Monday, June 30, 2014

LGBT: Loving the sinner, hate the sin

Over the weekend I managed to sit through almost the end of this documentary I downloaded sometime back. I had been watching it in segments of 10 to 15 minutes and finally manged to get most of it while on the cycling machine.

Almost a year ago I bought this book but never got around to reading it.

And yesterday I added another book and there will be more later.

Like many I have been brought up that LGBT is a sin. However I begun to look at it with an more open mind when a close friend told me about the struggles of a colleague agonizing over whether he should go for a sex change operation. He helped me put a human face to those in the community. That was many years ago and I have decided not to view LGBT as any other sin. Since I never have to directly deal with this issue I have put it aside until the last few years.

So what is the starting point of  loving the sinner and hating the sin? Know the 'sinner'. But instead of knowing the 'sinner' I see too much homophobia from Lawrence Khong and Noor Deros and their ilk.

When you fall in love with a boy or girl don't you want to know everything about the person? Show your love by knowing them instead of judging them. Judgement if any can wait. Grace from the Cross give us time. Only haters are impatient and love is patient.

Update: 9:45am

6,400 FCBC members making their statement showing in church in white. I got this pic from Yahoo. I wonder how many among them understand what it is to be LGBT. There are sins and there are sins. Hate and murder will always be sin but eating food offered to idols, eating those animals that came to Peter in a sheet from heaven before he was asked to visit Cornelius? Let's gain knowledge and understanding before we judge.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Burnt a pot

We wrecked the pot tonight because we forgot to turn off the fire as we were so engrossed with the movie that was playing on TV.

I had smelt something burning but I ignored it since it is always from some neighbor. Didn't occur to me at all this time this is coming from our own kitchen!

Lunch before school begins

Ask the daughter what she would like to have for lunch before school reopens tomorrow.

She asked for this at Swensens. Also we learned that Nutty Oreo will no longer be on the menu beginning next month. There goes forever wifey's dessert.

Maket: Big Garupa Head

Spotted this at the market this morning. Many people we standing around it and I was curious what was going on. This is the sort of thing one usually see in pictures and rarely in real life eh. At least that's true for me.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Oiishi Bakery D24 Bun

This D24 Durian bun was quite good! Got two from Oiishi Bakery at West Coast Plaze today. It was indeed creamy inside as they boasted.

$1.90 per bun.

ACS Special Needs School

I have not been able to read today's ST yet and I first came across this article in Singapolitics: Richard Seow: Why winning all the time is not good.

Richard Seow gave almost perfect answers in the interview but I have been to an ACS school and can see the other side of the coin.

He also gave the impression that there are quite a few things about educating our youths that MOE don't get it and he had shown them the way in a few instances. He is overrated if you ask me.

To cut him some slack, all experts are overrated because they regularly fail to look beyond their playing field. Richard Seow is good for the ACS boys and MGS girls and not much beyond. Regarding his chairmanship at Republic Poly, he is bringing the ACS lens to the polytechnic. In other words, ACS is superior but he was careful not to challenge the Raffles schools. Nevertheless he could not resist the temptation of how ACS became equal to RI at rugby.

Setting up the ACS special needs school was the high point of the interview. But I noticed Denise Phua the doyen of educating autistic children, her views were absent. The omission would not have been so glaring if ST had not sought other views and they got that from MP Ang Wei Neng who also advises a school for autism.

I am aghast at their motives for this special needs school. It is not in accord with the Methodist Christian spirit. You reach out to the autistic kids for their sake and not yours. It is mercenary to make use of these special needs kids to polish the social manners of ACS boys. The schools aren't SIA, which we know cabin service is not about the heart but high class professionalism. Wise parents would do far better to try their hardest to send their autistic kids to Pathlight School.

Heng Swee Keat on Ms Liaw Lay Kian


Tanglin Halt: From MUP to SERS

This is a first for a HDB precinct that had enjoyed the main upgrading program going for SERS. Now many of the oldest flats who had also previously been upgraded would no longer consider wishful that they might be selected in future.

Tanglin Halt occupies a special place in my consciousness because I grew up there. Most of my classmates live among these blocks and nearly all of us had moved out except one. Naturally I had to whatsapp her about this. She is happy but also sad to go and I bet will feel more poignantly than I did when we moved out to Braddell View ages ago.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fathers@School Programme

I have received numerous invitations from the children's school for Father-Daughter bonding over the years. Today I got an exceptionally beautifully crafted one that I like to keep.

I never sign up for any of these. Most times I can't get away but most important my children don't think they are necessary. We might even be able to show others how. So what for?

