Friday, September 30, 2011

He's Everything To Me by Ralph Carmichael

Many thanks to Pearly for sending me this. Just wonderful! One of my favorites from my teenage years. Not just the tune but the very words too. .."till by faith I met him face to face..."

Just perfect except for the choice of some pictures used.

This version sung by Carroll Roberson.

School work and spotting the cat

Can you spot the cat? A friend posted this on her facebook inviting us to try. I am putting it up here not to tease others to find the cat but to drive home one important point for my kids - It is important to revisit your work because as humans, we see what we want to see. That is, there are features that are important which we will inevitably miss.

I shall be waiting for them to tell me if they have found the cat. It is not that difficult if you have found it, and infuriatingly hard if you haven't. Again this is familiar isn't it? Nothing is truly hard or easy. What matters is if you are determined to understand it and keep at it until you have got it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Growing emphasis on special needs in our schools

These stories always read better in publications than in real life isn't it? I know this issue well as I have a special needs child too. I worked extremely hard with her and she has succeeded spectacularly. One primary school teacher was special and very dedicated to helping her. At that time her condition wasn't even identified. Those were extremely stressful years for me. My hair turned gray quickly.

Except for some unusually sensitive souls, most people think she is quite normal now. She is fortunate to be blessed with high cognitive ability and the determination to overcome her condition. She now has more friends and relate to people better. It was not easy at all to get to this point, and there a ways to go yet. My plan to help her developmentally  is only good half the time, the other half I had to make it up as I go along.

From my experience, I think schools can be very helpful but the family is the most important contributor helping a special needs child succeed. If you are a follower of the Way, you will find the Master ever present. He is always present at the times I have to make up what to do as we go along. As a result the doctor said we are more than able to cope, there is no need to see her regularly. The power of the Gospel to heal. Specifically, I suspect to rewire the brain or grow new connections, create neurological bypass, whatever. From here you get a glimpse of the new bodies the Lord will give us to replace this one.

The Amazon Kindle Fire and Kindle Touch

A first hands on by Engaget on the Kindle Fire. Very speedy browser. The tablet does't look sleek like an iPad. In fact, it appears a little thick. Its selling point is the price, at $199 it is $300 cheaper than the entry level iPad. I expect it to be very popular.

If I get one, it would mostly for reading kindle books in the dark, which I do regularly and accessing emails. I am not interested in the music and videos. Games are out too. I no longer make the time for such things.

I am quite interested in the Kindle Touch, which is the old kindle without a keypad and now support touch screen technology. I often look up words, underline and make notes. The keypad has been a test of patience to use each time. There could also be one surprising benefit. Perhaps the experimental web browser would now be practical to use, again because of touch technology.

And the Kindle Touch. Noticed that the screen refresh is so instantaneous, it is hard to tell a page flip. Finally a more usable keypad on the display.

Promised wifey to put up the official Kindle Fire video for her to view.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Remembering Margaret Drive Food Centre

Serendipitously stumbled across this pic from

This is a  good shot because it wasn't taken recently. The sorry pic I have shows the place prepared for demolition.

I remember coming here almost every Sunday after church. We usually ate one of the following: Mee Siam, Lotong, Duck noodle and a local dessert next to the Mee Siam stall.

Many of us share part of our roots here. It is not difficult to come across someone who had used to live in Queenstown. Dr. Tan Cheng Bock let on today that he used to live in a 3-room flat along Margaret Drive.

Here a pic of the hawker centre from the Sunday Times, I thought I had inserted in an earlier entry but apparently not.


Retiring Simple Spreadsheet

I am going to bring back the Marina Calc spreadsheet on my old iPod Touch. The Simple Spreadsheet, which is free is worse than Marina Calc. If the developer plans to charge for this, he/she will have to put in a lot more work.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The return of anxiety attacks.

The unwelcome anxiety episodes are back. It probably started two weeks ago and it happened once last week and this morning too. Teachers mistook it for inadequate breakfast but I always had my doubts and today I realized that my hunch was right.

We don't need Xanax. We already know how to deal with it. So many people have it worse. A reminder of the high price I have paid to get this right. It is like running your own little farm. There is limited control and you just have to stand by and be available at all times to do the necessary.

I don't see all these as problems. It is wrong and stupid to extrapolate, which is what many people do. I see it all the time when parents compare their kids. If one fails to recognize that what is in the soil is a seed, then the expectation is just decaying humus. We have a seed here, and if we take care of it, it will grow into a plant.

The way of the world is to achieve, but we are reminded that God does not ask us to be successful but faithful. In reality we do not know how to be faithful without aiming to be successful and that is why we need His grace. Where your faith is and it is growing over time, each of us will find the balance between struggling for success and focusing on being responsible. The shortfall is met by the Lord's grace. We will always underestimate the power of the Cross.

From an old hymn by Fanny Crosby,
"For I know whatever befall me, Jesus doeth all things well..."

