Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Three friends have Cancer

The dreaded big 'C'. Three friends are fighting it. I visited one of them today. It was my fourth visit. I planned to be there for an hour but stayed an additional hour. We reminisce the past, and lesser, ponder the future. How much of a future is there as her condition worsens and the doctors gave up long ago. :-(

Learned about the other two from their emails.

Often Cancer makes the sufferer strong. All three are strong and quite young too.

David Brooks: The Social Animal

Reluctantly returned this book to the library today. I didn't have the time to finish it. It is worth purchasing but the Kindle version is over priced @ $13.99

David Brooks sums up the book well in the last line of the book. Our social life is about the interpenetration of each other souls. This book deserve to sell as well as Malcolm Gladwell's.

Policy makers who fail to look beyond humans as narrowly economic creatures, if successful, only serve to pile up big problems which defy simple solutions tomorrow. You can see growing signs of it in Singapore.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

WSJ on the iPad

Lovely news from the WSJ this morning. I have so many small things to celebrate. I suspect the story wouldn't end here. Some day there will be a follow up good event which will point me back to here.

Cartoon: The lines are blurred

Just received this from Ron who lives States side. There is more than a patina of truth here!

If we aren't careful, we shall also get there. We wouldn't have special interests lobbies like the Americans but we will roll into a form that is uniquely us. Just human nature.

We are not ruled by saints, angels or even God. The folks that govern us are as weak and seduced by temptations as any of us. We need to help them with insisting on transparency, keeping things simple (KISS) and offering them plenty of competition to keep them honest. Trust must be earned but on our part we also need to live Reagan's dictum, "Trust but Verify" or we would eventually get the bad government we deserve.

Bear in mind that governments would attempt to increase transparency by making policies more complex. Effectively you reduce transparency. The financial sector is the leader in the use of this strategy. They were so good that they even fooled themselves after sometime. Why should we be an exception? I reiterate. We are not saints, angels or  gods.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Can Tan Cheng Bock unify us?

I just saw this on facebook. This was what Tan Cheng Bock had written as a tribute to this lowly man naming the theatrette after him.

 "A community leader of distinction-Pek Ang Mooh was a simple,quiet and mild manner man. He could not afford to go to school.He sold vegetables in the market.  He served as a CCC member for more than 20 years. He never asked for favours nor rewards.He was reliable and dependable.He was always there when needed. This theatrette is dedicated to him and to men and women like him who have serve our community with pride and distinction."

I wrote this to pay tribute to a simple man. Some volunteers have asked me why I name a theatrette after this simple man which is a big contrast to the naming of Ng Teng Fong Hospital. I shall explain it in greater details in my next video.

This guy is better qualified than the other two Tans for unifying the people. Very simple. Go back to the core values of humanity, civilization and family. He practiced them. Now restore the values that the government had use legislative violence to pawn off for dollars and cents. A government which often know the price of everything but the value of nothing. A government that is obsess with fear as a primary tool of governance instead of a leadership that inspires. There is no room for faith. Everything is calculated. Tony Tan came from that tradition. Like they say about someone how had always been a lumberjack, every problem is a tree to be chopped. So Tony Tan having spent most of his life as a minister cannot fail to think like one. He wouldn't even be able to be otherwise. It would already be ingrained. I think as a rule of thumb, a long serving cabinet minister is always a bad proposition as the Elected President.

Tan Kin Lian to me is a risk simply because he hadn't had a life in public service which we can scrutinize. Also he has Opposition figures helping him in this EP elections. Therefore Tan Cheng Bock is the most independent of the three candidates.

Updating myself on the Presidential Candidates

I just read Ravi Philemon's analysis of the three candidates. At this point I must admit that I am partial to his arguments.

As for Tony Tan being more equipped to be our top diplomat, I think we have to rank our domestic needs ahead of that. Let the MFA worry over that one.

I was discussing this issue over lunch today with an ex-colleague. His is unhappy with the PAP (many people who vote for them are!) but feels that Tony Tan is the better man. I detected he wasn't so sure as our discussion wore on. He hadn't spent much time thinking through this issue yet. Emphatically, he is not for Tan Kin Lian as he knew more than the man in the street about how he functioned as NTUC Income CEO. It is an opinion I have heard from other corners too, including an ex colleague who had a meeting with him and MAS many years ago.

The dominance of the PAP in Singapore is so comprehensive. We can never find a suitable candidate that had no association with them.

My fear is the PAP is not beneath raiding the reserves to fund populist policies in order to win big int he next elections. Tony Tan cut from the same cloth would be sympathetic to them. They have always been somewhat populist. They just refused to admit it. As they had judged the Opposition, they were simply using them as a mirror to look at themselves too. Don't the pot always call the kettle black?

Lee Kuan Yew is our unofficial reserves blocker. Why do you think he is still involved with GIC? It is not realistic to think he would be able to perform that role much longer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Comfort food for the worst days

Wifey is preparing "crunchy prawns" for dinner tonight. This is their comfort food. The girls are always unhappy the night before school reopens. Of course they feel fortunate for the opportunity to go to school even if they feel it is not an adequate place to receive an education. They had come across too many poor Chinese struggling to get into and stay in schools. One of them have ten girls from China for company and competition. They are really good and almost impossible to beat. Most of them are also older. I discovered they also work much harder than the local girls.

