Monday, September 29, 2014

SQ and Changi couldn't do this yet

8 million views in six days and counting. This is a touch your heart wonderful message put out by KLM-Schipol airport.

This post exists because I also happened to have read Margaret Heffrman article, The Limits of Ideology: Lessons from Singapore.

Why can't SQ or Changi Airport to something equivalent. Easiest for me to quote a segment from Hefferman.

Poetry or Money?
I have a Singaporean friend who has spent substantial periods away from her country, working in the U.S. and Europe. What, I asked her, did she miss when she went away? "The fact that everything works," was her reply. Why did she keep leaving? "Because that's not enough."
The clean streets, high levels of service and safety that characterize Singapore are all efficient - but efficiency is fundamentally a negative virtue: an absence of friction rather than a richness of experience. And efficiency, Low and Vadaketh argue, masks an emptiness. All that order is bought: with fines for transgression. The emphasis on monetary sanctions has produced a populace that is compliant and submissive - but not socially engaged. The competitive emphasis on individualism coupled with obedience and conformity may make things work but it doesn't make them meaningful. Where is the rich skein of dependencies, shared triumphs and victories, rights and responsibilities that lie at the heart of every dynamic society?
Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, once insisted that "poetry is a luxury we cannot afford" but few still believe that that is still true. More recently, concert halls and art schools have sprung up but they rarely feature indigenous art or art forms and Singaporeans are hard pressed to define their shared cultural values. It may be that poetry is just what Singaporeans need now to understand who they are and why they care.
Viktor Frankl, Man Search for Meaning, the title of the book opens the door to how important meaning in life is.

We have done very well but that's hardly enough. Too many people thought in a rich country they could have more or less settled the butter and bread issues but in our political culture and system no government would welcome that day because that is the day we fail. For society to pursue meaning is a scary thing. Arriving as a developed country in a hurry we didn't realize that we might have to wait for a very long time to become ready to make the next leap toward meaning.

Meanwhile we keep getting better at defining our problems but not its solutions. For now people should just find meaning in life at the personal and family level. Use the economic substrate created by this place to help make it happen for you. But most people will have to keep spinning the wheel of the rat race even as the hour glass put the government on notice that time must eventually run out.

Ropes or Petard for Roy Ngerng

The average and even the less than average Singaporean know which side his bread is buttered. Our society is practically unanimous in condemning Roy Ngerng and Han Hui Hui callous behavior recently at Hong Lim Park.

I have never agreed with the PM suing Roy. And the money Roy received for fighting the lawsuit wasn't so much for Roy per se buat as a lightning rod against defamation suits. The PM's father started it and for a different political context than the one we are living in today. That tactic should be retired already.

No more political entertainers like Harbans Singh. No more former bicycle thieves.

It was only a matter of time either Roy accumulated enough rope to hang himself or worse be hung by his own petard.

It was never about personalities and always about issues. We are not the Philippines or Pakistan by a long shot. Our leaders ought to have more confidence in our judgement.

This is not Hong Kong anymore

Not Hong Kong any more?

Effective 1997 during the hand over Hong Kong to China, the territory begins to change if you are an optimist or started to die slowly if you are a pessimist.

One country, Two systems is just the euphemism of making Hong Kong become like Southern China taken over a long time frame, long by the political calendar and not the historical one.

A similar but more positive change is also happening to Singapore. We are changing from a regional node to a global city.

This is the fate of city states, i.e., they keep changing constantly to stay relevant. Beijing wants Hong Kong to be relevant to China and then the world. On the other hand, Hong Kong wants to be left alone and be globally relevant on her own terms. This is a affront to Chinese sovereignty and will not be tolerated as China rises.

These young Hong Kong people are naive. They are using western methods against an authoritarian government in Beijing. It doesn't work. On the other hand they mustn't take Beijing reneging on universal suffrage by 2017 quietly.

What does China fear most about Hong Kong? Twenty years ago they had much to fear especially when she wasn't even a member of the WTO. Today you have little leverage against Beijing. Now Beijing not so much fear but is most worried that the best and brightest of Hong Kong leave.

The Hong Kong you people love is going away and never coming back. The China that is coming isn't one you can live with. You have chosen not to leave quietly but I am sure eventually you will realize you can't do much except make a new home somewhere else. After all it is not Hong Kong anymore.

Perhaps you once thought you could make China like Hong Kong but you never succeeded selling this to China's leaders. They couldn't get as rich or as quickly on the Hong Kong formula. China never learned from Singapore how to be incorruptible either. Like everywhere else its leaders are selfish and power hungry.

Hong Kong is an after thought or a pawn in Beijing power play that is getting less and less important to them. Compared to the courage and genius Deng came up with One country, Two systems, Hongkongers never realize Beijing took the laziest way out over the 2017 universal suffrage issue. Of course it won't work.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Etude's cute packaging

Wifey bought several items from Etude yesterday and the cutest of the lot was: Put Your Hands Up!

Korean beauty products are noticeably more competitive that the other famous old names. If the upstart's products are good they would still have to keep chipping away at the stalwarts because the brands are very sticky.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

ISIS: This guy explains Obama's thoughts

Thomas Friedman is among the few intelligent and thoughtful writers who understand the cerebral Obama well. I have said so before and this latest piece by Friedman only adds to that impression.