Most parents come up with ways to get what they want to see in their kids. I don't. I wait for what is good for them to happen. I just seed, water and expose them to the sun. Sometimes you have to do a bit of trimming but the magic belongs to the sun or actually its true form, i.e., its creator. I also like to see this in more scientific terms. I am waiting for Emergence out of a Complex System dabbling beyond the difficult maths that goes with it. The math is actually beyond me. Well no time and see no utility to bone up for.

The biting Uruguay striker

Last thing in the world I would spend any time on soccer except the World Cup of course. How to avoid this when even a football pool becomes mandatory in the office? On top of this, the media regularly oblige with front page news.

This is madness, a biting Suarez. This guy behaves like a kid! Judgement has come quickly, I was wondering on and off yesterday what they were going to do to him. I discover in this morning front page that they will band him from playing for 9 matches....

I don't know but among international sports I think soccer has the most disgraceful characters and fans. At least that is the impression I get from the Sports segment on 93.8. Inevitably someone will make a racist remark again. Never learn. But I recall Japanese fans cleaning up after themselves after a game during this World Cup. Kudos to them!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

L. Khong, LGBT aping American Ways

This morning as I checked my inbox and when I saw this mail, I am reminded that Lawrence Khong and the LGBTs were simply aping the Americans with scant regard for the local context. Overall I think Khong was more guilty and provocative. The LGBT community was just returning his provocation. There ain't any love when they fight each other.

If Lawrence Khong keeps up with his pressure, he is setting himself up for very serious trouble to himself eventually. On the other hand the LGBT community have many spokespersons and are easier to persuade too.

My take is our larger community do not want to adopt an adversarial approach to such matters. Many of us would also prefer LGBT to go no faster than most of us are able to accept. Impatience will backfire on any party.

Finally both sides talk about love but I don't blame them for missing the mark. Display of love with no accompanying grace and humility is just at best a very crippled love. To those who have not seen a purer love they cannot tell the difference. We live with all sorts of love, we have written great novels about love and there are many forms love which people will discover is more bitter than hate. Just as what is worse than a lie is a half truth.

Update: 9:55 am

A great piece by Howard Lee. That is what a writer must do who isn't like me writing for himself and sometimes family.

By the way Lawrence Khong will not compromise because the Bible as he understands it will not. Anyway Khong is not Polycarp. He is the type who can only exist if the Church is not persecuted. Christianity is not about creating safe spaces or we wouldn't have so many risk loving missionaries sent to be killed. It is about being in the world but not of the world. Khong and his kind are trying to remake the world. Unless you are the American democracy, using the political and social process to further the Christian agenda is totally inappropriate.

Update: June 28, 9:40 am

I found this from Gentle Lamb blog who left a comment here. Perhaps he mistook my blog for Bertha Henson's.

Update: June 28, 10:00 am

Bought this Kindle book, 'The Cross in the Closet' almost a year ago but like so many uncountable books I have not been able to get to it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Worsening experience with eBay

I paid for this twelve days ago.

But I missed the email from paypal that he refunded my money two days later.

As far as I know, the product was not out of stock. Just as well it so happened that I am no longer interested and that's why I haven't been looking out for it to come. But I decided to look at it today, you know to tie up loose ends.

Overall my recent experience with eBay is getting worse. Merchants claimed the product is in Singapore but they lied. I had to press them for refund. This one, I have no time to research and understand why he is doing this.

It is very hard to complain to eBay about such experience. Well if eBay doesn't want to make it easy for buyers to offer useful feedback, I hope they are aware many people have appeared to eat their lunch. I am now very keen to look at alternatives.

Update: June 26 9:20am

The last few times I just let it go. Small money and I have no time. I finally decide to respond when eBay ask for feedback. I am sure I am not the only one, a laggard perhaps as I like to "borrow the wind".

Politico: The Jihad Next Door

As usual most of us will get interested and learn what is happening when the bomb has exploded. I got the lead to this explanatory article in Politico Magazine form NYT Dave Smith. There is no time now to read this until at least later today.

Based on the little I get everyday on what's going on there, I am still not far off the mark going with my superficial understanding. The art of defining your circle of knowledge, a key risk management skill needs constant practice. I am still holding out for more decisive military victories against the ISIL

Martin You Raise Me Up

Early this morning, wifey suggested I check out a video clip she shared on Facebook. Here is the YouTube version of that treat.

Martin is the Dutch answer to Britain's Paul Potts.

"You raise me up", Not "I raise myself up"

You are lucky if you are taken down early and learn humility.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lim Swee Say: Clarifying as a strategy to be understood

LSS clarifies a CNA report which "misquoted" him on Sunday.

