Monday, April 30, 2012

First visit to 112 Katong

112 Katong is a mall with one of the best public toilet. It was clean, dry and even smell nice!

Wifey and I took a break here before going on to pick up our daughter and then proceeding to the next cremation.

Unlike JCube we foresee that we will be back here often. May be even more often than Parkway Parade.


Hectic day. Two cremations. One in Bright Hill Temple and the other at Mandai. Both Buddhist.

Afterward went with my brother and sister to visit our mom's niche.

The story was my grand aunt had a fever and eventually pneumonia. She was hospitalized for twelve days and passed away on Saturday. Her ashes will be interned at the temple where my mom had originally wanted to be.

First visit to JCube

Don't think we will be back to JCube very often. Reminded me that it was as confusing and messy as Central. Lousy tenant mix, expensive parking. The ice skating at Dubai Mall is much superior too.

There is one interesting shop where they sell all sorts of swords and daggers though.

Yes, we made the mistake of eating at Itachu Udon & Sushi. The food took half an hour to come and not very good. Any time Ichiban Boshi or Sushi is better.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Another death in the family: Grand Aunt

Just got a call from my aunt a while ago that grand aunt passed away yesterday. Grand aunt and great grand mother were like moms to my late father since he was orphaned at twelve. Oh, I need invisible ink again eh? It has a place here as I need to record this day for future reference.

Great grand mother outlasted by grandparents from both side of the family. She passed away in 1970 when I was too young to understand fully. In those days you can see the fire worked its way during cremation at Mt Vernon. It could be traumatic for some.

Sad that my father preceded his aunt even if she couldn't grasped the fact given her serious dementia. Glad I visited her during CNY. Didn't expect that would be the last time. But really why would it had mattered. She could not longer recognize me anyway.

Everyone will become a university graduate

The government knows that most parents want their children to be college educated. No amount of persuasion can make them change their minds. It is an Asian Confucian thing. Already many who have gotten their poly diplomas go on to obtain their degrees, often overseas at huge expense to the family.

Instead of foolishly going down the path of Korea or China producing unemployed graduates, they are much wiser to create a meaningful alternative.

I wonder if people would just be happy to be university graduates or would they start comparing where you went to college. I hope not because this could really be the beginning of a more egalitarian society.

I don't think we can raise the status of manual work, but we can certainly transform its status when manual work is only a component of a job which is highly knowledge and skill intensive. The fabric of this society would be transformed as a result.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ex-principal jailed 9 weeks

Don't want to show his face or remember his name except to remember that he was a high flying school principal who made a terrible mistake before but now many of us believe he is remorseful and wants to start afresh again. He is the polar opposite of former Hougang MP Yaw Shin Leong. (Remember this name)

He may not have been a role model before but he is in the manner he had confessed and asked his wife's forgiveness.

It took me a long time to go beyond what is often offered as the reasons why men stray (women will increasingly too as they close the gap with men). I am not going into the reasons but what is material is that if you as John the Baptist say, "He must increase and I must decrease" You will never betray your wife. That's why King David strayed, his son Solomon even more, but the humble Apostles, daily overwhelmed by the Lord's grace could not even be tempted.

I worry that when we have leaders who are not humble, will increasingly be exposed to more severe temptations as they acquire more status and power. If one have to always resist temptation, it is often not a matter of if but when he succumbs.

The late Dr. Toh Chin Chye, whiter than white was a humble man.

I almost forget to add that it is not that difficult to appear humble too. The hardest thing in the world is judging a person's character. Our track record is abysmal.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wifey's brother passed away

My brother in law passed away this afternoon :-( Heard the news in the early evening. I would like to write the rest in old fashioned invisible ink, but these days they use cryptography instead.

He was gone too young.

My children's friends have found this blog

When you maintain a blog, it is as good as living in a glass house with people walking by outside and occasionally looking in. So why not make the blog private? Because you cannot always count on Google to keep it private, much less secret. When WalMart was smaller and Sam Walton was in charge, they were honest, but today's WalMart has been caught red handed in Mexico in a massive corruption scandal. The stakes up for play are now really huge. Everyone, every organization has its price. Few are willing to to say, "over my dead body".

Yes, I have found out that more and more of my children's friends are curious enough to have searched and found this blog. No more just strangers and family. Welcome friends if you don't mind me picking my teeth here. I hope you go away with something useful.

Google's credo, "Don't be evil" will not last. Power always and eventually corrupts. The more influential and dominant they become, the sooner that day arrives. May be it is already here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ho Kwon Ping's response to Prof Lim's proposal

Now Ho Kwon Ping has also responded that a targeted approach is better.

Quoting Ho Kwong Ping:

But I also think it is somewhat disingenuous of Prof Lim's detractors to simply use scare tactics like 'investors will flee' or 'we will have a drastic economic decline' to reject his proposals out of hand. Critics of the plan - many of whom have access to economic modelling capabilities - should run their models and share with everyone their findings. I suspect that the cost impact will not be that high, given that only the lowest wage levels will be affected, and most multinational corporation investors - except perhaps the foreign bar and restaurant operators - will have only marginally higher operating costs. There are other reasons not to favour Prof Lim's proposals than the potential cost increase for businesses.

That had left a bad taste in the mouth especially from Lim Swee Say. The Labour chief ought to know better. Many of us are tired of fear mongering. We were right to feel insulted and indignant. He and the MOSes who had chimed in on this issue lost some respect.

