook page that George Yeo has shared this with all of us. I wonder how common this experience is. My kids aren't like that, neither were my siblings and I when were kids. And those with maids, this is hardly the relevant story. What about many kids with working mothers. So I wonder and wonder....a well done video but how relevant? You know, a lot of stories painting Gen Y in a bad light were actually exceptional.

Which type of shit?

So the doctors have agreed that our poo can be divided into seven types with Type 4 as the gold standard.

I remember as a kid my pediatrician used to asked us what we were giving out whenever we went to see him. No other doc I could recall had ever asked. He was a very effective and kindly doctor. Unfortunately we lost him when he migrated to Australia. The doc who took over his practice was a dud. I was not surprised that he eventually got disciplined by the medical council.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A long term future of shoebox apartments?

Is it too far fetched that we will in Year X, where X is quite a big number, shoebox apartments would be the norm? Unthinkable now but completely logical.

The driving force toward that is both simple and inexorable. All modern economies are addicted to growth. With shoeboxes like those in Hong Kong and Tokyo, the critical limit to cramming more people in our 700 sq km would not be space but water and energy resource.

I hate to think about such a future and I bet this blog would no longer exists come Year X.

Govts must 'act fast to stop online rumours'

I must admit governments tried to play by the evolving and unpredictable rules of online life, but as they keep losing territory they are on the verge of imposing the sort of rules and ways they are familiar with which they believe they can win.

What's the truth? Governments claim they know what truth is. In that sense we don't need the courts, the religious leaders and NGOs isn't it?

What about inconvenient truths?  What about bad or inadequate answers to good and probing questions?

Be vigilant but also there is no need to worry too much. The online zeitgeist would not be decided in our space, which the government is also a price taker.

Looks like Teo Chee Hean went to China to learn how the government might control the Internet better. Good luck. Nobody understands this landscape enough to do that. They will try and end up learning the hard way.

Petals or Butterflies?

Just beautiful! For a while, I thought these butterflies were actually flower petals.

I am leaving it to my daughter to find out what specie they are.

Obama says yes to same-sex marriage

  • So President Obama has finally come out and said it: gay couples should be able to get married. Of course they should! Still, it feels like a historic moment, even if one much delayed.
    By publicly endorsing same-sex marriage in a television interview, the president took a definitive stand on one of the most contentious and politically charged social issues of the day.

Hey, just trying to improve his chances to get re-elected? I bet some people are going to get all worked up over this, but forget that in this instance the President's opinion does not carry the force of law.

Of course gays cannot get married. They can try, keep trying and will not be able to make a baby. If your definition of marriage does not include producing children, well until recently in human history that is not counted as marriage. May be give it at least another few hundred years, long after I am gone, and gays still get married, well that might be regarded as marriage especially when babies are produced and grown in test tubes. By then our specie would have become extinct or evolved into something else. Not by nature's design but our own. That would be frightening.

The apathy toward gays type are not voting Obama, and the enemy of your enemy is your friend. As for me this is as far as I think wise to disturb a hornets' nest.

I would rather relate to gays on the individual than the group level.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Clutter along corridors, MPs say educate not punish

These five MPs are not serious. Educate them? I fear we are all going to learn this the hard way, i.e., many more fires and sorry, throw in a few charred bodies too. Pathetic, it is all local politics isn't it? Quite simply, too many residents leave things along the corridor. If you force them to get rid of these clutter, you will surely lose votes.

The vulnerable ones, I urge you to have an emergency escape plan and please invest in some fire extinguishers too. Learning the hard way might be coming to your corridor!

Condemning our Samsung Colour Laser

Spent so much time practically taking our Samsung CLP 315 apart to clean but still I can't get get it to print properly. Time to buy a replacement. It's pity really as we hardly used this one and may be that's why it has collected dust every where despite my effort to protect it. Even the yellow toner has begun to rust.

We bought this when we were living in Dubai and had it shipped back when we relocated back here.

I don't need a colour printer. This is for the girls. Apparently nearly all their classmates have colour printers.

Singapore: First World Environment, Third World Prices

Andy Xie in his latest Caijin article gave me what I was looking for: I quote him,

Multinationals are reporting good earnings and cash flow, which is no coincidence. Through cost arbitrage and technical progress, multinationals can growth profits at 10 percent, even if the global economy is growing at no more than 7 percent in nominal terms, mainly due to inflation.
The rise of multinationals limits government policymakers. For example, an economy's labor market must be flexible to compete in the world, or risk watching multinationals move elsewhere to save money. Moreover, it's become difficult to tax multinationals, since they can park income anywhere.

