Saturday, February 25, 2017

Delusional North Korean Government

The North Korean regime lives on a different planet! This you know when you have something to compare them with: Malaysia vs the DPRK over the killing of Kim Jong Nam.

Kim Jong Un regime is clearly more unstable than his father's. One can expect and understand that during the change of regime but having being in power for several years this is how the North Koreans behave if really cause for worry. Meanwhile the Chinese have practically given up and telling mad Trump the DPRK is his problem.

If the North Korean government was unstable before, it is probably dangerously so now.

If the six powers especially America cannot resolve the debacle with the North Koreans then this will eventually be resolved tragically on terms worse than any we can imagine now even with a military solution.

Update: March 7, 12:50 pm

Quoting from the end of the article:

Pyongyang’s move to prevent Malaysians from departing “is unprecedented stuff for the North Koreans,” said Michael Madden, the editor of North Korea Leadership Watch, a website that tracks the movements and policies of North Korea’s leadership. “North Korean diplomats have been involved in some funny business before but it has never been handled like this,” he said.
North Korea’s ban on Malaysians leaving the country could invite an international response beyond just Malaysia, said Leonid Petrov, an expert on North Korea at the Australian National University. “North Korea is playing with fire,” he said. “What North Korea is doing right now is akin to their longstanding tradition of kidnapping people.”

Kim Jong Un is possibly more dangerous than his grandfather and father. I wonder if he understands what he is trying to do making other countries imagine that he would be easily provoked to launch a nuclear attack once he is capable of it. In this scenario, it would make sense to bumped him off or even attack and destroy the North Korean government. The question is whether China and the US would bit the bullet. The rest of us must understand that with Kim Jong Un in charge the peace we live under now would not last long, the longer we wait the higher the price we will pay to protect the peace. The path he is taking is utter foolishness. Of course as I write this on my mind is the recent simultaneous launch of four long range missiles suggesting that he would use a volley of projectiles to overwhelm any anti-missile defenses protecting American bases in South Korea and Japan.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A levels: Just change the personal particulars

Finally the younger child is also out of the MOE school system. On this page one except for the personal particulars and year it would be a cloned copy of her elder sister's results. Now the happy problem is what to read in university?

Update: Feb 25 9:50 am

Was looking for something else when I came across this before finding what I want - Minister Anifah calling the DPRK ambassador delusional.

"Why me?" Probably nobody knows the answer but I was pining for a fairy tale ending to the story. There wasn't one. Perhaps some time in future? Pray so.

Cannot just read what was said but unsaid as well. Nothing mentioned how her father is coping with lung cancer.

Never be too happy, neither be too sad. Not yet anyway.

Update: Feb 26 9:40 pm

Elder sis who has had slightly better results three years before writing to her younger sibling.

Choosing a university course

The wait is over, it’s done!
The results are in your hands
The A level, its fuss and stress
Is finally at an end

You celebrate and vow
Never to do that again
You will never again suffer
That horrendous pain

But now a different problem lies waiting
Whose importance ranks higher still
Choosing a university course
Decide on which you will?

It’s harder than you expected
A million thoughts cram your mind
Job prospects, workload
Any other that you can find

Should you do what you like?
Actually, what is that?
What would you do
If things turn out bad?

Stability or opportunity?
Now or in the future?
And all these university material
The paper waste harms nature!

You search for a direction
A way to think it right
But you find you’re not sure
What is your guiding light

The stress mounts up and you sigh
It’s too much for today
So you stop and leave it
In the back of the brain as you play

But you know you will return
And think on it some more
Because without this decision
What was all those As for?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

NASA JPL: Make my day!

This is so exciting. It was my brother to brought us the news. We are all Trekkers (or Trekkies)

With such an observable and tangible discovery, it would add much impetus to develop the technology to mount a space mission there. But I think better also keep watching them if assuming there is an advanced civilization there trying to reach us. It would be far harder for them to spot us than us coming across them. Who knows, some other space faring race might have already been there and perhaps colonize these planets and using that star system as a base to launch out. The barrier between them and us is 40 light years. How forbidding is that depends on what you have to travel.

Meanwhile I see Bible theologians who are used to thinking in the box convinced that these are lifeless planet size rocks.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Committee of the Future Economy and UPS

There is so much going in my mind and I am not ready yet to blog about the Committee of the Future Economy and Budget 2017. But part of the thinking process is Amazon's surprising physical store effort and this experiment UPS has been conducting in using drones to deliver parcels.