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Creation Church new building

They have been working on erecting this building 24/7. I am told that sometimes they can be quite noisy and loud falls sounded like thunder. What about workers' safety I wonder.

Why is this building interesting? This is where New Creation Church would move to when completed. It is a JV with Capitaland

A monetary world order

An excerpt from Neil Irwin's article in the Washington Post.

 I had read about George Willis in, "The Exorbitant Privilege". Here is something most interesting about how this guru felt about the international monetary system then and that is also probably true today.

By a very long shot, I do not have the knowledge and confidence of George Wallis, but I have always felt that we can never have a satisfactory system. It is partly a hunch.

Forget about the holy grail. Let's just live with systems that work for short periods. The issue becomes how and when to make the necessary changes. Just do whatever is necessary not to sink the ship. There is no guarantee but at least we must learn and understand as much as possible from the past. Most important, in such times leaders matter, and they must be those with courage. This is clearly missing in Europe today.

Charting a child's growth

A brief visit to the watch shop at Clementi Mall on Saturday had somehow inspired my daughter to write this after we got back. A good record of how she is growing up! Better in her words than mine right?

Old Father Time sells a watch

Old Father Time once had a shop
And it sold everything that could be got
Riches! Gold! And everything nice!
And yes he would even sell mice!

So one day in came a man
Whose life seemed to have gotten out of hand
His face was so sad and so worn
And his clothes were all torn

“My good man,” said Father Time
“What would you really like?”
“I want a lot,” the man replied,
“Riches, happiness and long life.”

Father Time thought for a long time
As though he was trying to make up a rhyme
At last he said, “Come with me!
I have something you should see!’

Then he produced an old battered watch
Its rims were silver but quite worn
On its face written in a rhyme
Were the words written by time

“I can bring you silver and gold,
Happiness and plenty all at one go!
But beware how you seek
For I will not favour the weak”

The man bought the watch
And brought it home
He waited and waited
For the things it told

Years passed and nothing changed
He had waited and waited in vain
One day at a thousand and two
He wanted to return the watch he took

He called his descendant and went to the shop
And there stood Father Time as before
“I want to return this,” the man said,
“It broke the promise that it made.”

“The watch served you true and true
As you see you are a thousand and two
The watch bought you time but you were not wise
And hence you did not use it right

Time can give you silver and gold
But it would not get them for you
You had a chance but you didn’t try
To get what you wanted with your might”

So Father Time ended his speech
While the man stared at his feet
Then passed the watch to his descendant
Warning him to use it different

Nephew getting married

Another nephew is getting married soon. Last night he visited us with his mom to deliver the wedding invitation and the customary cakes.

I haven't eaten such cakes for a long time.  These days, they usually give a whole cake but an assortment is always more interesting!

We hope to dispense with these customs if and when it comes to our children's turn. The senior relatives wouldn't be very happy but I am afraid they would have to accept it from us. These folks don't even understand why they were doing this. Many customs remain but their significance is lost. This is not culture.

UBS: Worse than cowboys

By any measure the exiting CEO of UBS Mr. Oswald Grübel was a competent chief. His bad luck was the rot at UBS was beyond him.

The man in his own words as reported in the WSJ,

"That it was possible for one of our traders in London to inflict a multibillion loss on our bank through unauthorized trading shocked me," Mr. Grübel said in a memo to staff Saturday. "This incident has world-wide repercussions, including political ones.... I am convinced that it is in the best interest of UBS to approach the future with a new leader at the top."

My worry about the investment banks is the systems and culture in place across the industry. Of course, on hindsight it is easy to understand the mistake and it always appeared to be easy to fix with an appearance of gross irresponsibility for not having done so.

The guy who should have taken the fall is the head of investment banking. The UBS board should fire him soon.

Every investment bank is a time bomb. The rest were just luckier that their bombs didn't explode. We shouldn't be surprised that there will be more huge trading losses uncovered in the days ahead. This is truly terrible for confidence.

We have an industry wide problem. What happened at UBS was a warning shot. Traders probably know these all along but now word is starting to get out to the rest of us.

Related post: The UBS cowboys

Sunday, September 25, 2011

High Rise Views

Some high rise shots from this morning hopping across several tall apartments that were near the MRT stations.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Northern Lights by astronaut Wheeler

Picture by astronaut Douglas Wheeler.

I have gotten many copies of his fine photography but not one with the Northern Lights. Surreally beautiful.

The picture shows the bright lights of Paris and London with some parts of England under foggy conditions. On the upper left side the Northern Lights are visible.

Friday, September 23, 2011

MOE to focus on values

I went over the minister's long speech in the ST today. Every new person on the job begins with making a speech that you cannot fault. With all the experience from my kids in the system, I have learnt not to set my expectations too high. At the same time as I understand competition and practical Economics better, I am more keenly aware of the limits of those goals.

