Thursday, September 30, 2010

Starting on Amazon

Today I start inserting little Amazon adverts into my flash movies site. It would be very interesting to see the response.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

How the underclass make a living

The rich and the poor all over the world are alike. It is the middle class that is different. As I cannot easily find out how the poor in Singapore might be like, I have used an American study as a proximate. From my window I can see some of the blocks that house these families and I often wonder what their lives are like. Except for the unusual frequency of seeing Police patrol cars, it is otherwise quite quiet.

I have only gone 15% of the book. It is painful to read. In fact, the better the writing the harder to read.

Apple: The Closed System

"Apple is an extreme example of a closed system." Eric Schmidt

In the long run, Apple will suffer greatly for this. Her competitors if they fail to beat her now, only need to stay alive for the market to come their way. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Old Tiger Beer Truck

Got this in the mail this morning from a pps showing all sorts of beer truck. Have never seen such an ancient truck of our Tiger beer.

Friday, September 24, 2010

China's peaceful rise is nonsense

The Japanese did the wise thing. The historical baggage between China and Japan is huge. The events of the past few months also reveal that China's assurance of their peaceful rise is nonsense. Most of Asia are with the Americans. The Chinese are not loved. They will never be. I expect to see history repeats itself in China. What is history but the script of their cultural DNA.

Japan to release detained Chinese boat captain
Japanese prosecutors have decided to release the Chinese fishing boat captain at the centre of fierce dispute between Tokyo and Beijing, Japanese state broadcaster NHK reported on Friday.

The move should help to ease diplomatic tension that have risen dramatically in the last few days, with Chinese leaders repeatedly demanding the immediate and unconditional release of captain Zhan Qixiong and threatening further “countermeasures” against Tokyo. 

Different commercial paradigms

Read this in the WSJ this morning and it spun much thought in me. The article, "GE Chief Slams U.S. on Energy"

Jeff Imelt delivered a blistering attack on his government for the lack of support which all his major competitors are getting. IBM and Cisco who are selling the software for smart grids have an understandably different point of view. Each company is only looking out for its interest sparing no thought for the larger picture or others in the business ecosystem. Big companies like the kind of support Asian governments tend to give their businesses. They love Singapore because this government support them so much better than their home government.

Note that Dr. Steve Chu the Energy secretary hasn't been sitting on his butt. The US labs are working on the problem but not with a view to immediate commercialization which the Chinese are doing.

The future of the US is founded on values and faith, a messy and unpredictable system. Those who have a cognitive need to understand how the future would unfold in their favor before they buy in will take a long time to appreciate and accept this. Ignore the GEs because they envy their foreign competitors. They can easily imagine that they would be a lot more successful with government support. Being born in the USA and not meddling in defense related work, you don't get support.

We all plan especially the best governments in Asia. Japan used to plan a century ahead. This will not work. In real life plans are derailed. Continuous adaptation in an uncertain world is more practical.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Car Plate "5354"

We have been looking for a car plate like this for as long as I have owned a car. Found one last night and with diplomatic plates to boot. "5354" Read it to yourself in Cantonese.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A CPR reminder

Saw this earlier sometime back but couldn't remember. I am putting it here so that I can come back to revise as necessary.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tom Plate's book on LKY

Practically finished this in one sitting. A very quick read indeed. I didn't bother with it when an old friend asked me sometime back if I would read it. As I saw it staring at me in the library, I thought might as well check it out and quickly see what is in it.

I am disappointed that the MM still holds on to the idea that human ability is mostly inherited from our parents' genes. I can't believe that he could accept from the little book and the explanation the BofA president gave him in 1990 why the Jews are so clever. Now in 2009 when Tom Plate interviewed him he still kept that view against a mountain of research and psychological experiments suggesting otherwise.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

VPN for my iPod

Hurray, set up the VPN for my iPod today.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf a dangerous man or a model of an insensitive fool

" 'I'm an American, I'm a New Yorker. I don't hold my faith responsible for 9/11.'"