This is a huge topic and our education system is not preparing as well for the future. On the other hand and very fortunate for us, we are most likely among the best prepared as a nation and economy. Where we fall short is when we are benchmarked against the niche best. E.g., Sing Post can do better than most national postal services but what about comparing it against say UPS? Our universities might improve in ranking but to be meaningful the competition is not taken at the college level but the schools and departments within.

Digitization, artificial intelligence and robotics are involved in this UPS effort and also key ideas and thrusts in where the Committee of the Future Economy is taking us.

As for jobs, sometime in the foreseeable future the UPS girl might not be driving the truck but captain all the capabilities of a self driving multi-functional vehicle. What we are seeing in this clip is a baby step toward that future reality.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Future healthcare: Our greatest adversary

To put it bluntly, should we under certain circumstances which is yet to be decided, allow mercy killing or euthanasia?

At some point affordable healthcare will become unaffordable healthcare. How do we ration it?

This issue has the potential to tear our society apart especially when the decision on who gets very expensive medical treatment is decided by the size of your bank account.

I think the government doesn't want to deal with this and all our efforts is focused on studying the problem better.

At the end of the day the greatest threat to our security will not come from outside but inside. Just as the greatest danger to America's and global security as we have seen is the millions of stupid American voters.

Read MMS article.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How financial markets usually think

Just received this at the chat group of my secondary school classmates. Yep, this the sort of logical thinking that operates in financial markets pretty often!

Drunk most of the time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Received a pre-loved Casio watch

New watch and old watch or more like pre-loved watch. What a positive use of language when it used to just be called USED.

Got this watch from my brother today saving me about $79 if I buy it online. He has gotten himself a replacement, one without hands so that it doesn't block the digital display.

Final payment to NUS

Was paying some other bills online when I noticed this. How nice, this is the final deduction. I hadn't noticed the balance went down by about 5K. That is the thing about GIRO, after a while you forgot what you are paying. Telco bills, which is tiny compared to this I remember vividly because it is not GIRO!

Cheap reading glasses

Only $2.50 or $2.05 each for these reading glasses which you can get at the ABC or Valu$ stores. But 一分钱一分货 and I broke mine this morning from simply trying to put it on. Like my neighbour both of us own several pairs strategically placed around the house for convenience. Fingers crossed this doesn't happen that often.

Update: 12:10 pm

OK, the price is $2.25 or $2.05 if you say bought it at Bedok Town, JCube.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Only time understand the value of love

That is from the ST celebrating Valentine's Day, the stories of a few couples from young to mature love. It caused me to recall a fable I read long ago. There are many slightly different versions circulating and I had used an abridged one for a flash movie.

There used to be a very interesting and colorful island, inhabited by feelings – Sadness, Happiness, Richness, Vanity and Love. One day the feelings came to know that their island was on the verge of sinking and they would soon have to leave their favorite place.

Excepting Love, all other feelings began to construct boats for a safe departure. Love decided to hold on till the last moment. Ultimately it was only Love that was staying back. The island gradually began to sink and when it was almost completely sunk, Love was compelled to ask for help.

Suddenly, Love saw a grand boat approaching and found out that it belonged to Richness. Love earnestly asked, “Richness, could you please take me along?” Richness answered back promptly, “No Love, I am so much loaded with gold, silver and other riches that I hardly have any place left for you!” and sailed away.

Love kept waiting and saw a beautiful boat coming from a distance. When it came near, Love saw Vanity in it and pleaded, “Vanity, please help me and take me along with you.” Vanity looked at Love and said, “How can I help You, Love? Look at yourself! You are completely wet! I can’t let you damage my beautiful vessel!” Vanity too left Love and went away.

Shortly Love saw Sadness passing by and said, “Sadness, I hope you would not mind me going with you”. But Sadness replied, “Oh Love… how could I tell you how sad I am! I need to be by myself… I really can’t take you along.”

After Sadness left, Love saw Happiness passing by. But Happiness was so ecstatic with herself that she could not even hear Love calling her and sailed away to glory.

Love was left all alone with no one to ask for help. Suddenly Love heard an elderly voice saying, “Love, I want to take you along; please come with me”. Love was so overwhelmed that she did not even ask where they were heading to. She even forgot to ask who this kind elder was. On reaching a dry land, the elder left. There Love met Knowledge, another wise and elegant elder.

Feeling grateful, Love asked Knowledge who the elderly savior was and why she helped Love when all other had refused. Knowledge smiled and said, “That was Time; and only Time can understand the true value of Love!