I wasn't interested in this story until this clumsy communicator clarifies. This is really funny because the clarification and the original misquote were basically the same message. So what's there to clarify except that readers have misunderstood LSS and he felt the need to say it again. You can't blame us so you blame CNA? So he repeats himself under the guise of "clarifying" begging for a chance to be understood.

The problem with LSS and some of his colleagues is that they have now been stuck with the reputation for talking stupid. Prima facie there are enough readers and listeners who were just mistakenly tuning in to what inanity is coming from him eh to make him worry.

Cut the chap some slack, politicians especially to the north and south and nearly everywhere are far more stupid.

NUS Health Check: Clothes for X-ray

Everyone threw theirs away since they weren't suppose to take it out, but she took hers home to show it to us. This is the light disposable clothing to put on before your X-ray is taken. She spent a whole afternoon at the University Health Centre for her medical check up this afternoon.

She told me the place was full of people but there were enough chairs to go around. In fact there were nice comfy sofas with a good view of the window and the TV which nobody used. Everyone was seating on hard chairs. She decided not to join them and made herself comfortable in one sofas instead. Our university types are so "kuai". I am glad my kids are not trained to be too "kuai" It is a huge disadvantage competing against FTs later. "Kuai" makes the teachers' job easier but is bad for us.

From what my friends tell me those in ITEs are not "kuai" and that's very good. We need more from among them to be successful in the enviable way.

Understand and break the rules when they are stupid. In this sense, the younger child should learn to more like her sister. Kids should learn to take calculated risks and live with ambiguity.

Valu$: Think Contraception

I was a happy customer at Valu$ today. This time I bought more than one box of cereal, enough for them to give me a free gift which I am happy not to have.

I don't know what was given as the cashier just simply dropped it into the large bag.

What did I find when I got home? This! LOL. Free gifts are stuff nobody wants which they give away to customers to throw away.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Replacing my running shoes

Paid $67.15 for this pair of Nike running shoes from Sportslink this evening. Very good price!

Update: Feb 13, 2019

Lasted about 4.5 years.

Very warm day

If I remember correctly we have never exceeded indoor temperature of 30.3C. I hope it wouldn't go beyond this but regarding the weather, we are price takers. Climate control is not available in the living room.

Errata: I was wrong. June 14 last year with haze in the air at about 8:30pm the indoor temperature was 0.1 C higher.

The Bell Curve: LKY biggest mistake

I have wanted to write about this for a long time. Today I got an golden opportunity because of this picture.

I want to adopt a practical perspective here and by that LKY had made the biggest mistake of running Singapore with this one. So many of our problems today is the result of that attitude and the policies which came from it.

You cannot prove the Bell Curve is right or wrong. The scientists after so many years are divided among themselves. More important, work life is not doing IQ tests. Even what is IQ is up for vigorous and inconclusive debate. We also know the highest IQs have not produced another Einstein for decades. What do you want? Creative genius or high IQs? May be EQ is preferable. All the sorting we have put our children through in IQ-related tests, aren't we barking up the wrong tree?

If we were discussing theories from a hard science, say Physics we could until the 20th century get to the bottom of things - today the Higgs boson can only be confirmed with an incredibly high degree of probability.

It seems that in our time, we have become less cocksure, so let's just get on with being agnostic and practical. Intelligence is not like running long distance races which the black Africans clearly have an edge. What with each word in this debate is debated this is worse than Economics.

LKY never consider that his stance on IQ will eventually lead to the demise of the PAP in government? This is one issue he truly thought and acted totally with prejudice. He has laden his successors with the burden of undoing the damage and dealing with the liability of his legacy.

Here is a good BBC program on race and intelligence the family watched sometime back.

And this is a new clip I hope to find time for. I read the Bell Curve by Charles Murray long ago. Unimpressed, I had also lost my copy of the book. Without rock solid evidence, I chose to stick with my religious and moral convictions. Twenty years later, there is actually more light but still there is far more heat.

And a very good and short one on race and intelligence hosted by Morgan Freeman. How appropriately it began with dogs. I still remember LKY comparing people to sheep dogs. LKY had analyzed the issue in a way any scientist would squirm. He is a good lawyer but a hopeless scientist.

Perhaps I should also add a clip on the Flynn effect for good measure and balance. Well when I find one that I like. But this is already included in the first clip by the BBC.