I think after so many years, I have achieved modest success encouraging them that first day back to school is not that bad. The feeling is always worse than the reality. Time and again, I have been right.

I don't remember feeling the same dread when I was in school.

Dinner starting soon. Three plates of  "crunchy prawns" Can we finish so many?


I don't want to trivialize their achievements but there are many dyslexics who go on and do much better than that.  The DAS courses my daughter attended wasn't helpful. She dropped out and learned to cope on her own. It is far from perfect. She will definitely lose marks over Spelling in her O levels. With determination and effort some of her teachers cannot even tell that she is dyslexic. Of course she can't escape the notice of her EL teacher.

Think about it. The famous writer Agatha Christie was dyslexic. If you visit the DAS, they have pinned up many more examples.

Book: Eat People: And Other Unapologetic Rules...

If because you learn some new and neat stuff from this book, this book will not take you to the leading edge of the curve. It might have just shown you how far behind you and many people are.

The writer is also oblivious to the powerful countervailing forces because he assumes history is on his side just because he has figured out the true source of creating wealth. He is so smug about it and conveniently forgets his tunnel vision that man does not live by bread alone. That representative democracy is not on his side, and the control of narrow mercantile interest do not last forever. He thinks he can just take off with the wealth creators and leave most people behind? They will stop you. You need to be figure a way to get them to ride with you.

In a way I hate to disagree with him, but please get real. Don't be so naive. Eat People? This is cruel. He doesn't bat an eye lid about people losing their jobs. Even his kid is aghast at his attitude.

Productivity creates wealth. We know that long ago. We have a problem today though. Jobs are destroyed faster than new ones can be created. Worse, it takes a long time to retrain people in new jobs. We need a new infrastructure and compact now. That is why this guy is behind the curve. Since he ignores sustainability concepts, what can you expect from him?

My impression two thirds way into this book. It is useful to me as I think it helps me bring to the front of my mind  the concepts I already know which I can use for NaviMap.

Since he is not at the practical leading edge, what is? Give away rather than profit motivated entrepreneurship Watch it destroy profits but create wealth. And what is at the conceptual leading edge? The intellectual leading edge? Which powers tomorrow practical leading edge.

UPDATE: 9:20am
Now at Rule #10. Beside the one interviewing George Gilder, this is probably the best chapter of this book. It is about a Market Entrepreneur attacking Political Entrepreneurs. His example of choice was Cornelius Vanderbilt. He helped me to be clearer. There is too much political entrepreneurship in Singapore. No wonder we have to work so hard and our productivity so abysmal. The government prescription for higher productivity is to work smarter mostly confusing saving input with raising output. At the working level there will be many instances of working smarter interpreted as working harder. They are going to lose more votes in  2016 and they don't even know it is coming!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Safety Message: Only for showing off?

For the MOM near by to see eh? My daughter remarked that the workers working inside aren't going to be able to read them! So many messages for the wrong audience.

Only one banner is enough. Obviously his is for show.

Don't the top bosses often trade substance for show? They do it even if in the long term it is inimical to the business. What ridiculous price they pay for looking good. As individuals do it, company honchos would also. Just human nature.

Book Sale @ Carrefour Suntec City

A good crowd at atrium in front of Carrefour Suntec City. Books were on offer, mostly for $8. Many of the titles were new too. The kids picked up three books.

I wonder if these books were not from mystery containers like the guys from The Word Shop told me how they picked up at basement prices years ago.

PC starting to act up

Happened several times already: PC failed to successfully shut down after issuing the command to do so. Aghast each time I got back to see the blue LED taunting me - I am still here.

Only got this machine fixed in early April and Windows is starting to act up. Somehow after a while and usually before a year, Windows always accumulate some detritus and begin to fail going to sleep mode or hibernation (still working) and starts up/shut down very slowly.

Happily for me, it still power up quickly. All those optimization measures are not helpful and I hate to reset the hard disc to factory and start again.

Thin OSes are better.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Missed $0.99, now $9.99

I wanted to buy this book when it was 99 cents not that long ago. I resisted because I don't have the time to read it then or even now.

I just saw moments ago it is now $9.99

Well, should I have been willing to throw away 99 cents for this? What if Amazon keep pumping out such deals and I end up with a very light and thin tonne of unread ebooks and also out of pocket by a long measure?

Give myself another six months or even a year and see if I still miss out on this deal.

I often spend a lot of time deciding on a purchase. I have learned that our purchases is a window to the unknown unknown (superficially the Johari Window) of ourselves. Of course any life's events, especially the stressful and traumatic ones will teach us something about ourselves. Think the Biblical Job.

People nearly always fail to factor the possibility of something from their unknown unknown emerge in their relationships. The last time I was extremely careful and committed, and did the Lord give me the biggest punch ever. Afterward your relationship with him is just different.

Due to his unknown unknown, Job was deemed to be blameless but not sinless.