Mom: 14th Anniversary

This year Dahlias are on display at the Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay. It is also fourteen years since my mom passed away and a reminder of my blog entry on her eighth anniversary when I wrote about the trip we took her to the Netherlands walking through fields of Dahlias. It was an unforgettable experience for her.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Visiting nearest earth size exoplanet

Wild science ideas with some plausibility of achieving are the most exciting ideas.

Received this early this morning in the mail. Article explains how this just might he achieved but long before the project is over we would all be dead because the space craft would take too long to get there and send back its findings.

But just imagine the audacity of this enterprise. This is the closest realistic prospect of trying to achieve the Star Trek reality in the long distant future.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Xi Jinping educates Donald Trump

Trump failed to understand that protocols help to avoid misunderstanding and reduce the risk of war. Do not imagine diplomatic negotiations to be inferior to business deal making. In fact it is the other way round. Diplomacy is not acting like a big bully in school yard against other kids. Meet a man Donald. Xi Jinping is more than your equal!

The question now is has Trump been educated? It took Reagan a year or two to achieve that but Reagan had a far more suitable temperament than Trump for the job of president.

May be too much to ask for at this point but I hoped Trump learned some manners from Xi Jinping. Unlike Reagan, I am doubtful Trump's big ego allows him to publicly learn anything. After all he thinks he is the best. Everyone is hurrying to be number two now including us.  

Just staying silence and let the natural diplomatic currents that is flowing all the time take care of it. This is the Art of War stupid Trump. Get it?

"All Diplomacy is the continuation of War by other means." Zhou Enlai response to the original by Count Clausewitz. I bet Trump have never heard of these two personalities. 

Avoid holidaying in the USA

Staying clear of the US for holidays for now. They don't even have the decency to treat a former PM of  Norway properly. Even if they don't ask for your Facebook password they can easily make the immigration process pretty unpleasant for visitors.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Financing kids' tertiary education

Just got this in the mail from CPF. I think I have received this before but I didn't feel anything then. Do my kids know how fortunate they are that their fees will not be a problem even if there is zero cash flow?

No magic here but very old good money sense and a holy respect for debt. I recently discover they don't teach that in NUS Business School. Sad! and that sounds like Trump eh? That bad hombre is very much on my mind because got to grasp that means for the economy and markets.

Understanding America at a deeper level than before.

Stupidity an insurmountable barrier?

I saw this at Daiso IMM on the 29th last month (second day of CNY) and I just had to snap a photo of it.

Two days ago, I came across this.

and in two aphorisms it tell you that stupidity has no cure as my ex boss sometimes remarked.

I think there is a cure for most people afflicted with this illness if I may call it such. Most stupidity are unnecessary and only because they are lazy. Now here is the big problem, it is really hard to get people to be more hardworking.

Do you know that laziness can masquerade as hard work? It is stupid hard work which is unthinkingly doing the same thing over and over again ignoring the poor results. This is very common beginning from school. My children used to ask me why some of their classmates despite being very hard working do badly academically. Not always but often it is laziness hiding as hard work. Henry Ford understood this very well. He claimed his job at Ford is the hardest because he needs to always think and come up with solutions but most of his workers only need to be in motion with the assembly line. He had created a system which the hard working lazy can make a good living but of course it didn't last. True hard work would be rewarded but laziness in the guise of hard work only last so long.

We are a naturally lazy specie. Hard work requires working in System 2 thinking mode and most people find that very tiring. So they take short cuts and in politics it is waiting for a disaster: Donald Trump.

That is why the more thoughtful folks point their fingers at most of Trump's voters and say, "You are stupid". That is obvious from the sort of TV they watch - no mental effort needed. It is almost impossible to get them to use their heads and if they fail to do that they will surely not have what it takes to land high paying jobs Trump had promised them.

Well Trump is also stupid and he outsource is thinking to Steve Bannon. Behind the hordes of stupid people are the dangerous and evil manipulators.

See this story by the Guardian newspaper: My dad predicted Trump in 1985 – it's not Orwell, he warned, it's Brave New World.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

America becoming like Trump

As Trump is determined to assert his will on America so the country will become like him in the process. He hasn't even been a few weeks on the job.

It is up to Americans who allowed it this to happen to fix it.

Most Americans aren't like Trump especially those who lived in the coastal cities but it doesn't matter since visitors meet government representatives first on arrival. Even in normal times I detested dealing with the TSA. Not only are they often arrogant but they also asked stupid questions reflecting on the sorry state of US education. The last time I was in SFO one of them was making unnecessary remarks about the schools my girls go to. If not for their power to bully, I would have ticked him off. Now the former PM of Norway has had to endured much more.