Principals and teachers need to understand in working terms the thrust of his speech, which is mostly intangible. How do you translate from the abstract to the real? That would take time. In several quarters there would also be resistance to contend with.

Also if the kids continue to be tested, selected, streamed and allocated to schools the same exams based way, nothing material would have changed.

Sure, overall the system keeps improving and that's good, but for most families the changes come too late. We will always feel this way because all of us are seeking an edge for our children in the competition all the time. If you get what everyone is getting, there is no advantage. That is why the most competitive families fight tooth and nail to get to the elite schools. You also see this in the assessment books. They keep innovating and coming out with new titles and approaches. Parents, teachers and students go treasure hunting for them. Of course there are some who say they do not believe in competing. As every caring parent wants their children to do well, these folks mostly lack self confidence, and are just rationalizing their fear of failure. Yet there are those parents who don't have the time to guide their kids or the money to spend on these supplementary materials or help. The psychology is complex. Success is explained in one way, failure a thousand ways.

The quest to always gain an edge over others means whatever the MOE do, the angst and stress felt by families will never go away. The solution does not reside with MOE. The problem is our culture, which is continuously shaped by economic and social policies and structure.

If they do not reform the exams systems, as the MOE move on to focusing on values; parents, tutors and students will take more of the academic workload off school. Overall the stress level will go up instead of down. The minster ending his speech on lessening homework will turn out to be superfluous.

I think Heng Swee Keat could end up re-branding education than reforming it. If you keep the exam system as is, you will get the same old behavior.

Well, I hope I am wrong this time. I would be much happier.

Simon Cowell's: The X-factor starring Chris Rene

Man, I hope this guy stays straight and succeed. Where dreams come true.

I don't watch American Idol or whatever got's talent and so on. I stumble across this by accident and I am moved by this guy's background and his talent. I hope he succeed and he will be an inspiration of far too many people who had fallen into the pit like he had before.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The brighter side of a traffic jam

I was on the AYE this afternoon heading east and got caught in a traffic jam. It was no fun but I was happy when stuck in traffic I took a look at the traffic cam off my phone. Practically no traffic on the Ben Sheares Bridge!

Lord Mandelson advice to the PAP

I wholeheartedly agree with Lord Peter Mandelson advice to the PAP on staying in power as reported in the ST today. I see no other way. Even if Mandelson is off the mark, that would be temporary.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Long live the ISA?

"Abolish the Internal Security Act, Mr Lee Hsien Loong" has attracted only 271 likes thus far.

Folks here are just not interested. Most people will not be making trouble and would not be arrested under the Act.

I think it would be good to replace it with a more targeted approach. Let's see if the Malaysians even succeed at repealing theirs. Support for PM Najib on this one is not a foregone conclusion.

Book: The End of Religion

About a quarter way through this book. Got it as one of those free books from Amazon for kindle. I would highly recommend it to Christians, a group of people that I sometime do not want to identify with the same label but instead call ourselves 'the followers of the Way'

This book could be read by followers of other religions too. The abuse of their religious beliefs had large overlaps with the Christians.

Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion He started. So don't ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name. If He was willing to turn Judaism upside down, don't think for a moment our institutions are safe from a divine revolt. I am convinced that even now there are multitudes of followers ofJesus Christ who are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God. 

 Bruxy Cavey. The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus (p. 85). Kindle Edition.

Real Christ-followers are those who, having been on the receiving end of God's gracious love through Jesus, pour out this same embracing love to others in ways that mend broken relationships, heal inner wounds, and offer practical care for the helpless and hurting.

Bruxy Cavey. The End of Religion: Encountering the Subversive Spirituality of Jesus (p. 82). Kindle Edition.

And referring to an April 25th entry, "Vivian Balakrishnan: Judge Not" in particular the deacon story I get in my email on and off. Wonderful that these stories are making the rounds.

The UBS cowboys

You can write a book or you can just write one word about UBS - Cowboys.

Just wait and see. Articles in abundance will appear about them for sometime. Eventually books would be written about them. They will be shown to be feckless cow boys and GIC invested in them!

Structure breeds behavior, pure and simple. Banks who are no longer long term greedy are sure to get into trouble provided they have special leadership. For every bomb that exploded, many banks heave a sigh of relief that it wasn't them. That is the imperative of their business. The dangerous dance must carry on as long as the music is playing.

GIC is more often lucky than clever. This is true for the majority of fund managers. That's why all these years, I view my CPF as a bonus. I wouldn't be surprised if one day it gets decimated.

Investment managers are some of the most self deceived charlatans of this world.

There is no safety in the world of finance. You have to learn to avoid the dangerous dance tunes; enter before the others and also leave before the music stops. The trouble with banks is that they cannot except when the music stops.

Conceived in sin and born in iniquity, Walter Bahegot said about banks. Look at that guy's face. I don't want to name him :(

Update: Sep 23, Just got this from the Economist.

