Monday, May 30, 2016

Indeed you will marry the wrong person

A very insightful article on marriage for the young. The successful married probably understand this but perhaps could never explain it like the author of this article to the New York Times could.

Our partners are no more self-aware. Naturally, we make a stab at trying to understand them. We visit their families. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. We haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be, binding themselves to a future they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating.

Indeed you will marry the wrong person but that is the whole idea: To make it right.

When I was a young man, the Lord gave me Acts 27 which gave me the confidence to marry. It has been metaphorically relevant and useful even if it was too extreme to be real. Very good preparation overall.

Update: June 6 5:15pm

Glad to see Sunday Times has the insight to reprint this from the NYT. It had appeared there on May 30th.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On Autism: I believe

An old friend and Mothership shared this. Worth all the 15 mins played.

It doesn't show people how to accept the autistic because if it is from the heart then it isn't necessary as you will know what to do. It does give quite a good recognition of autism because people are likely to comes across autistic folks sometime but couldn't place what was amiss about the person. With the label you can learn lots more and discover that it is not a simple condition but presents itself as a spectrum.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Politics: Doing too little for the disabled.

As always I was in the car when I caught this program over radio yesterday. I am so glad to see it appear on Facebook with the link to the interview.

"Pest" was the word that caught my attention. I quote them.

That is how Aw felt about the ministers. Is it true? I think so because my ever candid former boss had gotten that from them as well. I am not VIP enough to experience this.

But Aw is not giving up, kudos to him! Eventually he or someone will succeed. To me it is a matter of time. Actually the time was yesterday for those who understand this but politically it is not pressing enough, too capital costly to do it now.

The widest gap in the world is in politics. The gap between idealism and realism.

Update: May 22 4:50 pm

Our system is quite good at engaging with situations like this. A true and most important simple enough story that is easy enough to make a TV story out of. If you have Tourette's syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome etc., you are out of luck.

We are much better at demonstrative and copycat love and care than loving from the heart. It is just human nature. Mother Teresa had often observed and spoken about the greatest poverty in the world which she identified to be the poverty of love. But as a policy maker you cannot afford to be idealistic and hence impractical dealing with matters of the heart. You have to be satisfied with the practical and if it is superficial so be it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Old wallet, New wallet

A thoroughly worn wallet and its replacement. I think the old one is about ten or more years old. I wonder if its replacement would be better. Paid about $23 for it at the Perllini shop in Jurong Point yesterday.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Second order: Bluetooth earpiece

This is my second SGD 8 stereo bluetooth earpiece. Delighted in came on the 19th and unlike my first order from them, in a box too :-)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Future of Uni education here

If you are willing to give up on the status value of the university degree this is a good thing. Ong Ye Kung assumes people will get to pursue their aspirations under this developing system. That is not going to happen. There will always be a few courses which are highly sought after and will have to be rationed. You can try to open as many places as possible but you can't do that without keeping an eye on demand. Right now too many people want to bake and no that many want to eat the baking. During my sister's time everyone wanted to start a magazine and nearly all of them lost money.

Few people really know what they want and they end up pursuing fads and whatever pay the best.

Looking ahead you can see how primary school education will change as they move away from T-scoring the kids. Don't look from the beginning to see the end but imagine what the starting point is like by starting with the end product.

If this system succeeds we will become less Chinese/Asian as it is merit based and hierarchy destroying. Everyone is to be respected for his area of expertise and it is impossible to compare an apple to an orange except among the same sort of fruit. I welcome this more egalitarian outcome.

Tomorrow everyone will be a graduate in his own way. Everyone will also go beyond that because his or her knowledge and skill set has to be updated and refreshed all the time. I only hope the workplace would be more conducive than stressful. This is keeping things simple but in real life there are other forces that try to pull this in different directions. People still envy each other and have this inherent need to look better than others. The urge to differentiate and rise above others will always be there but it is up to us to socially discourage that and you have to nip it in the bud taking advantage of this wave of change that is coming.