Young people have a vast unknown unknown. No wonder they have severe difficulties finding themselves. There are no shortcuts. Life reveals your unknown unknowns. Sadly because of pride lots of people try to hide it in dark closets, but to be practical they disguise it and seek the company of the like to legitimize it. God show his grace by tolerating it, often at the cost to his reputation. As his grace increases through time culminating in the appearance of the Son, noticed how he appeared less fearsome and violent and more loving and merciful. Just look at Israel's history. From a barbaric child sacrificing culture to a people of the Book and scholarship.

Now what has all these got to do with 99 cents vesus $9.99?

Thoughts at the car wash

Was at the car wash again this morning. Two noteworthy things. Incredible that it took nearly 30 mins for my car to be washed. No doubt there was a queue as always but only one car more than I usually experience. No, I have a bad feeling.

This guy and his colleague (not in pic) was at the head of the process. Very nice chap, unlike the foreign youngsters that I usually meet. There is one problem I noticed though. They looked tired even if conscientious. A third member, a much younger Indian man was helpful with hurrying things along.

I felt sorry for him as I cannot also avoid feeling the same when I see senior citizens clearing tables at food courts. Perhaps they never imagine doing these jobs but now that is the reality. May be some of my friends, including myself might end up this way. Imagine if an MP or Minister speak to these folks and entertain the possibility however remote that they might one day through cruel twists of fate also working at such jobs. I imagine their attitude will go through a complete turn. An effective empathy trip. Don't think this is far fetched. There were bankrupt and poor former US Presidents. They ought to go and read more history. Even Churchill was nearly bankrupt. Guessed others cruel twists of fate saved him: World War II

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Regrets of the Dying: Local Scene

A few days ago, a facebook post by MOH impressed me. Today, AsiaOne followed up by republishing a TNP article on the local situation. I want to remember this.

Looked like the writer got most of his info from Assissi Home & Hospice. That was where my mom spent her last days. I took many photos of the flowers there. Some of them now grace the flash movies I made, but the one thing that struck me was the room next to my mom's. A young man dying of kidney cancer which even to this day, when I remember Assissi, I remember the family before the Lord. I can still hear the cries of his wife, the two young kids. He wasn't expected to last long. In fact the doc told me they expected him to go before my mom.

People fail to spend time to find the meaning of their lives. I am not making this mistake. So often pride stands in the way of people discovering who they are. Utter foolishness, but that is the curse of our species. This is such a sensitive issue, I can't even volunteer this opinion to anyone unless it is about someone else. To be practical, it is something a person must give up on his or her own. Have you come across anyone who have found peace before dying and still nursing his or her pride? Never. I saw the process, the road to humility in my late father. I trust God he found salvation for his soul down that path. Grace in a box was torn apart. A bigger box was needed, which shortly was also exploded. That is the infinite God. I have discovered that on the Cross, grace has no limits. It continues to reshape my mind. It is endless, leaving the intellect in shreds to be rebuilt with faith.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound....John Newton.

My daughter's EL teacher :-(

Disappointment. It is to be expected. Gems are few and far between but they really shine! Sadly you need to live with many teachers and gems can be counted in one hand.

I hope her Physics teacher gets the President's Award of Teachers. We have gone out of our way to nominate him for that award. The principal was very supportive too.

My daughter just spoke to me about her teacher's response to her work. "spelling, spelling, spelling" and no other remarks on the essay she submitted to her. How to improve? I guess she must have forgotten that she is dyslexic. Those marks are terribly hard for her to capture. To be realistic she must try to score elsewhere.

Well, she didn't submit the essay to her as homework. She wanted to do better and had written to her if she could submit more compositions for her to comment on and help her do better.

This is not the place to fill in the unflattering details. This entry like many others are prompters for our memories and to pin some significant moments in their time and place. Usually we will remember the unforgettable experience but often get the dates wrong.

Well this teacher has given me the excuse I need to go to the principal for my girl to skip her IR when the time comes. A waste of time.

A Channel of grace opens

Today is a good day. I got an email from someone so long ago that I definitely cannot remember what he looks like now. He was still a primary school boy when I last met him. I have been trying to get him to respond to me for more than three years. I remember sending him an important book before we relocated to Dubai. Sometime later, I discovered he had given up his email, terminated his connection to the Internet and I thought it was a big setback.

But I have his address, and I continue to send him birthday cards. A few days ago, I printed and sent him a book on John the Baptist. As in times past, I expected no response from him. I was wrong.

First thing this morning he emailed me :-) I informed his sis about it.

I replied his email and he responded again.

The years of waiting and prayer is producing the sort of results that I can understand. Remember we can only see limited picture of what is really going on. Remember Daniel's prayer and the shocking answer that came back.

As a channel of grace closes, another one opens. Didn't expect it to come so soon, but what do I know about these things?

In the end, I am only answering and acting on the question: Who is my neighbor? I also hope to visit my cancer stricken friend again when school reopens.

Neighbors get thrusted into my lives unplanned, unannounced. Like I sometime said to wifey, I just respond as per my programming. However being human, only on one occasion, I really gave it my all because the Lord had used her to teach me the first lessons of his love. This is then recycled for reaching out to others. Don't we all learn this way? As they say, charity begins at home. Tragically she was an utter disappointment, a real and prolonged heart pain. I cannot understand but what can I do? For that I get the Cousin of Christ story for explanation.