For now everyone's common enemy is ISIS. This is stopping everyone from engaging or combating each others like before. So they want to cut down the ISIS to the size that it is no longer an existential threat to current Arab, Persian and Turkish rulers. They borrow US air power even as the six participating Arab states supply token participation blasting away at ISIS in Syria.

America cannot be seen to blithely walk away from Iraq and so much return to enable and empower the people in the region to help them set the house in order.

The present circumstances will not last and it is uninteresting to study. What is both tragic and interesting is the irreversible decline of the Arab civilization. That it must get a lot worse before it has any chance to get better. That is nobody can help them save themselves and America will wait for Arab troops to be ready however long it takes to take the land war to ISIS themselves. Meanwhile the media will only spin simple and wrong stories of good guys kicking the butt of the baddies. Nothing is so simple.

The big idea? Islam is in crisis. As competing groups fight for the soul of the religion (I didn't say faith) things will get messy. In the essence the fights will be about power and not religion or faith. Religion will be used to legitimized victorious power. The faithful must snatch back their hijacked religion. This is a stretch but I hope Indonesia as the most populous and multi-religious Muslim country can make a big contribution. If we succeed at least the risk of terrorism in our local backyard will be minimized.

Facebook: Stuff I look forward to

This post should have been up at least a couple of years back.

This is the sort of news items I really look forward to on Facebook. They are always a welcome interruption and a nice break from work.

ISIL: ST not better than NYT

It's very early in the morning once more and I was reading this op ed by David Motadel, a historian from Cambridge University.

I asked myself, why did ST fail to print something like this? By now everyone here including the aunties in the market that spend all their time talking about meal preparation at the market wants to know exactly how ISIS came about. For us living so far away but now a dire threat brought so near, this is a Black Swan to be explained to all readers. Of course, I can't help but be reminded of Patrick Daniel stupid rebuttal that that the ST is better than the NYT.

With my background I could only try to understand the ISIL from my readings of the Taiping Rebellion. A more relevant recounting of its roots would be much better.

Update: 10:25am

The daughter told me the NYT op-ed is in today's ST. Exactly my point! I have never seen NYT republishing any ST article. At least ST had some sense to recognize the value of this article and quickly reproduce it.

If you are better than the NYT, you will be the big brother to them and not the other way round.

Old phone with new life

Before the smart phones arrived, old phones were really never used spare phones. Last night I spent a couple hours exploring and setting up my old S3 to become a GPS navigator. This morning I am going to test it driving the daughter to school early in the morning.

We are thinking of making a trip to the US again and the Garmin I used when we lived in Dubai is too old.

On the other hand I am still wondering if this trip would really happen. I am just too busy to plan this properly. Don't waste time. Either we make it a good trip or not at all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

K Shanmugam: Competition from robots

Yes, this is coming and it isn't new. However very few people could imagine in a detailed fashion the shape it will take. Driven mostly by techies and approved by the top bosses who don't understand they forgot something very important. Who is going to buy the stuff produced by these jobs displacing intelligent machines?

If you can only think like playing chess, you are at risk. That's lots of people.

The social compact will have to change. Politics itself will be turned on its head and economics will enter no-man's land.

Alas, Kyenes idea of little work and much leisure might finally arrive if we successfully navigate the transition.

My simple minded idea is to give everyone a robot. In many situations a community may share an ecosystem of robots. These will be used to produce goods and services to sell or exchange (the currency system will be transformed beyond recognition) with others. We still need human demand for goods and services or the robots would have no demand to meet. Mind you millions of people will lose their jobs and we cannot allow them to stop being consumers.

The end point is easy, the transition is full of treachery as most unimaginative people could only see a dark age falling on them because they do not know how to think in new ways. They continue to extrapolate the past into the future which must point them to abysmal dystopia triggered by mass unemployment.

Which society would make the trip successfully depend as much on its leaders as its people. I hope to see more people writing about the social economic dimension of this transformation with greater clarity and depth. And there will be a new generation of political philosophers to create another intellectual bedrock for us to build upon as we had before in the Enlightenment.

Installed NLB Mobile App

Just installed the NLB Mobile app on my phone a while ago.

Looking forward to try this out the next time we go to the library. It might be quite a long wait this time because the girl is spending most of her time preparing for the major exams.

Free Wifi from Starbucks

Was near Starbucks Millennial Walk this evening and noticed my phone automatically switched from mobile data to their free wifi.

I remember this is how the retail business is done: if it is cheap, it cannot be fast and good. If it is good, it cannot be cheap and fast and finally if it is fast, it cannot be good and cheap. So you can get at most two our of three of good, fast and cheap.

Now if it is free, just be glad it still works!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

PM at Singapore Summit vs Nikkei Conference

I am happy the PM show a good grasp and clarity of pressing issues compared to his unimaginative and predictable speech in the Future of Asia Conference in Tokyo by the Nikkei paper.

I had criticized him then in an earlier post that peering many years into Asia's future he could missed an elephant in the room: the rise of global militant Islam.

What should we do about the evil form of Islam like the ISIL? There is no quick fix. We will have to conserve our energy and resources and battle them for a very long time until they have given up on their evil interpretation of Islam. We will challenge them on every front in all sorts of ways ranging from the peaceful to the armed. Ultimately we hope the rest of peaceful Islam will rise, condemn, educate and if necessary bear arms under national flags against these evil movements.