Update: 2:30pm

And now from the good Dr. James Flynn, which I have his book but not yet the time to devour.  For practical people and not the scientists and politicians with prejudiced agendas, the Flynn effect makes the Bell Curve academic and for practical purpose stupid isn't it? Why would I care about the damn Curve if IQs are rapidly raised across the generations. I have a new worry! How to make sure the old can keep up with the young! The issues have completely changed. So LKY one of the smartest fellows around was in this case stupid and completely stubborn as a mule. We must be guided by faith and use that as our light to keep pursuing the path especially when the temporary truth war against our sense of morality. LKY should have stayed agnostic for life on a subject like intelligence.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Tin Pei Ling on Uncle Yeo

Tin Pei Ling shared Uncle Yeo's story on her Facebook page. She is a very hardworking MP. Her constituency is fortunate to have her. She has come a long way from, "I don't know what to say".

If you love something let it go
If it comes back to you, it is yours to keep
If it never return, it was never yours before. 

I wished he could have "adopted" those who cared for him to the very end, but I know and I don't want to go into so many words here, it is not so simple.

LGBT: Now the Muslims Push Back

I had warned before the Muslim push back would come and this is what I found on Mothership late last night. Beside the story there was also a YouTube clip.

This stuff Ustaz Noor Deros put up is far too religious for me. It shouts exclusiveness rather than inclusiveness, that there are Muslims that are apart from secular Singapore society even if they live among us. It is like they are separate from us. Very friendly no doubt but separate.

Clothes matter. It is loaded with non verbal communication. Then there is the movement, mannerisms and speech which go with it. We have become more different than alike. The common space in our society is shrinking.

I understood their message to be anti-LGBT but what I would long remember is how I felt watching this clip. The feeling of separation. It is OK now, but I am concerned in time there will be friction and if the Muslim population were ever to grow quickly, then the challenge of adjusting to a large foreign population here would look like child's play. I don't think our society is able to cope. Neither can we if the ranks of LGBT were ever to expand rapidly.

But we have all caught the GDP disease, which is grow or perish. What to do? Everyone wants to grow and increase the influence of what is most most important to them but we live cheek by jowl in a tiny space.

We are an unlikely sovereign state which is just a more conceptual way of saying we are an unlikely society and can be stately even more concretely as we are an unlikely community. The large numbers of foreigners here have also made us more vulnerable because they mostly do not understand the vulnerabilities of different races and religion living in one place.

The LHL government wanted to grow GDP in a hurry and had the power to do so. So it grew the foreign population here. Now they discover they can't cope and that the growth isn't worth the cost (in private only I suppose as they could lose the elections). That habit has gone everywhere: bigger or larger; better and more. Growth must be confined mostly to virtual space or there will be conflict tearing us apart because there just isn't enough soft capital from the spirit of Francis of Assisi binding us together. I definitely did not spot any of it in the YouTube clip above.

Our society is fracturing faster than we can mend it. Just count the number of divides now. Everyone would put on a show of unity come 9th August and go to the increasingly different lives afterward.

Update: 10:00am

My daughter just informed me that the YouTube clip has been made private. Wifey saw it this morning, now not possible for the daughter to view. Just as well they restricted access. I think it was more appropriate for Muslims. Nevertheless having seen it, I had found it disconcerting. It was not a positive experience for me as an outsider. I don't feel this way about the LGBT community and even my Muslim friends. I suppose lots of Muslims here aren't like Noor Deros.

Update: 12:05pm

The missing video is available at

And reading further I found

As I reminded myself in the main post, everyone wants to grow! And nobody cares there are limits to growth. A limit will be reached and there will be problems.

Prior to the above, the Muslims as exemplified by this group assert

If LGBTs are trying to destroy families as we know it they will have a program to convert regular families into LGBT ones. I don't see them doing that. They are only asking for space and rights as all non-LGBTs enjoy. If you don't like LGBTs, perhaps you should just educate your children and society not to be like that but please respect their rights as citizens. However I COMPLETELY AGREE with these Muslims that LGBT is not natural and not God pleasing.

Many things we do aren't natural including the food we eat and the technology we can't do without.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

R&F Properties

Look like this H-share company from Guangzhou is planning a big presence in our property market eh?

I am not interested but what intrigued me was it had targeted both Zaobao and ST. Also its corporate image is quite Ah Beng.

Ridiculous Jolly Bean prices

These Jolly Bean peanut pancake used to be 70 cents a piece like forever. We often bought them when the kids were small and occasionally after they were more grown up. Then it was $1 a piece, I remember as not too long ago. When did it become $1.50? What a ripped off, I don't feel like paying for it. This is just reminding me what it was like when I was a kid during the oil crisis of the 70s.