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

This guy is either insensitive, an idiot or both. We are fortunate in Singapore our Islamic leaders are far wiser. Too much self-centredness, blatant disregard of others' feelings and sensitivities in America. In fact, I don't trust him. I wonder if he has a sinister plan to make trouble. Religion should be personal, former US president Jimmy Carter is correct. Keep it out of politics. Political Islam or Christianity is a menace that must not be allowed to triumph. Through their gates, we would surely enter another Dark Age.

To Mr Feisal, who always emphasises the centre's interfaith agenda, its location near Ground Zero is essential to its message of healing the wounds of Sept 11 and promoting moderate Islam.

That is putting the cart before the horse. Under the US constitution they have the right to build but good sense would have taught you to earn the right first as the Germans had also with Nazism. 

Taming Humming Birds

This is just awesome beautiful and trusting. Came from my friend Lorraine in Canada.

Jimmy Carter: Our Endangered Values

Collected this from the library yesterday and immediately started on it because I have been interested in the rising conflicts between religion. Looks like it is intensifying and is becoming important enough to be better informed about it. The Christian Fundamentalists and Conservative Christianity have been getting a lot of media space and pouring out books on their hard line positions. I am uncomfortable with their narrow and judgmental thinking.

Our first stall experience

Sold nothing in "Down Memory Lane" yesterday. Unsurprisingly we had company. Unlike the other stalls we called it a day early and left no long after three.

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Flea Market

A mock up of the little stall for tomorrow at wifey's alma mater.

Tony Blair: My Political Life

Got this as in the Kindle version a couple of days ago. Should be a very interesting read. Normally I wouldn't buy a book so quickly but since wifey also expressed interest given the early peek from the papers especially regarding his comments on Gordon Brown, well it is in our e-library now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Learning Chinese

Dr. Lee Wei Ling wrote it today's Think Thank in the ST.

It is obvious that the burden of learning how to write in Chinese is overwhelming for many. At the end of Primary 6, the children are expected to be able to read about 1,600 words and write 1,000-1,100 words. For an average pupil, especially one from an English-speaking home, the latter target is unrealistic.
Little wonder then that some families that can emigrate do so just to allow their children to escape the torture of having to learn Chinese up to the standard the curriculum demands. What we teach and how we test our students in Chinese needs to change and changed soon.

Unfortunately her brother the PM and the Education Minister do not have sufficient courage.

China lament the declining ability of its citizens to write Chinese characters because so many of them now use the computer to write. As they see it as a serious loss they are not open to the many possibilities of gain that could open up as a result.

In the paragraph she wrote prior to my earlier quote,

The irony is that students cannot use word processors in examinations and are required to write the characters. Hanyu pinyin and word processors are allowed in lessons and projects, but to be denied their use in exams makes the exams even more difficult. The Ministry of Education says it will take five or more years to revamp the Chinese curriculum. How many days does it take to change an illogical exam requirement?

Yes, how many days may I ask the Education Minister.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gmail Priority Inbox

Gonna start trying the new Gmail priority Inbox.

Kindle vs iPad

My sis put this up on her Facebook page. So tickled by it, I am gracing it here for keepsake. Wonder if Apple will respond? I guess not.

Kindle Software Update

Just been ambushed by with a wireless software update of my Kindle Gen 3. It is now version 3.0.1

This is supposed to solve some stability issues according to third party sites. Customers must have complained I guess. Amazon is opaque on the specific benefits of this update except that you can now create an Amazon account on the Kindle. I wonder why I would want to do this.

Dubai: Second Anniversary

Just replied an email from a good friend in Dubai. We were there in Dubai at about the same time and also stayed at the same serviced residence for the first six weeks. Dawned on me that she has been there for two years already, but I am glad we came back early. If we hadn't, we would not be able to attend to my late father's needs. He passed away less than a year after we returned.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Keep the family together

Dr. Lee Wei Ling wrote this for the Sunday Times. Reminded me of the circumstances and my decision to pack up and return to Singapore, returning here with no income in order to keep the family intact. Grateful that we had made the right financial decisions all these years to allow us such an option.

Before my father passed away

Caught this in the Sunday Times today. They had printed the Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh advice.