In the end it is a family quarrel of the people in the Middle East that is spilling out all over the world. They have hijacked Islam for their violent political agenda. The less results they get the more desperate and violent they become.

We can't interfere in other people's quarrels but we must insist on rules of conduct and enforce them as all people outside the region have legitimate interests to safe guard. When they are ready for the world's help, we will help them. Right now they remain an impossible mess. I suppose things must get worse before there is a chance to make them better.

Surprise $117K bill from unknown doctor

Whenever I write about medical costs here the logs inevitably suggest that there are not many people interested. I am worried about where healthcare cost will end up give that we already know it is outpacing inflation and probably wage rise. Will we end up no far from America? In the NYT story, doctors were incredibly rapacious. Would ours be different?

Han Fook Kwang wrote this earlier on the 14th of this month. He was studying and responding to a letter to the Forum by a doctor criticizing the growing greed of doctors. Such doctors now serve as a restrain on their overly money minded colleagues but can we expect that there will always be enough such doctors? I don't know.

The problem with healthcare cost now and the near future is that basically there is no problem. That's why people are so blasé. They will worry and complain when it is too late. Meanwhile doctors keep asking for more money and never pay attention to reaching the ceiling of unaffordability. It is critical that we cap the rate of medical inflation. To continue to allow it to grow faster than wages is a sure road to misery. Universal medical insurance will only serve to quicken our journey there because the silly patient often fail to connect the dots that ultimately this will come back to him as higher premiums and much richer doctors.

Disaster if we get a PM like David Cameron

I have been busy to the point that I just couldn't spare a few minutes to post anything for the past few days. A real pity because these posts are like photos and they become valuable as they age.

Jon Eyal article published on the 18th about the Scottish attempt to secede from the UK, note the words in the red box. These remind me of another person: Yeo Ning Hong. He had basically told Maersk to go away to PTP if they are no happy with PSA charges. The giant container line left and Yeo Ning Hong was also shown the door. I didn't expect a veteran minister to be so muddle headed.

British PM David Cameron isn't a knave but I wonder what had gotten into him to make a dangerous date with fate? How could he be so foolish to allow the secessionists a blank cheque? There are some things you just don't risk no matter how confident you are. Oh, this must be a real Black Swan for him. I wonder what if one day Singapore has a PM as careless as Yeo Ning Hong or David Cameron. For now I am sure LHL is much more careful and able than David Cameron. Well LHL is paid a lot more.  Nevertheless a bad PM is too expensive even if he comes free and a first class PM is never paid enough. That's life.

I think David Cameron deserves to be booted out. That would at least provide an excuse not to deliver on all the promises to the Scots needed to keep them in the UK fold. I hope London is not so foolish to over play this until the English murmur that it is better for Scotland to leave. They have navigated themselves and it is all their fault into a very difficult situation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ISIL the ME version of the Taiping Rebellion?

It was 5 in the morning and I was reading this stuff?

By the time I got to the end of the story I have decided how ISIL should be labeled. I will stop seeing them as deviant Muslims and call them a Muslim cult.

These are early days but Taiping Rebellion in China could potentially be a lens we could use to understand the attraction of the ISIL phenomena.

In the Middle East begin by substituting China in late Qing with Islam. You will begin to see parallels. The Muslim governments in the region are like the feckless and corrupt Qing government of the 19th century.

Just as Hong Xiuquan distorted Christianity for his nefarious ends, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is doing the same. Both were from the scholar class too.

Far too many Muslims are seeing how their leaders are failing them. History had been priming them for this moment. They are looking for a truer and purer Islam. That vacuum should be filled but it looks like Baghdadi got there first. Militarily and politically destroying ISIL will not only not solve this problem but make it worse. Don't forget ISIL is the result of a failed Al Qaeda. Only a peaceful, confident and successful Islam would.

Until a spiritual solution is found, ISIL should be kept in check but not defeated or destroyed.

Adonit Jot Pro stylus

I am using the Jot Pro l bought yesterday to write this post on my Galaxy Tab S. This stylus cost me only $33.60 at Popular after multiple discounts. It was listed as $49.
I chose blue just in case the daughter finds, it good for note taking in school. If so, she can have this.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Skills that get you hired

This post is for my children. The nine skills that get your hired. I wouldn't agree they are the top but they are important and CNA had done the hard work to put them nicely together.

These nine skills deconstructed is quite different when they are playing together as an orchestra. The conductor is your faith and value system which was completely missing in the clip.

It takes many years and most people never achieve it to exhibit the nine skills. Sure in your mind you could think you have come close after working for many years but there would be many people especially your bosses who thought otherwise. Never mind they could be wrong but they are more than often right.

Young people should bear in mind the following.

1. These nine skills are not complete. They rank highly but not necessarily the top nine.
2. It is wiser to note (I didn't say identify) three to five skills you are already better at  to develop.
3. Grow these skills and extend them to possess the other skills.

I repeat, it is not possessing these nine skills but how they reinforce each other uniquely in a person.

Really in this short life you don't have the time to be good at all of them. You don't really need to unless you want to be a top leader.

Many young people are going to mimic these skills than truly possessing them. A lifetime in school gaming the an exam based system for As, ending up with more form than substance, which international test systems ranking us highly cannot surface.