Nobody loves him, so he had to love us first. Like in Romans 9, I find it hard to accept why some people get such spectacular opportunities to show they hate him. Therefore we must not judge.

A godly woman once said, "God did not ask us to be successful; he only asks us to be faithful" I am still learning the wisdom of this profound statement.

Should I support Tony Tan for President?

Got a message early this morning that Tony Tan would be running for President. I thought to myself, there are now three Tans to choose from if the other two also get their certificate of eligibility.

The heavy thunderstorm in the night tripped the power twice. Each time I had to get up to reset the ELCB. Suffering from a bad headache I couldn't get back to sleep.

Just now I read this from the WSJ, "Who Pays for China's Bad Loans?"  which reminded me of some of my earlier thoughts about the government and helped me decide that I will not support Tony Tan. In a line, Tony Tan will help the government make us do national service like the Chinese government make their people. In fact the Chinese had observed and learned the tricks from us!

We don't need another Yes-man like Nathan in that job.

A second rate government can always pass off as a first class government if somehow it can get the people to do national service all the time. Why do you think professional politicians elsewhere envy us? They know that they aren't that smart and they dearly hope to get their citizens to also perform national service like us and the Chinese. For a long while the Japanese were able to do the same until their government became third rate.

Again and again, I am reminded to vote for transparency and the time tested values of honesty and concern for fellow men.

Last two paras of the article:

The second option is for the banks to take the hit. Fear about that possibility has contributed to a sharp fall in bank stocks since the start of the month, with Industrial & Commercial Bank of China down 11%. But the government won't leave the banks, which it controls, to swing in the wind. A continued wide spread between government-set interest rates for deposits and lending should provide them with enough of a cushion to muddle through. That means bad news for households—which do most of the saving in China, with no end in sight to the implicit tax on their deposits from negative real interest rates.
So while the real cost of the stimulus isn't yet clear, there is little doubt that China's long-suffering households will pick up most of the bill in some form. That is another impediment to rebalancing the economy toward domestic consumption. After all, households can hardly be expected to hit the shops at the same time as they are squeezed by the government and the banks.

Update: 9:20am

Lead by postings of facebook, I read up on Tony Tan in Wikipedia and his comments to the press about the IRs. A complex Yes-man still to me. As a rule of thumb I just dislike a former Member of Cabinet to be the President. We were lucky with Ong Teng Cheong. We shouldn't tempt luck if we can find someone else who was not close to the government.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Unexploded Bomb: Before you buy or lease land in SG

A reminder to all who owns or lease land especially for industrial use next time. Better do a check for bombs before you sign on the dotted line. The police wouldn't assist and you would likely have to get and pay big bucks for it to be disposed. This is really news to me. I was always under the impression that the government would get rid of it. After all this is a matter of public safety. If the private contractor botched the job, who will answer? I am surprised that there are such guys here. Do they have enough business to go on? Who are they really?

Unexploded bomb removed from site

Sigh! I think if you have terrorists on your premises and since it is private property and the police won't help....stupid. Something is missing here. No common sense again.

Update: 2115hrs

This time the cake is on the media face. The Police has clarified the situation. I was right to suspect that something was missing here. It hadn't made any sense.

Sad to see that government credibility has fallen. In a past age nobody would believe you that the Police asked you to arrange a private contractor to deal with a situation like this. Everyone thought the highest of the government. They have surely lost their sheen.

Dreams: Do you act on them?

I have some friends who believe very much in dreams. I usually do not put much store by them. Today one wrote on facebook "梦见已故同事要我慰问他年老爱妻,我应该迷信"

One friend suggested follow your heart. I added by "打听" to see if it is appropriate as the outcome might fall either way.

I recently also have some vague dreams. Usually the most vivid dreams are absurd like those Pharaoh told Joseph or worse. For a few days, I get this feeling that the "Channel of grace" is coming to and end. After four years of painful work, it was gracious of the Lord to prepare me for this. In particular he informs us of some of his mysterious ways in the story of John the Baptist.

John's story first hit home with me about four years ago in the book, "Finishing Well". It has always stayed with me, which on many occasions I mentioned to my kids in our Sunday evening discussions. But when at the right time I read "Prisoner in the Third Cell" it became a big story and relevance for me. The timing was uncanny. They helped me to prepare for the end of a journey and to resolve some very difficult and old theological questions. I had learned from John White never give up on those questions even if it takes years.

"And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me".

I do not take offence. I believe. I realized I always have but I didn't know that I do. Such was the magnificent grace of the Lord. He decides as per his sovereignty. I have a new and deeper understanding of hell. A kind of understanding and not understanding. A knowledge that there are others like me who also feel the same but we will not discuss it. It is a gift. It will be opened in Revelation time. I have not done so, but if I will to turn to Revelation, something tells me there will be hints on offer there. I am going to leave it alone and stayed focused on the present. To me that is the right and unusual attitude because as a congenital scenarist, pondering the outlines of tomorrow is second nature to me.

It isn't just knowledge. It is a gift. It was also a test of how valuable is that buried treasure in the field. Now I am completely sure I did not fail. Just as those Jews who could give up the Temple and the Tabernacle for the God that was behind it all; do not love the wrong things.