The excuses wear thin pretty quickly, however. Most other large investment banks double-check all big trades, even when not forced to by regulation. “I thought it would have been impossible for this to happen at any bank after SocGen,” says the head of investment banking at a large bank. “It couldn’t happen at ours.”

You see and there should be more to come. They are reckless. They are cowboys. They are game to take a risk. Whatever happened to their reputation for safety and reliability? These are the Swiss.

Daughter's new keyboard and mouse set

The keyboard from the wireless Logitech mouse and keyboard set we took back from Dubai finally expired. There was no warning and so I am in a hurry to replace them for her.

We went to Challenger at Funan after our late dinner and got her this - Wireless Desktop 2000. This is the first time we visited the store so late. Enjoyed the quieter atmosphere of the place. Used my last $50 voucher and after parking rebate, paid only $1 cash for this. Yes, I also got the GP Recyko batteries and charger thrown in for free. Just as well that it would come in handy for my PowerShot SX150. These are better than the Energizer rechargeables they gave me at Comex. Recyckos need only about 6 hours to attain full charge and would retain up 85% of its energy even if not used for a year.


Astons up prices

Rudely reminded last night that Astons have up their prices.

Gone up from $11.90 to $13.50; $7.50 to $8.50; $1.50 to $2.00?

We used to pay $46 for our typical meals at Astons. The bill is now $52. It is still great value.

The portions are now larger. These guys are smart with their pricing. As inflation gallops upward, they will naturally cut the serving size. Let's hope it takes them a very long time to do so.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Meritocracy Shortcomings

I am amused by this letter to ST Online, "Meritocracy Shortcomings". Love a few turn of phrase from the writer.

E.g., To state that there is such a thing as "compassionate meritocracy" is to make as much sense as former United States president George W. Bush's "compassionate conservatism". Putting the term "compassionate" before an ideology does not suddenly add heart power to it.

and prior to the above, he also wrote,

he corollary of the so-called positive aspects of meritocracy is that it provides an equal opportunity to also dump the least advantaged into socio-economic badlands in pursuit of individual advantage and influence for oneself above all others. Some call this elitism.

which can be summed in one line: Meritocracy is used to justify Elitism, but if you want the garnishing that goes with the dish, read the guy!

All the writers before and including this chap had missed the overarching force that we all have to reckon with in our subscription to Meritocracy: Luck.

To begin, most of us have won the ovarian lottery being born in a first world society. Only the young and naive think their success is determined by hard work achieved by merit. Time will teach them that luck will play a much larger role. For example, bad luck can give you a fatal disease. Whatever merit you have got is nought. For most of us, bad luck usually come in the form of bad bosses.

The successful hate to admit that their success is in no small part due to their good luck. The human mind is a genius at explaining away good fortune. Just ask anyone who has recently made money in the markets. Read the guys and gals who had won business awards. Few are as honest as Michael Bloomberg or Warren Buffet on the role luck had played in their success.

What does it mean?

In our heart of hearts, we know the inestimable and significant role of luck in our success. The successful frightened that their luck my not persist and ever worried about the prospects for their progeny will seek to load the dice in their favor. Therefore what started out as fairly meritocratic will become less and less over time. Society will stratify into classes and upward mobility will decline.

The wise politician will run the country such that practically all boats will rise together even as the class structure become more set. The naive leaders will allow the wealth gap to widen because they foolishly believed wealth would trickle down. Had they have more heart for the common man, they would not have made this mistake because you want to be surer that wealth would indeed get spread around more. If the price is a smaller pie, so be it. We must preserve our intangibles because they are the foundations of the house of nation. They would have tested if the trickle down effect worked in practice. This same cavalier attitude is repeated again when they allowed Meritocracy to justify Elitism. As a result there will be a growing cynicism that tomorrow would be better for most of us. Concomitantly, there is erosion of the social compact.

Whoever assume that tomorrow is an extrapolation of today is gravely mistaken. In this sense, assets are over priced. We need to reexamine and retool. We must compete to become better, but not hyper compete.  Extreme competition breeds insecurity even among the most successful. Insecure folks are not generous or caring people. A few exceptions the government like to bandy do not represent the character of the herd.

Rainbow to start the day

A rainbow to start the day. See inset of the red border box. I have seen double rainbows, especially beautiful after the rain during our trip to the Gold Coast. But to see one at the level below tree tops, this is a first.

Air Disaster


Amazing photo shows great detail. The pilot at low level had no control over his aircraft. It narrowly misses a crowd gathered for the air show and slams into four buildings. One can only imagine the horror of the occupants inside those buildings.

I have received this countless times. It keeps coming back and I never fail to enjoy and laugh at it. Some of the most hilarious events concern the rear ends. I think it will always be except for those who are so Victorian proper to be embarrassed instead. To me that is just hypocrisy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

What a morning on Upper Pickering St.