The test of the pudding is in its eating, and our first class school performance regularly do not yet end up with world class performance. Just compare ourselves with Israel. They don't make the academic ranks like us but they are world class innovators and entrepreneurs.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Winning by not destroying ISIL

I think the president is well aware that he is involving America is basically a family quarrel which outsiders should stay out. Unfortunately the region just have a knack of sucking you back inside. You just have to limit your cost and involvement. There is too much enmity and hatred in the region in a very complex web. Friends or just partners sharing common interests and enemies switch sides frequently. That is why it would be hard to forge a steady coalition against ISIL.

Moral principles are strained to the limits when you operate in this region. Containing rather than bringing peace to the region may be the only achievable objective. A lot of thought would be spent on how to avoid further entanglement and not allowing the situation to deteriorate further. Again this is a matter of luck because the situation is basically unpredictable. You can destroy ISIL but what will come after them? Might be better to just degrade them and let them fill a limited vacuum. When children fight and you can't stop them, the best option might just be let them exhaust themselves completely. You will need infinite patience. Let them use their resources, not yours. Your focus is achieving the best possible humanitarian outcomes. You wait for these impossible circumstances to evolve to one where you can do something helpful. That is why the Americans are giving themselves three years to work on this and that is an eternity in US politics. In between now and then there is plenty of wiggle room from crossing the stream by feeling the pebbles underneath. Sure you have to pay ball with the media but what is public and popular which is often naive will not be the true strategy dealing with the situation in that region.

Meanwhile Israel only care about its interests with no regard of anyone else. I don't think they are selfish but they recognize that at the end of the day they are on their own. They are totally familiar of the shifting alliances and loyalties in the region. So they are clear minded that the most dire threat to the region is a nuclear armed Iran. Destroying ISIL and an Iraq under the influence of Iran is a more dangerous set up on the chessboard than a balance of terror between the forces.  The Shias running Iraq can never be trusted to treat the Sunnis and other minorities right. ISIL or any Sunni deterrence would be needed to get the Iraqi government to behave and check the Iranian power ambitions. The Kurdish though a minority will have an out-sized role eventually.

Of course my analysis would likely be short lived. The circumstances could change rapidly and a new way to think of the situation would become necessary again.

I think David Brooks and Thomas Friedman are among the few writers who gets it about Obama. I always feel more secure with a reluctant leader in charge. In fact closer to home, I wish I do not have to wonder if my leaders were such types or they were enticed by the high pay.

The situation in Iraq will remain fluid and unpredictable but at least I think I have a fair grasp of what Obama meant by, "don't do stupid things".

Update: 10:10pm

Just came from reading Thomas Friedman latest piece in the NYT: What's their plan?

Friedman has loftier objective to my more modest even somewhat Machiavellian one. The difference is he writes for all of us and I blog for myself. He doesn't have my licence to write as I wish.

I don't think the feuding and conspiring parties will easily allow America to be the air force of the decent against the troops and assets of the barbarous. Reality is you would have to cajole and threaten others and constantly keep a clear mind of American interest only. You want to stop the inflow of foreign jihadists and if you can't, they must be destroyed. Containment rather than defeating ISIL from becoming a threat to America and her allies is all we could ask for. Talk to these Arabs and Persians is cheap. They are only willing to grasp the tangibles of carrots and sticks.

Personalizing my Galaxy Tab S

I had been living with the awful looking Home Screen by Samsung for a few weeks already. This morning I finally replaced that with a photo I took years back at the East Coast Park. I am quite happy with the results.

Just 3 glasses of water

It was only three glasses of water. May be not just our trusty sky juice but Dasani at $2 per bottle. We ordered two bottles.

I was fascinated by the beauty of these glasses of water. They sparkled even if there were no bubbles and they are life giving.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tan Pin Pin's movie & Isaac Newton, the last magician

Got this from Classroom Video but I saw the old feature by the BBC not too long ago.

What has this got to do with Tan Pin Pin movie, To Singapore with Love? A lot.

It was absolutely critical that the UK do not reveal everything about Sir Isaac Newton. His dark secrets were kept in a locked chest for hundreds of years until John Maynard Keynes bought and open it. Enough time have passed for Newton's dark secrets to be revealed.

To Singapore with Love is restricted, practically banned here. We were told it is for national security reasons. Expect the truth to be scandalous, too horrible that it would damage Singapore. You really want to know the truth? Why can't we wait for the right time as the Brits had also regarding Newton?

And when the time was right we learned Lincoln's hand in provoking the civil war and many other facts which would be most damaging if widely known then.

That's life. Don't be a hypocrite if you can't handle the truth. Most of us can't handle the truth. If we could, judges, political, civic and business leaders would not stay wake at night wondering if we would always vote wisely. Witness how the Scots are toying with fate at the moment. This is madness.

Update: Sep 14, 2:00pm

I had received emails supporting the public screening of Tan Pin Pin's, To Singapore with Love. Everyone of them failed to understand that when the government offered NATIONAL SECURITY as the reason for not allowing the movie to be publicly screened it means, and I hope it wouldn't have to be so long, the actors of history must be in their graves before the truth can be safely revealed.

If the government has given a different reason, I would join many others to challenge it but not if it is about national security. And just because you can't understand why, don't assume you are so wise and clever that there is no better or valid reason.

Don't some of you have family secrets that would tear the family apart and can only be revealed after the actors have died? It is no different here.

All of us have some truths we can't handle even if we are ignorant of what these may be. Given enough time the truth can and must be made public. And no later that God's great white throne on the Last Day.