Every person, knowing he or she is about to die, hopes for a peaceful, calm death. As a parent, watching their children suffer because of them brings no peace.'
Instead, says Thich Nhat Hanh, focus your love on the children in the family.
'Taking care of the next generation is the best way to perform your duty as a child to your parent.'

My late father knew that was what each of us was always doing for our kids. His foremost thoughts were for them and also that we get along well. We did exactly that.

American Muslims are worried.

(Left, from Sunday Times today)

American Muslims are worried. I wonder how did the enemy grew from Al Qaeda to become Islam?  I have received countless anti-Islam emails from Americans. Perhaps they have been influenced and now we are seeing critical mass.

We also need to explain why these terrorist groups find it so easy to attract recruits. What sort of Islam are they fighting for? Why is it even called Islam?

There was a window when the moderates (what is a moderate in this context?) could have mounted as vigorous a communication strategy against Al Qaeda, but they didn't. The nature of Islamic leadership may be partly to blame. Unless it arises spontaneously from the ground, it wasn't likely to happen. I hope the moderates will now see this as the moment of emergency to rise to the occasion to explain themselves.

To me as an observer, moderates Muslim are quiet and practice personal Islam. On the other hand the believers of Political Islam are zealous and even believe that history is on their side. They are out to change the world.

Let's stop here and start reversing the process, otherwise we might also see a rise of Political Christianity. Yes, I also receive many emails about returning America to its Christian roots. This is odd. I always thought the State and Religion were separate. This is how I explain it to myself. At the founding of America, most of its citizens were Christians. This gave it a Christian character. It was social and not political.

America, we all, need to understand Islam better. All this confusion is not helping. People stop using their heads and start responding emotionally with all the wrong ideas about each other.

US must deal with homegrown terror problem


When is the US going to learn that you cannot destroy an enemy with missile, bombs and bullets when it is just a popular idea?

Who is the enemy: Political Islam.

Who is the friend: Personal Islam.

Question: Are Muslims moving over from Personal Islam to Political Islam? I don't know.

I understand Political Islam as a version of the religion which seeks to create a political zone where they can practice Sharia law in as pure fashion as possible. That would require an Islamic government or more modestly an Islamic village or town. Non-Muslim nations will be under pressure to create such enclaves so that the Muslims can live as they believed. Is that possible?

The Political Islam would want to grow, i.e., they must win converts or they must slowly over decades have many babies just as non-Muslims fail to replace themselves. Even if they succeed at winning many converts, which I can't see how, there will always be many who would not convert. What then? Create enclaves for non-believers, i.e., switching place from where they start.

All these are untenable. People of a nation must assimilate or be a melting pot. Political Islam as an ideology wouldn't die unless Personal Islam win adherents away from it. This is a tiring and exhaustive process.

I wonder what have we done to cause Political Islam to rise, and if it would cause other religions to raise barricades and heaven forbid offense against it. We should always keep religion out of politics.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Impossible Books

Reading The Black Swan again. This time more carefully. Can't helped thinking that many read it for the wrong and impossible reasons like they had also Gladwell's Tipping Point. They are hoping for these books to tell them to achieve what these books said is impossible.

How did books like these become such bestsellers I wonder. I think these readers were trying to leap ahead and do better after these authors have laughed that the emperor had no clothes! Alas, the emperor remains naked.

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GoDaddy is on the Block

Read about it in the WSJ first thing early this morning that my domain registrar is up for sale. So founder Bob Parsons is cashing out. I remember his from the days of Parsons Technology. He was selling Bible Software. I was a customer

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hort Park Butterfly Enclosure

Visited Hort Park this afternoon after learning from a TV program recently that there is now a Butterfly Garden (see photo). Unfortunately, the two doors to the enclosure were both padlocked.

You cannot go into this place unaccompanied and nicely put means there are guided tours happening only on weekends.

Islam and the State

Dr. Jasser wrote a piece which was published in the WSJ today. I reproduced this by him. Very insightful from a  Muslim.