I think Jolly Bean simply seized every opportunity to up prices. I don't see such price hikes at many other outlets. Kueh Ambon at Bengawan Solo was also 70 cent like forever. It is now a $1 and perhaps a third tinier. Old Chang Kee had also increased prices but not like this....

Update: June 21 12:20pm

Granny's Pancake at the hawker centre is so much better and cheaper ($0.80 vs $1.50) than Jolly Bean!

What's trust? Please KISS

KISS - Keep it simple, stupid.

What's trust? Because my head is groggy, I can't quite follow the writer's post. I am often even more guilty than him but I am only indulging myself.

I keep things very simple in this state of mind: Trust is simply answering the question - Can I count on you?

At the personal level, I find increasingly that I cannot count on the government and often I need a Plan B too. Forget about words, my actions and any who like me who have decided they have to solve their own problems. That is simply taking personal responsibility. I wished the government would share the same attitude instead of blaming us for everything that doesn't go well for them and taking credit otherwise.

When we were living overseas, we often need Plan Bs and sometimes Plan C too. No problem, it was not Singapore anyway. But if over time more and more of us need to create Plans Bs for this and that, what's the Singapore difference then? Don't say we are better (we are) when the gap between others and us is narrowing. This is happening faster at SQ and it is no fun.

I just came from reading an ST article that the DBS/POSB ATMs aren't working. When I was my daughter's age, I had only one ATM card. A few months ago when we arranged the same for her, we opened two accounts with different banks for her. Two ATM cards. We have given her a Plan B and explained the rationale to her whey it has become necessary in the new Singapore.

We can take responsibility for ourselves but we can't do the same for society especially the collateral effects of so many foreigners among us. We can't count on this government that they are capable of creating a better environment for us tomorrow. That's why more and more people worry about tomorrow. Not everyone is equally able to understand what's happening and taking care of themselves. I detect growing xenophobia here. Even wifey is infected! We are losing the fight because as individuals and family it is beyond our power to take responsibility for the social environment created by the government. To put this simply, we are citizen price takers. So we are quarreling with the government about the prices.

The government is putting in 110% now with the latest being Medishield Life but there is a new worry. How are we going to pay for it? May be we have always been living beyond our means. You don't know when you have cash flow. Then the cash runs out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Petrol prices surprise

 I just filled the petrol tank a while ago. Usually I just record the amount spent and throw the receipt away except this morning, I looked at it more carefully. Since when did Ron 92 jump up to $2.21 per litre? Last I remember it was hovering arount $2. Dumb again.

I think I am gonna watch this from now on not that I can do anything about it. I would be happy to pay less if they would offer Ron 85 petrol. The additional "quality" is a waste of money and bad for the environment.

Buying Post Cereal: Valu$ vs Auric Pacific

I was curious when I passed a Valu$ shop yesterday and decided to go in to have a look. I found our cereal for $4.95 which usually cost more than $7 at the super mart. The only difference between the two is Auric Pacific. The guy in the middle really take a really fat margin for this one.

I am going to be more regular at Valu$

Isn't Saw Phaik Hwa now running Auric Pacific? I think the less you do with her the better. She pays herself first without conscience or remorse. What is worse than immoral is to be amoral.

Powerline Extender failed

Bought this for wifey's convenience yesterday. Spent a whole night trying to get this up without success. I was trying my luck - no luck.

Reason: I can't afford a direct connection! As my daughter said, that's scarce commodity at home. Dumb, I didn't know they insisted on this. On the other hand a more competent network engineer would have known.

Monday, June 16, 2014

PM's way off with Mukherjee's "please-all" economics

Bad move Prime Minister. You could write or explain the trade-offs better than this former ST writer Andy Mukherjee. Why did you have to borrow his bad work? Yes, even you couldn't do an adequate job persuading the people on the painful trade-offs. Anyway Mukherjee is off the mark. Just because he saw one or two cockroaches, he began to imagine there are lots of them or at least there will be more. He missed the point and why did you join him too? As PM I expected a lot more from you.

The risk has always been there that views like Mukherjee might become reality here some day. We see that sort of attitude in many societies especially the French.

The greatest trade-off Singaporeans make is our unquestioned commitment to bearing arms serving in NS. As long as that commitment remains rock solid, would we be so unreasonable as Mukherjee is fearing and you joined him in his wagon? I can only be disappointed with you. I think you are just pleading with us to be more reasonable so that your job as PM is more doable. But I think we need you to do much better. No thanks to you for making it impossibly hard for us to choose a competitor. An alternative would have made your government work harder and better.