Pretty lawless this morning the traffic at the junction of Upper Pickering Street. The light was green but the traffic across just simply ignored the red on their side. This resulted in a car a few vehicles ahead of me slamming into a taxi. I didn't see it but heard the loud bang. Of course it didn't improve the road situation.

Took me half an hour to go from Suntec City to NCC. I had arranged to catch up with an old friend who was there for radiotherapy.

Treatment already started when I got there. Very good that they began promptly. I remembered I had to wait very long for mom's turn. That was about ten years ago.

The place hasn't changed much. It had a familiar feel to me. I took a seat at Clinic B and waited for the radio to finish.

I wanted to hear it clearly, unambiguously. Both daughters have quit church. On my side, we don't often call believers Christians but use the older name, "followers of the Way".

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Nuclear Energy: We think too highly of ourselves.
Wikileaks revealed an illuminating conversation between Minister of State for Education & Defence Lawrence Wong and US Embassy Officials on Singapore's nuclear energy ambition.

Do we think that the human mind is capable thoroughly thinking through this issue of nuclear energy so that it would be safe? To me this is just one of those low probability, high impact risks. I think it is better for other countries to gain a lot of practical experience before we try it ourselves.

Keep is simple, stupid. Better not think too highly of ourselves. Other countries have the land to site and move away from a nuclear accident. We do not have that option. By the way, 30km buffer was too close for the Chernobyl disaster, which even threaten to poison the water table. None of these situations were anticipated. 30km was too close for the Fukushima meltdown too.

Have you watched NatGeo Air Crash Investigation series? The take away is that we could never anticipate every accident or mishap. Practical experience is of utmost importance and not negotiable.

Remember what SR Nathan said about Goh Keng Swee rejecting the offer for some fighter aircraft because they weren't battle tested? The wise man know the limits of cognition and theory. Now the stakes for committing to nuclear energy on the little soil we have is infinitely more severe. Singapore could practically cease to exist.

What about our neighbors? If we have nuclear reactors, they might also build some for themselves. And what if they are sited too near to us? In a nuclear meltdown they could move far away from Singapore and the site of their plant. What about us, where can we go? Also what pressure can we bring on them to stop building a reactor when we have them ourselves?

The recent lessons from financial history is pertinent and instructive about or human abilities. So many things that weren't supposed to happen had happened. GIC invested in UBS, which has a huge investment banking operation, i.e., a sort of casino. For a while, the dice were loaded in favor of the banks who were trading. That unfair advantage disappeared after the last crisis. So it boggles my mind why they were still so confident about Citi and UBS. My point? We make mistakes even when they were not supposed to happen. A few of us who can spot it, our opinions rarely count or were even heard. We simply cannot understand something with have no practical experience well enough. It is a human limitation.

I think we are in danger of thinking too highly of ourselves. This will be the occasion we over reach ourselves with disastrous consequences because trying your best is simply not good enough. You have to as sure as the sun will rise again tomorrow. This is not about air crashes, which are terrible. At stake here, no matter how theoretical, is the disappearance of Singapore.

Energizer Lithium Batteries

I have been comparing prices of these batteries over the last few weeks. For a while I couldn't find it cheaper than $15/pk, which was retailing at Challenger. It was $15.20 at Carrefour.

I bought three packs today for $12.90/pk at Fairprice @ Clementi Mall.

The only time I go for these batteries is when we are going on a trip. They seems to last forever and are markedly lighter than regular batteries

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Retiring Marina Calc

With the last update to my paid spreadsheet software by Marina Calc, I found that the program runs unacceptably slowly. I am not going to upgrade my Touch to the next gen just to get the speed. I am retiring Marina Calc instead.

Tonight I install a no frills 'Simple Spreadsheet' on my Android phone. It is far more responsive.

At this rate, the iPod Touch will become no more than a music player.

Buying fish early in the morning

A rarity for me to be at the wet market before 6am. We were here to buy a Pomfret and some prawns.

This stall holder arrange his fishes beautifully. You thought you were visiting a stall in Japan.

Very quiet this time in the morning.

Pleasantly surprised at what the Galaxy Ace 5MP only camera is capable of.

6:30am at the Botanic Gardens

Got to the Botanic Gardens very early this morning. I was even wondering if the car park would be open. It was half past six and the sign says the car park opens at seven.

No change to our ISA

So this government isn't going to relook our version of the ISA. They have conveniently ignored how the new President had described it.

Tony Tan described the ISA as a blunt tool to be used with care. Why don't they upgrade it to a more precise tool like the Malaysians are starting to? This govt like it blunt then. You go imagine what reasons and purposes they might be.

They can't blame the more thoughtful among us to be politically cynical. I rather be a cynic than be an imbecile. As for the rest who don't get it, I hope they eventually would.

Update: "ISA why are you still there"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reducing the number of political cynics

Three out of 10 Singaporeans are political cynics and MPs from the People's Action Party said it is important to keep this number low.