Two people, one experience. The litmus test was Pride. Never seen it up so close how deadly Pride is. It will set up it own moral code and if it has the power recreate the universe in its evil intent. With a clearer faith, I am surer where my late dad might have gone to. Because when he gave up his pride, love took over. The sort that waits, the sort I am increasingly familiar with. The love which Desmond Tutu declared, "God is not a Christian" The same one that got Mother Teresa labelled as a false prophet destined for hell by some quarters in Christendom - the dangerous folks who might ignite a "holy" crusade sometime.

Nitcharee is from a Buddhist family. The God who cannot be labelled or put in a box; answered his own prayer for her so that I might lived the big No I didn't know was coming. You see, a No answer logically could come from a dead god or one who does not exists. A convincing and surprising Yes is an affirmation of his existence.

We shall be utterly surprised how Christ will unite everything to himself eventually.

Lunch Break: Watching Tan Cheng Bock on YouTube

Watched all three parts of these during my unusually early lunch today. He is a good guy isn't he? Yes. Independent minded with COMMON SENSE. I don't care for helicopters that cannot land. Common sense is not common among our policy makers. I heard over the car radio about average noise level from our MRT tracks this morning. Who cares about average noise? It is the peak and sudden noise, and aggravated if it is frequent and random that mattered. People with brains over simplify and modelized (forgive my England, just enjoys this) problems come up with cocky solutions that miss the targets.

If Tony Tan runs, it would be hard for him to persuade me why I should give him my vote. Imagine going from GIC to be GIC inspector general as President?

I hope to learn more about Tan Kin Lian too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Daughter's workstation

The erstwhile lazy daughter decided she wants to live differently now. Completely cleaned out her table of boondoggles. Now she is into serious work. Kudos to her. There is tremendous value in delayed gratification.

Another book gift: Diplomacy by S Jayakumar

Thanks old friend for this book, but also realized that I can't get him to buy me another SPH published title because he wouldn't accept my payment!

It was good to catch up with him. We haven't chit chat in a very long time. We used to have many discussions in our teenage years and twenties. Now we have so many other duties and responsibilities. Most of the time we email or talk over the phone.

He told me the first part of the book is boring with many technicals. Stories of diplomatic coups, near misses and misses are in the second half.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Aston's @ Suntec

Dinner with the family at Aston's @ Suntec City tonight. Very competitive prices: $46 for all of us.

Cheap & Good.

MOH: Regrets of the Dying.

I have so many blog entries which were quite critical of the government. Now I am quite happy to see this from MOH facebook post on the common Wall. See

God has designed my circumstances making it much easier for me to make the hard choices (that's grace!), which looking around many guys fail to make. As birds of the feathers flock together, others who had made similar hard trade offs; we have somehow found each other. Those who had chosen the opposite, we don't need to do anything. It just dawn on me at this moment that we just stayed clear of each other. I wished they would join us but a great chasm divides us that can only be crossed by changed hearts. This divide is wider than race and religion.

India's Banks: Sowing the seeds of a distant tomorrow's crisis

This article in the FT caught my eye this morning. Years from now and it can be as long as a decade, if there is a bank related financial crisis in India, it would be traced back to this point.

The industrial conglomerates will say Yes to any condition just to play. Once in, anything can be arranged. Overwhelming self interest will eventually destroy a good party. Meanwhile this is a positive development for Indian markets. Have a good ride up. The first few years would be a no-brainer when risks are minimal.

Liberalizations always usher in opportunities to make very good money, but they also eventually end in a terrible hangover.

India is looking good, and Indonesia too, which is a different story. It is cheap relative to Brazil.

Food stamps for steak and lobsters

Was pointed to this article in from a friend this morning.

Using food stamps to obtain lobsters and potterhouse steaks? It didn't stop there either. The guy tried to sell them with a 50% mark up. Sometimes you find it hard to fault this government to err on the side of caution. Why LKY has always been paranoid about this.

We are not in this sorry position but we facing such risks from the pressure of  too many people falling through the cracks. This is beyond government capabilities. Citizens must get involved or many hard luck cases will pay the terrible price as we missed them in the name of caution.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A channel of grace closes

The channel of grace from me to my friend unfortunately has closed. The Lord will arrange another channel. For as long as there is life there is hope. Similarly I expect some closed channels elsewhere to be reopened with me. That is how the community of believers work.

From Matthew 10 (The Message)

If they don't welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. 

It was helpful that I had some inkling to expect this. Of course, I had found it difficult to believe, but when it came, there was no surprise.

It had been a very difficult four years. I can take absence from this one and wait for the outcome in the distant future. We need to have faith in Joseph stories.

And blessed is he who is not offended with me.” 

It can't get harder than this.

Attendance at Pink Dot event doubles

The Gays and their friendlies are growing in strength. Their sexual orientation make me sad but also hold an unusual and unexpected evidence of extraordinary grace. It has taken me many years to understand what this is all about. I discover it is as much about us as it is about them. We think we are separate? Far from it. It is almost like the spin on an electron pair.

From Matthew 10, which I used in a deleted blog entry last night.

Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

This is just hypocrisy. Lots of us come from that town. Get out of there and you will be surprised how differently you think. But if you think you are already outside that town, the darkness would be very deep.