Again from Ho Kwon Ping. He concluded:

I am personally not in favour of Prof Lim's proposals, but I admire him for having the gumption to make radical proposals. If we are to have a thoughtful society, we should debate the merits of his proposals with equally coherent arguments, grounded in data and reason.

"coherent arguments, grounded in data and reason" What if the true reason was practicing Social Darwinism in Singapore? They will never offer that rationale and they will lose the argument.

Lee Kuan Yew's ideas on genes and inheritance is simplistic and superseded by better Science since he made up his stubborn mind. Has he boned up on say, epigenetics? He had jumped to conclusions about gene action when it was basically a black box to even the leading investigators. His position was based more on prejudice than reason. Unfortunately that prejudice drove key policy initiatives to our detriment.

"Seek truth in the facts" I urged policy makers to take to heart Deng Xiaoping's advice.

Inflation 5.2% in March

This is bad, but hardly exceptional in today's world. Furthermore we are experiencing negative real interest rates, so the real effect is worse. I have been warning family and close friends for the last three years to expect this.

Dangerous times for asset markets as people dangerously chase yields. I wouldn't be surprised if it all end in tears especially the property market. As usual you cannot tell when, and truly nobody knows.

When governments want to take your money, they make sure there are no hiding places unless you are their friends. They do this especially well for the Hong Kong tycoons. Has been going on for years and it was perfectly legal even if morally dubious.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Vicom Inspection

Has it been three years already? I haven't been at Vicom for for the longest time. The last two cars we owned before, we got rid of them before they were three years old. Looking a the COE prices it surely feel stupid to trade in for a new one. So happy we got our COE at low prices.

Business was really light at Vicom. In the cars category, I was the only customer. I don't suppose turning up at 8:30am is considered early?

Bedtime Reading

The new bedtime reading routine. Each of us with our iPads though I suspect I would probably end up using the Kindle Fire more often. Beyond eBooks, the Fire is no match for the iPad.

Wifey mostly play games or watch YouTube than read.

Fork n Spoon in Toa Payoh

Good to be back at Fork n Spoon in Toa Payoh Central for lunch yesterday. The prices and quality are still better than many food courts.

Used to come here pretty often when my mom was at TTSH and when our girl was wasting money at MindChamps.

The best secret about this place is that it is never overwhelmed with people like Koufu and the others at HDB Hub.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

An Assertive China

China is so far away from the disputed islands. I think what the Chinese want is the control of the waters between Hainan and these islands. They have tremendous strategic importance. It also show the lopsided power relationship between them and the Philippines. Come on, China could even take on Vietnam if she play on the Filippino side. Nothing is going to matter  until they have the US standing with them. Looking farther, at some point Japan will re-militarize. Ships have to pass here on the way to Japan.

Deng told them to rise quietly. I think Chinese generals are showing their hands too quickly. Likely to go badly for them in the end. The disunity in the Chinese government is becoming harder to conceal.

It is a myth which the Americans had helped to promote that historically the Chinese aren't an empire seeking people. My late father well versed in Chinese history and literature destroyed that myth for me. Wang Guanwu was conveniently blind about China. Well you have to be a realist when dealing with this behemoth.

Pretty Colours of Food

My friend Shirley is fond on posting food pics to Facebook. She was Malaysian and I know eventually she would have something to share that remind me of my childhood.

Look at the bright colours. When I was a kid wherever I saw something like this, I would keep staring at it. I wouldn't touch it. They were too pretty to  be eaten. Then one day I saw that the Japanese desserts were even prettier. Not only me, but my mom would also be staring at them. She also felt they were too good looking to waste our mouths.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Writing advice from CS Lewis
On June 26, 1956, author C.S. Lewis responded to a fan letter from Joan Lancaster, a young Chronicles of Narnia enthusiast. In a personalized thank-you letter, the writer imparted some simple and valuable stylistic advice for budding prose writers.

Facebook is the land of serendipity. That it often irks and sometimes irritates us is a given. But for the surprising nuggets it occasionally offer, which are totally unexpected, it is well worth it.

Keep Facebook but improve your mining technique.

I just sent the above to my kids. CS Lewis was so full of good old fashioned common sense. Takes us back to the centre of gravity where in writing  is so easy to stray.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Incredible price for iPad2 cover

The iPad cover for wifey I ordered off ebay arrived today. My experience of HK and China based vendors have been very good especially when compared with the single Singapore purchase I made.

I was surprised that what came was original Apple and it cost only S$11. I think it retails for almost $50 here.

Annie Glenn, wife of Astronaut John Glenn

Just got this from my friend outside Vancouver. Just forwarded it to another friend in Seattle to ask her to check if the story is true (you know the net these days)

But I have faith but is also prepared to be wrong that it was just another of those fake stories. So I am not waiting and putting it up here. I hope I do not need to insert an "update" with Snopes verdict: FALSE

We will always have a soft spot for fairy tales. I never believed those from Disney but even as I kid I believed and was totally in awe of the Joseph Story. I believe that to  be true and the Egyptians called him Imhotep.

 For half a century, the world has applauded John Glenn as a heart-stirring American hero. He lifted the nation's spirits when, as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was blasted alone into orbit around the Earth; the enduring affection for him is so powerful that even now people find themselves misting up at the sight of his face or the sound of his voice.