This guy doesn't understand cause and effect. How do you suppose you can keep political cynics as a minority? There are two ways.

1. Narrow the gap between the rhetoric and the walk. They wouldn't do it.

2. Take a page from the SQ girl. Instead of being a great way to fly; make it a great way to serve as in servant leaders.

You know the SQ girl is a fake (not all of them, but many). She is so well trained and passengers are either willing to ignore the superficiality and just enjoy the service or inexperienced travelers are just mistook it for the real thing. This is what these politicians would be trying to do.

Meanwhile I believe the ranks of the cynics would grow. It must be with rising education, exposure and experience. Social media and blogs also help them to find and reinforce each other. OK, the trend is not the politicians' friend here.

Honesty is the best policy. Problem is, it is difficult to have integrity in politics. At least, I hope they would read Reinhold Niebuhr on how to go about this - Be humanly honest: to err is human; to forgive divine. Don't pretend.

This will lead us to point one.

No. of COEs will start to climb from 2013

I am glad to keep this blog. This piece of info Christopher Tan provided would come in handy eventually. Of course the government can decide not to go for a one-for-one COE replacement. That would be out of character for a government that need to win votes.

The turning point is around 2013. The timing is quite good for me to replace my car.

Meeting up with Adrian

Good to have met up with Adrian this morning for breakfast. Everything was just like the previous meeting. I was at KFC Bukit Merah waiting for him and we ended up at Wangz. I wanted to see him before he leaves for good to Canada.

Amazing the amount of sales they achieved at Comex this year. When the wind blows and your sails are up, it looks so easy. Good for them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Malaysia abolishing the Internal Security Act

History in the making tonight from PM Najib. Malaysia is doing away with the ISA. Lee Kuan Yew once said we would follow suit. Now let's see if Lee Hsien Loong would follow up on it.

Terrorism should be dealt with under new laws that are focused and targeted.

Pat Robertson says it is OK to divorce an Alzheimer's spouse

Yet another unbelievable point of view from the Rev. Pat Robertson.

On the other hand, people will do what they want to do anyway. I know the games people play with themselves and others. How often it grates on me and wear my patience thin and so far I have bore with it; for how long, I don't know.

People wanting to divorce but also in our social milieu wants to look good, be approved. Sigh!

If you divorce your spouse for something like this, indeed you have a very limited view and experience of the Lord's love. But who am I to judge?

At the personal level, each one has to decide and only they are answerable to God. When aggregated, this is a totally different matter. It decides the moral tenor of society. This could bring freedom and progress or social problems and all sorts of troubles. For good or evil, society change according to its own seeming will. There is not much you can do about it. Any government policies that stand in the way of such change will fail just like the rock is no match for the rushing water. Only one thing works: Prayer. Just be prepared that prayer will take you to all the unexpected places.

Anyway how would all these matter in the end. It is a godless generation right? What did the end of Revelation say?

Pat Robertson's view of how Christ loves the church and gives himself for her. Leave her for another.
"I know it sounds cruel, but if he's going to do something he should divorce her and start all over again," broadcaster advises on 700 Club.
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Bad for our SWFs to invest in UBS, Citi

This is a hard to forgive failure by UBS sin't it? I mean this is coming on the back on so many failures at the bank and also the industry. You would have thought they would have put in strict governance measures to avoid such bombs.

Why our SWF is so in love with them I don't understand. But they also bought Citi which is genetically programmed to get into trouble if you examine their corporate history.

Sure they are too big to fail and that means the only lesson to take away is only to buy them when they are down and out.

Remembering Borders in SG

This is uninteresting now, but years from today, I want to know when did Borders finally shuttered down.

Just received from them an email offering 50% off storewide at their Parkway outlet.

I am hoping to visit the Barnes and Noble in San Francisco later this year but I read that they had moved out.

People like me have helped to contribute to their demise because I have switched to ebooks. There is no place to keep so many books especially when wifey prefer hard copies.

Some thoughts on F1 road closures

Just got and read this link from wifey in the mail

It is about road closures for the upcoming F1 later this month.

The EL isn't bad, but it not a document you can read quickly, pick up the main points and get on with the rest of the day. The government beyond ICA, HDB, LTA etc., do not see themselves as a service organization but as rulers. As it is no longer acceptable to order people around since you need their votes every few years, they just tell you what you can or cannot do. They don't bother to make it easy to absorb for impatient readers. Don't we all have too much to read everyday. There is no time. Only a tiny fraction of my thoughts get blogged.

At first, I imagine there would be congestion caused by cars trying to get to Suntec and Marina during office commute times, but midway going through the document, I changed my mind. I think we will settle for letting her off at Plaza Sing, which is one train stop to her office. Yes, you can understand the document but you are not completely confident that you understand them perfectly. That's the tricky bit about language isn't it? It is not numbers or math symbols. The message may be carried to you through a web document but the context is assumed and that is where misinterpretation arises. But do the civil servants care? They are not interested in the results. They had done their part to inform you. It doesn't matter to them if the car parks are less used during that week. They couldn't care less if business at the malls are affected. Their political masters will get a earful, but again I don't think they worry too much about these things. Similarly I don't care if people understand what I write in my blog. After all I am blogging for myself and perhaps my family, which if they are interested can always ask me to clarify.