One of the most difficult things I had to grapple with all my working life is risk. I mean that in the professional sense e.g., investment risks. To the layman it might be easier to over simplify it as margin of safety. The problem with your government is that you insist and have the power to make sure that you enjoy a huge and unreasonable margin of safety at our expense. The man in the street who cannot think conceptually experience and complain it as: the government always win and I lose. Now margin of safety like risk in a society is subject to conservation laws, i.e., with our given level of knowledge and technology, unless we have new technology and resources, the risk bore by society cannot be reduced but can only be transferred among its members. Your government is guilty of transferring as much risk to the population as much as possible (no other society would allow this). Business people would understand this well. Just take the example of the shopping mall. The landlord always transfer the risks to the tenants. That is why the landlord often come up on top. Until recently when rising discontent forced your hand, you begin to assume more of the risk. E.g., your margin of safety in pubic transport will decrease in the new bus scheme that is coming.

In America they have another way of saying what I just have: socializing the losses. Of course, I might possibly understand this better than Murkherjee actually. When all our competitors socialize their losses we become uncompetitive if we do not.....but this are deep and complex stuff...that's why in some earlier posts I deplored your lack of foresight. Singapore lives off the foresight of its leaders or life is just chasing after the wind. Very tough and tiring. Just look at SQ.

Another way to decrease the Singaporean margin of safety is to sell ourselves cheap. It is just serendipity I came across an article tonight that explains it better than I could (Should PRs Leaving Singapore be Allowed to Keep All of Their HDB Sales Proceeds?) To you and Andy Murkherjee this is a necessary trade-off, but selling ourselves cheap? If is far harder and slower to upgrade our workforce (you need much foresight) and very easy to open the gates so wide like you did to chase low quality growth. We have terrible Total Factor Productivity especially in the construction sector.

If you keep up with policy making in this fashion, it is only a matter of time Singaporeans will lose their commitment to NS. At that time Andy Mukherjee would be right but for all the wrong reasons. So what are you harping about? Too afraid to scold us yourself and so you borrow from someone else? But you borrow from an inferior thinker. Your top three priorities are to build trust, trust and trust with the people. Most people have no time to examine your policies carefully. We all lead busy lives and we just ask and answer to ourselves this one question: Can we trust you? Trust is not about policies only but values and character.

You are probably the best PM in the world but it is your bad luck that Singapore the most unlikely sovereign state needs better.

Ah, this government is top student in a class of failures.

Iraq: The terror of the ISIS

I have no time to follow this closely but we all need to have some idea what is going on.

This is a bunch intoxicated with religion and then misread their creed to fulfill their power ambitions using God to legitimize the cruelty of their methods.

I think the ISIS will eventually be beaten on the battlefield because they are too much in a hurry. The larger and lost lesson is the Middle East since the colonials carved it up into unnatural states had always been they are inherently unstable. Ridding the tyrants that rule those countries only served to unleash the subterranean forces which could not be contained except with a secret police. Since these are basically family and religion quarrels there is no chance the US could impose its will successfully. I think Obama knows this judging by the way he had responded to the situation in Syria. Therefore the American interest is to protects its reputation in order than she can be effective globally. This is developing into a paradoxical situation where the Iranians help become indispensable to ensure the sanctity of statehood for Iraq. This is now clearly a Shia vs Sunni war which will go on for a very long time. Territorial maps will be redrawn after much violence and bloodshed. Outside powers immediate interest is to make sure the conflagration do not grow. The will and means to defeat ISIS will quickly develop as people become clear of what is at stake. ISIS cannot hope to see and chase after fleeing government troops anymore.

PAP: Ignore Catherine Lim at your peril

As I was awake very early that morning, I must be among the first to have read Catherine Lim open letter to the PM. I told nobody except wifey about it because I was completely confident it would go viral. What I wasn't sure of was if ST and the other local papers will print it. Given once bitten, twice shy from her early 90s article on the unforgettable great affective divide, I think patience is the better part of valor. I had no idea how this will play out until SCMP wrote it up for the Hong Kong and foreign audience. Now ST has taken the baton and ran with it two days ago.

and today Catherine Lim rebuttal got printed (I had missed it until someone on Facebook said to go look) in the Forum.

Catherine chose PAP MPs speeches in parliament urging the rebuilding of trust as evidence of her thesis. My preferred example is the CPF. Money is the best object for testing trust. Clearly lots of people do not trust the government over their money locked in the CPF. I don't believe this government will steal it but there are other ways of legally taking more than your fair share especially when you have legislative powers. It is about government running the place by transferring as much risk as possible to us so that they are likely to come out successful. In lay terms, it is heads you win, tails I lose. WP Gerald Giam is very familiar with this PAP strategy. Sorry, but you can only have your cake and eat it for so long. Remember what Abe Lincoln said about fooling people? You got it.