It has been many years, and I am still learning what is happening here. At least I can now see it as a story of unfolding grace. I hope this is progress.

Happy Father's Day. What if your kids were gay? Kids, how would you account to your parents?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ST: Extraordinary Fathers

In ST today. Not enough of them but I believe we have more than many other societies. 

New flats: Ready to move in

These blocks of flat looks complete at last. They had targeted for it to be ready for moving in July. Wonder if we are looking at the first owners. Must be pretty scary for these two families in an otherwise still empty block. I bet they become friends fast :-)

The missed story of John the Baptist

As I blog about this book, it is still $0 at Amazon for Kindle.

I saw this book listed many times and ignored it. I thought it was just one of the many works of fiction I have no time for. I didn't know it was a story weaved around John the Baptist.

If you are a successful Prosperity Gospel believer, you can avoid this book. Very unlikely you would be able to identify it. But if the life of Job was meaningful to you, this is better than the Job's story.

Around Chapter 16 is where it begins to hit you hard and the author keeps repeating Christ's words,

“And blessed is he who is not offended with me.” 

John died a heart broken man. This is the book to read if you keep asking why does a good God allow so many people to die in the Tsunamis. Why do bad things happen to good people. If you encounter God and cannot understand. This is the book.

No wonder, this John was chosen to prepare the way for the Messiah. I am totally mixed up in its cruel beauty. I can't decide.

"All they will ever know in this lifetime is that I did not come to them in their hour of greatest need. Today they, like all others, have met a God they do not understand" 

Beginning with the person who had introduced me to Christ, I cannot even bring myself to ask her if she still believes....unless your life is so protected and CS Lewis had something powerful to say to that in, "The Four Loves", it is a matter of time you will need to understand John's life.

From the great CS Lewis:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

Changing Microsoft Arc mouse batteries again :-(

Good thing I left an entry for the last change of this mouse batteries. So the batteries are only good for six weeks. Two alkaline AAA are needed. Not encouraging.

I am going to fold the mouse every night and see if that prolongs the life of the batteries.

Obedient Wives Club: MUIS, What took you so long to respond?

Just spotted the above in ST today. This is five days after I have blogged about the time OWC announced plans to have a branch here. What took you so long MUIS? You should have issue a rebuttal asap. Don't tell me you need extended discussions among yourselves. Very poor leadership to the point of creating a vacuum for alternatives. I am most disappointed. We need a more confident Muslim leadership to support our religious and racial harmony objectives in Singapore. If you disappoint a non believer like me, you must be doing far worse with your constituency!

And what happened to the mouse-silent Minister for Malay/Muslim affairs? He is still silent on this very obvious issue.

Why am I getting the feeling that OWC Singapore chapter wouldn't have much trouble getting members?

Tupperware still doing well

Reading this about Tupperware in the WSJ this morning.

It's tempting to expect Tupperware to crack as well. But the company, which only sells online and through sales representatives, has a knack for raising prices even when times are tough.
One reason is that Tupperware products don't sit on store shelves next to competing products. And salespeople are paid as a percentage of sales, keeping incentives aligned with the company's.
Ah, this is an old company that never took shortcuts and had the opportunity to differentiate themselves successfully and not fall into the trap of commoditization.

Don't be in a such a hurry. Beware of venture capital or private equity money. Not clever to help them reduce their risk by increasing yours. He only need one in ten to succeed. You need to score one in one! Not completely true as you can start over again. But just imagine the toll on you.

If you think you have a game changer and need to ramp up as quickly as possible, then you need the financial, connections and expertise of good venture capital companies. If your enterprise is going to be mistaken for a long time and ignored then forget about the venture guys and grow stealthily. When the wind finally blows, only you are positioned to catch it. Most likely some big guys will be upended by your product and service model too. A truly new thing in the world is very rare. Mostly it is about providing a better mousetrap.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Near Accident

Almost got knocked down by a reversing car at Suntec City car park. Driver failed to keep a lookout when reversing. God was gracious. I was naturally very angry with him. To his credit he apologized. He even found me in the mall to check if I was OK. It was a frightening experience for the kids.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

A lovely wallpaper I shared before

Esther asked me for this picture to use as the Wallpaper for her Windows Notebook a few years ago. I bet she had replaced it with something else by now. I have also as good as misplaced my copy in the tens of thousands of pictures in my collection. It is happenstance that I received it from Wandee as part of a lovely pps show tonight. Yes, this is a lovely picture. I wish I was there.

Book: An Expose on Teen Sex and Dating: What's Really Going On and How to Talk About It

It has taken me a while to read this easy to read book which I had given to my daughter. She finished it long time before I did.

I have always appreciated Navpress. As a young believer, they provided the resources for my grounding.

This book may be "ahead of its time" for our local situation. I hate to put it this way because the trend is clear. One day, many of us as parents and grandparents are going to have countless heart breaks as a result. I thought it is already true for some of my older friends with kids old enough to make it so!

Although I agree with the thinking behind this book not just in theory but in practice too, I think unless God intervenes massively, there shall for the moment be more defeats and tears than victories and rejoicing. In a way it is the verdict of the hypocrisy of the earlier generation - they were disobedient in secret, and sometimes the lid came off and it spilled out. The evil fruit ripens in their progeny's generation.