 But for all these years, Glenn has had a hero of his own, someone who he has seen display endless courage of a different kind:

 Annie Glenn.

 They have been married for 68 years.

 He is 90; she turned 92 on Friday.

 This weekend there has been news coverage of the 50th anniversary of Glenn's flight into orbit. We are being reminded that, half a century down the line, he remains 
America's unforgettable hero.

 He has never really bought that.

 Because the heroism he most cherishes is of a sort that is seldom cheered. It belongs to the person he has known longer than he has known anyone else in the world.

 John Glenn and Annie Castor first knew each other when -- literally -- they shared a playpen.

 In New Concord, Ohio, his parents and hers were friends. When the families got together, their children played.

 John -- the future Marine fighter pilot, the future test-pilot ace, the future astronaut -- was pure gold from the start. He would end up having what it took to rise to the absolute pinnacle of American regard during the space race; imagine what it meant to be the young John Glenn in the small confines of New Concord.

 Three-sport varsity athlete, most admired boy in town, Mr. Everything.

 Annie Castor was bright, was caring, was talented, was generous of spirit. But she could talk only with the most excruciating of difficulty. It haunted her.

 Her stuttering was so severe that it was categorized as an "85%" disability -- 85% of the time, she could not manage to make words come out.

 When she tried to recite a poem in elementary school, she was laughed at. She was not able to speak on the telephone. She could not have a regular conversation with a friend.

 And John Glenn loved her.

 Even as a boy he was wise enough to understand that people who could not see past her stutter were missing out on knowing a rare and wonderful girl.

 They married on 
April 6, 1943. As a military wife, she found that life as she and John moved around the country could be quite hurtful. She has written: "I can remember some very painful experiences -- especially the ridicule."

 In department stores, she would wander unfamiliar aisles trying to find the right section, embarrassed to attempt to ask the salesclerks for help. In taxis, she would have to write requests to the driver, because she couldn't speak the destination out loud. In restaurants, she would point to the items on the menu.

 A fine musician, Annie, in every community where she and John moved, would play the organ in church as a way to make new friends. She and John had two children; she has written: "Can you imagine living in the modern world and being afraid to use the telephone? 'Hello' used to be so hard for me to say. I worried that my children would be injured and need a doctor. Could I somehow find the words to get the information across on the phone?"

 John, as a Marine aviator, flew 59 combat missions in World War II and 90 during the Korean War. Every time he was deployed, he and Annie said goodbye the same way. His last words to her before leaving were:

 "I'm just going down to the corner store to get a pack of gum." 

 And, with just the two of them there, she was able to always reply:

 "Don't be long."

 On that February day in 1962 when the world held its breath and the Atlas rocket was about to propel him toward space, those were their words, once again. And in 1998, when, at 77, he went back to space aboard the shuttle Discovery, it was an understandably tense time for them. What if something happened to end their life together?

 She knew what he would say to her before boarding the shuttle. He did -- and this time he gave her a present to hold onto:

 A pack of gum.

 She carried it in a pocket next to her heart until he was safely home.

 Many times in her life she attempted various treatments to cure her stutter. None worked.

 But in 1973, she found a doctor in Virginia who ran an intensive program she and John hoped would help her. She traveled there to enroll and to give it her best effort. The miracle she and John had always waited for at last, as miracles will do, arrived. At age 53, she was able to talk fluidly, and not in brief, anxiety-ridden, agonizing bursts.

 John has said that on the first day he heard her speak to him with confidence and clarity, he dropped to his knees to offer a prayer of gratitude.

 He has written: "I saw Annie's perseverance and strength through the years and it just made me admire her and love her even more." He has heard roaring ovations in countries around the globe for his own valor, but his awe is reserved for Annie, and what she accomplished: "I don't know if I would have had the courage."

 Her voice is so clear and steady now that she regularly gives public talks. If you are lucky enough to know the Glenns, the sight and sound of them bantering and joking with each other and playfully finishing each others' sentences is something that warms you and makes you thankful just to be in the same room.

 Monday will be the anniversary of the Mercury space shot, and once again people will remember, and will speak of the heroism of Glenn the astronaut.

 But if you ever find yourself at an event where the Glenns are appearing, and you want to see someone so brimming with pride and love that you may feel your own tears start to well up, wait until the moment that Annie stands to say a few words to the audience. 
 And as she begins, take a look at her husband's eyes.

16 year old marries 51 year old

Courtney Stodden has us nostalgic for the innocence of Rebecca Black. Like Black, Stodden is a teenager with a really silly video that came out of nowhere and went totally viral. But Stodden's video isn't what made her famous this week. It's her husband, Doug Hutchison, a 51-year-old actor who was i

Wah, the groom is older than me and the bride is younger than my daughter! And did I read that his father in law is four years younger than him? Nothing hits you like this in the face when you put the whole thing against the context of your own life.

Strangely I never feel the impact when a great grandfather marries a teenager. Indeed our minds are unreliable. Dr. Kahneman has many stories to tell on such matters. NatGeo and BBC make them fun to watch.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Easy to make big mistakes these days

Don't bother to evaluate the global scene, just the locals we have no shortage of foolish young people making big mistakes. I don't believe yesterday's youths were wiser. They were probably worse, but they didn't have the Internet to amplify their errors. What a painful way to learn.