Friday, September 12, 2014

My next thinking tool

Last night I added this as my new thinking aid.


I had started with paper then Visio. I stayed with that for years and eventually moved to Dia. Left the Windows platform and switched to TouchDraw on iOS eventually using it on Android too.

DrawExpress is good for allowing my thoughts to flow uninterrupted. You almost forget that you telling the computer to draw. All the earlier apps except pen and paper, you had to consciously pick the right object to bring to the canvas.

Often I had thought of developing a custom app for myself but I had hung up my app making tools years ago, also there is simply no time.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Terrible Idea: Religious Leaders Public Track Blessing

I think it is a bad idea to have religious leaders bless the F1 track and pray for safety. If they need a warning, notice nobody from Islam is represented. I didn't notice this until Shafiee Barahim made this point and he had 120 likes! I am concerned that there were so many.

Why is this a bad idea? This is borderline separating state, commerce and religion. If you want religious harmony, better keep religion personal. Haven't we have enough trouble from the likes of Lawrence Khong already?. Do we want to get Muslims into the picture too? They have already begin to stir over the Pink Dot movement.

As Muslims rediscover their religion they become less nominal and more devout. During this transition some went astray and ended with the wrong jihad, e.g., joining ISIL.

My limited understanding of Islam is theirs is a political religion. That to practice Islam it is not necessary but desirable to live in a truly Islamic society. If they have to share space with other religions, it is best the country is run officially as a Muslim state. Historically it had been this way for them from the beginning. That was why Muhammad and his early followers militarily subdued Arabia in order to create a Muslim society.

The Christian story is different because they started without state power. The Church only got involved with the state when the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. From that point on it was trouble until during the Enlightenment the State and Church were separated. Today the separation is enshrined in the US constitution and those of many European states. It has brought them progress and personal salvation too for the wise ones.

I hope this is the last year we have these religious leaders perform this role. The greater the separation between state and religion the better. Yes, it is also true the gap between them cannot be too wide but that is the topic of another blog post.

Meanwhile I spend some of my spare time thinking how we are going to cope with political Islam. Can Islam remain a personal religion or at least in the confines of their families and the mosque. If we are not farseeing, our Muslim citizens will de-integrate from us and form a society within a society. To me that is a recipe for future big trouble.

And that's why in addition to countless reasons, I have no time nor patience for Tan Pin Pin's film.

Banning Tan Pin Pin film

I don't have the time for many things especially the computer games I had loved to play and certainly the issues surrounding the banning of Tan Pin Pin's film. Bertha Henson's blog posts are often helpful in a few hundred words to help me get an idea of some issues. Right now I am more concerned about declining VIX and what it it signaling with respect to debt in the markets supporting inflated asset values....

So how is putting out one side of an argument in film going to help? Where do I have the time to read or view the counter points from the government? Also I know most people and now this has become a proven psychological fact, do not have any idea of the limits of their ignorance. Only a few of us are in the markets and those who aren't aware of our ignorance eventually get killed. The majority of the members of society don't suffer such a fate from their ignorance.

This is not a bread and butter issue. It is not about the CPF or owning a roof over your head. People are going to pick bits here and there, completely misunderstand the movie. A little knowledge is more dangerous than no knowledge.

Those who really want to know should make the trip to JB to view the movie. They deserve to know and they will handle this correctly versus the majority who might just watch a trailer and form their warped opinions from there.

Those 40 members should hop over to JB. Bertha Henson should remind herself that she only share the tip of the ice berg and we don't see the part beneath the water line that informs and shape the visible portion above. These are the moments journalists often forget their readers' ignorance.

It is one thing to be entertained and informed and quite another to put the content to practical use. This film if shown here would be most fertile ground for much mischief. You got the film's content and now naughty people will start to show you how to use them against the government. It is not a good idea to screen it here but a good idea to take that ride over the causeway to see the film. Those folks who make that trip are likely to come back and research more but many local viewers if shown in Singapore will just reinforced their prejudice. Worse, an even larger become primed for misinformation. We are going through a difficult restructuring socially, educationally and economically. Where got time? Tan Pin Pin picked the dumbest moment to try to interest us in her film. Come back later.

Everyone is misinforming us. Advertisers do it all the time, government, its detractors and NGOs some of the time.

Update:  9:05pm

Quek Leng Beng and his pals want the government to relax the property dampening measures especially the TDSR.

The bosses of our public transport companies first and foremost want to have a high performing stock price.

ACRES think the most important issue of the day is protecting wild life

AWARE is almost militant about women's rights.

When the Pink Dotters want to expand beyond Hong Lim Park do they spare any thought for anyone beside themselves? They overplayed their strategy as victims and duly hit the brick wall.

I can go on and on but the point is these days, narrowly focused parties in Singapore only pay attention to their interests and ignore that we share this place and space. They disregard the consequences to society in the promotion of their selfish interests. The public must learn not to be naive. In fact one of  the few parties that look after our interest is the government, not always but often enough.

Of course Anthony Chen and the rest of the film making fraternity is "deeply disappointed". In their business if possible they want Card Blanche to make any movie they want with no constraint. Now even if in private some of them agree that Tan Pin Pin's movie shouldn't be shown here, it is difficult to break rank with the rest. You have to keep your club membership.

Our society need to grow up quickly find new norms that is constructive. We are a small place and cannot ape the adversarial ways of the Americans. It will be sad if we need the government to regulate all these.