Government is a big machinery and often have to be narrowly focused to achieve what they want. In the process there will be much unhappiness from the violent disruption and unanticipated consequences. We didn't have so much problems when we are less developed and sophisticated. As we progress from a simple mechanical to a more complex ecological relationships with each other, the negative impact is magnified. Inadvertently, government is seen as disruptive and even a bully. To add insult to injury, they are clueless of the damage they are doing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What is Jet Li doing as a Singaporean?

I wonder what is Jet Li who has become a Singaporean been doing for his new country. Mostly I read about him working to advance China's interest.

In this instance he is ruing about the lack of Chinese soft power. China couldn't even hold a candle to South Korea. He is working with Jack Ma to make Taichi cool.

My question again; what is he doing for Singapore? To give him the benefit of the doubt, it could very well be that he wants to contribute but on terms which the government here might not accept. Of course, he is also likely to be here for the same benefits of security and educational opportunities for his children.

I assume that with his star power, the media would not pass up reporting his ventures here. The fact that there is hardly any news about his local contributions, I have assume there are none.

A KPI driven government

This article has many of the undesirable features of how this government execute policies. It is inevitable once Philip Yeo isn't there to run the show for our life sciences initiative.


As The Straits Times has reported in recent weeks, scientists here are unhappy about a host of issues. These range from excessive red tape to the introduction of key performance indicators (KPIs) they deem unrealistic. New rules requiring funding to be 'aligned to industry' were also confusing to scientists and drew unhappiness.

"sama sama" at our schools too. Therefore in most cases our exceptional academic performance give am erroneous impression of our intellectual prowess when much of is was just gaming the system like a sports competition. I have seen this every year since my kids started school in our system.


'It's like the ancient mariner poem - water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink,' said one senior scientist, who added that some institutes had been forced to eat into coming years' funding or introduce a hiring freeze to pay for day-to-day expenses in recent months.

Reminds me of many government schemes especially those at MCYS. Looks wonderful on paper but unlike the menu at a restaurant, no so easy to order. There if fine print every where and much studying. Wonder why they can't be as easy as our tax system, unless they have other unspeakable objectives just like in the sitcom, "Yes, Minister"

We must revise our approach as the unwanted effects of this approach build up and eventually create huge problems for us. Sadly the leaders have no guts and conviction to recognize and change. I suspect the culture of the admin service is also unhelpful.

I often remark this is a government that often know the price of everything and the value of nothing. So much of our intangibles they have sold or pawned because they can't measure it.

You can't handle the truth!

I saw this many years ago. Most glad to have found it available on YouTube. Classic Jack Nicholson performance. I want it here as a parody to my government's attitude toward us. I believe I would have occasions to refer to this many times!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Missed the Amazon discount

Bought this book two days ago for $9.90 and now it is only $7.99. I was caught once before. Wonder how I could tell if Amazon is about to make an offer. Prior to that I had gone over every title in my short list and none of them the price had budged.

This is not about buying meals. I could wait for the price to be better since I don't have time to read many of my books for a while.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

梁文福- 细水长流: after I posted it at a recent reunion photo

Thanks Cindy for putting this up at your page. What nostalgic beauty.

Here a quickie translation from Cindy in EL:

It's abt the river of friendship that flows iinto hearts and how friends share dreams, times of youth, give support to one another in good times and bad. A harmonica that is given as a surprise birthday present becomes a symbol of affirmed longlasting friendship. Long after they have gone separate directions in life, they never forget how its sounds used to free their minds and when they meet again, they yearn to hear the harmonica played, like old times.

 And then I found a beautiful voice to sing it too. I posted this one at an old reunion photo.


 Just showed them to wifey and she found on the same YouTube page this wonderful song by the same guys.

  Update: the next morning, I found the lyrics






PM hopes for robust but constructive debate in Parliament

Neitzsche said, "What does not destroy me, makes me stronger". I think that pretty much sums up what the opposition parties have become over the years. As the PAP equates winning the war with winning every battle, that is the outcome.

I quote the PM,

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he expects a more robust debate in the 12th Parliament, given the increase in the number of opposition voices - six elected MPs and three Non-Constituency MPs. But how it develops depends on whether the opposition members "take a serious approach to discuss the issues or whether they take a tactical approach and just use it to score political points", said the People's Action Party's secretary-general.

Those WP guys and girl aren't going to score tactical points with you. You can expect them to be stronger than most of your members. The PM had conveniently forgotten how his opponents came to be. Sure, they are heavily handicapped and disadvantaged and so we voters will view them as the underdogs and be kinder to them.