Remembering Jim Murray

Jim Murray would have been celebrating yet another birthday if not for the fact that he had passed away three years ago. I am beginning to fear I might one day forget him hence this post. I got to know him so long ago before the Internet was publicly available. I think that was in the late 80s. He found me on Compuserve and helped me write the user manual for a software (they call it app these days) I developed for Windows.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Money and Marriage

This a Natgeo shot of a Bulgarian wedding. The reason why it is here is the currency notes stuck to their costumes. I thought this is so realistic especially when you consider how money issues regularly ranks at the top during a divorce. So honest to enter a marriage with money so prominently displayed. People should always marry someone with similar money values. Of course some have such poor money values they should not marry until they have fixed that. Yet at the other extreme are the rare ones who marry not for love but to love. That would be living the spirit of the Gospel.

Haze: Saving Indonesian Pride

It was a fairly long read. In the end all I cared about is the quote by Today of the Indon minister.

“We are not looking for a scapegoat for not enforcing the law. The objective of our law enforcement measures is to create conditions which enable the prevention of any recurrence of land and forest fires this year and any other year in the future.”

If they succeed at that which I have my doubts, we are happy to keep quiet and enjoy the clear skies. If not we will nudge them in our favor as best as we can.

At the end of the day you can tell that the Indonesian government is embarrassed by their Singapore counterparts. Therefore saving face require them to perform haze prevention without help from Singapore. It doesn't look good at all when one of the largest nations is out done by a tiny Red Dot.

Meanwhile we must keep ourselves strong or we will be swallowed up by them, and they are prepared to wait as long as necessary for that day to avenge their humiliation. But what choice have we got?

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Heng Swee Keat: Reckless hard work?

Hope and pray Heng Swee Keat will make a quick and complete recovery. Then he must rest and recuperate.

He could have failed to understand his limits well, read his body correctly or just plain bad luck. I had seen him as the most likely person to be the next PM but with this stroke I have my doubts if it is a good idea having him as a PM. I also wonder if there was ever a need to over load him this way. Sure your health is your responsibility but his boss must also be the Plan B to make sure he is not given more than he can cope. This is a fairly typical Singaporean bad habit of one person doing the job of two or even three persons. If you lose a good minister this way, it is both reckless and dumb.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Economist: Unopened issues

Only some of the unopened issues of the Economist, it is so famous you don't typically add magazine or newspaper after it.

I found them in the house by accident and thought it would be interesting to get a photo of them before filing them away in the thrash.

Had I not needed to commit to the end of the subscription, I would have terminated it long ago. It was actually meant for the children but they hardly read it.

Obama's Speech at Howard University

I heard some of it from Facebook which is where I first caught this. Then I hunted it down on YouTube but could only afford to sit through the first ten minutes or so. I hope to come back and finish this later.

Obama's speech to the graduating class of 2016.

He finished talking about the realities of change and of course, "Yes, We can!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Korea: Why not be like Incheon?

A disaster averted thanks to the world class airport management at Incheon. Unfortunately the badly run Korean Air obviously Korean as well fared much worse. Their attitude toward safety is so typically Korean. It had no permission to stop at the intersection putting at risk of other planes colliding with it. But I think the bigger problem is not this but that there is no news if the Korean Air pilots were suspended. In other words the damn unsafe work culture hasn't changed. They had learned nothing from their previous world headline grabbing disasters. One wonders why they can't replicate the professionalism and quality of Incheon to the rest of their organizations.

The list in Wikipedia of the disasters experienced by Korean Air is very long.

Kudos for the SQ pilots for saving the day. A few seconds of inattention and slower response the 1.6 km finally separating the two planes would have easily been zero! It would be a disaster.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

By Election Results: 61.2% vs 38.8%

I am often amazed how with just two numbers (actually one only) they could read so much into it. But like in literature class they can be many "valid" viewpoints.

I will go with KISS.

I am happy the results is way less than the upward of 70% the PAP got in the GE for Bukit Batok. For David Ong letting them down they should suffer a discount.

I am happy for CSJ whom I do not trust coming in with the best results he had ever gotten. The SDP needs it to be encouraged and soldier on.

Probably many of us are quietly worried of a very successful PAP becoming complacent which is inevitable since every time we checked they are human like us.

However one thing is clear, if the PAP can get more the likes of Tharman to join their party and stand for elections it is a sure winner.