But the Lord's grace is ever present even if it is invisible to many. The author recounted the words of one wise old lady. She said:

“If the journey God has my kids on is crooked, damn me for trying to make it straight!”

Not many people can appreciate the wisdom of these words. Too many have to learn it the hard way. Let me try to help it along by saying this: Can you imagine Samuel as the irresponsible parents? What sort of boys did God give him? Useless and corrupt which led to the people asking him to give them a king! For the Lord's ways are beyond us (Isaiah 55)

Do your part, live the exemplary life but whatever will be, will be. What the kids become is in his hands. Just keep in mind the story of the Prodigal Son. Whatever the life story, his grace is sufficient.

Philosophically Taoist isn't it? Our faith is big enough to encapsulate this and more.

Will Greece default?

Will Greece default? The market thinks so. I don't know but this is what I am thinking. The technicals are highly complex and I can't follow them; the historical record of other economies in similar straits very bad except for Latvia. My latest thoughts hover around the self interests of euro politicians. Can't solve the problem, no courage to deal with it, they are now calculating how to save their reputations and careers. They will fiddle while Greece and more burn as long as they are not consumed along with it.
EU commissioners have a "profound sense of foreboding" about Greece and the future of the eurozone, a leaked account of a meeting suggests.

See also: Chances of a Euro breakup now increasing.

Update: Greek Crisis eases for now (Jun 18)

So they have decided to kick the can down the road once more, but I suppose the distance you can take it away gets nearer and nearer!

Dubai taught me Singapore never spoiled me

A friend still working and living in Dubai wrote to me several days ago that prices at the pump will go up by about 30% soon. In the neighboring emirates where she is lives, in Sharjah, pumps were often dry. At least that is what they claim.

All these reminds me the uncertainties of life in Dubai when we were living there. And did we miss the convenience and predictability of Singapore? Were we spoilt? No, we adapted. If we could make things better, we did but most of the times when in Rome you just have to do as Romans do.

Every circumstance has its mix of pluses and minuses. You just have to learn to take advantage of one and learn to cope with the other. We are only kinda of spoilt when we are back in Singapore. Why? Because we are citizens. Why not? I have noticed that Hong Kongers are different before and after hand over in 1997 too.

One of the most difficult adjustments was driving "illegally" in Dubai and going for driving lessons and test after decades of driving everywhere. It was absurd. Not long after I passed my driving test, they resolved the diplomatic impasse between Singapore and the UAE. Our driver's license could be converted into theirs again. No fun driving forty kms so often to driving school in a SUV and switched into a Nissan Sunny for a couple of hours of lessons. Most stressful was not knowing if you would pass because the testers were capricious and most people fail.And I didn't miss Singapore even having to live with this and more. I was most unhappy with the Singapore Consulate though. They had lousy Consul General..He was recently promoted to ambassador at our Laos mission.

Update: A very good blog I used to follow while living in Dubai. We shared many of the experience esp., the banks and government described there. This chap was more willing to talk. I was Singapore trained to self-censor.

No Lunar Eclipse

It rained heavily, it even tripped the power in the middle of the night. There is no lunar eclipse to behold this time. The children slept on. No point waking them out, making the trip to the Science Centre. Saw on facebook a friend lamenting this too.

All we have is a cute display from Google to remind us that it happened on this day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nitcharee gets $250K Red Cross donation

I am going to stop counting the number of times I am blogging about her. Each entry is a miracle from the Lord (I don't care that she is Buddhist). She is getting $250K from the Red Cross. What she needs is now amply supplied. I have been told right from the beginning to expect positive surprises. The Lord has been good to her. Just now I heard over the radio in the car a Singaporean based in HK had paid in full the hospitalization fees at TTSH. He wants to remain anonymous.

I had wanted to make a contribution too but the Lord said that was not necessary. Indeed he was right.

I am very happy for her.

Nitcharee flies home - 14/6/11
Thai teen hit by train asking to see parents - 6/4/11

Update: June 17 2011

Dinner @ Formosa Delight

Had dinner with Wifey first time a Fomosa Delights @ West Coast Plaza (formerly Ginza Plaza) tonight.

There have Mantous and that's great. The kids love these. We shall bring them back.

Dinner was Yangzhou Friend Rice and Xiaolong Bao which we shared. With drinks the bill came to $15. Thousands of foetuses aborted here every year

I am disturbed by this article at which was on my facebook page.

Between risking the nation economic power and low birthrates the govt has always chosen the former. That is why to them the problem cannot be solved. So they import foreigners who settled down with birthrates as low as ours. In the end this will only aggravate the problem of an even bigger elderly population, but they call it the solution! We are sitting on a time bomb. With this type of governing failure is assured. We are just kicking this can down the road isn't it?

Cereal: Trail Mix Crunch by Post

Worth picking up again. Very generous with the cranberries. Unlike the Marks & Spencer one I complained about earlier.

Car interiors

Some people really know how to leave their personal touch on the interior of their cars. This car was parked beside me, a red VW beetle, last night.

I imagine what her home must look like.