Yes, this entry is for my children. 

There is only one simple rule of conduct in cyberspace: The old fashioned Golden Rule which I bet kids these days aren't taught.

Here's in my own words, the two forms of this rule:
Positive form: Do to others what you want to be done to you.
Negative form: Do not do to others what you don't want them to do to you.

So to this young girl (I omit her name, don't want Google to point her out here), what if the deceased had been your brother?

There is an even better rule, but let's keep that for another time. Don't try to eat rice when you can only "tahan" milk.

Academic vs Practical Christianity

Saw this on facebook yesterday

There are too many "how to" books out there. Many of them have a religious flavor. In this instance it is Christian. Wasn't Gary Chapman the guy who wrote some famous book about love languages? It was a best seller.

How useful and practical are these "how to" books. Do we end up just faking and passing it off as the real thing? We humans are great pretenders, often willfully blind and good at lying to ourselves. I am afraid the great religions has fallen into this trap.

The academic approach provides a lot of opportunities for talking about it without practicing. The practical path, you have nothing to talk about unless you practice.

"Walking close to the Lord" typically means religious activities like reading/studying your Bible, prayer, attending worship service, participating in the Holy Communion, I guess showing the seven traits of a loving person too; I think whatever a devout Christian does. The two younger brothers of the SHK properties were described as devout Christians. Now how and what should I make of it?

As far as I can tell, outside Christianity most people can only perceive Christians as nominal or devout. I think this is true of any religion as well.

On the other hand, the lover of God like Mother Teresa just love in the name of the Lord, transcending religion, race and creed.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Which MPs care

To me these are some of the good MPs e.g, Denise Phua, Lily Neo, Indranee Rajah, Inderjit Singh and some more I don't notice. After all they don't blow their trumpets about these things. They might be under pressure to show off more in this present environment. I only want to record it here for my kids reading this blog regularly because I often suggest that our leaders do not truly care and often just pretend to care. If they don't even pretend, they cannot keep their position. I feel my MP is one such character.

Overall it is incredibly hard to judge a person's character. Look at Yaw Shin Leong. He had duped all of us.

We have to keep an open mind. All judgments are tentative. Selecting people to fill positions of responsibility is risky business which our specie have a terrible track record.

Here is Indranee Rajah's fb post I picked off  Tan Chuan Jin's page. Looks like Indranee needs more volunteers for her new initiative.

Project :D

During my MPS a few weeks ago, I met a woman who had come for assistance on various matters. In the course of speaking with her, she asked, very shyly, if I could help her do something about her teeth. Her original appeal related to something else, but she was too embarrassed to mention her teeth problem to the petitioner writer outside. However, since she was seeing me in the room, she plucked up courage to ask about her teeth.

Her teeth were in quite bad condition and apparently some were quite literally decaying and rotting in her mouth. She had not seen a dentist because she couldn't afford to pay for the dental fees.

Again, this was one of this situations where the help is available, but she wasn't aware of it.
I referred her case to AIC for CHAS assistance ( mentioned in an earlier post and in the capacity building session- see below).

However the incident got me thinking - obviously there must be other people in the same position.

Having bad teeth makes people very self- conscious, and affects their self confidence. For the elderly, it affects their ability to eat, and hence their nutrition as well.

I decided that very evening that we should do an outreach project to identify the residents with dental problems who fall within the CHAS eligibility criteria, and help them apply for CHAS for dental treatment. Since the programme exists, we may as well leverage on it, and bring the benefit to those in need.

This project is known as Project :D (when verbalising it, it's known as "Project Smile!")

Project :D is being undertaken by the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru division. Have arrowed, (um, appointed!) two co-chairmen Kevin and Simon, who have enthusiastically taken on the task. Thanks, guys!

We'll be working with AIC and the dental clinics in the area for this project.

The project entails the following:
- identifying residents with dental problems who are eligible for CHAS;

- link them up with the participating dentists to have their dental problems diagnosed;

- help them apply for CHAS for the appropriate dental treatment. ( The amount of subsidy various depending on the type of treatment required eg filling, extraction, bridging, dentures etc)

- the govt subsidises the bulk of dental fee, but the resident will have to pay a small portion themselves. For those who are really too poor to cover their portion of the cost, we'll help them apply for other assistance under other schemes e.g. Comcare to cover the shortfall;

- follow up to see that they go for their appointments and receive the treatment dental treatment;

- See them smile when it's all done!

We started the outreach during my walkabout at blk 110. Just from blk 110 we identified a good number of eligible residents in need of dental treatment. One elderly man had, quite literally, only about 3 teeth left in his mouth. He was excited about the prospect of actually having teeth again! He said, in dialect, " Does this mean I can eat properly again?" I was both happy that we were able to offer him hope, and at the same time sad that he had missed out for so long on being able to eat properly. It reinforced my determination to make sure that residents are aware of the CHAS assistance.

This project will go a long way towards bringing smiles back to the faces of these residents.

We are on the lookout for volunteers who can help us with the outreach. We need to cover several HDB rental blocks, and go door to door to identify eligible residents. It's hard work, and we welcome all hands on deck.

If you'd like to take part in this project, do let Kevin or Simon know. I will ask them to post up details on how you can sign up to help.