Overall I think it was a big win for Singapore and this is sticking to the facts.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

99% no Haze this year

When I read that the Indonesian Environment minister didn't even show up for that important meeting, my confidence that we will not have a Haze problem this year just soared. It shows the Jokowi government is confident of preventing a repeat of last year. To them this is a domestic matter with the unfortunate consequence of being carried to the neighboring countries. For reasons of sovereignty and face the Indonesians want to have their pride that they could deal with this multi-year problem on their own successfully.

The Indonesians must be so happy to be absent and the Singapore side have misread the signal. On a lighter note, at least from the Economist reckoning, Singapore has a more serious problem with cronyism than Indonesia. LOL!

Giving up on the Economist

Can you believe this? Singapore ranks higher than Indonesia on cronyism. You asked yourself how did they perform such magic with numbers, what boxes or categories were they using, something based on impractical economic theory? Because the boss wants an index and you have to make one since he or she is a pedantic economist?

I decide to blog with this example but there had been many. My point? I allowed my subscription to lapse. The Economist has lost it and mainly because they have caught religion and worse could not improve since they have no skin in the game with their advice.

They need more people to give up their subscriptions before they would learn. Finally that is skin.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

CSJ: A political master stroke

This is a powerful stroke from CSJ. If he moved you and you have come to trust the man then by all means vote for him. Never vote for any party or anyone out of fear. Neither be emotionally captured because they come across as so sincere such that you believe because you want to. In other words do not act like the typical emotionally unstable participant in financial markets but be more like a weighing machine looking for true character and value. Regrettably you will not be able to weigh a candidate accurately because there is no way you know the person well enough through our system of lightning quick and short campaigning.

For me I am not looking at any of these at all. I have only one vote and what mattered at the end of the day is not how I voted but how others do. If we are a people that criminals and scammers find hard to cheat vis a vis those elsewhere then I know on average our voters are wiser. At the end of the day that is what mattered. Every aspiring politician must also assess what voters are like and decide if it is worth it. If I were a Filipino I don't think their elections usually make sense. My Filipino friends are smart but I can't say the same for their mostly overly romantic compatriots who cannot understand what is good for them and vote like they are living the movies. Totally unreal. Nevertheless I think people eventually learn from their bad choices but that could be a very long time.

Update: May 5 7:50am

Of all things in the world I am going to update this post with an example from the UK: Brexit and Boris Johnson support for exiting the EU.

Getting out of the EU is a popular but a bad idea for the British people. My point? I fear one day we will have our own versions of Boris Johnsons. When that time comes would voters be shrewd enough to known and understand what is best for them?

Update: May 5 8:10 pm

Good the doctor clarifies. I would be surprised she thinks CSJ suitable to be an MP. If CSJ loses I hope he is defeated convincingly because I feel those who support him would benefit from watching him perform in parliament. It would be a useful education. If the PAP side (see I can't even remember the candidate name!) wins by the skin of his teeth this is no good since many actually need the education but failed to get one.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

CSJ on character

As voters we need to keep getting better by becoming more discerning and wiser. Politicians must be seen as salespeople and so what they said must be filtered for that few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which must be matched with other pieces we have collected to form a picture; yet we may not have all the pieces necessary to form a picture. Besides a lot of us do not know or even willing to do the hard work of making sense of it all.

What is wrong with CSJ remarks as quoted in the ST (might have to another version from the horse's mouth later)

The character of an election candidate
is important and something
voters should be concerned with,
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)
chief Chee Soon Juan said.
But voters can see this for themselves,
he added, saying: “Character
is what people see in you, not
what you tell people you have or
you don’t have.”
It also has to be demonstrated
and earned, not just talked about,
Dr Chee said yesterday, following a
weekendwhere the issue of character
has dominated exchanges
between the SDP and the People’s
Action Party (PAP). “If you want to
talk about character, then show
yourself to have character,” he said.
“Whenthere is character, you don’t
have to go and tell other people
‘that guy has poor character’. Ironically,
it reflects onthat person.”

It sounded like my earlier blog post on the subject of character but my context is different and to me that is the man speaking deviously. As a voter I had already judged that CSJ cannot be trusted. You make up your mind but you cannot be completely sure if you are right, just like buying a car or property it might turn out to be wrong purchase despite your best effort.

So I try to make the issue simple without losing its relevance. Our system can risk a CSJ in parliament. Come on, we have absorbed the greater risk of losing George Yeo in a GE. If enough voters side with CSJ, so be it. It would be a good learning experience for everyone but at Bukit Batok residents' expense.