Sure trust in government could be north of 75% if you are thinking about renewing your passports, fighting Aedes mozzies, keeping estates clean, water and electricity service availability, ambulance services, too many to enumerate. But remember regarding the promises of leaders, the trust is a convincing F grade. I had blogged about that using the same data source our CG in HK used to rebut Catherine Lim.

Don't play this idiotic game with us because you will lose since too many voters do not know that they are crazy when they get worked up and emotional. It's simple. The PAP is more afraid of getting voted out than we are because they know the consequences much better and too many voters don't. In the past they use the tactic of fright and it worked but if they try that expired tactic again, they are likely to face voters' anger instead. It is the basic law of life that what used to work must eventually stop working.

Half this government term has come and gone and they have not learned. Catherine Lim was a patriot and they returned her favor with utter insult.

Moving Out: Courts @ Star Vista

Discovered that Courts at Star Vista is moving out when we went there for dinner last evening.

We went in looking for bargains but it was a waste of time. Prices of those items I am familiar with are the same from those I got elsewhere. Most of us are not stupid you know. Happy closing down slowly.

I think Star Vista is mostly an F&B destination. Good luck if you are selling merchandise. I think Digital Lifestyle next door could be next to go.

Teva Sandals for the Daughter

Bought this but a different color for the daughter over the weekend. Good price. $41 after 40% discount. I paid $69 a year ago.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

76-year old: Publicly asks for her CPF money...more to come

If this goes viral, it would be a PR nightmare for the government. If it doesn't this definitely isn't the last and somehow, somewhere and sometime just when you least expect it, it will pounce on you. What if that sometime is very close to the general elections?

This is the angry and impassioned imploring of a 76-year old retired teacher to her MP Hri Kumar to help her get back her CPF money. Unlike Dr. Toh Chin Chye, she thought her CPF money was safe with the government. Well it isn't unsafe, we just don't have the keys to them. The government can also at will change the rules and conditions.

Dr. Toh knew the government could change the rules at will and still remain in power. So when he retired he emptied his CPF account. But not this retired teacher and countless nameless others.

CPF issues is serious enough in my view for the PAP to be voted out of power. If we take this over the long term, it becomes not a question of if but when. Why be so stupid and stubborn over this? It is far smarter to let people have their money at 55 and still stay in power. Surely they have enough brains to know that their position on the CPF is indefensible? People are just going to only get more and more emotional about this issue and cannot be persuaded.

Wealth and power have is a strange and powerful analgesic that is very effective for helping leaders become out of touch with the people. More important, I believe there is no leader in the PAP who have the faintest idea of the mystical reality: The Dark Night of the Soul first shared with the world by St. John of the Cross. Eckhart Tolle has a more accessible explanation for my kids to look up. I know of no other way to be rich and powerful and yet not lose touch with the ground. It didn't matter if you were poor when young, wealth and power will make you forget what it was like to be in want even if you don't think so. In fact those born rich but truly cared about others are far better than those who were poor once and therefore assumed they understand when they don't. If this assertion isn't true, we would already have a natural compassionate meritocracy.

The rich and powerful keep forgetting the lesson served them way back by an obscure math professor in 1994. Dr. Thomas Ricely had discovered a bug in the Intel Pentium chip. He informed Intel about it but they basically ignored him. Then he told others about it on the Internet. It was still the early days but enough to amplify his message up to Wall Street. Intel stock price began to dive and the company was forced to respond. Since then, we have had many iterations of Dr. Ricely and Intel episodes in various guises. The PAP can pretend this 76-year old didn't happen or they can wait to be ambushed by another sometime down the road. Common sense would tell you that it is better to take the initiative than to be waylaid. This is the new world, where the places to hide keep disappearing. Suck it up leaders.

Update: 10:50pm

MP Hri Kumar response

My take: Government everywhere must try to avoid responsibilities which they are structurally unable to handle. E.g., LKY Graduate Mothers Scheme. And even if the people grant you the power be prepared they could take it back and often in a very messy and clumsy way. If your communication skills are bad and your strategy is a mess, like the PAP you are in grave danger of eventually losing power.

Hri Kumar rational response is unhelpful when the vacuum to be filled is at the emotional and trust level. People aren't satisfied. They wonder where on earth did we go wrong.

Update: June 15 1:45pm

Watching politics here becoming like do this and this etc., I vote for you. The PAP MPs and ministers continue to struggle to earn the respect of the people....don't look very successful to me. Presently it is more like customers (voters) and supplier (government) kind of communication. We gotta to get out of this or we will be in big trouble.