Imam Rauf may not appear to the untrained eye to be an Islamist, but by making Ground Zero an Islamic rather than an American issue, and by failing to firmly condemn terrorist groups like Hamas, he shows his true allegiance.

Some Muslims believe that their religion is above the state and it should therefore govern the state. Others do not insist on this or even promote such an outcome in the long term but accept their society as it is. The former type of Muslims will inevitably eventually clash with non-Muslims. If they try to make America Islamic, that wouldn't be America any more. If they try the same in Singapore, and if they succeed we would be totally transformed. It is not a problem to those who agree, but there would be opposition to those who do not. How would Islamists deal with such a situation? Would they wait for opposition to die off naturally? I doubt it. If they get enough momentum, they will accelerate and push it. It would be violent.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Killing me softly with FTs

Singapore: "Killing me softly with Foreign Talent; Killing me softly with love; Killing me softly with Foreign Talent, killing me softly with foreign, with foreign talent...."

Counterintuitive isn't it when she cannot get a job for well more than a year. The hirers want you to the "t"s. They are "spoilt" like Singaporeans. They are spoilt like HNWs. Somehow they are prepared to live without the professionals than to bring in people that meet 90% of their requirements and let them grow/learn the 10%. The exception we have come across is HP and she almost get the job.

These employers will inevitably go to the the government to bring in FTs. Locals will not get the chance to learn, so they will have to also look outside the country just like the companies here hire foreign. Exactly as I have grasped conceptually but now I have another example to make it concrete. It is the process of  scenario "Death vs Assimilation". Pieces of Singapore go out making us less Singaporean, and chunks of foreigners enter helping to make it even less Singaporean. It is naive to think they coming to work and live here, they would want to be like us. Most are only staying for as long as it is meaningful. It is a one night stand my dear, nobody is talking marriage here. 

Unless the global pendulum of market fundamentalism swings to the other side in a hurry, Singapore will be mortally injured because we have sold our soul.

Lesson for a special day

Today is a good day to learn this. Experience is the worst teacher because she gives the test before the lesson. Too many people learn their lessons this way. Try to minimize it. Each of us has some lessons that can only be learned the hard way but there shouldn't be too many. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Otah prices

Just discovered that Otah at my place has gone up by 10 cents to 60 cents per piece. Now I wonder what else has gone up but I haven't found out.

The sort of inflation that is hurting the marginal income earners is here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hungry Ghost Month

Today is their day. The ghosts are not permitted out again until next year.

Tomorrow we look forward to the mid-autumn festival which will come in fifteen days time.

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Monday, September 6, 2010

The Kindle 3 arrives

The Kindle 3 I pre-ordered in late July finally arrives this afternoon. vPOST recevied it on the 31st and it took them 7 days to bring it to me.

The thing really reads like pages off a book. This is nice. What I find short is the user interface. We are all spoilt from touch screen technology.

On the way: Big earning tutors

I wonder if a rich-poor divide would eventually appear among private tutors. This will definitely happen if people are surer about the quality of tutors. Too many clients still rely on word of mouth and trial and error to find the right tutors.

Matter of time we get our millionaire tuition teacher. These tutors excel at turning "ugly ducklings" and the mediocre into top performers, but eventually the game must change (may be already have) to their ability to attract high potential students to them (e.g., the Learning Lab). This is completely true in the PSLE, which is a placement exam. 

It is impossible for us to become, "the best place for turning ugly ducklings into swans". It is self defeating and utopian. I didn't recognize it earlier as it came disguised.

The government doesn't understand that Meritocracy eventually defeats itself. Just as Capitalism has a tendency to eats its own children.