Pavarotti reborn in seventeen year old Jonathan

Got this from Lorna 9 hours ago, but only found the time to view it now. Wow! Pavarotti has been reborn in seventeen year old Jonathan.

Classic and pugnacious Cowell suggested to Jonathan if he listened to his head, he ought  to dump Charlotte, but listen to your heart and keep the magic of the duo. That's the right value. Don't be like the government here, all head and no heart and then went on to pretend to have heart. Sure, not all government leaders are like that but the "hard truths" their doctrine is mostly in play.

When you are head only, you have no room for faith. Eventually you will perish but sadly the head will  never figure out that consequence. The burden now falls on citizens to keep pressing this point with them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Daughter's self made pouch

My daughter emailed her completed work to me from school. Very nice especially when she is not known to be good at Art and Craft.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Apostle: The Old Musical

Wifey found this on YouTube tonight and told me about it. My most significant musical. I used to play it off a cassette in my car player as I drove to campus. One of those lucky guys that had a car to go to school with. Oh, I remember Ayer Rajah Road was beautifully tree lined. That was before it became AYE. I often got my high and motivation just listening to this.

I was very happy that wifey also shared the same love for this musical. Some of my NUS classmates in the VCF and Navigators also loved it. One even staged it. Today I often played it off a USB drive in my car stereo system.

When I reconnected with a special old friend, one of the first things I passed her was this. There could not be a deeper connection unless it is through our Lord. I was disappointed when she was quite unimpressed but I kept it to myself. I left it all with the Lord. He fixed us up, he directs each step. Easy as ABC but I have no blinking idea what's happening and where it was going. Gotta take it moment by moment.

I think each of us must have our 'Road to Damascus' experience. Because that is the moment when the grace of our Lord hits us. You might call it the Jacob fight in the desert experience, or the forgiveness John Newton felt over the guilt of the lives of slaves he was responsible, Moses Burning Bush etc., anything to usher us into His presence and feel His grace and forgiveness. That becomes the basis of your self confidence and courage. Then you no longer need to hide among the bushes like Adam and Eve had.

NParks: Lim Chu Kang Road

I like the NParks videos. This one is about Lim Chu Kang road. Can't remember the last time I was there. Would love to drive along it sometime.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Second anniversary of my dad's passing

I told myself last year that I would write about it when this time comes around this year.

Glad that we returned from our stay in Dubai sooner than expected as less than a year later he passed away. He was so unhappy that we were relocating but such movies were hardly unusual in today's world.

How we die, when it happened tells us that essentially we have no control over the path we tread. Worrying about the future is one of the silliest things one can do. We can't help it. That worrying has caused many couples as I am reminded today in the Sunday Times to remain childless. This is the ultimate vote of pessimism. How do you reconcile survey results suggesting that we are happy when we do not want to have babies? My father often said how tough life would be for his grand children. He didn't envy them. I don't blame him for thinking so.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

McDonalds @ King Albert Park Closing

Another key McDonald's restaurant has fallen casualty to development.

We patronized this outlet pretty often when the kids were in pre-school. One of our daughters even celebrated her third birthday there. In later years we were there several times for other kids' birthdays.

I still remember we signed up the kids as members and for that we also received a nice umbrella and a car decal.

Now I wonder which other ones would face closure.

Thumbs up to Lim Chong Yah

Even as I strongly disagree with his policy prescription, I like the way Prof Lim pressed his point that labor is not cattle! For too long this government has been practicing Social Darwinism on the stealth.

The government by not acknowledging their error here is wasting everyone's time. We do not know if the erosion of support has only make them downshift their gears in Social Darwinism or have they abandoned it.

By mistreating our poorer members with such labor policies all these years, I wonder if they are taking some of us for fools?

Business people face incredible competitive pressure. Many, especially the SMEs will even clutch at straws. If you make labor cheap, which ones would refuse. They have no spare capacity to worry about the economic externalities they cause. If government do not defend the dignity of the needy with appropriate policies (especially enacting minimum wage), the rest of society is not organized to help them holistically; they will suffer deprivation. This is just trying to slowly starve them out of existence in order to upgrade the gene pool of this society. We are inhuman to allow this.


TJC Mardi Gras

Visited TJC last night. Our daughter was on duty. She had to write up this event for the JC newsletter. Quite a few students were dressed up in various out worldly costumes. It must be fun to be young, but for me just soaking in is good enough. These young people cannot imagine how good it is to grow older. I only hope they do not miss the path.

Friday, April 13, 2012

UOB iBanking Token

On the positive side, the promised token took only two days to arrive when they had told wifey to expect a seven days wait.

Under promise, over deliver. Something this government should have done. Look at the pressure they are under now.

On the negative side, it was so much trouble trying to sync the old token with iBanking. I think the whole exercise was a sham. The customer service over the phone was quite unsatisfactory. Cannot even speak English properly. What on earth does "press the red button 20 to 30 times mean?" We tried the syncing exercise twice after obtaining a new password at the ATM. Complete waste of time.

Clever Challenger Stores

Challenger is doing it like McDonalds. Instead of "upping prices", it is replacing a benefit with another. I know this will save them money. I do not care for the freebies, the carpark discount is more meaningful to me.

McDonalds up their prices but extended their lower lunch prices offer to the whole day.