The bigger picture. Voting PAP is buying Toyota which you can mostly count on. Going with an untested marque you are hoping for a positive surprise. No risk, no gain eh? Guess we can afford the risk and my hunch is letting CSJ into parliament would turn out to be a mistake but it is worth the price if it stops us from bringing in even more wolves in sheep clothing into parliament in the next GE. As always there are people who can only learn through a bad experience. If not now then when? Let him make his fox and wolf speeches in the august chamber; let the PAP learn how to return as good as they will be getting in rhetoric and repartee. This is immunization for certain greater dangers ahead. As is, a growing number of us are learning about politicking not at home but watching elections elsewhere which are not sufficiently relevant to our realities except to dread the day our politicians return to the low standards of the global mean.

Some day this will happen, always remember it is far harder to throw out a rouge PAP than barring the alternatives from getting in. What is the point of sending the opposition after the PAP unless it can make the PAP better and make it really hard to turn bad? Champion complainers, NGOs and social media for all their faults and special interests are doing a better job than the opposition.

I am not interested in SDP unworkable alternative policies. I notice they have no idea how to make the PAP work better and that for now is what matters. Perhaps show us how you can catch more David Ongs, Michael Palmers and worse still in hiding?

The PAP is no longer whiter than white and it is hopeless to look for that in CSJ and the SDP.

Monday, May 2, 2016

The future of Asia security

I have been regularly coming across big ideas and concepts in geopolitics recently, especially the Thucydides trap. To be practical it is critically important to make it simple. China's is just keeping up its habit of using words you cannot take offence with but giving it its own meaning. In this headline, "suits Asia" is euphemism for "suits China".

In diplomacy words carry a lot of weight until action enters the picture. Then words take the meaning of action simply because action speaks louder than words.

So China has been acting but Japan and South East Asia have not matched Chinese actions. We are only watching the opening gambit. What's next? Let's get real and stop wondering if the Chinese and the US wouldn't shoot at each other. It is much easier to understand why wouldn't they? If it had been just a matter of dollars and cents for everyone, that would be easy, which is also LKY theory why they will not battle each other. Now the issue is about national face, and this damn pride is more important than life. In other words they will fire their weapons to protect national pride.

Better to think in terms of how to deescalate from this prideful stupidity then try to prevent the inevitable only because it is taking a while to happen. China will find it is a big mistake to engage the Americans at sea when they are hardly a comparable force. National ego requires that they become the most powerful nation in 2049, so they work back from there with all the necessary achievement milestones between now and then. To me that is a dumb way to go. Safer and surer to read every moment well and keep progressing hiding your strength. Instead the Chinese are showing off before they are ready. Now there is another scenario to consider because of a political Black Swan in America.

Well the appearance of Donald Trump could bring back an isolationist America. There would be no US navy to face off the Chinese. East and South East Asia will become vassals of the Chinese Renaissance empire. Which scenario would eventuate depends how quickly things are happening as they move in parallel. The best is for the Chinese and Americans to understand each other better and trust each other at a deeper level. This is really hard because both civilizations are so different. In fact closing the white and black racial gap is much easier than the America and China gap. We have become wishful because it is so desirable but quite unrealistic. However if we can keep the status quo long enough for future Chinese leaders who will be going to school in America like Xi's daughter today then when they become leaders themselves, we have reasons to hold out for better outcomes.

Update: May 2 2:15pm

I first read this yesterday from Reuters. This is hardly friendly or aboveboard action. This is the sort of activities history tells us happen before there is war. Not that it must end up in war but they are the leading indicators suggesting telling you don't be surprised.

SG future: Like Taiwan now?

Nothing new or earth shaking about Taiwan here but here is an example for us to avoid. One of the reasons they can't find good people to be ministers appears in the  highlighted text quoted below.

Mr Lin, for instance, said he had approached many experienced industrialists to head the economic affairs
portfolio – a critical one given the ailing economy–but was turned down. Explains Dr Niu: “People with high social standing don’t want to be in government because they are unable to cross the blue-green divide.
Also, they are often attacked by the legislators who show little respect for the ministers.” The blue-green divide refers to the political schism in Taiwan between the pro-unification (blue) and pro-independence (green) camp.