Would not be visiting USA as long as Trump is president.

Update: Feb 5 8:40 am

And in our media as well.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

No longer "It's the economy stupid"

The age of "It's the economy stupid" is over. Many no longer look to their economic participation to achieve a better life or unconsciously build they heaven on earth. They are going back to where they came from, back to religion, culture and ethnicity.

Economic growth was the solution to society's problems but with yawning wealth and income gaps that is not tenable. There is no known equitable way to redistribute wealth, there is no level playing field and those who have lost out have either lost hope or are no longer patient. History threatens to repeat itself violently with war and massive wealth destruction so that the cards may be shuffled again. Now with enormous nuclear arsenals is this possible and would not the next cataclysm be our last? Unlike previous generations we are far more well informed and aware of what could be looming ahead of us. This gives us a good fighting chance to disrupt the historical script. 

Leaders have to watch out that at some point the economic argument would not be sufficient to obtain the support of the people. Already pressure groups are promoting their agendas often at the expense of the economy. That do not always need to be bad and competitive as sometimes their longer term goals are the same. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A brief walk into Conservative territory

This is a walk I have taken many times but never document it here because it is such chore. I mean walks into conservatism territory. Since I am Singaporean, I am neither a conservative nor liberal. As a resident of a tiny island state, we are more concerned with the basics of security and sustaining the best possible family life for our children's future. There is no time for ideology and we are even wary we might be adherents of some unaware.

Many of my American friends are conservatives I got to know as customers. Very nice and generous folks but not very bright and there is nothing much to discuss with them. A few are liberals and they are generally more thoughtful and aware. There is a lot more I could discuss with this smaller group.

Much of the communication between the Conservative friends and me are via Facebook in one direction: from them to me. I just picked up one.

and I followed the link above, desiring to read another point of view than the liberal and left leaning views which are more likely to find their way to me.

I looked around and chanced upon another link (This popular immigration video will forever change the way you view the issue) I didn't like the title which includes, "forever change". There is no such thing unless you are a gullible person. You know, the sort that are easily sold by oily salespeople peddling substandard wares on TV. They also use language like that.

I often tell my kids to be careful of logical arguments. Before testing them you need to examine if they are even valid in the first place. My favorite is from the time I was lubricant engineer with Shell. Mobil used to advertise something like this on our TV.

and this is patently nonsense but works for many who do not have enough science education or more likely only studied to do well in exams. For such people they cannot transfer their knowledge beyond the exam papers. They will be conned by this TV advert. It is not valid to compare two oils this way because the operating conditions in engines are completely differently from frying them in a pan.

The article on immigration at the site had also committed the same error. It had included a six minute clip which I am sharing here.

The presenter who is a journalist is devious. He has mixed categories and objectives but unfortunately his audience and I am sure millions of people who had seen this bought his simple message just like they had bought Mobil 1 message and many other hoaxes that have gone viral. They have evolved into fake news which has now even began to appear as "alternative facts" after they have won the trust of many gullible people.

The purpose of immigration into America is not trying to solve the problem of poverty but to achieve a win-win for the most talented and intrepid of people around the world and America's economy based on their core values of liberty. Global poverty is solved through myriad other ways which the presenter above conveniently failed to point out to an audience which is poorly informed about the world in general.

Now America has a problem and we an even larger problem because of them. Trump's executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim majority countries is a terrible idea but received the support of at least half of Americans. How could this be? A sustained diet of deceptive logic, conspiracy theories and building trust to accept fake news and alternative facts has gotten many American voters to a very sorry state and to add insult to injury they are asking for more! How do you rescue millions of people from such evil deception? If this trend persist we will indeed have a modern version of Orwell's 1984.

The freedom on information and speech has not resulted in more light but heat in America. Doubts have not given way to clarity but confusion. To be practical many people are no longer confident about the conclusion of their thought or even gut and has taken to trust the wrong authority figures who always had planned to deceive them. They range from pastors, politicians and businesses. Trump is the latest and most egregious of a long line of such characters. There is a good reason why he turned from democrat to republican. The morally corrupt party was ripe for seizing. That party had systematically deceived and readied the guileless sheep for him. Now they are incapable of recognizing facts, reason and simply trust his 140 characters utterance.

Trump is just the symptom and symbol. The real problem is the mass deception of many American voters. If you can help them see the light or more likely some catastrophic event causes them to wake up, Trump and his kind will fall. Now with the voters behind him Congress will not impeach him. This could be a very long winter but I hopeful it would not be. Trump self deception and lack of discipline would be his downfall.