Update: Sep 12, 11:05am

I really wonder which is it? She is acting ignorant or really ignorant.

This is not about Communism in an age where nobody believe in that ideology anymore and those who do are wearing it in name only. The real motive behind that movie is an attempt to damage the government. The cover is seeking justice for those whose human rights had been brutally violated.

Now we are set up here in a manner which if you knock the government hard enough all of us pay the price. This is not right. Everyone is naughty and extremely self centered in protecting their narrow interest. If this become a national habit it is only a matter of time we go under.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Apple's Awesome iWatch

I was blown away by Apple's idea of wearable technology, their iWatch. This leaves the rest in the dust and annihilated the dictum of being first to market. I remembered yawning at Samsung first iteration of their Gear. Far more important to do something really well. When you are in your own class you no longer compete but leave others to catch up with you.

Kudos to Apple. No Steve Jobs and still the magic is there.

I will not be getting one for my use. I am an Android user and hate Apple's tight control of the software. Also like every new tech stuff, it is often not the best idea to buy version 1.0. Already Seeking Alpha was quick to fire the warning shot.

The rest of the family I am sure will love this. I would just admire that's all.

ASPIRE committee: What's the idea to me

The Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) is out but I haven't look at it very closely. I see it as a good thing but I am not completely in touch with the detailed recommendations. Most of us leave such things to the government. We only worry about where this is taking us and what roles do we play.

Conceptually it is just four things.

If you course through life uneducated you are likely to have no security, money, power or status. If you are among the earliest post independence graduates from the then University of Singapore, on the strength of your degree alone and that you can speak English, you would quite soon have security, money, power and status.

If you obtain a university degree today which no employer is interested to hire you especially when compared to a poly or ITE graduate, you get no security and money forget about power and status. The government is gently trying to steer people away from this.

Don't put the cart before the horse, status should come after security and money. Good Christians like Lim Siong Guan don't care for status but had it forced upon them. These guys live by, "He must increase and I must decrease". Not difficult to persuade such good people to opt for the Poly or ITE route if they do not qualify for a good university. Fact of life is such types are too few to matter to policy makers. Practically everyone is a status seeker and getting that university degree is the first goal. A very tall order to dissuade them from wanting that degree, so in yesterday ST they made a point to include two signature success stories without university degrees.

A few weeks ago, I had to attend a niece's wedding dinner. At the table wifey's brother asked his teenage son to seat with me. To cut a long story short, the father rue to me that every cousin is a graduate except his two kids. His boy is in final year ITE doing his industrial attachment. I spent most of the evening talking and learning from him and trying to avoid his two graduate cousins at the same table. I didn't want to tell his dad like everyone would have that it is OK not be make it to university. I also thought it was unrealistic except for the 0.1% to have the success of the curry puff maker Rolina,  much less the Michelin Starred sushi chef. The right thing to do that evening was just honour his son by giving him as much attention as I could. That evening wifey and I offered some advice to two young graduates but I was a student to the ITE trainee, the sort who would have to take directions from young graduate bosses out there.

We have to close the circle. At the work place the top bosses who day to day do not work side by side with the workers should listen to the workers even as those middle managers have to take directions from the top bosses, and the workers obey the instructions of these managers.

Respect those at the bottom and learn to honour them. In this way you credit some of your status to their account and enable them to grow. Narrow the status divide and eventually the income gap will also narrow.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Airbnb here is about Paris, New York etc.,

I think I read about this in yesterday ST. This is CNA version.

Nobody that is a somebody wants or dare to say so in public. The real reason why we have to study and understand the sharing economy well and Airbnb specifically is competition for visitors' accommodation from other global and expensive cities like New York and Paris. Both cities and several more are known for their out of reach hotel rates, and many tourists are now helping themselves to make visiting practical by keeping accommodation cost low through Airbnb. Of course Airbnb is more than cheap, a lot more.

This government never did the proper homework catapulting Singapore into the league of global cities. For us to be sustainable we need our own and yet attractive version of globality. You cannot afford to lose yourself making a buck or you can have some money and lose your soul in the process.

Again another endless example of top boy in a class of failures.

Porn gets them before you could

It could very well be more than half but even a quarter would already be very bad. Even without this survey anecdotal evidence suggest the numbers would be huge. Numbers only serve to create more buzz but what is the action?

We didn't wait for these numbers. We had been ring fencing and teaching the children about this matter for a long time. It is not easy because it is quite unlike learning school stuff.

The challenge is to get to the teens before porn gets them. There isn't very much the government could do and families must take this up. Sadly we can't trust many families to do so. We will have to live with the consequences. This is one of those things where you cannot make things better until it becomes worse enough first.

How much progress can you make when adults themselves are watching porn? Some taxi and bus drivers even watch them publicly!

Adults cannot be counted on to do the right thing, we are expecting the kids to do better? And that is the reason why we are failing to reach the kids before porn gets them.

Learning the hard way may be the only way. I hope we survive this. Happy are the children who come from families whose parents are responsible and understand that sex is not the THING.

Quickly New Terrorist Leader appointed

The body of their former leader hadn't even gone cold and they have found themselves a new one. Indeed in this game they make sure the business carry on. Every leader expects not to live long and to die violently as a martyr. We learned this years back that they are like roaches, impossible to exterminate. It is a real pity the media keep using the Islam label on them which is all wrong. Militants will say even our enemies thought as Islamic but this couldn't be more wrong.