Evening dailies' headlines
Sun, Sep 05, 2010
  • Last night's first prize 4-D number 8213 is a permutation of a number written on an altar in a shrine at Yew Tee
  • Local tuition teacher earning $520,000 a year
  • Getai performance at a cemetery to entertain the "hungry ghosts" there
  • 1,500 people visit cemetery at CCK to pray to the "hungry ghosts"
  • Yew Tee shrine helped devotees strike 4-D prizes four times within 12 days
  • Tampines "Hungry Ghost Festival" organisers stopped holding celebrations for 5 years after some people who bid for their auction items failed to pay up
  • Workers at a dormitory at Sg. Kadut claim their belongings were taken from their rooms and thrown outside the building; they have since lodged a police report
  • Indon tycoon passes away in S'pore
  • Fire broke out at a coffeeshop at Bt. Batok Ave. 3, one man hospitalised after inhaling smoke
  • Bookshop in NTU may have broken the law when it photocopied textbooks for students that were out-of-stock
  • Stacks of cardboard being transported by a lorry caught fire all of a sudden when lorry was driving along Hougang
  • Dispute between landlord and tenants at Punggol market over rental contract turn ugly; police called in
  • 50 bars at Duxton Hill were shut during the past 2 years; 7 women were also arrested for exposing their boobs
  • Starhub network at Bukit Timah down on Fri night; residents at terrace houses in area couldn't use their HPs
  • 100 new immigrants take part in Northwest CDC activity
  • No company keen to take up 3 premium bus routes offered by LTA; they say conditions set down by LTA are too harsh
  • 150kg obese man succeeded in losing 50kgs
  • S'pore milk powder exported to China inspected by Chinese authorities and found to contain bacteria


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Skipped to "Ready for delivery"

A few hours ago, the Kindle was still reporting, "Payment received" and now it is "Ready for delivery". It had jumped two steps. It was a miracle. Nah, they didn't update the system until it is here. Does it mean that they will be knocking on my doors tomorrow? 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab

For users like me this could be more sensible than the Apple iPad eventually. For now they are all only amusing to watch and toy with at the showrooms.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

DEWA Stupidity

It takes a bureaucracy to genuinely act stupid. In this instance it is DEWA or the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.

Before we left we went online to instruct them to terminate supply. They did not and thereafter they keep sending us monthly bills long after our tenancy agreement has expired. Neither did our landlord do anything about it, which suggests that the apartment remains empty. Every month no water or electricity were used but the municipality tax continues to add up. I have emailed them many times to no avail and only to be reminded of the stupidity we used to endure when we were there.

Well we will just let it pile up, but I am beginning to wonder if my former landlord is alive or in some really big financial debacle that he needs to make himself scarce.

المبلغ المستحق بالفاتورة
Previous Invoice Balance
الدفعات المستلمة
Payment Accounted Upto 31.08.2010
Electricity          الكهرباء 165.90 0.00 0.00 165.90
Water       المياه 103.75 0.00 0.00 103.75
Sewerage      الصرف الصحي 16.25 0.00 0.00 16.25
Cooling         التبريد 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00
Housing Fee  رسوم السكن 11880.00 0.00 0.00 11880.00
Advance Payments المدفوعات المقدمة  0.00
Total     المجموع 12165.90 0.00 0.00 12165.90
Current Month Charges
شريحة الاستهلاك
Electricity     الكهرباء
 0 0.00
 0 0 0.00
 0 0 0.00
 0 0 0.00
Meter Charges    رسوم العداد 0.00
Other Charges  رسوم أخرى 0.00
Total     المجموع00.00
Water     الميــــاه
 0 0.0 0.00
 0 0.0 0.00
 0 0.0 0.00
Meter Charges   رسوم العداد 0.00
Other Charges  رسوم أخرى 0.00
Total       المجموع 0 0.00
Sewerage   الصرف الصحي0.00
Housing Fee   رسوم السكن792.00
Cooling       التبريد0.00
Total     المجموع792.00
Total Current Month Chargesاجمالي رسوم الشهر الحالي792.00
Total Amount Due اجمالي المبلغ لمستحق12,957.90

Student to Teacher ratio

Quoting Ng Eng Heng in today ST. 

"the student-to-teacher ratio will be further improved across the board, from 20:1 last year to 15:1 in 2015 for primary schools, and from 17:1 to 14:1 for secondary schools." 

Oh yeah? My kids are in classes where there are at least 40 pupils to a teacher. Dr. Ng numbers are technically correct, but practically wrong. Sigh! The govt have so many such silly numbers.