This way they keep their customers happy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lim Chong Yah's wage shock therapy

My first reaction when his suggestion was first mooted in the front page of ST a couple of days ago was: he cannot be serious. How could he be so out of touch. I would have expected him to support a minimum wage law but to bring a sledge hammer to the economy, this was quite a shocker.

I think what we need is a more targeted approach, which given our development and information culture, infrastructure and intellectual attainment weren't doable in the late 70s. The economy was much simpler but now it is wiser to be cognizant of the inter-connections locally and globally.

Most important, today we live in what I call a "by pass" economy. The ultimate example of the by pass economy is the use of complex derivatives to get around regulations in the financial sector. The US is making a comeback because they are the most advanced by pass economy. As usual as the economy change we do not know until we experience it. We study it and then before long it has changed again and economists always run the risk of prescribing solutions that are no longer suitable. They are like generals always planning to fight the last war.

What we need now aren't legislation unless it is accompanied by suitable incentives and culture change. Top down approach is so yesterday and no longer workable. We now live in a world where we can only set the direction but cannot determine the destination, much less when we arrive. Power must devolve downward and people must be trained and their confidence built to handle it. Why we are hostage to a small group of the highly skilled and talented is because all over the world we have failed to prepare and produce more such people. Unfortunately the successful few never felt motivated to produce more of their kind. Why would they want to share? This is just human nature.

There are no quick fixes to our problems but we must offer our people a solution they they have faith in. This is a problem that is plaguing the whole world and we ought to take courage that we are better equipped and weathering better than most others.

Finally I often read about people suggesting that we ape the west. I think that is not clever at all especially when they are not model of success themselves.

Beware of economists bearing ideas.

Bo Xilai

People have become willfully blind about China. What's there to be shock about the downfall of Bo Xilai? As long as they refused to make the reforms Hu YaoBang and Zhao Ziyang wanted, especially the rule of law, the ancient bad habits of their culture will always assert itself.

We no longer feared the Germans because they had a catharsis of their Nazi moment. We would still have worried  about Japan returning to his war like ways, but for its ageing population and waning economic power. Similarly as long as the Chinese refused to come to terms with the truth of Mao's legacy, they remain a prisoner. Bo Xilai deftly exploited it for his personal gain. He had the typical characteristic of a demagogue. The Bo as Secretary General would be very different as party chief of Chongqing. It would be too late for regrets when they discover they have installed another tyrant.

As long as China is unable to institute the rule of law in their society, they can forget about making it to global leadership. She would somehow self sabotage.

I feel that Ching Cheong's analysis was spot on.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tsunami warning issued over 8.9 quake

My facebook page just filled up with news of a whopper quake off Sumatra. It is reported at 8.9 in magnitude. Tsunami warning has been issued.

Here's hoping that a devastating tsunami didn't materialize.

Update: Why Tsunamis not likely.

2-room households get $5 for every $1 tax

Link to article.

Sounds good, and since the majority aren't poor, we think the government is taking very good care of the poor. How many of us have spoken to the poor and hear them for ourselves? They will be quick to tell you that we pay too few dollars in tax to multiply by five! 

I am always afraid of people making an argument with statistics. I am especially wary if it is from Ng Eng Hen,  but all of them are guilty of the this infraction. In this instance it was Tharman.

I just hope they don't use this as an excuse for not doing more and make solutions real and meaningful. When we live their policies we will know first hand. 

Here is advice from Pres Abraham Lincoln,

"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."

So don't push your luck too often.

I used to say: "Tell a lie, Live the lie" Remember there is much freedom in the truth.

Birthday Card for Aunt

This year's birthday card going out to our aunt across the causeway

Monday, April 9, 2012

Rediffusion ending after 63 years

I remember Rediffusion. I was quite young, I saw it only as a speaking box, some sort of a radio on wire. My parents didn't subscribe to it for very long and I have no fond memories of it; I had found it irritating but why does that matter. What counts was the emotional attachment that so many here have developed to it.

No doubt my generation will have their Rediffusion equivalent. My fondest memory of Rediffusion was my mom holding my hands us we wallked passed this building on many of our shopping trips. I would looked through the window at those boxes. I found them fascinating as long as they are not at my home.

A wonderful Easter Song: Because He Lives

Thank you so much Pearly for sharing this. Half the world is till enjoying Easter Sunday and that's good enough for us here already into Monday.

Patti from Indiana just asked me how we celebrate Easter. I replied we don't really although it is always special for me in a quiet way. I wrote back with the following:

"As a family we do not celebrate it either but in my heart it is a special day for me. Truly, since our Lord lives each day is Easter. It is whether we allow it to be so in our lives. In him all our hopes are pinned and fears committed."

Because He Lives

Because He lives; because He rose in mighty triumph from the grave
I put my trust in Him, and seek to follow Him in faith
Because He lives
Because He lives, I shall find strength to stand against the tempter's power
He is my refuge and defense in every troubled hour
Because He lives

Because He lives, I can bear whatever burden may be mine
I am encircled in the arms of love divine because He lives
Because He lives, He will banish every shadow of my pain
Every sorrow will be swallowed up in Him
For in His hand is healing for the weary soul
This I know because He lives

Because He lives my heart is filled with peace amid a world of fear
And through the blindness of the night, in Him I rest secure
Because He lives

Because He lives there is no task so great that I cannot endure
I bear no heartache that His tender mercy cannot cure
Because He lives

(Repeat chorus)

Because He lives I will fear no darkness
Because He lives I will walk in light
Because He lives I will praise His kindness
Because He lives hope shines ever bright
Because He lives I will seek His righteousness
Because He lives I'll follow where He leads
Because He lives I shall conquer even death
And I shall live because He lives!