The most important component of battling these martyrdom loving deviants is to give our top priority to cutting off their supply of recruits. If we don't do this we will forever be in this terrible killing game. It will be the greatest tragedy that after having died once violently they found themselves dying the second time in hell. We all must eventually make our maker and let's do our utmost to help them do that in much better ways.

The media chose to level down with too many readers by refusing to use their brains in order to get more eyeballs. I can understand Obama's frustration when he said he does not have a strategy yet against the terrorists. Above all you are fighting a deadly evil idea but the media typically only focus on the tangible. Populations across the world need to be educated to make the whole globe a hostile place for such terrorism first. After choking their supply of recruits we can surround and militarily destroy their hives. That would be ideal except that ISIS has become too strong too quickly and there is pressure to degrade them asap.

Even as we are developing Dengue vaccines, we are also working on destroying the Aedes mosquitoes with sterile off springs, we must do the equivalent here.

An effective strategy against religious terrorism takes time and comprehensive thought. But for now the shallow and irresponsible media would not educate the public about such hard truths. Jaded political and military leaders don't even want to try to enlist the independent but disloyal media in this fight. So the task is much harder than necessary.

Islamist militants? Damn it, there is nothing Islamic about them OK! But I am not holding my breath for the media to use the right adjectives for these terrorists. For the masses what is and isn't Islamic would by and large not be answered and countless people will be duped into this evil and wrong idea of jihad. If you thought the bankers that brought us the great financial crisis were irresponsible, try the media.

For the pea-brains, please understand hating Islam without understanding the religion only serves to grow the ranks of enemy terrorists.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

...has subscribed to you on YouTube

This is the third one I noted and deleted this morning. I didn't bother to count them but easily there should be a few thousand subscribers to my YouTube channel. I wished I have the time to update, no overhaul the stuff I had ported there from my website since 2009. Unfortunately I don't have the time. I wouldn't mine if others had meanwhile done a better job. Yes, here an there I see such but none of them as far as I know is as large and comprehensive as my collection. And I have not added anything for the past few years.

Mid Autumn Walk at Eu Tong Sen

I am delighted with this photo by ST Desmond Lim. 20,000 folks were there last evening taking a walk with their paper lanterns down Eu Tong Sen street. I kinda wished we were there too especially when I have missed this for so many years. I think my chance will only come in 2017. If I am lucky may be next year is possible.

See that lady in tudung? That's our Singapore :-) This is one of our key feature that makes us special. This is so anti-ISIS.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Private Uni Degree: Postponing Disappointment

Far beyond its educational value, the university degree in our Asian society had always confer too much prestige. Over the years, especially in the early days, we had so many under performers who successfully climbed high the corporate ladder just because they were graduates.

The university degree is a sticky idea even when its value has become unstuck unless you graduate from a top college.

People will pay up for status. These days more and more families can afford to send their kids everywhere to get their degrees if they fail to get into our highly ranked local universities. For too many, they are just postponing disappointment. They will face the hard truth once they start looking for a job.

This is a long brutal and costly road to disappointment. The status of the university graduate will fall when many graduates cannot get good high paying jobs. I think everyone knows this by now but the social status of a being a graduate is just too irresistible. At that time passing yourself off as a grad wouldn't be good enough. You must also let on that you went to a good college especially an US Ivy. But at home a good degree from NUS, NTU and SMU is good enough. I hope by then we would have a huge cadre of non grads who are equal to many grads pulling down a good salary. For those who are caught between now and then they have to make the hard choices and I am afraid many will continue to waste time and money on poor quality or quickie degrees. Perhaps we can't avoid becoming laden with a lost generation but at least we are doing much better than most other societies with plentiful unemployed or under employed grads.

The faster we lower the status of graduates and up the status of performers the better. Since we run a good-enough meritocracy, you know like bidding for COEs (unless you need say a top lawyer, doctor or accountant, most times someone good enough will do) we already  have many non grads who can perform like grads. I imagine during this transition between two equally good candidates but one is a non grad, this person would be chosen over the grad (this would be done stealthily of course). Just like in some MNCs now eager to accelerate the promotion of women to the upper rungs are doing the same when choosing between an equally competent woman and man.

It takes courage not to pursue a university degree for status sake. I only wish there are more such types. Better to try to beat the local grad at the workplace. I think many of them can be beaten.

Lease buy back: Avoid it like the plague

Income is rising faster than cost of living according to the PM. At least that is what I just read off in a Facebook story of his radio talk show which I missed. I didn't even know it happened.

I read this article in the ST last night. Two main thoughts. If you are a senior citizen even if  you are still gainfully employed and if we could sustain high growth rates many of the opportunities will go to the young, just like it went to you when you were young. Your income is likely to outpace cost of living. For the senior citizens it is likely to be the other way round. On the other hand the value of your flat would be high and you can now unlock its value through the lease buy back scheme.

If our growth slows, the value of your flat would also be lower but cost of living might not race away faster than your income. You would keep your flat for your children.

So fast growth, you are likely to unlock the value of your flat into cash. Slow growth you keep it for your kids. What's the underlying assumption for these two possibilities? That the income gap continue to be wide or evening widening.

If the income gap narrows, fewer people will feel they have less need to sign up for lease buy back.