I still haven't done anything about our car. I like the job done with this car. I wouldn't use a bear. May be I would have Yoda instead. I have a Yoda poster with the famous, "do or do not; there is no try" but I can't find it now.

Coffee shop closure

Looked like this yesterday. Same look today too. I think this is yet another change of ownership and not a close for massive cleaning op.

Sigh! The girls love the baked potatoes from Ashton. One of my kids suggested may be it would become a McDonalds.

Whatever, I hope this would be a change for the better. I used to meet up with my ex colleague for chit chat here on Saturday mornings. I prefer to email, but I am discovering again and again most people prefer to meet in person.

Choi Sung Bong - A story for us

My friend emailed me this from Seattle last night when we were still snoozing. I saw it this morning and it just bang into you! One of those Cinderella and Ugly Duckling stories. Don't we love such stories. We will never have enough of them.

This was what Lorna wrote introducing the video.

"Saw wonderful video on Vancouver Sun website this morning.  It was a young Korean man who is being compared to Susan Boyle.  He was placed in an orphanage shortly after birth and has supported himself for years selling items on the street.  The Korean judges were not very impressed at first.  And then he began to sing.  I recognized the music from the film 'The Mission' with a piece called 'Gabriel's Oboe' by Italian composer Ennio Morricone.  The audience went wild and the like the Susan Boyle judges, they did a complete 180.  I was very moved by his performance."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This is the orange to buy

Remember "3110" that is the one to buy. I just bought Late Lane, which I discovered is also by Sunkist.

Cara Cara 3110 has unusually dark orange flesh and a nice sweetness.

Five for $2.75

The Chinese probably stole, perhaps licensed the know how (unlikely) to produce SonKiss. That is even better than Car Cara.

Nitcharee flies home

Nitcharee in video before she left for Bangkok. Those prosthetic legs that she is getting are amazingly expensive. Not surprised. I expected her to get them long before and it looks like it is happening. Of course I wonder about many other patients who might have lost their legs too. They may be Singaporean and have to live with very basic aids. Think Robert Oppenheimer versus Chris Langan in "Outliers"

She will be back in two months for her follow up at TTSH.

SMRT keep losing the goodwill and brand battles. Don't tell me they expect more such tragedies and therefore must conserve cash - $5K.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Japan nuclear crisis and our Elected Presidency

I feel a growing sense of unease as I read this article from the NYT, "In Nuclear Crisis, Crippling Mistrust". I wasn't thinkig of Japan, but what Singapore someday might face. I wasn't thinking of a local nuclear crisis. Just any crisis fits the bill. What about the way we had been managing the floods? The explanations from PUB and MEWR are clearly unacceptable. To me they are clueless and feckless.

Next I thought of the Elected President. He could be easily overwhelmed as PM Naoto Kan was. I am starting to have doubts this institution could work. One President, his council of advisers against the government and civil service.The President can be easily overwhelmed. I think the President ought to be the custodian of government transparency. He is presently not. We need new ideas and strategies for growing transparency of governance here. How much accountability can you achieve without adequate transparency?

From the article:

“It’s more of an emotional thing,” Mr. Matsumoto said of Mr. Kan. “He never trusts bureaucrats.”

That is a legacy from Mr. Kan’s stint as health minister in the mid-1990s, when he became wildly popular after exposing his own ministry’s use of blood tainted with H.I.V., which led to hundreds of hemophiliacs dying of AIDS. Mr. Kan found that bureaucrats and pharmaceutical company officials had long known of the tainted blood.

Fish & Co @ Clementi Mall

Had lunch today at Fish & Co @ Clementi Mall. This is a reminder not to return. Prior to this, we had lunch by them at their AMK mall outlet. It was the first day of CNY and options for lunch were limited. I remarked to them that the ang mohs do not know how to prepare fish. I repeated it again this time.

Except my portion, the rest of the family had plenty of leftovers.

Gimmick: They provide an iPad to present their menu. We didn't use that high tech option to place our orders.

Growell Shampoo - Excellent

This "Growell" shampoo is excellent. We just bought the 500ml size one for about $22 at Unity Pharmacy just now. Wifey had bought a small one to try on her business trip recently and gave it the thumbs up.

Female Politicians and Sex Scandals

Found this in the ST today, "Why female politicians rarely get caught up in sex scandals"

I have always worried about people vying for powerful political positions for the very same reasons Debbie Walsh has suggested here. Look at all the trappings and behavior. Even low class MPs have advanced parties when they go visiting residents homes. Very good for the ego eh?

Meanwhile the new MP for Hougang from the WP spent five hours with a bunch of young volunteers cleaning out a horrifically dirty HDB apartment. PAP, cut the stupid pomp, show and ceremony. You are helping to attract the wrong guys to political office. After LKY is gone, I bet you will have your sex scandals. What holy orders like Dr. Goh alluded to in 1984?

We should have more women in the Cabinet.

It is not a good turn when we start questioning which MPs and Ministers are in this for the ego. Again, we are becoming like any other very imperfect city in the first world. Perhaps there are always far too many powerful positions and not enough good people to fill them. This is what human history had always pointed out. We will need the special few to keep the many other potentially dishonest ones on a short leash.