Because He lives I will rejoice in Christ and glorify His name
And with the willing voice of gratitude proclaim: My Savior lives!
Because He lives He will banish every shadow of my pain
Every sorrow will be swallowed up in Him
For in His hand is healing for the weary soul
This I know, because He lives

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sim Wong Hoo is back

I hope our local born talent Sim Wong Hoo wins big this time. I cannot share his optimism, enthusiasm and energy because that is very personal. He needs these qualities to inspire those who work with him.

I had always felt it was his bad luck to have to compete against Steve Jobs over the iPod. His barriers of entry against his competitors are mainly language and technology. Basically his response is not to beat the leading western based tech leaders but avoid them and go to places where their weakness is his strength. Strategically you can't fault him for that. So I don't know why those who know so little about his business are pouring cold water over this venture.

For me, I just want him to win. He has been an inspiration to us all.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Framework to get civil servants to watch financials dropped

I bet many of us didn't know the government was doing this even if we could observe that they were fond of copying private sector practices. It was a stupid idea. Can't they see it at the beginning? It is no different from Economics suffering from Physics envy, and the government afflicted with private sector worship.

This is the result of losing one's common sense which the Old Guard had in abundance. It is also the inescapable consequence of civil servants who are only comfortable with thinking in models they learned from universities. Our real life problems had required them to roll up their sleeves to understand in situ what the challenges were and fashion solutions. We spent so much on their education and than we stifle them with all these inflexible models and cuffed them with KPIs that they cannot escape except by resigning from the service. 

No wonder the smartest ones leave, and the even smarter ones reject PSC scholarships. 

Lunch at Streats Cafe @ IMM

We had to abort our trip to JCube this morning. The queues to every car park near the new mall were very long. We diverted to IMM which is near by.

First time we ate at STREATS Cafe. Not bad. Overall I think it is much better than Xin Wang. I had the chicken chop with Macau fried rice. The rest of the family tried the Nissin noodles in different presentations.

Asperger's Syndrome: Pretending to be Normal

I am quite familiar with this subject. Some have even suggested I write about it. I am not friendly to the idea but I might change my mind since I am beginning to notice some large gaps that aren't filled. There is glaring void for a faith based response.

Too many kids on the ASD respond to intervention too slowly such that by the time that arrive at the age of maturity they are not yet able to function as a normal adult. A caring society has no choice but to create occupational opportunities for them.

I wonder which path is easier to make progress on; the causes of ASD or its cure. Presently you can't pop pills for ASD but you can train the child behaviorally, which I believe leads to new neural bypass around the deformed areas. It is wonderful that our brains are so plastic, and more people need to learn this fact. The machine model of our brain which had imprisoned us for the last couple of hundred years had absolutely done us no favors helping to rehabilitate stroke sufferers, addiction conditions and now ASD.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

PM Lee flags two worries

This was on the front page today.

Why have we landed ourselves in such a situation? Simple: Politics have become a zero sum game here.

The call on resources, which is best expressed in their prices is greater than the increased population is producing. Aggravating it is also the lopsided distribution of the wealth or more commonly touted as the wealth gap.

NIMBY is just another symptom of the the zero sum game too. My loss is someone's gain; better you than me suffering the loss.

Of course the pie has grown or we would be in a much tighter spot, but definitely not by enough.

The PM and his Cabinet colleagues must realize that there is not likely to be a solution unless the resource pie grows MUCH FASTER than immigration. This has always been a latent risk; not just for us but everywhere else. Latent because previously the pie grew faster than population and the vast majority saw their lives got better.

Not that I like it, but look around the world, the solution to all social and political problem is economic growth. Politicians do not know of anything else, and cannot handle any other alternatives. What Gross National Happiness? That's is still born here. And any in Europe foolhardy to try it will eventually discover it the hard way. The Americans know at stake is their superpower status and so will never countenance this.

When we have the courage to close off easy sources of growth, then we might find the solutions to our problems. We are at our best, the most innovative when we have no choice. We have to keep recreating ourselves or we will just simply grow old and wither. And we do not know of any other way than the one that brought us here.

China: Pay for Positive News

Ah, my first post here using a pic from the hand me down iPad I got from wifey :-)

I am not surprised. This is reprinted from the NYT and so naturally it is an ang moh perspective. If you were Chinese, the mainstream media is for looking good and for real news in some pockets here and there where nobody has any money and often because the Party tells you to announce them, again not the truth but the the Party "correct view of history".

Yes, if you want to look good, of course you have to pay for it. That's China. Anathema to the western mind, but in Chinese society, the real news is circulated well enough if you belong to the right circles where the deals are cut and done.

A very different world if China ever becomes the Tiger on the hill. The rules would be completely different, so radical that it cannot be contemplated ever. A dark age, a poorer world. The Romulans have taken over. The ranks of the impoverished will swell as freedom and enterprise is "curtailed"

Well, the Chinese prematurely confident that they can put aside Deng's dictum of a quiet rise (yesterday's papers) may end up shooting themselves in the foot. Also they have always needed the Xiongnu to bring out the better part of themselves isn't it? Ah, a controversial thesis. Thinking in counterfactuals is always difficult and unappreciated.