Sounds remarkably like a LKY warning.

The Taiwan way is how but how do we keep ministers honest? Not just financially and morally but intellectually as well. Our long term story would be if this place is able to nurture and surface the right leaders to lead us. The international and historical track record is not good but that is besides the point, we are already here.

What I know is this, that the PAP will put itself ahead of Singapore. They like to think the two objectives are the same, at least in private but they are not. Eventually they will face the political equivalent of the Innovator's Dilemma, then what? Then you have to cannibalize yourself ensure a future for this place. Will they do it? Watch how Tim Cook is not able to do that at Apple. Consider how time and again Steve Jobs had done that for Apple. Look at what happened to Nokia. If it had disrupted itself by retiring its phones sooner especially when they were already ahead of Apple with smart phones, but they can't resist not milking for the last drop of milk for all it is worth.

Taiwan is delusional, it is going to keep sliding down until it is irrelevant. China is irresistible and they are caught in its inexorable gravity.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Bukit Batok By-Election: Does character matter?

The PAP is challenging that remark by Prof Tambyah whether character matters. It was not so easy to find the source of where and when Prof Tambyah was quoted but with some persistence and thought I found it. See below.

I want know and then to understand the context of those statements but most important the broadest context which everything is happening under is we are having a by-election and both contesting sides are trying to score points with the voters. They are all behaving not like your friends, colleagues or even bosses. They are totally political animals for these few days. As they act and react to each other the quality of the debate could go up or down. Traditionally it has gone down but in recent times we have improved. The electorate is more sophisticated now, no more trading in gossips but growing in rationality.

In the context of those words, Prof Tambyah was pushing it. Diseases with basis in physiology do not define a person heart and values. Even mental illnesses do not do that. On the other side, if I were the PAP I wouldn't want to respond as they had because voters hate it and turn many of them off as it makes them remember the ugly and often bullying PAP. You can offer evidence that CSJ's heart is not for Singapore and his values are wrong. You can propose that CSJ would have chosen differently then and now because those with the right heart and values would do this or that which CSJ failed to do etc., but don't do something so inane like children in school quoting and accusing each other as bad eggs. Grow up!

When political parties fight elections this way, all of them are losers. Sure someone will still win but all of them are worse for wear. I guess you all only cared abut winning and not how to win. That is very bad. All are black pots.

Therefore don't preach about character to us until both parties impress us with fighting honorably and with respect for each other. If you must turn the cheek, please do. Anything less is an insult to voters. Raise the bar, why does it always have to be so low?

Update: May 2 7:55 am

Having competed on the way down they now quickly try to compete on the way up because by now they know voters hate character assassination. That job belongs to us but you may provide pertinent facts but don't judge. Don't talk down to us, don't tell us how to think. Quoting from the ST this morning

He said he would not engage in
personal attacks, and had never
brought up what Mr Lee’s sister had
said until last night.
“I had ampleopportunity to attack
him on this but I did not. And it
would have been a very potent attack
because this is not your politicalopponent
saying it. It is yourown
flesh and blood making these statements
about you,” he said. “I refrain
from using Dr Lee Wei Ling’s dispute
with her brother because that’s
not the kind of politics that I want to
engage in.”

But of course is it really competing on the way up? More like going down but looking up eh? If you asked me, I do not trust CSJ. With the PAP you can trust but from time to time need to verify. Nobody is to be completely trusted. There are plenty of Goujians out there. It is only a matter of degree.

Update: May 2 8:25am

At the end of the day you take a risk with people. You make your calculations and manage your risk bearing in mind that to a fair degree people are like investing in mutual funds, i.e., it has done well but past performance is no guarantee of future performance. After very careful "stock or fund selection" the PAP could not avoid Michael Palmer or David Ong. How many more their kind or worse are still in hiding?

Update: May 2 3:10pm

Interesting how reading an article on the CCP direction to its media to produce anti-corruption TV drama has led me to this very popular British political drama set around the time Thatcher left office. All the lust, greed and corruption. In other words all so human bearing in mind at the level of the lizard brain which we all have our leaders are more like than different from us. 

Honesty and probity is so unnatural and to be practical we have to keep not just working but fighting for it!