But the above are hardly my biggest worry over lease buy back. It is the hidden cost people might end up paying to the in-between folks in the business sector that help organize this scheme. When money moves in financial transactions a lot of hidden fees go into the finance professionals pockets. We must not allow that.

My second greatest worry is investing the proceeds from a lease buy back. Generally this is a bad idea because you get a liquidity discount from converting an illiquid and appreciating property compared to investing on your own. Most of these folks are likely to end making losses investing on their own.

Thirdly there is a potential political cost to the government. Those who took the lease buy back and most people are financially naive would be very unhappy if five or ten years later they discover the value of their flat could have been much more if  they had not cashed their property lease.

Fortunately there are far more shrewd Singaporeans that foolish ones. At the end of the day I agree with Khaw Boon Wan that this avenue for cash is available, but the take up would not be overwhelming. If you run out of money you should sell your assets for cash instead of society footing your bills. This is sacrosanct for keeping Singapore viable.

So everyone should try very hard not use the lease buy back scheme unless they really have no choice.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Chinese members among ISIS jihadists

If this bloody fellow turned out not to be from China in the end, all we need to do is just wait for one that is to turn up right? Every demon possessed person from anywhere in the world is making the "pilgrimage" to Iraq to fight the "infidels". So it is ISIS against the world. How can they win? But their warped concept of martyrdom is the source of their utter foolishness. I am afraid the way to exorcise this is simply to destroy them. Joe Biden had put it more graphically as taking them to the gates of hell. Indeed this is the work of Satan. The Devil always needed a over and this time he had chosen Islam for his purpose.

China do not have the same organization and technology as the Americans to defend their people against these terrorists. I bet the Chinese government would love to see the battle be taken outside its borders and have such Chinese citizens executed. All of them are already murderers or planning to be. That's a capital crime because this isn't war but terrorism. I wonder what calculations the Chinese is making and  how they will contribute to exterminating this scourge.

IKEA catalog and work

Yet another IKEA catalog has arrived. I fondly remember relaxing in bed or the sofa flipping its pages slowly every year when our copy arrived. Now I cannot remember when was the last time I indulged myself. It is work and work all the time now or wondering what is happening before going back to work.

Update: Sep 7 9:50am

This is a huge hit for Ikea and its advertising agencies and I have not seen the advert yet. I read about people talking about it overt he past few days but unless the clip is sitting right in front of me, usually via email I typically have other things to do than go running after such things.

Reading the papers together with wifey this morning I asked her what she thought of this. She responded that it was no big deal. I didn't think she was right or wrong, just her perception that's all. Whatever it has garnered at least 5 million views.

Bought Avision Scanner

Got this portable scanner ($149) last evening at Funan Centre for the children's use. They will make chapters and notes they received into ebooks with this.

A few years ago I gave up on MOE ever coming up with solutions to reduce the weight of our kids' heavy school bags. They took their text and use our flat bed printer scanner to turn them into PDF texts and run it off their iPads. We solved the problem ourselves.

They can use this at home or take it with them to school etc., especially the one in Uni.

I tested the device this morning. Quite pleased with it. A light year better than my Logitech hand held scanner in the 90s.

Let's see, we now have 5 iPads, 2 Galaxy Tab S, 1 Asus memopad, 1 Kindle Fire, 3 Kobo readers, 3 Kindles. Gosh! And 7 Notebook PCs. Crazy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The University Degree: Changing Culture

This degrees culture gotta shift by a large degree or it is not meaningful. But if we pull this off, we might culturally no longer be Chinese. This is not a bad idea if we are the future of Chinese culture. Of course this isn't possible as we are no longer completely Chinese given EL is our first language. Yet we will make ourselves totally interesting to the Chinese though and they will want to learn from us.

The Chinese Scholar culture is increasingly a liability. For our future sake we have to remake this. The beginning is the hardest as it is tantamount to moving a huge huge immovable boulder. We do not have the strength to do this and so we have to look for leverage. I think we are still looking.

We don't have a lot of time to fix this but impatience would not yield results either. The pay gap between non grad and grads must narrow. Fortunately the changing economy is going to help make this possible because everyone will be a knowledge worker. Today's non grad would have to think and work like yesterday's grads. Every piece of equipment and service we provide is embedded with more and more knowledge.

In a sense time is our friend as we gradually respond to the exigencies of the marketplace. On the other hand we must watch our competitors as they will also be doing the same thing. We can't run too fast or slow and we have to experiment with finding the right pace. The pace will vary across the spectrum of industries with the fastest changing offering the best pay and most interesting jobs.

Remaking culture is not a management task to be achieved in a short time. Such change should be almost imperceptible or they will not be entrenched and cannot last. The government is skippering this against a background of much cynicism from what I gather this morning on 93.8 Talk Back show. So to succeed the civil service must be in the vanguard leading this change or we will definitely not change at all. Then we will have many under employed or jobless grads many whom had obtained their degrees from overseas.

Monday, September 1, 2014

New Notebook hospitalized at Acer

Bought the daughter a new Notebook on Friday and checked it into Acer hospital on Monday morning.

She lost touch screen capability midway setting the machine up. We tried to solve the problem ourselves without success. Tech confirmed it was a hardware failure, possibly a loose or broken cable.

Just glad the place wasn't busy and we didn't have to wait long for our turn. Now I hope they will message soon to go collect the new Notebook. What is no fun is the time, petrol and the $2.14 parking charge.