Justice in eBook pricing

The UK Daily Mail has a good write up on the latest development on eBook pricing over the weekend.

Guess I do not need to wait too long for eBooks prices to become sane again. I have been holding back my purchase big time. Really stupid to pay those ripped off prices. Do they think we are stupid? Paperbacks often cost less than their eBook cousins.

Business people who are greedy and cowardly do not know when acting their fear how stupid they look to the world.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

SBS bus hit and killed woman :-(

What was the matter with this driver? Someone living in a HDB flat could hear a loud bang when his lumbering bus hit the poor woman and killed her, and he must be totally deaf to continue driving. Many of us are feeling that the law might not be equitable punishing him. What a senseless, cruel and atrocious act.

I first caught the video on facebook when Ravi posted it. It was just before bedtime and totally disturbing.

There has been so many Chinese nationals making the news for all the tragic reasons in our media lately. What's the matter with them. You estimate the probabilities. Why are they conducting themselves in such harmful and anti-social ways?

But the Chinese in my daughters' schools are quite a different set. One was especially unlucky. She didn't injure anyone but herself was down with dengue once and had a bad accident during a school outing. Well, she kinda of made up for it with 7A1s.

I wonder if we have failed to discriminate who we allow in properly. It is like they are exporting their horrific acts we read about in China's media to our shores.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Logitech Keyboard K270

Got myself a cheapo Logitech wireless keyboard to replace my prized Arc Keyboard. Only S$29 (that's good) and I think it would serve my purpose very well.

Just noticed that the feel of the keyboard reminds me on the ones at the libraries you used to look up the catalog. In this sense, it could be better.

Let's see how long this one would last. I saw some Prolink keyboards. We had two of them before. They do not last very long.

Picked up the Star Wars Kinect

Collected the Star Wars Kinect and Xbox today at Plaza Sing. Long queue, and the guy at the head of the line was there at 7am! I can still remember his name: Dominic. Bashful fellow but too excited to appear tired.

Boy, was the box heavy! The purple canvas carrier will come in handy as a bag for carrying the books we check from our libraries.

The Gift of Dyslexia

These boys father Mr. Chua has brought so much joy to the homes of so many families here :-)

Pearly sent me my first video of this pair yesterday and guess what? I am reading about them in AsiaOne today.  My daughter is also dyslexic and quite a few of the characteristics mentioned here she also shared especially problems with spelling and thinking in images. Like young Dr. Jia Jia here, she is also quite articulate and even achieved a distinction for CL Orals despite being poor in the subject. Yesterday the school notify us that her application for exemption from CL was successful. She continues to make steady progress and will no longer ask for extra time for exams.

Not all dyslexics presents with high intelligence. I suspect many are innately very intelligent but never had the nurturing to unleash it. My daughter's cognitive profile was all over the place. When I first saw it, it reads, "critical bottlenecks" which I have to study and help her overcome to unlock the extremely high abilities elsewhere. When I saw "Jia Jia" father gave him plasticine to form letters, I bet he must have read Ronald Davis, "The Gift of Dyslexia" Lucky child to have such a father.

Teachers please "pang chance" and help to keep them motivated.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thunderstorm this morning

Unforgettable thunderstorm this morning at going to school time. Hydroplaning risk on many roads including the expressways. Already at 6:30am there were several reports of accidents. Two hours later the news had remained relevant to motorists. Must be very bad. No reports of fallen trees or branches but the way some of the raintree branches swayed in the wind gave one's a sense of foreboding.

Video taken near entrance to Marine Parade.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The end of my Arc Keyboard

I have wonderful keyboard for almost one and a half years but it died today. First time in my life I spilt a drink over something like this :-(

The keyboard is now permanently stuck with 'Ctrl' key on. I tried to fix it with a hair dryer but without success.

An eventful April's Fools day it has been.

Not the New iPad, but iPad2

Finally we managed to locate a 32GB iPad2 at Nubox (Jurong Point). Cost us $658.

Really the new iPad is only an incremental step up from the iPad2. No wonder the version 2 is still selling so well! Were Steve Jobs still with us, he would be disappointed.

Wifey's iPad1 is now mine. Don't foresee using it very much. To read ST perhaps.

New School Shoes

$78.65 at RSH @ Jurong Point after 15% discount

Our elder girl's new school shoes. Good thing we noticed how rapidly her existing one is deteriorating.

This one matches her school uniform pretty well.

Now let's see how long they last.

April's Fools Day Minister: Lim Swee Say

Minister Lim Swee Say talking rubbish. You can get away with these nonsense among young students but unfortunately for him this has been printed for all of us to read.

I quote him:

Singaporeans should offer a mindset and values which are 'uniquely Singapore', as that is 'our biggest strength'.
'We learn from the best of the West, we learn the best of the East, we put them together (using an) eclectic approach, and adapt it,' said Mr Lim.
Even if we could offer something uniquely Singaporean, it would be useful only for our unique situation. It is always a lot of work to adapt what is tried elsewhere, i.e., we have much competition.

At least I don't think the KI students in the JCs bought his inane suggestion.

By the way only city states can use an eclectic approach. If a big country would to try, it would lose control and chaos would be the result.

Oh, this is an apt entry for April's Fools Day.