At the end of the day, it is wiser to conduct a fair fight but the PAP just wouldn't do it. Good luck to you. I also expect you to have an even harder time replenishing your talent bench. Truly good men and women do not identify with bullies, much less join them.

No Gen Gap with George Yeo

This guy doesn't suffer from the generation gap with young people. Here he is in Beijing going to explore the city with SG students from Beida, Qinghua and the med school.

He is a great loss to the cabinet. The only one or two guys who is large enough to go beyond the PAP.

It is stupid. You can't stir the pot from inside it. You have got to climb out and stir it from the outside taking advantage of what you know is inside the cauldron.

I hope the PM is humble enough to make good use of him - often the minority voice in the PAP. As for the party being a broad church, I think he was just trying to be kind to his colleagues. After all everyone has to borrow pages from Dale Carnegie sometime or you would be labeled with some mental disorder.

We live in a world where the wheat and the weed grow together looking like each other. Even if you can tell the difference, you need to work with lots of people who can't. Actually you can't always distinguish between the good and evil. How they have interpenetrated each other. Just as well that Luke Skywalker could sense there is good in Darth Vader. Now this brings to mind the recent spat between the WP and PA the proxy for the PAP, calling each the pot and trying to prove itself the kettle.

Waiting is invisible action

I have not seen this green dot appeared in a very long time, and I was tempted to initiate a chat with him early this morning. Then I thought better not, and decided to go visible instead only to discover that the green dot had disappeared.

I have waited for him for years. Because it was not possible for humans to understand I have had many false dawns. We always prefer action but if we see our Master waiting, that is the cue for us to do the same.

Saul was impatient for action, but David waited. By faith, waiting is a form of action. It is invisible action.

Waiting had helped me to reunite two childhood friends in the last year. I thought my waiting was over, but no, I had to wait even longer for them. There were three of us but at the moment it as still at two/two. I don't want to reconnect because I have become useful again as I was to her many years ago. Let God.

There are also moments when we can't wait but must act. Sometimes we are afraid of what we might face. I am struggling to tell my old teacher that we will be in San Francisco later this year. I longed to see her but I am also very afraid of what I might find: she had brought me to the Way but herself had given up.

At least I have decided on the gift to bring her. Spock would have said that was illogical.

We act because we want success and control, but we wait because we are learning submission. It is our nature to choose to act. Waiting is much harder than acting. You will then discover that the only action available you, which is an act of submission is prayer.

So did the Lord really teach them how to pray in the "Lord's Prayer" No! What you might learn from many teachers in church can be quite unhelpful. I wonder how many are lost because they fail to unlearn some of these 'truths'. When the rubber hits the road and the truths turn out to be false, it is only natural to give up. You know,  I have gone off from what she taught me as a young believer long ago. I have not found the truth, but him who is the truth.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mid Autumn @ Clarke Quay

We had driven past Clarke Quay several times in the past week. It looked good from the car but with so many years of underwhelming experience, I wasn't surprised with our visit to the place tonight. Anyway it was good to see how the PowerShot SX150 performs under low light conditions. Conclusion: I am quite happy with it.

Dinner at Tampopo @ Liang Court

Dinner at Clarke Quay Tampopo this evening. We first had dinner here two years ago when friends returning from Dubai suggested eating there. Food quality was excellent and the price for many items were reasonable.

Pics taken with my new, truly value for money Canon PowerShot SX150 IS

Employer-Employee Win-Lose situation

    • Aaron Ho 
      THE phrase 'Singaporeans first' may be music to the ears of many citizens but to local businessmen and foreign investors, it is dissonance.

      The emotive speeches calling for more protection for Singaporeans that rang out during this year's ...See more

      7 hours ago · 
Took this off from Pastor Ho's facebook page.

I thought it was supposed to be win-win? But the last few years it has been win-lose in the employer-employee nexus. It is unsustainable. How to deal with this?

Be the stronger wildebeest until the rules of the safari change again. When too many get predated on, the game will change. Even in Tel Aviv, Israel, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest against the rising cost of living. What's new? That's the life of the price taker, which is Singapore. We can't change the environment and we can't withdraw from the world.

Our system is just prone to frequent aperiodic crises. If you can survive the bottoms, half the battle is won.

Much of the wealth in the last few years were not created but transferred, and in some unfathomable ways will eventually disappear. Just think about riches built on a foundation of sand. That's essentially the quality of wealth achieved from transfers. If governments make the transfers, it is peaceful, otherwise it would likely be violent in the hands of the masses.

In a relative world, our government can buy time by transferring wealth to the masses at a rate that is slower and less than our competitors. If we can do that, we already won. No need for newfangled ideas.

What I am most unhappy with this government is selling the long to buy the short, while talking from the opposite end. We responded by driving the birthrates down. As far as I can tell, Aaron don't get it and so he has been more wholehearted supporting this government.