Update: June 19 10:05 am

Found a good post by MP Hri Kumar on this episode. Good! They are doing their part for Renee Yap. Also checked to see if I have made unfair allegations about him and his grassroots. I haven't and the government especially its policy makers are out of touch with the ground.

Update: June 21 12:50pm

Sounds like much ado about nothing eh? Rene Yap can withdraw her entire amount in CPF? To me this is really odd. Had my father lived, he would be the same age as Ms Yap and I remember clearly from him he had to leave 30k with CPF which he received a couple of hundred dollars a month.

Android: SoftMaker Office besting MS Office

I received this offer from the German software publisher SoftMaker earlier today. So I have been invited to participate as a beta tester for their Office product. This is a very competent alternative to Microsoft Office.

Looks like an outsider is besting Microsoft to the Android platform over the Office product. Microsoft Office for Android is not the complete PC version. On the other hand SoftMaker is almost ready to offer one that is better than what Microsoft is selling and I am sure at a fraction of Microsoft's price. That giant in Redmond is in trouble. The performance gap between tablets and PC can only narrow even as both can only get more powerful. Gradually Windows and Office will become yesterday. Microsoft is in deep trouble because it can no longer execute well and quickly. It is terribly hard to play catch up successfully when you are late.

Miscreants on eBay

Far too many Chinese merchants on eBay are mastering the art of half-representation. I don't want to accuse them of misrepresentation, which they are as we outside China would understand. It is more meaningful to see this from their perspective and learn how to deal with them. Let's not forget that China footprint can only get larger. Increasingly they will call the shots regardless if we are happy about it.

I bought this yesterday because the price was right and the item in located in Singapore. Furthermore the merchant has one of the top reputation on eBay (like I said, the Chinese have learned to game the system). They cannot defeat eBay but they know how to get an unfair edge against other traders as they are more creative than most of us.

When I noticed they failed to email me about my purchase, I chased them. They came back quickly with the following and my response.

Why 35 days? That is an important number of days in the eBay system. I have been there with one other Chinese merchant before. They know the eBay system well.

It was a numbers game. They recognized me as an experienced buyer and quickly refunded me the money. Super fast! Meanwhile they go on to prey on others.

Can I complain to eBay? Yes, through jumping countless hoops and only to discover that eBay would not be interested to look at such practice. However as more Chinese merchants cotton to such bad habits, eventually eBay will have to act. That's just business.

MediShield LIfe: We could get done in by insurers

Victor Lye has done well to contribute this article to the ST, but I fear it is all in vain. Most people are not keen to read such articles. I can tell from my traffic logs. I hate situations like these because you are forced to plan and act to protect yourself far ahead of time whilst many others will become suckers.

The private sector and in this instance insurers will run circles around regulators and earn for themselves fat profits at our expense. These are blood money for our healthcare. Sigh, what to do? Our leaders often boast we are doing better than most other countries but what the heck, if the best isn't good enough? Bloody top boy in a class of failures.

Democracy is in crisis. Just look at what's happening in Europe and America today.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Proof: Govt as top boy among failures

I have repeated myself ad nauseam over so many posts that our government is just the top boy in a class of failures. Actually I had conflated government with its leaders but the content of those posts were criticisms of government leadership. In other words, its leaders.

Thanks to our CG in Hong Kong, I had become aware of the Edelman trustbaromenter. I got the above from their Singapore country report.

Even if you lower the passing grade to 40% everyone is a failure by a huge margin. Easily more than half of the people polled (college educated folks) do not trust our government leaders to be guided with integrity making decisions and speak honestly to us.

I didn't check but perhaps the only public or civic organizations that could muster a pass grades are certain NGOs, say Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors without borders, which most of our business minded doctors would stay away from eh?

To be fair, one really have to be truly special to do better than 50%, an Abraham Lincoln perhaps? That's being unrealistic. With growing media exposure which we are inundated with countless bad behavior of politicians all over the world, the baseline attitude toward such leaders borders on the cynical. Ben Bernanke attitude toward politicians during his last commencement speech to Princeton is worth taking to heart as a constructive way to live with political leaders.

At the end of the day, leaders must come from among us. Over the long term, we will simply be getting what we deserve and it is up to each of us and our families to make ourselves better in a journey that never ends. Everywhere there is a grave need to do better. We are far from having the best and last word in governance and leadership. The PAP should be less cocky but stay confident. Do not insult our intelligence especially with talking stupid. Stupid talk will produce stupid policies.