In one line, that's why Singapore the ultimate price taker (I learnt that when I was at Shell) ends up offering a First World environment at Third World prices which can only be achieved by importing cheap FTs.

We ought to have developed our local champions long ago as some of our thinkers kept harping, but LKY thought we didn't have the talent pool to do that. So here we are now. What should we do? I can go on and on or just use one word: Leadership. We need courageous leadership, not just to tell us the hard truths but dare to take us to the edge and jump over.

Since recorded history, this one fact had not changed. A people looked to their common past to understand their present and forge a path to the future. For us, that was being thrown out of Malaysia in 1965. We need to dust that script from the drawer to use again.

If we have courageous leaders, we will have solutions or else another version of the European crisis will be our fate.

The most advanced societies especially America is trying to trade brainpower for courage. It will not work. And as my daughter is beginning to learn that sometimes the only way to learn an important lesson is the hard way, we will just have to be patient for the necessary lessons to be learned. As our circumstances become more dire, erstwhile unthinkable solutions become thinkable.

Monday, May 7, 2012

IPS - The Population Conundrum

Way before we get to any of these depressing future, analysts had better learn to think and present their findings differently.

Someone shared this on Facebook and I picked it up. On the surface, it would looked like a government supported think tank is trying at the cognitive level to persuade us to accept more immigration. To me, everyone is oversimplifying a highly complex problem.

All these are academic ans Malthusian because they only look inward. Experience shows us that we have always make the choices in response to external developments. In the coming years, the challenge of a shrinking population is a challenge face by many other societies too. What make them think that they would want to come to Singapore?

By 2050, China, most of Europe, Japan, Taiwan and many more advanced economies will face shrinking populations. America is expected to hold it ground, but most of  the young and energetic people will hail mainly from Africa, India, Indonesia, Philippines and perhaps South America. There is one big problem. It doesn't look like many of tomorrow youths would be adequately educated for the even more advanced economies with declining populations.

Does IPS think that this presentation will motivate us to have more kids? I think it can only make a grave situation worse. They have failed to show an important chart: the inverted three generation sandwich. It is not just how many working adults supporting an old person in future, but also how many kids they have to take care too. If the young working adults are having children now, they would be even more discouraged and depressed in future! TFR decline will not reverse but accelerate.

In the box, left brain thinking cannot throw up any viable solution. Only right brain and even serendipity can. We must have faith. I like it that the future is unknowable, unpredictable. We cannot ignore such findings but we mustn't fear them either. Far more than analysts, we need courageous leaders. Not the kind we are making in our talent factory.

Don't stay "Moses Lim" size

I got this from Lorraine this morning and later found it on YouTube too. I hope my friend's husband get to see to this. It would definitely strengthen his faith to do something about his condition. Hasn't gotten an update of his condition for five years already. With the advancing years he badly needs to do something like this for himself. So many people have watched this video (more 1.2 million already). I imagine many over weight people have seen for themselves what they can be. Now if Arthur can do this, so can they.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

July 6, 2010 post

I didn't know that I have shared this on facebook. I had posted this to this blog too on July 6, 2010.

Today my Thai friend looking through my facebook page found and shared it on her page.

I looked back and there were only six visits for that post since. Way more people read what I have put up here these days, even when it was nonsensical stuff. That post in July 2010 is one of my proudest. I am happy to have started this blog. I imagine what a joy it must be to start reading it from the beginning. Let it age.

Mida ball points and mechanical pencils

Bought these very affordable pen and mechanical pencil at 112 Katong today (better than JCube any time).

I can't believe they were only 50 cents each and write extremely well too. Came back and Google it, and just as we all suspect: made in China by Meida Pen Trade Company. A matter of time the Japanese names like Pilot is going to cede this business to the Chinese.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mother's Day Celebration

Next Sunday is Mother's Day. It would a crazy day trying to arrange a good meal, so we have decided to celebrate a week early at Jumbo Seafood @ East Coast Park.

Wifey had the whole plate of chili crab to herself. The kids love those buns and we ordered two dozens of them. I generously help myself to pouring the chili gravy over these buns.

Definitely wifey shouldn't be cooking next weekend. We will go to some place simpler where they don't fleece us. I am hoping to do better than the weekly "bad food".